Every year in August, tens of thousands of cybersecurity experts descend on Las Vegas for what they call “Hacker Summer Camp.” It’s one of the largest Information Security gatherings in the world and this year, I was asked to speak at SquadCon, an event hosted by Girls Who Code and Black Girls Hack.
You may be wondering why a Sex Therapist was presenting at a hacker conference. It’s not because I dropped out of one of the best Cyber Criminology programs in the country (although I did) and it’s not because I do a weekly podcast focusing on the intersection of intimacy and technology (although I do). I was there to talk about my work with Securing Sexuality — a conference I’m helping to co-organize this October in Greektown.
The cultural and political climate in America over the last few years has become polarized in a way that likely has not been seen since the Civil War. People have taken strong sides on a number of cultural issues and open hostility towards those they disagree with has become not just commonplace but outright dangerous for many. Reports of antisemitism are at a record high and, alongside this, we’ve seen an unprecedented attack on LGBTQIA+ and queer people, trans folks and people seeking to access reproductive healthcare. The law in many states has been weaponized against members of these communities, as well as those who provide mental and medical care for them — myself included. As online attacks directed at sexual health professionals have become a terrifying new norm, my colleagues and I have had to learn how to cope with (and spell and pronounce) stochastic terrorism.
The day that SCOTUS handed down the Dobbs ruling, overturning Roe v. Wade last summer, I looked at my husband — himself an internationally recognized cybersecurity professional — and said “a lot of people in my world are about to get really hurt. My people need your people, and we need to connect them.”
One week later, we launched the Securing Sexuality podcast with our first episodes: Privacy in a Post-Roe America, Parts One and Two. Every week since, we have been putting out content highlighting the fascinating, hilarious, and often fraught topic of how we bring technology into the most intimate parts of our lives … and how that can be both a blessing and a curse. We happened to be the right people (a hacker and a sex therapist) at the right time and people clamored for more.
That’s why on October 19 and 20, we’re bringing together some of the leading voices from both of our industries to talk about what "safe sex" looks like in a digital age. Our roster of speakers is amazing:
- Eva Galperin, Director of Cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, discussing the newest SCOTUS ruling declaring that online harassment is a form of protected speech and what that means for communities already seeing an uptick in online aggression.
- Dr. Nicole Prause, founder of the Liberos research team, unpacking the Manosphere and the way it’s radicalizing young men online.
- Albert Fox Cahn, Executive Director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, sharing the findings his team just released about state surveillance of people seeking gender-affirming and reproductive healthcare.
And twenty other subject matter experts from across the fields of privacy, security, sexual/mental health and social advocacy.
Because I am a Social Worker by vocation, we have strived to make the Securing Sexuality event as accessible as possible. Our speaker lineup is one of the most diverse of any technology conference in the country. We have Covid protocols in place and a recorded-access option for folks who don’t feel ready or able to travel. Tickets are available and include two full days of educational content, as well as two lunches, a strolling dinner, games, social events, raffles, interactive/hands-on learning opportunities, as well as continuing education credits for professionals. This is crucial information to get into the world, and we have opportunities to sponsor those for whom paid tickets may be a barrier.
Our goal is to bring 250 people together to learn how to protect themselves, their friends, clients, and colleagues, and their relationships from harm — both online and off. We are expected to sell out, but as of this writing, tickets are still available. If you’re interested in attending, or would like to support our nonprofit educational endeavor, visit: www.securingsexualiyt.com/buy-tickets