In this issue
by Judy Guerin, Director of Consent Counts
NCSF is delighted to announce an important new initiative as part of our Consent Counts project. In a nutshell, we have a great opportunity to take advantage of an effort by the American Law Institute (ALI) to change the portions of the Model Penal Code-which most states adopt as their criminal law-in a way that would greatly advance our campaign to decriminalize consensual BDSM.
Here's what is going on. The American Law Institute is an independent body made up of influential lawyers from across the United States. The ALI analyzes legal issues and proposes model legislation (known as "codes" or "restatements") and recommends that states adopt that model legislation as their own law. This requires that each state legislature pass a bill that changes the state law, but most states have in the past adopted ALI model codes without significant changes.
Currently the ALI is studying-and will ultimately recommend-changes in the Model Penal Code provisions relating to sexual assault. As you probably know, cases in which BDSM is prosecuted are now considered as criminal assault, rather than sexual assault. NCSF has always believed this to be unjust. In our view, BDSM is not an attack by one person against another (which is the premise of a criminal assault law). Rather, BDSM is intended to be a mutually pleasurable interaction between two people, in which any pain or stimulation that is consented to is welcomed by that person and is experienced as a form of pleasure.
What the ALI originally set out to do in its current project had nothing to do with BDSM. Instead, their concern rose from the recent public discussion about sexual assault on college campuses and is intended to strengthen the requirement that all forms of sexual contact (from fornication to casual touching) have to be clearly consensual.
In February, NCSF submitted comments to the ALI Committee that is working on sexual assault and related issues. We argued that the same emphasis on strengthening consent should be applied equally in the context of BDSM. We pointed out that the MPC's criminal assault provision allows consent as a defense unless serious injury is caused, but that in case law the courts and prosecutors moralistically have refused to apply that rule because they viewed BDSM simply as violence, not as sex or mutually pleasurable activity.
We urged the ALI Committee to treat BDSM under a category they define as "sexual contact" even if there is no contact with the breasts or genitals. Under the ALI's draft proposal, "sexual contact" is not a crime if consent is given for such contact. If consent is not given, sexual contact is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Such treatment of BDSM-as not a crime if consensual and as a misdemeanor if nonconsensual-would be fully consistent with the concept that BDSM is intended to be a mutually pleasurable activity rather than an act of violence. If a rape is committed in a BDSM encounter then it can be prosecuted as felony sexual assault and the fact that BDSM activities were also included will reduce the confusion for prosecutors and courts. Judgment can be made solely in the context of whether there was consent for each act that was committed.
A further benefit of our proposal would be that a person who is injured in a nonconsensual BDSM incident would have the shelter of "rape shield" rules, which prohibit introduction of evidence of prior acts and provides the victim anonymity. This protection applies to complaints in sexual assault cases, but not in criminal assault cases. People who are assaulted in a BDSM context typically choose not to report what happened to the police because they will be outed as kinky by the public court documents and they may even face media exposure if their assailant is charged with criminal assault rather than sexual assault.
The reaction from the ALI has been encouraging. We were told that our views will be considered, and NCSF was invited to make further written submissions on the sexual assault and related areas, as well as two other ALI projects that may help advance our goals to decriminalize consensual BDSM, and to assist people who have suffered nonconsensual acts in a BDSM context.
It is far too early to conclude whether this could be a real solution to the problem of BDSM being prosecuted as assault. But if the ALI were to include our proposal-that BDSM should not be regarded as violence, and should be dealt with as "sexual contact" instead of "criminal assault"-it would clearly be a major step in the right direction.
But first we need to persuade the ALI to agree with our proposal, or at least something like our proposal.
We need your help! Please sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/
Petition to the American Law Institute:
Consent should be a Defense for BDSM activities
I urge the American Law Institute in its consideration of proposals to revise the Model Penal Code (MPC) provisions relating to sexual assault, to provide in the MPC that prosecutions arising from BDSM (bondage, discipline, Dominance & Submission and sadomasochism) conduct be pursued as "sexual contact" rather than as criminal assault. I believe this is appropriate because consensual BDSM is intended to be a mutually pleasurable erotic activity and not a violent assault by one person against another. Criminal prosecution may be appropriate if consent is not given, but consent should be allowed as a defense.
National Consent Month embraces the freedom of expression that comes with informed consent.
Join us by holding your own event or workshop during the month of September that highlights the importance of consent. Let us know the date and we'll put it on our calendar and publicize it on our social media.
Go to ConsentMonth.com to see ideas on how your group can celebrate Consent Month. Get free swag to give away at your event like "Got Consent?" ribbons and buttons.
Get your "Got Consent?" T-shirts, mugs and dog tags in the NCSF shop!
Submit photos of your Consent Month celebration to our Consent Photo Contest. We'll post the photos and award the winner top billing on our Consent Month website for the rest of the year. You'll also be featured in an NCSF media campaign about Consent Month.
Consent Month is proudly sponsored by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the Arizona Power Exchange.
Thank you for celebrating September as Consent Month!
A Taste of Kink was sponsored by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the AASECT AltSex SIG as part of the AASECT Annual Conference in Minneapolis, MN. Over one hundred AASECT members were able to receive 3 Continuing Education credits for attending the June 6thevent. A Taste of Kink was held at Patrick's Cabaret, and was hosted by Minneapolis kink groups and community organizers.
"AASECT offers or approves hundreds of quality training programs a year for the purposes of protecting clients and improving services in our areas of professional expertise," says Russell Stambaugh, co-facilitator of A Taste of Kink along with NCSF Spokesperson Susan Wright. "It took top quality kink personnel, a safe setting and excellent program design to make A Taste of Kink a success."
The goals of A Taste of Kink were to:
Teach the educators and therapists the basics of consent and negotiation in a BDSM context,
Show them the toys/equipment commonly associated with BDSM practices,
Help them become familiar with healthy patterns of BDSM practices.
After an introduction to consent and negotiation, attendees watched simultaneous demonstrations of common BDSM activities from negotiation to play to aftercare. Then they were given the chance to "taste" each sensation, and participated in negotiation, play and aftercare themselves to model good kink practices
The feedback on A Taste of Kink has been overwhelmingly positive. NCSF and the AltSex SIG were careful to obtain informed consent every step of the way and demonstrate best practices developed by the BDSM community.
To support NCSF's work, please join or donate to help!
NCSF would like to thank Russell Stambaugh for donating $1,000 to cover the expenses for A Taste of Kink at the AASECT annual conference in Minneapolis in June!
Numbers count when we advocate for you, and the bigger we are, the harder our voice is to ignore. There is no other group that fights for kink and nonmonogamy like NCSF does. We help people in need, groups under siege, and businesses opposed by sex-negative bureaucracy.
We can't do it without your support. Thank you for joining NCSF!
With 10 Republicans already announced as vying for the 2016 Presidential nomination, a group has some up with a list of positions that all Republicans are expected to accept as part of their official platform.
The Conservative Values Coalition has, for the first time, specified BDSM, Kink, and Fetishism on their list of activities that are "Practiced Privately and Denied Publicly."
The document details kinks and fetishes that should be "publicly ridiculed" and encouraged the use of words like "freaks, weirdos, perverts, and abominations" to describe practitioners, yet permitted candidates to engage in kinky activity "as long as they don't get caught."
Another provision specified in the document was "nothing in the butt," as that crosses the line from being "merely kinky" into "full blown gayness."
Washington insiders speculate that such restrictions may be aimed at Ted Cruz who, for years, has been known in Washington kink circles for his love of enema play.
"It is going to be hard from Cruz to keep away from the butt," one prominent Lobbyist told The Daily Flogger, "but if you want to be President, you have to prove you are willing to be a hypocrite and this is a good opportunity for Ted to step up."
Read more at the Daily Flogger website.
Mark Your Calendars: August 20-23 in NYC
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is proud to be a sponsor of the 2015 BDSM Writers Con, and we urge member of our communities to attend this exciting event (www.bdsmwriterscon.com).
The BDSM Writers Con, founded by noted author and world-renowned clinical sexologist Dr. Charley Ferrer, brings together readers and authors of BDSM literature. Attendees will mix and mingle with the leading authors in the field, will attend workshops, live demos and a BDSM Book Fair, and will participate in a BDSM Club Night. The conference will also feature a ceremony presenting the annual Golden Flogger Award to a prominent author of BDSM fiction.
This is the third annual BDSM Writers Con organized by Dr. Charley Ferrer. Doctor Charley is one of America's leading sexologists in the field of BDSM and author of "BDSM: The Naked Truth". NCSF has supported her efforts and sponsored last year's highly successful conference. Dr. Ferrer has spoken frequently at NCSF events, particularly in support of the Consent Counts Project.
NCSF views the BDSM Writers Con as an important element in expanding the public's understanding and acceptance of BDSM. Writers of fiction are significant opinion makers. The growing significant and largely sympathetic attention to BDSM-in films, books, television and theatre-in the wake of Fifty Shades of Gray testifies to the role that can be played by fictional depictions of BDSM.
So your attendance at the 2015 BDSM Writers Con supports an important force for greater public acceptance of our communities. And you will also have a great time!
NCSF celebrates Pride Month with Coalition Partner
The Red Chair marching at the Birmingham Pride Parade.
By Susan Wright, Director of IRR
NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response received 60 requests for assistance from individuals, groups and businesses throughout April, May and June. NCSF maintains the confidentiality of those who come to us for help. However we balance that need with the need to report the services we are providing and to provide the community with a record of where the need is the greatest. Here is a breakdown of the cases we dealt with in the second quarter of 2015.
There were 19 requests for assistance with incidents involving kink and criminal law. 15 of those requests came from people complaining about a kink-related assault/sexual assault who needed assistance in connecting with kink-aware victim services, and help in educating law enforcement, investigators and prosecutors. 4 were requests for kink-aware defense attorneys and expert witnesses knowledgeable about BDSM vs. abuse (2 involved allegations of assault in a BDSM context).
There were 17 requests for help involving BDSM and swing groups. 9 groups asked for advice on banning members and dealing with consent violations. 5 groups asked for assistance in setting up a club and dealing with zoning and local authorities. 1 group needed help with organizational structure, 1 had an issue with a member threatening to sue them for age discrimination, and 1 had questions about liability regarding the kinds of activities they allow in their space.
There were 6 media incidents that NCSF assisted in this quarter. First, there was a great deal of media cover on The Social Club, a Nashville Lifestyle club, which has in turn prompted a backlash in the form of both local and state regulations against private clubs. There were also individuals and groups we assisted behind the scenes in dealing with public exposure they got through media coverage.
Six professionals and organizations asked NCSF for information and resources to assist in them in providing their services. These included victim advocates, therapists, and college professors.
In an all-time record low for NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response going back to 2002, there were only 5 child custody cases in the last three months. One case involved a Child Protective Services investigation instigated by a 3rd party mandatory reporter, while in another one, an ex-partner brought in CPS due to FetLife photos they found.
There were 4 cases involving civil law: 3 cases of blackmail that required cease & desist letters, and 1 pro domme who needed assistance.
There were 3 cases of discrimination. One incident involved a student who was suspended for sharing their involvement in the BDSM community. Someone had trouble with a religious organization discriminating against them. And someone needed advice on what to say about kink when getting a security clearance.
Please join now or donate to support NCSF's direct services!
The NCSF was excited to table at International Ms Leather and International Ms Bootblack Weekend in San Jose California this April.
We sent board member Julian Wolf, who also took the stage to perform during Seduction Thursday night and carried a flag during the opening ceremonies.
We'd like to extend our congratulations to Sarge, your current IMsL; slave tabitha arie your current IMsBB; and the IMsL producers for such a notable event.
NCSF Media Updates are a sampling of recent stories printed in US newspapers, magazines, and selected websites containing significant mention of BDSM-leather-fetish, polyamory, or swing issues and topics. These stories may be positive, negative, accurate, inaccurate or anywhere in between.
Here's a sample of three of our recent featured stories:
Polyamory 101: What the Curious Need to Know from CafeMom
Swingers clubs limited by state lawmakers from The Tennessean
The Second Coming of Tom from Out Magazine
NCSF publishes the Updates to provide readers with a comprehensive look at what media outlets are writing about these topics and to urge everyone to make comments that dispute stereotypes about alternative sexuality. NCSF permits and encourages readers to forward these Updates where appropriate.
and members can even list the NCSF as a Fetish on their profiles!