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Susan Wright Interview @ sexfortherest.com

on Friday, 31 July 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

by Erin Kennedy

In this interview, we discuss the type of discrimination Kinksters face, who Kinksters are, and whether or not Kink should be seen as a sexual orientation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MckC6eSA4Ro&feature=share

Parents Can Lose Custody of Children Just for Being Kinky

on Thursday, 18 June 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

When exes and relatives call social workers on BDSM-loving moms and dads, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is there to help.

The Daily Beast

by Katie Zavadski

Like many women, Samantha likes kink. Unlike many women, she lost custody of her children over it.

 

In July 2013, Samantha’s ex-boyfriend told social services that her dominant-submissive relationship with her new boyfriend was harmful to the children.

 

A social worker backed up the ex-husband’s proofless allegations, even outlandish ones where he claimed their eldest son had been hung from the ceiling by his wrist, and removed the children.

 

Samantha asked a court to order a second evaluation and waited for months. In the meantime, she contacted the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom for help. NCSF is a volunteer-run nonprofit that strives to connect kinky, poly, and “other” parents with the legal resources they need to fight custody battles and the like.

 

In that case, NCSF spokesperson Susan Wright said she called a local LGBT and got references for queer-friendly lawyers for Samantha. She vetted them before passing them along. Wright even called case workers in Samantha’s county and urged a second evaluation.

 

Within weeks, social services took back their evaluation of abuse: the kids, they said, should be reunited with their mother.

 

Often, parents like Samantha are pursued by an ex-partner or another relative who claims the parents’ their sexual proclivities  are harmful to children. Judges decide what is in “the best interests of the child,” and parents who are sexual sadists, masochists, or who have multiple romantic partners can easily arouse suspicion.

 

“We’re leaving this really vague standard of ‘the best interests of the child’ up to subjective interpretation,” said Brooklyn-based lawyer Diana Adams, one of the kink-aware professionals who works with NCSF.

 

But Adams said individual trial judge decisions can be very difficult to appeal. Saying that a judge was biased or used poor judgment is not enough—in many areas, the standard for appeal is error. ...

"The Capital Of Kink? Why Washington D.C. Is Often Ranked Among The Kinkiest Cities"

on Friday, 08 May 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

WAMU

By: Kristen Sorensen

I’m not quite sure how to say this, so I’ll just come right out with it: Washingtonians are kinky.

 

Based on a 2014 report, more than 11,000 residents in D.C., Maryland and Virginia participate in BDSM. Based on population size, this makes Washington, D.C., the kinkiest place in the nation.

 

California based pornography giant Kink.com recently published an article rating the 10 kinkiest cities in the U.S. It listed D.C. as number five based on porn consumption habits. I spoke with Mike Stabile, Kink.com’s communication director. He explained that Kink’s article used data on users of Kink.com combined with data from FetLife.

 

So is D.C. the capital of kink? And if so, what does that say about us? ...

 

A changed stance

For years, the American Psychiatric Association categorized people who participated in BDSM as mentally ill.

 

“It really had a chilling effect on everyone who was kinky," says Susan Wright, the founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. “It really kept us isolated. It keeps people from coming out because there is such a stigma.”

 

She created the coalition in 1997 to advocate for consenting adults with sexual interests outside the mainstream. And after more than a decade, her hard work paid off. In 2010, the psychiatric association changed its stance.

 

"They came right out and said kinky people are perfectly mentally healthy.”

 

In the D.C. region, there are more than 10,000 people who practice BDSM, according to a study last year examining social network use. So why is it so popular in the nation’s capital?

 

"I think that politics is about power and how you wield that power and in a lot of ways so is kinky sex. Its about the power exchange," Wright says. "So its really no wonder to me that people in D.C. are into BDSM."

 

For many, she says, the BDSM lifestyle is more like a sexual orientation than a choice: “People’s sexual desires are as individual as a fingerprint.”

 

Updated June 3, 2015

"Is Psychiatry Getting Kinky?"

on Monday, 20 April 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

by M. Gregg Bloche, M.D., J.D.

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. ...

"Panel sparks discussion on BDSM, consent"

on Monday, 20 April 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Ball State Daily

by Kara Berg

Some people expressed concern about the definition of sexual consent within Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism following the recent release of the film adaptation of the "50 Shades of Grey" series.

 

BDSM is a type of sexual relationship where the partners are either dominant or submissive and it can involve roleplaying and restraint.

 

At a panel April 14, the Office of Victim Services invited psychologists, students and BDSM advocates to speak about consent.

 

“Some people may misunderstand and think that when sex includes roleplaying or dominance and submission, that a person can do whatever they want to their partner, but that’s not the case," Allison Wynbissinger, Ball State’s victim advocate, said in an email. "Each party still needs to be able to say yes and agree to what is happening.”

 

Misconception of abuse

 

Susan Wright, a spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, said the biggest misconception people have is thinking BDSM is out of control or harmful to people.

 

“It’s a game people play,” Wright said. “They set out rules and they agree what kind of game they’re playing and they talk about it beforehand. Most times when people have sex, they don’t really talk about it beforehand. They feel the spark and … they get turned on and they don’t talk about, ‘This is what I like when I have sex’ and, ‘This is what my limits are with sex.’ That’s what people who do BDSM have to do, is talk about it first.”

 

She said with “vanilla sex,” or traditional sex, consent can be implied, and it isn’t always clear whether there could be coercion or fear involved.

 

When people come into the “kink community,” as Wright called it, she said they finally learn how to talk about sex, because it is not usually something that is taught.

 

“We have basically no sex education—how to be responsible, how to make sure you do have consent, how to talk about limits and what you really want,” Wright said.

 

She said for BDSM relationships, there can be consent for one thing, but not for another, and participants are supposed to respect those limits.

 

“We have a hard time trying to explain this to law enforcement and say this person was sexually assaulted,” Wright said. “They look at it and say ‘Well, they consented to a spanking, how are we going to be able to convince people that she also didn’t want to be sexually penetrated?’ But really it’s simple—she also didn’t consent to being sexually penetrated.”

 

Bernard Rhombus*, a speaker at last Tuesday’s panel, said in the BDSM community, consent is emphasized and is something that is constantly talked about.

 

Rhombus said for people who don’t understand the kink community and base what they know off of misconceptions, they tend to jump to the conclusion that people can’t be assaulted if they willingly enter that lifestyle, but that isn’t true.

 

“Within the community where everyone is supposed to be very hyper-aware of issues and boundary violation, there could be subtle things that to most people wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but would be considered unforgivable sins within the community inside that framework of protecting everyone,” Rhombus said. ...

"Kinksters face social stigma in search of acceptance"

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

The Spartan

by Taylor Atkinson

In the interest of supporting consensual kink and not abuse, it is time to advance the conversation about alternative sex.

The Alternative Amory and Kink Union at San Jose State University is an anonymous, supportive space for students to explore the world of kink and polyamory through educational and explorational discussions in meetings and informative panels given by credentialed professionals. It has been a campus-recognized club for two years.

“It’s a community that understands,” said Cassie Lawrence, who uses an alias to identify herself. “It seems intimidating, it really does, but it’s a journey. We want to encourage people to check it out.”

Club host Ryan Ventura said it uses alternative amory as an umbrella term to encompass both monogamous kink and polyamorous relationships.

He said this term truly addresses everyone in whatever form they choose to express their relationships.

“I end up using polyamory … I feel like that’s a catch-all phrase, but if you look in the dictionary it’s not,” Ventura said. “There’s so much diversity in how a relationship can develop–emotionally, romantically, physically, sexually–and once you add up the number of people involved it gets really complex. It’s alternative amory.”

Ventura said the majority of meetings are discussion-based, and he identifies as a host instead of a president because he is essentially just hosting the conversation. Lawrence is a co-host and moderator.

“We try to alternate our meetings so we’ll have one where we focus on a kink topic and one where we focus on alternative amory,” Ventura said.

Lawrence said various titles are used to identify a person’s role in a relationship involving bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadomasochism or BDSM.

“Ninety-five percent of the time, labels are for convenience,” Lawrence said. “We’re not just going to be sitting there dressed in leather, holding whips and floggers. We’re normal people too and we want to be a bridge between the community of SJSU and the community of South Bay kink.”

Ventura said the book-turned-movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” sparked mainstream interest in kink and related lifestyles. To increase its presence on campus, the group held a panel on the book in November prior to the film’s release.

“We thought, ‘We should probably do a panel on that because there’s going to be a huge influx of people who don’t really know what this is about,’” Ventura said. “It is a gross misrepresentation of what kink is.”

The number of students involved in the club has varied since its first meeting. For those not comfortable attending meetings in person, they can participate in conversation online, where there is a much larger presence.

“My initial approach to running the organization was no online access, no member list, no nothing,” Ventura said. “We found just through membership numbers that was way too extreme. There were people who were probably looking for a resource and had no idea how to find it.”

Ventura said he may not know everyone personally, not even their real name, but that is what kink is about. Many members fear

persecution and choose to be identified by an alias.

“I’d say a little more than half of them will go by their real name in meetings, but we have a rule, what you would call the Vegas rule,” Ventura said. “What happens here, stays here.”

According to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, people who practice kink are persecuted in high numbers. In a 2008 survey pool of 3,058 respondents, 37.5 percent indicated they experienced any combination of harassment, violence and/or discrimination based on their sexual expression or a perception thereof. ...

"He hopes to make 'fringe' less frightening"

on Wednesday, 08 April 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Des Moines Register

by Rekha Basu

Elton Davis is a 53-year-old farm-raised Iowan, a separated husband and father of two, a self-described cultural worker and job coach. And he's a member of Des Moines' bondage, domination, sadism and masochism or "kink" community.

 

I've known Davis in different contexts, but until he approached me recently, upset that I gave what he felt was a black eye to a community he thinks is already misunderstood, I didn't know he was part of what he calls that "fringe." He was willing to put a face on it because, "if you shine a light on something, it becomes less scary."

 

This column is typically more concerned with people's rights than with their intimate behaviors, but at times those can involve overlapping or conflicting interests. In a February piece, I shared a former member's concerns about CIPEX, a local club for people with fetishes, because of one board member's past and questions about whether policies were always properly enforced. But it's important to sift through the secrecy and stigma and one person's experiences to acknowledge the importance of the club's mission to its community. Because no adult deserves to feel persecuted or shamed for practices he or she engages in with other consenting adults.

 

Davis says CIPEX is educational, and it aims to foster "a safe, sane and consensual practice of BDSM." Those are also criteria spelled out by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (https://ncsfreedom.org). By sane, Davis means it wouldn't include anyone who, for example, was abused as a child and is perpetuating a self-destructive pattern. Safe refers to specified rules that he says are taught and modeled. Members also can make "safe calls" to a CIPEX board member before having an encounter with someone they don't know well. If the member doesn't check back in, the board member will follow up — even with calls to police. Davis says any sexual assault or rape reported in the kink community results in police calls. "If you pick someone up in a bar, I don't know anyone that provides (those safety controls)," he said of the general population.

 

And by consensual, he's not talking about the sort of situation depicted in "Fifty Shades of Grey," with its billionaire dominant man and inexperienced submissive college woman. Davis calls the male character "extremely unhealthy, mentally unstable and obsessive," and said it isn't clear if the student even gave her consent.

 

In his experience, Davis says: "Couples negotiate with each other. They are honest to a fault." He says these kinds of relationships involve a greater level of trust than others he has had. "One person is assuming control. One is relinquishing control. Either one can stop at any time if one is uncomfortable." ...

"The Kink Club: inside the secret world of BDSM"

on Sunday, 05 April 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

A growing cohort of Torontonians are indulging their wildest fetishes—and negotiating every slap, spank and lash of the whip.

Toronto Life

By Stacey May Fowles

...Lord Morpheous is at the centre of a thriving kink culture in Toronto, an underground community of people who derive their pleasure from pain, congregating at parties, meetings and classes. FetLife, the hugely popular social networking site for BDSM participants, lists more than 41,000 kinksters living in Toronto. Users identify their sexual tastes and what they’re looking for, post photos of their bruises and rope marks, and narrow down potential partners and friends by fetish, searching for things like caging and confinement, clamps and clips, nun and priest play, or a standard flogging.

 

BDSM is an overlapping abbreviation of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. It covers a continuum of practices outside of mainstream sex, which means something as tame as a blindfold or as intense as a caning falls under the same wide umbrella. A kinky encounter is often referred to as a scene: a single interaction where participants pre-negotiate safe words and acceptable activities. Scenes can involve consensual bondage, confinement and violence—including spanking, slapping, pinching, cutting or choking—but relationships can also be full-time, where a submissive is “owned” by a dominant partner, sometimes wearing a collar to indicate his or her status. Outside the bedroom, subs can provide non-sexual services to their dominants: they may cook, clean, run errands or shine their master’s shoes. Though from the outside doms seem to be calling the shots, the submissive partners hold equal power. They’ve voluntarily surrendered control—and can take it back at any time. Arrangements are as varied as the people who create them, and can be complicated and delicate to maintain, which means constant communication is key to their success.

 

Last October, the Toronto BDSM community was thrust under a harsh spotlight when several women accused Jian Ghomeshi, the former host of CBC Radio’s Q, of abuse. He defended himself on his Facebook page, claiming he’d participated in “a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey”: rough sex, dominance and submission. Later reports suggested Ghomeshi hadn’t received consent, and he was charged with several counts of sexual assault. “All of a sudden he choked me, slapped me in the face a few times,” said the actress Lucy DeCoutere of their sexual encounter. “It came out of nowhere. It was unprovoked.”

 

Ghomeshi-gate has been a PR problem for Toronto kinksters, who worry their consensual practices are now wrongly tied to allegations of violence. Worse still, the case exposed the criminal grey area that kink occupies: in Canada, a person can’t legally consent to bodily harm. That puts some Toronto practitioners in a precarious position—a rope burn, bruise or chokehold could lead to a potential assault charge.

 

As long as couples have been having sex, they’ve been incorporating consensual pain, control and surrender—erotic BDSM appears in the Kama Sutra, ancient Roman poetry and Etruscan frescoes. Modern kink culture came about in the mid-20th century, colliding with the sexual revolution and queer movement. Kink as we know it grew out of the gay leather scene in 1950s New York, San Francisco and Berlin: after World War II, young men started establishing underground fetish and sex clubs, favouring chaps, harnesses and rough sex. In the early 1970s, the first two official North American BDSM organizations were established: the Eulenspiegel Society formed in New York in 1971, and the Society of Janus in San Francisco in 1974, both focused on education and support for those in the closet. It was in these societies that the movement finally crystallized, and practitioners developed a shared ethos, rules and vernacular. These early proponents characterized their behaviour as “safe, sane and consensual”—a guideline meant to distinguish kink from abuse. By the end of the millennium, BDSM imagery had bridged into pop culture—Madonna played the sub and the domme in her music videos, Isabella Rossellini begged to be hit in Blue Velvet, and CSI detectives encountered the wisdom of the dominatrix Lady Heather.

 

More recently, the practice of BDSM has grown from a niche subculture into a mainstream obsession. The catalyst, of course, was Fifty Shades of Grey, a kinkified Twilight fan fiction series that sold 100 million copies, spawned a $40-million movie and triggered a worldwide fascination with spanking, leather, cuffs and Ben Wa balls. All across town, entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the growing demand for kink. Over the past three years, the Yonge Street fetish shop Northbound Leather has experienced a 20 per cent increase in sales of harnesses and collars, which range from $10 plastic versions to $2,500 diamond-encrusted chokers.

 

It used to be a challenge for kinksters to find like-minded practitioners, but now there are dozens of places for them to congregate. “The scene hides very quietly under the surface of everyday life,” says Morpheous. “You just have to know where to look.” At pubs and cafés across the city, kinksters gather for munches—casual meetups to discuss relationships, coming out to family members or new rope tricks. Munches are designed to be as anonymous as possible: organizers prohibit photography and toys, and guests wear street clothes instead of fetish wear. “These people are often just talking about, like, the new Star Wars movie,” Morpheous explains....

Despite its popularity, kink is still the subject of intense scrutiny and stigma: until 2013, it was classified in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as a mental disorder. BDSM was only depathologized after a lengthy campaign by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an American advocacy group that argued the existing definitions failed to distinguish between consensual sadism and abuse. Many kinksters still feel like their sexual preferences put them at risk of persecution: most of the people who appear in this story asked that I use a pseudonym, afraid they might be outed to their families, friends and employers. It’s legal in Canada to fire someone for BDSM activities if the disclosure is deemed damaging to the brand of the company—though many kinksters see their sexual preference as an orientation, it doesn’t fall under the protection of the Human Rights Code. Even Lord Morpheous hides his real name and face from the public. “I’m not ashamed. Anyone who wants to meet me can come out to an event,” he says. “I just prefer to have control. I like my world a size I can manage.” ...

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