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The Ins and Outs of Silicon Valley’s New Sexual Revolution

on Sunday, 09 April 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

by Julian Sanction

IN SILICON VALLEY, love’s many splendors often take the form of, well, many lovers. For certain millennials in tech—as well as, rumor has it, a few middle-aged CEOs—polyamory holds especial appeal. Perhaps that’s because making it work is as much an engineering challenge as an emotional one, requiring partners to navigate a complex web of negotiated arrangements. (There’s an app to keep track of that, obvs: The Poly Life.) Some enthusiasts even claim it’s the way of the future. “If life extension is possible, we might have to think about relationships differently,” says one Valley-based polyamorist. “It’s pretty hard to have an exclusive relationship with someone for 300 years.” True that—but balancing multiple LTRs takes just as much dedication and discipline (if not more).

Rules of Polyamory

1. Tap OkCupid

Good old OkCupid is where you’ll find a critical mass of polyamorous users. The app features questionnaires to help determine if the lifestyle is right for you, plus tools that make it easier to find other poly enthusiasts.


2. Study up

The gospel is Dossie Easton’s 1997 book, The Ethical Slut. But more compelling to STEM-y polyamorists might be Sex at Dawn, which draws on primate physiology to prove that monogamy is, like, totally a construct.


3. Join the club

Some workplaces (coughGooglecough) have quasi-official poly clubs; you can also find meetups online. Just know there are plenty of subsets within the community, especially in California, so be prepared to discuss neopagan liturgies with Nebula Moon-Ostrich.


4. Don’t be a letch

You shouldn’t go to a get-together hoping to hook up. These are not orgies. (Though tech-nerd orgies do get pret-ty wild, what with the color-coded bracelets signaling what you’re cool with doing/having done unto you.) And stick to your age bracket—restrictions are enforced to keep things comfortable.


5. Be honest (and avoid Manhattan)

Transparency is what separates polyamory from infidelity. It’s also what makes it difficult. Thankfully, this is one area where the Valley’s left-brained legions have an advantage. “Lying is unacceptable,” says Emily Witt, author of Future Sex. “In New York, playing people is much more normal.” ...

Dating Apps May Not Be the Best Way to Safely Start Practicing BDSM

on Sunday, 09 April 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The troubling trend of men using dating apps to lure kink-curious women into abusive relationships

by Jera.Brown

BDSM fantasies — specifically, being dominated — are pretty common among women. According to one study, more than 60 percent of us have them.


Some women turn to dating sites to start exploring their submissive side, but testing the BDSM waters with someone you’ve never met can be dangerous, especially after the success of the Fifty Shades books and movies, men have felt more comfortable advertising their status as “dominants,” using the sites to find women looking for their own Christian Grey. The problem is, many of these men are intentionally looking to prey on inexperienced submissives. Take it from Amy and Megan.


When Amy began talking to Scott on OkCupid, she was looking for the “strong, take-charge kind of guy — the opposite of her flaky, aloof ex-husband.


“I was emotionally tired of having to be the only grown-up in the relationship,” she explained. “I've always had somewhat submissive sexual tendencies — I love any sort of ravishment fantasy — so the idea of being in a safe place to let go and no longer have to be in charge was exciting for me, not just sexually, but emotionally.”


Their flirting online intensified. Scott told Amy he was going to “punish” her, and Amy had gone along with it as a fantasy. But on their first date, Scott assaulted her, informing Amy she knew what she was getting into.


Megan, who met Jack on a dating site specifically for those interested in BDSM, doesn’t call what happened to her outright assault.


“It's in that wobbly zone of yes and no,” she said. “I was into it at the time, even if hesitatingly. There was a slew of sex-included acts I hadn't OK'd, and stuff at the end made the previous stuff feel way ickier.”


Both women said that they ignored warning signals. For Megan, the biggest red flag was Jack’s inconsistencies around substance abuse. After Jack told her he was sober and in a support group, he had a drink on their date. Megan said she should’ve stopped the date then.


Even though Amy was attracted to Scott’s dominance, he came on too strong from the get-go. Afterward, Amy blamed herself for breaking one of her own rules: Never go to a person’s house on a first date.


“I still can't tell you why I let him talk me into it,” Amy said. “The whole experience was the only time in my life I've ever felt like I was powerless over my own actions. I felt brainwashed.”


Amy didn’t report the assault to the police because of the record of flirting that existed from their online conversations. She was worried it would be used against her in court.


While Amy hasn’t explored her submission fantasies since, Megan has become active in the BDSM community.


“I believed — and still believe — in the potential for shared catharsis and connection, which is possible in [BDSM] scenes,” she said. “Many of the connections I made early on have become chosen family. When BDSM works, it can bring bliss. When we negotiate well and stay close to our authentic voice, we can experience extremely rewarding and fulfilling connection through scenes.”


Megan learned to trust her intuition in order to protect herself. “Our threat-detection system is necessary for survival, and experience has shown that when that system is activated, it's for good cause,” she added.


I was lucky. All my earliest experiences with BDSM were with a partner that I trusted. We were in an open relationship when we learned about the local BDSM community and found others to further explore our interests with. I’ve explored being both dominant and submissive, and it’s important to note that these roles can be fulfilled by someone of any gender. ...

Celebrating 20 Years of Successful Advocacy with NCSF!

on Sunday, 09 April 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

On Saturday evening at Kinky Kollege, NCSF will kick off our 20th Anniversary with a fun-filled charity Birthday Party to celebrate NCSF’s accomplishments. For 20 years now, NCSF has been tirelessly advocating to protect and advance the rights of consenting adults.


Please ask your group or event to hold a Birthday Party for NCSF this year to help support our programs and projects that are challenging discrimination against BDSM and non-monogamy!


See the NCSF 20 year Timeline! 


These are a just a few of NCSF’s accomplishments to celebrate:


• Provided Incident Response assistance to thousands of people regarding child custody, job discrimination, criminal prosecutions, consent violations, venue licensing and enforcement issues

• Gave over 1,000 media interviews to change media representations of BDSM and other non-traditional sex practices, and trained over 100 people and groups on how to talk to the media

• Developed educational programs and resources for law enforcement, attorneys, therapists, medical personnel, anti-domestic violence advocates, universities, authors and our communities

• Worked with the American Psychiatric Association to change the DSM-5 criteria so that consensual BDSM is no longer categorized as a mental illness

• Developed the Consent Counts Campaign to decriminalize consensual BDSM and is working with the American Law Institute on the Model Penal Code on Sexual Assault.

• Filed Amicus Briefs in important legal cases

• Maintained a Kink Aware Professional’s resource database


Please donate and help to support this vitally important organization!

Capital Voices: 'Outside this, I'm a "normal" mother, daughter, sister, friend'

on Sunday, 09 April 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

by Bruce Deachman

In anticipation of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations, the Citizen’s Bruce Deachman has been out in search of Ottawans — 150 of them — to learn their stories of life and death, hope and love, obsession and fear. From Feb. 2 until Canada Day, we’ll share one person’s story every day.


“The freedom to be who you are. That’s why I’m here today. I’m part of the NCLP — National Capital Leather Pride. It’s all about just expressing yourself. Whether it’s fetish or who you love or what you want to do in life. This is about the freedom to do what you want.


“This is not so much a fetish for me as it is … like, I don’t pretend I’m a pony. Some people do, they can get into that head space of a pony. But this, to me, is more of an exhibitionist side. I’m an attention-seeker. Positive attention. Just to show that you can come out and have and do whatever you want. Just the happiness of it, and the happiness it brings people if you see them and they watch you walking around. It’s a lot of smiles, a lot of applause. It’s just for me to tell people, ‘It’s OK to do whatever you want. Don’t hurt anybody. Be kind, and just have fun with your life, because it’s too short.’


“I’ve been in the fetish community for about 25 years, Sexapalooza and the Pride parades. Private parties, too, of course. Or if people invite me to a benefit or something like that, then I’ll be there.


“I like the shock value it has for the vanilla people, the ones who aren’t in to any kind of BDSM or fetishes. We just call them vanilla. It’s new people just starting out; they haven’t tested all the flavours. When they see me, they ask a lot of questions, and it’s almost always positive, which is really nice. Outside this, I’m a ‘normal’ mother, daughter, sister, friend. I work hard, and family is really important.



“Things have absolutely changed. I grew up with a friend who was gay, and he was so ashamed of it back then — that was a long time ago. He died about 20 years ago, of AIDS. And now today, look at it. Look at all the people here. He would never have done this 25 years ago. It was always hidden. So there definitely is a big change. So I think about him when I do this, because I only wish that he could be here now, to be able to express himself instead of feeling ashamed.“

"Fifty Shades of Denver’s BDSM Scene"

on Sunday, 09 April 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

By Nicholas Thomas

While the 50 Shades Trilogy has brought the mysterious world of BDSM (Bondage – Domination – Sadism – Masochism) into the mainstream, it has been highly criticized for not authentically representing the community. With a look into Denver’s BDSM scene, the true nature of the community began to separate from its pop-culture depiction.


Some of the earliest writings about BDSM came from Marquis De Sade, who was also the first recorded person to write about sadism, the tendency to derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch frequently wrote about deriving pleasure from pain and the term masochism was coined by Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing in reference to him. Both author’s literature was erotic and frowned upon in their communities.


Dr. Kat Martinez, Women’s Studies professor at MSU Denver, conducted BDSM research as part of her dissertation work and has been involved with the community since 2009.


The BDSM community is nothing new to the United States. Martinez explained that it started to make its way to the States shortly after World War II and may have been in connection with the LGBTQ movement.


Many “vanilla,” or people that partake in normative sexual acts, are unaware of this history and often relate their knowledge of BDSM to books, pornography or movies, which can be quite misleading.


Saskia Davies, a dungeon owner and headmistress at Pavlovia Denver, said that many people who come to events or clubs for the first time have little background information. She explained that when people enter her club it is important for them to be knowledgeable because every experience with BDSM is different and as such, there is always a risk factor.


Misconceptions about the community are commonplace and can be found in pop culture depictions. One misconception that Davies often encounters comes straight from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, in which a leather-clad gimp waits eagerly in a corner for a ball-gagged Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. “It’s very expensive to keep a pet like that. If they’re not working you have to feed them and talk about their medical needs. So no, we don’t actually keep geeks in our basement,” said Davies.


Members of the community do not necessarily spend their time actively living and participating in the BDSM lifestyle. At the bank or grocery store, you would never know the difference. Sometimes, Davies explained, you can tell when somebody is new, because they may feel the need to prove their dominance by leading someone around on a leash everywhere they go.


“The more confident people are with anything in their lives the less need they have to prove to anybody else,” said Davies. “The quiet ones are the ones you really have to watch out for. Sometimes the ones who are there just to gain others’ attention may be there for the wrong reason. It is very important to keep strong communication with your partner.”


BDSM culture relies greatly on trust and boundaries. An aspect of trust is the willing power exchange between partners.


“Submissives are not just doormats waiting for someone to tell them what to do. If we don’t start out with everything we negotiate as equals and remember at all times that we are equals and have respect for each other it really doesn’t work,” said Davies. A submissive is defined as someone who is willing to conform to the authority or will of others. On the flip side, a dominant exercises authority or influence. ...

Drupal member sent out after BDSM lifestyle revealed

on Monday, 27 March 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


by Sam Varghese

The head of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, has asked a longtime contributor Larry Garfield to leave the project soon after it became public knowledge that Garfield practises a BDSM lifestyle.

In a statement, Buytaert said Garfield had been asked to leave, "because... he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project".


He did not specify what these views were, adding that he would not have discussed this issue in public and was only doing so because Garfield had posted about it.


Garfield disclosed in his post that he was involved in both the BDSM and Gorean communities. The latter sub-culture particularly focuses on the master-and-slave dynamic in sexual relationships and associated forms of female submission as portrayed in the Chronicles of Counter Earth novels.


Hardly any of the comments responding to the post were supportive of his ouster.

Buytaert said there were many omissions in the post that Garfield had made. "What makes this difficult to discuss, is that it is not for me to share any of the confidential information that I've received, so I won't point out the omissions in Larry's blog post," he wrote.


"However, I can tell you that those who have reviewed Larry's writing, including me, suffered from varying degrees of shock and concern."


Drupal, like many other open source projects, has a stated goal of welcoming and accepting all people, no matter their heritage, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity or other factors.


Buytaert said the manner in which the information about Garfield, which he had referred to as not being divulged, had been shared "was shared by others in a manner I don't find acceptable either and will be dealt with separately".


"However, when a highly-visible community member's private views become public, controversial, and disruptive for the project, I must consider the impact that his words and actions have on others and the project itself.


"In this case, Larry has entwined his private and professional online identities in such a way that it blurs the lines with the Drupal project. Ultimately, I can't get past the fundamental misalignment of values." ...


A Cultural Moment For Polyamory

on Monday, 27 March 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates



The word polyamory, according to this FAQ page maintained by writer and sex educator Franklin Veaux, "is based on the Greek and Latin for 'many loves' (literally, poly many + amor love). A polyamorous person is someone who has or is open to having more than one romantic relationship at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all their partners."


(Polyamory, then, isn't to be confused with polygyny, when one man has several wives, or polyandry, when one woman has several husbands.)


Lately, I'm seeing "polyamory" everywhere. It's not a new word or concept of course, but it seems to be having a cultural moment.


Some of the heightened attention to polyamory may be because philosopher Carrie Jenkins published a book about it early this year.


Last month in this article at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jenkins discussed — in addition to various scholarly aspects of polyamory — having both a husband and a boyfriend.


Around the same time, an article in Salon magazine profiled people who participate in a monthly event in New York designed for the polyamorous.


And the topic is here, again, in New York magazine this month in an article citing a study that reports polyamory has been practiced by 20 percent of single Americans at some point.


To some degree, the focus of mainstream-media articles like these aims at overturning incorrect assumptions about polyamory. It's not the same as promiscuity, for instance.


To quote from the Chronicle piece about Jenkins:


"There is no necessary connection between polyamory and promiscuity, Jenkins argues. She thinks like a logician, and to her, this is simply a confusion of concepts. She points out that a person could fall in love with two people at the same time, have only two partners her whole life, and be considered a "slut." Meanwhile, someone can sleep around while dating, or go through a string of brief, monogamous relationships, and have dozens of partners without receiving censure. Still, Jenkins recognizes that most people will struggle with her ideas."

Jenkins is no doubt right that people struggle with her ideas about sharing one's life with multiple romantic partners. The U.S., for instance, is a country that very much espouses monogamy as a value.


Yet when we take a close look at polyamory — and embrace an anthropological perspective — we may gain a clearer understanding.


Polyamory is sometimes defined as "consensual non-monogamy." Yet polyamory isn't automatically or inevitably in a binary, oppositional relationship with sexual monogamy. As Gaylen Moore wrote in "An Open Letter to the Press" posted on the Polyamory Society website, "it is love, not sex, that is the key issue in polyamory." ...

Proposed 'sex-positive community center' gets fair hearing from Tacony residents

on Friday, 24 March 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Plan Philly

by Jake Blumgart

Thursday night’s community meeting in Tacony went better than anyone could have expected.


A proposal to open a private sex-positive club in the midst of a residential neighborhood would likely stir contention anywhere. In the Northeast, with its reputation as the most conservative corner of the city, such a project almost seems to court controversy.


But the sex-positive club’s lead organizer, Deborah Rose Hinchey, assuaged neighborhood fears by taking questions from a standing room only crowd for well over an hour. In the stuffy heat of the Tacony Music Hall, crammed with concerned neighbors and community activists, she faced a public reckoning with what until recently had been her private—very private—passion project.


Sex positivity is an expansive philosophy which argues that what happens between consenting adults is healthy and natural. Think anything from polyamory, or openly engaging in multiple romantic relationships, to practitioners of bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism (BDSM). And the more people are educated about such practices, the better.


For three years Hinchey and her supporters have dreamed of opening a members-only sex-positive community center. The idea is to create a gathering space outside the bars and illegal warehouse parties where many alternative sexual communities are forced to meet people who share their proclivities. Drugs and booze complicate consent, and the community center model offers a safe space where they are explicitly banned.


Six months ago, Hinchey and her comrades were approached with the idea about locating their club in the stately Victorian Tacony Music Hall in lower Northeast Philadelphia. Three months ago, the group’s benefactor, Harry Leff, purchased the building. Two months ago, they started moving in furniture.


Last week PlanPhilly broke the news that the sex positive community center hoped to open in the neighborhood. Hinchey spent much of the next ten days haunting the Tacony Facebook group and responding to freaked out commenters.


Last night, it came time to face the crowd. In less than two weeks Hinchey will have to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment to secure a special exception to provide “live entertainment for more than 50 people.” Currently the club can operate by-right with a capacity of 50 people per floor. Currently there are less than 30 members, but eventually they’d like to have over 150 people signed up.


Getting a special exception requires a community meeting with the local Registered Community Organization (RCO). Flanked by zoning lawyers, Hinchey stood in the midst of what was once the music hall’s second floor office suite. The huge room features a winding staircase that leads up to an interior balcony, presenting Hinchey and her cohort with two levels of attendees.


As the meeting got started, a betting man might have put money on a screaming match. Numerous attendees scoffed audibly whenever Hinchey assured them there’d be no alcohol served or tolerated. A few older residents vibrated with skepticism.


But the Tacony Civic Association is bent on civility. Questions had been collected beforehand and were read by Alex Balloon of the Tacony CDC. Whenever the crowd started to get rowdy, Joseph Sannutti, president of the Tacony Civic Association, threatened to shut the whole meeting down and chuck everyone out of the building. He wields his gavel fiercely, quelling any sign of unbridled unrest.  


And then a funny thing happened as Hinchey and her zoning lawyers answered the crowd’s questions. Tacony listened. No one screamed at her. No one wailed or gnashed teeth.


A few people asked her to think of the children, but she came prepared for that one. After all, there is a daycare on the first floor.


“We want to make sure we can cohabitate in this spaces as well as possible,” said Hinchey. “We’ve worked really, really hard with them. One of the things we are doing is making sure we are never open at the same time, they close at 6:00 and we open at 7:00 on weeknights. We have separate entrances on separate streets.”


The director of the daycare walked up to Hinchey, identified herself as Monique Roye and spoke in support of the sex positive center. As far as she’s concerned, having such a conscientious tenant upstairs—one that will pay for security camera to be installed outside—would actually help her business with the influences she actually worries about.


“When I started working here we were picking up drug paraphernalia off of our playgrounds,” she said. “We were watching DEA agents knocking down doors up the street.”


With the daycare director on her side, Hinchey’s detractors’ were defanged. Her description of the membership process also seemed to help: Applicants must have the approval of two vetted persons, then their ID is taken and copied, and they are assigned an identification number to better preserve privacy—although their full information is kept on file.


Still, the meeting wasn’t without its touchy points.


At one point Hinchey said the word “bondage” and the room erupted in hoots and derisive laughter that drowned out everything else. It took the intervention of Sannutti to calm things down.


The crowd rumbled and shifted uneasily throughout the question and answer session. One person bluntly insisted that the club members would simply have a stash of booze in their cars, even if it is disallowed in the building. (Hinchey says no intoxicated person will be allowed in.) Then came the perennial Philadelphia question: Where will all the cars go? (Hinchey has been studying the parking patterns in the evenings and found non-residential blocks nearby where there are few cars at night.)


The parking questions lead Hinchey to propose a good neighbor agreement the club could sign, which could encompass any number of assurances. No parking on Longshore Ave, for example, or no loitering on the sidewalk.  


Hinchey’s calm and assured answers mostly won her an honest hearing, although by the end of the meeting the crowd still seemed skeptical as the voting began. (The results weren’t announced at the meeting and no one could confirm the results Friday morning, although Tacony Civic’s zoning spokesperson said he doubted they’d get community approval.)


“Look, as someone who grew up in the 70s-era coffee shop era in Philadelphia, and needed safe spaces, I truly respect that aspect of your mission,” said local resident Andrew Keegan.  “I think that’s commendable. If that were the limit of it, I wouldn’t be here. But there’s a sense of mission creep.”


Could Hinchey guarantee there will be no sexual activity?


No, she won’t say that. Becoming a member, or attending a function, does not guarantee anyone sex, she stressed. The center is not an attempt to monetize potential sexual encounters. But she also would not rule out sex between consenting adults in a private space.


“Sex is not prohibited within this space but it is not the purpose or intention of this space,” said Hinchey. “This space’s intention is to educate people about their bodies, about having relationships, at how to communicate effectively. Sex is not the purpose, but it is not prohibited either.”


That idea obviously made the crowd uncomfortable. A suggestion rippled through that sex should be banned at the center, at least for a few months. But Hinchey didn’t back down. Even then, despite audible dissent, there were no truly unruly outbursts.


Canvassing the crowd for opinions about what they’d just seen, a hard no vote was surprisingly hard for this reporter to come by.


“I’m really not sure whether I want to go for it or not—I just hate to see the building empty,” said Lorraine Quirk, a lifelong resident of Tacony. “The neighborhood is really turning into a drug infested neighborhood, so maybe this could be a positive thing. And her presentation was excellent. She wasn’t afraid to tell us the truth.”


Another older resident, Bill O’Drain, said he’s optimistic about the proposal. “This neighborhood is bad. I hope that somehow possibly this’ll inject some good life into a bad situation. Maybe this will work out for everyone. A win-win.” ...

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