Is kinky sex on the curriculum at Harvard now?
Earlier this month, Harvard University formally recognized a student-run BDSM group (short for bondage, domination, and sadomasochism). Now, in addition to the French Club and the Mathematica Club, and about 400 other student groups, freshmen at this Ivy League university can sign up for kinky sex.
As it turns out, Harvard is not at all the first university to approve such a group.
That honor belongs to Columbia University’s Conversio Virium (Latin for “exchange of forces”), which in 1992 was the first such university-recognized in the country. In 2003,the Iowa State University student body founded Cuffs, a college student group that teaches about bondage and other sexual fetishes, while Vassar College has the Sex Avengers, which holds an annual “Masturbate-a-thon.”
But while a few clubs have existed previously, it seems that the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” has promoted many more.
From New York Observer:
The popularity of 50 Shades of Grey has accelerated a mainstreaming of the BDSM subculture already underway—the initials stand for bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism—and the trend has been especially pronounced in our more elite institutions of higher learning. Columbia has a BDSM group. So do Tufts, MIT, Yale and the University of Chicago. Brown, UPenn and Cornell have hosted BDSM educators for on-campus seminars entitled “The Freedom of Kink” and “Kink for All.” It looks like conservatives who have long viewed the Ivy League a bastion of depravity may have a point after all.
Harvard College Munch is the name of this latest addition; in case you’re wondering, the term “munch” is simply an amalgamation of “lunch” and “meeting.” Apparently the word comes from the 1980s: at that time some S & M enthusiasts used to meet at a restaurant in Palo Alto to discuss their proclivities for bondage, spanking, and leather goods. Since that time, munches have become synonymous with BDSM clubs.
But there is a downside.
From New York Observer:
While the scene’s mantra—“safe, sane and consensual”—is heard so often it might as well be translated into needlepoint, violations of these maxims are common. In the last year, hundreds of people have come forward to describe the abuse they’ve suffered within the scene. The victims are mostly women, and like 50 Shades’ fictional 22-year-old Anastasia Steele, many are also young, submissive and uncertain about their boundaries.
As word has spread about the number of abuses and violations of consent that have happened, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) decided to launch a survey.
“We haven’t closed it yet, but so far we have 5,000 responses, and over 30 percent of them had have their previously negotiated limit violated, which I think is horrific,” spokesperson Susan Wright told New York Observer. “There is still confusion between consensual BDSM and assault.”
As part of the survey, NCSF asks respondents to define what they mean by mutual consent, and to state whether “safe, sane, consensual” are adequate terms. The group also asks: “Are there behaviors that the BDSM communities don’t accept?” “What is your experience with consent in the BDSM communities?”
BDSM clubs are a good thing as long as this means providing safe spaces for students to explore alternative sexuality, but clear rules on what “consent” means need to be in place.
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