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"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

by JAVIER YANES

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 Pornhub.com, 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".

SALIR DE LA MAZMORRA

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?

BBC

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.

Cosmopolitan

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"? Cosmopolitan.com 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.

ARE WE GETTING KINKIER?

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 Cosmopolitan.com. "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." ...

"Shrinks Who Kink: When You and Your Therapist Love BDSM"

on Thursday, 26 May 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Broadly

by Alice Sanders

Finding a therapist can be a major problem for anyone who's into BDSM or fetish. The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, updated in 2013, is the first version in the 62-year history of psychiatry's diagnostic bible that does not classify BDSM as a marker of mental illness. But surveys show that far more people are into kink than commonly assumed: A 2008 survey from Durex found that 36 percent of people in the US deploy masks, blindfolds, and bondage tools as part of their sexual repertoire.

Kinky people need therapy to deal with the stresses of life just as much as their vanilla peers, but they can run into problems when trying to find a therapist who knows the difference between a dungeon monitor and a domme. Demand for kink-identified therapists has led to websites like LGBTQ-oriented Pink Therapy in the UK and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in the US. On the NCSF website, therapists are divided into three classifications: kink friendly, kink-aware, and kink-knowledgeable.

"By stating that you work with kinky clients you're raising the possibility that you're also kinky," says Joanna*, an integrative therapist working in London. "Some clients will make that assumption, especially if you have a high level of kink knowledge." She goes on to say that she's comfortable outing herself as a BDSM practictioner to a client if they have explicitly told her that they are part of the community.

There are good reasons to do this. Clients often come to her having already had a bad experience with a therapist who lacked BDSM understanding. Katie*, a psychodynamic therapist also working in London, tells me that she sees one kinky couple who have been through four previous professionals. "I believe they've been treated poorly by the therapists they've approached."

More than just a simple lack of knowledge of kink, vanilla therapists can sometimes bring their own negative preconceptions of BDSM to sessions. It's something both Joanna's clients and friends have had to deal with in the past. "Therapists have suggested that kink is externalized self-harm; that's it's problematic playing with power, that it's a form of unhealthy risk taking." She explains that some keep bringing up kink as symptomatic of a deeper mental health issue, but kink-positive therapy means that "clients can reveal this information in passing, and it's accepted as a normal healthy part of their relationship."

Kink can sometimes involve behaviors that someone not in the scene may struggle to wrap their head around (toenail fetishes, anyone?) and clients often don't want to waste time educating a kinky therapist on the terminology and dynamics of the scene. When a shrink come out as kinky, it's not just to assure their clients that they won't have a bad experience in therapy, but to show they can have a positive one.

"There's often an assumption that BDSM-ers are attempting to re-enact childhood abuse, whereas no studies have ever found any correlation," Joanna explains of non-kinky therapists. With those who do incorporate S&M into their personal lives, however, "there's a better understanding of the differences between consensual kink and an abusive dynamic, which may be more difficult for therapists who aren't kinky themselves." In fact, a recent Northern Illinois University study showed that those who participated in BDSM are far more likely to understand key issues of consent.

But identifying yourself as a kinky professional can come with its challenges, too. Therapist and client will usually have zero relationship outside of the therapeutic space, but that isn't possible in places with small kink scenes. It brings with it the risk that the client will learn personal details about a therapist. Katie suggests that any extra information revealed to a client can tamper with the therapeutic process. "You can get into a bit of a problem if a client is able to glean so much information they can say, 'That person is like me, that's why I'm going to them.'"

Therapy relies on the client being able to create their own reality around the 'blank screen' of the therapist—the fears and emotions that a client projects onto their shrink can be very useful as insights to work with—and real information about a therapist can ruin the process. It might be harder for a client to open up if they know that they shop for spanking paddles at the same leather hardware store. As Kate puts it: "There's a reason it's easier to pick up the phone and call the Samaritans than a member of your family." ...

"6 Sexology Credentials You Need to Know About"

on Thursday, 31 March 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

When you dedicate your professional life to working with human sexuality, you know from the beginning that you are working with a lightning rod topic. Have you ever been at a party, and someone casually asks you what you do? When you answer that you are a sex educator, a sex coach, a sex therapist, have you noticed how ears perk up around the room? People are fascinated, and people are opinionated. Like everything to do with the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, everyone has an opinion, and their own private battles, with sex.

 

We’re also still in the formative stages of an emerging trend – we’re seeing today the explosion in sex related information becoming available to the public at large. We’re seeing a proliferation of helping professionals specializing in sexual concerns. We’re seeing more people undertaking study of sexology in depth and building their knowledge beyond their own experience. Never before has the science of sexology and the knowledge it produces been more available to more people.

 

This is an extremely positive development. It means that people no longer need to suffer in silence alone. With the Internet in more homes around the world every year, even proximity is no longer a factor – people can access expert advice from professionals worldwide from the comfort of their own homes.

The other side of this coin, though, is that in this field terms are generally not regulated and standards of education vary. This means that, currently, anyone can call themselves a sex educator, a sex coach, or even a sex therapist. What we see now is highly educated and well trained professionals, mixed together under the same professional designators as pick-up artists and folks that have watched a couple of TED talks and decided that they are a sex expert.

This means that, if you are a human sexuality professional, there has never been a more important time to have credentials. You have invested a lot of time and money to develop competency in understanding sexual concerns and working with clients, and you have every right to want to set yourself apart from those that have not. It is therefore essential that you are aware of the sexology credentials available today, and have the information you need to decide which credentials are appropriate for you.

Here is an overview of 6 important sexology credentials available to human sexuality professionals today:

Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) Designation

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) formed in 1997 with the aim of fighting for sexual freedom and privacy rights for adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior. Today, NCSF has over 50 Coalition Partners, over 100 Supporting Members, and over the years has formed alliances with other organizations that defend sexual freedom rights, including the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators, Councelors, and Therapists (AASECT), Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others.

A key program of the NCSF since 2005 has been maintaining an online directory of Kink Aware Professionals. While sexologists and sexuality professionals are listed, the directory includes an incredible diversity of professionals – from accountants to doctors to realtors. The Kink Aware Professional designation signals to clients that a professional is accepting of diverse sexualities, forms of sexual expression, and sexual communities. The Kink Aware Professionals directory has grown to include over 800 professionals in the United States, Canada, and worldwide.

 

To receive the Kink Aware Professional designation, the following is required:

Membership in the NCSF, where there are 3 levels of membership available

Meet ALL requirements listed for Kink Aware Professional designation

To embrace the KAP Statement and to understand and agree to its terms

Once listed, Kink Aware Professionals can display on their own websites this status and membership, to show clearly their acceptance of diversity....

Savage Love Cast

on Thursday, 24 March 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Episode 491

by Dan Savage

Dan Savage comments on the George Mason University case and reads NCSF's Statement, adding, "No need to panic. They're not coming for our whips and our chains."

http://www.savagelovecast.com/episodes/491

"The Ties That Bind"

on Saturday, 13 February 2016. Posted in Consent Counts, NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Columbia Spectator

BY NORA MATHISON

Arya Popescue has a better elevator speech than you. Or at least an introduction that isn’t going to be easily forgotten. The School of Engineering and Applied Science junior is from Romania. She's kinky, trans, and genderqueer. She’s a mechanical engineer, and she leads Converso Virium, Columbia’s BDSM and kink club.

 

BDSM is a composite acronym standing for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. Practitioners don’t necessarily participate in every aspect of BDSM, nor do they necessarily pick one. Kinksters often explore different sexual practices.

 

Sitting at a table on the Lerner Hall ramps, Popescue wears hiking boots, jeans, a T-shirt, and a leather dog collar. She says the collar signifies her submissive role in her current relationship but explains that collars can mean different things for different people. She wears hers constantly.

 

“I’ve kind of known I was kinky forever,” Popescue says. She knew she was kinky—having untraditional sexual interests—before she knew she was transgender, but came out as trans before she came out as kinky. “I didn’t know there was a word for [BDSM] or a community for it until I came here at Columbia and I actually saw CV at the activities fair.”

 

“I don’t remember it like it was yesterday,” she says, but she does remember it was the third of Sept. 3, 2013. Popescue remembers details.

 

Popescue came out as kinky on National Coming Out Day in 2013. Since then, she has constructed her Internet presence as a kinkster. In her profile picture on Facebook, she peeks through her brown hair toward the camera, wearing her collar. She has a FetLife page (like Facebook, but for kinksters), where she can specify her interests within BDSM, who her play partner is, who her toy is, whose toy she is. She has a blog; among her posts are a pasta recipe and a video expose revealing why her Kindle stops working when she plugs in her vibrator.

 

Popescue has never missed a CV meeting. Well, maybe one or two, maximum. “President of Conversio Virium (CV), Columbia University’s Kink Club” is plastered on her résumé. CV meets on Monday nights in Hamilton Hall. It is the oldest BDSM club in the country, founded in 1994. It has even taken heat from conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

 

Popescue’s participation in CV, and the lifestyle as a whole, is driven by her personal inclination towards kinkiness and the fact that, well, she finds BDSM intensely erotic. “I find [BDSM] fun … I find it appealing …  I find it hot as hell.” Her voice slows down as she says this last part.

 

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus about whether BDSM is overtly sexual. Emma Bippart-Butler, a first-year at Barnard who attended several CV meetings but does not necessarily identify with the community, observes that kinky practices certainly seem “overtly sexual.”

 

Popescue adamantly disagrees. “It doesn’t have to be sexual,” she argues. She says that limiting kink to the realm of sex is a common misconception cast upon kinksters by vanilla, or non-kinky, outsiders. She points to “munches,” casual gatherings where kinky people “can talk about their jobs or the weather.” Popescue says that more often than not, her own kinky “scenes,” or BDSM encounters, do not arouse her sexually. Rather, she enjoys “the pure fun of the physical sensation and forming a physical connection.”

 

Susan Wright, the founder of and spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, and Michal Daveed, media representative for The Eulenspiegel Society, the largest BDSM community in New York City, both see a strong correlation between kink and sex. But they do leave some wiggle room. Daveed knows several asexual people who participate in BDSM, but she also acknowledges the complexity of the asexual identity.

 

Wright knows kinksters who participate for “spiritual cathartic reasons” as well. She points to suspension, during which consenting participants hang from ropes fastened to their body piercings as an act of physical and spiritual endurance.

 

For Bippart-Butler, curiosity was the only draw to kink. At her first CV meeting, she was surprised by how many of the attendees identified as queer. Daveed confirms that there is a trend of young kinksters increasingly identifying as queer.

 

Wright also observes an overlap between the kinky and the LGBTQ communities. She points to the gay leatherman population as an example of overlapping identities and the intersectionality that permeates BDSM. “They’re part of the gay community, but they’re also part of the kink community,” she says.

 

“We have similar things in common, like the discrimination and the persecution we’re fighting,” Wright continues. “The success of gay marriage, I think, also had an impact on the kink and non-monogamy community, because it’s even more accepted now that your personal, private life really is no one else’s business. … The LGBT community has really paved the way and opened the doors to allow us to be moving forward now, kind of talking about sexuality more.” ...

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