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My relationship with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) began like many others do. I was neck deep in a conflict that was based in my free expression of my sexuality through my writing. I was asked to leave my teaching position, an agreement was reached and I left quietly without creating a scene. I used to teach in a small, private school in North Carolina, where my daughter also attended school. When I left my teaching position I was assured that it would not affect her last and final year of middle school.
Months passed, and we were within days of her returning to the 8th grade when I received a call from the Head of School that he had decided to rescind his offer to allow her to go to school there. After heated debate, he agreed that she could attend school, but if and only if I could secure a $1,000.00 expense fee to cover her field trips and lunches in advance. It was a bullshit fee, to be honest. It’s not required of any other parent. He knew that we would not be able to come up with $1,000 in a matter of days. This was his way of keeping her out without risking litigation.
So I wondered what led this man, elder in his church, who had given me his word that my child would be unaffected, to suddenly revoke something that we had agreed upon? He said that based on an email to my husband, he had changed his mind. I looked at Marky, while still on the phone, and asked, “Did you exchange any emails in the last month with the school?” Of course he had not. Well the school made a terrible error. They contacted my ex-husband, not my husband. They contacted someone who has no legal custody of our daughter, and based on that conversation had decided that I would no longer be welcome in the parent community.
This happened, I’m sure by no coincidence, at the same time that I received threatening emails from my ex-husband, who suggested that due to my deviant behavior she should come to live with him.
I reacted immediately. First, I raised the money in a raffle that was initially supported by Lochai and quickly built into a huge CommUNITY movement of kinksters who were outraged. Secondly, I contact NCSF and accessed professional advice and consultations through their Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) listing. With the help of the community and the NCSF I felt prepared for battle.
Now, coming full circle, I am honored that my PR firm, Quid Pro Quo, will be working with NCSF on the launching of a new blog. We are doing the work pro-bono to show NCSF our appreciation and to give back to an organization that protects all of us. It feels really great to be in a position to give back. So do us a favor and help us help them. We’ll be asking people to re-post and tweet links and I hope you’ll consider it your way of giving back to such an amazing organization.
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Every year, NCSF helps hundreds of people, events, groups and businesses that are being persecuted for their association with the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities.
NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing, and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please contact NCSF for assistance.
The following are statements from events, businesses and individuals NCSF has helped.
There are many ways you can make a difference - both on your own and in conjunction with NCSF:
by Female Trouble
Within the womenâs community, over half (56%) of the 539 lesbian and bisexual women surveyed experienced discrimination, harassment, or physical assault from other women because of their participation in consensual s/m. This survey only dealt with the discrimination or violence occurring within the lesbian community against S/M women.
Harassment is the most common form of attack against s/m practitioners in the lesbian community. 44% of the S/M women reported some form of violence against them, with one-third of the reported incidents of harassment had occurred in the last year (1993).
30% of the S/M women in the survey experienced discrimination in the lesbian community because of their s/m orientation. This discrimination included being refused membership or being ejected from social, recreational, political, education, spiritual groups within the lesbian community.
Incidents of physical assault in the lesbian community because of S/M orientation were reported by 25% of the women. This includes being slapped, punched or kicked by other women because of their s/m orientation.
Of the 367 s/m women who were victims and/or witnesses of violence at some point in their lives, only 22% felt safe enough to report the incidents to police or event organizers, group leaders, bar staff, etc. Only 25% stated that their complaints had been handled satisfactorily. This reputation within the lesbian community for not supporting victims of violence, harassment and discrimination prevents s/m women from fully participating in the community.
In the forward of the Female Trouble analysis, Jad Keres writes: "The S/M women who have taken part in this survey have something important to tell us. Listening to them does not require an understanding of their sexual expression nor approval of their lifestyle. It does require a willingness to still the persistent noise of hard-held opinions and unyielding dogma. As a community, will we finally allow the voices of all women to be heard and heard consistently or will we continue to blatantly censor and dismiss the lives of women we do not understand or approve of? As a community, will we finally acknowledge and stop the political violence that has preyed upon S/M women or will we continue to ignore the real bloody consequences of the 'Sex Wars'?"
Female Trouble, PO Box 30145, Philadelphia PA 19103
A detailed look at this effective technique to get your point across.
Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds or quoted once or twice in a newspaper. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media about your event or local group.
You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.
People involved in swinging in general are better educated about safe sex and sexual responsibility. Often these social events have educational components about consent, communication, as well as safe sex education.
Millions of Americans are looking for a way to add a bit more spice to their sex life. The Lifestyle can be a consensual, safe, and fun way to strengthen and build healthy, caring relationships.
Most adults who engage in swinging keep their sexual practices private. Unfortunately these people have experienced persecution, and even discrimination and child custody challenges because of the way they express their sexuality.
The fact is that millions of Americans engage in swinging, and it is National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's mission to make sure that they can do so, without fear of harassment, violence, or discrimination.
You really have to wonder what motivates people who would go to such extraordinary lengths to sensationalize someone else's private life. It's obvious that sex makes some people uncomfortable, and we think that these people should deal with their own issues.
As long as it's consenting adults in a private space, it is no one else's business.
This is not about sex, this is about a threat to our most basic constitutional rights - freedom of assembly and the right to privacy. (The 1st and 9th Amendments - the 9th grants freedom not specified, and numerous court cases in the past 40 years, including Lawrence v. Texas have confirmed an individual's right to privacy)
If one group can shut down a private, legal event because they disagree with it, then everyone should be concerned about who is targeted next. Will it be a political convention? A religious gathering? As we've seen throughout history, when you start violating one group's constitutional rights, it can become a very slippery slope
Everyone should be concerned about attacks on people's personal lifestyle because a small religious organization is using scare tactics to impose its way of thinking on everyone.
Conferences like these are held every weekend in communities around the country without any incidents. Clubs like these are legally located in communities around the country.
Swing conferences and events are run by local people. The guests are your neighbors and your co-workers. They are mothers and fathers.
Swing conferences/clubs are legal. They are private. They are for adults only.
Swinging is the complete opposite of irresponsible promiscuity. The Lifestyle involves couples consensually sharing playful, loving life experiences--sexual and otherwise.
Research shows that most Americans support privacy rights for consenting adults to choose and practice safe, sane and consensual sexual loving relationships, regardless of marital status.
Of course many people prefer monogamy and aren't interested in developing intimate relationships with more than one person. Swingers aren't trying to convert anyone. We are adults living our lives how we choose, and no one has the right to dictate our personal choices.
People involved in swinging tend to get a lot of experience with communicating their desires, feelings, and boundaries. It's well-established that good communication builds healthy relationships.
The Lifestyle can meet more of one's emotional, intellectual, and sexual needs through accepting that one person cannot provide everything.
Positive elements to swinging: increased personal freedom; greater depth to social relationships; the potential for sexual exploration in a non-judgmental setting; a strengthening of spousal bonds; a sense of being desired; a feeling of belongingness; added companionship; a greater abundance of love; increased self-awareness; intellectual variety; and the chance for new aspects of personality to emerge through relating to more people.
People who decide to open their relationship to include others must be secure in the strength of their partnership bond, and comfortable in developing relationships with new people.
Jealousy is a natural emotion and is a signal that additional communication and negotiation must occur in order to keep the relationship healthy.
Bergstrand, Curtis and Jennifer B. Williams, "Today's Alternate Marriage Styles: The Case of Swingers,"
The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality October 10, 2000.
Jenks, Richard J., "Swinging: A Review of the Literature,"
Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1998, 27:5, p 507.
A detailed look at this effective technique to get your point across to the media.
Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds, which is usually one or two of your sound bites. Or you get one quote in an article. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media on local issues.
You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.
Safe, Sane and Consensual
This is a must! Say it over and over and over like a mantra. "Over fifteen years ago, a community-wide ethic was established known as "safe, sane and consensual". This credo has permeated SM literature and lore far beyond the subculture of the organized community." Or "We constantly discuss issues of consent, which are the basis of safe, sane and consensual sexual education."
If They Want Specific Definitions:
The Need for Educational and Social SM Gatherings
It's important to emphasize the contributions our educational and social groups make to society. We teach people how to do SM safely and consensually, and that takes hands-on instruction and community discussion. Say, "Our group has existed for 10 years as an educational and social group, teaching people how to do SM safely and consensually." Say, "Our group is only one of over 500 educational and social organizations that exist in America for SM-Leather-Fetish practitioners." Or "Like the gay and lesbian community in the 1960's, the people in our community feel very alone and isolated. We provide a place for them where they can get the support of their peers, where they don't have to be ashamed or afraid of who they are."
Say, "Safewords are key to consensual sexual activities." "The participants can stop what's happening at any time with a pre-arranged word, or by saying safeword."
Communication and Negotiation
Say, "We negotiate before engaging in SM or fetish practices to make sure that what we do is fun for both of us." Or "People who play together must learn how to communicate exactly what we want"
Sensual, Loving Sexual Expression
Emphasize that SM is done between loving, communicative partners. It is mutually pleasurable for all involved. SM is stimulation that is often perceived in a sexual way. Stimulation is a great word to use--it is clear and non-threatening unlike "flogging" or "spanking" etc.
Defining SM, Dominance & Submission and Bondage
Stay away from going into an SM 101 and don't give any lessons on technique. The most effective soundbites talk about issues of discrimination and injustice against our communities. If they ask, what exactly is SM? You say, "SM is sensory stimulation, either physical or mental, that is interpreted as pleasure." Please try to get the reporter to write SM, not S&M - that evokes the old stereotypes and we are trying to get around that. S&M stands for sadism & masochism while SM stands for sadomasochism; inherent in the word is the mutual necessity for both as well as the consent involved.
Statistics of Practitioners
According to the 1990 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, released by St. Martin's Press:
"Researchers estimate that 5 percent to 10 percent of the U.S. population engages in diverse sexual practices for sexual pleasure on at least an occasional basis, with most incidents being either mild or staged activities involving no real pain or violence." That would bring the number of practitioners into the millions, with many, many more who do things like love bites or holding their lover's hands down. Say "Most are just like your neighbors, doctor, bus driver, even your sister or uncle. There are probably 1 in 10 people in your office who practice SM as a loving form of sexual expression."
Say, "Contrary to stereotypes, there are many women who enjoy being sexually dominant, and many more people who enjoy switching roles." Or, "People can roleplay with roles and experience things they normally wouldn't get to do in their real life."
Discrimination and Violence
This one is also extremely important because most people don't realize how much we are attacked and closeted because of our sexual expression. "Discrimination and violence happens every day to people like you and me just because they engage in diverse sexual practices such as SM or fetishes. Discrimination ranges from family pressures, to job loss, to loss of child custody." Or "The NCSF Violence & Discrimination Survey 1998 found that 1/3 of over 1000 people surveyed suffered some form of discrimination or persecution--losing their job or even their children because of the myths and stereotypes of SM. Another 36% suffered violence--were physically attacked--because of the stereotypes about SM." Or "According to the NCSF survey, 4/5ths of the people surveyed are closeted to the rest of the world out of fear of serious repercussions."
SM Practitioners Are Not Sick
In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association changed its medical definition of SM in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM 4) so that it is no longer automatically defined as a mental illness. Say "As long as a person's SM practices don't interfere with their day-to-day life, it's considered to be a healthy form of sexual expression."
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom does media advocacy for the millions of Americans who suffer discrimination and persecution because of their normal interest in some form of alternative sexual expression, such as SM, fetishes, polyamory, and swinging. A great deal of the bigotry against sexual minorities occurs because of a lack of information and the resulting negative depiction by the media. We offer resources for both the media and the alternative sexual expression communities.
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.