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Participate in a survey about polyamorous relationships!

on Saturday, 15 April 2017. Posted in NCSF News

If you are in a polyamorous or other type of consensually non-monogamous, where all parties involved understand and agree that complete monogamy is not required, then you know how important it is that people understand what these relationships are and how they work.

 

My name is Ryan Witherspoon and I am a clinical psychology Ph.D. student at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.  I am conducting a dissertation research project investigating these kinds of relationships.  Specifically, I’m looking at hidden sources of strength and resilience against challenges that polyamory and other types of consensual non-monogamy may feature. 

 

Are you a US resident, over 18, and currently in one or more polyamorous or consensually non-monogamous relationship(s)?  Do you want to help contribute to scientific understanding of these important lifestyles and practices?  Please click the link below to participate in this ground-breaking study!  

 

All responses are anonymous and completely confidential.  The survey will only take about 20 minutes to complete, but your contribution to expanding knowledge and tolerance of these modern relationships will be priceless! 

 

Access the brief survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNMstudy

 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns! 

 

Sincerely Yours,

Ryan G. Witherspoon, MA

Guest Blog: “Signs” of Trafficking to Make You Wonder

on Monday, 10 April 2017. Posted in NCSF News

by Desmond Ravenstone

Last weekend, I flew out of town to attend a conference where the annual meeting of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom was being held, having been invited to co-present on sex workers’ rights for the Coalition’s leaders. I took just a small backpack crammed with clothes, papers, and other items. The room was paid for by another NCSF activist, who was staying in a suite with their partner. As is my usual practice, I kept the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the entire time, as well as leaving the TV on, because I’m one of these folks who is more comfortable with an unmade bed than having others go through my things.

Believe it or not, I might have been tagged by a hotel employee as a possible sex trafficker.

“Huh!? What did you do wrong?” Well, according to a checklist provided to hotel employees by the Department of Homeland Security, I displayed at least three “general indicators” of human trafficking:

Few or no personal items when checking in.

The same person reserving multiple rooms.

“Do Not Disturb” sign used constantly.

Oh, and the fellow activist who paid for my hotel room? They hosted get-togethers in their suite throughout the weekend, inviting conference attendees to learn more about NCSF – another red flag: “Constant flow of men into a room at all hours.”

 

Now, to be fair, these are just four out of some four dozen indicators, some of which are clear warning signs of coercion or abuse. But the four I mentioned, and several more, are so vague or subjective that, when read out of context, could lead to invasions of privacy and false accusations.

 

Here are some others:

Individuals avoid eye contact and interaction with others – Whoever came up with this probably never knew that this is not uncommon for people on the autism spectrum, or who rank high on the introversion scale.

Individuals appear to be with a significantly older “boyfriend” or in the company of older males – How old is “significantly older”? Does this mean May-December relationships are now automatically suspect? What about a young woman accompanied by an older relative?

Evidence of pornography – Uh huh. Remember, we’re talking hotels here. Many of which have adult pay-per-view. Some have newsstands that sell Hustler and Penthouse. Or maybe the government has bought into the idea that nude photos in a magazine is some sort of “gateway drug” …

Extended stay with few or no personal possessions – Because airlines never lose people’s luggage. Right?

Provocative clothing and shoes – Excuse me, but has anyone noticed the trend in many high schools to declare virtually any female student’s attire short of a prairie dress as “provocative”?

Excessive amounts of sex paraphernalia in rooms (condoms, lubricant, lotion, etc.) – Okay, I’m sure some readers are wondering why I put this here. Set aside the vagueness of “excessive” for a moment. This particular “indicator” gives no mention of context. My recent trip was an example. The conference in question was for members of the BDSM community. So, yes, folks are going to bring all sorts of erotic accoutrements (and that’s not even touching on the various merchants and sex educators setting up booths there). And given that BDSM, swinger and polyamory conferences try to be discreet, just imagine a hotel worker not being informed of their presence and seeing a room filled with … get the picture?

Room paid for with cash or pre-loaded credit card – Because people with credit problems who are thus unable to get “real” credit cards never need to stay at a hotel, hm?

Minor taking on adult roles or behaving older than actual age (paying bills, requesting services) – Seems like a legit concern, right? Well, have you ever encountered a family where the parents are recent immigrants, and the kids have a higher proficiency in English? I have. The kids not only translate for their parents, they learn out of necessity how to deal with all sorts of situations, including how to handle money.

Room rented has fewer beds than patrons – Because college kids don’t trying to save money by cramming four people into a room with two beds. Or a family displaced by fire, or eviction. Yeah, those never happen.

Car in parking lot regularly parked backward, so the license plate is not visible – Yeah, absolutely no one has a car with a front license plate. And except for evil traffickers, everyone parks front first, right?

Patron claims to be an adult although appearance suggests he/she is a minor – Ask anyone who works at a bar if they’ve had to card an adult who looked younger than they are. Yup, it happens. Happened to me when I was thirty-five. And about half a dozen other people I know.

This is not to say that people who engage in trafficking and other nefarious activities don’t do these things. They do – and so do lots of other people. If a survey showed that a majority of traffickers spoke two or more languages, it doesn’t mean that being able to speak another language indicates that someone is a trafficker. It’s also typical of anti-trafficking rhetoric that these assumptions are rooted in biases about gender, race, class, and immigration status. Imagine a hotel employee, with superficial “trafficking awareness” training, reporting a guest – perhaps even you – on the basis of such hasty generalizations.

Human rights abuses should not be fought by the abuse of other rights. If we are to bring criminals to justice, or help victims find relief, then let’s make sure we are well-prepared to do it right, rather than run roughshod over innocent people.

Why these young Aussies are trying BDSM

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

by Katie Horneshaw

“SO I think I’m getting a Dom!” exclaims my friend Jodi* as we sit down for coffee.

“You mean like a BDSM thing?”

“Yeah! I mean, might as well see what all the fuss is about, right?”

“Dom” is kink-vernacular for the dominant role in a BDSM encounter, or “scene”. Jodi is anticipating taking the “Sub”, or submissive, role.

And it’s this, not the fact that my friend wants to try BDSM, which stokes my intrigue. Jodi is a loud, self-possessed clothing label owner and landlord. I cannot picture her being dominated by anyone.

She will later inform me that she’s switched to the Dom role and has found a “sweet” Sub to be her manservant. He comes over to brush her hair and act as her foot stool, among other things.

If you had told me I’d be having this conversation a few years ago, I would have been scandalised. But that was before BDSM became ubiquitous within the under 35’s singles scene. As Jodi puts it, “It’s not good enough to be normal anymore. You have to be extreme!”

The catalyst for the change? There’s the obvious: Fifty Shades may be roundly mocked within the BDSM community, but its role in eviscerating the taboo which once shrouded kink is irrefutable. The rise of anonymous dating apps has made it easy to scout for partners, while social media sites like FetLife (The Facebook of BDSM) allow young kinksters to communicate online.

Matt*, 23 and a Dom, is one of the cohort of Aussie young people using Tinder to scout for BDSM partners. He’s hasn’t encountered a lot of experienced female subs, but, “There are lots of younger girls who have thought about it or dabbled, and they’re happy to have me guide them through the experience.”

Sam*, 28, says he’s always had submissive tendencies, but it wasn’t until seeing Fifty Shades that he considered exploring them in the bedroom. When he eventually matched with a professional dominatrix on Tinder, it was an awakening.

“I’ve always wanted to serve women, but I didn’t have an opportunity to do that in my everyday life without it seeming creepy.”

He thinks BDSM’s recent explosion in popularity is a great thing, “because most people are probably like me — they’d love it if they would just give it a try!”

Henry*, 25, has always known he finds domination sexy. As a teenager he would see a scene in a movie where a woman was in charge and become excited.

He tells me about his first experience as a sub: “I met a very experienced female Dom through a friend, and she trained me on slave-duty. I lived with her and was under her control 24/7- I was only allowed to go out to go to Uni. I loved the idea that it was totally up to her if she wanted to punish or reward me for my behaviour.”

Unlike Sam, Henry is a natural leader in day-to-day life. “What turns me on is the release: The total ceding of control to someone else.” ...

Don’t throw out your old shoes – sell them to someone with a foot fetish instead

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

It’s Sunday evening and I’m creating a profile on one of the biggest social networks for BDSM, fetish and kink communities.

by Louise Joy

I’ve chosen an alluring username, and now I’m uploading photos of my shoes and filling out my profile to state that I am a mistress looking for a sissy sub to worship my feet.

 

In reality, I’m actually sitting in sweats, scoffing crisps, with my hair in a messy bun. But it’s always easier to get into character online.

I’m not looking for any real life fun on this website; though judging by what’s on my profile, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I enjoy dabbling and experimenting.

In actual fact, I’m starting (well, hoping to start) a new business – by selling old, worn shoes.

Let me explain.

Back when I was a uni student, I accidentally stumbled across the gold mine business that is selling old shoes to people with foot fetishes.

 

It was a complete accident.

I sold an old pair of shoes on eBay and made a profit – they were Primark pumps, so would have cost me around £3 to buy, and I managed to sell them for £30.

I didn’t understand why they went for so much.

 

They weren’t in the best condition, but they weren’t falling apart either, so I figured I’d get £5 max for them.

And then the messages came flooding in.

Men wanting to worship my feet; so called slaves begging me to sell more shoes (the stinkier the better, it seems) so that they could buy them and waste their money on ‘their mistress’.

Some even asked to pay for photos of my feet. ...

On Learning and Loving

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

Until I made the conscious choice to opt-out of monogamous relationships, I had cheated on every partner I had ever been with.

by Ocean DeRouchie 

I know how bad that might look on paper. But for the longest time, no matter how long I was with someone, no matter how much I cared for them, I would eventually find myself in a situation where I had serious feelings for another person(s).

 

Any sentiment of guilt or shame I felt came less so from the consequences of any action, and moreso from a societal belief that “sleeping with someone else is something you do to your partner, not for yourself,” as Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy put it so eloquently in their remarkable book, The Ethical Slut.

 

It wasn’t out of not loving my partner, or out of wanting to cause harm, that I acted on those feelings—I was just happy to share love, and I found that the more love I had to give, the more love I had to share.

 

So for years, I would try to follow my heart—and end up hurting everyone else’s in the process.

 

At the end of summer of 2015, I came to the conclusion that being in exclusive relationships was a no-no. I started telling new romantic interests that I was polyamorous, and soon enough my heart felt lighter and lighter. The realization that polyamory, for me, was moreso a part of who I am, rather than a lifestyle choice, came with a strong sense of self, and an even stronger feeling of relief.

 

That’s not to say that sharing this with people didn’t come without some intense reactions. When I first told my mom, she was like, “No, Ocean, you just need a boyfriend.” To which I responded, “No, Mom—I have like, five of them.” Her concern and bewilderment—which comes from a sincere, distinct place of love—is shared by many others who find out that someone in their life is polyamorous. It comes from a sheer lack of public knowledge or even comfortable conversation around non-monogamy.

 

However, polyamory still remains taboo in nature, and is largely ignored as a research topic as a result. It was only last summer that data from the first-ever national survey on polyamorous families emerged.

 

The survey collected information from 547 respondents—all self-identified poly folks in “families,” or what I just call “relationships,” between three or more consenting adults. It’s worth noting that this is by no means an exhaustive representation of polyamorous relationship structures.

 

The survey also (somewhat) reclaims the word “family,” indicating that the meaning of it in Canada is evolving.

 

Of these respondents, there was a general consensus that public acceptance of polyamory is increasing, but perceptions that it’s a kink or fetish, or is somehow aligned with polygamy, is still giving it a bad rap.

 

Poly peeps have to consider who they tell, because “many parts of the world will not welcome us with open arms,” write Easton and Hardy. People have lost jobs, been denied leases and lost custody battles. “It’s not easy being easy,” they point out.

 

My experiences telling potential partners since this coming-to-terms with myself are different depending on the person. Some are uncomfortable with the idea of a partner pursuing other interests—and that’s okay; people need to set their own boundaries. On the other hand though, there are people who are into it, and they aren’t as few and far between as you might expect.

 

Poly living situations are on the rise, too. There was a time not too long ago when I was considering a move-in with two of my former partners. The dream, as a friend of mine once called it, never came true, but discussions around the idea included how many bedrooms we might want, in what context would it be appropriate to bring our other partners into the shared space, and beyond.

 

When looking at poly living situations, the 2016 survey found that most people lived between two households. However, one fifth of them said that all members of their relationship lived in one home. In these single-home families, three fifths of them included one married couple. ...

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!

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