Every week it continues to be something big related to #MeToo—and that’s a very good thing. Not good that there is so much sexual violence and predation, but good that stories continue to come out and we are speaking truth to power and at least some violators are finally facing consequences for the harm they have caused.
This week it’s R Kelly. Finally, after over two decades of harming young women of color, he’s being held accountable. There is a new groundswell in the entertainment industry lifting up women of color and that is astounding and something we have not seen before. We are in a time of watching people like Shonda Rhimes, Janelle Monea, Ava Duverney and Lena Waithe bring the spotlight to the most disenfranchised voices and stories.
#MeToo is far from over—and many of us are asking what the next steps are. What are the skills and perspectives we need in order to move forward towards transformative justice and healing justice? How do we address misogyny, white supremacy and patriarchy? It feels so big.
And it is.
As a response, we organized the Sex, Power & Leadership Online Conference to bring together the luminaries, thought leaders, authors and teachers we need to hear from in these times. What we’ve created is an electric online event that is exciting for people who are serious about participating in creating real change—a week of talks, workshops and conversations streamed live and free to access. (And Ms. is the media sponsor!)
We started this week, but we are only halfway through—and we’re going to be making some of our biggest hits from the week re-watchable for everyone. There is so much for you here. It’s free to register, and you can buy all of the talks if you want to listen any time. Attendees get free workbooks to expand on the concepts they’re learning and equip themselves to apply these conversations to their real lives. And when you support our work, you support a feminist business model—all of our teachers get paid—and all of us raise the bar on what is possible and acceptable.
This is not the 101 conversation. It’s not even 2.0. It’s 3.0. We are all challenged by the conversations, yet inspired about what is possible—and we are raising a vision for a much better world together.
In our opening keynote, Jaclyn Friedman defined “fauxpowerment” and laid out a vision for what real sexual empowerment can look like. During our closing keynote, Dr. Willie Parker will talk about the difference between toxic masculinity and patriarchy—and make a powerful call to all of us to step it up. In the middle, sex revolutionary Carol Queen defines “sex-positive” and erotophobia; educator Betty Martin talks in depth about what consent could look like with nuance and care with her “Wheel of Consent,” an amazing tool; author adrienne maree brown inspires about pleasure activism and how it’s key to revolutionary work; author Meg-Jon Barker talks about why LGBTQ isn’t the right approach anymore, and how we need to be talking about gender, relationship and sexual diversity instead; and Native Leader Beverly Little Thunder shares her rich herstory of creating the first Wimmin’s Sundance in the U.S.
In different workshops and discussions, we’ll tackle sexual dynamics and harassment in organizations and workplaces; get new angles on how to address sexual violence, harassment and the problematic nature of patriarchy; get super real-world practical ideas and ways of changing power dynamics around sex and power; dive deep into intersectionality and create real-time dialogue.
This is rich, complex stuff. And it’s uncomfortable.
Meg-John Barker, in her brilliant talk, touched on how we are all the survivor/victim, the person who caused harm and the bystander. We have all violated someone’s consent because we don’t learn it. We have all been violated. It’s painful to look at what our pieces of this are—and yet, if we want to move towards real social justice, we must. We just had a live workshop on transformative justice with Andy Izenson and Diana Adams that got people thinking about how we keep our communities healthy, center survivors and address violations without just throwing people out.
We have centered women of color and trans/non-binary people for this conference. We need to be listening to people of color right now. We need to be hearing voices and perspectives we don’t hear enough. We need to look at our blind spots and the things we don’t like to admit. We have been talking about intersectionality, race, gender, sex and power and what that really means to look at how power flows for different people inside of multiple identities. We have been talking about anger and how critical it is to feel it and find healthy places to funnel it as leaders. And we have been talking about what consent really means, and how to teach it to children from the youngest ages.
The truth is, this is too much to do alone. We want collaboration and community. We need spaces where we can feel supported to have challenging conversations and to ask big questions. There are a lot of them.
The Sex, Power & Leadership community is lit up. We are talking and noticing and sharing—and we are challenged. Spaces like this are exceedingly rare. This is not for the ones who want to stay comfortable. This is for those who are tired of the same old conversations and voices and who want fresh perspectives. This is for those people of all genders who genuinely want to learn and grow and figure out our part in the solutions. We are living in a complex time, and nobody knows exactly where it’s leading, but we have the chance to be the leaders we need.
This is the work. This is #MeTooWhatNext. And we need all hands on deck.