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"Why You Need to Tell Your Doctor If You're Having Fifty Shades-Style Sex"

on Sunday, 26 February 2017. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

If Christian and Ana inspired you to get kinky in the bedroom, experts say you’ll want to loop your doctor in, stat.


By Michelle Konstantinovsky

ix years ago, whips and chains were anything but mainstream. But thanks to literary juggernaut-turned film phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey, everyone and their grandma knows kink. But what most don’t know is how concealing bedroom behaviors can hurt your health.

A study recently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine titled “Fifty Shades of Stigma: Exploring the Health Care Experiences of Kink-Oriented Patients” revealed that less than half of BDSM practitioners (that’s bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism) confess their kinky lifestyles to their doctors, and most cite fear of judgement as the reason for their secrecy.

The stat suggests a pretty large community (accounting for 11-14% of Americans, according to rough estimates) is failing to get adequate health care because its members are afraid of what doctors may think of their bedroom behaviors.

“Other sexual minorities, like those in the LGBT community, have all been found to suffer from health disparities,” says Jess Waldura, MD, medical director of The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA), the team behind the study. “This shows up as poorer health, worse access to culturally competent medical care, and healthcare-related stigma.”

This prompted TASHRA researchers to dig deeper, and they’re currently crunching the data from a larger follow-up survey that explores the reasons why so many kinky people stay closeted. This new study, likely to be published later this year, also delves into the potential consequences that can arise from keeping BDSM behaviors secret.

“A [clinician] might bypass or fail to recognize your needs if they don’t have all the information,” says Carol Queen, sex educator and author of The Sex & Pleasure Book. “Doctors aren’t mind readers, and they’re mostly very poorly trained about kinky sexual practices. Hearing real info from patients will help them put faces to sexual practices and help them better understand what the stakes are.”

For some BDSM practitioners like Sally,* a kinkster from suburban South Carolina, the stakes can feel astronomically high. “I fell while being untied from a suspension bondage scene and hit the edge of a table,” she says. “I broke a rib. I didn’t seek treatment because I was embarrassed to tell them how it happened." Despite the act being consensual and the injury an accident, she was worried: "I thought they would take my boyfriend in for domestic abuse.”

This kind of fear is overwhelmingly common in the kink community, according to Anna M. Randall, LCSW, MPH, a San Francisco-based sex therapist and TASHRA’s executive director. “About 13 percent of the survey respondents told their doctors their injuries were caused by something other than BDSM,” she says. “People make up stories; some are embarrassed, but most are more worried about being shamed by their doctors or not getting good care.”

“I've delayed OB/GYN visits due to bruises,” says Julie*, a submissive from Hanover, Massachusetts. “Having visible marks when going into a medical setting usually means I have to ‘out’ myself and that I won’t receive the care I require.”

While a busted ankle or broken rib may not seem like a major health concern, the injuries that sometimes arise from BDSM can potentially lead to bigger issues if left untreated. According to Randall, bruises, muscle strains, and piercing tears are common medical issues associated with kink, but foregoing medical care for seemingly minor problems isn’t a good idea.

“Big bruises can develop into hematomas, for example,” she says. “There are rare injuries from rough sex that may lead to serious complications, such as torn vaginal tissue or scrotum injuries, and because more risky sexual BDSM behaviors may include controlling the breathing of a partner, those with asthma face real risks if they’re not treated for attacks immediately.”

Others, like Jen* from Knob Noster, Missouri, risk complicating existing chronic conditions by delaying treatment. “I have rheumatoid arthritis and frequently injure myself [during BDSM sex] because of joint deterioration,” she says. “I worry about the multiple medical visits being seen as a sign of abuse, and being further questioned, so I often delay going to the doctor. Right now I have a severe sprained ankle that needs an X-ray, but I had a wrist X-ray a month ago and I’m not sure what reaction it might create.”

But while the TASHRA team acknowledges the risk of BDSM-related injuries, their research has helped refute some widespread stereotypes regarding the root causes of practitioners’ interests. “People who engage in this appear to be no different from the regular population,” Randall says, noting that her one major gripe with Fifty Shades involves Christian being the son of — as author E.L. James not-so-delicately puts it — a “crack whore.” “They’re no more likely to have been sexually abused than vanilla folks. In fact, we found they had the same ACE scores as the general population, which measures Adverse Childhood Experiences like neglect and poverty.” ...

Kinky Cast - Susan Wright (NCSF) - Sex & Politics

on Saturday, 25 February 2017. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

This week Woody & the Beast chat with Susan Wright, on the topic of our kinky freedoms in the upcoming political climate. Susan founded the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in 1997, and currently serves as spokesperson.

"How Kinky and Non-Traditional Parents are Punished by Family Courts"

on Thursday, 23 February 2017. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates


By Neil McArthur

American family courts—a series of state courts that specifically deal in family law, from child custody cases to divorce proceedings—are a distinctly unsung part of our judicial system. They are rarely discussed in the media and largely absent from the Hollywood spotlight; as a result, few people understand how they work.

But if you are a parent involved in a case subject to their rule, you could easily find yourself at the mercy of a judge with broad power to decide how much, if at all, you get to see your children. Family courts lack juries, so such decisions are delivered from the pen of a sole person. And the system does not treat everyone equally. According to numerous legal practitioners and scholars I spoke to, a widespread bias exists within the system against parents whose views or lifestyles fall outside the American norm, especially sexually.

Family court judges rule most often on two types of cases—arbitration after children have been removed from the care of unfit parents, and custody disputes following divorce or separation—and decide both based on the best interests of children involved. But legal experts who spoke with VICE testified to the near limitless discretion judges have to impose their own moral views.

"I can predict the likelihood of my success by zip code," said Diana Adams, a family lawyer from New York who has spent the last decade working with clients who are LGBTQ, polyamorous, kinky, or otherwise outside the mainstream. Because family court judges are elected by direct vote in many states, their tolerance of alternative lifestyles tends to correlate with that of the surrounding area. She represents clients in both New York City and more conservative areas of upstate New York, and says that the weight of a parent's sex life upon a judge's decision varies wildly from judge to judge, depending on their political views. She also provides advice to clients out of state, and has noticed a pattern: For clients like hers, Southern and rural areas are unforgiving places for cases to come before family court judges.

When the Supreme Court declared in Lawrence v. Texas that state laws against homosexuality were unconstitutional, it also ruled that states cannot establish laws based purely on the moral disapproval of lawmakers. But as legal scholars have noted, those who come before family courts lack the constitutional protections that apply to criminal cases, in which the discretion of an individual judge is limited and juries are involved. And because family court cases rarely go to appeal, very few rulings from higher courts exist to establish precedent on the boundaries of a family court's power. Those appellate rulings we do have generally confirm, rather than restrict, that power.

Though most states now prohibit judges from using sexual orientation as a factor in family court rulings, judges are still free to cite a parent's polyamorous or kinky proclivities—or even a willingness to have non-marital sex—as an explicit reason for handing down rulings. In any case, family court judges are often not explicit about the exact factors that lead to their rulings. Adams recounted one case in which a family court removed a child from the custody of a transgender client, ostensibly because her client's cat was sick the day a child services worker visited and vomit was seen on the floor. But Adams said that "a white cisgender professional mother like me would never lose custody of her child because a sick cat made a mess."

Even premarital sex can be enough to sway the opinion of a family court judge. For instance, in one 2012 case, an Alabama Court of Civil Appeals awarded a father custody of his five-year-old child. Despite the boy having lived with his mother for three and a half years, having by all accounts been happy and well cared for, the mother lived with her fiancé before they were actually married. During the trial, the mother was accused by the opposing counsel of "sending the wrong signal to your children with your fiancé living in your household and being in the bed with you at night." When she appealed the case, the appeals court confirmed that family courts are free to "consider a parent's sexual conduct as it relates to that parent's character, without a showing that the conduct has been detrimental to the child."

As several legal scholars related in frustration, no organizing body tracks or maintains statistics on what happens in family courts or to whom. Eugene Volokh, a UCLA School of Law professor, published an article in 2006 that tried to document cases where parents have been penalized in family court proceedings for holding non-normative views on sex, religion, and politics. It clocked in at more than a hundred densely footnoted pages, and he says he was only able to capture a fraction of the cases he could find. And Susan Wright, the founder of the National Coalition on Sexual Freedom, which provides support to people with non-traditional sexual lifestyles embroiled in family court proceedings, suspects that the hundreds of cases brought to her organization's attention over the past decade only represent a small percentage of the total nationwide. ...

"It's a Travesty That BDSM Isn't Technically Legal"

on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates


by Neil McArthur

John Doe was a student at George Mason University (GMU) when he met Jane Roe, a woman with whom he formed a BDSM-based sexual relationship that culminated in an assault on or around October 27, 2013. Roe, who played the submissive role, alleged in court documents (where both were assigned anonymous monikers) that on that day she pushed Doe away and did not want to continue. But he did—because, he alleges, she didn't use their safe word.

This March, the Virginia federal court in which Doe v. Rector & Visitors of George Mason University was heard made a historic leap in American case law as it relates to sex: They ruled that there is no constitutional right to engage in BDSM play in America. While no US laws currently criminalize BDSM, it's still a crime to harm others, regardless of whether they consent. It's a puzzle that places acts of BDSM in legal limbo—how do you legislate and define consensual, safe practices that are designed to sometimes look nonconsensual and dangerous?

It's not a completely unfamiliar problem for state legislatures, which have all had to legislate forms of consensual harm, such as tattoos, piercings, medical treatments, and organized sports. When the political will is there, laws can be made to allow for such liberties while keeping people protected by the state. The time has come, say BDSM experts, for our nation to explicitly legalize BDSM, rather than let it wither in the legal gray area where it currently sits.

The Virginia decision, it should be noted, merely concluded that states have the constitutional right to criminalize BDSM and didn't rule as to the morality of the practice or explicitly criminalize BDSM itself. Through the ruling, Virginia said that if a particular state or public entity (like GMU) believes it has an interest in preventing BDSM activity or passing laws that criminalize the practice, they can, and those prosecuted now have no legal recourse.

The idea that one cannot consent to harm is a basic principle of common law that has existed for centuries. Some believe we should abandon this principle in turn and enshrine consent as the guiding ideology of our legal framework instead. We let grown-ups do what they want—if a competent adult wants to be harmed, what business does the state have telling her otherwise?

It's not so simple. The consent to harm principle stands for good reason—because the law exists to preserve the public peace, not just to protect us from one another. We all have an interest in preventing people from settling their disputes by fighting and dueling. Equally important is that laws against consensual harm provide vital protection for domestic violence victims, who often tell police that they don't mind such abuse. Prosecutors need to be able to bring charges against abusers even when victims don't cooperate.

This might seem like a non-issue, because people are rarely prosecuted for engaging in BDSM, and police generally enjoy a strong relationship with the kink community. "The majority of run-ins [between the BDSM community] and police have been minor and positive," Coreen Grace, a marriage and family therapy professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and 20-year BDSM scene veteran, told VICE. In general, she continued, the BDSM scene has taken it upon itself to educate law enforcement bodies as to the ins-and-outs of their subculture.

"Since 1997, we've really transformed the way the police department treats us," Susan Wright, spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), told VICE. ...

"Sadomaso de muy buen rollo"

on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

La ciencia ha absuelto ciertas prácticas sexuales que hasta hace poco tiempo se consideraban patológicas, pero la sociedad aún se resiste a aceptarlas.

El Espanol


Siempre nos habían contado que el porno era un instrumento vejatorio para la imagen de las mujeres, que las degradaba a la categoría de objetos. Al menos hasta que en agosto de 2015 un estudio de la Universidad de Ontario Occidental (Canadá) publicado en la revista The Journal of Sex Research llegó a una conclusión sorprendente: "Los usuarios de pornografía sostienen actitudes más igualitarias [de género] hacia las mujeres en puestos de poder, hacia las mujeres trabajadoras y el aborto, que los no usuarios".

El porno ya no es lo que era, si es que alguna vez lo fue. Desde que los sex shops pasaron de ser tugurios oscuros con ventanas opacas en los callejones de los barrios rojos a ocupar locales con amplios escaparates y decoración zen en los centros comerciales, las páginas web de pornografía siguieron un camino similar. Hoy son empresas normales de servicios, con departamentos de comunicación que difunden sus propios estudios estadísticos. Y éstos nos revelan que el panorama del porno ya no es el del cine Carretas que cantaba Sabina: según datos de 2015 de, casi uno de cada cuatro usuarios de esta web de pornografía (24%) es una mujer. Y lo que ellas buscan con preferencia pasmará a muchos hombres: sobre todo sexo gay, tanto femenino como masculino.

Quizá más novedoso para algunos sea que los practicantes del sexo tenido por muchos como el más violento, el de cuero, látigos y cadenas, son en realidad muy diferentes al retrato estereotipado de la moralina hollywoodiense. Si uno se atiene a películas como Asesinato en 8 mm, Instinto básico o Nueve semanas y media, el BDSM (siglas en inglés de Bondage, Discipline/Dominance, Submission/Sadism, Masochism) "parecería a primera vista una práctica abusiva propia de sádicos sin corazón y víctimas con baja autoestima", resume a EL ESPAÑOL Sandra LaMorgese PhD, dominatrix, escritora, formadora y comunicadora, autora del recién publicado libro de memorias Switch: Time for a Change (Edge Play Publishing. aún no publicado en español), en el que cuenta cómo el BDSM cambió su vida. "Pero las apariencias suelen engañar, y con el BDSM esta confusión es especialmente profunda", insinúa LaMorgese.

Un ejemplo es el estudio publicado el pasado abril en la revista The Journal of Sex Research, donde se descubre que los practicantes del BDSM, acostumbrados a una cultura basada en normas de consentimiento mutuo, son más intolerantes que el resto de la población hacia la violación y la culpabilización de las víctimas de agresiones sexuales, así como hacia el llamado "sexismo benevolente" que niega la autonomía de las mujeres. Los investigadores destacan que "los resultados contradicen un estereotipo común del BDSM" que erróneamente representa esta actividad como "una salida aceptable para la agresión sexual contra las mujeres".


En los últimos años, el BDSM ha sido objeto de una transición que lo ha sacado de las mazmorras de la depravación moral para situarlo como una opción más dentro del amplio menú de diversiones, que no perversiones, sexuales. Sin duda ha contribuido a ello el fenómeno literario y cinematográfico de 50 sombras de Grey, del que se dice que llevó el sadomasoquismo a muchos hogares donde hasta entonces el único látigo era el de las películas de Indiana Jones. Pero sobre todo, y dado que ni los psiquiatras ni los jueces se guían por las películas o los libros de moda, lo que ha llevado el BDSM al territorio de la normalidad sexual ha sido el cese de su definición como patología mental.

Hasta 1987, el Manual Diagnóstico y Estadístico de los Trastornos Mentales (DSM) de la Asociación Psiquiátrica Estadounidense, considerado en todo el mundo como la biblia de la psiquiatría, incluía las prácticas habituales del BDSM dentro de las "desviaciones sexuales". Sólo 14 años antes, en 1973, la homosexualidad había abandonado la lista de las enfermedades. En 1987 se introdujeron las parafilias como trastornos mentales, pero en 1994 se acotó este diagnóstico exclusivamente a los casos en que existía "sufrimiento o disfunción clínicamente significativos".

Por fin la quinta edición del DSM, publicada en 2013, distingue entre parafilia y trastorno parafílico. "La parafilia es una condición necesaria pero no suficiente para tener un trastorno parafílico, y una parafilia por sí misma no necesariamente justifica o requiere intervención clínica", dice el DSM-5. El diagnóstico de trastorno parafílico se reserva así para los casos en que existan "consecuencias negativas para el individuo o para otros", como ocurre con la pedofilia o el exhibicionismo, que "para su satisfacción conllevan acciones que, por su nocividad o daño potencial para otros, se clasifican como delitos".

Sin embargo, este cambio no llegó por sí solo. En la absolución psiquiátrica de las parafilias consensuadas entre adultos desempeñó un papel clave la tenaz campaña emprendida de 2008 a 2013 por la Coalición Nacional para la Libertad Sexual (NCSF), fundada en EEUU en 1997. "La gente venía a la NCSF en busca de ayuda porque estaban sufriendo discriminación por los profesionales de la salud mental debido a la errónea creencia de que, por ser kinky [término referido a los practicantes del BDSM], eran enfermos mentales", explica a EL ESPAÑOL la fundadora y portavoz de la NCSF, Susan Wright. Simplemente por practicar sado, vestirse de mujer (los hombres) o confesarse fetichistas de pies, muchas personas "estaban perdiendo la custodia de sus hijos y sus empleos", señala Wright. Una encuesta de la NCSF determinó que el 37% de los kinky eran víctimas de acoso o violencia.

"El cambio en el DSM-5 ha tenido un impacto drástico en los niveles de discriminación hacia la gente kinky", dice Wright. Los datos son contundentes: en 2009, 132 personas perdieron la custodia de sus hijos por este motivo; en 2015, sólo 19. "La misma semana en que se publicaron los cambios, sometimos los nuevos criterios en un caso de custodia, y el juez reprendió al trabajador social por no estar al tanto de la ciencia actual", cuenta Wright. La portavoz añade que el número de personas que acuden a la NCSF en busca de ayuda se ha reducido a la tercera parte desde antes del DSM-5. ...

"Polyamorous relationships may be the future of love"

on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Love doesn’t just come in pairs. Is it time that marriage laws come to recognise the fact?


By Melissa Hogenboom / Pictures by Olivia Howitt

As a child Franklin Veaux recalls hearing his school teacher read a story about a princess who had a tantalising dilemma. Two male suitors had been wooing her and she had to choose between them. Franklin wondered why she could not choose both.

This early insight was revealing. Franklin has to this day never stuck to one relationship at a time. “I have never been in a monogamous relationship in my life. When I was in high school I took two dates to my senior prom. I lost my virginity as a threesome.”

Today he lives with his long-term girlfriend in a home he shares with her other boyfriend. Occasionally his partner’s teenage daughter also stays over. He is also in four other long-distance relationships, people he sees with varying degrees of frequency.

Franklin and his girlfriends are what’s called polyamorous or “poly” as the community tends to call it. Being poly simply means you can be in more than one relationship, with the full support and trust of however many partners they choose to have.

Polyamory does not feature in any census tick box but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is on the rise. Some are even calling for it to be recognised by law following the legalisation of gay marriage in the UK and the US. All this raises of the question of whether the future of love may be very different from our current conceptions of romance.

But love has always been the same, right? A man falls for a woman, they get married, pop out a few children and stay together in a harmonious and monogamous relationship for life.

Sorry romantics. This wasn’t, and still isn’t, always the picture of love. Polygamy – where more than one spouse is allowed – was the norm for many of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Monogamy started flourishing when our ancestors began to settle down. A preference for it then appears to have arisen, among many other reasons, for economic purposes.

As many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy

It made it easier for fathers to divide and share valuable commodities such as land with their children. Monogamy later got hijacked by romantic love by idealistic 19th Century Victorians. “The idea of sexual exclusivity started emerging fairly late in the game,” says professor of law Hadar Aviram at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, US.

Even today monogamy is the minority relationship style around the world. Cultural estimates suggest that as many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy.

True romance

Now there is a fairly new player in the relationship game, at least as far as the public are concerned. In the last two decades, sociologists, legal scholars and the public have shown great interest towards polyamory and it’s making them reassess the very nature of romance.

The word polyamory was first coined in the 1960s and literally means “many loves” in Latin. That’s exactly what it is, but talking to poly individuals makes it quickly apparent that there is no one way to be poly. There are no immediate rules. Some people, like Franklin have live-in partners with additional liaisons outside the home. Others have a mixture of short and long-term relationships.

Some live in a big group with their partners and their partner’s other partner(s), so called “family style polyamory”. You get the idea. The one thing they all have in common is openness, understanding, trust and acceptance from all involved.

As you might imagine these kinds of relationships take a lot of work to maintain, so being poly is far from an easy option. For starters, to keep more than one relationship going, small logistical matters require a lot of communication. “Our relationships are a lot more challenging,” says Eve Rickert, one of Franklin’s long distance partners and co-author of their polyamory book More than Two. ...

"Supreme Court to clarify law when rape accused claims woman consented"

on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in Consent Counts, NCSF in the News!, Media Updates

Judges will rule on appeal concerning positive obligations of men charged with rape

Irish Times

by Mary Carolan

The Director of Public Prosections wants the Supreme Court to clarify the law when men accused of rape claim the woman consented to sex.

The seven judge court will rule later on an important appeal concerning what positive obligations apply to men charged with rape who plead they believed there was consent to sex.

The DPP wants the court to consider whether, in particular cases of alleged rape, an accused is obliged, before any sex, to ascertain there was actual capacity to consent.

Tom O’Malley BL, for the DPP, said consent is “the minimum required of any respectful interaction between human beings” and there has been a “massive change in attitudes” to rape.

It would be helpful for the Supreme Court to clarify there must be a genuine basis for consent in circumstances including where some hold views a woman may be so “out of it” consent is irrelevant, he said.

The court’s consideration should be shaped by “fundamental” values, including rights to sexual autonomy, bodily integrity and human dignity, and also address the meaning of consent.

The appeal, before four male and three female judges, concerns a man jailed for 12 years after being convicted by a majority jury verdict of raping his mother, aged in her sixties.

He denied rape and pleaded he honestly believed she consented to sex, a claim she rejected.

After the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against conviction, he sought a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

It agreed to hear an appeal after stating, given the importance of the protection of women from sexual violence, the precise definition of the mental element of rape is “a matter of general public importance”. The presentation of that definition to a jury was also important, it said

Consent, as a matter of fact, “may carry positive obligations for a man to ascertain where the issue of consent by the woman to sexual intercourse stands”, it added.

It certified two questions for determination in the appeal, heard and concluded on Monday. The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, said the court was reserving judgment.

The first question is whether the mental element of rape can excuse a situation where, on unreasonable and irrational grounds, a man genuinely believed a woman consented to sex when in fact she had not.

The second asks whether, within the legal definition of rape, there is a legal requirement for a man to ascertain, prior to sex, the woman is (a) capable of consenting and (b) she has consented. ...

"What Do We Mean When We Ask for Rough Sex?"

on Thursday, 16 June 2016. Posted in Consent Counts, NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Exploring one of the most popular — and dangerous — trends of our generation.


by Kelsey Lawrence

This May, a 20-year-old Texas man was charged with the 2014 death of his prom date, who didn't wake up the next morning after a night of allegedly "rough" sex. Though her death was exacerbated by the alcohol and hydrocodone in her system, Eddie Herrera choked Jacqueline Gomez while having sex, and, due to the drugs and "deep hemorrhaging" around her neck, she died in her sleep that night. Yet despite the inherent risks of engaging in increasingly physical sexual activity, our generation is clearly captivated by it.

In Pornhub's 2015 Year in Review, a comprehensive look at the search analytics of their users worldwide, one of the most interesting statistics went relatively unnoticed. Ranking just under "lesbian" and "solo male," women are searching categories like "hardcore," "rough sex," and "bondage" significantly more often than men. The "rough sex" category alone was viewed by women 106 percent more often than men last year. Under "top gaining searches" for both men and women, the term "hard rough" was searched 454 percent more often in 2015 than in 2014.

Our porn habits aren't necessarily indicative of what we want IRL, but if we're watching rougher porn, does that mean our generation, generally speaking, is having rougher sex? And, furthermore, what do we even mean when we say "rough sex"? spoke to six Millennials and a sex therapist to investigate whether twentysomethings are playing harder in bed — and, for the first generation to have access to porn since before we even knew what sex was, what that actually looks like. Okay, we're not knocking on apartment doors with a postcoital census poll, so we can't exactly prove whether Millennials are, in fact, getting rougher. But we can look at some common themes to examine where our boundaries tend to be and explore what seems to be the most dominant trend: a disturbing lack of education surrounding consent to these activities.


Dr. Gloria Brame, sex therapist and author of Different Loving Too: Real People, Real Lives, Real BDSM, doesn't necessarily believe people are kinkier than they've been in previous generations, because she believes those desires to be inherently genetic.

"We're all wired for different things," Dr. Brame tells "Some people are always going to be more intrigued by intensity. People in BDSM communities will say it's the internet that's transformed BDSM ... I think that's because it allowed people who might previously have had a tiny fantasy to suddenly realize, 'Wow, does that mean I have the potential to be kinky?'"

In 1953, a Kinsey Institute study found that 55 percent of females and 50 percent of males had experienced an erotic response to being bitten. Clearly, desires for rougher play have always existed in some incarnation. We're also undoubtedly influenced by what we see around us. A University of Arkansas study from 2010 showed that 88 percent of the scenes from 50 top-selling porn videos contained a variety of aggressive acts, from spanking to gagging.

Whether or not these desires are innate, it's undeniable that we've experienced a culture shift of rough sex and BDSM culture permeating mainstream media. As evidenced by the success of the (arguably misinformed) Fifty Shades of Grey and even the trendiness of bondage-inspired clothing, elements of BDSM have become increasingly commonplace. Rihanna's 2010 song "S&M" featured copious whips-and-chains references. Even a recent commercial for pistachios featured a dominatrix seemingly, um, making a pistachio submit to her command. So while humans have likely always had kinky desires, there's no question those desires are more widely accepted and embraced by pop culture today. ...

...Lack of Consent and Education

Of all the themes that arose while reporting this story, this was the most disturbing. Robin, 23, described a one-night stand who tried to choke her during sex without asking first. "It was not OK with me by any means," she says. "Would it have been OK with me if, instead, they were a long-term partner? Most likely." But BDSM activity, even when consensual, can still be prosecuted under state criminal laws, according to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. In March, a federal court in Virginia ruled that there is "no constitutional right" to engage in even consensual BDSM.

There's a lot of interesting, valuable discussion surrounding consent and BDSM scenes on FetLife forums and through talks sponsored by the NCSF. Much of that conversation, however, may not reach young people who are experimenting without really becoming part of that community. Eddie Herrera's 25-year sentence for choking his girlfriend is proof of what can happen when these acts go wrong (and it is all too easy for something to go wrong).

We also tend to think of consent in the steps leading up to sex. But even if you're already in bed with someone, asking for consent needs to continue, particularly when playing around with anything that could potentially hurt someone. Kristin, 24, has had experiences with an ex-boyfriend who didn't seek her consent before trying things like name-calling and anal sex. Several months into the relationship, he all of a sudden started calling her a "dirty slut" and attempting anal sex — all with no warning. "It was the most unchill situation I've had with a partner I was actually dating," she says. "I most definitely stopped him and asked what the heck was up. It shifted the entire dynamic of the relationship, unfortunately." ...

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