Jun 122013
 

For the first time ever, I’ll be teaching some fun and fabulous workshops in New Mexico, in fact, in Albuquerque to be exact. At the end of June, I’ll be driving down to the Land of Enchantment with my partner, and part of this trip will involve two classes at the amazing Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center. The info is below, and you can buy tickets in advance — I hope to see many of you there!

Sexually Able: Intersections between Sex and Dis/ability

Self Serve: Sexuality Resource Center

Albuquerque, NM

June 22, 2013

8:30-10:00pm

$25 for an individual, $40 for pair/couple (need financial assistance, see below!)

Website (contact for tickets)

Self Serve is very happy to host the amazing sex educator and author Shanna Katz in Albuquerque! This is part class, part support group, for people who are differently abled and their partners. This discussion-based workshop addresses coming out to your partner(s), discussing ability levels, trying new things, correct terminology, negotiating sexplay and more. This class is for people of all ability levels who want to recognize themselves as sexual beings.  No one will be turned away from this class if they cannot afford to the ticket price and we are happy to offer financial assistance to those who need it. If you have questions, call the store at (505) 265-5815.

 

Fulfilling Fantasy: Role Play and Beyond

Self Serve: Sexuality Resource Center

Albuquerque, NM

June 24, 2013

8:30-10:00pm

$25 for an individual, $40 for pair/couple (need financial assistance, see below!)

Website (contact for tickets)

Join amazing guest sex  educator Shanna Katz in Albuquerque to learn about fulfilling your desires and fantasies. In this class, we’ll talk about the difference between fantasy and role play, bringing your fantasies and erotic role plays to life, different types of fantasies you may have never thought to explore and even how to get into a role without feeling silly. Come ready to share some of your wildest dreams!  No one will be turned away from this class if they cannot afford to the ticket price and we are happy to offer financial assistance to those who need it. If you have questions, call the store at (505) 265-5815.

May 182011
 

I speak and write a lot on sexuality and disability. From classes on Negotiating BDSM in Disability Context to working on multiple writing project, the topic of sex and disability is a pretty big part of my life. And one part of how I talk about/with/in regards to living with disabilities is the Spoon Theory, originally created and written by Christine Miserandio, a woman with lupus. However, I find that the concept of spoon theory applies to most people with disabilities, and actually, to life in general. She talks about how “healthy” people (in her case, those without lupus) have an endless supply of spoons…but I beg to differ. I think spoon theory works very well in regard to polyamory/non-monogamy, in that you have a set supply of spoons, and have to figure out how many spoons each relationship gets. It also works well in general, when you’re trying to explain to people that they may want to be the best employee, the best parent, the best partner, the best sibling, the best soccer coach, etc, but they only have so many spoons in a day/week to divide between all of these things.

Basically, taking the concept that we all have limited resources, and have to decide how to best use them in our life, can be related to anything. In regards to disability, it is truly a great way to get friends and partners of people with disabilities to understand some of the difficulties that PWD may go through in life.

When I teach at a Kink conference, I often have to choose between attending all the workshops and skipping the play parties, or attending a few workshops, napping and then hitting a play party or two, because I just don’t have the spoons (or physical/emotional resources) to do it all. Often, people don’t get it, and view me as snobby or lazy because I don’t “make the most” of the kink conference, but I know that if I don’t practice this self care, I’ll spend the next day or two doped up on percocet and unable to do anything. Putting it within the spoon context often helps people to “get” what I’m talking about.

Here is the beginning of the spoon theory story:

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

Click here to read the rest of spoon theory.

 

-Shanna

Oct 282010
 

A few weeks ago, I sat down and spoke with Laurie Handlers on her weekly tantric radio show Tantra Cafe about the intersections of sexuality and disability. We talk about how insurances don’t cover many things related to sexuality/disability, how to look at redefining what sex means and how it feels best and works for you, as well as other things across the the spectrum of sexuality and disability.

Click here to listen to my radio interview on Tantra Cafe.

Shanna

Sep 042010
 

There are a number of articles out there now that are discussing how “awful” college sex weeks are, how sex education is “infecting” college campuses, how Yale giving out 14,000 condoms is a travesty. I’m not going to do them the service of linking to these ridiculous articles, as some of them take some pot shots at other sex educators, at student groups putting on sexuality education workshop, etc. However, in my humble opinion, most of these articles are poorly researched and full of hooey.

Now, it’s true. I am a sex educator, more particularly, a sex educator who presents on college campuses, so defending sex education at colleges and universities is obviously in my best interest. So let it be said that you should take what I say with a grain of salt.

However, I chose this field because it is incredibly important. In 2003, I met an 18 year old college student who had never learned how to use a condom, despite 6 of her friends from high school having had children. In 2007, I met college students who told me that the withdrawal method “must work” because they’d used it for a year and never gotten pregnant (despite some of their cohorts leaving school/take a leave of absence due to their pregnancies). I’ve met numerous students who didn’t know how to balance their identities, many of which they hadn’t taken pride in until they got to college. I’ve met dozens of depressed students who were scared to come out to their roommates/college friends/hall mates/RAs/professors because of the overall view of LGBTQ identities on campus. All of these people were helped in some way by sexuality education, whether it was through me, through a school sponsored event, through a school group providing sex ed.

Sex education is helpful to people of all ages, but is crucial to people in their teens and early twenties, when they are developing their identities, making decisions about sexual activity. Getting sex education does NOT encourage anyone to be sexually active. In fact, many people who get comprehensive sexuality education in high school and middle school have better self image, are more comfortable in setting boundaries, know ow to say know, choose not to be sexually active as early, and/or choose not to be sexually active while under the influence of other substances. Almost everyone will have the ability to make healthier choices regarding safer sex, pregnancy prevention, and more.

Most sex weeks (as well as other sexuality education workshop) on college and university campuses are put together by students. Student who want information about sexuality; about anatomy, about identity, about safer sex, about pleasure, about communication, about relationships, and more. Clearly, there is a need for this education, because if it doesn’t come from sexuality educators, it comes from word of mouth (which can often provide incorrect information), or from the internet, or from trial and error. They are going to get this information from somewhere — I’d rather they get it from a trained sexuality educator (whether myself or someone else) who is trained in correct information, in counseling students, in talking about such a fraught topic, etc.

For the most part, sexuality education supports all choices, including abstinence as a choice. I know that all of my classes welcome people of all genders, orientations, backgrounds, etc, regardless of whether students are sexually active. I’m sorry, but given that about 99.9% of society features on the mainstream and the majority (white, straight/heterosexual, cisgender, traditionally able bodied, vanilla relationships), I feel it is completely valid for colleges and universities to bring in classes that talk about sexual minorities, as well as other workshops (like intersecting identities and relationship communication discussions) that appeal to people of ALL identities. Very few students need to know what sexuality looks like for a traditionally able bodied person; how many have been asked to think about people with disabilities, and how their sexuality looks and occurs, and how to make all of their campus accessible, more than just physically.

Denying that college age students are thinking about their sexuality (whether or not they are sexually active) is like an ostrich sticking its head in its the sand. Let’s please support them in their desire for knowledge and to learn more about their sexual identities, and how to make healthy choices, rather than just pretend that its not happening. And let’s also not throw negativity at the schools that are in fact fulfilling their promise to support students’ ENTIRE education, and at the educators who are helping these knowledge hungry students to learn more about themselves. It’s just rude.

That’s what I’ve got to say on this issue.

However, Dr. Charlie Glickman, a respected sex educator, also has something to say about this, more specifically about Margaret Brooks’ anti Brown Sex Week article (in interest of full disclosure, I spoke at Brown’s Sex Week, including on Sexuality and Disability, and on Relationships and Communication). His post is much less based on emotional than mine, and takes on her article bit by bit. I highly suggest reading it.

For anyone still interesting in bringing sexuality education to their campus, I’m still booking for 2010-2011. I’d love to come help college students learn and grow.

Shanna

Jun 252010
 

I wish I was lucky enough to be putting this on, but it seems like an incredibly interesting series for people with disabilities (or however they may identify) and their partners. Wish I lived in the area to attend…sadly, I do not. Would highly encourage those living in CA to check it out!

-Shanna

Sexuality and Disability Educational Series

For all Disabilities and Sexual Orientations
June 30 – September 22
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30PM
Center for Independent Living, Berkeley, CA
Suggested Donation: $25 per class
Sexuality and intimate loving relationships are a fundamental part of everyone’s life. This 12-week series is designed for individuals who are living with a disability as well as his or her friends, families, partners and attendants.

You will gain ways to improve:

• Self-Esteem and Body Image
• Healthy Relationships
• Delicacies of Kissing and Touch
• Chronic Pain and Sexuality
• Sexual Health
• Practical Tips and Tools for Enhanced Sexuality
• Solo Sex & Partnered Sex

Our philosophy:
• Participants will have a chance to experience the support of peers and have an increased sense of community
• Attendees can experience a sense of empowerment, hopefulness, improved self-esteem and self-confidence
• Learn new skills and resources to expand knowledge regarding one’s sexuality, sexual health and intimate relationships in a nonjudgmental environment
• Workshop goals to be achieved through presentation of topics, facilitated sharing and experiential exercises

Limited Space Available. To reserve your place please email Dr. Biggs at rebiggs@mac.com

For more information go to www.somaevolution.org

May 212010
 

I’ll be in Seattle this weekend, at Sex 2.0 2010.

I was lucky enough to go last year in Washington, DC (thanks to a little help from a friend who hired me to edit her novel). This year, I’m going thanks to Fascinations, who is also a Gold Sponsor of the event.

Like last year, I’m speaking, but less last minute. I’m doing a workshop on The Intersections of Sexuality and Disability Saturday morning at 10am. The rest of the weekend, I’ll be attending sessions, speaking with people I’ve missed, connecting with new friends and contacts, and more.

In case you’d like to know about my class – here is the description:
This is part class, part support group, part community organizing that is geared towards people who identify as those with disabilities or as dis/abled , and their partners (dis/ability is self defined and can include cognitive, mental, and physical ability levels). This talk is very discussion based, and will cover topics such as coming out to your partner(s), how to discuss ability levels with friends, partners, family, etc, new things to try regarding sex (positions, meds, toys), correct terminology, negotiating sex play (including kink/BDSM play), and much more. Participants are encouraged to share suggestions, trade ideas, work on creating a community and more. Great for people of all ability levels (and their partners) who want to recognize themselves as sexual beings.

Apr 302010
 

This past weekend, I got to teach a bunch of Fascinations staff members in the Phoenix area. Every month or every other month, our staff gets sexuality education and product knowledge training in both Denver and Phoenix, and this month I got an hour to talk about whatever I wanted before JimmyJane and System Jo got to talk to them about new products.

So what did I talk about? Well, the Spareparts Joque harness for sure; how it’s comfy, size friendly, machine washable, great for guys with ED and more. And about Maximus, how it’s glycerin free, water based, and so thick…it’s great for hand jobs, anal, fisting, and more, as well as vaginal intercourse.

But then, we talked about sex and disability, and how to help customers with disabilities get what they need and treat them in the best manner possible. And we talked about kink people coming in, and how to work with them, and learned some language around that. Then we talked about gender identity, and while most people were right there with me, many people learned something new.

Then Monday, when I came into the office, my email had tons of notes thanking me for doing such a great workshop, how they’d love to learn more, that they’d want an all morning seminar JUST on sexuality and disability, and some asked for my list of books, sites, and other resources.

I am SO happy people care. People learn, and bring it back to their stores, to their customers, and pay it forward.  And how much more joy can you get than that?

THIS is one of the many reasons why I do what I do, even though it’s not a 40 hours a week job, nor am I making the big buck. I do it because teaching about sexuality provides so much joy…for me, for my students, and for everyone it touches.

-Shanna

Mar 142010
 

What do you get when you cross myself, Oh Megan, Sarah Sloane and more? A plethora of fantabulous sex educators all coming together at Brown University for Sex Week 2010!  I’ll be speaking tomorrow and Tuesday, and the others throughout the week.

Interested in what I’ll be doing classes/workshops on? Want to come out and get some learnin’?

Monday, March 15th

Strap-On 101 w/ Shanna Katz

Time/Location: 12:00pm @ Sarah Doyle Women’s Center lounge (26 Benevolent St.)

Come learn all about the joys and pleasures of strapping it on. Who said harnesses were just for girl-on-girl action? In this workshop, we’ll discuss double-penetration, “pegging,” using harnesses for cuckolding, “femmecock,” and so much more! Ever wonder what the difference is between a g-string and a dual strap? We’ll cover that too! You’ll learn how to properly work a strap-on, contemplate a plethora of positions, and learn about the pros/cons of different types of toys. This class is open to singles, couples and moresomes of all sexes and genders. Never used a harness before? That’s fine – we’ll start with the basics. Plus, everyone will get to try on harnesses with toys to get a feel for the different styles, as well as figure out what works best for them.

SexAbility w/ Shanna Katz (and potentially Marlene Chait, a Brown Post-Doc Research Fellow whose doctoral dissertation is ‘An Exploratory Study About Women with Physical Disabilities: Survey of Their Views on Personal Assistance Services (PAS), Sexuality Education, and Sexual Expression’)

Time/Location: 5:30pm @ Salomon 202

People of all ability levels are sexual beings. Sex is hard enough to navigate and negotiate when one fits in with society’s notions of what a sexual being is, but once you add in the concept of ability, it can become quite challenge. This workshop is discussion-based, and covers issues such as coming out to your partner(s), how to discuss ability levels, new things to try, correct terminology, negotiating sex play (including kink/BDSM play), and much more. Participants are encouraged to share suggestions, trade ideas, etc. Great for people of all ability levels (and their partners) who want to recognize themselves as sexual beings. This workshop hopes to challenge people’s viewpoints, foster discussion and conversation, and open doors towards a shift in the social constructions surrounding sexuality and disability.

Make it Work Outside the Box: Relationship-Mapping & Communication w/ Shanna Katz

Time/Location: 8:30pm @ List 120 (64 College St.)

Description: Communication is key, but how DO we communicate? More importantly, how does communication change (or not) once we break the boundaries of what are considered “traditional relationships”? In this workshop we’ll talk about the different styles of communication, the languages of love, types of non-verbal communication, why communcation is so important, and how to adapt all of this for kinky AND vanilla relationships. We’ll gain an understanding about the basic types of relationships that people have in their lives, how we can map them, patterns to look for, and what we can get out of these maps. Finally, we’ll talk about polyamory/non-monogamy – its various facets, how to get into it, and most importantly, how we can make it work when there are more than two people involved. Bring paper, pen, and an open mind. We will be raffling off two Tantus toys at this event, so make sure you arrive early and get a seat!

Tuesday, March 16th

Feminist Pornography (Out For Lunch) w/ Shanna Katz

Time/Location: 12:00pm @ LGBTQ Resource Center (3rd floor Hillel, at 80 Angell St.)

Are you one of those who has wondered exactly what it is that makes porn “feminist” or “sex positive?” Join us as we talk about definitions of pornography and obscenity, and how sexual pleasure can be recording in a feminist and sex positive way. We’ll discuss current companies who identify as sex positive, and what separates them (or not!) from current, mainstream pornographic productions. By the end of this talk, everyone will still have formed different opinons, but will be more educated as to what this sex positive porn movement is.

Mar 042010
 

While I was in San Francisco, I taught a SexAbility workshop on the intersection between sexuality and disability.  While there, I got interviewed a bit on it, and the result is this really awesome article about me on CarnalNation.com.  Click here to see it and learn a little bit more about the intersections of these identities.