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April 28, 2012

No, pineapples won't make your junk taste like pina colada

Just yesterday we were talking about the taste of semen. (Yeah, you read that correctly.)

We were checking out some of the Masque samples that we got at the MOMENTUM Conference. (Masque is a new line of orally-dissolvable, flavored gel strips that block the flavors associated with fellatio.) Neither of us is personally that offended by the taste of semen. Maybe we don't love the flavor but we've never had a problem swallowing after oral sex. However we realize that many many men and women do have a problem with the taste, so that's why we think Masque is an ingenious product. Anything that makes oral sex (or sexuality in general) a more positive or enjoyable experience for people is a good thing. And even if you don't mind the taste of semen, sometimes it's fun to mix it up a little. 

So right in the middle of our conversation about the taste of semen, we noticed that Cosmo posted something on Twitter about drinking pineapple juice before oral sex to improve the taste! Oh Cosmo, sometimes it's as though you can read our minds. But then you take that psychic connection and go and fuck it up!

Now, it's not a bad tip. Any fruit high in natural sugar is likely to increase the sweetness of your body's secretions but don't expect your man's penis to taste like a piƱa colada. There is evidence to support the theory that a change in diet can improve the taste of semen, but... it's still semen. However, in true Cosmo-form, they act like this is the most amazing tip ever (like that time they told us about that brand new amazing invention called lube).

Apparently there's a section on their website erroneously called "Cosmo's Best. Sex. Ever. Blog". (Sorry, but if this is the best sex ever, then that's just really really really sad. Read on... you'll see what we mean.) The blog follows the (allegedly) true stories of 20-something "S" and her boyfriend "D"'s sexual escapades:
Our naughty blogger is back and feeling ballsier than ever. And this time, we're letting you ladies choose the dares that S. and D. will be trying out! Every week we'll post two hot ideas on Facebook and Twitter. Then our followers and fans (that's you!) will vote for one or suggest something even hotter and read the sexy recaps right here. 
Neither the sex nor the dares sound very hot or very interesting so far. I mean, it's not shocking - considering that the last time they tried this "sex challenges" idea, they included relatively tame ideas like eating candy necklaces off of each other, kissing for a full minute (gasp!), and putting your hair in a ponytail and having him gently yank it from behind - but it's still a pretty slow start.

And the writing is bad, like cringe-worthy bad, 50 Shades of Grey bad. You can tell that "S" is trying really hard to be cute and witty, while at the same time still come off as totally naughty but she fails at both and the result is just painfully bad. It's kind of hilarious that Cosmo thinks of itself as a magazine full of super sex experts (there are "sex tips" in every issue) yet this is the best they can do for a sex blogger and their first "hot idea" is to eat pineapple. 

Just in case you think we're being unnecessarily snarky, we've included a few excerpts to show just how terrible this sex blog is...
If, like they say, you are what you eat, D. and I would be big pineapples. Actually, as of last night, D. would be my hoo-ha and I would be his peen.
It had been a little while since I'd been on the receiving end of el sexo oral (I've been getting laser hair removal ergo I can't get waxed ergo I'm often unkempt down there ergo I don't let D.'s face get too close)
Double groan.
There's just too much cutesy-ness for a blog that's supposed to be sexy, but when she finally gets to the actual sex-part, it gets even worse.
D. started on top of me, kissing my neck, my chest, my nipples, and my stomach, but he went on like this for a while and didn't make any moves to go farther south so I had the genius idea of taking charge and treating him to an orgasm before I collected mine. That "genius" was sarcastic, bee tee dubs. You'll see why shortly. I sat up so that D. was forced to get on his knees (with my legs around his calves) and started to kiss his torso. This foreplay lasted all of three seconds before I went straight for the business. I don't think I've ever given a beej in this position before (have you?). You sort of have to lean forward and curve your back, which is a tad uncomfortable. And I'm sure the rolls on my stomach would have been enough to deflate D.'s erection faster than an air mattress when you take the stopper out (actually, bad analogy, those things take freaking forever to deflate, but you get the point), but my bobbing head blocked his view so I was blissfully un-self-conscious.
D. tried to use his right hand to reach between my legs, but he couldn't really reach and settled for grabbing my left boob. Apparently that left boob is really something special, because he finished in just a couple minutes.
It's neither erotic, nor informative. It just reads as... bad sex. Or bad oral sex. Or just bad bad bad. (And then there's more nauseatingly twee fake-slang like "bee tee dubs" and "beej", ugh.)
And survey says: the pineapple juice makes a difference! A slight difference. Don't expect cotton candy and ice cream and unicorns, but I did notice that it simply had less of a taste. And that's exactly what I told D.

"It tastes like nothing!" I exclaimed.

"Is that...good?" he asked.

"Yes!" I said, a little too enthusiastically. "Well, it's just...different than usual. Not that your...it isn't...I'm fine with your...it's very..."
I stemmed the verbal vomit by planting a kiss on his stomach.
Nothing sexier than throwing a "vomit" metaphor into your story! And she completely contradicts herself in regards to how effective the pineapple juice really was. Somehow that "slight difference" and "less of a taste" translates to "It tastes like nothing!" I'm sorry, but I don't care how much pineapple juice you're drinking, but it's not going to make semen taste like nothing.

[Hilariously scary naked dude with a pineapple courtesy of Cosmo UK]

But the worst part of the story is yet to come.
We returned to horizontal position, where D. was now easily able to get a hand between my legs. He starting moving two fingers in slow, circular motions over my clitoris. Very slow motions. Very, very slow motions. And that's when I noticed it: D. was drifting off. I moaned loudly to wake him up and he came to. Realizing he needed to get this show on the road, he started heading down.

Things were going well at first. He was doing a lot of flicking and simultaneous hand-and-mouth stimulation (can I add that to my earlier definition of heaven?). But after a minute, the tongue movements slowed down. Slower…slower…slower. HE WAS NODDING OFF AGAIN! Please, someone out there, tell me this has happened to you, and that I'm not the only woman with a sleep-inducing vagina.

He was falling asleep? WTF! This is what Cosmo considers a "sexy recap"? Just because it's about sex doesn't make it sexy. And yet, they have the nerve to include this story in something called the "Best. Sex. Ever. Blog". I'm sure plenty of people have experienced something similar to this, but would you classify it as the best sex ever? I don't think so. It's not even good sex, let alone "best" sex.

We just can't wait until the next "sexy" challenge (not).

But we are somewhat curious about what the actual effects of pineapple juice and other diet changes can have on the taste of semen and vaginal juices. We're pretty skeptical.

In addition to pineapple, other fruits high in natural sugars (like papaya, mango, melon, grapes and apples) are said to help counteract the bitter/salty taste of semen. Drinking water and eating diuretic foods (like parsley, celery, and wheatgrass) can flush out bad toxins. It is also recommended to avoid red meat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, certain "stinky" vegetables (garlic, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus and broccoli) and heavily processed foods. And of course, proper hygiene doesn't hurt!

But there's no magical diet that can make any of your body fluids taste like candy. (Not to mention, that it's quite a lot to ask to insist that your partner change their diet drastically for you, even if it does result in more oral sex.) If a couple wants to play around with different foods and see if it has an effect, we say go for it. But if you're one of those people who really hates the taste of semen, there is not enough pineapple juice in the world to make it suddenly taste good.

April 27, 2012

Sluts Across America

We want to give a shoutout to a new birth control advocacy project called Sluts Across America. In case you've been living under a rock, you know that Rush Limbaugh recently called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute because she testified at a congressional hearing about the importance of adequate insurance coverage for birth control. You also know that Republican politicians across the country are pushing so much anti-choice, anti-woman legislation right now you'd think they were all contestants on America's Next Top Misogynist or something.

Many of us are at the point where we've just about had enough of this fuckery, and we're all finding creative ways to express that. Sluts Across America is one of those efforts:

Birth control is under attack in the United States.

Conservative members of our government and society have launched what is essentially a war on reproductive rights. They have made attempt after attempt to limit the availability of essential services to women, men, and families who need access to them to live healthy, productive lives.

They have also repeatedly made judgment calls on those of us who do choose to use birth control -- calling our morals and values into question and referring to us as sluts, whores, and other derogatory names -- without even trying to understand that the use of birth control represents an awareness of our individual responsibility to do whatever we can to protect our health, and to ensure that the children we bring into this world are born into families who have the resources and ability to take care of them.

"Sluts Across America" is the collective voice of the women and men in this country who use or support birth control, and are sick of being judged because of our desire to be responsible and safe about our sexual health. If protecting ourselves makhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifes us sluts, then it's time to redefine what "slut" actually means.
Obviously we're going to support any project that mocks Rush Limbaugh and points out how ridiculous and unacceptable it is to slut-shame women for talking about birth control and demanding access to proper health care (or for any other reasons). If you want to participate, just go to their site and add your location and a short message about why you support birth control, and are therefore a big old slut. You'll be in good company:

We're so proud of our fellow East Coast sluts right now, way to represent. Come on Southwest, West Coast, and Pacific Northwest - we know you're sluttier than that. Get to work!

April 18, 2012

OB/GYN sexual harassment in Cosmo

Earlier this month, we went to the MOMENTUM Conference on feminism, sexuality and relationships. Those of you who read our blog regularly, know that we always pick up a copy of Cosmo (or a similarly terrible "woman's magazine") when we travel. This trip was no exception. And every time we pick up a copy of Cosmo, we find something in it that really upsets us and needs to be critiqued.

But this month we almost have to give Cosmo some credit. (Almost!) They are still a really fucked up magazine in many, many ways... but it seems as though they might actually be trying to be a little bit better. Or, more likely, they're trying to seem as if they're trying to be better. But they're still just not getting it right.

For example, in this issue (April 2012) there's an article about crazy and/or inappropriate comments that gynecologists have made called "The Crazy Thing My Gyno Said to Me":
Although you never expect a ride in the stirrups to be fun, you certainly don't plan on being harassed. But these women were on the receiving end of snarky one-liners, weird compliments, body put-downs, whacked-out diagnoses, and just plain inappropriate comments.
We have to give them credit that they actually acknowledged that these comments were inappropriate and in some cases could be considered harassment. But at the same time, they compiled a list and turned it all into a big joke (the photo caption says "These girls all just had their hoo-has insulted") without really addressing the examples that were more than just "crazy" and crossed the line to actual harassment. Also, having these more serious anecdotes mixed in with sillier ones (like "she called my cervix my 'pink doughnut'" or "she said I have the smallest uterus she'd ever seen") makes light of the whole situation when really some of these incidents should've been taken seriously and even reported.

There's a sidebar that asks the question "Are Female Gynos More Judgy?" and a suggestion to send your personal stories to them on Twitter under the hashtag #CrazyGyno, when they really should've included a sidebar telling their readers what they should do about these kinds of inappropriate comments.

We did a little research on where/how you can report a doctor for bad behavior and found the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics. You can use this as your first step of determining whether or not your physician acted unethically or unprofessionally (as opposed to just unofficially "weird" or "creepy"). The AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs has developed guidelines for physicians who strive to practice ethically, which can be found here.

The AMA recommends approaching your physician directly if you have a concern, but in certain extreme cases you might not feel safe doing that. If your doctor is part of a group practice, you also can speak to one of the physicians in the practice, or if they are associated with a hospital, there may be a formal system for which to voice grievances or lodge complaints. Then there's also your state's licensing board, which should be able to review your doctor's conduct and take disciplinary action at the local level. You can find contact info for licensing boards in each state here.

The AMA also recommends contacting one or more of the state and national specialty society or association for more insight into policies or guidelines specific to your concern. In this case, that might be the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society. (For more resources, try here.)

If all else fails and it's determined that your doctor's behavior - while creepy and inappropriate - isn't technically an ethical violation, there's still the option of leaving a review for that doctor online, warning future patients. Some online review sites for medical professionals include HealthGrades.com and RateMDs.com. (There are also doctor reviews on AngiesList.com and Yelp.com.)

So we thought we'd pick out some of the examples that really did cross a line from "weird" to wrong and give the advice that the "author" Annie Daly should've given.

Judgmental comments
"I was on my grad school's medical plan and needed a birth-control refill. I ended up getting a rambling lecture from the health-center gyno about how I had to be extra careful with my fiance because, as she said, 'He will cheat on you one day. It's just a matter of time.' When I assured her I trusted him, she called me naive." -- Virginia, 30
"I was 18 and at the gyno for the first time. Before asking me anything about my sexual history, he stated, 'I'm glad you've chosen to practice abstinence. It's safer in the long run.' I was too shy to correct him and make it clear that I wasn't abstinent. When I saw him the next year, he repeated the same thing, and then again a year later! I guess it was his stock phrase, but what kind of doctor would not accept the fact that young women have sex?" -- Hannah, 21
The first example might not qualify as a breach of ethics as far as the American Medical Association is concerned, but we would've filed a complaint with the school's administration.

The second example, we feel might fall under "intimidation". The physician has an ethical obligation to place his patient's welfare above his own self-interest/obligation to other groups, but by deciding for her that she's chosen to practice abstinence (without asking her if this is in fact her choice) and doing it in a way that's possibly intended to shame her into abstinence, he's not providing her with the care she needs. That is, there's no discussion of safe sex, birth control options, STD tests... all basic parts of gynecological care that she's being deprived access.

According to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics' Code of Ethics:
The principles of medical ethics applied to all individuals, such as beneficence (maximize best health outcomes), non-maleficence (do no harm), autonomy (ensure rights of persons to make informed choices about their own health care), and justice, are derived from and consistent with general human rights.[...] These rights imply a need to inform public opinion and to promote a respectful public dialogue, including different ethical and religious perspectives and noting that freedom of religion includes the requirement that no one religion or belief can impose its values on others." [emphasis ours]
The doctor really should be trying to serve the best interests of his patients, which would include asking her questions about her sexual activity/history, not telling her that she is practicing abstinence.

Now, a lot of this comes down to a patient's need to self-advocate. Ask questions, correct misconceptions, and demand the care you need. But at 18, at your first visit ever, when you're probably still under your parents' health insurance and possibly still living at home with your parents... it's definitely easier to be intimidated into making choices that aren't your own. A good doctor should know better and shouldn't try to impose his own values on his patients (and should maintain a level of confidentiality with his patients as well).

Unsanitary care
"I went in for a Pap test, and my doctor showed up with her lunch in her hand. When it came time to spread my legs, she took another bite and chewed while her hands were inside me." -- Sammi, 21

This one definitely is some kind of breach in our opinion. Not only is it gross, but you have a right to be treated in a sanitary facility. Your doctor should be wearing gloves to examine you and there should definitely not be food anywhere near your body! Most offices do have certain standards of care that they abide by. If this doctor was part of a practice, I would make a formal complaint to the office.

Miscellaneous creepy
"I always get fidgety and nervous before a Pap test. I guess my facial expressions revealed my discomfort because my MD looked at me and said, 'Oh, come on. How many partners have you had? This thing is nowhere near as big as a penis.' I was completely appalled. 'Yeah, but a penis is not cold or metal, nor does it open up while inside my vagina, ' I responded. She was pretty quiet after that." -- Wendy, 20

"My gyno said, while huddled over my vadge, 'You are very cute. Are you single? I have a son your age, and I think you two would hit if off." -- Samantha, 23
The first one may or may not be an ethical violation, but it's definitely not okay. That to us would warrant a change in doctor and at the very least, a formal complaint to the office or practice.

Whereas the second one is a little more of a gray area. Definitely inappropriate, definitely uncomfortable... but is it a breach in ethics? Maybe. Aside from the fact, that your doctor shouldn't be calling you "cute" while he's looking at your genital area, while it might not be an explicit violation, it most certainly leads to a whole slew of potential issues. Bad enough that she may have to fear that he will try to reciprocate or drop her as a patient if she says no, but if she does date his son... that just opens the door to so many possible problems.

Aside from the obvious issues of embarrassment (a lot of women might not feel comfortable talking to their boyfriend's father about sex and birth control.) For one, there's the issue of confidentiality. If she begins dating his son, she may be uncomfortable answering her doctor's questions honestly. If she discloses that she is sexually active with multiple partners, that puts her doctor in a strange position. And what happens the next time she's in for a pregnancy test or STD screening? Not only does this in some ways, indirectly, reveal his son's personal and/or medical information to his father, but it puts the doctor in a position where he may feel compelled to violate his patient's privacy.

While a doctor is permitted to contact a patient's past or current sexual partners to notify them that they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, the doctor is not permitted to reveal the name of the patient. However, if your dad's office calls you to tell you you've been exposed to an STD and you know your girlfriend/date is a patient of his, then it's not too hard to "guess" her private and confidential medical information.

Additionally, there is an ongoing debate over whether it is appropriate for a doctor to examine and treat his own family members. Obviously that doesn't necessarily extend to his son's girlfriend... but if things were to get serious and they were to marry, that would make her his daughter-in-law.

Sexual harassment
"While doing an exam, my OB-GYN, his face closer to my hoo-ha than it needed to be, told me how beautifully groomed I was, then patted my butt. I was so floored, I just mumbled 'Thank you' and prayed for the exam to be over." -- Emily, 32
"I went to my school health center for my yearly visit. During the breast-exam part, while feeling and fondling my boobs for signs of cancer, my gyno gushed about how smooth and pretty they were. Thanks, doc?" -- Morgan, 22

Almost everyone knows that it's unethical for a doctor to have (or try to have) a sexual relationship with a patient, but what is happening here goes well beyond that issue and is straight-up harassment. These two incidents are so blatantly inappropriate and wrong, that it really disturbs me that Cosmo has included them with the other "jokey" anecdotes. It's called sexual harassment and it's never okay, but it's especially awkward and violating when it's done by a gynecologist because of the already personal and sensitive nature of their examinations.

The doctor-patient relationship relies on trust and in this case, intimacy. A doctor should never "hit on" his or her patients, because it is virtually impossible for the patient to give meaningful consent. But what is happening in the two incidents above are not examples of doctors merely "hitting on" their patients. They are examples of doctors exploiting their power and positions, as gynecologists, to physically violate their patients.

Now, yes, I have heard cases of women who were so uninformed about their own medical care, that they honestly did not know what a pelvic exam or breast exam consisted of. Therefore, they may have mistaken actual, legitimate examination for inappropriate conduct. But in these cases, it is clear that the doctor's conduct is inappropriate. In the first story, there's no way to necessarily determine how close his face did or did not need to be... but his comment was inappropriate and his pat on the butt is clearly a violation. In the second exam, it's not clear whether they performed the breast exam appropriately or inappropriately (use of the term "fondling" makes me a bit uneasy), but the comments are obviously inappropriate and do potentially cross the line from "innocent compliment" to sexual harassment.

You are already putting yourself in a vulnerable position when you go to any doctor, but at an OB/GYN, the intimacy of the exams takes that a step further. Therefore those doctors need to have an even higher level of behavior and bedside manner. Stories like those above should never happen and when they do, they should never be included in light-hearted stories as Cosmo has done. They should be taken seriously, pointed out to be the sexual harassment and ethics violations that they clearly are, and reported.

We think that Cosmo's "reporting" (ha!) was not only insensitive but irresponsible. But of course, we're not shocked.

April 17, 2012

Condom Quickie: No Condoms as Evidence!

You may or may not be aware that in New York, the police and the courts can currently use the fact that a person has or is carrying condoms to prove that they are engaging in criminal activity (i.e., prostitution). WTF right?

Obviously this is ridiculous - any laws that discourage people from carrying condoms, in effect discourages them from using condoms - something that everyone should be doing, not just sex workers. It's 2012, we should be way beyond the antiquated ideas that women who carry condoms are unladylike or slutty. They're smart and they're safe. Condoms are not shameful and carrying them should not be "illegal" or "evidence". 

New York State Bill A1008/S323 (also known as the "No Condoms as Evidence Bill") would stop police and prosecutors from using possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution, based on the premise that it is a much better public health policy to encourage condom use, by eliminating the fear that carrying them might be used against you in a court of law.

Today, Tuesday April 17, supporters of sex workers' rights, public health experts, sex educators, and human rights advocates have gone to Albany to lobby the New York State Assembly to pass Bill A1008/S323. Today there will be a press conference held, calling on the Assembly to pass this legislation and stop discouraging sex workers and other New Yorkers from carrying condoms.

Even if you're not in Albany today, you can still help! You can get more information on the bill, on why it's important, and on what you can do here.

April 8, 2012

How to Lose Your Virginity

We recently helped support the film How to Lose Your Virginity (a documentary project by Therese Schecter) on Kickstarter. We were lucky enough to be able to see a preview of this film at the MOMENTUM conference last weekend and we were really impressed by it and are really looking forward to seeing the finished film. If you'd like to learn more and support Therese as she finishes this project, check out her page on Kickstarter.

By making a donation to the project on Kickstarter, you'll not only support a great project but you'll also choice of rewards and thank yous. Here's a little more info on the film:
I am not going to tell you how to have sex for the first time. I do want to know why, in our hyper-sexualized American culture, we're so obsessed with virginity.
Our goal for How To Lose Your Virginity is to undo centuries of myths and contradictions around virginity, and to encourage an honest conversation with people navigating the confusing process of deciding when and why to become sexual. What do a rock violinist, an Ivy League blogger and an Ohio engineer have in common? They're all subverting the virginity narrative in our film.

The "How to Lose Your Virginity" trailer from Trixie Films on Vimeo.
Thanks to our fantastic supporters we've finished our first rough cut, are talking with distributors and have given voice to young people all over the world who've submitted their own stories to our blog. The project earned spots in prestigious events such as the IFP Film Market, the Paley Center pitching forum, and the Hot Docs Documentary Festival Master Class.
We're excited to be back with a second Kickstarter campaign to raise money to finish up the film, hire our composer and animator and license our footage. We are so close to being done, but we can't finish without a successful fundraiser.
If you've been following the media, you know the subject is more timely than ever: Recently, Rush Limbaugh told single women everywhere that they’d better act like virgins if they don’t want to be shamed as sluts and insulted on national television. Fifty years after the sexual revolution, this attitude continues to define a young woman’s morality and self-worth.
Female virginity has been ‘restored’ through surgery, fetishized by porn and commoditized by popular culture. The US government has spent $1.5 billion dollars promoting it through abstinence programs. It’s fetched tens of thousands of dollars at auction. That's our damaging virginity culture at work and our film addresses these issues head-on.
What does How to Lose Your Virginity mean to young people? Here's what one young woman told me:
“Hearing about other people’s experiences with virginity made me feel differently about losing my own, and all the soul searching that resulted. I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to achieve a normal sex life, but I feel more comforted that maybe one day it’ll happen.” Read more of these
My first documentary I Was a Teenage Feminist ignited a movement to redefine feminism for the 21st century at universities, on television and at events all over the world–and it’s still going strong seven years later.
I invite you to join me in this new quest to discover how young women are encouraged by the media to look hypersexual, called prudes for not putting out, and then punished for actually having a sex life. Using my own journey out of 'virginity' to guide the story, I'll introduce you to a group of amazing women and men telling their own personal stories from across the sexuality spectrum.
The road to understanding our obsession with virginity will take you to places you never thought you’d go–from a Love & Fidelity Abstinence Conference at Harvard to the set of a Barely Legal porn movie shoot in the San Fernando Valley.
The film features the wisdom and wit of Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Heather Corinna, Hanne Blank, Jessica Valenti, Shelby Knox, Abiola Abrams, Sady Doyle among others.
There is little if any funding for independent media that focuses on the lives of young women, especially films like How to Lose Your Virginity which encourage young people to challenge the damaging messages in the pop culture landscape.
You have the power to challenge these damaging messages by making a generous donation to fund the final cut of the film. Your backing will help us raise the $35,000 that will catalyze this conversation to a whole new level. This is not just a film, it's a multi-media project with huge outreach potential.
As a result of being in the IFP Film Market, we've had massive interest in the project, but–and this is a big but–distributors today need to see a finished film before they can get it onto television, into theaters and into schools.
That's why we need you.
Become a backer for just $10, snag some great rewards and ensure that How to Lose Your Virginity gets out into the world.
Since we debuted the film's first trailer on Vimeo, we’ve had over 60,000 views, hundreds of blog posts and an overwhelming number of people speaking to each other through our online crowd-sourced First Person story series. Demand for this kind of information is so high, the trailer is already being used in university Human Sexuality classes across North America.
Kickstarter recently said their projects could bring in more funding this year than the National Endowment for the Arts; grants are few and far between.
• Back How to Lose Your Virginity today to support independent media and documentaries that are changing the conversation, speak out against the sexism of virginity culture, and make sure conservative blowhards can't shame us for our sexual decisions.
Want to help but are totally broke? You can also help by spreading the word to everyone you know using the links right under the video above! Every single dollar, Facebook post, blog entry and tweet gets us that much closer to our goal. Please check out our blog, become our Facebook friend or follow us on Twitter.
Thank you so much from Therese, Lisa, Ellice, Dina, Jude, Matt and the rest of Team Trixie Films!
 This project will only be funded if at least $35,000 is pledged by Wednesday May 9, 6:00 pm so please help Therese reach her goal by then!

April 6, 2012

10 Things About Momentum '12

This past weekend (March 30-April 1) we attended the MOMENTUM Conference in the Washington, D.C. area. Just like last year, we had an amazing time! Here is our recap... 10 things about MOMENTUM:

#1. The Backstory

This was the second annual MOMENTUM Conference on sexuality, feminism and relationships. The conference was organized by Dee Dennis (@deedennis) and Tess Danesi (@urban_gypsy) of Tied Up Events. Although MOMENTUM's main focus was sex, it was not a sex event. There was no public or organized 'play' (although attendees were obviously free to make whatever private arrangements they wanted). If you haven't already been reading along on Twitter, you can join the conversation at hashtag #mcon or follow @momentumcon.

We had nothing but praise for Momentum last year (which, if you know us, says a lot - we rarely rave about anything). We expected some beginner mistakes and mishaps, considering that it was their first year, but everything went as smoothly as possible and it was easily one of the best conferences we have ever been to. (Read about our experience at last year's MOMENTUM Conference here.)

#2. The Sessions and Keynotes and Performances

Maria Falzone (@mariafalzone)
Description: A hilarious and inspirational performance that addresses serious sexual subjects in a frank and funny manner. Through lecture and audience participation, Falzone speaks to students about topics from safe sex to self-sex and everything in between. The message behind “SEX RULES” is that sex should be fun and satisfying emotionally, as well as physically.
Quotes: "If someone calls you a cunt, respond with 'that's juicy cunt to you, now move on and don't make me slap you with it.'"
Reactions: Maria Falzone is loud, over-the-top, honest, open, engaging, and totally hilarious. She performed at last year's conference and we loved her just as much this year. Even when some of the material was the same as what she said last year, we still found ourselves laughing and nodding as if we were hearing it for the first time.

The Opening Keynote Plenary:
Making Waves in Sexuality, Feminism and Relationships

Dr. Charlie Glickman (@CharlieGlickman), Dr. Logan Levkoff (@LoganLevkoff), Bill Taverner (@sexedjournal) and Audacia Ray (@audaciaray). Moderated by Carol Queen (@carolqueen).
Description: The keynote panelists, all of whom have made significant impact in their own spheres, discuss the role of sexuality in today’s culture, how they make waves that help change perceptions about sex, feminism and relationships and what attendees can do to carry forward the momentum by generating conversations about sexuality.
Quotes: 'I have problems with the term sex toys because it makes them sound like novelties, when for many they are necessities.' - Logan Levkoff

"If we continue to treat adult sexuality as something dangerous, our young people don't stand a chance." - Logan Levkoff

"Be excellent to each other." - Charlie Glickman
Reactions: We admit that this panel is a bit of a blur of sexy goodness in our minds since we were still in 'OMG we're finally at MOMENTUM!' mode, and we were too busy eating meatballs to live tweet (more on that later). But it was a really interesting discussion and a great way to kick off the weekend. And honestly, any panel moderated by Carol Queen is an automatic winner in our book. We loved Charlie Glickman's suggestion that we all try to bring "fierce compassion" to the debates about reproductive freedom and sex ed and other hot button issues, and also Logan Levkoff's honesty about how incredibly fucking hard it is to do that sometimes.

One part of this discussion that we didn't entirely agree with was Audacia Ray's talk about why she no longer identifies as a sex positive feminist. (You can read a version of her comments on her blog.) She raised some really important questions and critiques of sex positive feminism, but at the same time it also felt a bit patronizing to us, as if she was saying that since she's decided that the term "sex positive feminism" no longer has value to her, we should all agree or we're just unenlightened and wrong. We're sure she didn't mean it that way, but it just came across a little weird to us. But one thing we will say is that we could see that it sparked a lot of discussion and debate in the room, and in a room full of super smart and creative MOMENTUM attendees that's never a bad thing.

Sexual Freedom and the Law
Diana Adams
Description: Why is sexual pleasure treated as 'dangerous' by the religious right? How can we activists use political messaging to defend our rights to sexual freedom and privacy? Adams, a sexual civil rights attorney, will educate you on the current state of the war on sexual pleasure and facilitate a discussion about the best political and legal strategies to create positive messages about sexual freedom.
Quotes: "In Alabama today, the fine for selling a gun to a child: $500. The fine for selling a dildo or vibrator: $10,000 and one year in jail."- Diana Adams
"Explicitly, 'let's get these single moms married.' I think a single mother needing to get married to be able to support her children and have health insurance is the government being her pimp. You should not need to enter into a sexual relationship to get your basic economic needs met."- Diana Adams
Reactions: This was a great discussion about the ways that the government and the law recognize, promote, and protect certain types of families and behaviors and what those of us who might fall outside of that mainstream can do to challenge this status quo while also taking steps to protect ourselves and our relationships. It also made us glad that we don't live in Alabama, because we could easily be arrested for the "intent to sell" sex toys based solely on the number of free vibrators that we've collected at conferences over the years. (Someone mentioned that the number is six or more. We definitely have more than that and many of them are still in their original packaging! We should have a vibrator yard sale.)

Sex and the Media: Who Wins?
Brian Gross (@bsgpr)
Description: The relationship between sex and the media is a love/hate one. The industries of sexuality see incredible response when spoken of in the media, but what's the cost? The media loves to use sexuality to sell publications, bring ratings, and increase advertising revenue. However, they don't necessarily paint the prettiest or most accurate picture. We discuss the relationship, the dos and don'ts, and how you can come out ahead.
Quotes: "One word I never use is the word 'pornography'. It's a bad word, unfortunately. When I deal with media people I never use that word, I use 'adult film'. And when you think about the pieces you read and the things you see on TV, things you read on the Internet... pornography is looked at as a bad word." - Brian Gross
"With sexuality, now we can break it down and have all these great discussions of what everyone's involved in -- but to the media as a whole, it's sexuality. And they are either gonna support you or they're gonna say 'no thank you.'" - Brian Gross
Reactions: With the word 'slut' in our name, we know what it feels like to have people who won't work with you, so it was interesting to hear about how the media looks at businesses that are sex-related or 'adult' content.

Sexuality and Social Media
Stef Woods (@citygirlblogs), Dr. Jennifer Gunsaullus (@drjennsden), Maggie Campbell (@asimple_melody) and Carmen Rios (@c_rios)

Description: This workshop examines the interplay between sex, sexuality and social media. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the growth of social media as it pertains to sexuality? How has the evolution of online communication and social networks encouraged sexual expression, sex education and activism? How has social media increased fear, misinformation, prejudice, and harassment with respect to individual and group sexuality? What is the impact of social media on relationships and forming identities? What role can bloggers, sex educators and sexual health advocates play in helping to answer those questions?
Quotes: "Sometimes people prefer to call it 'new media' or 'digital media' because we can be as social or as anti-social as we want. We can be as authentic... or not. These are all choices that we can make. What's going on out there we can't control, but we can control what we put about ourselves online. What we're doing personally and professionally to control our reputation, our online presence, our personal brand." - Stef Woods
Reaction: This was a great panel and a really interesting discussion about the ways that we all negotiate social media differently. There was a debate about whether blogging anonymously means you have less credibility - the group didn't come to a consensus, but we think most people came down on the side of 'if you have good content it shouldn't matter'. There was also a lot of talk about compartmentalizing your social media identity, whether that means expressing different parts of yourself on different sites or just adjusting your Facebook privacy settings so that your family doesn't see all of your status updates about how Rick Santorum is an anti-choice douchebag and 50 Shades of Grey isn't the best BDSM erotica out there.

The Pleasure Revolution: Feminist Subversives Then and Now
Rebecca Chalker (@clitoraltruth) and Lara Riscol (@larariscol)

Description: Feminist sexuality activism after 1968 created a dynamic, profound and far-reaching shift in sexual values and practices that recast the heteronormative, androcentric paradigm to include the sexual needs, interests, problems and preferences of women. Chalker coins this movement, “The Pleasure Revolution,” in which feminists critiqued Freud, wrote subversive novels and sex advice books, popularized masturbation, demanded respect for lesbians, opened their own sex shops, did their own sex surveys, rehabilitated the clitoris, challenged male-centered psychology, made “cunt art,” created their own porn, and in the process, reinvented sex for women and their partners! Chalker evaluates the work of these “pleasure activists,” in the 1970s and 80s, with respect to their legacy. Riscol captures today’s historic Pleasure Revolution revived over recent years to combat politically potent mainstreamed Christian fundamentalism against female sexual autonomy and gender deviance. New media has not only enabled pleasure activists a reverberating voice in political and cultural debates mired in purity vs. perversion nostalgia, but also a more intersectional feminism to include men, sexual and gender queers, people of color, and immigration and sex workers rights activists. The revolution will be tweeted!
Quotes: Press covering Judy Chicago's iconic feminist art piece The Dinner Party used the term "butterfly plates" because they couldn't or wouldn't reference vulvas in print. - Rebecca Chalker
"Everyone here hopefully knows feminists never burned their bras. That never happened. It was never a part of history, except for a PR event. It was a PR stunt, but that was not what feminism was about. But that's how we grow up learning ... that is the story. The history-makers, the victors are those who tell the best story. And they maintain and they keep that story to marginalize and belittle the feminist movement. Pitting the housewives and working women against the lesbians and the marginalized women of color, dividing within." - Lara Riscol
Reaction: We both felt like we were back in our college women's history and gender studies classes with this one. It's easy to be preoccupied with everything that's going on now and looking to the future, but this session was a great reminder that we can draw so many lessons and so much inspiration from the "pleasure revolutionaries" who have blazed a trail for us.

Feminist Porn as Cultural Critique
Lynn Comella, PhD (@lynncomella), Carol Queen, PhD (@carolqueen), Tina Horn (@tinahornsass and Sinnamon Love (@sinnamonlove)
Description: It’s not uncommon for sex positive feminists, including those who make, watch, study and write about pornography, to be accused of lacking a meaningful critique of the mainstream adult industry. This session discusses how we can reframe the very idea of what counts as “feminist critique” and “sex positive” by focusing on the ways in which cultural producers use media texts, sexual images and ethical production practices as modes of political intervention that challenge ideas about “business as usual” within the adult industry.

Quotes: "Before we can critique porn for it's lack of appropriate sex education, we have to look at how are we educating (or failing to educate) young people that then become adults that are poorly educated when it comes to sex and look at why porn is used as the primary of sex education for adults that have been poorly educated by the system." - Sinnamon Love
"I think that anyone who is against pornography in any way, because of the images and the kind of stuff that people could learn from it, must be an advocate and activist for good, comprehensive, pleasure-based, thorough sex education. If not, they are talking through their hat. They are partisan. Because if they care about that, we've got a world in which this is such a crucial question and everybody's work is needed to help make sex education better and where are they at that table?" - Carol Queen
Reaction: We attended Lynn Comella and Carol Queen's session last year and it was fantastic, so as soon as we saw that they were teaming up again as part of this panel we knew we were so there. This session took an interesting approach to the topic of feminism and porn by looking at the ways that feminist porn itself can serve as a critique of sexism in "mainstream" porn - respectful and fair treatment of performers, choosing a diverse group of performers rather than one stereotypical 'porn star' look, allowing performers to express themselves in ways they're comfortable with and to do what they think is sexy rather than what the audience may expect to see, and so on. We also thought it was interesting that both Tina Horn and Sinnamon Love stated that winning Feminist Porn Awards made them more likely to identify as feminists themselves and think about their work in feminist terms.

How To Lose Your Virginity
Therese Shechter (@trixiefilms)

Description: Another presenter was unable to attend at this last minute, so Therese Shechter filled in with a preview of her documentary How to Lose Your Virginity:

I am not going to tell you how to have sex for the first time. I do want to know why, in our hyper-sexualized American culture, we're so obsessed with virginity.

Our goal for How To Lose Your Virginity is to undo centuries of myths and contradictions around virginity, and to encourage an honest conversation with people navigating the confusing process of deciding when and why to become sexual. What do a rock violinist, an Ivy League blogger and an Ohio engineer have in common? They're all subverting the virginity narrative in our film.
Reaction: We were really impressed by the preview and we're looking forward to seeing the finished film. If you'd like to learn more and support Therese as she finishes the project, check out her page on Kickstarter.

The Closing Keynote Plenary:
Sex in America: Changing the Conversation Beyond Smut and Sanctimony
Dr. Joycelyn Elders (@eldersrev), Esther Perel (@estherperel) and Lara Riscol (@larariscol)
Description: Adultery, abortion, homosexuality, transgender rights, teen sex, female promiscuity, virginity campaigns, sex ed, pornography, prostitution and family values all clog public debate, especially in an election year. Despite America’s hypersexualized consumer culture, the practice of policing and demonizing sexualities continues unabated, while an Ozzie and Harriet, Sandra Dee nostalgia binds us to sexual myths that harm us as individuals, as lovers, as a society. As today’s infotainment era churns out a “smut and sanctimony” narrative that divides our nation regardless of sexual lives lived, how do we change the conversation? When we’re taught that sex is dirty but save it for the one we love, is it any surprise that so many couples become erotically alienated? How do the politics of sex enter the bedroom? Join three bold thinkers–known for challenging the sexual status quo–in a thoughtful and provocative conversation about sex, pleasure, desire, eroticism, infidelity and monogamy.
Quotes: "We're talking about very serious issues - personal, political, cultural, societal issues - that need to be addressed. that we need to talk about. And MOMENTUM is addressing these issues by talking about sex." - Lara Riscol
"This is part of a strategic, powerful, well-funded relentless decades long attempt to capture the soul of America. It is an all-out war... cultural warrior, theo-conservative. Those who want to take us back to a biblical world view. And so it serves them well to play up the scary stuff of modernity, the toxic pop culture and hypersexualization and dump all of that toxicity on those who are working towards reform and change and rights. And their mission is ultimately to take us back to an America before we had those rights." - Lara Riscol
"If you can't control your reproduction, you can't control your life." -Dr. Joycelyn Elders

"The best contraception in the world is a good education." - Dr. Joycelyn Elders

"The vows of abstinence break far more easily than latex condoms." - Dr. Jocelyn Elders

"In this country, Puritanism and hedonism collide every second." - Esther Perel

"Monogamy used to be one person for life, now it's one person at a time...I want one person to give me everything a village used to provide." - Esther Perel
Reaction: This panel was absolutely amazing and the perfect way to finish off the conference. Dr. Elders, Esther Perel, and Lara Riscol are rock stars and together they created an engaging, inspiring, and thought-provoking discussion. People were tweeting up a storm because there were so many quotable lines, and we think just about everyone left the room recharged and ready to go out there and create some momentum of their own.

#3. The Sponsors and Vendors
The premier sponsor of the conference was Masque™ (@yourmasque), a brand new company with a really cool product designed to "bring you and your partner closer together—inside the bedroom and out." Based on the idea that, for some people, the taste of semen can make the act of fellatio less enjoyable, Masque's orally-dissolvable, flavored gel strips take the intimacy between you and your partner to the next level by blocking the flavors associated with oral sex.

We think this is just a really interesting product, because while we personally don't have a huge problem with the taste of semen, we know countless women and men who do... So anything that helps make giving oral sex a more enjoyable experience is a good idea in our opinion. We want to give them a very big THANK YOU for sponsoring this conference because we truly are very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend such an awesome event for such a low price. It's really awesome to see companies support something like MOMENTUM and the concept of sex positivity, especially those that can help make sex more positive for more people. We went home with a few samples and we're looking forward to trying the product out soon. (Stay tuned for a review when we do.)

Additional sponsors of MOMENTUM included:

Gold Level Sponsor: Tenga, the manufacturer of the male masturbator “TENGA”, the most popular masturbator in Asia.
TENGA’s stylish design is meant to offer the user an experience of sensual sensations like never before while avoiding any visual imitation of any sexual organ. This modern, non-obscene approach helps to overcome the taboo factor and the combination of materials and ergonomic shapes offers innovative technology in the market of male pleasure.

Recharge Room Sponsor: Trigg Laboratories manufactures premium sexual wellness and consumer healthcare products and is parent company to Wet® International, Inc., an international leader in personal lubricants, aromatherapy massage oils and intimacy products.
Wet® products are developed, formulated and packaged at Trigg Laboratories’ 52,000 square foot facility in Valencia, California. Developed, tested, and manufactured to comply with stringent FDA Medical Device regulations in state-of-the-art facilities, each of Wet’s 80+ products are developed to exceptional purity, consistency and comfort levels. Currently available in 62 countries, Wet® is sold by adult specialty boutiques as well as food, drug, mass merchandise retail, including most major U.S. drugstore chains.

Silver Level Sponsors

JanesGuide.com, led by Jane Duval and "Vamp", is a team of website reviewers who have been writing about sex for nearly fifteen years and bring you the best in paysites, product reviews, adult blogging, sexuality resources and education.

Good Vibrations has provided high quality products, education, and information that promotes sexual health, pleasure, and empowerment for over three decades.

Good Vibrations is a diverse, woman-focused retailer providing high-quality, sex-positive products and non-judgmental, accurate sex information through our clean and comfortable stores, catalog, web site, wholesale division, product and movie production lines in order to enhance our customers’ sex lives and promote healthy attitudes about sex. We invented the concept of the clean, well-lighted vibrator store and we’re proud to provide a safe and welcoming environment where customers can shop for sex toys, books, movies, and attend workshops.
Safe Office is a subscription based website designed specifically for those who value security, privacy, and discretion. It is designed by and for Service Providers.
Get sensitive data off PCs and phones that are notoriously NOT secure and at risk of theft, damage, or seizure. Enjoy the privacy and reliability of offshore venue and hosting. Separate your work life from your personal life. Organize your business. Increase your profits. Protect the privacy of both you and your clients. Track your Contacts, Schedule, History, Projects, Mailing Lists, Passwords, Bookmarks, and more. Share “Resources” and “Blacklist” information with other members of the Community.

njoy creates "pleasure instruments that stimulate more than the obvious senses".
All njoy toys are crafted in premium medical grade stainless steel for purity, beauty, and infinite durability. Employing precision design, superior new-world craftsmanship, and a healthy dose of naughty creativity, we present to you the finest of erotic products. We hope you have as much fun playing with our toys as we have designing them… njoy!

Standard Innovation Corporation is a world leader in designing and manufacturing high quality, safe, eco-friendly intimate products including the popular We-Vibe.
Since the launch in 2004, the We-Vibe has quickly become the fastest selling sexual wellness product of its type in history, with over 2 million products sold worldwide since the launch in 2008. Committed to engineering products aimed at improving couples’ fun and intimacy, this Canadian company has expanded their product line to include the Touch, Tango and Salsa (all by We-Vibe®) and plan to continue to expand their comprehensive product portfolio to provide innovative solutions to help couples have more fun.
The full family of Standard Innovation’s We-Vibe ® products are currently distributed by drug stores and fine boutiques in over 50 countries around the world.

Bronze Level Sponsors

HotMoviesForHer.com is porn for women!

We hand pick through the largest online adult library to find the best movies just for women – on demand and ready to watch, along with a FREE blog full of movie reviews, sex tips, erotic stories, interviews, our own fun ramblings, and more! No monthly or recurring charges; you just pay for what you watch, without the hassles.

Tantus manufactures the world’s finest adult toys.

All Tantus Toys are hand-made from the highest quality 100% Ultra-Premium Platinum Silicone, are designed to work with the body’s anatomy, and are manufactured in the USA. Since 1998, Tantus has built a reputation as the industry leader through our elevated level of quality and exclusive product designs.

Sexquire’s founder, Davis, a small-business attorney, has spent over seven years working with clients in all areas of the adult industry: including brick and mortar and online retail stores, sex toy manufacturers, dungeon and club owners, sex educators, adult performers, sex workers, adult event producers and authors.

Davis has spent an equally long time vetting other professionals for her clients. Fed up with the sex-negativity and misunderstandings she found with many other service providers, Davis created Sexquire in order to have a team of professionals at the ready to assist sex-positive businesses and companies in whatever needs arise. Sexquire’s team includes a core group of regular service providers, as well as a world-wide network of companies and individuals who regularly work within the adult and kink industries. No matter your need, give us a call and if we don’t have a perfect fit we’ll go out and find one for you. Convenience and quality service – it’s what Sexquire is all about.

Artpulp.net was created to with the goal to support the creative process, give voice to artists, and encourage others to choose creativity.

Since 1996, the Aneros Company has been dedicated to crafting unique, effective sexual aids that promote health as well as pleasure, led by our patented line of hands-free Aneros Prostate Stimulators. We will be working diligently to introduce our line of female products that will uphold the Aneros tradition and standard of innovation and quality.

Superior Strap on harness and bondage toys designed for your pleasure! ASLAN creates products inspire people to explore desire in new ways. Give yourself permission… ASLANLeather.com.

MOMENTUM also had a Marketplace where a lot of great vendors and companies were selling their goods or promoting their programs. In addition to the sponsors listed above, some additional brands and organizations at MOMENTUM this weekend included:

#4. The Compliments

We have to say, yet again, that this was one of the best conferences we have been to so far. We're so impressed by the fact that this conference is still so new (only in its second year), yet was able to hold its own against (and actually surpass in some ways) some of the bigger, longer-running conferences with major corporate sponsorships. We weren't really worried that this year wouldn't live up to last year's experience, but we're still happy that now we can officially say that MOMENTUM was really that good...again.

This was a very reasonably-priced conference but the old adage "you get what you pay for" did not apply in this case. We got so much more than we paid for! We said this last year and we will say it again... we love this conference because everything seems as if it was custom-designed with us in mind. Yet again, everything was totally organized and ran super smoothly and we couldn't have been happier.

  • They gave us free ice cream on the first night. We could end the list right there and be fully satisfied.
  • On the second night, Good Vibrations sponsored a cocktail party. They gave us bellinis and chocolate and a room packed full of awesome people that we could have hung out with all night. (Get used to seeing the word awesome in this recap.) 

  • They had a Recharge Room (thanks to sponsor Wet) and a Hospitality Suite (which was conveniently right down the hall from our room). We could stop in and juice up our computers or grab some coffee... Rice Krispie treats, chocolate covered almonds, granola bars! Yay! They also had vegan/gluten-free cupcakes. Lots of 'em.
  • They scheduled the opening keynote in the evening (instead of early in the morning, when we are sure to be tired/cranky/hungover) and had a bar set up right outside the keynote that was fully stocked with Corona (and other stuff). It really is like they designed this conference with us in mind.
  • No one flinches when we say the name of our blog! And if someone mistakenly assumes that it's a porn/erotica site, when they learn that it isn't, they seem more disappointed than relieved.
  • They are 20-minute breaks between sessions (and a hefty amount of time allotted for lunch and dinner) so we're able to talk after a really great session and not have to worry about rushing to get to the next one on time. Plus all of the session rooms were located right near each other, in a nice row, which made it even more convenient.
  • There was such a great selection of sessions that it was hard to decide what to attend! We really appreciated the diversity of the panelists... people from all walks of life and lots of big names!
  • Every session was of great quality and the speakers not only knew what they were talking about, but were passionate about the subject matter and personable. Not once did we leave a session thinking "well that was a waste of time" or "they really should've prepared more" and we didn't hear anything negative about the sessions we missed either.
  • They have flawless privacy policies. They let attendees choose what name to use on their badges (e.g., a pen name, just a first name, etc.) and that is the only name you need to get your badge. (No showing ID, no list of which pen name goes with which legal name and which credit card.) They have "NO PHOTOS" pins for those attendees that are not willing to be photographed and make it very clear that there are to be no photographs, video, or audio recordings made without permission. No other conference we've been to yet has a privacy policy like that (or well, any at all really) so it is extremely refreshing for those of us who are still at varying degrees of anonymity.

  • Dee and Tess. We think they deserve their own little section on this list because we just love them and we love what they've done by creating this amazing conference. Thank you!

Overall, we have nothing but praise for MOMENTUM.

#5. The Criticisms

Didn't you see that we just said we have nothing but praise!?

At one point during the weekend we were jokingly discussing what we would say if we absolutely had to come up with some complaints. The extremely minor and petty nature of the following list only serves to further illustrate how awesome MOMENTUM really is:

  • The pillows on the hotel beds were kinda marshmallowy and weird.
  • There was no actual Starbucks in the hotel (it was one of those 'we brew Starbucks coffee' situations), so to get to a real Starbucks we had to walk into the shopping center attached to the hotel, which took like five whole minutes.
  • The air conditioner in our room made a weird noise a couple of times.
  • The hotel's wifi Internet service was sketchy.
  • There were no good TV channels. We would have traded the Speed channel, CMT, Fox News, and one of the ESPNs for Vh1 or E! or LOGO or something.
  • During some of the time slots there were too many good sessions and it was hard to choose which one we wanted to go to.
  • Tess's suite had nicer artwork than our room.
That's really the best we can do. We can't come up with anything to seriously complain about, and if there was something, we would be the ones to find it and loudly bitch about it.

#6. The Hotel

This year MOMENTUM was held at the Crystal City Marriott at Regan Airport in Arlington, Virginia. To those of you who may have read our recap of last year's MOMENTUM conference, we were not happy with the Silver Spring Crowne Plaza. It was our only complaint about last year's conference, which had nothing to do with the conference itself. (Check out our TripAdvisor review here). So really, any hotel would've been a step-up from last year and we would've been happy.

But the Marriott was actually really great on its own too! Our hotel room was clean, the staff was helpful, and the bar/restaurant Bell20 (@Bell20Tavern) was automatically better than last year just by the fact that they agreed to serve us at all! But the food was also delicious and the bartenders were so nice and helpful.

Yet again the MOMENTUM Conference was booked at the same time as a group of kids (this time a trip of fifth graders) but unlike last year, the hotel didn't try to control or shame us in any way and there was no conflict whatsoever. We were a little freaked out to see so many kids in the lobby, swarming around us and seemingly multiplying at every turn, when we first checked in... but we didn't see them again the whole weekend.

It seemed like they booked a lot of MOMENTUM attendees on the same floor as us, which was kind of nice, and we lucked out being right down the hall from the Hospitality Suite. Just the fact that the toilet flushed at all officially made it better than last year's hotel, but we were also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the water pressure in the shower and our request for extra towels and pillows was fulfilled quickly. (Did we mention that last year's hotel really sucked?) Like we said above, we didn't love the pillows on the bed, but that's not really a complaint about the hotel. That's just an indication of how hard to please we are when it comes to our sleeping arrangements. We are pillow snobs and need to start traveling with our own.

Really, the only genuine complaint we can make is that the hotel's Internet access was sketchy. When we used the wifi on our laptops it was painfully slow and using it on our smartphones was downright impossible. (We both used up a lot of our phone's data plans on this trip!) We also saw that someone had posted something about certain sites being blocked, but we're not sure if that was really the case.

During one of our sessions there was an issue with the audio and someone came and fixed it. It seems like common sense right, but last year it wouldn't have happened. We appreciated how helpful everyone was and how much they really seemed to care and appreciate the fact that MOMENTUM brought a lot of business to their hotel. They showed the conference, the organizers and the attendees the respect we all deserved.

#7. Friends and Inspirations

It was really awesome to catch up with so many of our Momentum friends and we met so many new great people this weekend... but we haven't completely organized our pile of business cards and stuff yet, so we're just going to list some of our new twitter friends/followers for now. We definitely recommend that you all check these people out!

Here in no particular order - except that Dee and Tess are first, because they're awesome - are some of our new friends, old friends, and some people we'd love to hopefully make our friends someday. Those of you who are on this list hopefully know which category you fit into and if you're not on the list it doesn't mean we don't love you too. It means we haven't fully recovered yet from the weekend! (Or... we have misplaced your contact info, so please get in touch! And if we're not already twitter friends, follow us now!)
This list could go on and on and we're sure we left a lot of people out, sorry. Basically, we can't help repeating the words 'great' and 'awesome' over and over again because everyone we met at MOMENTUM was awesome and we can't wait to see them all again!

#8. The Random ESC Moments

As we mentioned before, we've gone to a lot of conferences and stayed in a lot of hotels over the years. It can get a little exhausting so we always make sure to give ourselves a little time to chill and zone out and... watch terrible TV. At last year's Momentum, the crappy hotel had crappy cable so we ended up watching a marathon of Law & Order. This year we somehow continued that tradition. Leave it to the ESC to spend most of our day talking about sex-positivity and respectful BDSM, only to turn around and watch hours of women getting raped and abused. This must have been the celebrity guest star marathon weekend because we watched some really bizarre episodes, including one that was focused on poisonous mushrooms and another starring John Stamos as a reproductive abuser with 47 kids across the US.

Every time we travel we end up getting sucked in by at least one totally random movie that we come across on TV. (Once we stayed up super late the night before the start of a conference to watch Donnie Darko for no apparent reason, and then couldn't get to sleep because we kept trying to analyze the plot.) This time our movie was an iconic musical film from the '90s that you may have heard of...yes, of course we're talking about Spice World. We got some weird looks from a random dude in the elevator later that night because we couldn't stop singing "Spice Up Your Life".

We spent all day Friday traveling, so by the time the opening festivities started that evening we realized that we had eaten nothing but Twizzlers and Chex Mix all day. We needed real food but we didn't want to miss anything. So using our typical ESC resourcefulness, we went down to the bar and ordered food "to go", and then snuck it upstairs just in time for the opening panel to start. We're not sure how much the people sitting at our table appreciated it, but we think they were mostly just jealous that they didn't think of it first.

One night we were really tired and having a hard time getting motivated to leave the room for dinner, so we debated ordering a pizza instead. Using logic that makes sense only to us, we decided that we'd have to order from Papa John's or Dominos or Pizza Hut, because being New Yorkers we knew that we'd be disappointed with any "real" pizza from a pizza place in Virginia, so it would be better to just order fake pizza from the start and know what to expect. (Full disclosure: We never ordered the pizza after all. Instead we went downstairs to the hotel bar in our pajamas. When we got there, we found Dee in her pajamas!)

Part of being at an amazing conference like MOMENTUM is the sense of community. We're all there for pretty much the same reason and there's a level of mutual respect floating around in the area, even among attendees you haven't spoken to yet (and the odds that a random person in the elevator is actually one of your twitter friends are pretty good). So when we were grabbing a drink at the bar and a random guy behind us asked "are you enjoying the conference?" we answered "yes" without flinching. Then he asked "so what kind of conference is this exactly? Something about sex?" and we realized he had no idea what MOMENTUM really was and was likely just trying to hit on us because he assumed we were sex-crazed sluts or something. (Not that we aren't, but yeah, no thanks random dude.)

At one point we were hanging out in our room and we had this conversation:
Lilith: I love Tess and Dee. I feel like they're kind of like us. You're Dee and I'm Tess. Or... am I Dee and you're Tess?
Jezebel: I think we're both a little bit of both of them.

Lilith: We should tell them!
Jezebel: They'll know it's a compliment because they know how highly we think of ourselves.
And then we actually ran and told them. And we think they did take it as a compliment. Or at least we hope they did.

#9. The Area

The conference was not actually held in D.C. but in the "D.C.-adjacent" Arlington, Virginia (in an area called "Crystal City").

The D.C. Metro was conveniently accessible from below the hotel. We had almost forgotten how confusing the Metro system is (it makes us appreciate the simplicity of the New York MTA!) We're used to the NYC subway where every ride is the same price, but with the Metro there are different prices depending on the station and the time of day. The times are broken up into Regular, Reduced, and Peak-of-the-Peak, which makes no sense at all. Why is there a Peak-of-the-peak when there's no Peak? You have to calculate the fare yourself, which is no big deal but a little inconvenient when you have a long line of people stretching out behind you. You also have to insert your ticket again to exit and pay an "exit fare" if you managed to screw up the calculations and not pay enough.

It's hard to follow complicated instructions when you're sleep deprived.

All we can say is that it's a good thing we weren't traveling during "peak of the peak" time (whenever that may be), because we would have annoyed a lot more people than we did during the less crowded peakless or less than peak or peak after peak or whatever it's called.

We have to give a little shout-out to the two places we ate this weekend (other than Bell20 inside the hotel, where we spent a lot of time)... we had an awesome lunch at Bailey's Pub just outside the hotel and the most perfect brunch-for-lunch at Hamburger Hamlet inside the Crystal City shopping center. They should really change their name because we almost didn't go in there, thinking it was going to be a chain-type burger joint, but we had a great meal and literally cleaned our plates. Yum.

Before we left for the trip, every person that we mentioned it to would inform us that it's cherry blossom time in D.C. or ask us how much sight-seeing we were planning to do. We're resourceful, so we managed to squeeze both things in even though we had no time and might very well have been too tired and lazy to go anywhere even if we did. On Saturday we were wandering through the underground shopping center attached to the hotel looking for a place to eat lunch when we accidentally ended up outside, and right across the street was a courtyard with some cherry trees. Check! And on our way back to Union Station on Monday morning, our Metro train came out of a tunnel just in time for us to get a perfect view of the Washington Monument. Sight-seeing, check! Next year we might actually try to go to a museum or something, but no promises.

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Now what?

MOMENTUM co-organizer Dee Dennis is also working on bringing her conference magic to the West Coast with a new event called Catalyst that's scheduled for September 14-16 in Long Beach, CA. The call for presenters is going out soon so be sure to check out @CatalystCon on Twitter so you can stay in the loop.