Pro Heaux: Sex Positivity from the Ground Up

As you know, the Women’s Resource Center had the opportunity to attend the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan! This conference encompassed several workshops that allowed people with various identities to utilize different forms of media to incite social change. One of the workshops the WRC attended was titled “Pro Heaux: Sex Positivity from the Ground Up.”

Initially, I thought this workshop would be like many sexuality-based sex-positive workshops that focus on people’s experiences with sex and pleasure. Both of these elements I found to be very valuable, so I was excited to be a part of a community where expressing these experiences would be safe and inviting. However, this workshop took a new spin on sex positivity and sexuality.

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Instructed by educator Alexsarah Collier, this workshop focused on the interlocking oppressions found within our sexuality, reflecting on what our ideal expression of sexuality looks like and creating positive affirmations/ boundaries during sexual encounters. As someone who feels they are in touch with their sense of self and their sexuality, I felt that this workshop would be beneficial but nothing I felt I didn’t have a foundation on. Oh how wrong I was.

The first question we were asked was how we were privileged and oppressed we were in our sexuality. I sat in my desk for about fifteen minutes not realizing that I had never thought of how privileged I was. I am cisgendered. I am heterosexual. I am also young and able-bodied. As humbling as it was to have an awareness in how I am privileged when navigating sexuality and sexual experiences, it was also difficult to face ways in which I personally face oppression regarding these elements. Some of these oppressions were: being a survivor of sexual assault, not presenting Eurocentric features and growing up in a family where sexuality was not talked about. By examining these things, I was able to think about past and future experiences and how my sensibilities and identities impacted these experiences. This knowledge of the various positions I hold when navigating sex and sexuality in the world becomes an important tool for me and others to not internalize certain experiences, especially regarding the oppressions I and others face.

The second question was “what would the ideal expression of your sexuality be if you did not have to face danger or judgment”. Although I had been exposed to things on the spectrum from high school sex ed to workshops on how to give the best lap dance, I had never been asked what my unabashed sexual self would be. I looked around the room to see if I could recognize my fear in others. Worried faces danced around the room. As women, I realized we are never conditioned to recognize our self worth and authority within our sexuality. And this is what made this workshop so profound, as well as what made it so difficult. Many of the women and femmes had responses like “I would ask for what I want” and “I would feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to things I do not want”. Given the freedom to be or act in any way, what women and femmes wanted more than anything regarding their sexuality was to be heard.

The third question asked us to recite affirmations we tell ourselves. Phrases like “I am beautiful”, “I can ask for what I need”, “we are doing this together” and “trust your gut” began appearing on the white board around the room. These phrases were empowering because they made us feel comfortable in our own skin in terms of self-worth and safety when navigating unfamiliar people and spaces. As we filled our common space with these affirmations, we created our own safe space within the room and within ourselves simultaneously.

Discussions on sex and sexuality must encompass elements of self reflection. Holistic discussions of this topic encourage people to feel that they are valuable and active participants in their sexual lives. By developing this strong sense of sexual self and sexual identity, folks are better able to take care of themselves and others when navigating various spaces.

 

 

Poetry as Speculative Activism

Last week, the Women’s Resource Center had the opportunity to attend the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan! This conference hopes to inspire and foster creativity to incite social change through the use of various media. This conference facilitated several workshops from “Video for Revolution” to “Electronic Health and Safety in the Borderlands”. One of my favorite workshops was titled “Poetry as Speculative Activism” which sought to broaden the perspectives of poets who write about oppression.

As a local poet in my community, myself and other poets often write about the oppressions we face on a generational and daily basis. Although this art and work is extremely necessary to make our struggles visible, it can also take a toll on the person writing the piece on an emotional and spiritual level.home office desk background, Desk musicians, hand holding pencil

The workshop “Poetry as Speculative Activism” sought to foster a more transformative approach to poetry that both facilitated social change and healed the performer simultaneously.

The workshop was taught by nationally recognized poets Danez Smith (author of “Dear White America” which you can view here) and Franny Choi (author of “For Peter Liang” which you can view here). Both poets acknowledged the emotional toll writing can take on a person especially when writing continuously about generational trauma, racism and sexism. Franny Choi emphasized that she “refused to put destruction on display” and she was tired of “writing poems that made [her] feel awful”. To ease the intensity of these results, both poets explained how they incorporate “speculative activism” into their work. “Speculative activism” is described as a practice of explaining what “could be” when analyzing oppression. Danez stated “there is a freedom in writing a world that could be.” Although speculative poetry can emphasize a utopian society, both poets explained that dystopia and utopia can exist simultaneously. Smith and Choi also asserted that it is not the author’s job to prove how to create a speculative situation, only to create a feeling of joy.

The workshop focused on two prompts: describe who you consider to be “your people” (women, people of color, immigrants etc.) and then give them a super power and think of an oppression or societal construct and then describe a world in which that thing does not exist (rape culture, racism, borders etc.). Both of these prompts allowed me to focus my writing and my activism in a more healing way. This workshop made me realize that self-care should even be practiced within our own creative outlets. To truly heal a community, we must simultaneously heal ourselves.

I Love Female Orgasm

 

As a young woman, I was bombarded with messages on the do’s and definitely on the don’ts of sexuality. This led me and other young folks around me to at the very least ignore and at the very worst fear questions I had about sex, consent and sexuality. This sentiment changed when I was able to get my hands on the book I Love Female Orgasm by Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller. This book helped me as a young high school girl navigate not only my own body, but the perceptions and falsities of the student body as well. Luckily, I Love Female Orgasm now does a series of presentations on college campuses across the U.S to promote students to have a healthy relationship with their sexuality. The I Love Female Orgasm Program will be speaking at UNM on April 27th at 7:30pm in the SUB Ballrooms. This is not your typical sex education lecture. Unlike the typical sex education we got in high school, I Love Female Orgasm focuses on the lost elements of high school sex ed: relationships, consent, sexuality and pleasure. Important as well is the program’s diverse content; the program does not solely focus on heterosexual sex and provides comprehensive insight into various activities. This program has personally helped me discover who I am and I am proud as a student to have the program help others achieve the same sense of self I have achieved over the years.

Healthy Relationships Workshop

What is a healthy relationship? Can a relationship be healthy, but rarely demonstrate unhealthy signs? What determines a healthy relationship? These are questions I ask myself at random times because I do, like most people I know, understand that there is not a simple answer to any of these questions. Having disagreements are natural, right? Yeah, but there is a healthy way to communicate and to handle these types of situations. The Women’s Resource Center will be hosting a workshop that answers many of these questions and many more common questions and concerns that people may have. Ruben from SHAC will be discussing different kinds of relationships and talk about what is healthy and what is not, how to build a base of equality and respect among significant others, and how to maintain a healthy relationship. This workshop will be open to questions and discussions hosted in the WRC group from 12:00-1:00 on February 22. You can sign up here:

https://shac.unm.edu/forms/counseling-workshops.html /react-text

Peer Educator Program Interest and Planning Session!

The WRC and LoboRESPECT’s collaborative Peer Education Program will be holding an interest and planning session from 12-1 on Thursday, February 2nd, in the WRC’s group room. The Peer Education Program shows students how to promote social justice, develop advocacy skills, think and act creatively to reach various audiences, spread awareness of gender issues, bystander prevention and more!

If you’re interested in attending, or would like to learn more about the program, please contact Sophie (seburke@unm.edu) or Cole (ccarvour@unm.edu).

Nutrition Workshop at the WRC

Happy New Years!

If you’re anything like me, you keep making the same new year’s resolutions or same goals and always fall short half way through the year. In society, there is a constant pressure to be what is considered “fit” or “healthy”. These words have various meanings that are applicable on an individual basis, however, nutrition can play a huge factor in how well our body functions. What we put into our bodies is important. Personally, I don’t want to follow a strict diet however the diet culture can have a detrimental effect on people in society not allowing them to feel comfortable eating. There are times I want to eat what I want when I want, but I am embarrassed and think how someone might see me eating unhealthily. But, I need the tools to know that I am still eating the food my body needs to stay healthy and active, but also allowing myself to eat ice cream or a cookie every once in awhile. Without promoting negative body image or guilt, we would like to present tools to people who are interested in how to alter their diet in ways that benefit them most. On January 24th, the UNM Women’s Resource Center will be holding a nutrition workshop with Kristina Velasquez from 3:00 pm- 4:00 pm in the group room in the Women’s Resource Center. Know that we are here to support you in all of your goals of 2017.

Peer Educator Program Brunch

The LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center along with the Women’s Resource Center would like to invite you to join the LoboRESPECT Peer Educator Program! The LoboRESPECT Peer Educator Program is designed to provide individuals with the tools, knowledge, and skill sets to effectively present trainings and workshops on sexual violence prevention, hate bias and discrimination prevention, alcohol and substance use, bullying and hazing prevention, suicide prevention, and bystander intervention. Peer educators help to challenge campus norms and influence peer attitudes, beliefs, skills, and knowledge necessary to create a safer campus community. There will be a Peer Educator Brunch January 12, 2017 at the Women’s Resource Center Group Room from 11:00am-12:30pm. There will be recruitment of new members as well as talk of future plans for the program this Spring semester. Come by and meet some great people and have some delicious food!

For more information on how to become a Peer Educator, please email Cole at ccarvour@unm.edu, or Sophie at seburke@unm.edu.