NCSF on TwitterSubscribe to the NCSF RSS FeedNCSF Blog

NCSF Headlines


Stay in Touch. Stay in the Know.

"Where Do Kinks Come From? It's Complicated"

on Friday, 03 March 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates



Kink has made its way from back rooms and hidden dungeons and burst its way into the mainstream in recent years. And while many long-term kinksters are vocal about their dislike of the Fifty Shades series, there’s no denying that it has awakened some previously dormant (or at least kept more secret) sexual desires in people across the world. This newly-popular status for sexual interests that were previously deemed “deviant” brings up a lot of questions, the biggest of which is: Where do kinks come from?


The short answer is: No one is really sure.


“Kinks, much like sexual orientation and gender identity, are created through a complex interplay that research doesn't fully understand of genetics, environment, and our experiences paired with sexually relevant contexts,” clinical sexologist Rena McDaniel tells Bustle.


Before we dive deeper into where kinks come from, let’s establish a working definition. However, just like the question of origins, defining kink is trickier than it seems at first. says it’s “bizarre or unconventional sexual preferences or behavior.” But of course, it's more complicated than that.


“‘Kink’ is a construct and the meaning is subjective,” sex therapist and sexologist Stefani Threadgill tells Bustle. “There are no defining factors that deems one ‘kinky.’”



With that said, there are some sexual practices that are commonly put under the “kink” umbrella. For example, bondage, sadism (pleasure from giving pain), masochism (pleasure from receiving pain), spanking, foot fetishes, and role playing are all well-known types of kinks.


“People who are not into role-playing are in the minority among Millennials,” McDaniel says. “The 2017 SKYN Condoms Millennial Sex Survey found that two thirds of Millennials reported that they are into role-playing, and research by Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s showed that roughly 50 percent of folks like being bitten."


So if kinks are just different ways to enjoy sex, where do they come from? Up until fairly recently, being kinky was considered a mental disorder. In fact, kink was only removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the guidebook for psychologists and psychiatrists — in 2013. When you think about the fact that that’s only four years ago, it’s pretty amazing that we’re able to have such an open discussion these days. ...

Is it time to decriminalize sex work?

on Friday, 03 March 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Seattle Globalist

by Sylvia Lin


Is sex work inherently exploitative?


A council of 160 current and retired sex workers from the Seattle Sex Workers Outreach Project don’t think so, and they’re joining other regional chapters of the organization in pushing for decriminalization of sex work.


Sola, the president of SWOP Seattle, is a 43-year-old woman who had 14 years of experience in the sex industry. She has a husky voice and an uninhibited laugh, which is often triggered by her indignation over laws prohibiting sex work.


Sola believes most sex workers chose their profession voluntarily and says she loves her job.


“It’s the most satisfying and profitable career I’ve undertaken. I really adore my clients. And there’s not many positions out there that’s so rewarding and allow you to enjoy yourself,” she said.



“It’s the most satisfying and profitable career I’ve undertaken. I really adore my clients.”


Savannah Sly, the president of the national SWOP USA, also lives here in Washington, and estimates the number of sex workers in the state to be “a couple thousand.” She acknowledges the number is hard to count since the criminalized industry has to conduct their business in secrecy. Sola, Sly, and many other sex workers, don’t go by their real names because of fear of prosecution. Washington state law deems all commercial sex as illegal.


“I feel like I could be arrested every day.” Sly said, citing previous experiences that have taught her not to trust law enforcement. She says she has a lot of friends who have been raped or blackmailed by police, both in Washington and other states. To her, trouble with police is “a lot scarier than whatever could happen at work.”


Sly says she supports the decriminalization of sex work because she’s a feminist. She argues that people should have the freedom to engage in what she calls “consensual sexual activities.”


She believes decriminalization would mean less stigma for sex workers, and allow them and their clients to inform police about sex trafficking without fear of prosecution.


A global movement to decriminalize sex work


The demand for sex workers’ rights is hardly unique to the United States.


Ever since more than 25,000 sex workers gathered in India on March 3rd, 2001, sex worker communities around the world celebrate March 3rd as “Sex Workers’ Rights Day.” Using the red umbrella as a symbol against the violence and discrimination toward sex workers, the movement has sparked protests by sex workers from Nigeria to the U.K. to Korea.


Increasingly, movement to decriminalize sex work also has the support of major global organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), Amnesty International and UNAIDS. On Amnesty’s “Q&A policy to protect the human rights of sex workers” webpage, the organization states that after more than two years of research, they recommend the removal of laws penalizing the selling, buying and organizing of sex work to enhance the safety and human rights of sex workers. ...

"Is 'Fifty Shades' a boon or bust for couples exploring kink?"

on Sunday, 26 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


By Ian Kerner

"Fifty Shades Darker," the sequel to "Fifty Shades of Grey," hits theaters this month, the second installation in the wildly popular series. There's no doubt that the films -- and E.L. James' bestselling books on which they're based -- have introduced millions to the concept of kink, an umbrella term that includes bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (also called BDSM).

These practices include such practices as restraints, blindfolds, spanking and whipping, basically any act that involves one person consensually giving the other more power in the situation. But are the fictional portrayals in the "Fifty Shades" franchise accurate or responsible vehicles for real-life experimentation? I asked several of my colleagues to weigh in on some common questions about the trilogy.

Is 'Fifty Shades' realistic?

In a word, no. "There were many inaccurate BDSM descriptions communicated throughout the series," clinical sexologist Anna Randall said. "One of these inaccuracies is the inclusion of scenes that violate BDSM's cardinal rule of mutual consent." Real BDSM requires communication and consent. Otherwise, it's a boundary violation.

Still, many experts believe that viewers can parse fact from fiction, the same way one can enjoy an over-the-top romance novel without expecting the same fantasy in real life.

" 'Fifty Shades' is to kink what 'Star Wars' is to space travel, a kind of romantic heroine's journey with about as much realism relative to sexual science as the Death Star has to NASA," sex therapist Russell Stambaugh said. "It is not representative of BDSM, but was never written to be, either."

Does 'Fifty Shades' hurt or help BDSM?

Despite the concerns about its portrayal of BDSM, most of the colleagues I spoke to agreed that "Fifty Shades" has been good for the BDSM community in the six years since the first book was published.

"In general, 'Fifty Shades' has had a positive effect in that it's exposed alternative forms of sexuality to a much broader audience," sex therapist Michael Aaron explained. "It's taken BDSM mainstream in the sense that there's more awareness around it and it is portrayed much less as a bunch of sleazy perverts in dark dungeons."

Some experts take it even further. "It's been said that 'Fifty Shades' was BDSM's Stonewall Rebellion," said sex therapist Margie Nichols, referring to the 1969 protests that marked the beginning of the fight for LGBTQ rights. "It brought BDSM out into the light of day and gave it incredible visibility. Readers got turned on by kink, so now they know what that's like. It's hard to demonize something after you've been turned on by it. It creates an automatic kinship."

What's the appeal of BDSM?

In my opinion, BDSM can appeal to people for many reasons, just like "vanilla" sex. Some people find it hot because it's different. Sex play that's outside the norm can make us feel like we're doing something subversive and getting away with it. "For some people, BDSM also seems to trigger altered states of consciousness that feel very spiritual," Nicholsadded.

Another appeal is that BDSM can tread the line between pleasure and fear.

"I sometimes call BDSM the 'extreme sports of sex,' " psychologist Richard Sprott said. "There are many similarities between peak experiences in sex and peak experiences in other kinds of activities, so it's not surprising that some people can find self-actualization through kink."

Is there a link between an abusive past and BDSM?

Of the concerns experts do have about "Fifty Shades," the greatest involves the hero's traumatic past.

"My main complaint is that by portraying Christian Grey as someone who is compelled to sadomasochism due to childhood trauma, it plays into the stereotypes that all BDSM practitioners have been traumatized at some point in their lives," Aaron said. In fact, Randall points out, several reliable studies show that people who are into BDSM and other types of kink are no more likely to have experienced childhood abuse or sexual abuse than the general population.

Indeed, BDSM can even be healing for those who have experienced this sort of trauma.

"I once worked with a couple in which the husband was submissive, but the wife had been physically abused as a child and couldn't imagine dominating him," Nichols said. "Through therapy, she got to the point where she was less bothered by the idea, and they tried BDSM. She found she was able to see that what they were doing was a loving act, not a harmful one, and she was able to shut the door on her abusive past."

Other benefits of BDSM

One of the biggest benefits of BDSM is the closeness it can facilitate. "Kink requires a lot of talk, negotiation and exploration, so communication is the starting foundation," Sprott said. "Kink play depends on consent and knowing what is arousing and what is not, which is different and unique for each person." ...

"Monogamy is out. Polyamory is in."

on Sunday, 26 February 2017.

The Week

By Carrie Jenkins

There's no longer anything unusual about wanting an open relationship. Many who consider themselves progressive about sex, gender, love, and relationships know this. It's just that almost nobody in an open relationship wants to be open about it. What's surprising is that so many people feel the need for secrecy.

I've been out as polyamorous for years. Because of this, non-monogamous people who aren't out often feel able to talk to me about their own situations. When I go to conferences, I can't help noticing all the philosophers who are in closeted non-monogamous relationships. This discrepancy between reality and socially acknowledged reality can be disorienting; the "official" number of non-monogamous people in the room is almost always one (me).

So what's going on? No doubt there are several factors at work, but I want to talk about one that's both powerful and insidious: Non-monogamy isn't considered "romantic."

Romantic love is widely considered to be the best thing life has to offer: "Failing" at romance is often construed as failing at life. Amatonormativity is a name for the attitude that privileges lives based around a focal monogamous romantic relationship. What gets called "romantic" isn't just about classification; it's about marking out those relationships and lives we value most.

This monogamous ideal is supposed to appeal to women especially. According to the stereotypes, single women are desperate to "lock down" a man, while men are desperate to avoid commitment. There's nothing new here: Monogamy has historically been gendered. Even in situations where marrying more than one woman has been illegal, it has often been normal for men to have mistresses, but different rules have applied to women. This is unsurprising: In a patriarchal society with property inheritance passing along the male line, paternity is key, and enforced female monogamy is an effective way to control it.

Women's sexuality can also be policed by developing a feminine model that includes a "natural" desire for monogamy, plus social benefits for conforming to that model (and penalties for non-conformity). This model can then be internalized by women as a "romantic" ideal inculcated via fairytales. In a similar vein, rather than allowing only men to have more than one partner, we can instill a subtler cultural belief that men's infidelity is "natural" and therefore excusable, while women's infidelity is not.

Our language undermines gender-related optimism about monogamous romantic ideals: there is no word for a male "mistress"; romantic comedies are "chick flicks." "Romance" novels are marketed to and consumed by women. Brides are "given away" by men to other men. We never hear about "crazy old cat gentlemen." And how many married men do you know who've taken their wife's surname? These attitudes persist not just in word but in deed: Wives in hetero marriages still do more housework than their husbands, even if they earn more (which they rarely do).

Recent growing acceptance of same-sex love as "romantic" has presented challenges to gendered norms. But this has happened alongside another change: Monogamy has become an even more powerful "romantic" ideal by including same-sex relationships. And its impact is intensely gendered.

Women who enter voluntarily into non-monogamous relationships are a direct challenge to the idea that women are "naturally" monogamous. They are socially penalized to maintain the status quo. A non-monogamous woman will be portrayed as debased and disgusting — a "slut." When I have discussed my open relationships online, I have been called many other colorful names. ...

"BDSM Expert Weighs In on What Fifty Shades Gets Right – and Wrong – About the Lifestyle"

on Sunday, 26 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates



For many, the world of restraints and floggers was a total mystery before E.L. James’ erotic sensation Fifty Shades of Grey was published in 2011. The mega-hit quickly introduced aspects of kink to a wider audience, and now the second film chronicling the story of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele is set to be unleashed this Friday.

While the world of BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism and masochism) has hit the mainstream, Mistress Couple – the headmistress of La Domaine Esemar, a BDSM training chateau in the Berkshires – tells PEOPLE that the way the franchise portrays the lifestyle is sometimes misleading.

“The basic tenet of La Domaine is not about how much you can take, but rather how much you can give,” Mistress Couple explains. “Many people, when they’re involved in BDSM dynamics, they are bracing themselves to take a punishment from their dominant. And I think the Fifty Shades series usually approaches BSDM in this way: What can you endure? But the way that we view training here is more about understanding that this is an equal dynamic between two consenting partners and that your submission is a gift.”

Mistress Couple has been the headmistress for La Domaine for three years, and has been in the BDSM lifestyle for six years. She says she began her training at the chateau as a submissive, and began to explore her dominant side after staff at La Domaine noticed her capacity to lead as a former professional ballroom dancer.

While she’s familiar with Fifty Shades, Mistress Couple admits she’s never been able to make it through the whole book or movie.

“I just can’t sit through it – I’ve tried, multiple times,” she shares, noting that her main issues with the story are the “abusive aspects.”

The headmistress says, “[I don’t like] the idea or the notion that a twenty-something billionaire can dominate somebody else and all you need is money and then you can go out and buy all these toys and be a good master or mistress. I’ve worked with many couples who read the book, thought that that was the case, went out and bought some toys and without understanding the psychological underpinnings of BDSM, ended up really hurting each other emotionally.” ...

"Open marriage, open heart"

on Sunday, 26 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Polyamory is not a character flaw, Rose Dawson writes, it’s simply the path we have chosen

The Globe and Mail

by Rose Dawson

I have a boyfriend and he is married to someone else.

When people find out that I am in a long-term relationship with a man in an open marriage, they assume that I am a mistress or a bunny boiler (remember Fatal Attraction?) or both.

My friends talk both to and about me, wondering what I could possibly be thinking. How can I be unfailingly faithful to a man who gives me no stability or future? How can I choose to be monogamous, when he does not?

In an era of increasingly liberal approaches to romance, polyamorous relationships remain chronically misunderstood. But more than that, the responsibilities and boundaries held by a girlfriend (or boyfriend) who is not the “primary” are never discussed.

My boyfriend has a wife and two beautiful children. I’ve met his wife and, though it would be easy for us to despise one another, she and I have found a balance of tolerance and respect. We ask after one another and send good wishes. Though I have visited their home several times, she and I have spoken face-to-face only once. As his life partner, she decides the terms of their open marriage and she wants no friendship from me. I understand that feeling and I respect it. She and I approach our relationships with the man we both love in our own ways and at our own pace.

If I were able to do so openly, I would dote on his daughters. Instead, I quietly admire them from afar and occasionally send them small gifts. They are too young to understand the implications of another woman in their father’s life, so they don’t know the presents come from me. I watch videos of them on their birthdays and at Christmas; I am rooting for them to become the strong, confident women their parents are raising them to be.

There are areas of my boyfriend’s life I have no access or claim to. We do not discuss money, except when strictly necessary. We talk about our futures as individuals, but not as a couple. We approach each day with the shared knowledge that at some point, I will move on to a man who will give me all the things my boyfriend cannot. We talk about dancing together at my wedding and how it will feel to look back on the magic we shared together. Our relationship encompasses more than sex, but our love is also limited by time and appropriateness.

I have been in this relationship for nearly two years; I am almost 30. I knew my boyfriend’s marriage was open before our first kiss and I have known all along that he does not have the slightest inclination to leave his wife (nor have I ever asked that of him). Though it is difficult for people to understand, he is happily married. His relationship with me is not the result of a character flaw in any of us. It is simply the path that we have chosen; the path that keeps us all happy. My obligation to both my boyfriend and to his wife is to accept the certainty of no promises and no future and to be sufficiently sure of myself to move on from him when I am ready. I hope that he and I will always be in each other’s lives, even once our romance has ended. I believe we have come too far together, to be without each other’s platonic company and support once we are no longer lovers. Some accuse me of being idealistic, but in a relationship like ours, such transitions have to be possible.

Loving and being loved is a gift and I have learned more from my boyfriend than any partner I’ve ever had. We cheer on our successes and we build one another back up when times are tough. We hold obligations to each other and we delight in each other’s pleasure. We consider ourselves a team, albeit a unique one. ...

"At Long Last, Portland Has The Kinky Coffee Shop It’s Needed"

on Sunday, 26 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Portland is spearheading the alternative sexual lifestyle.

Willamette Week

By Sophia June

In Portland, you can take your coffee with a splash of semen.

Well, kind of. Food and drinks aren't actually allowed in the dungeon, as a paper sign informs visitors.

But you can sit with a latte and watch an ex-military sergeant called "Puppy" bark like a dog in a Polyamory 101 Workshop. You can go to classes covering everything from "electrical play" to the master/slave relationship to high protocol service to a monthly Fetish Night.

Welcome to the nation's second-ever sex-positive coffee shop, the MoonFyre Cafe at 5224 SE Foster Road. It recently opened as Portland's first dedicated spot for coffee enthusiasts who are also members of the kink, BDSM and sex-positive communities. They meet, drink coffee, learn and have sex.

It also features handcrafted sex toys, leather items and paddles from local vendors, a play room to cater to blood and scalpel play and an after care room where you can heal.

The 18-and-over cafe—near an adult video store, lingerie modeling shop and several strip clubs, including popular Devils Point—has been in the works for the past three years. MoonFyre began fundraising in December 2015. The cafe has been running workshops since the summer, in the same building as Catalyst, a sex-positive resource and event center.

It will open as a full-time cafe soon—but not soon enough.

Last year, The Guardian described Portland as "the city making open relationships easy," and a site called Kink University deemed Portland the "Kinkiest City in America."

"Portland is spearheading the alternative sexual lifestyle," says the cafe's founder, Pixie Fyre, a professional dominatrix, kink educator and victim's advocate. "We want to obliterate the taboos."

Which is why she's committed to offering workshops for people wanting to learn about polyamory and the BDSM community. ...

"Chelsea gay bar invites puppies to come and play"

on Sunday, 26 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Man's best friend just might be a man in a puppy mask.



On the fourth Friday of each month, the first floor of The Eagle — a gay leather-themed bar in Chelsea — is crawling with puppies.

At any given moment, a handful of puppies will be playing with each other, sleeping on the floor and getting belly rubs, while the rest of them will be standing at the bar drinking.

These are not your Westminster Dog Show pups. These are gay men who enjoy putting on masks and tails and assume the roles of a dog. The fetish evolved from the gay leather scene nearly 40 years ago as a form of punishment, but today it’s something more playful and fun.

It’s also been one of the few ways to keep the gay leather scene growing in cities like New York, where gentrification and cost of living have driven out some of the cultural institutions that many in this community feel have dwindled.

“Gay bars are our safe places from a hostile world and our refuge. It’s just nice to come to a bar — especially a gay leather bar — where I can find people who are like me,” said Vidhra Alexander, 27, one of the more recognized pups in New York.

Alexander is the winner of Northeast Puppy, a contest of sorts that happens every year within the leather community.

“This is where I get to be unapologetically me, versus when I walk down the street I can’t just start barking at people,” he said.

The puppy fetish began in the late 1970s, when submissive gay men were punished by their more dominant partners. Despite its 40-year history, the puppy scene has only begun to flourish in the past few years with young gay men like Alexander being the primary audience drawn into the fetish.

“This is an opportunity for people to come and really see what being a puppy can be for them, and maybe experience a different fetish they never knew they had,” said Damien Basile, 36, who is a “puppy handler,” the term given to someone who is paired with a puppy. “You’d think New York would have this vast underground leather scene where people can experience different fetishes, but that’s just not the case. We went from 12 leather bars to one.”

Though New York has a highly visible kink population compared to other cities — the city hosts the Folsom Street East Street Festival, the East Coast’s largest kink street fair, every summer — the number of safe spaces for gay kinky men to indulge in their fetishes have decreased significantly. The last place to close down, Rawhide, was around for 33 years before its rent nearly doubled in 2013, forcing the owners to cease operations.

Alexander and the other pups who gathered at The Eagle last week say their culture is at risk without the leather bar.

“Queer space will always will be needed because we're a culture, we really can’t pass our culture down by the typical ‘have a kid’ kind of way,” he said.

And in today’s political climate, where many LGBTQ members view the rights they gained over the past eight years at stake under a Donald Trump presidency, gay bars are their safe spaces from the outside world. ...

<<  1 2 3 4 [56 7 8 9  >>