Article: Woodhull SFS 17 (Expectations & Apprehensions)

As I’m writing this I’m curled up in bed with a cup of chocolate mint tea by my side and a snail perched happily on my hand. But as you read this I will be on a train to Washington, having got up at 4:30AM to head to the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit.

What is the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit?

Among sex positive activists, the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit is basically the place to gather annually and recharge our social justice warrior batteries while simultaneously draining all our social energy in the most dynamic gathering imaginable.

At least that’s what I hear in theory.

In practice, I have never been to the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, so what I tell you now is basically all I know about it myself.

Woodhull as an organisation are a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the ‘fundamental right to sexual freedom’. Following this, the summit is an event (the eight of its kind) where people interested in these sexual freedoms gather together for a few days of conference papers, workshops, and engaging debates about the most recent discourses in the field.

This conference attracts people from all walks of life: human rights activists, sex educators, legal and medical professionals, sex workers, and (of course) those engaged with adult products and the blogging community.

The result is a diverse conglomeration of some of the most awesome people in existence. And this year I’m tagging along too.

Expectations For The Event

As a complete newbie to the Woodhull scene it’s hard to imagine everything that will be included. But one of the things I can see is the schedules list of events and, ho boy, am I ever excited.

The scope of the talks and workshops included is extensive to say the least but I’ve already got a few that I am SO hyped to attend.

Given my digitally-driven presence I am very interested in Cathy Renna’s Messaging the Movement: Is it possible or even realistic? which seeks to look at the viability of digital activism and its true impact.

As a long-time fan of the Dildorks (and conference room buddy with one half of the duo that makes up this podcast) I’m also incredibly excited about their live recording at the summit. It is my utmost hope that I am not a jetlagged zombie when this event occurs so that I may allow myself to be start struck by the fabulous Bex Caputo and Kate Sloan.

My body type (and, as a result, personal identity) has changed drastically over the past few years, leading to a real crisis when it comes to how I’m defined physically and visually. Because of this I really cannot wait to attend The Truth About Body-Safe: a frank, evidence-based discussion of what body-safe really means.  While I can imagine this will be a difficult panel I also think it will be incredibly important.

Equally important, given my recent (first) break up will be Keep Giving A Fuck: A Conversation About Prioritizing Sex During Trying Times. I think the reasoning behind this is a given. The outcome? I’ll have to keep you updated.

When it comes to reviews and my social media presence, I’m known as quite a ‘soft touch’ when it comes to company call outs and being a strong and divisive voice against those who, for lack of better words, ‘fuck up’. Buuut, as I just mentioned, I’ve also got massive body feels. Because of this I’m torn between two sessions that run parallel to each other: Bodies Tell Our Stories and Shame and Perfectionism: How They Damage Community and Impact Activism. Picking will be hard but, either way, I doubt I’ll regret my decision.

Other Things To Look Forward To

In addition to the official aspects of the event, I also have so many other things I’m excited about.

It’s been a few years since I visited America, so returning is an exciting prospect all its own. This will also be the first time I’ve traveled internationally completely on my own, which is a thrilling prospect.

By all regards, the hotel that the summit it hosted in will have a gym and I’ve signed up to run a marathon in October. I am not the fittest nor most cardio-inclined of individuals, so having a chance to run on a treadmill and force some motivation on myself will be very good.

As silly as it may sound, I’m also really looking forward to the flights. I so rarely get long, uninterrupted bouts of time all to myself, so to suddenly be given two huge blocks sounds like a dream come true. I can nap, read, write, listen to audiobooks, and snack to my heart’s content, all without judgement nor fear that I’m wasting time because, heck, what else does one do while on a flight? Paradise.

But most exciting of all is the prospect of meeting the many wonderful bloggers that I have become friends with online and that I’ve longed to sit down and chill with in person. Let’s hope that I don’t make an absolute peachy ass of myself and that we get to share a friendly cup of tea with each other (followed by god knows what other fun activities we might all conjure from our collective sex geek enthusiasm). Though, here, you may have noticed some of my nerves emerge.

Apprehensions For Woodhull

As I said above, this is my first time travelling to a big, non-UK event alone so, as you can imagine, I’m pretty shit scared too.

There are so many apprehensions in my mind, many of which are typical travel ones: What if I miss my flight? What if I don’t get picked up from the airport? What if the hotel doesn’t let me in? What if my summit tickets are invalid? What if the only vegan food I can find is (by some weird twist of fate) avocados lamenting in the knowledge that avocados give me migraines?

It’s amazing what the human brain can consider and, as Woodhull approaches, I’m becoming an increasingly frantic bundle of nerves.

Then there are the social worries: What if people don’t like me?

Of course, I cannot control if a person likes me or not (their emotions are their own) but the apprehension is still there. What if I’m too dorky for Woodhull, too clueless, or just too me?

I take a deep gulp just thinking about it.

Then, of course, there will be the pining.

I am leaving behind two snails, two hedgehogs, two garden spaces, a rather attached puppy, and the love of my life for a considerable chunk of time (at least when it comes to pet, plant, and partner care). How will I feel knowing this? How will they fare without me? Only time will tell.

Final Thoughts

Overall my excitement for Woodhull definitely overshadows my apprehensions, but I do think it’s important to acknowledge both in the lead up to this amazing milestone in my life and blogging career. A huge thanks to Peepshowtoys for supporting my trip, and I really can’t wait to let you all know how it goes.

Expect my Twitter to be mad with activity.