HOW IT ALL BEGAN
WOCSHN was born at the 2009 AASECT Annual Conference, in Glendale, AZ. It was born from a collective of women, women of various ethnic & cultural identities – women of color – who wanted to hold space for themselves in a place that wasn’t welcoming or supportive of their presence.
The conversation started out causally, but the desire & intent was very focused. Sisters who saw each other across a room, a workshop, the pool … conversations that rippled across a gathering of women who were happy to acknowledge & connect with one another – in the midst of a mainstream professional organization conference that ignored their collective presence and didn’t support an opportunity to gather.
They dedicated time at the hotel pool, sitting, laughing, sharing in the sun. Throughout the day, people walked by, seemingly surprised by the growing circle, the sisterhood that was being formed & solidified.
Three women made a commitment to each other and themselves that weekend. They chose to honor this new circle by keeping in touch, to remain connected & find space to hold THEIR space. And they did – WOCSHN began as a yahoo listserve (we have been around for that long!) to a small Facebook group. A place for women of color sexuality professionals to share their experiences; a place to gain support when they are shut out, pushed aside, silenced, erased and otherwise considered nonexistent.
This small safe space was welcomed, and grew fast. More women were looking for a place to share, learn, grow, be challenged, and encouraged as they moved further into their careers. New bonds were formed, new friendships were realized. Power was shared, & used to make more space, to give more light and shine to US. For US. By US. Because of US.
Bianca, Mariotta, and Trina started this group for purely selfish reasons. We wanted to look across the rooms that we found ourselves in and see someone who looked like us; who could SEE us. We are humbled to see the growth and change and POWER of WOCSHN in all the ways it’s given space for so many to BE.
MISSION, VISION & GOALS
The Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN) is a group of women, both domestic and international, with a focus on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women of color.
WOCSHN creates opportunities for the inclusion of women of color in the field of sexuality, sexology, and sexual health; challenges the White supremacy these fields were built upon. We task our colleagues to recognize we exist as thriving experts and support our legacy in the field.
This working group began at the 41st Annual AASECT Conference by 18 women of color attendees from various backgrounds but similar passions.
WOCSHN is inclusive of all people who identify as women and as people of color.
Currently, we are working to:
provide critical commentary and online spaces where the voices of POC, and particularly WOC, will be uplifted,
establish ourselves as an official 501(c)3,
become published collectively and individually,
present on sexuality topics around the world,
mentor emerging sexuality professionals and public intellectuals of color into the field.