Securing Sexuality is the podcast and conference promoting sex positive, science based, and secure interpersonal relationships. We give people tips for safer sex in a digital age. We help sextech innovators and toy designers produce safer products. And we educate mental health and medical professionals on these topics so they can better advise their clients. Securing Sexuality provides sex therapists with continuing education (CEUs) for AASECT, SSTAR, and SASH around cyber sexuality and social media, and more.
Links from this week’s episode:
Recording Intimate Moments: Risks & Solutions: Open Conversations about Privacy and Consent, Digital Safety for Intimate Content Creation, and Protecting Yourself from Unauthorized Viewers
In the digital age, intimate relationships have evolved to include the sharing of personal images and videos online. While this can be an exciting and intimate way to connect with your partner, it is essential to understand the risks involved and the solutions to ensure your privacy and safety. In this blog post, we will discuss the potential dangers and offer some practical advice on how to securely share these moments.
Sharing intimate moments online can strengthen your connection with your partner, but it's essential to be aware of the potential risks. By taking precautions and following the solutions outlined in this blog post, you can minimize the dangers and maintain control over your privacy. Remember, open communication with your partner is crucial for building trust and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
Hello and welcome to Securing Sexuality, the podcast where we discuss the intersection of intimacy and information security.
I'm Wolf Goerlich.
He's a hacker and I'm Stefani Goerlich.
She is a sex therapist and together we're going to discuss what safe sex looks like in the digital age. And today we're joined by Frank Mons.
Frank, how are you doing?
I'm good actually. How are you two?
Oh, doing great.
So, some of you may already know Frank, but for those of you who don't, allow me to introduce, he is the communications director for the Bound Together Foundation, the non-profit which allows us to create Securing Sexuality each week. And Frank is the linchpin in this whole endeavor and keeps our calendar on track and our message clear and everything else. Or as my internal signature line says, all hail the calendar overlord.
You both are too kind.
So Frank, why are you joining us today?
Ah, today I am joining you guys because we are doing an AMA and we've got some community questions here that I will be asking you guys and then we'll be getting your answers to those questions.
Sounds great. It seems vaguely terrifying, but I'll go with sounds great. So these were submitted by all kinds of people, from people that listen to the podcast, people that know Wolf's work, people that know my work.
And it's been a running list that Frank is now going to fire at will and Wolf and I will just answer things as they come, I think is how these things work, right?
I think so. All right. Lay it on us.
I've gone ahead and sectioned some of these off into some groups. So we're going to go ahead and start with the crossroads of this show. And our main discussion point here is sex and technology.
And our first question comes from Lee and Lee asks, how can people incorporate augmented reality or AR into solo and or partnered sex?
Oh, way to start with a softball, Frank.
Got to make it easy, right?
I've always been fascinated with that. So I am a sci fi geek and this is like a deep cut reference. But there's a movie called The Lawn Mower Man, which was out in 1992. And part of it was they got these VR suits. And I remember thinking that the VR augmented reality sex scene was very, very hot.
Now, mind you, I was a wee lad at the time, so I don't want to go back and see it again. I don't want to revisit that. But I've always liked the idea. It seems like technology has taken a long time to catch up. So you know, so much of it still feels and looks like the Sims to me.
I don't know that we've really reached a point where it is very exciting.
In some ways, I'm an early adopter of social media, right?
But I'm not a huge tech person in general. I don't play video games. I don't have a lot of fancy devices and things. So in a lot of ways, I don't have a lot of direct experience with augmented reality.
And when the question was asked, the first thing that came to my mind was the cyber sex suit that I talked about in the 10,000 years of cyber sex talk, where I'm picturing, you know, people like wired up in these weird Velcro contraptions and physically tethered to a CPU. And it I struggle. And this is purely me. Because I know other people find a lot of eroticism in technology.
But I struggle to see how it would be sexy for someone.
And so that is clearly like one of my sort of erotic blind spots, right?
Because I'm very curious about the people who embrace AR, the people who are using apps to come up with virtual reality girlfriends or hologram partners, or a whole new like sort of subculture of people using replica as relationship substitutes, which I think we're going to do a whole episode on at a later date. But I don't have a lot of direct experience with it.
And I think I'm just Luddai-ish enough that it's something that I kind of struggle with, which is weird to hear me say, because I'm usually the one that everybody comes to for the more niche things that perhaps they struggle with in their clinical practice. So I guess that's a very long-winded way of saying, I don't really know. Tell me more.
You know, it makes me think we should have some of these folks on the show.
There are websites now, right?
Like My AR Girl is one where you can put characters in, or you can do face swaps, or you can have your significant others mapped to a character, which of course opens up its own sort of security risks, I suppose. But it is an interesting idea. You're right, Stefani. We really haven't explored that much. It seems like that's something we should bring in for some future episodes.
I'm really curious about the idea of using apps to create sort of simulated versions of somebody's partner. I could see that being very comforting after maybe somebody is widowed. I could also, from a clinical perspective, see that becoming kind of unhealthy if that goes on for too long. It's a fascinating topic. It's not one that we know a lot about.
I think that, you know, to the original question of how do you incorporate these things into solo play or into your intimate expression, I would say the same way that you do with almost anything, right?
You start with intentionality and with risk awareness, and you think about what purpose you want this technology to serve in your life and in your relationship. And you explore with curiosity, and maybe because it's a newer technology, a little bit of caution. And then report back to us so we can talk about it and sound like we know what we're talking about next time we do an AMA.
And also, too, you know, with consent, right?
So one of my concerns with the face swapping things are did he or she know that they were going to be used, their images were going to be used in this way?
But yeah, absolutely. An area we want to explore, an area if you're exploring, and please let us know. And it brings me back to my fond days of sci-fi in the 90s. So thank you for that question.
For sure, Wilfen. That's a really good point and something that I was thinking about with that question as well. The face swapping can get kind of, you know, interesting, especially if, you know, we're putting celebrity's faces on there. But if that's not with consent, then that causes a whole new slew of problems.
Speaking of consent and sex, Lisa asks, is recording myself and my partner having sex dangerous in terms of it ever getting out there?
And is there a way to encrypt or otherwise protect that data?
I will start with this one. I know that Wolf will be really good at answering that encryption question.
But you know, the easy, my sort of knee-jerk easy reaction to that is, well, yeah, it's safe to record yourself as long as you're doing it on VHS, right?
Or as long as you're doing it on some sort of non-digital medium. Because if it's something you can tangibly hold in your hand, it's probably not going to get hacked out of your inbox. But there are multiple subreddits that are dedicated to found porn or to vintage porn. And some of those are old 50s centerfolds and like cheesecake magazines.
But a lot of times those are people saying, oh, yeah, my great aunt passed away and we went to clear out her house and we found her Polaroids from the 70s. And now she is naked on the internet. So everything, everything has a certain degree of risk. And that's something that I talk about a lot when I do risk assessment education for clinicians.
Because a lot of times they look at activities that seem really scary or extreme or dangerous and they say that's where the risk is. And what that does is it creates a false sense of security around things that might seem a lot more low key, like taking Polaroids of yourself and your partner in your bedroom. So I think that there are ways to do that safer.
But I don't know that anything that you are recording is ever going to be 100% secure.
If not because you accidentally upload it to your iCloud or as we saw with the revenge porn site, is anyone up?
Is anyone up whether people have their email hacked or whether you accidentally leave a roll of film somewhere or your VHS tapes get mixed up at the garage sale. There is no foolproof way to make sure that your self-created erotic images are secure. With that said, Wolf can give some tips to make it a little bit safer, I'm sure.
First off, get a Polaroid camera. You're trendy again. You can get the little FujiMax one.
I know, exactly. And if you think about why they're on Polaroids, they're on Polaroids because you didn't have to send them out for development. They never left your hand. And that metaphor translates into this very nicely. So where content escapes is where it leaves your hand, where it gets copied, where it gets replicated, where it gets shared.
So think about to your point having it on iCloud or in your email or any of the online file sharing services like Dropbox and Drive and Box and yada yada yada. Any one of those means there's now a copy, multiple copies usually, even though you only see one copy, it's copied a million times.
We've also heard of cases where partners have split up and they had a shared Dropbox and their one partner forgets that that share is still open and puts content on there and now their ex has access to that. So we know whenever it sort of leaves your hand, if it's not a Polaroid and it's on its way out that we have problems.
Now, how can we prevent that?
First off, we can prevent that by trying to minimize how many copies there are. If you want to do something sweet and sexy for your significant other who's about to go on a road trip, maybe some business trip, maybe a conference, maybe this is purely hypothetical or maybe I'm talking to my wife, you could record something and put it on a USB drive and put the USB drive in their suitcase.
Now I'm going to talk about how to protect that file in just a minute. But if it's on just one piece of media, not sent through the cloud on the internet, you're in a much safer spot.
The second thing is, and I'm guessing because I'm watching my wife's face right now, what do you think you love?
I'm thinking I'm married to a hacker who has a beat into my head, never ever put a mystery USB drive that I find in my suitcase or in my bag into my laptop.
Well, you're going to tell them at some point in time, hey, did you make it all right?
Thank you. You check your suitcase for this USB drive. I think you're assuming a degree of organization and also a limited number of USB drives that are not necessarily always accurate in our world.
All right, fair enough. But limit how it is in terms of media. This is why the VHS tape was great. So I DVD is great. This is why USB drive is great.
Second thing is what happens if someone finds it right and opens it?
Well, you want to encrypt that video file with a password. So most of your video software will do this.
You know, protect with a password is usually how it's described. You want to read up on the feature behind the scenes. What it does is it does encryption over that entire video file, saves it with a password. So no matter who gets at that at the file, they can actually open it, they can't view it. So control the media, control the content itself. That would be that would be my suggestion.
And if you're going to use a password, remember middle school calculator passwords and go 80085. You're killing me. You love me. Although I do have one more question. Speaking of encryption. Yes.
So I used to use and we won't get into why I used to use and I have clients that still use apps like KeepSafe, which I always really liked because KeepSafe kept anything that you put there in its own separate folder that did not show up in your main photo album or your main video album. It was password protected.
You could set up a feature to actually if somebody tried to put in the password and got it wrong, it would take a picture of them and send it to you. So you knew who was trying to get in and it gave you the option to put a time box on whatever you sent from it.
So if you sent a video via from the KeepSafe app itself to your boyfriend or girlfriend, you could say this is only good for five minutes and then it disappears.
So is something like KeepSafe a smart option or is it similar to what you were saying with Dropbox where it looks like there's one file but really there are secretly several?
Well KeepSafe is a good option. I have not explored and cannot attest to that share and delete option. I've never played with that. But KeepSafe does encrypt on the back end.
So yeah, similar to protecting a video with a password, this would protect the entire safe of the password. So there you have it. If you want to create and watch a video of yourself and your partner, don't keep it on your phone or if you do keep it in your KeepSafe.
If you want to send it to somebody that is not next to you, use a USB and ignore your hacker spouse that will tell you not to play with unknown USBs. This wouldn't be unknown. You tell them. You tell them.
Is this a time when somebody could use a USB condom?
Would that work in this case?
No, because then you can't view the video.
Okay, I didn't know. I wasn't aware. I'm learning about USB condoms.
FYI folks, that is our conference swag. If you see us at ASEC or at North Carolina SexCon or any of those things, ask us for your digital safe sex USB condom and then ask Frank or Wolf or I to explain to you what the hell it is and why we're giving you one. We've got you. We've got you.
All right, Frank, can we tap this one out?
Oh no, Wolf has thoughts.
No, I want to say one last thing there because your camera reminded me, make sure your camera isn't sending everything automatically up to iCloud. Because if you record the video with your camera and your camera is set to replicate to iCloud, we've all read the stories of actresses who got caught up in those types of mistakes.
Do they still make, do you remember the early 2000s when you could get remote controller, walkie talkie size little bitty camcorders that had a USB that you could just plug it right in?
Do they still make those?
Absolutely. So maybe if you really are dedicated to the art of erotic content creation, get one of those. Don't use a web enabled device at all. Now I think we've tapped it out. That makes a lot of sense.
All right, this next one comes from Courtney and this is specifically for you Wolf as a cybersecurity expert.
Do you go into a hotel room when you're traveling and immediately check for any and all signs of cameras or do you enjoy being watched?
And then I should say that following that question, there was a devilish smile emoji. So all right, here's the thing. When we talk about security, you can go way overboard on it. And you know, I know I walked that line.
Do I sound paranoid or not about all the steps I just outlined to safely take a video and share it with your other?
I understand I walked that line. I get that. But there is the, you know, the sense of having a life and traveling and I do travel a lot and I really enjoy my life. So you're always making these trade-offs. You're always making these risks. Every time we drive, we take a risk. Every time we fly, we take a risk.
Every time we're in a hotel room, we take a risk thinking that someone is watching us. Now I have been sometimes known to check for cameras in hotel rooms, but that's more to be fair because I really liked the toy that was doing the checking than anything else. And also he does like being watched.
You want to know the cameras are there so you know when to be on stage, right?
I know when to play to them for sure. All right. This is our last question in the sex and technology section.
The question is what are your hopes for and or the likelihood of a viable FetLife alternative?
Can you explain to the techies in the room what FetLife is?
Yeah. FetLife is probably the largest or one of the largest. There's one that's based in Sweden that serves Europe more than the US and they're probably comparable in size. Social media platforms for kinksters and polyfolks and members of the BDSM community. It is very intentionally not a dating website, but I would compare it to something like a kinky Facebook.
So you can go on, you can set up a profile, you can have friends, people post all sorts of content that they create, not necessarily erotic, although there's a lot of that, but also writings, essays, poetry, amazing art is created on FetLife. And then there are also groups, like if you think back to the old BDS days, user groups, and there are ways to search for local events.
So it is a really wonderful sort of one stop resource for people who are trying to find their local kink community and to maintain ties with the friends that they form in their local kink community without necessarily talking about the, I don't know, electro play class they went to together on Facebook.
That said, like most of these endeavors, FetLife is a technological labor of love that does not necessarily have a huge staff. Their moderation and terms of service policies sometimes get people riled up, I would say with good cause at times.
And there's a lot of ambiguity around just how safe is FetLife to use?
What are their cybersecurity practices?
How secure is it?
So it's a great question.
I think we always have hope, right?
I want the best, coolest, most feature-filled and safe place for my people to play. I just don't know that that hope is going to be fulfilled by this particular platform anytime soon. I actually am really leery about recommending FetLife to my clients, not because it's not a fabulous resource, but because kinksters are a marginalized community, they don't have legal protections.
If there ever was a major breach of FetLife, things could, and I have heard of some, things can go sideways for folks really fast. And so I often encourage them to look for a local community on other platforms just because I don't want to be the one who steered them towards a platform that might expose them to risk. So that is what the question is referring to. Okay.
Oh, sorry. I was buying a new bug sweeper for hotel rooms. The security side of things is always interesting. I don't want to name names, and this might not stick out in your mind because this is more my world than your world, but I do believe you mentioned to me that some people in your world were actively kind of poking around and trying to see how secure FetLife was at one point.
Oh, that's right.
I mean, hypothetically speaking, de-anonymizing, yeah, de-anonymizing is a thing. We'll just leave it there.
Can you explain what de-anonymizing is?
Sure. So what de-anonymizing is, is putting together context clues to take an anonymous profile and make it, you know, de-anonymize, make it the person's profile. And part of the thing is, is that we all tend to use certain phrases. We tend to write in a certain way that leaves a somewhat distinguishable fingerprint.
If you were to see any of my writing or any of Stefani's writing anywhere on the internet, and you knew our writing, you go, oh, that looks familiar. That might be them, or that sounds like them.
We have seen something similar with the chat GPT with that AI, where they've written detectors that can say, oh, I can, you may have handed this to me saying it's yours, but I can tell it's really written by this AI bot.
Similarly, it is hypothetically feasible that you could, if you had enough text from a person that's attributed to them, you could de-anonymize or guess within a degree of certainty what any person's account was. Because FetLife is primarily, not exclusively, they have users all around the world, but primarily US and Canada. Like I said, there's another big site that's mostly European.
There are people that are jokingly called FetLeberties that have major followers, but there are also lots and lots of everyday people who are very, very comfortable living their lives out and proud as kinky folks. I support and affirm them doing this, and I think anybody who wants to should be able to.
But because FetLife is at its core a social media platform, what that means is that six degrees of separation comes into play too. And even if you are being very careful and judicious, if you are friends with somebody who is more comfortable being more exposed, then it can become just as easy to use their context clues to link back to you.
Whether that's common location tags, whether that's being in the same city, there are lots of ways for somebody else's data to help others figure out who is who on FetLife. And because of that, one of the really common things is people won't set their location on Fet. There's an option to say you're in Antarctica, which is one sort of easy thing they do to allow folks a certain degree of anonymization.
But if your profile says you're in Antarctica and every group that you're in says that you belong to like the Toledo Littles Meetup, the Midwest Ohio Brats, and the Cincinnati Brat Tamers, people are going to be able to narrow down which part of Antarctica you're in. So being judicious in how you use FetLife, Wolfs write about the use of language. When I write, I use lovely a lot.
Lovely is one of my linguistic tells if you read any of my books or anything I do. I know it's a word I use a lot. And if somebody were to post my essays or my chapters on FetLife, it wouldn't be hard to figure out who that was because we do have distinctive ways of communicating.
And then the last thing I'll say is, regardless of how secure Fet might be as a platform, don't forget that there are tools out there that will let people reverse image search your photos that you post, and not just looking for that exact photo.
A lot of people that I have talked to feel very safe because they have the photos that they will post on Fet, which are different than the photos that they will post on Facebook or Twitter anywhere else.
So their faces might be in both, but they feel safe because they know that if somebody were to reverse Google search that picture of them in their super cute new new bustier, it wouldn't come up anywhere else because they only posted it on Fet.
However, as we've talked about in past episodes, there's technology now that will scan the photo and compare it not to that exact image, but to other images that have similar qualities. And people can use a photo of you to find other different photos of you. So even if you have your FetLife photo set and your public facing photo set, one can be used to find the other and vice versa.
So developing your own risk framework is really crucial to anything. Knowing what the risks are and thinking really mindfully about what risks are acceptable to you because it's impossible to wrap you in bubble wrap. Everything is ever going to be 100% safe. But thinking about what the acceptable level of exposure and risk for you is and then acting accordingly whether you're on FetLife or Facebook or any other platform is really key here.
Great. So our next one isn't necessarily a question. It's kind of more of a statement and then a demand, if you will. But Lisa says, there's no way that you two are actually as wholesome as you seem. And she would like you to tell us your sexy secrets. No. We are exactly as we seem.
My standard answer for this, and I give it to journalists and attorneys in courtrooms and clients and anyone else, is that my sexual health icon, my sexual advocacy goddess is Dr. Ruth. And Dr. Ruth spent her entire career fully comfortable and enthusiastic about talking about any and every kind of sex except for one kind, the kind that she has.
And I think that there is something really powerful about even when you're a public-facing person carving out a space that is just yours and just your partner's. And I think that I'm going to emulate her in that and adopt the Dr. Ruth rule. So I will echo Wolf's, now we're good. I love that.
I'll add to that, you know, picking up on what Stefani just said earlier, it's very easy for information to be shared by people who are close to you. And obviously, there's no one closer to me than my wife, so I want to respect her boundaries. But I'll also add my own color to this.
So I'm in cybersecurity and having a degree of opportunity for anyone who wants it is very important to me in cybersecurity. Having a degree of different voices is very important to me in cybersecurity. Having a degree of diversity is very important to me in cybersecurity. And that takes a number of different paths.
It takes a number of different ways as I've explored this and pushed for this over my several decades in the field. But one way that it takes is making sure that the women who are in cybersecurity feel comfortable. When I first started out, maybe like 10 people on a team, maybe one would be a woman. And then it got up to maybe two.
And then in my previous role, I was pretty happy that we actually achieved gender parity, at least among our analysts. So it was a good feeling. But as more women have entered the field, as more women have come in, one of the things they oftentimes run into is locker room talk, sexual harassment, anything in between those two ends of the spectrum.
And so it's always been important to me to err on the side of being wholesome. I certainly have a lot of opinions and a lot of things I like and a few things I dislike. But I don't want to err that in a way that makes anyone who I'm working with or who may be entering our field uncomfortable or feel unsafe.
Don't let the filthy things that I talk about in my day-to-day work lead you to question Wolf's wholesomeness or frankly my own really. I just had a rather difficult conversation with somebody this week who was not able to separate my media presence from me as a person.
And who said that the fact that I publicly answered questions about water sports or flogging or sex toys had fundamentally changed how they saw me and how they felt about me. And it actually ended up being a relationship deal breaker. So keep in mind that there is the work that I do because I'm really good at explaining difficult things to people. And the things that we talk about don't necessarily constitute endorsements.
And my work should never be seen as a reflection on or an extension of Wolf's. Wolf and I have a really cool vent here in what we do. But outside of securing sexuality, we move in very different circles and in very different ways and I promise we really are almost as wholesome as people think we are. Almost. Almost. Okay. All right. So our next question is more on sexual and relational advice.
And Lisa asks, what can my husband and I do sexually when penetrative sex is off the table due to physical issues currently and when I hate giving blowjobs?
Wolf, do you want to take this one or should I?
Well, what we've learned from doctors and Johnson and Proctor and the Gottmans is that it is important, you should take this, I think. I've got ideas, but I'll give you the first shot. Okay. First of all, it's totally cool to not be into oral sex. Nobody is obligated to do anything that they don't like and there are lots of reasons why that's difficult for people of all genders.
Some people have really sensitive gag reflexes. Some people have obstruction similar to what causes obstructive sleep apnea that makes breathing during oral sex difficult. There are lots and lots of reasons why somebody might not be into it and that is valid. So number one, what you don't do is allow yourself to be pressured to the things that don't feel right and pleasurable for you.
That said, there are lots and lots of fun alternatives to penetrative sex. It's kind of cheesy to use the term outer course, but it really is a thing. Our entire body is an erogenous zone. Our skin has thousands and thousands and thousands of nerve endings per square inch.
Our hands have more nerve endings than almost any other part of the body outside of the genitals and really thinking about ways that you can play with touch and with texture and with pressure and with temperature to create really cool novel unique sensory experiences for each other without bringing genitals into it at all can be really fun.
And then also, I mean, there's something to be said for mutual masturbation and for in my practice, I call it supportive masturbation if one person has a lower libido, maybe they don't participate. Maybe they are just present and cuddling and kissing and caressing their partner while their partner engages in self pleasure. And it's a shared act of intimacy, even if only one person is physically climaxing.
And then lastly, for this piece, there is sometimes a lot of not even sometimes there are a lot of people who enjoy penetrative sex, not insertive penetrative sex, but penetration between the thighs where you use a little bit of lube, maybe you're on your hands and knees or a position that feels comfortable.
And instead of inserting the penis into the vagina, they slide the penis in between the thighs as if they were penetrating. They get a really nice tight close sensation if you use a water based lube that gets slippery pleasurable sensation. It can be a happy middle point for couples where one partner really enjoys penetrative sex and the other finds it more difficult.
So I could do an entire episode on this one, but that's the short answer. And really, at the end of the day, do the things that feel good and fun for you and don't feel guilty about taking things off the table that don't. Makes a lot of sense.
Okay, so our next couple are more like personal relational having to deal with family and like religion. So the first question comes from Courtney.
And that question is, what was the sex talk like with you and your children?
With one of you being a sex therapist and obviously very open, the other being well, wolf. I'm curious how that was handled. The other being wolf. Wow. Wow. All right. All right.
Look, here, here's the thing. My kid is now in her 20s. She is a fantastic bit of fun. I'm very proud of my daughter. She is today working as a process engineer. Her last role was working as a mechanical engineer at a lock company, which I was really excited to hear her get because in part she got demonstrating some of her lock picking skills from hanging out with the hackers.
So it is true that the how do you protect yourself on social media?
How do you protect yourself with locks?
How do you protect yourself with technology?
Those talks were much easier for me to give and much easier for her to hear. I think I explained it at a high level and she went, I don't get it. And then we probably went for a walk, went for ice cream and talked about robots. I want to start by saying that I think that your version included a lot of pieces that other parents don't that are just as important.
The idea of privacy, the idea of consent, specifically online spaces, the idea that, you know, when I first met your kid, you two had very clear family patterns of is this okay for me to put online?
General rules around never showing faces online. You had a lot of really good sort of digital sexual health practices that get overlooked when people are so busy trying to explain the mechanics of biology. So I always thought, you know, you guys brought something really cool to the table that I didn't necessarily do with my kid because I didn't necessarily have the same awareness.
But yeah, I mean, I tend to be a pretty open person. I do believe in boundaries and limits between parents and kids. So I know that there are lots of parents that are very, you know, Amy Poehler and Mean Girls, like I'm a cool mom. And that's not my approach to sex and intimacy with my kid.
We have open and frank conversations about how he's feeling, what he wants, his relationships, questions he has. But I don't share my personal life with him. And I don't ask a lot of questions about his personal life because we're both entitled to privacy and those boundaries are healthy in a parent-child relationship.
That said, the first iteration of the talk for him, I actually delegated to his father and came home very frustrated because apparently that took the form of his father sitting him down with a YouTube video going, we good, and then moving on. So I had some more to do there.
And one of the things that I always did with him is I'm a really big believer in normalizing talk about bodies and sexuality early and often, partly because I come out of the world of domestic violence, sexual assault prevention, and making sure that kids have a language to describe and explain what happens to them is really, really important in preventing abuse.
So, you know, before he was one year old, we had a picture book called The Bare Naked Book. We had It's So Amazing, which is one of my favorite sex ed books. We had when my kid turned 15, I bought them a copy of Paul John Ide's The Guide to Getting It On. I have always made sure that there was age and developmentally appropriate content available throughout his life.
And we didn't keep those on a separate shelf from the rest of the storybooks. If he wanted to read The Ugly Duckling for a bedtime story, awesome. And if he wanted to read The Bare Naked Book, great. So we just made sure that it was normalized.
That way there wasn't discomfort, there wasn't shame, and there wasn't a lot of, this is so awkward, now I need to sit down and have like, capital T, the talk with him. Which has led to funny moments over the years. When I first went into private practice, no, before I went into private practice, I was doing a case consult for another therapist. And my son and I were taking a walk.
And I was trying to have a conversation with him while also answering her questions via text. And my wires got crossed.
And apropos of nothing, I looked at my teenage son and I don't know what I meant to say, but what came out was, really?
Not interested in anal sex at all?
And he was laughing so hard, he was quite literally rolling on the sidewalk. I dropped him. He thought it was so funny. And obviously, I just explained my wires got crossed. That was part of the other conversation. But because he was raised the way he didn't, because we have the relationship that we do, it wasn't embarrassing. It wasn't like, oh my god, mom, I can't believe you said that.
It was just a funny thing. And then we all moved on. So I think one of the best things that you can do for kids is not to necessarily have the talk, but just to weave information about their bodies and about relationships and about pleasure and about consent into everyday conversation naturally from day one. As a parent, give me one second to finish up my notes. Thank you guys so much.
Do either of you find that your ties to your religion specifically have improved, declined, or have had no change since becoming a couple or since you have been married?
I mean, yeah, between the two of us, I am the more religious one, as in I have a defined religious identity. I always say I am a practicing progressive Jew. I'm a reformed Jew. I'm really happy to be a reformed Jew. I don't think I would fit anywhere else, although I tend to take on some Jewish observance practices that are maybe less common in the reformed community.
In my first marriage, I covered my hair full time, which was not something you typically see in the reform movement. At one point before I did my MSW, I actually spent five years in seminary studying to be a rabbi. So my faith and my spirituality is really, really important to me, and it informs my work with my clients.
I think that I really had to mourn giving up the prospect of being a rabbi. It's not a path that is open to me anymore, and there was a grieving process associated with that.
But what I do now feels in its own way very much like a sort of ministerial path, because what I get to do is I get to help people navigate their feelings of guilt and shame, and I get to help them have healthier relationships with the bodies that God gave them and the identities that God gave them.
And I get to help people, individuals, couples, families, whoever, see themselves as unique and worthy and valid and sacred and holy and amazing. And I don't think that those are words that often get used in the context of sexual health. Probably not at all when it comes to BDSM and kink.
But I think it's really, really important for people to hear and believe that they are exactly what they were created to be, and that they can find joy and contentment and spiritual connection with themselves and their relationships and their sexuality and their identity exactly as they are. And for me, that is a sacred task I do every day. And I have nothing I can add to that.
There's no measuring up to that in my mind, in my world, in my life. I'm here for you, Stefani.
So, your religion is very important to you. I am not Jewish, although I spend a lot of time in those circles these days. But the sense of community and the sense of support is really admirable. So I'm here for it, and I enjoy it. You are the most observant non-Jewish person I've ever known. And you're the one our rabbi calls when little old ladies get scammed on the internet. Happy to help.
Happy to help as always.
All right, does that have other questions?
I told them, yeah. Wow.
Do you have any questions for us, Frank, of your own?
Honestly, I was kind of thinking of one based on the last question concerning religion, a little bit on a different end than that. But recently I was at an event for Tashra. And during that event, we got kind of like to get into different groups and meet with some of the people who were involved in there. And so there was a few different therapists and people in other professions and stuff.
But the topic of religious trauma actually came up a couple of times in terms of the BDSM and kink world. How normal, I guess, that is, and how frequent that happens and is the case. And it was really an interesting look into that.
So I guess if you two could maybe speak on, or especially you really, Stefani, could speak on just some of that too, where the religious side of things isn't as maybe beautiful as some people have come to see it, where it's been taken the other way and has been used as a thing for bad rather than good. I grew up immersed in a family that was in large part very southern Pentecostal.
My maternal grandfather was the general superintendent of the Pentecostal Church of God for 25 years. And he and my grandmother were world renowned evangelists. I have letters from him that he wrote to her after going to Pentecostal revival meetings inside communist Russia in the 50s. They were all over the place.
So I can resonate with that because a sizable part of my family, they don't have the same sort of perspective on sexuality that I do. I referenced difficult conversations with people earlier and that's where that came from. That came from a place of sex is dirty, it's sinful, it's bad, and anybody that is comfortable with it or around it or promoting it is also dirty and uncomfortable and sinful and bad.
And I think that on one hand, it's really important to recognize that not all religious traditions have the same purity culture that American brand evangelical and non denominational Christianity has. That's really uniquely American. And that's important to say not because I want to minimize anybody else's trauma, but because we tend to impose that religious trauma onto all people in America regardless of their faith tradition.
And wherever you have fundamentalist beliefs across the spectrum, whether that's Mormon or Jewish or Islam or Christian, the more fundamentalist you get, the more of an ideological sort of purity culture and sex negativity you're going to experience. So I definitely think that religious trauma is a valid thing for a lot of people.
And I think that some people in the kink community use sort of blasphemy play, sacrilege play as a cathartic working through of that, a way to reclaim symbols or roles that were weaponized against them at one point and to turn it into something that they can, frankly, take fun of, take power over, reclaim. There are lots of ways in which that happens.
And I think that it's important that sex therapists honor the reality of religious trauma without assuming that all religious people have sexual trauma around or from religion. And being really willing to educate yourself around sexuality and religion is super important. There's some great, great books out, Sinless Sex, the Call to World Religions is one of my favorite.
I have five on my desk right now on Judaism and sexuality because I was just talking to Midori about BDSM and Judaism earlier this week. And really from a clinical perspective, being able to understand that the dominant traumatic experience of most American Christians isn't necessarily true for all Americans.
And also to hold space for people to play with ideas and scenes and language and iconography that might feel really uncomfortable for the clinician, but can be really healing for the practitioner. And recognizing that, like anything with trauma, everybody's journey is unique and individual. And that's true as much for the people sitting in a room together talking about their religious trauma as it is for the folks working with them.
There is no universal experience of sexuality and religion, but a lot of religious people have had their sexuality weaponized against them. And that's why I focus so much on doing the work I do through the lens that I do, because I recognize that I'm not unique in believing what I believe and in trying to frame things the way I frame. There are other amazing clinicians that feel the same way.
But for the people that I am privileged enough to work with, I want to make sure that they get to hear it. That makes a lot of sense.
And then the only thing else that I had noted here as we were going through and talking about the recording myself and my partner having sex dangerous as far as encrypting, and then asking about encrypting data and otherwise, as you brought up RUUP and stuff like that, for people who already have, and this is really, I guess, more geared towards Wolf here, for people who, I guess, already have that stuff that's already online, say that something like that happened to them or an ex posted something up and they just found out about it.
Is there anything that they can do to basically protect themselves after the fact or get that stuff taken down in any way?
It is very difficult with today's laws to force any content provider to take things down. That was one of the things we were covering in our Section 230 episode recently. You can certainly ask. Moderators should be willing to help, but it is very difficult to get it taken down once it's out. Unfortunate. And I don't want to end on a negative note. Wolf say something positive.
What is something that people can do to walk away from this little AMA feeling like they can better protect or better integrate their sexual and technological practices?
Well, start young, right?
Have the conversation with your daughter about what to put on Facebook. Ask your kids for consent. The rest of that stuff, they can listen to you. Get some good equipment to scan your hotel rooms for videos. It is available for about a hundred bucks off Amazon, hypothetically speaking. There is a lot being done with technology that's positive. See the conversation we're having about the AR side of things.
And that really is emerging. So there's a lot of cool stuff coming out. And there are some great ways to protect yourself. I did not know about this keep safe feature. You're telling me that you can give someone access to something and then take it back. That is really clever. That is really cool. So check out tools and technology like that.
Continue on, continue on and continue on having fun and continue on exploring.
All right, great guys. Thank you so much. Yeah.
Thank you, Frank, for coming. And thank you for tuning in to Securing Sexuality, your source of information you need to protect yourself and your relationships. Securing Sexuality is brought to you by the Bound Together Foundation, a 501C nonprofit featuring Frank Mons, communication director. From the bedroom to the cloud, we're here to help you navigate safe sex in the digital age.
Yeah, definitely. Thanks so much, Frank, for keeping everything running, including our website, which reminds me, be sure to check out our website, Securing Sexuality, for more links to information about the topics we've discussed here today, transcripts, all the great information is over there and, and, and information about our live conference in Detroit. Dot com. Securing sexuality dot com.
And join us again for more fascinating conversations about the intersection of sexuality and technology. Have a great week.
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