Touch and Politics, notes

What’s the interaction between what we do with our bodies, to our and other bodies, and the social body out there?
Do we have a duty to change the world, just to resist unwanted change, or…what?

Some sort of resume of 3 different events at Xplore Berlin 2019.

Personal/administrative note:
I am becoming more and more aware that keeping a conversation “personal and practical” is essential to keep it open and friendly.
Personal experiences are full of shades of grey, of “maybe”s, of things we tried but we’re not sure what’s the reason they worked/didn’t work, and at times we’re not sure they actually worked out or not.
Ideas can be much more black and white.
“Politics” tend to fall in the realm of ideas, all too often.
I was a bit worried, so I really tried to frame the conversation in a way that would keep it in the real of personal experiences, desires, actions.
This somehow limited the scope, but kept it alive and lively: I consider it a success.

We started with the following tentative definitions:


  • including who we want/desire to touch/from whom we want to be touched, and the ways we desire/do it
  • including physical/sexual relationships
  • the non-virtual world


  • including our interactions with society
  • the mismatch between personal and society, when there is an act of influence/being influenced
  • active/passive/direct/indirect political action: “being a X is already political” vs. “going in the streets” vs. “affecting the government”…

The first few topics were:

  • personal experiences and discovery of any sort of mismatch between what we want and what society considers normal/the default: what did we do? Did we act? Change? Fight?
  • actions taken/had to take/were taken when the mismatch appeared: what and how?
  • how to bring things out in the open?
  • what has a political valence? What is effective, not effective, what do we consider to be “effective”?

Notes/topics that popped out, more or less in order:

  • how much it’s me, how much it’s society telling me what I want/should want?
    • what happened when I discovered I could want something that wasn’t expected?
    • how did it feel from the inside? What happened when I thought I was the only “broken” one?
    • what happened when we discovered we weren’t alone?
  • when worrying about the rest of society (eg: a teacher dealing with sexual bodywork), some people keep different activities in different cities
    • even using nicknames/aliases
    • for some reason, Berlin is often the city choosen for the sexual stuff
  • “I am not interested in dealing with anyone that is not interested in this part of my life”
    • having to choose between old friends/family and desire is a big choice
    • it has a cost
    • “I want to keep my CURRENT friends too”
    • sometime, they accept you, they find you weird… and 5 years later they ask you for advice because they’re discovering something too
  • “my job isn’t sexual but isn’t affected by my sexual activities”
  • how do you help others being out?
  • what is the political aspect of “somatics and politics”?
  • the body has its own intrinsic limitations
    • body <-> mind
    • making a difference, and where, is somehow a political statement
  • we meet lots of un-embodies activists
    • disconnected from their bodies, and from the “physical”
  • it is hard to explain to political “comrades” WHY you are now doing what you’re doing
    • yoga, body-mind activities, meditation, sexual practices
  • being disembodies makes for more conflictual
    • bodies tend to be full of compromises, not black/white ideas
  • “I was more political before I became kinky”
    • it seems common to feel “I left the general political arena to dedicate to myself/smaller things”
  • bodies/life is messy
  • sexuality is a further level of somatics
    • normalizing sexuality
    • bringing something back to your “normal” life

Opening up about what we do at Xplore/sex+ events with our children:

  • give them massages/safe physical activities
  • describe/present is as “self development” work
  • the hero’s journey, bringing back material
    • children love heroes/adventures
    • share about sexuality in general

How to safeguard our work/family if the environment is hostile?

  • having an art name/kunstname
    • there is some legal protection on this, some people did it
  • the role of Facebook in facilitating/threatening our sexual/political revolution(s)
  • how do we build (real) communities?
    • could we have a “post Xplore” connection event?
    • something like a decompression (apart from Konk)
    • a voluntary list of people that want to “bring something as action outside Xplore”
  • the need for safe/intermediate spaces, between “nothing” and Xplore
    • some spaces in that directions exist
    • cuddle parties, playfights, soft events
  • creating groups in smaller cities is hard/people are interested/don’t know where to start
    • other people struggled with finding groups in existing cities, even Berlin
  • how to facilitate talk/connection/exchange between communities?
    • how do we include each other?
    • how to work with other organizers? Connect?
  • what about the conflicts between communities?
    • concentrating on what we have in common would be the best
    • but it’s hard for people that are really passionate
    • ingroup/outgroup
    • “this behavior is too heternormative/kinky/not kinky enough/too X for our space”
  • creating a “minority conflict resolution/connection space”
  • ritual play
    • named group/event in the direction of playfight

What could WE want/need from society/politics?

  • more spaces to use/explore/connect
  • “the time has come” (not sure what was this about)
    • probably “to be out there and proud”
    • see “gay pride”
  • sexual health in sex+ communities
  • we need symbols that we can share/show
    • eg: the rainbow is AN AMAZING symbol
  • how to be open vs. being safe
    • being inclusive of curious people vs. keeping out communities safe/more closed
    • what is the balance?
  • creating a support group of therapists
  • or FOR therapists?
  • having apps to connect people between offers of communities, and looking for communities
    • maybe?

Other bits and pieces:

  • body therapy for people with trauma?
    • supporting/including people that could need lots of attention/space: how?
  • being connected with other people DOES change the world
    • “we’re not very good consumerists, we need some condoms, lube, gloves, and water”
  • “why so many identity labels?”
    • why looking for differences?
  • dealing with change/growing older as activists
    • the world changed around you
    • and dealing with older activists, that were bleeding edge 30 years ago… and sound kind of conservative now
    • (it means they more or less “won”, I guess)

The crossroad between personal and political

  • how are we helping “the world” with this?
    • and helping each other?
  • are we just in a bubble?
    • are we dancing on the Titanic?
  • “being kinky made me more aware of gender dynamics/other social topics”
    • several people shared how their sexuality came first, and made them learn about other social topics
    • while some came to sexual activism from social engagement
  • “we’re the lucky millions” (meaning in Europe/the “West”)
    • we can be “good examples” that other people CAN follow
    • we shared examples of people from less open countries (starting from Italy, going down to Thailand, Iran, Russia), being inspired by what happens
    • being the sparks
    • the reason to be as open as we can, and sharing what we’re doing: it can inspire others
    • (or create lots of FOMO)
  • “one more happy person is one problem less in the world”
  • advertising vs. evangelism
  • showing people “this is better” is different from pushing change down other people’s throats
    • and being pushed isn’t fun
  • the point of being here is to improve yourself, the rest of the world will follow…

say what you think:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *