Greta’s Interview With The Humanist Hour!

The Humanist logoPodcast fans — I have a really fun interview up with Todd Stiefel and Kim Ellington at The Humanist Hour, the podcasting arm of The Humanist magazine! Of course we talk about my new book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why — what surprised me when I was researching the book; how coming out can cultivate other atheists; how we can encourage other atheists to come out without guilt-tripping or pressure; when to put off coming out; how staying in the closet has its own risks; Atheist Mythbusting 101 and doing our homework before we come out; differences between coming out atheist and coming out LGBT; why we should care about diversity in atheist and humanist communities; and more.

But we also talk about erotic fiction; unicorn sex; tattoos; how authors can sign Kindles; and other silly topics. It was a fun interview, with much laughing, along with serious conversation about deep topics. And the podcast also gets into geocentrism (no really — it’s a thing again!); the Stephen Fry videos on humanism; fun with drugs; electric cars; Toastmasters; and more. Enjoy!

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Coming Out Atheist cover 150And once again, here is ordering information for Coming Out Atheist in all three formats — print, ebook, and audiobook!

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 Smashwords edition is available on Smashwords. Right now, it’s only available on Smashwords in epub format: I’m working to make it available in other formats.

All ebook editions and formats cost just $9.99.

Print edition:

The print edition is now available through Powell’s Books.

The print edition is also available at Amazon. However, be advised (if you haven’t been already) that seriously abusive labor practices have been reported at Amazon warehouses. Please bear that in mind when you’re deciding where to buy my book — or indeed, where to buy anything. (For the records: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

You can also buy the print edition at your local bookstore. If they don’t currently carry it, you can special order it. (Bookstores can get it from standard wholesalers; wholesale info is below.) Support your local bookstore!

The print edition is $17.95 USD. It is being published by Pitchstone Publishing.

Wholesale sales of the print edition:

Bookstores and other retailers can get the book from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other standard wholesale distributors. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing.

Audiobook edition:

The audiobook version is available on Audible.

The audiobook is also available through Amazon.

The audiobook is also available through iTunes.

And yes, I did the recording for it!

Secular Meditation: Mindfulness and Sex

silhouette lovers kissing on beachSo how might the principles and practices of secular mindfulness be applied to boffing?

In some ways, sex is a perfect arena to practice mindfulness. And in some ways, it’s really, really not. Not that it’s impossible or antithetical or anything. Just that it’s sometimes challenging, and counterintuitive, and complicated.

I’ll start with the ways that I’ve found this to be pretty straightforward. The basic idea behind mindfulness is to be as fully present in the moment as you can be: to consciously focus your awareness on a particular object or activity or experience, to notice when your awareness has wandered, to observe this wandering without judgment, and to gently draw your awareness back to the here and now and to the object/ activity/ experience you’re focusing on. And sex is an obvious, and obviously wonderful, arena for that.

In fact, there’s an established technique used by many sex therapists called “sensate focus”: a way of alleviating anxiety and self-consciousness during sex, in which people focus on and fully experience their immediate sensations rather than being goal-oriented about orgasm (their own, or their partner’s). Letting go of distractions, of judgments, of goals, of anxieties about those goals, and bringing your focus to the immediate sensation of a hand on your thigh, of fingers in your hair, of your own fingers on the curve of their hip… yeah. Hell, yeah. No argument from me. It’s a technique that’s often used for people with performance anxiety, for men with erectile dysfunction or women with problems reaching orgasm — but honestly, this can be a good time for pretty much anyone. And it can be used in masturbation just as well as in partner sex.

Seems pretty simple. Difficult or challenging to practice, perhaps, but the basic idea is pretty straightforward. So how could any of it be complicated, or counterintuitive?

Here’s the thing. For me, anyway. Sex is — how shall I put this? — a multi-media experience. It commonly involves all the senses. Or at least more than one or two. And it involves more than the senses: it involves emotions, memories, images, ideas, associations, psychological connections.

So if I’m working to be fully present with my immediate sexual experience, it begs the question: Which experience? The sensation of my fingers twining in her hair? The sensation of her fingers on my belly? Her scent? The taste of her skin? The sound of her breath? How her curves look in the dim light? The memory of the last time, when we did that other really filthy thing? The warm, spicy glow of deep love blended with skanky lechery? The tightening of my clit? The brightness in her eye as my eye catches hers? When all of this is going on at once — what do I stay present with?

strawberriesOf course, this is true for other experiences as well. Eating is the example that most obviously leaps to mind. Eating isn’t just about flavor: it’s about scent, sensation, sight, even sound. And it’s also about memories, associations, emotions, as well as sensations. And yet mindful eating — eating slowly, finishing each bite before starting the next, staying in the present moment and fully experiencing your food — is a classic mindfulness exercise. It’s almost a chestnut. (Mmmmm — chestnuts!)

Plus, in sex — sex with another person, anyway — I’m not just working to stay present with my own sensations and experiences. I’m working to stay present with my partner’s. (“Working” is maybe the wrong word, that makes it sound like a chore and it’s not in the slightest, but it’s the best I’ve come up with for now.) I’m working to be as richly aware of what’s happening with my own body as I can — and I’m also working to be richly aware of what’s happening with hers. How do I do both of these at once, while still staying focused on one thing at a time?

ultimate guide to sexual fantasy coverAnd how does fantasy play into all this? For many people, accepting and enjoying fantasies is a hugely important part of fully enjoying sex. But isn’t “fantasizing” the exact opposite of being in the present moment? If you’re having sex or masturbating, and you’re imagining that you’re getting spanked by a nun, that you’re having sex in Central Park, that you’re getting a blowjob from George Clooney — isn’t that the exact opposite of fully experiencing whatever sex you’re having right now? Even if the sex you’re having right now is with yourself? But I would never in a zillion years suggest, even to myself, that sexual fantasies are bad for sex, and that in order to more richly and fully experience sex, I should step away from having them. Fuck that noise. I mean, if I were indulging in fantasy at the expense of ever enjoying my body in the here and now, I might see a problem — but I’m not, so I don’t. So how does fantasy fit into all this? How does “enjoying sexual images that drift into one’s head, and deliberately entertaining them and getting off on them” fit in with “staying in the present moment during sex”?

Here’s how I’m working this out for myself. For now, anyway. In MBSR meditation, there’s one technique in which, rather than deliberately focusing your awareness on one object or activity or experience, you let your focus wander. As your awareness drifts from your breath, to your sore back, to the sound of the heater switching on, to your plans for tomorrow, to some fantasy or anxiety about tomorrow, to a grumbling in your belly, to your anxiety about your body shape, to your breath, to some philosophical train of thought about your breath and meditation, to the awareness of your tongue in your mouth… you let it drift. You follow it. And you stay present with all of it, as much as you can. The intent isn’t to keep your awareness focused on one thing. It’s to stay conscious, to stay present, with whatever your awareness wanders into.

When I’m working to be mindful during sex, I do a version of that. I let my focus wander: from sensation to sensation, from image to image, from one part of my body to another (whether I’m having partner sex or masturbating), from my own body to my partner’s (if I’m having partner sex and not masturbating), from the sting of a hand on my ass to assorted mental images I’m having about spankings, and back around again. And with each of these moments and experiences, I work to stay conscious of it, and to stay present with it, and to experience all of it, as fully as I can.

Now, if my awareness drifts into something that isn’t sex — if it starts to drift into anxieties about work, plans to redecorate the house, ideas for the new book I’m working on, some argument I’m having on the Internet — that’s when it’s time to notice that my awareness has wandered, and observe that without judgment, and gently bring my focus back to the present moment. Some piece of the present moment.

Any piece of the present moment will do.

Especially the really skanky ones.

Thoughts? If you’re doing a secular mindfulness practice, how do you incorporate sexuality into it — or incorporate it into sexuality?

Which of My Sex Essays Do You Like Best?

So I’m thinking of putting together a collection of my non-fiction writing about sex. And I wanted to ask my regular readers (and indeed my irregular ones): Which of my essays, reviews, journalism, rantings, and other non-fiction writing about sex do you like best?

Actually, I’ll modify that question, and clarify it. Which of my non-fiction writing about sex (if any) do you think are most important? Which (if any) do you find most memorable? Which are the ones that you remember without having to dip into my archives? Which are the ones that, if you do scan my archives, immediately leap out at you as “Oh, yeah, I remember that one!”

They can be ones that you loved, ones that made you angry, ones that changed your sex life, ones that changed how you view other people’s sex lives, ones you just thought were hilarious. Whatever definition you have of “most important,” “most memorable,” or “best” — I want to know what they are. If you feel like telling me why you’re listing the item or items you’re listing, that’s cool, but it’s not necessary.

I don’t absolutely promise to include your picks. I don’t even necessarily promise to write this book — right now, I’m just pondering it. But if I do write this book, I don’t just want to rely on my own perspective. There may be pieces that I was somewhat “Meh” about but that lots of other people love. If that’s true, I’d like to know. So let me know. Thanks!

Godless Perverts Social Club 1st Anniversary — Tuesday April 1!

Godless Perverts Banner

Tuesday, April 1, is the next Godless Perverts Social Club — the casual, hanging-out social arm of the Godless Perverts empire — and we’ll be celebrating our first anniversary! We’ve been hosting Social Clubs since April 2013: I know, hard to believe, right? To mark this momentous occasion, I’ll be bringing a big sack of atheist books, dirty books, and porn DVDs to give away, from my own years as a reviewer. And we might even bring silly party hats.

Join us every first Tuesday of every month at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house, for an evening of conversation and socializing. 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 the first Tuesday of every month for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

Wicked Grounds is at 289 8th Street in San Francisco, just three blocks from the Civic Center BART station. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, or make a donation to the venue. Wicked Grounds has yummy food and drink options ranging from full dinners to coffee and tea, with lots of snacks and baked goods and other light nosh in between, and some of the best milkshakes in the city. We’ll be there from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. RSVP on the Bay Area Atheists/Agnostics/Humanists/Freethinkers/Skeptics Meetup page, if you want a reminder or just like RSVP-ing to things. Hope to see you there!

Godless Perverts Social Club March 4!

Godless Perverts Banner

Tuesday, March 4, is the next Godless Perverts Social Club — the casual, hanging-out social arm of the Godless Perverts empire. Join us every first Tuesday of every month at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house, for an evening of conversation and socializing. 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 the first Tuesday of every month for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

Wicked Grounds is at 289 8th Street in San Francisco, just three blocks from the Civic Center BART station. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, or make a donation to the venue. Wicked Grounds has yummy food and drink options ranging from full dinners to coffee and tea, with lots of snacks and baked goods and other light nosh in between, and some of the best milkshakes in the city. We’ll be there from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Hope to see you there!

To Give Itself Pleasure

This is the piece that I read at the recent Godless Perverts Story Hour, the one that was livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference. The entire event was recorded: you can watch the whole thing if you like, and videos of the individual performances, including this one, are being posted on the new Godless Perverts YouTube channel. Visual video quality from the livestream isn’t great, but the sound quality is lovely.

We are a way for the universe to give itself pleasure.

Big Bang timelineThere’s a famous quote by Carl Sagan — well, famous among atheists and skeptics and other people who think of Carl Sagan as super-famous. There’s this quote by Carl Sagan: “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” And yes, that is (a) true, and (b) mega-cool. We are how the universe knows itself. 13.7 billion years ago, the universe went Foom, and it’s gone through countless configurations since then — and one of those configurations, one that’s happening right here and right now, is conscious life. Not just conscious life, but conscious, curious, exploring life that’s capable of looking around, and carefully examining what it perceives, and sorting out better ideas from worse ones, and figuring out what exactly is going on out there. The matter and energy of the universe has been morphing and morphing and morphing, and right now, it’s morphed into a state that is capable, in a small way, of understanding itself.

This makes me so happy. Yes, the universe is amazing — but without conscious life, the universe has no way of knowing just how amazing it is. It has no way of experiencing amazement. We are the experience, not only of knowledge, but of amazement at that knowledge. We are a miniscule piece of the matter and energy of the universe, looking carefully at some of the rest of the matter and energy, and saying, “Wow. Really? Black holes? Moving continents? All life on the planet sharing a common ancestor? Are you freaking kidding me? That is wicked cool.”

But we aren’t just that.

We aren’t just a way for the universe to know itself. We are a way for the universe to give itself pleasure.

For 13.7 billion years, the universe has gone through countless configurations — and one of those is the configuration, not just of consciousness, not just of knowledge, but of ecstasy. When we come, we are shifting the matter and energy of the universe into the form of euphoric, all-encompassing pleasure. When we fuck, when we suck, when we lick, when we finger, when we spank, when we pierce, when we tie each other up, when we masturbate, when we make good porn and enjoy good porn, when we dress up like saloon girls or ponies or 1950s biker gangs, we are the universe getting itself off.

Take a moment. Really appreciate that. We are not just how the universe knows itself. We are how the universe enjoys itself.

Serotonin and DopamineA friend of mine has a nerdy T-shirt that says, “Serotonin and dopamine — technically, the only two things you enjoy.” It made me chuckle… and then, me being me, I started to analyze and quibble, and I replied, “Well, if you’re going to get technical about it, serotonin and dopamine aren’t things you enjoy. Technically, serotonin and dopamine are your enjoyment.” Enjoyment is a particular set of configurations of the goop inside our skulls. I know that many people find this view of human experience depressing: cold, mechanical, reductionist. But for me, it’s exactly the opposite. Chemicals turned into different chemicals, which turned into different chemicals… and eventually, over billions of years, they turned into chemicals that generate joy.

And we aren’t just capable of experiencing our own pleasure. We’re capable of experiencing each other’s. We’re capable of giving each other orgasms, and taking pleasure from them. We’re capable of fingering each other’s pussies and sucking each other’s dicks and spanking each others asses, and having it flood our own brains with the chemicals of joy. As much as we are hungry for our own pleasure, we are also capable of being desperately, feverishly hungry for each other’s. We are a miniscule piece of the matter and energy of the universe, looking carefully at some of the rest of the matter and energy, and saying, “How would you like to get off?”

I love that this is how life perpetuates itself. I love that one of the chief ways that evolution works is that the experience of survival and reproduction is a pleasurable one. Life, almost by definition, is that which survives and reproduces — and I love that one of the central mechanisms by which this happens is that, for hundreds of millions of years, survival and reproduction have felt deeply, intensely, overwhelmingly good.

bizarre magazine cover woman in fetish bootsAnd I love that we’ve taken this powerful evolutionary drive to reproduce, and have taken ownership of it. I love that we’ve taken this drive, and have said, “Sure, this was once about reproduction, and sometimes it still is — but it doesn’t have to be. This can be about anything we want.” I love that we’ve dressed it up in studs and feathers, boots and stockings; that we’ve added personal theater and public theater; that we’ve spent millennia exploring it in painting and writing and film and pixels. I love that we can take this drive and use it to turn pain into ecstasy, shame into intimacy, helplessness into adventure, power into trust. I love that we’ve blended this drive with our uniquely human ability to make and use tools, in the form of dildos and vibrators and buttplugs and floggers and condoms and lube and violet wands and things that I don’t even know what they are. I love that we’ve blended this drive with our uniquely human ability to learn and explore and understand, in the form of books and videos and workshops and research papers and blog posts, about anatomy and sociology and psychology and sexology, about birth control and the psychological health of homosexuality and how, exactly, you tie someone to the bed. I love that we’ve blended this drive with our uniquely human ability to precisely communicate through language, so we can say to each other, “What I like is feathers and boots and floggings and vibrators and getting tied to the bed — what do you like?” I love that we’ve taken this powerful evolutionary drive, and have transformed it into expressions of love, friendship, companionship, consolation, community, art. In the words of Darwin, although not about this subject exactly — endless forms most beautiful.

And in the same way that I fall into rage and despair over people who deny their capacity to understand the universe because they think their god forbids it, I sometimes fall into rage and despair over people who deny their capacity to experience pleasure — harmless, honest, entirely ethical pleasure — because they think their god forbids it. In the same way that I fall into rage and despair over people whose religion leads them to not only deny their own capacity for knowledge but to suppress other people’s, I fall into rage and despair over people whose religion leads them to suppress other people’s capacity for pleasure. It makes me rage and despair to think that there are people who are taking their one short life, their miniscule sliver of matter and energy, and are devoting it to denying reality and obstructing joy, because they’ve been taught that this is necessary in order to experience an invisible, inaudible, intangible world that nobody has ever shown any good reason to think even exists. It makes me rage and despair to think that we have such a short time to create understanding and ecstasy, and there are people who are actively devoting their lives to throwing up roadblocks.

But I mostly don’t want to talk about rage and despair today. I want to acknowledge it, I want to recognize it and let it motivate me to make things better, and I want to move on. My own sliver of matter and energy is small, and getting smaller. As They Might Be Giants sang, I’m older than I’ve ever been, and now I’m even older, and now I’m even older, and now I’m even older. I have a small sliver, and I want to devote part of that sliver to demolishing the roadblocks to pleasure — but I also want to devote it to experiencing pleasure, and appreciating it. We have a miniscule sliver of matter and energy; we are an infinitesimal eyeblink in the vastness of time and space. But in that eyeblink, we get to be the universe giving itself pleasure. We get to be chemicals that generate joy. That is extraordinary. That is amazing. So let’s take a moment, and arrange the goop inside our skulls into the configuration of amazement, and let ourselves be amazed.

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Here, by the way, is the embedded video of the reading.

And I’d just like to say: I am betting that this is the only blog post in the world illustrated with an image of the Big Bang, an image of serotonin and dopamine, and an image of a cover of Bizarre Magazine with art by John Willie. If I’m wrong, please let me know — I really, really want to see that other blog post.

Godless Perverts Story Hour on YouTube!

The Godless Perverts Story Hour that was livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference was also recorded, and is available on YouTube!

You can watch and hear readings and performances from Greta Christina (“To Give Itself Pleasure”), Virgie Tovar (“Brother David”), Simon Sheppard (“The Tibetan Book of the Fag”), Juba Kalamka (“Jubilee Showcase (for Aaron Muhammad)”), David Fitzgerald (“There’s Something About Paul”), Dana Fredsti (excerpt from “Champagne!”), and Kate Sirls (“One of Those Girls”). We also had Q&A after the performances, and that’s on the video as well.

The video quality isn’t super-mega-awesome, what with it being a recording of a livestream and all. But it’s not bad, and you get a good sense of the flavor and energy of the show.

We hope to be posting all the individual performances as their own short YouTube videos soon, in case there’s one particular one you want to link to (or want to watch over and over and over again…) In the meantime — enjoy!

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. Our next Godless Perverts Social Club will be on Tuesday, March 4 at 7:00 pm at Wicked Grounds, 289 8th Street in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). Hope to see you there!

Greta Speaking in Pittsburgh, PA and Campbell, CA!

I’ve added some dates to my upcoming speaking schedule! I’ll be speaking in Pittsburgh, PA at Carnegie Mellon on Monday, February 10, on the topic of Atheism and Sexuality. And I’ll be speaking in Campbell, CA on Wednesday, April 30, on the topic of Coming Out Atheist.

Here are the details of all my upcoming speaking events for the next few months, I’ll be speaking in North Carolina, South Carolina, Houston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh PA Columbia MO, Ames IA, St. Peter MN, Salt Lake City, Campbell CA, and Manteca CA. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Asheville, NC
DATE: Saturday, January 18
TIME: 10:00 AM
LOCATION: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, 55 Haywood St, Asheville, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: WNC Humanists
TOPIC: Why Are You Atheists So Angry?
SUMMARY: The atheist movement is often accused of being driven by anger. What are so many atheists so angry about? Is this anger legitimate? And can anger be an effective force behind a movement for social change?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.wnchumanists.org/28.html (Website)
http://www.meetup.com/WNC-Humanists/events/144744672/ (Meetup)

CITY: Charlotte, NC
DATE: Saturday January 18
TIME: 5:00 pm
LOCATION: Cone Center Room 341, University of North Carolina, Charlotte campus
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, 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?
COST: Free (other than possible campus parking) and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://charlotteatheists.org/8-start-the-new-year-with-greta-christina

CITY: Charleston, SC
DATE: Sunday January 19
TIME: 4:00 pm
LOCATION: Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
TOPIC: Resistance Is Not Futile: Is Arguing About Religion Worth It?
SUMMARY: Many atheists think that trying to persuade people out of religion never works, and simply alienates people. But debating believers about their beliefs can be effective — in changing people’s minds about religion, as well as in achieving other goals of the atheist community. When does it makes sense to debate about religion? How should we go about it? And what should our expectations be for what these debates can accomplish?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://lowcountryhumanists.org/eventview.php?idno=351 (Website)
https://www.facebook.com/events/557760070983095/ (Facebook event)

CITY: Houston, TX (Creating Change)
DATE: Friday, January 31 (conference is January 29 – February 2)
TIME: 3:00 – 4:30pm
LOCATION: Hilton of the Americas, Houston, TX
HOSTS/SPONSORS: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
TOPIC: Panel discussion: Ways the LGBT and Secular Movements Can Work Together – and Why They Should! With Samuel Jackson, James Croft, and Marsha Botzer.
COST: $0 – $350 ($395 at the door)
EVENT URL: http://www.creatingchange.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Godless Perverts Story Hour)
DATE: Saturday, February 1
TIME: 7:00 SHARP (This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference, so it will need to start on time)
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Godless Perverts
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Juba Kalamka, Dana Fredsti, Virgie Tovar, Simon Sheppard, Kate Sirls, and hosts David Fitzgerald and myself
EVENT SUMMARY: The Godless Perverts Story Hour is an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.
COST: $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.
SPECIAL NOTE: This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference.
EVENT URL: http://www.godlessperverts.com/ai1ec_event/godless-perverts-story-hour/?instance_id=79

CITY: Pittsburgh, PA (Carnegie Mellon)
DATE: Monday, February 10
TIME: 4:40 PM
LOCATION: Giant Eagle Auditorium, Baker Hall A51, Carnegie Mellon University
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Atheists, Humanists, Agnostics of Carnegie Mellon
TOPIC: Atheism and Sexuality7
SUMMARY: The sexual morality of traditional religion tends to be based, not on solid ethical principles, but on a set of taboos about what kinds of sex God does and doesn’t want people to have. And while the sex-positive community offers a more thoughtful view of sexual morality, it still often frames sexuality as positive by seeing it as a spiritual experience. What are some atheist alternatives to these views? How can atheists view sexual ethics without a belief in God? And how can atheists view sexual transcendence without a belief in the supernatural?

CITY: Columbia, MO (SashaCon)
DATE: March 15-16
LOCATION: 319 Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
HOSTS/SPONSORS: MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics) and Kansas City Atheist Coalition
TOPIC: Coming Out: 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?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Maryam Namazie, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Hemant Mehta, Matt Dillahunty, Dave Muscato, Mary Muscato, Libby Cowgill, Mark Flinn, and Napoleon Chagnon
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://sashacon.com/

CITY: Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University)
DATE: Wednesday, April 9
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: ISU Atheist & Agnostic Society (ISUAAS)
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: St Peter, MN (Gustavus Adolphus College)
DATE: Thursday, April 10
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Wallenberg Auditorium, Nobel Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Gustavus Secular Student Alliance
TOPIC: Why Are You Atheists So Angry?
SUMMARY: See above

CITY: Salt Lake City, UT (American Atheists Convention)
DATE: April 17-20
LOCATION: Hilton Salt Lake City Center
HOSTS/SPONSORS: American Atheists
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: $40 – 329
EVENT URL: http://www.atheists.org/convention2014

CITY: Campbell, CA
DATE: Wednesday, April 30
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: San Jose Woman’s Club, 75 South 11th Street, San Jose, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: San Jose Atheists
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Atheist-Community-of-San-Jose/events/161081902/

CITY: Manteca, CA
DATE: Wednesday, May 21
TIME: 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
LOCATION: Manteca Library, 320 W Center St, Manteca, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Stockton-Atheist/events/157329202/

Would You Have Sex with a Robot?

woman in bed with robotAds for the computer love story Her are everywhere, and it makes me wonder about the ethics of sex robots. Would I ever have sex with one? Or would I find it ooky and gross — in a moral sense, but also aesthetically and erotically? Here’s what I decided.

I certainly don’t have any objections to using sex toys. I don’t have moral objections, or aesthetic/ erotic ones. I think sex toys are awesome, and I use them enthusiastically. And a sex robot would essentially be a sex toy. Unless it had consciousness, from a moral perspective I don’t see how using a robot for sex would be any different than using a vibrator for sex.

But I’m finding the idea ooky.

I think a sex robot would be different from a vibrator, in important ways.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for io9, Would You Have Sex with a Robot? To find out more about my thoughts on the ethics, aesthetics, and… em, robotics, I guess, of having sex with robots, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

_______

UPDATE: In this case, definitely read the comments. It’s a great conversation. Lots of ideas and angles I hadn’t thought of.

Greta Speaking in San Francisco, North Carolina, South Carolina, Houston, SF Again, Columbia MO, St. Peter MN, Ames IA, Salt Lake City, and Manteca CA!

I have a couple of speaking gigs coming up — one of them very soon! In the next few months, I’ll be speaking in San Francisco, North Carolina, South Carolina, Houston, San Francisco Again, Columbia MO, St. Peter MN, Ames IA, Salt Lake City, and Manteca CA. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: San Francisco, CA – Perverts Put Out
DATE: Saturday, January 11
TIME: Doors at 7:00, show at 8:00
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Perverts Put Out
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Sherilyn Connelly, Jen Cross, Juba Kalamka, Thomas Roche, Lori Selke, horehound stillpoint, and special musical guest Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division, plus hosts Dr. Carol Queen and Simon Sheppard
EVENT SUMMARY: 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. Hey, we’ve even been the subject of a Faux News exposé! This is the annual Hangover Edition: join a brilliant bunch of worse-for-wear performers as they get the New Year started with a bang…and maybe a whimper or two.
COST: $10-25 sliding scale
EVENT URL: http://www.simonsheppard.com/simonsheppard%27su.html

CITY: Asheville, NC
DATE: Saturday, January 18
TIME: 10:00 AM
LOCATION: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, 55 Haywood St, Asheville, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: WNC Humanists
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.wnchumanists.org/28.html (Website)
http://www.meetup.com/WNC-Humanists/events/144744672/ (Meetup)

CITY: Charleston, SC
DATE: Sunday January 19
TIME: 4:00 pm
LOCATION: Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
TOPIC: Resistance Is Not Futile: Is Arguing About Religion Worth It?
SUMMARY: Many atheists think that trying to persuade people out of religion never works, and simply alienates people. But debating believers about their beliefs can be effective — in changing people’s minds about religion, as well as in achieving other goals of the atheist community. When does it makes sense to debate about religion? How should we go about it? And what should our expectations be for what these debates can accomplish?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://lowcountryhumanists.org/eventview.php?idno=351 (Website)
https://www.facebook.com/events/557760070983095/ (Facebook event)

CITY: Houston, TX (Creating Change)
DATE: Friday, January 31 (conference is January 29 – February 2)
TIME: 3:00 – 4:30pm
LOCATION: Hilton of the Americas, Houston, TX
HOSTS/SPONSORS: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
TOPIC: Panel discussion: Ways the LGBT and Secular Movements Can Work Together – and Why They Should! With Samuel Jackson, James Croft, and Marsha Botzer.
COST: $0 – $350 ($395 at the door)
EVENT URL: http://www.creatingchange.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Godless Perverts Story Hour)
DATE: Saturday, February 1
TIME: 7:00 SHARP (This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference, so it will need to start on time)
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Godless Perverts
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Juba Kalamka, Dana Fredsti, Virgie Tovar, Simon Sheppard, Kate Sirls, and hosts David Fitzgerald and myself
EVENT SUMMARY: The Godless Perverts Story Hour is an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.
COST: $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.
SPECIAL NOTE: This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference.
EVENT URL: http://www.godlessperverts.com/ai1ec_event/godless-perverts-story-hour/?instance_id=79

CITY: Columbia, MO (SashaCon)
DATE: March 15-16
LOCATION: 319 Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
HOSTS/SPONSORS: MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics) and Kansas City Atheist Coalition
TOPIC: Coming Out: 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?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Maryam Namazie, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Hemant Mehta, Matt Dillahunty, Dave Muscato, Mary Muscato, Libby Cowgill, Mark Flinn, and Napoleon Chagnon
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://sashacon.com/

CITY: Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University)
DATE: Wednesday, April 9
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: ISU Atheist & Agnostic Society (ISUAAS)
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: St Peter, MN (Gustavus Adolphus College)
DATE: Thursday, April 10
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Gustavus Secular Student Alliance
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: Salt Lake City, UT (American Atheists Convention)
DATE: April 17-20
LOCATION: Hilton Salt Lake City Center
HOSTS/SPONSORS: American Atheists
TOPIC: Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: $40 – 329
EVENT URL: http://www.atheists.org/convention2014

CITY: Manteca, CA
DATE: Wednesday, May 21
TIME: 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
LOCATION: Manteca Library, 320 W Center St, Manteca, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Stockton-Atheist/events/157329202/