I love Woodhull. I usually come back with a completely invigorated mindset and a feeling like I’m ready to tackle the world. But that didn’t happen this year. A big ugly rain cloud has been following me around since Friday afternoon, in the form of a session called The Truth About Body-Safe: a frank, evidence-based discussion of what body-safe really means. The session description irked me enough beforehand to send an email asking for clarification of the content. I tried to have an open mind, I really did. But that quickly was laid to rest, so much so that I couldn’t even be bothered to hide my disgust.
And days later, I’m still upset.
Was it the nit-picky vocabulary lesson mixed in with the tone-policing when we were told not to refer to toys as ‘toxic’?
Maybe it was it the moment when someone on the panel said that ‘everything was toxic’ – even water in order to make it seem that the body-safe movement makes a big deal out of nothing?
Was it the outright misinformation about putting a condom on a toxic toy in order to make it ‘safe’?
It could have been the obvious potential for bias, given that the panel was made up of the scientist who was involved in the testing of Screaming O’s toys, the PR person for Screaming O, and a high-school classmate of that PR person who works in the biotech industry?
How about the fact that the presenters on the panel couldn’t even agree between themselves if the flame test used for silicone toy detection was accurate or not?
Or the repeated messages time and again about how washing your toys is all you really need to do make them safe?
And just airing out the stinky ones will make them body-safe.
Maybe it was the fact that they had said that the term ‘body safe’ is just flashy buzzwords used by manufacturers to get sales.
Possibly the complete lack of any discussion on what things other than porosity and toxicity makes a toy ‘body safe’, like flares on anal toys or lube ingredients.
It may have been repeating the myth over and over that body safe toys are overly expensive and inaccessible to those on a budget.
I know that I was upset that not everyone who was in that room knew what they were spewing was complete garbage.
But, I think I figured out what exactly had me so flame-throwingly upset about the session. I feel like they came into ‘our’ space – our gathering that all of us bloggers and educators take part in to make ourselves better – and gaslighted not only our responses and push backs, but the very work we do ourselves. All the hard work we do, all the sacrifices that many of us put our minds (and bodies) through, all that was thrown back in our faces as something to ‘not make a big deal’ about. All the spoons we spend trying to get companies to change their products, and retailers to support the good ones who do. It’s all wasted energy according to them – or so it seemed.
And even after the session was done, the gaslighting continued. They dismissed us, they lied to us, they pretended to care – and it was all in a place we thought stuff like that didn’t happen.
It upset me.
UPDATE Aug 16 2018: On August 16th, YNot published Successful Screaming O Sponsored Body-Safety Panel presented at Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit which I would assume was a press release from Screaming O. This was the first confirmation that I can recall that Screaming O did in fact sponsor this panel at Woodhull.
UPDATE 2 Aug 16 2018: Later that evening, Woodhull released a statement in relation to unauthorized recording of the Bodysafe panel conducted by Screaming O and published as part of their press release. In that statement Woodhull clarified that Screaming O did not sponsor the panel, stating in part “[…] Woodhull does not permit sponsored workshops, and Screaming O had refused all invitations to actually be a visible sponsor of Woodhull’s 2017 Summit.” The press releases published have since been edited to remove the audio recordings, and edit the language around the sponsorship issue. Why Screaming O would state they sponsored an event without actually sponsoring it us unclear at this time.