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"NCSF: Fighting for Your Sexual Rights, Privacy and Freedom"

on Tuesday, 24 March 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Dating Advice

by Hayley Matthews

The 411: Founded in 1997 and made up of more than 50 businesses, groups, individuals and more, The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has been the go-to supporter for people who participate in consensual alternative sexual behaviors.

 

Have you ever been afraid your boss will fire you if he or she found out you like BDSM?

 

What about your family? Have you been worried they will shun you if they discovered that you and your partner are swingers?

 

Discrimination and concerns like these are just some of the reasons the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) was formed.

 

Founded by Susan Wright, the NCSF brings together kink and non-monogamy educational groups, therapists, domestic violence centers and other professionals to stand up for the legal rights and privacy of people who take part in these types of activities.

 

“Our goal is to fight discrimination against people who are kinky or non-monogamist,” she said.

 

We spoke with Wright to discuss the organization’s most impactful services, how people can overcome prejudices in their lives and the team’s plan to get all of America, and even the world, involved in the discussion.

 

Your rights. Your privacy. Your freedom.

The NCSF may be a small nonprofit, but they’re still able to create some incredibly impressive initiatives that make a real difference.

 

Their one of a kind media outreach program works directly with newspapers, TV stations, online outlets and more to get accurate information out there about alternative sexuality, especially when it comes to consent.

 

“Consent is at the heart of what we do, and you have to make sure that you have consent ahead of time. In this day and age, people look at sex as you make the move and see if you get a no,” she said. “With kink, you can’t do that. You actually have to verbalize what you want first and then be able to speak it and map out the game you’re going to play before you start playing it.” ...

"How Kink's Largest Social-Networking Site Fails Its Users"

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

By protecting the identities of people with a history of abusive behavior, FetLife.com leaves members of the BDSM community vulnerable to harm.

The Atlantic

by DAVID Z. MORRIS

The Fifty Shades of Grey books have unleashed a wave of mainstream interest in kinky sex since their arrival in 2011. The film version, which hit theaters on February 14, will probably trigger a second surge. But the kink community is less than enthusiastic about that.

 

“I’m not looking forward to it,” says Autumn Lokerson, a BDSM blogger and self-identified submissive.

 

That’s because Lokerson has seen many Fifty Shades converts dive headfirst into BDSM, without taking much time to educate themselves about the elaborate rules, rituals, and culture that have developed over decades. Her main concern is that newbies can put themselves in danger. All those rules—summed up by the oft-repeated community mantra "Safe, Sane, Consensual"—are vital to making risky practices like bondage and the infliction of pain safer.

 

Also worrisome is that many dipping a toe in the waters of BDSM will start exploring through FetLife, which, with more than 3.5 million members, is the most popular social networking site for kinksters. FetLife lets members discuss issues, explore their desires, and arrange offline events and dates. But Lokerson and others have long contended that FetLife does an inadequate job of safeguarding its users, and even creates a false sense of safety in the community—primarily, by preventing identification of abusive members.

 

Just as the rest of society has more openly confronted the ugly reality of rape, the BDSM scene has had to acknowledge that "Safe, Sane, Consensual" is often more of an ideal than reality. In 2011, Kitty Stryker, a blogger and longtime member of the BDSM community, spoke out about having her negotiated boundaries repeatedly violated by people she trusted. This triggered a flood of similar accounts across blogs, message boards, and discussion threads.

 

In 2013, these anecdotes were backed up by a survey by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a group that works for the legal protection of alternative sexual practices. The survey found that 30 percent of people who participated in BDSM had had their pre-negotiated boundaries violated by a partner.

 

Revelations of abuse also frequently surface on FetLife. But these discussions are seriously limited—Fetlife doesn’t allow users to name their abusers. In a 2012 forum thread titled “Confessions: TRIGGER WARNING,” dozens of members accused others of violating their consent, using their FetLife screen names. However, FetLife administrators quickly emailed the user who started the thread, requesting that all usernames be removed. The thread can still be viewed in its anonymized version by registered Fetlife users.

 

Many of the stories shared on FetLife are horrific. One user shared this message from a FetLife admin regarding accusations against a high-ranking community member, whose username is here replaced with [Tribe Leader]:

 

Hi [Poster],

 

My name is Maureen, and I’m writing to let you know that we’ve removed a post you made in your status referring to [Tribe Leader] that said: “[Tribe Leader] has anally raped a person who was bound and gagged and unable to resist” I’m very sorry, but I’m afraid we don’t allow criminal accusations to be made anywhere on Fetlife against another member : (

The frowny face is a nice touch.

 

The policy is clearly laid out in Fetlife’s Terms of Use, which prohibit making “criminal accusations against another member in a public forum.” Whatever the rationale for the policy (FetLife founder John Baku and his staff did not respond to repeated requests for comment), its implications are profound. ...

"Des Moines kink community welcomes 'Fifty Shades'"

on Saturday, 21 February 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Des Moines Register

by Courtney Crowder

" 'Fifty Shades of Grey' came out and we just exploded," said Jay, a founder of local BDSM group Central Iowa Power Exchange (CIPEX) who requested to be referred to by his first name. "We are growing left and right."

 

A pop phenomenon, "Fifty Shades" centers on college student Anastasia Steele and her complicated relationship with Christian Grey, a 27-year-old CEO and kink enthusiast with dominant tendencies. The movie is Fandango's fastest selling R-rated title, according to the company, and the YouTube trailer has been viewed more than 50 million times.

 

"I am expecting to have another big spike (in members) after the movie," Jay said. "When the book came out we were nervous we were going to get men saying 'I'm dominant, bow to my needs,' but we didn't get that. Instead, we got a lot of people who were curious and wanted to learn." ...

Kink defined

 

BDSM is short for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. But tying down what exactly that means is like herding cats. Simply, to those in the BDSM community, it means what you want it to mean.

 

"It's about stimulating other parts of the body and the mind and the heart," said Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group for the kink community. "... For some people, it's not a sexual thing at all. It's a spiritual response, a cathartic response. For other people, it's an endorphin rush, like a runner's high. For other people, though, it's sex and it's how they have sex."

 

For Ms. Robin, domination is about the skill, not the sex. "I, myself, am always clothed," she said of her client sessions.

 

Unlike the popular image of the leather bustier-wearing, stiletto-healed, foul-mouthed dominatrix, Ms. Robin is merely a free-spirited craftswoman. She spent five years apprenticing with dominatrixes across the country before turning pro. Now she speaks at conferences and colleges nationwide.

 

"I'm the most monogamous person, (and) I'm pretty straight-laced in some ways," said Ms. Robin, who lives with a partner. "But I'm very open and accepting of people and their kinks."

 

She was 40 when she entered the BDSM lifestyle. After a divorce, she dated a man who pointed out that her natural sexual penchants were dominatrix-like. She didn't know what the word was, but a quick Internet search introduced her to the culture.

 

Many people come into the kink community in a similar way: Someone tries something, they like it, they seek out people with similar interests.

 

It's like quilting, but with whips. ...

 

"Dear BDSM Community: Your Fifty Shades of Complaining Isn't Productive"

on Saturday, 21 February 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

by Cassie Fuller

As a lifestyle kinkster, educator and founder of Touch of Flavor, I understandably have mixed feelings about Fifty Shades of Grey. But with all the kinksters bashing the books, including here on the Huffington Post, (and here), it would probably surprise you that I think the Fifty Shades franchise has been beneficial, both for the BDSM community and the general population. Why the difference in opinion? Because as an educator, I work with the general public, an entirely different segment of the population than the one most of the professional dominants and submissives providing opinions for these articles deal with.

 

Shortly after Fifty Shades came out, I was having a discussion with Susan Wright from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Susan is a household name in the BDSM community, and has dedicated an enormous amount of her to life fighting for acceptance and freedom for people involved in the BDSM lifestyle. When our discussion turned to the book, she told me: "This is the BDSM communities' Stonewall, and no one even got hurt."

 

That quote has stuck with me because it's true. Like any minority community, the BDSM community has a history of being misunderstood and persecuted. Not so long ago, the only place to meet like-minded people was in back rooms at seedy bars with a referral and a secret knock. Admitting to, or worse yet, indulging in, the kinky fantasies that so many of us have would have resulted in you being ostracized and could have resulted in you losing your job, your children or even being institutionalized or arrested.

 

Nowadays? There's a thriving BDSM community in almost every large metro area. People meet for munches and discussions at restaurants, kink events are booked in upscale hotels and venues catering to kink are operating -- legally -- out in the open. I've been in the community long enough to see much of that change, and while most kinksters will agree that the rise of Internet social networking is largely responsible for our community's growth, surprisingly few are willing to admit that Fifty Shades of Grey has done more for our acceptance in the mainstream than any other single factor.

 

And it's not hard to figure out why. Research has shown that lots of people harbor some fantasies that could be considered kinky. The Fifty Shades franchise gave people who would never have otherwise been exposed to BDSM a framework for those fantasies, and made them realize kink was something they might be interested in. When you have books that have sold over 100 million copies (we're talking Twilight and Harry Potter territory here) and a movie breaking February box office records, it becomes clear that those of us interested in kink aren't a minority at all.

 

And the general public has realized it as well. Kink has become an everyday topic of conversation. Women's Health is giving tips on how to tie up and spank your partner, floggers are popping up at sex stores and on Amazon, we're seeing Dom shirts at our local mall and celebrities being suspended in music videos. Fifty Shades has probably set us ahead ten years in terms of acceptance.

 

The hatred for the franchise from the kink community doesn't surprise me; I understand it. Even though Fifty Shades has given us a huge boost in terms of acceptance, the relationship between the two main characters isn't healthy or an accurate depiction of BDSM. It is fraught with consent and abuse issues; and the impression that you have to have some kind of traumatic background to want to dominate someone isn't true. Like many other kinksters, I'm afraid that those readers with a new found interest in kink will be headed down a dangerous path without further education. ...

"A Parent’s Survival Guide To ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’"

on Thursday, 19 February 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Federalist

By Stella Morabito

Sexual violence against women has never been so mainstreamed as it is now with the hype surrounding the film release of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” based on the bestseller by E. L. James. The publicity campaign is saturating the public square, exposing youth to its hard sell of bondage, domination, and sadomasochism (BDSM). Vacuous celebrities like Kim Kardashian are fawning over its tale of a rich and attractive guy who stalks and targets a vulnerable young woman to be his “submissive.”

 

No doubt hoping to capitalize on the money bonanza, the Vermont Teddy Bear company advertised a “Fifty Shades of Grey” bear for a Valentine’s Day gift. The stuffed animal wears a grey suit and holds a mask and handcuffs. Yeah, cute. Meanwhile, “bondage” and “leather cuffs” were among the tamer words for kids to find in word search puzzles passed out in class to some middle-schoolers in Monessen, Pennsylvania recently.

 

The “Fifty Shades” feeding frenzy is in your face. Go to the grocery store, and you’ll likely see a display stand of paperbacks. Go to a Target store and you can see “Fifty Shades” paraphernalia along open aisles. This, of course, is great news for the BDSM lobby. Its main advocacy group, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, considers the movie its “Stonewall moment” as well as an opportunity to launch a membership drive.

 

But what if you’re a parent concerned about the fallout of the “Fifty Shades” on your children’s health and relationships? You have a friend in Dr. Miriam Grossman, author of “Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student.” She’s a pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist who tracks and analyzes cultural infections like the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon.

 

How to Talk to Your Child about Sado-Masochism

Grossman posted an open letter to youth as well as five installments of A Parent’s Survival Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey on her blog because, in her words, “‘Fifty Shades’ is so extreme, so over the top.”

 

It presents not only the duty to talk to your children about intimacy but the perfect opportunity to discuss a difficult subject like BDSM the next time you see an ad or reference. She appeals: “Moms and dads, guardians and grandparents, I urge you: no matter how awkward it is, you must speak to your children about intimacy – what it is, and what it is not. I’m talking not only about teens, but also tweens who are mature, or who hang out with teens.”

 

I’d only add: Damn any teen eye-rolling! Full speed ahead!

 

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Teaches that Humiliation Is Erotic

Grossman begins by noting that in her decades of counseling teens and young adults, their number one problem is figuring out romance. They are “utterly lost,” and ask questions like: “What do I want, and how do I get it? How do I deal with peer pressure and navigate the hook-up culture? Are there consequences to sex, or is it just about fun? What’s normal? What’s not?”

 

Fifty Shades of Grey teaches your daughter that pain and humiliation are erotic, and your son, that girls want a guy who controls, intimidates and threatens. In short, the film portrays emotional and physical abuse as sexually arousing to both parties. ...

"Therapy, ‘50 Shades of Grey’ Style"

on Tuesday, 17 February 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

OZY

BY NATHAN SIEGEL

You go to a therapist. You dump all your neuroses out. The therapist prescribes antidepressants against your will, tries to get your children taken away from you and reaches for the phone to call the cops.

 

Probably not what you bargained for. But it’s just one of the stories Charley Ferrer has heard from a client who told a past therapist she loved being whipped. Ferrer is a sex therapist and psychologist who specializes in clients who prefer so-called kinky sex, which essentially means unconventional sex practices. Ferrer’s particular focus is on people who engage in BDSM, or bondage/discipline, domination/submission, sadomasochism — think whips, blindfolds, paddles, cuffs and more. “It’s my job to help people accept themselves,” says Ferrer.

 

Turns out, a huge chunk of the population is kinky. A 2005 Durex survey reported that 36 percent of Americans used masks, blindfolds or bondage during sex, and the more than 3 million users on Fetlife.com, a social network for kinky people, is a good indicator of how widespread kink is. What’s more, observers have seen an uptick in both therapists and clients — Ferrer’s have tripled in a few years.

 

But therapists with kink know-how are hard to come by — there are only 1,500 listed in the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom’s Kink-Aware Professional Directory — meaning millions are underserved. And those who practice it say this community in particular needs access to therapy: Stigma is still widespread, and past traumas can emerge during BDSM sex. Ferrer recalls clients breaking down when a suppressed experience came rushing back after a flogging session. The trauma could be the result of child/domestic abuse or even something seemingly unrelated. Other times, therapists have to help clients whose fetish is taking over their lives moderate their extracurricular activities. Plus, the overall social stigma can cause people to second-guess what they find attractive and develop anxiety or depression, says Dr. Randy Carrin, a Connecticut-based clinical psychologist. ...

 

As the community steps out of the shadows, “an explosion” of Ferrer-types will soon come around, predicts Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom , an advocacy group for alternative-sex practitioners. Indeed, post-Fifty Shades of Grey,  the public conception of whips and cuffs is changing: Until 2013, the American Psychological Association considered people mentally ill if they fantasized about or were voluntarily “humiliated, beaten, bound or otherwise made to suffer.” The new definitions undid that, opening the door for more Ferrers to abound. But the APA says it has no “official recommendations” on how treatment for kinky people should change.

 

We’ll see how many more clients step through Ferrer’s door now that Fifty Shades has hit theaters.

"Beyond 50 Shades Of Grey: Are Kink And BDSM Following In The Footsteps Of The LGBTQ Movement?"

on Monday, 16 February 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Collectivity

by Lindsay Schrupp

I watched 50 Shades of Grey last night, and all I could think about through that long, sloppy, and ultimately failed orgasm was Gigli.

Oh, you remember Gigli. How could anyone forget Ben Affleck as a disgruntled hornball in a leather jacket who holds hostage and verbally abuses a differently-abled man? Or Jennifer Lopez as the lesbian turned straight by Affleck? That one is seared into our collective memory forever.

Unsurprisingly, Gigli walked straight into a Sandlot-style smack-down of criticism following its release, including disapproval of its anachronistic plot device of 'curing' a gay person into becoming straight. People were like, "It's 2003! We know Mel Gibson just won a People's Choice Award so no one is going to look back on this year as a landmark time for progress, but… seriously?"

Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic romance novel by E. L. James that originated as fan fiction for Twilight enthusiasts, is now bringing its Gigli-inspired non-conventional sex shaming bullshit back to the big screen. Just in time for V-Day.

Mr. Grey Just Up And Decided To See You Now

50 Shades tells the story of Laney Boggs from She's All That, err... I mean the young, white, ponytailed virgin known as Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson), who falls in love with the closeted BDSM practitioner, Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan). Christian has a 'damaged' past that leads him deep into the Conradian heart of kinky darkness with a Regis Philbin haircut to boot. The story revolves around Anastasia's descent into Christian's kinky underworld, with her playing the Submissive and Christian as the Dominant. Throughout the film, Anastasia works ridiculously hard to 'cure' Christian of his interest in kink through a combination of dopey eyes, sad faces, and compelling arguments, like "can't you just not?"

Now, pretend you've never heard of 50 Shades for a moment. Journey deep, deep down into the recesses of your televised memory (if you hit Cool As Ice you've gone too far-- get outta there). Try to picture the last BDSM practitioner you've seen characterized on screen. It's probably not an Oscar-worthy moment.

"Kinky people are really discriminated against because of the misconceptions out there," said Susan Wright, spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), over the phone. "We were considered mentally ill. We had to fight that misconception."

NCSF has been leading the charge for years to dispel that myth that kinky people are mentally-ill or somehow damaged. "Millions of people do this," said Wright. "Some people are just wired to like intense sensation. Some people like extreme sports and some like extreme sex. Look at Christian Grey—he had a hard life, right? 50 Shades really repeats that tired old stereotype. But that's the romance novel trope; the wounded hero has to be saved."

50 Shades might be able to play the "romance novel trope" card to get away with advancing the denigrative stereotype that an interest in BDSM, kink or fetishes is derivative of childhood abuse or qualifies someone as mentally-ill, but really this misconception is much bigger than one giant ejaculation of box-office garbage. It speaks to a larger issue of oppression and vilification of non-normative sexual expression by larger social and political structures, including psychiatric and medical institutions, mainstream media and pop culture.

In a 2008 survey conducted by NCSF, 26 percent of nearly 3,000 kinky people reported being discriminated against because their SM, leather or kink fetish or perceived fetish. Six percent reported a loss of child custody, 20 percent reported a loss of job or contract, and an additional 13 percent reported a loss of promotion or demotion due to their sexual expression or a perception thereof. NCSF hit a landmark moment in 2010 when the American Psychiatric Association agreed to change the diagnostic codes for BDSM, fetishism, and transvestic fetishism in the revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for 2013. This pathology had real repercussions for kinky people--particularly when used in court battles over child custody.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. NCSF is up against a battle that LGBT and queer activists have been fighting for decades. In fact, it wasn't until 1974 that the listing of homosexuality as a mental disorder was removed from the DSM-II, and only to be replaced by ego-dystonic homosexuality until its removal in 1987. ...

"25 Facts About BDSM That You Won’t Learn In “Fifty Shades Of Grey”"

on Sunday, 15 February 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey. Here’s your real primer on all things kink.

Buzzfeed

by Casey Gueren

1. First things first: Here’s what BDSM actually stands for:

 

BDSM includes bondage and discipline (B&D), dominance and submission (D&S), and sadism & masochism (S&M). The terms are lumped together that way because BDSM can be a lot of different things to different people with different preferences, BDSM writer and educator Clarisse Thorn, author of The S&M Feminist, tells BuzzFeed Life. Most of the time, a person’s interests fall into one or two of those categories, rather than all of them.

 

2. It doesn’t always involve sex, but it can.

 

Most people think BDSM is always tied to sex, and while it can be for some people, others draw a hard line between the two. “Both are bodily experiences that are very intense and sensual and cause a lot of very strong feelings in people who practice them, but they’re not the same thing,” says Thorn. The metaphor she uses for it: a massage. Sometimes a massage, however sensual it feels, is just a massage. For others, a rubdown pretty much always leads to sex. It’s kind of similar with BDSM; it’s a matter of personal and sexual preference.

3. There is nothing inherently wrong or damaged with people if they’re into it.

 

This is one of the most common and frustrating misconceptions about BDSM, says Thorn. BDSM isn’t something that emerges from abuse or domestic violence, and engaging in it does not mean that you enjoy abuse or abusing.

 

Instead, enjoying BDSM is just one facet of someone’s sexuality and lifestyle. “It’s just regular people who happen to get off that way,” sex expert Gloria Brame, Ph.D., author of Different Loving, tells BuzzFeed Life. “It’s your neighbors and your teachers and the people bagging your groceries. The biggest myth is that you need this special set of circumstances. It’s regular people who have a need for that to be their intimate dynamic.” ...

 

24. There is an immensely helpful list of kink-aware professionals so you can find a doctor or therapist who uniquely understands your lifestyle.

 

Maybe you’re worried that your gynecologist or your lawyer won’t be sensitive to your lifestyle or doesn’t allow you to feel comfortable talking about it. Check out the Kink Aware Professionals Directory from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom to find someone who will be more accepting. ...

 

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