"50 shades of legal grey areas"
The Duke Chronicle
While tabling for my group, Alternative Sexualities at Duke, I had a conversation with a friend about sexual identity. “What is the purpose of your group?” they asked me, wondering what we covered that the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity did not. I told them that the purpose was to provide a safe space for people who identify as sex-positive, polyamorous or kinky to discuss their sexual orientation. They looked at me, confused. “Is that a sexual orientation?”
LGBTQIA. That’s an important acronym, and a huge focus of attention in the media today. But most people are unaware that there are sex-positive, polyamorous and kinky communities, and they often face discrimination and legal issues. Let’s start with sex-positivity.
“It’s the cultural philosophy that understands sexuality as a potentially positive force in one’s life, and it can, of course, be contrasted with sex-negativity, which sees sex as problematic, disruptive, dangerous. Sex-positivity allows for and in fact celebrates sexual diversity, differing desires and relationships structures, and individual choices based on consent.”
The discrimination associated with sex-positivity is, unfortunately, usually aimed at young women. In popular culture, sex negativity is commonly manifested as “slut-shaming,” the act of creating a double standard by condemning the actual or presumed sexual behavior of women. But it extends further than that. A sex-negative culture exists and is endemic in many American institutions, particularly in advertising. The sex-positive community is one that promotes sexual equality for men, women and intersex people. But it’s not just an abstract community and it’s not a theoretical, sexually utopian society that exists in a sexological cloud. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom exists to promote sex positivity and sexual freedom, and there are events all over the world that cater to people who identify as being sex-positive.
Polyamory is extremely difficult to describe, because it takes so many different forms. Morethantwo.com defines polyamory as,
“…the non-possessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time.”
Many people confuse polyamorous relationships with open relationships, but they’re very different. An open relationship is typically based around the idea that sexual exploration and self-discovery should not be inhibited by the confines of a traditional two-person relationship. Polyamory is much more than that. It can be two guys and a girl, it can be two girls and a guy, it can be three guys, three girls or a few genderless folks. There are, however, some legal issues that arise, because polyamory is not traditional and thus not fully accounted for legally. Before you get your panties in a bunch, allow me to point out that polyamory is not like the show "Sister Wives." Consenting adults, who all love each other and want to be together, enter into polyamorous relationships.
PsychologyToday lists the greatest issues facing polyamorists as child custody, corporate morality clauses that often result in job termination, housing and state law. Only two parents can be the legal guardians of a child. A person can be fired from their job if their employer views their polyamorous relationship as immoral. Housing regulations often prohibit so many adults living under one roof. Simply crossing state lines can make some marriages illegitimate, which leads to issues in respect to Power of Attorney. If you’re in a polyamorous triad, and you’re lying in a hospital bed, shouldn’t both of your spouses be allowed to visit you? It may seem like a far-fetched scenario, but many polyamorists feel they do not reserve the same rights as many Americans.
The kink community is perhaps one of the most highly stigmatized alternative communities, although the popularity of the "50 Shades of Grey" series has helped bring the community into the light. Many people found the sexual practices described in those books to be arousing, and perhaps a magnified version of many sexual practices common to “vanilla” couples, or couples that aren’t kinky. Those furry handcuffs? They might just be your introduction into the world of BDSM—Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission and Sadism & Masochism.
It seems harmless, right? Consenting adults should be allowed to engage in sexual acts that the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom describes as “safe, sane, and consensual.” ...