On October 27th, 2012 Good Vibrations, the trusted San Francisco-based company that takes pride in providing accurate information on sexuality and toys for grown-ups, presented a dynamic conference on America’s sexual state of the union with the 2012 Sex Summit. Featuring authors and educators from various perspectives, this forum examined the relationship between sex and the media, health, pop culture and politics in a series of panel presentations plus keynote presentations by esteemed author and research scientist Debby Herbenick, Brian Alexander, and Marty Klein. Journalists, academics, sexologists, authors and the public converged for this first-ever conference in a lively and relevant day-long discussion followed by a cocktail reception at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis in downtown San Francisco.
Keynote Presentation – Dr. Debby Herbenick
Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H., (opening keynote) is a Research Scientist and Associate Director at The Center for Sexual Health Promotion and a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, where she writes and hosts podcasts of the Kinsey Confidential column. Herbenick is also the author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction and Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered for Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex. She has a Ph.D. in health behavior from Indiana University, a master’s degree in public health from Indiana University and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition, she is certified as a sexuality educator from the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.
Panel 1 “Regulating Pleasure: Sex, Politics & Censorship”
Sex is regarded differently from other elements of life and is arguably regulated more than anything else, whether it’s restrictions on sex education, limited definitions of relationships, censorship of sexual images, laws against certain kinds of sexual expression, or circumscribed civil liberties. Our opening panel will explore some of the causes and effects of this social bias, including trends in censorship and sexual politics, and how some people are bringing a more sex-positive slant to this anti-sex playing field.
Panel 2 “Outspoken/Unsaid: Sex & Media”
Sex and the media have a complex relationship. How does the use of sex to sell products affect sexual attitudes? When movies and TV become substitutes for sex education, what happens to our relationships? Why does porn get blamed for becoming more explicit, while sexy images elsewhere get a pass? In a society without real media literacy, what role do communications play in creating our sexual attitudes? Our media experts will explore these and other questions and discuss what they see happening on our screens and in our publications.
Keynote Presentation – Dr. Marty Klein
2:15 – 3:00 pm
Dr. Marty Klein (midday keynote) has been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist for 31 years. He has aimed his entire career toward a single set of goals: telling the truth about sexuality, helping people feel sexually adequate & powerful, and supporting the healthy sexual expression and exploration of women and men. Marty pursues his goal of a sexually enlightened world through therapy, lectures, writing, lobbying, media, and forensic (courtroom) work.
Additional Footage: Post-Sex Summit Interview (Dr. Carol Queen and Dr. Marty Klein)
Panel 3 “Pills, Profits & Pleasures: Sexual Health & Pharmaceuticals”
The increase in pharmaceutical and medical treatments for sexual concerns has shifted the definition of “sexual health” even further towards a performance model. But for all of the challenges that sexual medicine creates, it also can have the potential to change lives and improve sexual experiences. This panel will explore how our sexual lives are shaped by the medicalization of the erotic body and the workings of the medical industry, what benefits and challenges medical science can offer, and how alternative perspectives can contextualize the pharmacological point of view.
Panel 4 “Sexual Stargazing: Sex & Pop Culture”
Cultural attitudes about sex are changing faster than ever before and popular culture, fueled by technological changes, help create these shifts. What is it about celebrities that makes us so interested in their sex lives? Do we really want them to serve as role models? Who’s using the spotlight of fame or their pop culture platform as an opportunity to send a different kind of message? How can we use the contemporary folkways of mass culture to create different representations of sex? And how can media literacy help us understand sexual messages?
Closing Keynote – Brian Alexander
5:10 – 5:55 pm
Brian Alexander (closing keynote) is an award-winning jounalist and author who has been a contributing editor at Wired and Glamour magazines, and has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Outside, and many others. He is the author of four books, including America Unzipped: The Search for Sex and Satisfaction. His new book, written with neuroscientist Larry Young, is The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction. It will be published in September.
Additional Footage: Post-Sex Summit Interview (Dr. Carol Queen and Brian Alexander)