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Is SM Sexual Orientation or Behavior

SM is a sexual orientation or behavior among two or more adult partners. The behavior may include, but is not limited to, the use of physical and/or psychological stimulation to produce sexual arousal and satisfaction. Usually one partner will take an active role (top or dominant) and the other will take a passive role (bottom or submissive). SM practitioners can be heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, transgendered or intersex individuals.

 
SM is not easily defined; the range of behaviors are quite broad and most participants do not enjoy all of the activities or roles. The problems with the definition are discussed at length in an article by Weinberg, Williams and Moser. They found five features present in most SM interactions they studied:
  • Dominance and submission - the appearance of rule and obedience of one partner over the other
  • Consensuality - a voluntary agreement to enter into SM "play" (interaction) and to honor certain "limits" (ground rules of how involved and in which direction the play can proceed);
  • Sexual content - the presumption that the activities have a sexual or erotic meaning;
  • Mutual definition - the assumption of a shared understanding by the participants that their activities are SM or a similar concept;
  • Role playing - the participants assume roles either for the interaction or for the relationship that they recognize are not reality.
 Weinberg, M.S., Williams, C.J., & Moser, C.A. (1984). "The social constituents of sadomasochism." Social Problems, 31, pg. 379-389.
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Consent Counts: We're Making a Difference

  • Completed Federal and State Legal Research
  • Developed Educational Programs and Outreach Materials
  • Built Alliances With Sexual Freedom Advocacy Groups

About Consent Counts

NCSF is leading a major national campaign—Consent Counts—to change the laws and police practices that our communities now endure, and to establish that consent is available as a defense in criminal BDSM prosecutions.

  • BDSM is prosecuted as assault in the U.S., even when it is consensual.
  • No state or appellate court has allowed consent as a defense to assault in BDSM cases.
  • Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM.
 
Program Goals:
Consent Counts
is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM through education, advocacy, legal actions and lobbying.

 

Contact:
Judy Guerin
Director, Consent Counts 
 
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