I had the honour of being able to attend the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit from the second till the fifth of August 2018. It was a wonderful few days, a very intense few days and a very amazing and enlightening few days. It was also a very sad few days and I need to be able to write about both aspects of this so I can process but also so that people will see how things are and were and maybe get a chance to understand things from the point of view of someone who does things very differently.
It was wonderful to meet and spend time with all of the bloggers. It felt so strange in a good way to say “I’m from the Helen’s Toybox blog” and have people squeal and give me hugs and just overall be happy to see me. It was also really interesting to hear voices of people with whom I had never spoken. I expected some voices to be sterner than they were and also the opposite.
Because I don’t have pictures, I literally don’t see people, I don’t have certain lenses through which to view them. Colour or size will only exist to me if I touch a person or if they have a voice that gives anything like that away. Even then, I just take it down as a part of who the person is.
I was also really amazed about people’s reactions to my accent. I could literally smile and be polite and people bent over backwards to give me things and to help me. It felt good when I had time to process that it was actually happening. I’d never been in that situation before. I find it very hard to just receive and was taught that you never ask for presents so when people wanted to give me things for free or they wanted to set me up with swag or show me all sorts of things, well, I had to figure out what to do. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful, just very overwhelmed that people wanted to do all of that for me. It was a change in mindset that no one could have warned me about because the way I am about that isn’t something people notice about me online, at least, I don’t think it is.
I ended up only going to two talks and part of the live recording of the Dildorks but I enjoyed those and I got notes about a talk that if it is done again next year, I will certainly make time to go to that talk too. I also, with the consent of the panelists, made audio recordings for them as a back-up in case their live stream audio wasn’t very good. I will not be giving those out but they have been given to the panelists.
I need to do the hard bit now and that’s scaring me a lot. i don’t like conflict and I don’t like talking about difficult things but I suppose in order to make things better for next time, I had better get it out.
The first problem I had was that the hotel is very archaic in regards to money things. You either pay cash or you have a credit card or a debit card but if you have a debit card, they make things complicated. They did this with me and because my bank is not in the states, I needed to use someone else’s phone to call internationally to sort things out. It ended up being the hotel’s issue but I didn’t appreciate being treated as if I were one of *those* people who finds any excuse not to pay for things. That’s how it felt from the point-of-view of the hotel.
If they had had paypal or Apple/Google Pay, for example, this could have been sorted a lot more easily on the first day. AS it is, I need to find out how much the poor person had to pay for that very long international call and pay them back for it. They were wonderful in helping me but as it was, I missed out on two things I would have loved to have experienced in full because the hotel didn’t get its stuff together correctly. It also made my roommate very unhappy and that just got me plain angry. She couldn’t help any of it.
The way the hotel was, things were very loud, there were very bad acoustics and the whole place was very open plan with places where you could fall quite easily. AS it was, I always needed to get help to get from one place to another. Because my sim didn’t work like it should have, I didn’t use Aira very much because the wifi wasn’t amazing. This meant I had to always ask for help to get to wherever I wanted to go. It highlighted my disability which may have led to the next and hardest point I need to make.
I had had plans and hopes of doing some interesting play experiments while at Woodhull. I wanted to test how things would be regarding my reactions to impact play under hypnosis. I had a couple of people with whom I had made plans. Everything and I mean everything fell through. One person was not well and that was sorted out. They checked in with me, we met and I felt how much pain they were in. They want to catch up with me when not dealing with the after effects of something that horriffic and that’s perfectly fine.
In other situations, and these are my feelings and no accusations here, I truly felt like I wasn’t seen. I felt like as a blogger, I was seen and people were happy to know me. As someone to play with, not so much. It felt like a switch flipped and I disappeared from view and even if I said something, it wasn’t going to be heard or acknowledged. I didn’t know if it was because I don’t use the same body language as everyone else or if I was too intense or too obviously something else. People saw the things I said and asked for as being cute or fun or “awww look at that”. It was like being in highschool all over again and I felt sad because I had no idea how to fix any of it. I can’t read physical social cues. i had no idea if people found me repugnant in that way or were too afraid to ask me because of their own issues, none of that because no one said anything.
I wasn’t prepared for any of that.
Having said that, I had a wonderful roommate who not only saw me but was very demonstrative about seeing and acknowledging all of what I was. I can’t say how much I appreciated her and her wonderful empathy. Even when the money thing happened and she was so upset, she was always sweet to me and I am so thankful that I had her sharing a room with me.
Despite all of this, I want to come back next year. I am going to review the swag I got this year, really get into the sponsorship possibilities and thanks to possible grants, live some other dreams and make people aware that physically disabled people are here, we’re not going anywhere and we will be seen and acknowledged in all the ways. Accessibility must not be an afterthought in other places and I refuse for it to be one in the framework of sexual freedom.
I want to do work with sex tech and accessibility. Virtual reality is more than just visuals. If blind and vision impaired people don’t speak up, we will be left behind, invisible, that afterthought where the solution is cobbled together to show token adherance to industry standards. I will not stand by and let this happen.
I hope to show how there is freedom in leading by example and showing love to those who need it. People are humans first and so many people forget about humanity in their push for equality. Humans make mistakes. They are not always going to be perfect. But coming at it from a place of anger and hatred is not how I am going to fight this battle.
Above all, I am going to see to it that I will be seen and acknowledged as being a sexual person with the same abilities to consent and give and receive pleasure as everyone else. Maybe it’s a bit me me me but dammit, it’s important because maybe someone else needs something similar and if I pave the way, maybe it will be made easier for the next generation.