NCSF on TwitterSubscribe to the NCSF RSS FeedNCSF Blog

NCSF Headlines

NCSF in the News!

"BDSM vs the DSM"

on Thursday, 14 January 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Atlantic

by MERISSA NATHAN GERSON

Asking your partner to tie you to the bedpost, telling them to slap you hard in the throes of lovemaking, dressing like a woman if you are a man, admitting a fetish for feet: Just a few years ago, any of these acts could be used against you in family court.

 

This was the case until 2010, when the American Psychiatric Association announced that it would be changing the diagnostic codes for BDSM, fetishism, and transvestic fetishism (a variant of cross-dressing) in the next edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published in 2013. The new definitions marked a distinction between behavior—for example, playing rough—and actual pathology. Consenting adults were no longer deemed mentally ill for choosing sexual behavior outside the mainstream.

 

The change was the result of a massive effort from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), an advocacy group founded in 1997 “to advance the rights of and advocate for consenting adults in the BDSM-Leather-Fetish, Swing, and Polyamory Communities.” At the time, these types of sexual behavior, by virtue of their inclusion in the DSM, were considered markers of mental illness—and, as a result, were heavily stigmatized, often with legal repercussions. In family court, an interest in BDSM was used as justification to remove people’s children from their custody.

 

“A sexual sadist practices on non-consenting people,” explains NCSF founder Susan Wright, while “someone who is kinky is having consensual enthusiastically desired sex.” The problem with the earlier DSM: It didn’t draw a distinction between the two. A 1998 survey from the NCSF found that “36 percent of S&M practitioners have been victims of harassment, and 30 percent have been victims of discrimination.” As a result, the organization’s website says, “24 percent [have lost] a job or a contract, 17 percent [have lost] a promotion, and 3 percent [have lost] custody of a child.”

 

“We were seeing the DSM used as a weapon,” says Race Bannon, an NCSF Board Member and the creator of Kink-Aware Professionals, a roster of safe and non-judgmental healthcare professionals for the BDSM and kink community. (The list is now maintained by the NCSF.) “Fifty Shades [of Grey] had not come along,” says Bannon, an early activist in the campaign to change the DSM. “[Kink] was still this dark and secret thing people did.”

 

Since its first edition was published in 1952, the DSM has often posed a problem for anyone whose sexual preferences fell outside the mainstream. Homosexuality, for example, was considered a mental illness—a “sociopathic personality disturbance”—until the APA changed the language in 1973. More broadly, the DSM section on paraphilias (a blanket term for any kind of unusual sexual interest), then termed “sexual deviations,” attempted to codify all sexual preferences considered harmful to the self or others—a line that, as one can imagine, is tricky in the BDSM community.

 

The effort to de-classify kink as a psychiatric disorder began in 1980s Los Angeles with Bannon and his then-partner, Guy Baldwin, a therapist who worked mostly with the gay and alternative sexualities communities. Bannon, a self-described “community organizer, activist, writer, and advocate” moved to Los Angeles in 1980 and soon became close with Baldwin through their mutual involvement as open participants in and advocates for the kink community. “I’m fairly confident that I was the first licensed mental-health practitioner anywhere who was out about being a practicing sadomasochist,” Baldwin says.

 

The pair was spurred to action after the 1987 edition of the DSM-III-R, which introduced the concept of paraphilias, changed the classifications for BDSM and kink from “sexual deviation” to actual disorders defined by two diagnostic criteria. To be considered a mental illness, the first qualification was: ‘‘Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer.’’ The second: ‘‘The person has acted on these urges, or is markedly distressed by them.’’

 

“1987 was a bad shift,” Wright recalls. “Anyone who was [voluntarily] humiliated, beaten, bound, or any other alternate sexual expression was considered mentally ill.”

 

With the new language, Baldwin says, he quickly realized that laws regarding alternative sexual behavior would continue to be problematic “as long as the psychiatric community defines these behaviors as pathological.” ...

 

 

“I knew there were therapists around the world diagnosing practicing consensual sadomasochists with mental illness,” he says.

 

At the time that the new DSM was published, Baldwin and Bannon were planning to attend the 1987 march on Washington, D.C., in support of gay rights; after the new criteria came out, they decided to host a panel discussion for mental-health professionals in the State Department auditorium, where they announced the launch of what would come to be known as “The DSM Revision Project.” ...

"Beyond Safe Words: When Saying 'No' in BDSM Isn't Enough"

on Saturday, 12 December 2015. Posted in Consent Counts, NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Broadly

by Trudie Carter-Pavelin

Miss Jackie* sits in the back of a dingy Leeds café in England, sipping tea and speaking urgently. She describes herself as a T-girl (a transgender woman) who has been a veteran of the BDSM scene for over 20 years, save for a seven-year break in the early 2000s.

 

When she returned in 2010, she barely recognized it. Jackie moved to a new town and joined her local munch, an informal pub meetup for the community to socialise and play. "To begin with, the play was very mild, people hardly hit each other. After a while, this couple turned up from one of the other munches in the county, and just seemed to take over," she says. "The woman injured my foot, and flogged me on the back of the head, which is a real no-no. She was falling off her high heels because she was drunk, but she'd more or less appointed herself safety monitor."

 

This behavior went unnoticed by other, inexperienced members, whose knowledge of BDSM came mostly from internet porn. Jackie shudders when she recounts the couple. "They were pushing limits." The man is now banned from a number of British clubs, after an incident when a woman was tied up and touched without permission.

 

Miss Jackie soon became aware that much had changed since her departure from the scene. "I was topping for a friend who was a prostitute, and she seemed surprised that I was polite to her afterwards," she says with a tinge of irony. "She didn't realize that was the norm. She'd had experiences in London where people had forced ketamine on her, and kept her against her will for days."

 

In the BDSM community, to 'grass' or out kink abusers is to isolate yourself. When Jackie appealed to prominent figures to help, she was met with outright hostility. In one email exchange seen by Broadly, one of the country's most influential munch figures told her that any "perceived abuse" was likely just part of a normal master/slave interaction in a power exchange dynamic. "A decent master is not going to want to harm their property on any level," he wrote, much to Jackie's horror.

 

 

"I have never been the same person since I first read that," she says. "If a dom breaks the law, it's considered vanilla law, and nobody will acknowledge it." ...

 

... At the moment, the community is trying its best to self-police. Consent Counts is a network of kink activists aiming to do just that—to open a dialogue and introduce an ethical system of care to the scene. "BDSM subcultures need to develop an ethics of care for ourselves and others, and this can only be achieved through collective efforts and networks of support," a spokesperson explains. "In part this will act as a deterrent from abuse, and show potential abusers that their behaviour will not get buried in the sand and forgotten easily. A collective voice is much more powerful than that of an individual."

 

"Practitioners of BDSM Found To Be Psychologically Healthy"

on Friday, 04 December 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tess M. Gemberling, M.A.

 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

 

Response: Many stereotypes of BDSM (bondage and discipline [B&D], dominance and submission [D/s], sadomasochism [SM],) exist; however, research with practitioners suggests these stereotypes are largely unfounded. Preliminary evidence implies BDSM practitioners are psychologically healthy individuals. This study was conducted to further evaluate these results.

 

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

 

Response: Along with other findings, the majority of results indicates practitioners are well functioning. Overall, participants are healthy in the mental, emotional, and interpersonal aspects of their lives. In addition, practitioners are often victims of violence but are not perpetrators of violence.

 

 

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

 

Response: Instead of stereotypes, we propose BDSM be thought of as a specialized interest, enjoyed without detriment. Therefore, practitioners should be treated with respect. For health professionals, this can be enacted by providing medical advice on BDSM practice only when requested by the patient or when unsafe activities are readily apparent. Instead, clinicians should remain focused on the presenting concerns.

 

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

 

Response: Additional research can provide a more detailed understanding of practitioners’ functioning, such as how victimization relates to mental health. Further, future analyses can compare practitioners to other populations to understand how practitioners relate to others.

 

Citation:

 

Psychological Functioning and Violence Victimization and Perpetration in BDSM Practitioners from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom,”

"Kinky people are mentally and emotionally healthy"

on Thursday, 03 December 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

WMBF (Myrtle Beach, SC)

 

University of Alabama and University of Central Florida researchers surveyed over 800 kinky people recruited by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and found they were mentally and emotionally healthy.

 

"I was curious about the stereotypes from a mental health standpoint and we found that these kinky people are well functioning, with little mental health concerns," says Tess M. Gemberling, M.A., Co-Principal Investigator, University of Alabama. "They also have healthy romantic relationships."

 

The study, "Psychological Functioning and Violence Victimization and Perpetration in BDSM Practitioners from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom," also investigated people's preferences for BDSM activities and fantasies, and explored whether violence is perpetuated against kinky people. It joins a growing body of research that refutes the stereotype that people who are kinky are inherently dangerous to themselves and others, which is at the root of the discrimination and persecution that kinky people experience.

 

"I wanted to explore more about how the stereotypes interface with reality," says Matt R. Nobles, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, University of Central Florida. "Although more than half of the people in this study have been victims of violence or aggression, extremely few had perpetrated such themselves."

 

In the study, 7.7% of participants reported they had been victims of a BDSM-based hate crime, while 10.2% of participants reported they had been victims of an LGBT-based hate crime.

 

"Parallel to my work with sexual minorities, my interest is in looking at the nature of identity and mental health in a vulnerable group of people," says Robert J. Cramer, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, University of Alabama. "Contrary to popular perceptions, our study shows kinky persons are largely mentally healthy when it comes to conditions such as depression, anxiety and suicide."

 

The study also confirms that for these kinksters it's primarily about consensual power exchange, with 98% preferring to take a specific power exchange role during BDSM. The most commonly reported practices were spanking, slapping and biting, and the use of sexual toys and equipment.

 

"Lawmakers can help by legally recognizing informed consent as the basis of healthy BDSM behavior," says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. "BDSM is intended to be a mutually beneficial experience that is done by consenting adults."

Results of Mental & Emotional Health Study

on Tuesday, 01 December 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, NCSF News

University of Alabama and University of Central Florida researchers surveyed over 800 kinky people recruited by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and found they were mentally and emotionally healthy.

“I was curious about the stereotypes from a mental health standpoint and we found that these kinky people are well functioning, with little mental health concerns,” says Tess M. Gemberling, M.A., Co-Principal Investigator, University of Alabama. “They also have healthy romantic relationships.”

The study, Psychological Functioning and Violence Victimization and Perpetration in BDSM Practitioners from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom,” also investigated people’s preferences for BDSM activities and fantasies, and explored whether violence is perpetuated against kinky people. It joins a growing body of research that refutes the stereotype that people who are kinky are inherently dangerous to themselves and others, which is at the root of the discrimination and persecution that kinky people experience.

“I wanted to explore more about how the stereotypes interface with reality,” says Matt R. Nobles, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, University of Central Florida. “Although more than half of the people in this study have been victims of violence or aggression, extremely few had perpetrated such themselves.”

In the study, 7.7% of participants reported they had been victims of a BDSM-based hate crime, while 10.2% of participants reported they had been victims of an LGBT-based hate crime.

“Parallel to my work with sexual minorities, my interest is in looking at the nature of identity and mental health in a vulnerable group of people,” says Robert J. Cramer, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, University of Alabama. “Contrary to popular perceptions, our study shows kinky persons are largely mentally healthy when it comes to conditions such as depression, anxiety and suicide.”

The study also confirms that for these kinksters it’s primarily about consensual power exchange, with 98% preferring to take a specific power exchange role during BDSM. The most commonly reported practices were spanking, slapping and biting, and the use of sexual toys and equipment.

“Lawmakers can help by legally recognizing informed consent as the basis of healthy BDSM behavior,” says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. “BDSM is intended to be a mutually beneficial experience that is done by consenting adults.”

"Leather Life: “A Taste of Kink” for Sexual Health Professionals"

on Friday, 11 September 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Lavender Magazine

By Steve Lenius

“A Taste of Kink”, an evening of interactive kink demonstrations and discussions, recently allowed over 100 sexual health professionals from across the country to see, and perhaps experience firsthand, the dynamics and feelings associated with kink and BDSM practices.

 

The evening was part of the 47th annual conference of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). The conference, held June 3–7 in Minneapolis, featured over 50 workshops providing continuing education credits for sexual health professionals.

 

Workshop topics at the conference included GLBTQ youth, transgender health issues, gender roles, working with non-monogamous couples, and sex-positive Christianity. The conference also included a performance by Wicked Wenches Cabaret, a Twin Cities burlesque troupe.

 

The “Taste of Kink” event on Saturday, June 6, was co-produced by AASECT’s AltSex SIG (Special Interest Group) and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), with help from Twin Cities volunteers and groups including MSDB, Knights of Leather, MinKY (Minnesota Kinky Youth), and The Electrical Group. The event took place at Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis.

 

The purpose of the evening was to explain the dynamics of kink and BDSM scenes, and to show non-kinky professionals how kink feels. One of the organizers explained, “We are doing this to become more professionally and culturally sensitive to the needs of the BDSM community.” Another organizer commented, “As therapists we need to be prepared to deal with this, especially with 50 Shades of Gray out there.”

 

The event started with a one-hour “munch” — food, nonalcoholic beverages and conversation. Local community volunteers and demonstrators wore “Ask me about . . .” name tags listing their kink interests and inviting questions from AASECT conference attendees.

 

After the munch, the demonstrations began. Six demo areas offered concurrent demonstrations of flogging, whipping, and impact play; foot worship; punching; spanking; sensation play; bondage and suspension; and electrical play with a violet wand.

 

The demonstrations showed not just technique, but also the processes of negotiation, consent and aftercare (checking in with a partner afterward to make sure everyone is okay). Demonstrators also talked about what they felt as they were involved in the activity, why they liked to do the activity they were demonstrating, and what appealed to them about it.

 

AASECT members then had the opportunity to try, or “taste,” the practices being demonstrated if they wished, and many of them did. Their tastes gave them firsthand experience not only with one or more BDSM practices, but also with the processes of negotiation, consent and aftercare — and with the use of safewords. As someone commented, “This isn’t just PowerPoints or slideshows; this is experiential learning.”

 

For your humble columnist, a nonprofessional spectator, the evening was a series of amazing moments. It was interesting to see the slightly startled expression on someone’s face as they felt the electric charge of a violet wand for the first time, or the blissful expression on someone else’s face as they were having their feet worshipped. ...

"Is Psychiatry Getting Kinky?"

on Wednesday, 26 August 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

by M. Gregg Bloche

So slip into those tight leather jeans. That dog collar would look fetching. Add a piercing in a place your mother wouldn't imagine. Or take your lover to a trendy erotic play-space and make lots of fast friends.

 

Your therapist says it's OK. In fact, she or he might be there. (I know a few therapists who partake.)

 

The American Psychiatric Association has gotten kinky. Well, not quite -- its annual meetings each May are pretty buttoned-up affairs. But its newest catalog of mental illnesses, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (known as the DSM V) does some unzipping. You can now do whatever, with whomever (consent required, please), on your own or in groups, and be in the pink of mental health -- so long as you don't suffer "clinically significant distress or impairment."

 

Credit cultural change, kinky lobbyists (the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom pressed the APA to stop diagnosing edgy pleasures), or -- who knows. But the committees of psychiatrists who rethink disease categories when the APA revises its diagnostic manual dropped "fetishes" sans "distress or impairment" from their list of disorders.

 

If your style of kinky fun is fetish-free (the APA defines "fetishism" as sexual use of "inanimate objects"), the new erotic liberation still has you covered. The DSM used to treat all "paraphilias" (APA-speak for "atypical" sexual practices) as sicknesses; not any more, so long as the fun is distress-free.

 

So what Christian and Anastasia do in Fifty Shades of Grey is (mostly) healthy, as of the DSM V's May 2013 release date. So are sex parties of the sort enjoyed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- the next president of France, until his alleged doings with a hotel housekeeper undid him.

 

Psychiatry's new sexual willingness came along just in time to save the field from embarrassment. If millions of Americans are getting kinky (or want to), diagnosing kink as disease would expand the ranks of the mentally ill implausibly. ...

"'Marriage Equality' and the Politics of Love"

on Tuesday, 04 August 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

by Tim Ward

The recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage makes it seem as if marriage equality has finally come to the U.S. But that is not actually accurate. The celebration is great step forward, but in truth, there's more work to do if we as a nation want to truly recognize and celebrate the diversity of love, relationships and family.

 

For example, polyamory. Polyamorous partners do not have the privilege of legal marriage. What's worse, many are closeted for fear of discrimination in housing, employment and child custody. Prominent organizations such as the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) have brought attention to how polyamorists and other ethically non-monogamous people are targets for discrimination in the same way that LGBTQ folks have been. See here.

 

The ironic thing is, there would be no big deal about a person who just happened to be sleeping with more than one lover. But call it polyamory -- in other words, a public, ethical stance about loving more than one partner with honesty and integrity -- and that seems intolerable to so many. Currently, polyamorous people do not have equal protection under the law, because anything other than monogamy is seen as a fringe/freakish/immoral lifestyle choice and not as a valid sexual or relationship orientation.

 

I interviewed author and poly advocate Dr. Anya Trahan about the Supreme Court Decision, and what she sees as the way forward for those who embrace ethical loving with multiple partners.

 

Question: Do you think polyamory is a sexual orientation? Is it a choice or is it inborn?

 

Trahan: One of the great things about being human is the ability to choose the language and the labels that best articulate our values. I have heard many polys say that their way of living is a sexual orientation. That is a totally valid label, and I support anyone who wishes to use it. And, it may even be that from a legal standpoint, embracing the label of sexual orientation to describe polyamory may help prevent discrimination in the future -- because it is already commonly understood that to discriminate based on one's sexual orientation is not only wrong, but illegal.

 

The way I personally think of polyamory is as a relationship orientation. In my work as a relationship coach, I have found that a surprising number of my clients consider themselves "partners" or "family" with those whom there is no sexual interaction. In other words, polyamory seems to be more about coming together for the purposes of co-creating a life together, a support system, based on mutually shared values and philosophies. Responsible sexual expression may be enjoyed, of course, but that is not necessarily a prerequisite to form loving, intense, committed connections.

 

Question: You are a public figure, an author and a spokesperson for polyamory. Have you suffered any negative consequences?

 

Trahan: When I first came out as poly back in 2012, I lost a number of close friends. Members of my biological family reacted with open hostility and judgment, resulting in a period of estrangement. Since my book about polyamory, Opening Love has been published this year, I have been fired from two jobs. I have no desire to bring this to the courts (legal battles are, for me, not a good use of my energy), although I know that I would have at least a small shot at winning a discrimination case, because one of the organizations stated openly in writing that the reason I was being fired was for being openly polyamorous. In theory, I could sue on the grounds of sexual discrimination. ...

<<  1 2 [34 5 6 7  >>