Bringing sex to the party, I spoke at the sold-out “Women, Action & the Media” 2013 conference in lower Manhattan where print, online, multimedia journalists and activists assembled to share tools, strategies and ideas. You might wonder: If that was the purpose, why the hell did you talk about sex? I’m a freelance writer and commentator on human sexuality and interpersonal relationships. Since negotiation facilitates agreement or compromise between two or more individuals, moderated by writer/entrepreneur Rachel Sklar, our Negotiating 101: Salary, Contracts and More panel included leadership professional Gloria Feldt, lawyer Quinn Heraty, and me. We covered: theory / statistics about how women fair in salary negotiations; legal advice; career-experienced views on power; and a nuanced understanding about how healthy relationships function — whether professional or personal. If you missed it, below is a collection of resources gained and shared over the weekend.

Did you catch Time Magazine’s piece Photographer as WitnessSara Naomi Lewkowicz clicked her camera as Shane told girlfriend Maggie, “You can either get beat up here, or we can go talk alone. Your choice.” Responsible Reporting on Trauma kicked off the conference, moderated by the impressive Jina Moore with panelists Jamilah KingLiliana Segura, and Aura Bogado. When reporting trauma, the starting point is always “this should not have been,” Jina mentioned. Otherwise, it’s voyeurism. See Dart Centre for Journalism & Trauma tip sheet Reporting on Sexual Violence. Up next was our session, Negotiating 101: Salary, Contracts, and More. I covered blindspots we typically ignore in personal and professional relationships, and I also shared helpful resources like NYU’s Salary Negotiation manual, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts affordable $30 course Contracts Basics for Artists, my friend Jim’s book Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You, and others. Of course I mentioned orgasms. Fluff matters. Besides, it was both appropriate and relavant. You had to be there.

Women, Action & the Media

“Sisterhood of the Lunchtime Elevator” image by Rachel Sklar at Women, Action & the Media.

Amazing things happen when you take risks. Keynote speaker Elizabeth Méndez Berry‘s investigative article Love Hurts exposed intimate partner violence in the hip hop and won an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers award for music reporting. “It was one of the most important stories I’ve ever written,” she says. “As a writer, part of growth is trying new things, going new places.” The post-lunch J-School Crash Course session with Esther Kaplan, Sandeep Junnarkar, Naomi Zeveloff, and Janet Reitman was delicious. Esther shared simple ways to deepen your reporting and informed us the “biggest problem is with writers having topics, not stories.” On covering stories that have already appeared in the news a bunch, Sandeep mentioned, “I look for unanswered questions in things I’m interested in.” Throughout the conference, Sally Kohn was smart and funny as hell. Shelby Knox, Jamia Wilson, Jenn Pozner, Deanna Zandt, Zerlina Maxwell and others provided tons of insights, too. If you missed it this year, connect with Women, Action & the Media to learn about the 2014 event.