[Ed Note: If you receive unwelcome messages from other members of the group, please send them a link to this post, or a link to our SEX+STL Meetup Email policy, which is pinned to the top of our message board. Then, screenshot the offensive message and send to a SEX+STL co-leader so we can have information and the identity of the offender so we can take appropriate action. Then, we hope you will choose to block that person, instead of leaving the group, but we certainly understand if that’s what you need to do in order to feel safe. Reporting offending members helps keep other members safe and unharrassed. Thank you for taking care of yourself, and for looking out for your fellow members!]
A while back, we hosted a Sex-Positive Etiquette for Men discussion and posted a recap, complete with summary notes and video. Go take a look!
Since then, we continue to encounter a recurring issue with our community – eager men chasing women away from our group.
Wait, what?! We don’t want to chase women away – we want MORE women involved! What’s going on??
Sex Positive St Louis has been around since 2010. We started out with four members, and quickly grew to 100.
When we created our Meetup group, that number exploded, and now we’re at 4700+ members! That’s more than any other sex-positive organization we know of! Clearly, there’s a HUGE need for something like this in the Midwest. We’re very proud of our solid and consistent growth – so many organizations come and go. We’re thrilled that we’ll be celebrating our 10 year anniversary in 2020!
We try to be as inclusive as possible, but the safety and comfort of our members is of paramount importance. As a result, we’ve had to ban about a dozen men (yes, they were all men) from our group over the years. Depending on the offense, we try and educate and give chances before someone gets the boot, but some things are hard limits.
One thing I have to keep dealing with over and over is men sending messages to female Meetup members. Sometimes, the women let us know about the unwelcome messages, but more often, the women just leave the group.
This throws the gender balance out of whack. I’m guessing our gender ratio is about 60% men and 40% women/trans/non-binary, but if this issue keeps happening, we’ll eventually turn into a
SEX-NEGATIVE SAUSAGE FEST.
Meetup is the biggest and easiest way for people to stay abreast of our events, and if women aren’t getting the notifications, then they don’t know all the good stuff we’re doing, and they won’t show up. Yes, we have a calendar and sometimes post events on facebook, but people don’t see that as much.
SO, if you’re not supposed to contact members online, then how do you make connections?
SHOW UP AT THE EVENTS. As a volunteer-led organization, we post and host as many events as we can each month, and we’re proud of the range of topics we cover.
Remember, SEX+STL is not a dating/hookup group. Don’t assume the female members are “open for business” just because they’re open-minded. The purpose of the group is for like-minded individuals to meet and learn about sexuality in a healthy, positive manner. It’s for making friends and developing relationships, and if those relationships should become romantic or sexual, then great. But don’t come at our members with sex as the main goal. That makes people feel objectified and yucky.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a recent account from a woman new to the group:
“I’m a happily married woman in my forties. A few months ago, I admitted to myself through open conversations with my husband, that I am attracted to women. It wasn’t easy, but I wanted to be honest with my sacred partner.
So being the open-minded, loving, confident, self-secure partner that he is, he encouraged me to talk more about it, and suggested that we call Kendra for a consultation, to which I said, “Hell No! She’ll think I’m weird.”
He assured me that she would not judge me. I had read her blog. I knew her to be a beautiful, confident woman. Could I really sit down with my husband and Kendra and ask a professional sex worker “Where do I go to safely explore my sexuality?”
So long story short, I sucked it up, and my husband and I, after postponing twice due to nerves, showed up at Kendra’s Fairy Cottage. With her oozing her beautiful feminine energy, I talked openly for the first time to another woman, with my husband present, with the courage to say, where do I go to meet women, to find out if I am really sexually attracted to them, or am I just terrified to try, for fear that a man as loving as my husband would think that I was doing this for his, not my, sexual gratification, because after all, what confident, successful, kind, loving, strong male encourages his wife to explore outside their marriage?
Well, if you are already a reader of Kendra’s blog, or have met her in real life, you can predict what happened next. She listened, she empathized, she did not judge. She asked us thoughtful questions to draw out our previous sexual experiences to help us strengthen our marriage.
Kendra suggested Meetup as a great way to find other bisexual poly women, and I joined a few groups including SEX+STL, a few naturist groups, and a kink group just to see what felt comfortable and to be exposed to opportunities to step out from behind the computer, show my face, and meet other sex-positive men and women, and maybe make some new friends.
Naturally, I went to a few events. I was warmly welcomed, and didn’t really feel creeped on, even though my tall, imposing, kind, loving husband wasn’t present. Wow, maybe my greatest fear would not be realized, that my boundaries would be violated by a creeper.
Guess what. A creeper still found me. I like other women friends of mine received an unsolicited message via Meetup. The message that I received was from a member of one of the local naturism groups committed to providing opportunities for people embrace their bodies through nudity.
I didn’t appreciate being contacted by someone I had never met but his first email seemed innocent enough with a simple question asking if I had been to 40 acres. A family friendly nudist community/resort. I replied that I hadn’t but that I knew of opportunities to go as a group through a clothing optional yoga group that I had participated in and suggested he look into that event. He replied that he was hoping I would be interested in going with him on a specific day for an overnight visit. At that point, I was done being helpful. I blocked him and notified leaders within key sex positive and nudist meet up groups. Come to find out he has been creeping on women since 2016 and this isn’t his first unsolicited email. The leaders of the three groups that I contacted were supportive and promised to address it. More than anything, I didn’t want another woman to be approached by him and made to feel uncomfortable.
The sad part was that I had just felt comfortable changing my Meetup profile to a picture of my face. After attending a few Sex Positive St. Louis events and participating in the clothing optional body positive yoga group, I saw value in my face being attached to my RSVP because after bigger events I appreciated the opportunity to go back and look at the list of attendees to remember names and faces so I could seek out people at the next event who I connected with and say hello. To me Meetup was a great way to begin connecting with like minded individuals who I felt safe talking and being around.
However, after receiving an unsolicited email from someone who thought it was appropriate to invite a woman he had never met in person on an overnight to a nudist retreat , I replaced my smiling headshot with a non-descript photo of a nature scene. I began deleting my memberships in Meetup groups. So now I find myself deleting my access to friends I had started to make, not just through “sex groups” but also yoga, hiking, The Ethical Society, and several other social justice groups that I was interested in exploring, thanks to the cross-linking of disparate groups.
Thus I emailed group leaders asking how can I continue to find out about events now that I am deleting my Meetup account?? To which Kendra invited me to write my story to share with all of you to explain why woman DO NOT appreciate emails on Meetup from men they know or don’t know propositioning unwanted sexually charged encounters!
The Pissed Off, well educated, connected, talented, pretty, kind, fun loving feminist, who is tired of smiling less each time a soul sucking, energy vampire tries to work their toxic, entitled self into her orbit.”