Is Repression Necessary for Kink? Notes on the Godless Perverts Social Club Discussion

Is repression necessary for kink?

BDSM Gear With a Red Rose

That was the topic for discussion at last night’s Godless Perverts Social Club. The Social Club is now meeting twice a month, and we’ve been alternating the format: the third Thursdays are “Topical Thursdays,” where we pick a discussion topic that we announce ahead of time, while first Tuesdays are more casual and we discuss whatever’s on people’s minds that day.

So our topic last night:

Is repression necessary for kink? Imagine a world in which there are no boundaries on what is considered normal consensual sexual expression, a world in which sexual practices are openly discussed and fully accepted as personal preference without shame or recrimination. In this imaginary utopia, would kink exist? Is kink a response to repression and, if so, how has repression formed the current ideas of what is or is not kink? Would we always find a path to kink, regardless of the enforced societal standards? We’ll discuss how repression, whether societal or religious, has shaped the idea of kink and how our personal experiences have defined our understanding of and preferences for kink. Come talk about religion’s role in shaping your kinky (or non-kinky) choices.

We had a really interesting conversation, and I thought I’d blog about it. This post isn’t going to be a coherent essay on the topic, by the way: it’s just presenting some of the ideas that got tossed out and discussed, in no particular order. [Read more...]

The Godless Perverts Social Club — Thursday August 21! Topic: “Is repression necessary for kink?”

BDSM Gear With a Red Rose

The Godless Perverts Social Club is meeting again this Thursday, August 21!

The Godless Perverts Social Club is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us! We’re now meeting twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays. We’re meeting again this Thursday, August 21.

We’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. Our Third Thursday Social Clubs are a little more structured — we pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In August, that’ll be Thursday August 21.

The topic for August’s Topical Thursday: Is repression necessary for kink? Imagine a world in which there are no boundaries on what is considered normal consensual sexual expression, a world in which sexual practices are openly discussed and fully accepted as personal preference without shame or recrimination. In this imaginary utopia, would kink exist? Is kink a response to repression and, if so, how has repression formed the current ideas of what is or is not kink? Would we always find a path to kink, regardless of the enforced societal standards? We’ll discuss how repression, whether societal or religious, has shaped the idea of kink and how our personal experiences have defined our understanding of and preferences for kink. Come talk about religion’s role in shaping your kinky (or non-kinky) choices.

The first Tuesday Social Clubs are more loosely-structured casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. On First Tuesdays, we’ll keep doing that. Our next First Tuesday: September 2.

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Why Secular Hedonism Needs Social Justice

silhouette dancing for joyI’m going to go out on a limb here. If we want to create and maintain a secular society that values pleasure? If we want to create and maintain a society that recognizes that this life is the only one we have, so we should experience it and enjoy it as richly as we can? If we want to create and maintain a society that understands that our bodies are all we have, and that values those bodies? If we want to create and maintain a society that that recognizes pleasure, not as the only part of life worth working towards, but as one part of that life, and an important one?

We need to fight for social justice.

Hear me out. At the Godless Perverts Social Club last night, we were talking about the mysterious appeal of religious asceticism, and why anyone would think the deliberate denial of pleasure was an awesome way to live. And several people pointed out that asceticism often rises as a reaction, not necessarily to a hedonistic and pleasure-based society, but to a society in which sensual pleasure is primarily available to a few rich and powerful people at the top.

One person pointed out that in a society with both (a) liberated sexual values AND (b) a great deal of social stratification, with a few wealthy and powerful people at the top and a whole passel of poor and powerless people at the bottom, it creates a recipe for sexual exploitation — which, obviously, isn’t going to make people very happy with those supposedly liberated sexual values. Someone else pointed out that if a society’s rich and powerful leaders are openly hedonistic, it creates a situation where more ascetic leaders will become very appealing: the hedonistic leaders will be seen as entirely in it for themselves and their own pleasures, while the ascetic leaders will be seen as more authentic, high-minded and self-sacrificing, seeking leadership purely for the greater good. (This perception will often be dead wrong, of course — there are plenty of selfish but non-hedonistic goodies to be gained from power and authority, and of course many supposedly ascetic leaders have gotten plenty of hedonistic goodies on the sly — but it’s still a very seductive image, and people will be fooled by it again and again and again.)

And of course, in a culture where most people are sick, miserable, exhausted with over-work, with no time or energy to pursue pleasure, with no resources to pursue pleasure, just generally ground down by life, and with little or no hope for anything better, a religion that promises bliss in the next life as a reward for sacrifice in this one will have tremendous appeal.

So it occurred to me: If we want to create and maintain a secular society that values pleasure, we need to fight for social justice. We need to fight for a world in which sensual pleasure is not just a privilege available to the 1% at the top who can afford the pleasures and aren’t working themselves to exhaustion merely to survive. We need to fight for a world in which sensual pleasure — good food, comfortable homes, sex education, reproductive control, art and entertainment, pleasant and beautiful public spaces, time to enjoy our bodies, physical health care so our bodies can be enjoyed, mental health care so enjoyment is possible — is available to everyone.

society without god coverWe should do this anyway, just because it’s right — because bodies are something we all have, and basic enjoyment of those bodies should not be a special privilege accorded to the lucky few. But we should also do it because it will be a whole lot more sustainable. A culture that values pleasure — not as the only value of course, but as an important one and one worth pursuing — and that makes pleasure available to pretty much everyone… that’s a culture with a good chance of lasting. (I’m thinking, as I so often do, of Phil Zuckerman’s research in Society without God, showing that societies with high rates of atheism tend be ones with high rates of stability, egalitarianism, access to basic social services, and general happiness.)

A culture that values pleasure, but only lets a few people have it, is not going to stick around.

Related piece:
Atheism and Sensuality

Godless Perverts Social Clubs — Tuesday August 5 and Thursday August 21!

Godless Perverts Banner

The Godless Perverts are so excited! The Godless Perverts Social Club is now meeting twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays. In August, we’ll be meeting Tuesday August 5, and Thursday August 21.

The Godless Perverts Social Club is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us — on Tuesday August 5, and/or on Thursday August 21!

We’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. The first Tuesday Social Clubs have been loosely-structured casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. On First Tuesdays, we’ll keep doing that. In August, that’ll be Tuesday August 5.

Our Third Thursday Social Clubs are a little more structured — we’ll pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In August, that’ll be Thursday August 21.

The topic for August’s Topical Thursday: How necessary is repression to kink? Imagine a world in which there are no boundaries on what is considered normal consensual sexual expression, a world in which sexual practices are openly discussed and fully accepted as personal preference without shame or recrimination. In this imaginary utopia, would kink exist? Is kink a response to repression and, if so, how has repression formed the current ideas of what is or is not kink? Would we always find a path to kink, regardless of the enforced societal standards? We’ll discuss how repression, whether societal or religious, has shaped the idea of kink and how our personal experiences have defined our understanding of and preferences for kink. Come talk about religion’s role in shaping your kinky (or non-kinky) choices.

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART — for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, and/or make a donation to the venue. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!

Sex-Positive Feminist Icons In Literature: Some Evolving Thoughts on Lydia Bennett

Spoiler alerts for Pride and Prejudice.

Lydia Bennet in P&P 1995 BBCI have been re-thinking Lydia Bennett.

I’m re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the 33,257th time. And I’m finding that my views on Lydia Bennett are changing.

(Quick summary for those who haven’t read P&P: Lydia Bennett is the youngest of five sisters in the Bennett family. Near the end of the book, she runs off with the villain of the piece, George Wickham — she thinks of it as an elopement, but he doesn’t actually intend to marry her at first, and they don’t marry for two weeks. It’s a huge crisis in the family, and only the hasty marriage protects Lydia, and in fact the entire Bennett family, from complete social ruin. Lydia, however, is unashamed about the elopement, and unashamed about having lived with Wickham for a fortnight before their wedding.)

Lydia is presented throughout the book as, to say the least, problematic. She’s not a villain exactly, but she’s presented as not at all a good person: she’s shallow, frivolous, self-absorbed, short-sighted, concerned only with trivialities, and inconsiderate of the feelings of others. Her life is consumed with flirtation, gossip, dancing, fashion, and handsome men in uniforms. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking — there are worse things, right?) Austen describes her as “self-willed and careless,” “ignorant, idle, and vain.” And yes. She is all of these things.

But she’s also something else.

She is a woman who thinks of her body, and her life, as hers.

She’s a woman who — in defiance of the powerful social pressures of 19th century England — decides that who she marries, and when, and when they do or don’t have sex, is nobody’s business but hers. (Well, hers and her partner’s, obviously.) She’s a woman who — when everyone around her is clutching their pearls and freaking their shit over the fact that she had sex before marriage — doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. (“She was sure they should be married some time or other, and it did not much signify when.”) She’s a woman who — shortly before her wedding, when her aunt is lecturing her about the wickedness of what she did — is ignoring her, and instead is thinking about the man she’s about to marry, and what he’s going to wear. She’s a woman who — after the marriage has been patched together — has the audacity, much to the horror of her father and eldest sisters, to not be ashamed, to take pleasure in her life, and to look forward with excitement to her future.

She’s something of a pioneer. I find myself having a sneaking admiration.

Yes, yes, I know. Different times, different mores. The unfortunate reality of 19th century England, even in the relatively loose (compared to the Victorians) Regency period, was that for a gentlewoman to have sex before marriage probably did mean social ruin, not only for herself but for her family. Part of Austen’s point was that Lydia’s behavior was selfish. She didn’t just have loose sexual morals, which Austen clearly thought of as wicked just in and of itself. She had a lack of concern for how her sexual choices would affect her family.

But — well, actually, that’s sort of my point.

Gay men Kiss Alessandro MarveloosThink about people who brought shame to their families by marrying someone of another race, or another religion. Think about people who brought shame to their families by marrying who they chose, and not who their families chose for them. Think about people who brought shame to their families by coming out as gay. If I’m going to admire these people for deciding that their own sexual happiness was more important than the shame and suffering brought to their families by their breaking of vile and unreasonable rules — for being, as Elizabeth Bennett herself said in her famous confrontation with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, “only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness” — why would I not admire Lydia Bennett for doing the same thing?

It’s not a stretch to say that, for 19th century English aristocracy and gentry, society was, to a great extent, structured for the purpose of protecting unmarried women’s virginity. Unmarried women were rarely left alone; they were even more rarely left alone with men other than their relatives. They were considered “compromised” if they even slept under the same roof as an unrelated man without a chaperone: even having the opportunity to have sex was enough to destroy your reputation.

In that world — where the cage around unmarried women’s virginity was locked tight, and the social penalties for breaking out were severe — Lydia Bennett decided, “Fuck that noise. The rules are fucked up, and I’m going to ignore them. My body, my right to decide.” And she snuck out of the cage, and ran off into the night.

Good for her.

I’m tempted to write an erotica story about her, from her perspective. Probably not as a simple account of her elopement and defloration: I mostly don’t find “virgin’s first time” stories interesting, and given that she’s fifteen, it’d also be somewhat creepy. I’m thinking of her a couple of decades later: a married woman, not in a particularly happy marriage, but merrily screwing around with other libertines in the “if we do it behind closed doors everyone will pretend it isn’t happening” brigade, mooching off relatives and flirting with handsome men at parties and running in and out of bedrooms. (Think Dangerous Liaisons, but less Machiavellian and more of a romp.) I’m thinking of her, older, not very wise but certainly more experienced, looking back on her bawdy life, and looking back on her elopement and defloration — and seeing it as a moment of liberation, the moment when her new life began. I’m imagining her looking at her disappointing and difficult marriage (there’s no way that’s going to turn out well, George Wickham is vile) — and looking at the life she’s had, versus the life she would have had — and deciding that, on the whole, she made a good bargain.

There’s a line in Chapter 9 that kind of sums up what I’m getting at; a line that sums up how Austen saw Lydia when she wrote her in 1812, versus how I’m seeing her today. It’s when Lydia and George have come back to the Bennett home right after their marriage, and her elder sisters (Jane and Elizabeth) are appalled at her shameless attitude. “Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless.”

Untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless.

Sounds like my kind of woman.

(Alessandro_+_Marveloos kissing photo by See-ming Lee, via Wikimedia Commons)

So You Think You Can Dance, Nudity Parity Watch: Season 11, Episode 7

sytycd logoAs regular readers know, I’m watching the current season of So You Think You Can Dance, the mixed-style dance competition show, and am documenting whether the women are generally expected to show more skin than the men. (I give a more detailed explanation of this project, and why I’m doing it, in my first post in the series.) But before I get into this week’s documentation, I want to answer a question I was asked in the comments last week — namely, what I want the show’s producers and costumers to do about it.

It’s true that having women be more naked than men is the tradition of many dance styles. Similarly, in many past decades of many dance styles, it’s been the tradition for women to show more skin than men. So if a dance routine is in one of those traditions, or if it’s a historical or retro routine evoking a past dance tradition, and if costumers are trying to work within those traditions, then their hands are tied, or at least somewhat constrained. What do I want the costumers to do?

The short answer: I want them to be aware of it. I want them to pay attention to it. I want them to not just reflexively make the women more naked than the men, because that just seems normal or natural or how it’s done. I want them to ask themselves, “Is this really appropriate or necessary for this routine?” I want them to ask themselves, “In this routine, is the man more vulnerable than the woman, or more sexual, or more seductive? Should he maybe be showing more skin than she is?” I want them to at least sometimes show more of the men’s skin than the women’s — not just as a rare exception, but as a regular feature of the show. Even if there’s not strict 50/50 parity, I want something closer to parity — something other than the reflexive expectation that women will be the ones to have their bodies put on display.

I also want a magical rainbow pony who’ll get along with the cats and won’t stink up the house.

So, with that commentary, here is this week’s So You Think You Can Dance nudity parity documentation. Links take you to video clips of the performances; if the Fox network doesn’t keep the links up, most if not all of these performances can be found on YouTube with a little searching. [Read more...]

Annabeth Leong on “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More”

Long before I read Greta Christina‘s book Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, I was lucky enough to encounter its title story. This was early in my career as a reader of erotica, and it pushed buttons I didn’t even know I had. Though I got off a great deal, I also found myself moved by the story of shifting desires, love as insufficient, and exploration as paramount. Reading “Bending” was one of the first times I realized that erotica isn’t the low form it’s made out to be.

Fast-forward many years, and “Bending” has become one of a handful of stories I return to again and again. It’s not just for the filthy, lovingly fetishized, obsessive ass play, though I do still love that. It’s also that few pieces of writing have been wiser about the issues I’ve faced in BDSM as I’ve come to practice it, not just read about it. When I’m distressed about having changed in a way I swore I never would, it’s to “Bending” that I turn.

When I read Christina’s entire collection, I recognized the fearless gaze I first met in that story I have loved so well. In her introduction, Christina explains that she hopes each story conveys the respect she has for sex itself. And Christina respects sex enough to visit hot and uncomfortable places, to trust that adults understand what it means “to imagine things we wouldn’t actually want to do—even things we think are immoral.” She respects her audience enough to believe that we will sort out the difference between fantasy and endorsement. “If we have any freedom at all,” she writes, “it’s between our ears: the freedom to think about whatever we like.”

Thus begins a really nice, really thoughtful review of my erotic fiction collection, Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More. To read more, read the rest of the review. Many thanks to Annabeth Leong at the Circlet Press blog!

*****

Bending coverHere, by the way, is the most current ordering info for Bending — in ebook, print, and audiobook editions.

Ebook edition:

The Kindle edition is available on Amazon. (That’s the link for Amazon US, btw — it’s available in other regions as well.)

The Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble.

The book is available on Smashwords in multiple formats, including Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, and others.

All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

Audiobook edition:

The audiobook is available on Audible.

The audiobook is also available on Amazon.

The audiobook is also available on iTunes.

And yes, I did the audiobook recording myself!

Print edition:

A print edition is in the works. Please watch this blog for future announcements.

Godless Perverts Social Club July 17! Topical Thursday: “So, Where Ya From? Local Differences in Sex and Religion”

Godless Perverts Banner

The Godless Perverts Social Club is now meeting twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays! The Godless Perverts Social Club is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us! Our next meetup is our Topical Thursday — July 17.

godless-perverts-slide-where-you-fromWe’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. Our Third Thursday Social Clubs are a little more structured — we’ll pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In July, that’ll be Thursday July 17. The topic for this Topical Thursday: “So, Where Ya From? Local Differences in Sex and Religion.” Community standards of religiosity and sexuality vary across the map (and with race and class even in the same place). Tonight’s moderator is a Yankee who spent most of his school years in the suburban South. Where have you lived, and how did the people there regard their religious and sexual norms — and the people who deviated from them? Are you from New England? Costa Rica? Did you live in Texas? South Africa? Were you a military brat? Did you grow up in an immigrant community? Come tell us about your experiences!

The first Tuesday Social Clubs are more loosely-structured casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. Our next Casual Tuesday will be Tuesday August 5.

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART — for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, and/or make a donation to the venue. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!

Recovering From Religion’s “Recovering Your Sexuality” Online Workshop

Recovering From ReligionRecovering From Religion, the support organization for people who have recently left religion or are in the process of questioning it, is offering a six-week online workshop on recovering sexuality, for people who’s sexuality been damaged by religion. Here, I’ll let them tell you about it.

*****

Many of us who grew up in conservative religious traditions reach adulthood with a lot of guilt, confusion, and just plain missing information about sexuality. We feel disconnected from our bodies, uncertain about what’s normal and healthy, and afraid to explore who we are and what we want sexually. Recovering From Religion is very excited to announce an online class for adults looking to develop a healthy relationship with their own sexuality. After years of being told that sex was wrong, dangerous, sinful, or only to be enjoyed in narrow circumstances, our goal is to empower you to move past those roadblocks to discover what truly works best for you! We will discuss issues like guilt, pleasure, and ethics; learn about sexual anatomy, arousal, and sexual response cycles; and provide concrete exercises and actions to begin the road of healing the damage that repression and guilt can do.

This six week course is open to anybody whose relationship to their sexuality has been negatively affected by religious teachings in their past, regardless of what that religion was and what their current religious position is. Some participants in the course will have no or very little sexual experience; some will have years of sexual experiences that were plagued by guilt and shame. This class is uniquely designed to be a welcoming and supportive environment for everybody, regardless of their current relationship with religion and sexuality.

The online six-week workshop begins MONDAY JULY 14TH 2014 and will cover the following content:

Week 1: Body awareness, mindfulness, circles of sexuality
Week 2: Pleasure, guilt, sexual anatomy and physiology
Week 3: The sexual response cycle, varieties of sexual response, desire and drive
Week 4: Orgasm, masturbation, overcoming barriers to sexual enjoyment
Week 5: Fantasy, imagination, ethics, consent
Week 6: Celebrating yourself, connecting with other people sexually

Format

This course will be taught through a combination of video lecture, interactive chat, and individual exercises and reading to be done on your own time. Each Tuesday I will share a video covering the main ideas we’ll be talking about, and a document suggesting exercises, reading, and things to think about. The following Monday evening we will have a group chat to talk about what your thoughts and experiences were. There will also be opportunities to check in throughout the week on our group board.

What if I can’t do the exercises/make the Monday night chat?

It’s ok! We’re all adults with busy lives, and no one is grading you here. Do as much as you have time for. The group chat is an important part of the course, as it gives us an opportunity to interact and discuss in real time, but if you have to miss a week it’s not a big deal. (If Monday nights in general aren’t good for you, don’t worry! We’ll be offering more sections of this class on different days and times soon.) That said, most of the exercises I’ll be suggesting will take 10 minutes or less each day, so it shouldn’t be a huge drain on your time.

Book

Sex and God, by Dr. Darrel Ray
, is the book that goes with this workshop. You’re encouraged to read it at your own pace; with each lesson, I’ll highlight chapters that are particularly relevant. You can skip around and read them when we get to them, or use your reading of the book to circle back to ideas we’ve discussed earlier in the workshop. Even if you don’t finish reading the book by the time the workshop is over, having a resource to keep coming back to is very useful.

About the Instructor

Virginia Brown holds an M.Ed in human sexuality. She grew up in a conservative Christian home, and became an atheist at the age of 25. Even after abandoning her conservative beliefs, it took her years to re-connect with her own sense of sexuality, and she is passionate about helping others who are walking the same road. She has taught courses about all aspects of sexuality to students from middle school to adulthood.

*****

Registration info is at the link.

Greta Speaking in Phoenix, DC, Chicago, SF, Denver, Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO

I have a bunch of speaking gigs coming up this summer and fall! I’ll be speaking in Phoenix AZ, Washington DC, Chicago IL, San Francisco CA, Denver CO, Charlotte NC, Sacramento CA, and Springfield MO. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Phoenix, AZ (Secular Student Alliance Conference West)
DATE: Friday, June 20 – Sunday, June 22
LOCATION: Arizona State University in Phoenix
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Secular Student Alliance
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: Special Student Edition
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. And students — college, high school, and earlier — face special challenges in coming out. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into?
COST: $39 – $149; group rates and travel aid are available
EVENT URL: https://www.secularstudents.org/2014con/west/

CITY: Washington, D.C. (CFI-DC Special Summer Fundraiser Event)
DATE: Saturday, July 12
TIME: 6:00 pm
LOCATION: Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St NW (14th & V), Washington, D.C.
HOSTS: CFI-DC
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
NOTE: This will be a fundraising dinner for CFI-DC. Admission includes a full dinner with open bar.
COST: $50 regular admission; $100 Premier Seating (add book to either option for an additional $15)
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/dc/events/coming-out-atheist-greta-christina/

CITY: Chicago, IL (Humanism At Work, the Foundation Beyond Belief conference)
DATE: Friday July 18 – Sunday July 20
LOCATION: Hilton Rosemont/ O’Hare, Chicago, IL
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Foundation Beyond Belief
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist — How It Helps the World
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take, and one of the most powerful acts we can take to make life better for ourselves and other atheists. But are there ways that coming out makes life better, not just for atheists, but for believers and the rest of the world?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Hemant Mehta, Leo Igwe, Rebecca Vitsmun, Caroline Fiennes, Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, Hemley Gonzalez, Alix Jules, Pathfinders Panel (Conor Robinson, Ben Blanchard, Michelle Huey, Wendy Webber), and more
COST: $129/ticket ($149 after April 15)
EVENT URL: http://humanismatwork.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Perverts Put Out!)
DATE: Saturday July 26
TIME: 8:00
LOCATION: The Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
EVENT: Perverts Put Out!, San Francisco’s long-running pansexual performance series, has featured stellar line-ups of truly twisted, mega-talented artistes — even an occasional naked mayoral candidate — since way back in 1998.
OTHER READERS/PERFORMERS: Princess Cream Pie, horehound stillpoint, Na’amen Tilahun, hosts Simon Sheppard and Dr. Carol Queen, and more.
COST: $10-25 sliding scale
EVENT URL: http://www.simonsheppard.com/simonsheppard%27su.html

CITY: Denver, CO (Colorado Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday August 15 – Sunday August 17
LOCATION: Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast, Aurora, CO
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Colorado Coalition of Reason, with other local groups
TOPIC: Celebrating Secular Diversity
SUMMARY: Making organized atheism more diverse will help make our movement larger and stronger. And it’s also the right thing to do. What are some of the obstacles to diversity? What are some practical steps we can take to become more diverse? And why is this issue so important?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Jamila Bey, Candace Gorham, Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, Hemant Mehta, Mandisa Thomas, Rebecca Hale, Steve Hill, Raúl Martínez, Mikey Weinstein, Amanda Metskas, August Brunsman, David Tamayo, and more.
COST: $35 – $175
EVENT URL: http://www.cosecularconference.org/

CITY: Charlotte, NC (Carolinas Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday September 26 – Sunday September 28
LOCATION: Hilton Charlotte Executive Park, 5624 Westpark Dr, Charlotte, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Carolinas Secular Association
TOPIC: TBA
OTHER SPEAKERS: Mandisa Thomas; Bria Crutchfield; Steve Ahlquist; Greydon Square; Harry Shaughnessy; Faisal Saeed Al Mutar; and DJ Alex Zygmunt
COST: $125. Includes the Meet and Greet which is also a costume party (costumes optional); all speaking events and workshops; and the Awards Dinner Banquet.
EVENT URL: http://www.carolinassecularassociation.org/conference/

CITY: Sacramento, CA (Sacramento Freethought Day)
DATE: Saturday, October 11
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Sacramento Atheists and Other Freethinkers
OTHER SPEAKERS: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Heina Dadabhoy, Neil Wehneman, Jason Frye, Sean Faircloth, and more TBA.
TOPIC: I’m not giving a talk at this event, but I’m going to be on their Authors’ Panel.
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://freethoughtday.org/

CITY: Springfield, MO (Skepticon)
DATES: Friday November 21 – Sunday November 23
LOCATION: Ramada Oasis, Springfield, MO!
OTHER SPEAKERS: PZ Myers, Cara Santa Maria, Hemant Mehta, Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Ben Blanchard, Melanie Brewster, JT Eberhard, and more.
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://skepticon.org/