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Wednesday, 03 September 2008 08:37

DSM Revision White Paper

NCSF and the NCSF Foundation's position on the discriminatory paraphilias section in the DSM.

Because the scientific evidence contradicts the statements currently within the DSM, we must conclude that the interpretation of the Paraphilias criteria has been politically NOT scientifically based. This politically motivated interpretation subjects BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We call on the American Psychiatric Association to remove or drastically restructure the Paraphilias section in the DSM.

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) is the definitive resource on the Diagnostic Criteria for all mental disorders. It influences the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD) and other entities throughout the world.

The DSM-IV-TR definition of a mental disorder is that it is "…a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering, death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom… Neither deviant behavior (e.g. political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders…" (p. xxxi)

Yet the Paraphilias section categorizes distress and dysfunction according to certain sexual behaviors, not psychological syndromes or patterns. Behavior itself is not evidence of psychopathology; compulsive hand washing may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it is not a hand-washing disorder.

A distinction must be made between the cause and the effect. There is no data to support the Paraphilias as the cause of the distress and dysfunction in individuals. In addition, discrimination and societal pressure cause significant distress for a great number of people, in which the societal stigma is the cause rather than the sexual behavior itself.

There are no clear guidelines in the DSM that distinguish a Paraphilia from "healthy" sexuality. Can paraphiliacs be distinguished from those with "healthy" sexuality, except by differences in their sexual behavior? If yes, how? Can someone prefer those exact same behaviors without meeting the diagnostic criteria? Yes, according to the DSM itself (p. 568). So why not just define the abnormal preference instead of the behavior? Diagnostic criteria that pathologize everyone and do not distinguish pathology from normal variants are useless as diagnostic tools.

The Differential Diagnosis of the Paraphilias states:

"A Paraphilia must be distinguished from the non-pathological use of sexual fantasies, behaviors, or objects as a stimulus for sexual excitement in individuals without a Paraphilia. Fantasies, behaviors, or objects are paraphilic only when they lead to clinically significant distress or impairment (e.g., are obligatory, result in sexual dysfunction, require participation of nonconsenting individuals, lead to legal complications, interfere in social relationships). (DSM, p. 568)

Let's examine each of these "indicators" of psychopathology more carefully:

1. Obligatory
Heterosexual behavior is considered "obligatory" by heterosexuals, just as homosexual behaviors are considered "obligatory" by homosexuals. Neither is considered to be a psychopathology like Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism and Transvestic Fetishism.

2. Result in sexual dysfunction
43% of women and 31% of men report sexual dysfunction (Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999). Yet the DSM does not contain a diagnosis for people having difficulty with heterosexual interests such as divorce, sexual harassment, not being able to maintain their erotic attraction to their partner, not having enough sex, or not being able to find a relationship. There is no causation data that finds that being heterosexual causes dysfunction, only correlation. There is also no data indicating if sexual dysfunction is more common among heterosexuals than others.

Any sex can be problematic. Masturbation, oral sex and anal sex were once considered to be mental disorders or symptoms of other mental disorders until these behaviors became an accepted form of sexuality. Nymphomania, Satyriasias, and Erotomania are also no longer considered to be mental disorders because these diagnoses impose a cultural value judgment on sexual behavior, rather than comprising a diagnosable entity.

3. Require participation of nonconsenting individuals
Sexual assault is a crime, not a psychiatric diagnosis. Rape is not listed in the DSM. Why do other nonconsensual sex interests have a diagnosis? For Exhibitionism, Frotteurism, and Voyeurism, the diagnosis can only be made if the partner or other person has not consented to the activity. Sadomasochism without consent is a crime; if the behavior is consensual, then it should be considered the same as any other consensual sex act. Pedophilia is a crime because it involves sexual relations between adults and minors.

4. Leads to legal complications
There are a number of legal complications that can arise from consensual sexual behaviors: child custody disputes, divorce settlements, arrest for obscenity and indecency, etc. Historically homosexuals have broken laws and suffered severe social consequences due to their sexual behavior. On this basis some states denied homosexuals the right to adopt because they were breaking the law in their sexual relations. It wasn't until the abolition of state sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that homosexual activities became legal throughout the U.S. Yet the DSM removed homosexuality as a diagnosis over 30 years ago.

5. Interferes with social relationships
Discrimination and societal pressure over certain sexual behaviors can lead to a great deal of distress and dysfunction. The individual internalizes societal values, creating a conflict between themselves and society. They can encounter prejudice from friends, relatives, partners and co-workers because of their sexual behaviors. This doesn't mean that the individual has a mental disorder. In addition, therapists' beliefs, socialization, and theoretical perspectives will likely affect their judgments of sexual behaviors when they are asked to treat this distress. Thus the Paraphilias are a diagnosis of social/sexual control.

What scientific data supports the diagnoses in the Paraphilias section?

According to the APA, "The utility and credibility [of the DSM]… require that it… be supported by an extensive empirical foundation." (p. xxiii) The DSM-IV-TR's own revision standards are:

  • "to correct any factual errors…"
  • "to ensure that all of the information is up-to-date…"
  • "to reflect new information available…"
  • "changes had to be supported by empirical data." (p. xxix)

 

The data in the DSM Paraphilias section is not supported by scientific research:

1. Paraphilias
According to the DSM: "The individual Paraphilias can be distinguished based on difference in the characteristic paraphilic focus. However, if the individual's sexual preferences meet criteria for more than one Paraphilia, all can be diagnosed." (p. 569)

“Unusual” sexual interests are commonly found in the general population (Renaud & Byers, 1999; Sue, 1979)

"There is no empirical research suggesting that even those 'appropriately' (according to the DSM criteria) diagnosed with Sexual Sadism or Sexual Masochism are likely to experience either a dangerous increase in the intensity of their SM interactions nor that Pedophilia is a likely outgrowth of these activities." (Klein & Moser, p. 238)

According to the DSM: "Many individuals with these disorders assert that the behavior causes them no distress and that their only problem is social dysfunction as a result of the reaction of others to their behavior. Others report extreme guilt, shame, and depression at having to engage in an unusual sexual activity that is socially unacceptable or that they regard as immoral." (p. 567)

"Four out of five are satisfied with their S/M orientation." (Levitt et al. p. 472)

According to the DSM: "The behaviors may increase in response to psychosocial stressors, in relation to other mental disorders, or with increased opportunity to engage in the Paraphilia." (p. 568)

"The non-clinical studies of individuals with unusual sexual interests demonstrate that these individuals are indistinguishable from those with 'normophilic' (i.e., conventional) sexual interests." (Moser & Kleinplatz, 2003, p. 96)

2. Sexual Sadism
According to the DSM: "Some individuals with this Paraphilia are bothered by their sadistic fantasies, which may be invoked during sexual activities but not otherwise acted on; in such cases the sadistic fantasies usually involve having complete control over the victim, who is terrified by anticipation of the impending sadistic act. Others act on the sadistic sexual urges with a consenting partner (who may have Sexual Masochism) who willingly suffers pain or humiliation. Still others with Sexual Sadism act on their sadistic sexual urges with nonconsenting victims." (p. 573)

"The data suggest that the majority of rapists are not motivated by sadism." (Groth & Hobson, 1983; Hucker, 1997).

According to the DSM: "Sadistic fantasies or acts may involve activities that indicate the dominance of the person over the victim (e.g., forcing the victim to crawl or keeping the victim in a cage). They may also involve restraint, blindfolding, paddling, spanking, whipping, pinching, beating, burning, electrical shocks, rape, cutting, stabbing, strangulation, torture, mutilation, or killing." (DSM, p. 573)

"The inclusion of nonconsent is especially problematic in the case of Sexual Sadism. Although it is clearly possible for an individual with the diagnosis of Sexual Sadism to engage in nonconsensual acts, most “sadists” do not seek non-consenting partners." (Moser, 1999; Weinberg, Williams, & Moser, 1984)

"Just as it is inappropriate to confuse rapists with those individuals interested in consensual sexual activities, the lumping of individuals interested in consensual sexual sadism with those who engage in non-consensual activities is similarly inappropriate." (McConaghy, 1999)

According to the DSM: "Sadistic or masochist behaviors may lead to injuries ranging in extent from minor to life threatening." (DSM, p. 567)

"Although any sexual activity can lead to injury, there is no data to suggest that the practitioners of “sadistic or masochistic behaviors” frequent emergency departments more often than practitioners of other sexual behaviors. A review of the sports medicine and emergency medicine literature reveals numerous studies of specific injuries related to various sports and other activities. If unusual sexual acts resulted in a significant number of injuries, presumably they, too, would appear prominently in the medical literature." (Moser & Kleinplatz, 2005)

3. Sexual Masochism
According to the DSM: "Except for Sexual Masochism, where the sex ratio is estimated to be 20 males for each female, the other Paraphilias are almost never diagnosed in females, although some cases have been reported." (p. 568)

No studies have been found to support the 20:1 statement. Several studies were found that reported a significant number of women in the SM subculture (Breslow, Evans, & Langley, 1985; Gosselin, Wilson, & Barrett, 1991; Levitt, Moser, & Jamison, 1994). By combining the data of Breslow et al. (1985) and Levitt et al. (1994), a ratio of four male masochists to each female masochist was found. Even if clinical samples are overwhelmingly male, no study supports the naming of a specific ratio.

According to the DSM: "One particularly dangerous form of Sexual Masochism, called "hypoxyphilia," involves sexual arousal by oxygen deprivation obtained by means of chest compression, noose, ligature, plastic bag, mask or chemical (often a volatile nitrite that produces a temporary decrease in brain oxygenation by peripheral vasodilation). (DSM, pp. 572-3)

“In contrast to transvestism, bondage during the fatal asphyxial episode was not differentially associated with any specific erotic object or interest that we examined, even bondage pornography.” (Blanchard and Hucker, 1991, p. 375).

4. Transvestic Fetishism
According to the DSM: "Usually the male with Transvestic Fetishism keeps a collection of female clothes that he intermittently uses to cross-dress. This disorder has been described only in heterosexual males... Although his basic preference is heterosexual, he tends to have few sexual partners and may have engaged in occasional homosexual acts. An associated feature may be the presence of Sexual Masochism." (DSM p. 574)

"Cross-dressers… are virtually indistinguishable from non-cross-dressers [on the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI)]." Brown, et al. (1996, p. 265).

Summary

Because the scientific evidence contradicts the statements currently within the DSM, we must conclude that the interpretation of the Paraphilias criteria has been politically – not scientifically – based. Because of this, BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers are subject to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We call on the American Psychiatric Association to remove or drastically restructure the Paraphilias section in the DSM.

Bibliography

  • Blanchard, R., & Hucker, S.J. (1991). Age, transvestism, bondage, and concurrent paraphilic activities in 117 fatal cases of autoerotic sphyxia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 159:371-377.
  • Breslow, N., Evans, L., & Langley, J. (1986). Comparisons among heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual male sadomasochists. Journal of Homosexuality 12(1), 83-107.
  • Brown, G.R., Wise, T.N., Costa, P.T., Herbst, J.H., Fagan, P.J., & Schmidt, C.W. (1996). Personality characteristics and sexual functioning of 188 cross-dressing men. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 184, 265-273.
  • Groth, N., & Hobson, W. (1983). The dynamics of sexual assault. In L. Schlesinger & E. Revitch (Eds.), Sexual Dynamics of Anti-social Behavior. Springfield, IL: Thomas.
  • Klein, M., & Moser, C. SM (Sadomasochiststic) Interests as an issue in a child custody proceeding. Journal of Homosexuality, 50 (2/3), 2006.
  • Levit, E.E., Moser, C., & Jamison, K.V. (1994). The prevalence and some attributes of females in the sadomasochistic subculture; A second report. Archives of Sexual Behavior 23, 465-473.
  • McConaghy, N. (1999). Unresolved issues in scientific sexology. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 28, 285-302.
  • Moser, C. and Kleinplatz, P.J. (2005). DSM-IV-TR and the paraphilias: An argument for removal, Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 17(3/4), 91-109.
  • Renaud, C., & Byers, E. S. (1999). Exploring the frequency, diversity and content of university students’ positive and negative sexual cognitions. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 8 (1), 17-30.
  • Sue, D. (1979). Erotic fantasies of college students during coitus. Journal of Sex Research, 15, 299-305.
Tuesday, 21 August 2007 09:50

10th Anniversary Historical Perspective

     See what NCSF's CP groups *really* think about NCSF....

 

HISTORICAL  RETROSPECTIVE

THE COALITION PARTNER  PERSPECTIVE

By NCSF Coalition Partners across the nation

 

 

Compiled, edited and narrated by Mistress Lisa,

NCSF Outreach Committee Member & CP Rep for  L.A.D.s.

 


When asked to write an  article about NCSF over the past 10 years from the CP (Coalition Partner) Representatives'  perspective, it was only logical to share that honor with my fellow CP  Reps. There are currently 51 Coalition partner groups throughout the country. The intent of this article was not to prepare a graduate thesis;  therefore those that contributed understood that we would have to prune their  generous comments to avoid being redundant.  We are sharing important points that are  echoed by many so that all can know about NCSF and what it means to the various and  diverse groups throughout the country and the individuals that they represent.

 

We have compiled some of the many responses to a questionnaire distributed to our CP Reps. Only those that  generously consented to sharing them publicly, are being used. NCSF is very grateful to all the CP Reps for  their continued support of the NCSF Mission and to those who took the  time to offer their honest experience by participating in this 10th Anniversary  Historical Retrospective from the CP perspective.  We all learn from the experience of  those that have gone before us. Together we grow, find strength and achieve progress.

 

When asked to write her comments for this article, Susan  Wright (the founder of NCSF) shared  her vision regarding the governance of the organization and why she instituted  the concept of Coalition Partners. The balance of this article contains Susan Wright's comments followed by  those of various and diverse CP Reps from around the  country. 


"NCSF was the first national advocacy organization for the BDSM subculture. Rather than appointing a board of individuals to set policy and run the group, we are made up of a national coalition. In order to be directly responsive to our constituents, we had to rely on a broad-based coalition of the educational and social groups that formed the foundation of our communities. So I made NCSF a coalition of these groups; they determine our strategy and goals because their groups consist of the people we serve. We rely on our Coalition Partners to spread the word about NCSF's resources for community members, and to relay information to NCSF about the needs of the community".

- Susan Wright, NCSF Founder

Why does your group  support NCSF?

 

"NCSF has provided support and assistance to groups, businesses and individuals being treated unfairly for their alternative sexual and/or relationship interests. They provide education to health care workers and law enforcement and others around the country and distribute educational material to those in our community".

- caryl, Club X CP Rep, San Diego, CA *2001 –

"NCSF does critical work and advocacy in support of the interests of TES and its community.  They are better equipped to deal with some of the larger issues".
- Mark Richards, The Eulenspiegel Society (TES) CP Rep, New York, NY *1997

"We are not a political or activist group, so we like that NCSF can do this work".
- Lolita Wolf, Lesbian Sex Mafia CP Rep, New York, NY *2001

"NCSF is the only national organization that is committed to defending our rights. Our lifestyle is so poorly understood and misrepresented in the media. We cannot count on other organizations, including the ACLU and various Gay/Bi/Lesbian advocacy groups".
- Gary McMillen, Society of Janus CP Rep, San Francisco, CA *1997

"NCSF  is an important part of the sex positive  community".
- Allena Gabosch, The Center For Sex Positive Culture CP Rep, Seattle, WA
*2002

"NCSF is the only national organization providing incident response to individuals, businesses and organizations in the leather community. It is also the only group doing media work on our behalf".
- Glenda Rider, FIST CP Rep, Baltimore, MD *1999

"NCSF is the best way for the diverse kink community to face the hostile aspects of our government and contend with those who wish to slander and negatively attack our lifestyle".
- Daniel Kitchen, GMSMA CP Rep, New York, NY *1997

"NCSF is a central point for various individuals and organizations to unify, under the common goal of freedom to indulge in consensual alternative lifestyles and practices, sans persecution or prosecution. It provides validation, support, protection and information regarding our rights and how to protect them, when or if they are ever threatened".
- Mistress Lisa, Los Angeles Dommes and subs (LADs) CP Rep, Los Angeles, CA
*2005

How has NCSF supported  your group and its members?

 

"NCSF supported our group during the San Diego Six court cases of 1999/2000. Once the press releases started getting sent all over the country by Club X, NCSF contacted our group and was able to help give advice on strategy with law enforcement and press releases. They also helped in vetting Club X and letting people all over know that, yes, this was a valid group with a valid problem that was deserving of help".
- caryl, Club X CP Rep, San Diego, CA *2001

"NCSF's advice and help were critical in successfully dealing with problems surrounding our 30th anniversary event (TES 30). It was key in successfully dealing with law enforcement and regulatory authorities at this and subsequent TES events".
- Mark Richards, The Eulenspiegel Society (TES) CP Rep, New York, N.Y. *1997

"NCSF has supported Black BEAT since our inception by sending representatives to our events, providing us with informational material to give to our members and are always there if we have questions".
- Ivolee, Black BEAT, Baltimore CP Rep, Maryland *2002

 

"We  have worked with Susan Wright on numerous press releases and strategies involving issues like overturning Cendant's** (6,500 hotels)  "Controversial Guest" policy, writing the "Alternative Events" policy for  Marriott Corp** (2,900 properties) and Intercontinental  Hotels** (3,800 hotels).  NCSF also helped us with the cancellation of "Fetish in the Fall"  interviews on 20/20, Oprah, CNN, Fox News & other national news media, Raids  on "swing clubs" all across the country, creation of a LEOP (Legal Education  Opportunity Program) for swing clubs and much more".
- Bob Hannaford, French Connection Events CP Rep, New Orleans, LA *2004

"NCSF came to the aid of our founder when her business was shut down by Baltimore City for zoning violations in 1998.  They were part of a successful team effort to get Play House reopened.  Members of our group have also availed themselves of KAP referral information".
- Glenda Rider, FIST CP Rep, Baltimore, MD *1999

"NCSF has been there to support members of the BDSM, Leather and Fetish community in San Francisco.  The most recent example being the attempt by local "neighborhood activists" to interfere with the sale of the National Guard Armory Building to kink.com".
- Gary McMillen, Society of Janus CP Rep, San Francisco, CA *1997

"Members use the NCSF for incident responses and also we've had NCSF reps do educational events for us".
- Allena Gabosch, The Center For Sex Positive Culture CP Rep, Seattle, WA
*2002

 

What does NCSF mean to you, as a CP Rep?

 

"NCSF is an organization which can do the work necessary to keep us informed about the social and political events and opinions in our country as they relate to kink and other alternative sex practices.  It is also a group that is an agent for change and progress in the struggle for acceptance of who we are and how we love".
- Glenda Rider, FIST CP Rep, Baltimore, MD *1999

"NCSF is a much needed resource that always points us in the right direction".
-  Ivolee, Black BEAT CP Rep, Baltimore, Maryland *2002

"As we get further into what I see as a sex positive renaissance this country needs organizations like NCSF to be there as there will be pushback from the right for many more years to come.
- Allena Gabosch, The Center For Sex Positive Culture CP Rep, Seattle, WA
*2002

"NCSF offers the hope of a continued fight against sexual repression, anti sex laws, adoption of restrictive zoning and permit language and help with press releases, public awareness and media consultation".
- Bob Hannaford, French Connection Events CP Rep, New Orleans, LA *2004

"NCSF means activism and advocacy  that both supplements and transcends the efforts of our individual organizations  in supporting the choices and lifestyles of consenting adults".
- Mark  Richards, The Eulenspiegel Society (TES)  CP Rep, New  York, N.Y.
*1997

"NCSF gives us the ways and means to protect our members, programs, events and freedom to be who we area".
- Master Z, Leather SINS, NFP CP Rep, Chicago, IL *2003

"NCSF provides the best opportunity for all of us from a diverse backgrounds to organize and fight together for our constitutional rights to free sexual expression".

- Daniel Kitchen, GMSMA CP Rep, New York, NY *1997

"NCSF has provided me with the opportunity to meet and work with dozens of dedicated activists from around the country, to learn about some of the issues facing their communities, and to participate if finding solutions".

- Gary McMillen, Society of Janus CP Rep, San Francisco, CA *1997

 

 

What do the CP Reps hope to see in the future for NCSF?

 

We had similar responses by many.  Some wanted NCSF to identify  specific legal issues and/or government policy that concern us and  then to have lobbyists work to effect changes in legislation to enable us  to achieve our goals. Everyone seemed to want to see a stronger  membership with more revenue, so we can have a full time staff for the organization's operation and growth, since it is  fueled predominantly by volunteers. Some suggested  that_  NCSF _ (https://ncsfreedom.org/) have its own event. Many desire involvement  of more alternative  lifestyle advocacy groups and envision NCSF continuing  to be the first place people come for help.

 

In Summation


"NCSF has been essential to the progress, however small and hard won, that the BDSM, Leather and Fetish communities have made towards social acceptance in the last ten years.  It has also helped thousands of people deal with the challenges society has thrown at them, such as legal problems with zoning, child custody, assault, battery and kidnapping charges or social issues like job loss or being thrown out of their homes by a landlord who doesn't like their lifestyle.  NCSF has always been willing to help with referrals, media assistance and moral support.  Given our country's drift toward a more conservative environment over the last ten years I shudder to think where our people would be if NCSF hadn't been doing this critical work on our behalf".
- Glenda Rider, FIST CP Rep, Baltimore, MD *1999


*    The year that the organization joined NCSF
**   Corporations that own popular hotel chains

Tuesday, 09 September 2008 07:56

2007 Incident Response Report

In 2007, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 50 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 640 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2007. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects. 

NCSF received 647 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 341 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts. It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least two of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched. 

  • 12% were requests regarding SM/abuse/domestic violence issues
  • 23% were regarding criminal complaint issues
  • 4% were regarding employment discrimination
  • 14% were regarding child custody/divorce issues
  • 2.5% were in reference to child protective services’ complaints
  • 17% were related to SM/leather/fetish group issues
  • 2% were classed as non-employment discrimination
  • 15% were related to swing community issues
  • 3% were regarding online obscenity issues
  • 4.5% were regarding zoning issues
  • 3% were classed as “other” 

Of the inquires received:

  • 72% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 19% by swing
  • 6% by poly
  • 3% by other. 

 

2007 saw an increased number of requests particularly in reference to criminal charges related to SM conduct. NCSF worked with more than 26 attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. In addition, we worked with more than 17 district attorneys and prosecutors related to SM issues. The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse.  Some jurisdictions are definitely doing a better job than others. However, it’s been very difficult to see a trend where one area of the country is more tolerant than others. Tolerance still seems to be largely defined by the mindset of the prosecutor or police officer on the scene.

Many swing and SM groups experienced a higher reported rate of troubling incidents with local media, zoning and law enforcement this last year. There’s been a significant increase in reported problems with swing organizations- many of whom are organizing pay at the door events in residential neighborhoods. Clearly we need to begin to address this issue both from within our own constituency and in our work with law and zoning enforcement.

We continue to receive a number of requests for assistance from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who want information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.

We also continue to receive requests for assistance involving parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.

2008 incident response statistics are currently being compiled. As of the end of July 2008, more than 413 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.

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 call NCSF for assistance. You can submit a request for assistance online or find a Kink Aware Professional (KAP) on our website as well at www.ncsfreedom.org. Emergency contact information is available by calling our office at 410-539-4824, 24 hours per day.

Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

Thursday, 16 August 2007 05:43

2006 Incident Response Report

In 2006, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 500 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2006. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.

NCSF received 521 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 289 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts. It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least 2 of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched.

  • 13% were requests regarding SM/abuse/domestic violence issues
  • 6% were regarding criminal complaint issues
  • 7% were regarding employment discrimination
  • 13.5% were regarding child custody/divorce issues
  • 5.5% were in reference to child protective services’ complaints
  • 14.5% were related to SM/leather/fetish group issues
  • 9% were classed as non-employment discrimination
  • 8% were related to swing community issues
  • 8% were regarding online obscenity issues
  • 10.5% were regarding zoning issues
  • 5% were classed as “other”

Of the inquires:

  • 73.5% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 15% by swing
  • 7% by poly
  • 4.5% by other

 

2006 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and domestic violence or SM/abuse related issues. NCSF worked with more than 30 attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. In addition, we worked with more than 10 district attorneys and prosecutors related to SM issues. The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse.

Employment related discrimination is increasing as well.

The implementation of KAP under NCSF’s administration resulted in fewer requests for referrals because we were able to refer the request to our site. As we improve the KAP administration, and resource, the number of requests for referrals that need to be handled by a person will drop since we’ll be able to refer people to the KAP database. The new administration tools for KAP in our website overhaul will also make the use of this tool much more efficient for both user and professional.

We continue to receive a number of requests for assistance from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who want information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.

We also continue to receive requests for assistance involving parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.

2006 incident response statistics are currently being compiled. As of the end of July 2007, more than 346 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.

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 call NCSF for assistance. You can submit a request for assistance online or find a Kink Aware Professional (KAP) on our website as well at www.ncsfreedom.org. Emergency contact information is available by calling our office at 410.539.4824, 24 hours per day.

Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

Donations made to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, Inc are not deductible for charitable tax purposes.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
822 Guilford Avenue, Box 127
Baltimore, MD 21202-3707

phone: 410-539-4824

Tristan Taormino interviews former NCSF Executive Director Judy Guerin.

"Sex Activist Judy Guerin Talks Bush and BDSM"

Reprinted with permission from On Our Backs Magazine

By Tristan Taormino

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) was formed in 1997 as a national advocacy and lobbying organization that promotes tolerance of consenting adults to perform alternative sexual expression. NCSF's primary focus is the SM/leather/fetish community because it's such a large constituency that nobody else represents in Washington, DC. NCSF holds a seat on the National Policy Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force where it meets with about 55 other groups like the Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, ACLU, and AFL-CIO to talk about national strategic issues related to policy.

At 48, Judy Guerin, mother of three and longtime SM practitioner, was ready to retire. Instead, at the urging of community members, she took the job of executive director of NCSF, which plans to open its official office this spring in Washington, DC. Just before a March meeting of the National Policy Roundtable to discuss sex and politics and teaching GLBT leaders to be more comfortable addressing issues of sex, On Our Backs spoke to Guerin about sex activism and the bumpy road ahead under Bush and Ashcroft.

On Our Backs: So how did you become executive director of NCSF? Isn't it an unpaid job?

Judy Guerin: Yes, I'm doing it for free. NCSF really can't afford to have anyone in a paid position at this particular point in time. I've been involved in both the transgender and the SM/leather/fetish communities for a long period of time as an activist, and people knew that my children were getting ready to go off to college, and that I was getting ready to retire. They thought it would be a good opportunity to get me back involved in community organizing.

On Our Backs: So this was your idea of retiring?

Judy Guerin: Yes.

On Our Backs: What do your kids think of your job defending kinky people?

Judy Guerin: They actually are very supportive of it and think it's great. One of them is heterosexual, one is bisexual, and one is gay. I've raised my children to be very open-minded and diverse in their thinking. I've had interesting reactions from other people. A lot of people ask me, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a job like this?"

On Our Backs: And what's your answer to that?

Judy Guerin: [laughs] Well, my answer is that I'm fighting for sexual freedom rights, which I think is an important cause and deserves attention. I'm not afraid to say that I'm involved personally in alternative sexual practices, and that I've been a victim of discrimination and other things as a result of it, as have many practitioners.

On Our Backs: So your personal history is part of why you're so passionate about your job.

Judy Guerin: My involvement in SM/leather/fetish started really before there were organized communities, so I grew up feeling very much like a gay or transgendered person might feel. I felt different, abnormal, like I didn't fit in, and I wasn't able to share this with other people. It was a great feeling of freedom to actually be able to realize that this is a very common interest and it's not abnormal and lots of people do it. Today, it's much easier to do because there's much more information available. But 15 or 20 years ago, that was not the case, and people still today experience tremendous discrimination because of it.

On Our Backs: What are some of the things NCSF does?

Judy Guerin: We work on a lot of incidents when people get arrested because they're doing SM or clubs get shut down. We send a team of people out and we work with the media to try to get the situation portrayed properly. We work with the communities to organize and to try to figure out what to do legally, politically, and financially. We're seeing more and more of these incidents because the sexual freedom movement in the United States has really taken hold, and it's started to have a lot of activity now.

On Our Backs: That's very much like the gay and lesbian movement. The more visibility of gay and lesbian people, the higher incidence of hate crimes. Do you feel the same things in the sex-positive community?

Judy Guerin: Yes, it's just a natural part of the process, and the way that any movement wins its rights. We've seen a tremendous explosion of people coming out of the SM closet over the past three to five years.

On Our Backs: Wasn't NCSF involved in the Attleboro case last year?

Judy Guerin: Yes. Attleboro was a case where an SM play party in Attleboro, Massachusetts, was raided by police. A woman was arrested for "assault with a deadly weapon", for allegedly striking another woman with a wooden spoon. In Massachusetts, consent is not a defense, and there's some previous case history related to an SM case in the seventies that is not favorable toward this. The person who hosted the party was also arrested on a variety of charges. Both of those cases are still pending. We were really successful in turning the initial media response around. At first, the media focused on "Sadomasochistic Sex Club Raided by Police", which makes it sound like all of the people were perverts and deviants; after we came in, the media began questioning whether the police themselves infringed on people's civil rights.

On Our Backs: Sex and politics haven't had such a great relationship, especially recently. Do you think it is still difficult to talk about sex in a political arena?

Judy Guerin: I think it's a little bit more acceptable to talk about sex, even more than it was two years ago, primarily because of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. I mean, once the word "pussy" was said on a national news program - ex-Presidential Counsel Lloyd Cutler told Mike Wallace that it is as normal for the President to "talk pussy" with his friend, Vernon Jordan, as it would be for anyone else - sex was being much more openly discussed on television. It just became very common for people to hear about sex that was a bit unusual, with cigars, for example. So if you review all of the academic studies and papers that have been written about the impact of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, I think the one positive aspect for the sexual freedom movement is that it is now a little bit more acceptable to talk about sex. Also, the young people in the United States who've grown up in the MTV generation have a very different and much more fluid view of sex, sexuality, and gender than people in my generation do.

On Our Backs: So now that Clinton is gone, and we've got Bush, what do you think is in store for queer people and perverts and leatherfolk under Bush? Did your duties double once he was elected?

Judy Guerin: One of our main concerns is that during this presidential term, there is a likelihood that there will be several Supreme Court Justice nominations, possibly three or four. It's already a very conservative and split court. Appointments that Bush makes will impact our lives for the next 50 years since these are lifetime appointments. I think the good news about the way the election happened is that it limits somewhat how conservative this administration can get, but I don't think any of us are encouraged by some of what we've seen so far, particularly the appointment of John Aschroft.

On Our Backs: I've heard rumors that, for example, the porn industry is terrified. They're hysterical about Ashcroft's new job. People who run adult businesses are concerned about being shut down or being targeted with obscenity laws. Do you think it's realistic?

Judy Guerin: I just think that whenever possible there will be conservative trends to target groups or prosecute for obscenity based on morality issues related to the radical Right.

On Our Backs: If someone runs their own local BDSM organization or support group or party, what should they do to protect themselves?

Judy Guerin: It really depends on the circumstances. We have a national law enforcement outreach program, and we not only go around the country and educated law enforcement about the difference between SM and abuse and domestic violence, but also educate the community in how to protect themselves legally, both private citizens and groups doing different types of events. The problem with SM and the law is that it's poorly defined; many times the laws are vague. I think that these attacks will continue, and I think that they'll get worse, because as it becomes less acceptable socially to persecute gays and lesbians, these people will look at other people to persecute, and SM folks are really the next group on the list. On the other hand, you know, the Republicans do have strong beliefs in privacy rights, and that's how we will approach the issue with the administration is that what consenting adults do in private shouldn't have government interference.

On Our Backs: But don't you also think that especially more radical Republicans are into privacy rights except for, notably, gays and lesbians, minorities, and other people who fall outside their idea of "normal". They like privacy, but it is applied with a double standard.

Judy Guerin: I think that's true. While I said earlier that it's a little easier to talk about sex in the United States right now, it's not politically comfortable certainly to talk about sex. Politicians are not likely to endorse sex-positive initiatives that may have some moral implications for them. I think it's a difficult four years, and I'm disappointed that we're dealing with this administration. But I also think that if you look at what's happened with the GLBT movement during Republican administrations, there's also a strong unity building and a strong movement building during those periods of times. I think we have a big job socially to change the perception of SM that gets constant negative reinforcement in the media and entertainment industry. I think this is a good opportunity for the SM/leather/fetish community to really unite, get organized, and do some of the groundwork we need to move forward in the future.

 

Wednesday, 08 August 2007 06:53

NCSF Profile: Leigha Fleming

Leigha Fleming, Interim Executive Director

By Lou Briquant

Whether you're a swinging couple, a quiet practitioner of SM, Gay/Les couple or single, or a member of a polyamorous relationship, there are people in this world who are looking out for your interests and your freedom to be who you are. Leigha Fleming is the Interim Executive Director of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a volunteer post that is a lot of hard work with intangible but fulfilling rewards.

Ms. Fleming got involved in the NCSF over the past few years. She tells us that she is currently doing any of several related jobs within the organization. "I most enjoy managing NCSF's Constituency Services, which include our Incident Response Program and our Legal Education Outreach Program. The most important qualities for any volunteer, regardless of position, is dependability. You have to do what you say you're going to do. You have to follow through and be accountable. We have to listen to what our constituents want and need from us, and we have to have confidence and to believe in our mission and vision."

Fleming never planned to be an activist or advocate. She was very involved in the SM-leather-fetish community and, as her participation grew, her awareness of discrimination and challenges faced by those involved in alternative lifestyles grew as well. "I've always had very strong opinions regarding governmental interference in private lives of adults. As I saw friends lose custody of their children, and SM groups getting hassled by the police, I began to get angry. Anger is a great motivator for change!"

Fleming happened to hear about the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) about five years ago, when her educational SM group began doing outreach to the local police. An NCSF staffer heard about the successful meetings, and contacted her. NCSF was just beginning its its Legal Education Outreach Program

(LEOP), so she got involved at that time. She believed, and still does, that the NCSF will make a difference.

Holding down a fulltime job, in addition to the necessary duties, is taxing and extremely time-consuming. She spends three or four hours a day on average, dealing with NCSF-related issues. The most difficult aspect of the volunteer work, outside of the time, is making sure everything is coordinated and follow-up is properly done.

The struggle continues, against with anti-privacy/anti-First Amendment forces that want to curtail the ability of our communities to meet, attend events, and become educated. "We had numerous confrontations with religious extremist organizations like the Concerned Women for America last year," Leigha said. "Their attempts to shut down our events continue. Fortunately, we local communities are beginning to utilize NCSF as a resource for dealing with media inquiries and for working with their local law enforcement."

"Our lawsuit against the federal government over the Communications and Decency Act continues. The court recently refused to dismiss our case against the government and so that is moving forward. We have a dozen or more "incidents" pending involving child custody and divorce and we're currently involved in a criminal case involving SM."

NCSF is in a growth phase right now. It's in the process of transitioning from a grassroots-model organization operated by consensus, to a professionally run national non-profit organization. Fleming, speaking on the changes, says, "They're making that transition very effectively. I expect to add more workshops to our Legal Education Outreach Program and, with the help of its new director Robyn Friedman, recruit more qualified volunteers to train. We also will be expanding and strengthening our ability to respond to both individual and group incidents. In addition, we'll be improving the internal structure of the organization and positioning ourselves to be a viable entity for many years to come. We will be filling our Executive Direction postion with a paid employee soon."

When asked what obstacles is the NCSF able to overcome in the near term, Leigha responded, "Like many non-profit organizations, we've been hit very hard by the downturn in the economy. We need to place NCSF on secure financial footing. We also need to put in place a system that can track and manage all the wonderful folks who volunteer for NCSF. In addition, we need to recruit and train qualified volunteers for our LEOP and Incident Response programs."

Fleming is responsible for the day to day oversight of NCSF's budget and finances. She says they have done a remarkable job of eliminating debt over the last six months, as well as having reduced their expenses. Fundraising Coordinator Glenda Rider does what Fleming calls "a magnificent job" of soliciting on behalf of NCSF. "We're working daily on implementing processes that increase our structural integrity."

As for problems up ahead, Fleming believes, "Our greatest external challenges in the near future come from those groups who want to restrict or eliminate the right of consenting adults to freely assemble and learn from one another. Another significant challenge rests in getting the word out about NCSF, and what we do for our own communities."

When asked what she thought of the relative amount of lifestyle freedom in the United States vis-à-vis other nations, Ms. Fleming has mixed feelings. "In some respects the US is freer. Even other first-world countries place restrictions on the practice of religion, press, etc... However, I would argue that the US is signifcantly less free when than other first-world countries when it comes to attitudes about sexuality and alternative sexual practices. In addition, the US has made a dangerous shift since 9/11. Laws allowing the federal government to invade the privacy of Americans in the pursuit of perceived terrorism have a chilling effect on us all."

"The NCSF's lawsuit against the federal government regarding the Communications & Decency Act is a significant challenge to the notion that someone in small-town USA has the right and ability to govern what a person in New York City creates online. In addition, we are actively working to dispel antiquated beliefs about alternative lifestyles, both in and out of our own communities."

Fleming has met with groups spanning the spectrum of consenting adults' lifestyles. "I've learned a number of things: First, I've learned we have a lot in common. Swingers, poly folks, and those in the SM-leather-fetish communities all face the same kind of discrimination. We all have the same challenges with our clubs, with educating others. Second, I've learned how much we tend to segment ourselves from one another. When we first included swingers and poly folks in our mission statement, I was so surprised to hear people say, "But we're not like them!" The SMers professed disdain for the swingers. The poly folks didn't think they had anything in common with the SM people, and so forth."

Fleming feels that our greatest challenge is uniting across our lifestyle lines, without engaging in fragmentation that could weaken or even destroy the advances now being made. Working together can help ensure safety and freedom for everyone.

**NCSF thanks Leigha for all her hard work and continuing support of our coalition.

Monday, 06 August 2007 00:30

2005 Incident Response Report

NCSF Supports Your Rights

In 2005, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.
 
NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 700 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2005. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.
 
NCSF received 726 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 327 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts.
  • 31% were requests for referrals (criminal, divorce, custody, zoning, etc…)
  • 18% were requests for NCSF support regarding group/club/business formations
  • 15% were custody/divorce related
  • 9% were media driven/press related issues
  • 9% were employment discrimination
  • 7% were regarding harassment/domestic violence assistance
  • 7% were other/misc.
  • 4% were criminal in nature
Of the inquires NCSF received:
  • 58% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 22% by poly
  • 17% by swing
  • 3% by other

It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least 2 of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched.

2005 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and employment issues. NCSF worked with more than 2 dozen attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse.

Employment related discrimination is increasing as well.

The largest category of requests were for referrals. NCSF's addition of the KAP resource should in time lower the number of requests for referrals that need to be handled by a person since we’ll be able to refer people to the KAP database. It will be extremely helpful to us to be able to set up some kind of system or way to track the where/why/who of the users of the KAP database.

The next largest group of requests for assistance came from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who wanted information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.
 
The next group of requests for assistance involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.
 
2006 incident response statistics are currently being compiled. As of August 2006, more than 465 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.
 
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 call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824. If you have a media-related incident, you can call 917-848-6544. To find a lawyer, psychotherapist, or doctor who is kink friendly, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/kap
 
Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!
Monday, 06 August 2007 00:26

2004 Incident Response Report

NCSF Supports Your Rights

In 2004, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.
 
NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 740 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2004. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects such as the CUFFs group incident. Cuffs, a nonprofit SM club at Iowa State University, was called before disciplinary council in March, with their SM demonstrations cited as assault. The media coverage was nationwide. NCSF sent out two press releases on the rights of college students to have access to free expression and educational forums on SM during this incident.
 
2004 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and legal issues. Individuals, businesses and groups consulted with NCSF on: the legality and definition of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, allegations of false rape, alleged domestic violence, and dealing with law enforcement.
 
The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases, as well as an increased number of employment related incidents. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.
 
Group incidents decreased in 2004, with only a few requests from local groups to assist with hotels and media to help resolve their issues. This may be due to the fact that religious political extremist groups appear to have been busy in 2004 opposing gay marriage. NCSF received one call in January from a Michigan newspaper asking about gay marriage in regards to how it would affect the legality of polygamy (the answer - not at all).
 

Discrimination

In March, NCSF sent out an Action Alert about the Georgia House of Representatives banning genital piercings for women. The bill outlined punishments for female genital mutilation, making it punishable by two to 20 years in prison. However a last-minute "Heath Amendment" to the bill made no exception for adult women who gave consent for their own genital piercings. The bill was blocked in the Senate because of this amendment, and was reintroduced in Jan 2005, allowing adults to receive genital piercings but not minors under 18.
 
A number of complaints continued to come in regarding Paypal and E-bay about their discriminatory practices. Paypal continues to close accounts without warning for allegedly violating their policy against selling adult/pornographic items. When Paypal closed down the website of The Baronness who sells rubber clothing, Lisa Napoli, Senior Reporter for NPR’s Marketplace covered the story, with Susan Wright giving an interview on behalf of NCSF.
 
In October, NCSF contacted New York City Councilwoman Lopez regarding the alleged Quadracci incident. Councilwoman Lopez sent a letter to the District Attorney requesting that he investigate "an illegal SM club" in Mr. Quadracci's apartment. This incident was featured heavily in the NY Post and Daily News. Councilwoman Lopez stated to NCSF, "I believe in privacy rights for consenting adults," and that as long as "it's a private individual doing private things in their own home," then she has no problem with it. The legal case was eventually dropped against Mr. Quadracci.
 
Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a dozen people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims.
 

Media Summary

Altogether, NCSF staff members gave over 65 interviews with the media in 2004. Media Spokesperson Susan Wright gave 34 interviews throughout the year. A number of interviews were inquiries about the NCSF-Nitke CDA lawsuit, primarily with adult news media outlets like YNot, X-Biz and TheAdultWebmaster.com. Mainstream coverage of the case increased in the fall as the oral arguments commenced. Barbara Greenfield with Time Out NY interviewed Barbara and Susan for a feature to coincide with trial.
 
NCSF worked extensively with Time Magazine on an article by John Cloud about the SM community. Time published a thoughtful, positive article for the SM community in January 2004. In October, Primetime Live, ABC News Magazine, aired their survey on "American Sex Lives," by Holly Gordon. Susan was interviewed for this episode, and the coverage of alternative sexual expression was positive. Susan also gave interviews for two documentaries about SM.
 
Swing Spokesperson Sue Gould gave over 30 interviews about swinging and the Lifestyle in 2004. One of the bigger swing interviews for 2004 was with Detail's Magazine, explaining the importance of NCSF's work with the swing community. NCSF also released a statement supporting privacy rights when Jack Ryan, a Republican running for the Senate, was outed and vilified for attending swing clubs with his wife, actress Jeri Ryan. The reporting of the details in their divorce papers was highly sensationalistic and soon thereafter Ryan abandoned his bid for a Senate seat.
 
NCSF provided six media trainings for groups and events this year. Susan was also asked to look at over a dozen websites to give advice on what content would draw media and/or law enforcement attention. Susan also assisted one of NCSF's Coalition Partners in dealing with a local reporter who wanted to join their group and e-mail list.
 

NCSF On the Front Lines

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 call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824. If you have a media-related incident, you can call 917-848-6544. To find a lawyer, psychotherapist or doctor who is kink friendly, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/kap
 
Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!
Monday, 06 August 2007 00:23

2003 Incident Response Report

NCSF Supports Your Rights!

In 2003, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) once again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of 38 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

Leigha Fleming directs NCSF's Incident Response team. In total during 2003, NCSF responded to more than 500 cases, with more than 1,300 contacts between NCSF and individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses that requested assistance. Some incidents required only one or two phone calls, but many evolved into much larger projects such as the attacks by religious political groups against SM conferences.

In 42% of the incidents, NCSF assisted individuals. The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.

We also helped families dealing with child protective services because of their alternative lifestyle interests.

NCSF saw a sharp rise in the number of requests for help from individuals experiencing employment discrimination because of their involvement in alternative lifestyles in 2003. Individuals also consulted with NCSF on a variety of other issues, including: the legality of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, criminal cases, dealing with law enforcement and dealing with personal media exposure.

In 2003, NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in Illinois and North Carolina by working with them to fight back against punitive zoning restrictions. In addition, we extended our outreach to the polyamory community in 2003 by working with individuals impacted by discrimination against their relationship style.

Conventions

Opposition to SM events based on religious concerns continued in 2003. The host hotel for My Vicious Valentine (February 14-16) received calls from Concerned Women for America at the end of January. The CWA attack against My Vicious Valentine fizzled out, in large part due to the extensive education about SM events that NCSF did for local authorities in 2002. Only one reporter called NCSF from the hotline number posted on MVV's website.

The Tribal Fire conference (April 4-6) in Oklahoma was again targeted by religious groups who took out ads in the local papers denouncing SM practices and threatening to picket the event. Tribal Fire's organizers met with the police detective and the hotel to ensure the event would go on as planned. However four Mennonites held a prayer vigil in the hotel lobby for 72 hours. NCSF staff members attended Tribal Fire and spoke out about the importance of standing up for our rights.

When Concerned Women for America attacked International Mr. Leather (May 30-June 1) they quoted the Illinois State Health Department as saying there is a higher rate of STDs in homosexual men. CWA proclaimed that IML was therefore a danger to employees and guests at the host hotel. Susan Wright contacted the Illinois State Health Department, and the AIDS/Infectious Diseases department declared they would speak to any media outlet to debunk the CWA's absurd claims. IML was held as planned.

The Black Rose conference (November 11-14) was forced to move from Ocean City, Maryland, back to their former host hotel in New Carrollton, Maryland when two churches in Ocean City led a grass-roots movement to prevent the event from taking place in their rural resort town. There was a great deal of initial confusion regarding Black Rose's media response, and as a result, there were many misrepresentations and prejudicial and inaccurate descriptions included in the articles in the Maryland Coast Dispatch and the Daily Times of Salisbury which inflamed the situation. NCSF attempted to mediate the situation by providing accurate and unbiased information on SM/leather/fetish to the local media.

Fetish in the Fall (November 20-23) scheduled to take place in Kenner, Louisiana (part of metropolitan New Orleans) was moved after it was attacked by the Kenner police chief. Police Chief Nick Congemi urged hotel managers to decline any request to hold the event in any Kenner hotel. In his letter and press release to the media, Chief Congemi stated that "allowing the event to take place would seriously jeopardize the family atmosphere for which Kenner is noted." Congemi had already announced his run for mayor of Kenner (election held in March, 2004). For many years prior to this, Congemi had allowed his police officers to work as off-duty security for the adult swing conference in Kenner, N'awlins in November, produced by the same company that produced Fetish in the Fall. NCSF was called in immediately and was able to generate positive media coverage of this incident.

Clubs

NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in North Carolina and Illinois by holding open-forum discussions about how to affect zoning regulations and current litigation against lifestyle clubs. NCSF also worked with the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA) to lobby against the Washington DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation 905, which has been used to prohibit SM play in local establishments with liquor licenses even when liquor isn't being sold or consumed. In response to an Action Alert created and distributed in conjunction with D.C. Sexual Minority Advocates (DCSMA), NCSF received over 130 cc'ed letters from community members stating they were concerned that this regulation will prevent SM community spaces from existing in Washington D.C.

The Labyrinth in Denver, a community SM space, was shut down by a restraining order because of zoning violations. The undercover investigation took many months. The Denver community organized an ad hoc group called COSMA (Colorado SM Advocates) to fight for their right to have an SM club. NCSF conducted multiple interviews with the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Lakewood Sentinel, Channel 7, ABC affiliate, and KHOW 630 AM radio during this incident.

Media Incidents

NCSF gave 67 media interviews in 2003, with Susan Wright, Spokesperson, giving 49 interviews and Sue Gould, Swing Spokesperson, giving 18 interviews. Clubs and businesses regularly contact NCSF to receive media training for incidents or prior to holding an event.

NCSF began working with John Cloud, a reporter with Time Magazine in November 2003 on an article about the SM community, its history and practices. NCSF assisted in locating appropriate people in the SM community to be interviewed. Several SM conferences considered allowing the reporter into their event, but concerns over privacy prevented that. The positive article was published in January 2004.

In Indianapolis, a female professional dominant gave an interview with the local newspaper and Channel 6 News in May. This caused serious problems for her because she was located near a church-school and ran a home-based business (a D/s and role-play salon) with no business license or permits. The media and police received an anonymous tip about her illegal business operation. NCSF encouraged her to seek proper zoning, educated her about dealing with the media, and responded to media inquiries for her.

In March, NCSF was contacted by concerned community members about the Black Party's promo image, which showed a young man with a black eye and split lip. NCSF protested to the producers of the Black Party in NYC that this image doesn't portray SM but rather shows abuse. The NYC Anti-Violence Project, the National Coalition against Violence and other groups joined in this effort, writing to the producers protesting this image.

In one media incident, a nonprofit club in Muncie, Indiana, was threatened with closure along with a nearby strip bar until the media was educated about safe, sane and consensual SM. NCSF also gave media assistance to a swing club in Connecticut which was closed because of zoning issues.

Another media incident involved Nerve.com when they published a series of articles in June entitled "Letters from Leather Camp." The Nerve reporter infiltrated a private event, Leather Retreat. Leather Retreat didn't have a clause in their release form preventing reporters from writing for a commercial media outlet. Susan Wright negotiated with Michael Martin, Editor-in-Chief at Nerve.com, and sent out Nerve's statement and apology in NCSF's Media Update covering the articles. The comments section of Nerve.com was reinstated so SM community members could respond to the articles, and the articles themselves were purged of their most reprehensible comments.

Discrimination

Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a twenty people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims. One West Virginia woman lost her job because she belonged to a leather club. One Texas woman was sexually harassed by her supervisor when he found her website on the internet. She was initially terminated from her job when she complained about the harassment. NCSF worked with her and her husband to draft a formal grievance and helped her find a sympathetic attorney. She was rehired.

A number of discrimination complaints continue to be made regarding Paypal and E-bay regarding their policies for dealing with adult oriented vendors. Paypal and E-bay are deleting accounts that sell adult oriented merchandise. NCSF has contacted the parent company, E- bay, regarding their discriminatory practices. These companies continue their "no-adult content" policy in large part out of fears of prosecution for obscenity.

Criminal Cases

NCSF was contacted by individuals, attorneys and prosecutors on a variety of criminal cases, including: several cases of false rape, three different cases involving death of a participant, and two murder investigations. NCSF also made referrals to resources and the appropriate authorities in several domestic violence incidents. In three cases, NCSF was able to help the victim obtain protective orders and find appropriate counseling.

NCSF: On the Front Lines

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 call NCSF for assistance. If you are contacted by the media, please call NCSF immediately so we can assist in educating the reporter about SM, swing or polyamory.

And please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are a volunteer organization committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

Monday, 15 February 2010 10:37

DSM-V Revision Project

The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!

 

The American Psychiatric Association has depathologized kinky sex – including cross-dressing, fetishes, and BDSM – in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Now the paraphilias are considered to be “unusual sexual interests,” while those who have sex with children or people who haven’t consented, or who deliberately cause harm to themselves or others, may be diagnosed with a Paraphilic Disorder.

 

“The APA has made it clear that being kinky is not a mental disorder,” says Susan Wright, Spokesperson for NCSF. “That means people no longer have to fear being diagnosed as mentally ill just because they belong to a BDSM group. We’ve already seen the impact – NCSF immediately saw a sharp rise in the success rate of child custody cases for kinky parents after the proposed DSM-5 criteria was released three years ago.”

 

NCSF would like to thank everyone who participated in signing our DSM Revision Petition and for telling the APA about their own stories of discrimination and persecution. NCSF also thanks every member of the APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup for responding to our concerns, and drawing a hard line between consensual adult kinky sex and those who willfully engage in nonconsensual or harmful activities.

 

NCSF is proud to build on the work of kink-aware professionals who have come before us, including Race Bannon and Guy Baldwin, who helped make seminal changes in the DSM-IV in 1994.

 

The following are some statements about the various paraphilias in the DSM-5. Although highly clinical in language, they show the APA’s intent to not demand treatment for healthy consenting adult sexual expression:

 

 “A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention.” p. 686

 

“In contrast, if they declare no distress, exemplified by anxiety, obsessions, guilt or shame, about these paraphilic impulses, and are not hampered by them in pursuing other personal goals, they could be ascertained as having masochistic sexual interest but should not be diagnosed with a sexual masochism disorder.” p. 694

 

“Many individuals who self-identify as fetishist practitioners do not necessarily report clinical impairment in association with their fetish-associated behaviors. Such individuals could be considered as having a fetish but not fetishistic disorder.” p. 701

 

“Clinical assessment of distress or impairment, like clinical assessment of transvestic sexual arousal, is usually dependent on the individual’s self-report.” p. 703

 

To support NCSF, go to www.ncsfreedom.org. NCSF relies entirely on your donations to advance the rights of consenting adults and to do advocacy like our DSM Revision Project. Please donate now!

 

 Normal or Not? A Sexual Attraction to Objects

 

The DSM-5 marks this transition by attaching the term "disorder" when an unusual sexual interest crosses these boundaries. So, hypothetically, someone who simply uses shoes to masturbate or whose partner accepts his unusual interest in shoes could be diagnosed with fetishism, but not a fetishistic disorder — unless the fetish crosses the threshold in one of the ways described above.

Whips, chains and full of life: BDSM practitioners 'healthier and less neurotic' than 'vanilla' peers

 Along the same lines, Wismeijer also suggested that accepting one's unusual sexual preferences and choosing to live in a societal niche like the BDSM community might involve huge amounts of psychological work, which could translate into positive mental health.

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In the News

In the News

  • Press Release - NCSF Marching Forward

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom     Marching Forward: NCSF proactively advocates for sexual freedom   November 19, 2008 - NCSF is proud to be the only group in the country with a national mission committed to changing the political, legal and social environment for those involved with the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. The new board of NCSF was voted in at the annual Coalition Partner…






    Tags: DSM Incident Response KAP Media Outreach EOP
What is SM?
Publications

Publications

  • EOP Overview
    EOP Overview Mission Statement and a brief description of goals and presentations offered
  • Law Enforcement Field Guide to SM
    Law Enforcement Field Guide to SM The purpose of this brochure is to provide law enforcement with a basic level of understanding about adults whose sexuality and lovemaking includes consensual sadomasochistic (SM) activities, and to provide information to assist you when you encounter an SM event.
  • SM vs. Abuse - Leather Leadership Conference Statement
    SM vs. Abuse - Leather Leadership Conference Statement This brochure is intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. consensual sadomasochism (SM).
  • Wallet Card
    Wallet Card (Word document) A pocket reference for dealing with law enforcement
Presentations

Presentations

  • Approaching Your Local Authorities
    Approaching Your Local Authorities The purpose of this presentation is to educate law enforcement, prosecutors, or other authorities about SM-Leather- Fetish and/or swing practices on behalf of a local group(s). …
  • Child Custody & Divorce: Considerations for Alternative Lifestyles
    Child Custody & Divorce: Considerations for Alternative Lifestyles The problems that arise in child custody disputes between spouses and partners create special concerns for members of the SM/leather/fetish/poly communities. In…
  • Doing SM Related Legal Research
    Doing SM Related Legal Research The law is interpreted – sometimes to our favor, and sometimes not.  For example, while the NCSF firmly believes that consensual SM activity between adults…
  • Event/hotel negotiation
    The purpose of this material is to assist SM/Leather/Fetish groups who are considering hosting an alternative lifestyle event. The goal in presenting this material is to assist in developing a…
  • Field guide for law enforcement
    The following is a handout prepared by The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom aimed at educating law enforcement on the realities of SM. The purpose of this handout is to…
  • How to choose an attorney
    Choosing a lawyer can be difficult, especially if you have to do it at the time you are arrested.  If at all possible, establishing a working relationship with an attorney…
  • Juvenile/CPS/Child Services for BDSM Parents
    Juvenile/CPS/Child Services for BDSM Parents The concerns that result from contact with local and state child welfare authorities are occasionally troublesome for members of the SM/leather/fetish/poly communities. It is often…
  • Life & Death Issues for the Alternative Community
    The purpose of this presentation is to acquaint members of the alternative lifestyle communities  with issues that may arise from the nature of their relationships both during life as well…
  • Police Interactions ? What to do when you deal with police
    Police Interactions ? What to do when you deal with police Your basic legal rights and responsibilities may not always be clearly defined by law enforcement officials. If stopped or…
  • Protecting Your Event
    Protecting Your Event There are many considerations organizers must contend with when planning a large event. Large events include educational and social conferences, leather contests, weekend play parties, vendor markets,…
  • Protecting Yourself Legally
    Protecting Yourself Legally Members of the SM/leather/fetish communities have always had some level of concern regarding the issues of privacy, discretion, and personal security. The Radical Right, employers, ex-partners, and…
  • SM Groups & Law Enforcement: Group Issues
    SM Groups & Law Enforcement: Group Issues It is important for SM/leather/fetish groups to have an understanding of the relationship between the SM community and law enforcement and of the…
  • Swing Groups & Law Enforcement: Group Issues
    Swing Groups & Law Enforcement: Group Issues It is important for swing groups and businesses to have an understanding of the relationship between the swing community and law enforcement, as…
  • The Alleged Domestic Violence Call
    The Alleged Domestic Violence Call It is important for SM/leather/fetish persons to have an understanding of the relationship between the SM community and law enforcement and of the numerous legal…
  • Traveling With Toys
    Traveling With Toys While there have always been security issues involved in travel, the current political climate, as well as new legislation, has changed the procedures used to achieve security,…
  • What is SM Presentation
    For detailed information about the content of this presentation, please visit What is SM?
  • Zoning for SM & Swing Groups and Businesses
    Zoning for SM & Swing Groups and Businesses Zoning and permit issues are commonly used as a tool of local governments when seeking a method to attack SM groups and…

Request a workshop for your local
community, event or group.

Educational Outreach: We're Making a Difference

  • Over 20 different workshops available for presentation by trained professionals.
  • Over 400 EOP workshops presented across the country in the last 12 years.

About Educational Outreach

The Education Outreach Program is designed to help educate those inside and outside the community about important issues relevant to those who practice consensual BDSM, swinging and polyamory.

Program Goals:
  • To assist SM-Leather-Fetish, swing and polyamory groups and communities in their efforts to educate themselves about issues that affect their communities and individual relationships
  • To provide law enforcement and other government authorities with information about alternative sexuality as appropriate
  • To assist alternative sexuality groups and communities in their efforts to educate and work with their local law enforcement and other authorities
Contacts:

EOP@ncsfreedom.org
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