NCSF on Twitter   Subscribe to the NCSF RSS Feed   NCSF Blog

Administrator

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sunday, 17 June 2007 18:31

Sound Bites for the Swinger Community

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.

 

General Soundbites about Swinging

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.

 

Lifestyle Clubs

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.

 

Is swinging immoral?

 

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.

 

Benefits of Swinging

 

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.

 

Challenges of Swinging

 

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.

 

Latest Research

 

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:

  1. "Safe" is being knowledgeable about what you are doing. Each participant must be informed about the possible risks, both mentally and physically.
  2. "Sane" is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Knowledgeable consent cannot be given by a child, or if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  3. "Consensual" is respecting the limits imposed by each participant. One of the most easily recognized ways to maintain limits is through a "safeword" - in which the bottom/submissive can withdraw consent at any time with a single word or gesture.

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."

 

Safe Words

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."

 

Combat Stereotypes

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."

If you or your organization needs help in reaching out to the media, contact Susan Wright with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's Media Outreach Program at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

You don't have to answer the interviewer's exact question.

You rarely see the question in TV or print interviews, only the response. So feel free to pick out one word or phrase in the question and respond to that. For example, if they ask, "What do you think when people say you're eroticizing violence?" give one of your sound-bites: "Safe, sane and consensual sexual expression is not violence because at any time the participants can stop what's happening." For example, if they ask, "What does your husband think about you cheating on him?" give one of your soundbites:
 
Don't repeat nasty or inflammatory phrases.
See the above question - and don't repeat, "SM isn't eroticizing violence because..." or "Swinging is not cheating..." That makes their point for them.
 
Universalize the questions.
If the reporter says something like, "You people who beat each other up..." or "You people who have sex with other people..." then respond with, "We, like you and everyone else in America, believe we have First Amendment rights to express our sexuality in any way that is safe and consensual."
 
Use standard terms rather than "scene" language.
If you start saying "scene" and "munch" and "leather" and "vanilla" and "top" and "bottom" etc. then people won't understand you. Use vanilla terms as much as possible, or very rarely use terms and define them as you use them. ie "The top, that is the person giving the stimulation, must respect limits."
 
Keep repeating your sound bites.
It doesn't make for a stimulating conversation, but that's the way professionals get their point across. The reporter will ask their question several times, trying to get you to expand on what you're saying, to get a more sensational quote. Just be firm and keep repeating your point. They will respect you for it, and will print the sound bites you give them. Check out our recommended sound bites for the SM, swing and polyamory communities.
 
Flag your sound bites.
This is done by saying, "The most important thing to remember is that sadomasochists educate each other about safe, sane and consensual sexual practices." Or "A key part of having engaging in polyamory is communication prior in order to negotiate both partner's limits and desires."
 
Don't do anything sexual on camera.
In this case, a picture is NOT worth a thousand words. Don't let reporters take pictures of your polyamory family sitting on the bed. Don't do an SM scene in front of a camera. We need activists who will speak up for the SM-Leather-Fetish communities and explain the serious issues such as discrimination and violence against our people.
 
Wear appropriate attire.
This means business or casual wear, such as an activist t-shirt. Don't wear revealing fetish wear or lingerie. See above--a picture is NOT worth a thousand words. If our communities want to be taken seriously, we must present an image that the average person can relate to.
 
Don't utter a word you aren't prepared to see in print.
Reporters will try to make you comfortable with them, to chat with them informally. Those are usually the quotes they use. You aren't there to make friends or "sell" the reporter on alternative sexuality, you are there representing the community and yourself in the best light possible. Stay friendly, but reserved, and think before you speak. If you make a misstep, then stop and start all over again. Then the reporter will have to use the completed thought.
 
Don't do or say anything you feel uncomfortable with.
By the time you get into an interview, then the story will be printed or produced no matter what you do. You are completely free to say NO to anything you don't like. It is highly unlikely the reporter will just walk away and end the interview, even if they try to say you MUST do something or answer something. If the reporter keeps insisting, use one of your sound bites: "We believe that consent is the basis of any good relationship. You are becoming abusive by not respecting my limits."
 
Use the name of organizations.
Say you're a member of NCSF or the International Lifestyle Association. Mention the name of your local group. Explain that many groups are educational and social organizations that have been in existence for many years: "Over 500 educational and social, nonprofit groups exist in America for SM-Leather-Fetish practitioners."
 
Be animated, confident and happy.
In TV interviews in particular, often the best thing is not what you say but how you say it. People will remember the image of your happy, confident expression much longer than the words you say.
Sunday, 17 June 2007 18:17

How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Guidelines for making your letter to the editor a powerful advocacy tool! It's easier than you think!

Why should I write a letter to the editor?

Letters to the editor are an effective way to convey a positive image of alternate sexual practices such as SM, polyamory and swinging. Letters help to de-stigmatize negative social myths and misconceptions about these types of practices. These letters help achieve the advocacy goals of NCSF because they:

  • Reach a large audience
  • Are monitored regularly by elected officials
  • Can introduce new information not addressed in a news article
  • Foster an impression that there is widespread support for or opposition to an issue

We also suggest that you send copies of letters that you write to members of Congress to your local newspaper editors. These letters are often published to highlight a specific issue in the editorial section.

Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor

  • Keep your letter short and on one subject. Newspapers typically have strict space limits for the editorial section and limited space. Keeping your letter short helps your chances of getting the letter published in its entirety, without important points being edited by the newspaper.

 

  • Make sure your letter is legible and words are spelled correctly. Your letter may be simple and short, but make sure that spelling is correct and handwriting (if typing or WP in not used) is legible.

 

  • Include your contact information. Newspapers sometimes call to verify a person's identity or address and will usually only publish letters with complete names and addresses. It is recommended that you also include a telephone number, if possible. Newspapers keep this information confidential and usually publish the person's name and city only.

 

  • Reference the publication and article. Many newspapers only print letters referencing a specific article. Include the specifics such as "As a concerned resident of Baltimore, I am writing in reference to your article in the latest issue of (insert publication name), dated July 23rd titled "SM and the Law."

 

  • Describe what you liked or didn't like about the article. NCSF sometimes includes a recommended response on important topics stating our position, which can be easily tailored to fit your personal use.

 

  • Personalize your opinion with the news article. Use examples that reference your own experience. Examples are: "As someone who has experienced job discrimination because of my alternative sexual practices, I feel strongly that·", or "As a long-time member of the polyamory community, I think·".

 

  • Frame yourself to establish common ground with the reader. We believe that it is important to frame yourself so readers relate to something you have in common with them. Frame yourself in terms of things like "parent, professional, involved member of my local community, proud U.S. citizen, former military officer, retired person, young person", or other ways that might enable you to relate to the readers as an individual they share something in common with. This also helps dispel the myth that alternative sexual expression is "wrong" or "abnormal."

 

  • Reference positive facts. Check out our recommended sound bites for the SM, swing and polyamory communities.

 

  • Stress the importance of national communities that promote safe and consensual sexual practices among adults through mentoring and education.

 

  • Focus on the issues, not the sexual practices. Try to focus the letter on violence and discrimination. The media already sensationalizes sexual activities and portrays them negatively most of the time. Try not to give them, or the radical right, any more ammunition than they already have by discussing your own sexual practices.

 

  • Point out that SM, swinging and polyamory is fun and enjoyable. The images and words depicted through the media about SM in particular are often negative and frightening to those who don't understand it. Words like "violence" are often associated with it wrongly, and the activities are frequently sensationalized and misrepresented. Discuss the caring relationships, intimacy, trust and communications aspects of these relationships whenever possible, stress that you like and enjoy it, and don't be afraid to mention that humor and laughter can also be part of these activities.

 

  • Send actual letters or faxes when possible. An actual letter or fax is generally given more weight by a publication than something received only by e-mail. If possible, send an actual letter by mail or send a fax in addition to the e-mail, particularly on issues of particular importance to you.

 

  • Send letters to community newspapers also. It's often much easier to get letters published in small publications than larger ones. If you're sending a response to a larger publication, copy the smaller newspapers as well.

 

  • Send letters to NCSF.  Be sure to send a copy of your letters to NCSF so we can track responses. Send to NCSF at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 1312 18th Street, NW, Suite102,  Washington, DC 20036.

These procedures are intended to guide NCSF staff member(s) who are assigned to individuals and/or a local community to assist after an incident. Incidents in relation to this program are defined as "negative encounters with law enforcement and/or other authorities". Since incidents can vary from a raid on a party with one or more arrests, to attacks on local groups or clubs, these procedures are meant only as a guide.

After an initial assessment, NCSF may offer assistance to the persons directly involved and/or the SM-Leather-Fetish or swing groups involved, or impacted by, the incident. Both the persons and the groups involved may, or may not, elect to receive some or all of the assistance offered by the NCSF.

Regardless, it is up to the local community to decide whether to rally around individual(s) who have been arrested, and to determine if it is the community's responsibility to help prevent the establishment of bad case law that will affect SM or swing practitioners in the future. The community needs to keep in mind that while they are supporting those who are arrested, they must also educate officials in order to prevent the same crisis from happening in the future.

It is the NCSF staff member's initial responsibility to offer the assistance options to the involved persons and the local community.

Incident Reporting & Response Team

Advisors

NCSF has a group of volunteers who are members of the Incident Reporting & Response Team. These volunteers have either been trained for a position on this team, or have special skills and abilities that strengthen the team. NCSF staff members on the Incident Reporting & Response Team may be involved in incidents in an advisory capacity only. NCSF is not a legal defense fund, nor does it take a voting position on the boards of legal defense funds. If an NCSF staff member lives in the local area and would like to participate on a legal defense fund or community response group, then he/she cannot be an official advisor on the NCSF Incident Response Team for that incident.

Number of Advisors
A minimum of two trained NCSF Incident Reporting & Response Team members will take on roles of Advisors for each Incident. Any community discussion, e-lists, or correspondence concerning the incident, no matter how trivial, should get copied to the two designated NCSF Advisors.

Phase 1: Incident Assessment

Initially, the NCSF staff directed to conduct the assessment must evaluate the incident and those involved in order for NCSF to determine the extent of our potential involvement. Depending on the circumstances, this assessment may be onsite or it may be via phone/email interviews. A summary of the incident should be prepared to include answers to these questions:

  • What is the exact charge?
  • Could this violation have been prevented?
  • If it is a business, did it have a license?
  • Do the victims have prior arrests?
  • Were there children on the premises?
  • Was alcohol involved?

Send the incident summary to the Director of Constituency Services. A decision must then be made as to whether the incident falls within the scope of the mission of the NCSF Incident Response Team

Phase 2: Initial Response

Assignment of Advisors
The
NCSF Coordinator shall assign two Advisors to the incident.

Officer of Assistance
Only after the Director of Constituency Services has approved an official
NCSF response can an official NCSF offer of assistance be made. The Director may determine which of the assistance possibilities will be offered.

Types of Assistance
The
NCSF can offer a number of things to assist during and after an incident. In general, these are: Advice on Organizing the Local Community and Creating Strategy for Their Response. This involves numerous possibilities as discussed in detail later.

Media Assistance
Media Assistance includes obtaining recognized national spokespersons and providing accurate information about SM-Leather practices for the media. This is also discussed later.

Education of Local Law Enforcement / Authorities
Typically this is a post-incident effort to educate authorities in an effort to establish future positive interaction.

Updates
In an effort to keep the
NCSF staff current on the status of the incident, internal NCSF updates from the advisors should be made to the appropriate internal NCSF email lists on a regular basis. Preferably, weekly updates during the heat of the incident, and monthly updates once things slow down. These should be labelled as confidential.

Victim's Veto
It is
NCSF's recommendation that any community response take into account the advice of the victim's lawyers regarding sensitive material such as: media interaction, FAQ, website content, and demonstrations. The victims should have veto power over these activities, and should be considered Advisors to any community response group. They are encouraged to attend the meetings held by the community response group. Some victims will want to set up their own response organization, such as the San Diego Six. However, these types of organizations that are run directly by the principles in the case shouldn't be confused with community response groups. In addition it should be noted that if NCSF is involved, the mission and objectives of NCSF as a whole do play a part in determining what the NCSF response is.

Phase 3: Organizing the Community

Prior to Arrival
The Incident Reporting & Response Team should make contact with as many state and local leaders and activists prior to their arrival. An open meeting should be set up to discuss the incident and possible community response.

First Community Meeting
An announcement should be made via an open letter sent to various e-lists, with the time, date and place of the meeting provided. The information in this Incident Response Procedures may be used to structure the meeting agenda. It's best if press aren't allowed at this initial community meeting. Instead, offer a special press meeting after the community meeting (sometimes you can't get rid of reporters, so just let them stay). Prior to every meeting ask whether any member of the press is present, and make sure to announce that everything said during the meeting is off-the-record. Allow individuals to vent and ask questions at this community meeting.

Establish an Ad Hoc Group
In the absence of a existing community coalition, this initial meeting can serve as the basis for forming a community response group. The types of community response we've seen so far take on aspects of both legal defense funds and/or activist groups. The most successful type of structure is the ad hoc grassroots model. Thus, anyone who is interested can come to meetings and have a voice in how things are run. Volunteers for tasks can come from this pool. It is time-consuming and unnecessary to try to incorporate this type of group in the heat of a crises.

Volunteer Positions
The ad hoc approach requires that volunteers agree to take on permanent positions:

  • Treasurer - The Treasurer keeps the books and arranges for a Doing Business as (DBA) account under the tax id number of a local SM-Leather-Fetish group.

  • Media Spokesperson - The Media Spokesperson can be trained by NCSF, and sticks to sound bites that are approved by the community ad hoc group.

  • Meeting Coordinator / Moderator - The Meeting Coordinator makes sure the time and place for the meeting is arranged, draws up the agenda items, and submits announcements to the e-lists for decimation. The Meeting Coordinator can also be the Moderator, who makes sure that the meeting runs smoothly.

  • Webmaster - The Webmaster sets up and edits the web page on an ongoing basis, and helps set up the communications e-list to be used by the ad hoc group.

  • Volunteers can take on temporary positions related to fund raising events, ie. party chair, volunteer organizer, raffle coordinator, etc.

Goals
This ad hoc community response group is intended to unite the local community around their response to the incident. This community response group could have as its goals: communication with the SM-Leather-Fetish community about the incident, media response, and fund raising. This group could also engage in activist functions such as promoting letter-writing campaigns, calling out the locals to appear at certain events, demonstrations, and forming coalitions with other local groups in support of their goals. Outreach should be done to all parts of the SM-Leather-Fetish communities: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual groups should receive the notices and all are encouraged to participate.

Specific Suggestions:

  • Name the group something other than the event or name that was cited. This makes it easier for the group to do media outreach without being confused as synonymous with the defendants.

  • Meetings should take place at a scheduled time and place. (ie. first and third Monday of the month at p.m.)

  • Meetings are announced at least a week in advance with current Agenda Items.

  • To place an item on the agenda, it must be submitted to the email list at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

  • After the first two meetings, people must attend two meetings before getting a vote.

  • Time limits can be placed on how long each individual can speak on each agenda item.

  • A treasury statement is provided at every meeting.

  • Establish agreed-upon meeting rules such as: Don't blame others; Wait until acknowledged by the moderator before speaking

This ad hoc approach has several advantages:

  • It will serve to unite disparate members of the local community when all are welcome to participate.

  • The volunteer pool will be much larger because people are more willing to take on tasks if they have a vote on what happens.

  • Your knowledge base is wider if you include more people.

  • There will be more accountability and less credibility issues of "what's happening with the money?" if everyone can show up and participate in meetings.

If a formal committee is created with a board/officers designed to be incorporated, then NCSF recommends that neither the victims nor their significant others should be on this board. The victims are busy working on their legal defense and don't need the added stress of trying to organize community fund raising events.

Important Affiliations and Attorneys

ACLU
Contact the state ACLU and inform them of this case. Often, they will have heard from media reports and will be responding to media inquiries. Contact Judy, Susan or Mindy if you need help getting through to the ACLU. Get the ACLU's recommendation for a reputable lawyer who can take on this case. Ask the ACLU if they will get involved, and get an official statement from them that can be included in press releases.

State LGBT Organization
Contact the state gay and lesbian legal group and inform them of this case. Get their recommendation for a reputable lawyer who can take this case. Ask them if they will get involved, and get an official statement from them that can be included in press releases.

NCSF Assistance
NCSF can help by using Nexis/Lexis and Westlaw to look up what kinds of cases the lawyer and their firm have been involved in the past. The immediate problem will be money to give for a retainer. Sometimes lawyers will take a fraction of the total amount and will wait until money is raised for the balance. However, they will want to know about plans for fund raising and the history of successful fund raising in our community. Donations to legal defense funds are not tax deductible.

Outreach

FAQ
Get the facts out to the SM-Leather-Fetish or swing communities - within 48 hours is best. Help the local volunteers create a short FAQ that answers the basic questions: who, what, where, when, why and how we're dealing with it. Let people know up front if this is a business, for-profit or non-profit, private or public event, etc. Send this FAQ to as many e-lists as you can. Designate an official point of contact for questions and offers of assistance. Add to the FAQ as needed.

Time Line
When anything happens, whether it's a court date or an ad hoc meeting, add it to your time line. That way anyone can go to the website and see at the top of the page the most recent thing that's happened with the case.

Media
When talking to the media, keep in mind that it is good legal sense to not discuss the particulars of the case. Sound-bites should be determined by the community response group (
NCSF can provide basic sound-bites to be adapted to each case). It's great if other activists wish to speak to the media, but they are advised to not speak about the particulars of the case (NCSF can provide national media contacts). NCSF should also contact GLAAD to get their opinion/help on the case. The community needs to be warned that chat rooms are considered "public" and that anything said in chat rooms could appear in the newspapers with attribution to the screen name it was posted under. None of the NCSF staff should disseminate rumors, facts about the case or opinions about the case.

Political Climate
NCSF will give guidance on analyzing the political climate and key officials. NCSF will also give advice on tactics and formulating a strategy on how to respond to incidents. This strategy will take into account that certain officials are elected, like the DA, the Mayor and the City Council members. The community response must consider whether it is an election year, or if there is a way that community pressure can be brought to bear on these officials.

Letter writing campaigns work very well, and NCSF can provide samples that can be tailored to each case. For example, in Baltimore, sample letters were provided for people who were out, not out, local or non-local. 150 letters in all were sent, tipping the scales in favor of the SM-Leather-Fetish community.

NCSF can also assist in arranging meetings and educating key officials. Usually this is done with the consent of the victims on the advice of their lawyer. However, the community has the right to know whether local officials intend to crack down on consensual SM or swing activities, and NCSF can help discuss this in a general way (without going into the particulars of the case).

Post-Incident

It's good to have some idea of where the ad hoc community response group is heading once the crisis is over. The community may decide that the ad hoc group will disband after the crises is over. NCSF encourages communities to continue with their activist coalition in order to make changes in local laws and attitudes. Planning for the future is particularly important if there is fund raising, so people who donate will know where their money will go if the case is settled. Does the community want to establish an incorporated legal defense fund? Does the community want to continue doing SM and swing activism to fight repressive laws and policy? Does the community want to donate the extra money to a local or national charity? If so, to who? Remember that the choice of this charity may affect whether people across the country want to donate to your cause.

 

Monday, 18 June 2007 07:11

What is SM?: Appendix A

American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. These criteria are listed in the Paraphilia section, pg. 525.

Diagnostic criteria for 302.83 Sexual Masochism:

  • Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound or otherwise made to suffer.
  • The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Diagnostic criteria for 302.84 Sexual Sadism

Learn more about NCSF's work to depathologize BDSM in the DSM

Monday, 18 June 2007 07:06

More Information about SM

Why do you call it SM instead of S&M?
The term "S&M" stands for Sadism and Masochism, and the historical definitions and depictions of S&M are often stereotyped and nonconsensual. The term "SM" stands for sadomasochism, which is a type of sexual orientation or behavior. Many people call it SM to emphasize the need for consent since both behaviors are united in a single word. SM is also sometimes referred as "leather," "Dominance & Submission," "D&S" and "BDSM".
 
Where did the terms Sadism and Masochism come from?
As the language has evolved, the contemporary definitions of sadism and masochism are changing. Sadism no longer implies non-consensuality, nor does it imply violence. It simply means that someone receives erotic gratification from the infliction of psychological or physical stimulation on a consenting partner. Conversely, a masochist is someone who enjoys receiving that psychological or physical stimulation.
 
The term 'sadism' was popularized by psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in 1886 and stems from the writings of the Marquis de Sade (de Sade's writing style had been referred to as "le sadisme" for years, Krafft-Ebing was the first to use the term in a clinical manner). The case histories he reported primarily concerned nonconsensual sexual violence and were not about what we now call SM.
 
Krafft-Ebing also coined the term 'masochism' to describe the enjoyment of sexual servitude. He took the term from the writings of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, a prominent Austrian novelist, who wrote about his own masochistic desires in novel form. Sacher-Masoch was alive at the time and not very happy about having a perversion named after him, as it defamed his grandfather. Sacher-Masoch was given his hypehenated name as an honor to his maternal grandfather; his mother was the only daughter of an esteemed public health physician. Dr. Masoch convinced the Austrian government to install the sewer system of Vienna, thereby preventing uncounted epidemics. It is ironic that this public health physician is remembered for a sexual diagnosis rather than for the good he actually accomplished.
 
Why do people do SM?
We do not know why some people are heterosexual and others are homosexual. We do not know why some people eroticize breasts and others legs. We do not understand how people develop any particular eroticism. We do know that no one has found any characteristic in childhood history, birth order, etc., that is more common among SM practitioners than the general public. Specifically, there is no indication that SM practitioners are more or less likely to have been spanked as children, or to have been the victim of sexual or other abuse as children.
 
Andreas Spengler did the first major study of those who identified as SM practitioners (1977). The only thing these devotees had in common was their high standard of living, social status, and education. 90% were perfectly happy with their sexual preferences, with their biggest burden being the social stigma attached to these acts. (A. Spengler, "Manifest Sadomasochism of Males: Results of an Empirical Study," Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 6, pp. 441-56.)
 
SM is about love and pleasure
SM is about sensation and stimulation, exchanging power, trusting one's partner, and sharing love and pleasure. Some SM practitioners seek "pain" but they want the sensation administered in a way that is ultimately pleasurable to them.
 
Sociologists Weinberg and Kamel wrote in 1995:

"Much S&M involves very little pain. Rather, many sadomasochists prefer acts such as verbal humiliation or abuse, cross-dressing, being tied up (bondage), mild spankings where no severe discomfort is involved, and the like. Often, it is the notion of being helpless and subject to the will of another that is sexually titillating... At the very core of sadomasochism is not pain but the idea of control - dominance and submission." (Thomas S. Weinberg and G.W. Kamel (1995). "S&M: An Introduction to the Study of Sadomasochism," S&M: Studies in Dominance and Submission, Prometheus Books, pg. 19.
 
Havelock Ellis, M.D., produced a groundbreaking study of sexuality: Studies of the Psychology of Sex, in which he wrote that the concept of pain is much misunderstood:

"The essence of sadomasochism is not so much "pain" as the overwhelming of one's senses - emotionally more than physically. Active sexual masochism has little to do with pain and everything to do with the search for emotional pleasure. When we understand that it is pain only, and not cruelty, that is the essential in this group of manifestations, we begin to come nearer to their explanation. The masochist desires to experience pain, but he generally desires that it should be inflicted in love; the sadist desires to inflict pain, but he desires that it should be felt as love...." (Havelock Ellis, M.D. (1926). Studies of the Psychology of Sex, F.A. Davis Company, pg. 160.)
Friday, 22 June 2007 21:40

NEWSBYTES - December 19, 2001

Net Obscenity Provisions Revocation Sought

NEWSBYTES

By David McGuire


http://www.NEWSBYTES.com

December 19, 2001, Washington, DC -- A small civil liberties group has asked a federal judge in New York to revoke what remains of an Internet pornography law that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997.

In a complaint filed in a New York City Federal Court [http://www.USCourts.gov ] last week, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom [https://ncsfreedom.org ] argued that the court should overturn the provisions of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that prohibit Web sites from displaying obscene material online.

"Many people are unaware that one of the most powerful censorship provisions of the Communications Decency Act [http://EPIC.org/cda] is still in place. Even fewer realize the dangerous effect it could have in the hands of an overzealous administration and attorney general,"NCSF spokesperson Susan Wright said in a prepared statement. Passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the CDA drew a barrage of criticism from industry groups, publishers and civil-liberties advocates.

In addition to prohibiting online obscenity -- which was already illegal in physical form -- the law called for Web site operators to be held criminally responsible if they allowed children to view constitutionally protected "indecent" material online.

Only the most graphic pornography and sexually explicit material meets the legal standard for obscenity. Milder sexually explicit material -- nude photos, erotic stories and the like -- may be considered indecent. But such material is protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A broad coalition of public interest groups -- including the American Library Association [http://www.ALA.org], the American Civil Liberties Union [ http://ACLU.org ] and the Center for Democracy and Technology [http://CDT.org ] challenged the indecency provisions of CDA, on grounds that it could crimp the rights of adults to view constitutionally protected speech online.

The groups convinced a lower court to freeze those provisions; that decision eventually was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the NCSF, which promotes sexual freedom and counts as members many operators of sexually explicit Web sites, maintains that the remaining online obscenity ban in CDA has a chilling effect on Web site operators who want to post sexually explicit materials.

The NCSF specifically argues that the "community standards" test in federal obscenity law is meaningless in global world of the Internet.

The obscenity ban in CDA is based on a decades-old obscenity standard that applies to printed materials, films and photos.

Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) Associate Director Alan Davidson, who was involved with the original CDA challenge said that the obscenity language in CDA was deliberately left out of the first challenge for that very reason. "The concept of prohibiting obscenity speech -- as controversial as it may be -- has been relatively well-settled law for many decades now," Davidson said. "The focus of the original challenge was on the area of greatest threat to free speech, which was the indecency provision."

Most of the original CDA challengers are now in the midst of fighting another law -- the Child Online Protection Act [ http://COPACommission.org ] -- which was passed by Congress shortly following the Supreme Court ruling in CDA. That law has been dubbed "CDA II" by its opponents. The Supreme Court heard arguments on that legislation last month.

Copyright © 2001 The Washington Post Company.

Techsploitation

By Annalee Newitz
San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 14, 2002
 
HERE'S YET ANOTHER wacky fact you probably didn't know about the Communications Decency Act ole Bill Clinton signed into law way back in 1996: the good citizens of some small town in Arizona or southern California might have the power to send you to jail if they think the contents of your Web site are "obscene." The CDA contains a section that makes it illegal for people to make or post on the Internet "any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, knowing that the recipient of the communication is under 18 years of age, regardless of whether the maker of such communication ... initiated the communication."
 
There are two major problems with this part of the CDA. First, it assumes that people on the Internet can control who sees what they post on a Web site or in newsgroups. Right now it's just not technically possible to screen Web surfers by age or anything else. Second, and more disturbingly, the CDA doesn't define what "obscene" might be. The only definitions offered refer to "local community standards," a phrase drawn from previous Supreme Court decisions that relied on the values of particular geographic regions to define "local community standards." Obviously, this definition is meaningless on the Internet, where Skippy from Massachusetts might post a picture of himself humping his kitchen appliances on a Web server operated out of Florida, which would then be downloaded by an eager Betty Crocker fetishist in Idaho.
 
Translated into a real-life scenario, the CDA language in question here means that somebody like New York artist Barbara Nitke (www.barbaranitke.com), whose Web site displays her erotic art, could be sent to jail if somebody under 18 happens to visit her Web site. This is precisely the scenario members of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in Washington, DC, fear most. To prevent the Ashcroft court from setting repressive precedents with this little-known section of the CDA, the NCSF and Nitke have gone on the offensive: in mid December they filed a legal complaint with the 1st U.S. District Court in southern New York that argues that the language about "obscenity" in the CDA is unconstitutionally vague and will have a chilling effect on free speech.
 
As NCSF executive director Judy Guerin told me last week, this case is just one of several the NCSF is planning, including ones that challenge digital surveillance sections of the USA PATRIOT Act. Guerin, whose organization was formed in 1997, says that we're at a crucial juncture in American politics right now. With Ashcroft in power, we're likely to see an increase in obscenity trials [^] the attorney general has a record of extreme conservatism in cases like these. At the same time, civil liberties groups like the NCSF worry that Ashcroft will use the "war on terror" to refuse to hear appeals in obscenity cases, since their outcomes have no bearing on our current state of national emergency.
 
"We think American society has made tremendous strides in how we think about sex and sexuality," Guerin says. "And we're concerned that this ultraconservative regime is going to set us back. We need to be aggressive and proactive to prevent society from reverting under the current conservative administration." Guerin adds that the Nitke case will almost certainly come before the Supreme Court. "Unlike most cases where you have to ask permission to be heard before the Supreme Court, the CDA gives us an automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court." If the District Court finds the CDA unconstitutional, Ashcroft will probably fight it, and if the CDA isn't found unconstitutional, the NCSF will appeal to the Supreme Court.
 
Such a case, like many in the courts right now, will determine a great deal about the future of online content. It could set a precedent for how "local community standards" are defined in a world where community has nothing to do with geographic locality. Moreover, this case could become the first in the Supreme Court to grapple directly with the nature of "obscenity" online. Ironically, our most technologically advanced method of communication, the Internet, could become the means by which antiquated social values are disseminated on a global scale. Or it might propel us into a cultural future we never imagined. I'm not sure yet if that's a good thing or not.
 
Annalee Newitz ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is a surly media nerd who thinks everything has at least a little social, literary, artistic, or political merit. Her column also appears in Metro, Silicon Valley's weekly newspaper.
 

Communications Decency Act A Lingering Coup de Grace?

By Tim Kingston
 
January 23, 2002
 
You may dimly recall the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which unsuccessfully attempted to define and proscribe "indecency" on the Internet. That law's legal core--its indecency provision--was immediately challenged and rapidly struck down as unconstitutional by free- and electronic-speech advocates. But, what many may not know is that another portion of the law, prohibiting "obscene" materials on the Internet as defined by the Supreme Court, remains standing.
 
That is something that the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and Barbara Nitke, a New York artist whose sexually charged photographs could be subject to the law, intend to change. Judy Guerin, the group's executive director, hopes this is a final coup de grace to that law. On Jan. 29, a federal court in New York City will be hearing preliminary arguments in a case that is likely to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court--due to the fact that appellants have an automatic and expedited right of appeal. "Obscenity is tied to community standards," asserted Guerin. "We feel that community standards are not defined and what has been previously thought of as community standards in a geographic area is not applicable to the Internet. It could mean that the most restrictive community standards in the country could apply."
 
The problem that Guerin cites was equally problematic with the original attempt to outlaw "indecency" on the Internet. Essentially, Guerin and other civil-liberties proponents worry that the federal government could go "venue shopping" until they found a community with standards restrictive enough to guarantee a conviction. As she pointed out, Utah has a "porn czarina" who thinks that the women's magazines Redbook and Vogue are "obscene." Given that definition, it would not be outrageous to say that every queer publication on the Internet is at risk.
 
Guerin, whose group is a coalition of 22 different organizations representing some 10,000 members, added, "This is an important issue for all, from [those concerned about] sex education, to anyone who talks about any kind of sexual issue on the Internet. It is certainly something the LGBT movement should be very concerned about, become very proactive about and [be] aggressive against [U.S. Attorney General John] Ashcroft."
 
"We feel [the law] has a chilling effect because people do not know what is and what is not allowed on the Internet with relation to sexually frank material," said Guerin. "The good news is that we are proactively trying to overturn it before the administration tries to score political points by enforcing it."
 
The NCSF director pointed out that "Ashcroft has been meeting with Concerned Women for America, the Religious Right and the Christian Coalition, and has talked about prosecuting obscenity cases. If we don't do this proactively, they will prosecute a horrible case in a venue that is not favorable and it will be decided on their terms."
 
Asked if perhaps it might not be better to "let sleeping dogs lie" in this case, since the law has not been enforced or mentioned in years, Guerin responded forcefully. First, she cited the current repressive and frighteningly patriotic climate: "During these times our most basic American values get tested and free speech is a value that we are fighting for...our rights really hinge on freedom of speech." Laughing, she added, "The second part of that is that we don't think the [U.S.] Supreme Court is going to be better or any more liberal, any time soon."
 
SF Frontiers was unable to contact Department of Justice officials for comment. The staffer concerned was prioritizing the Marin Taliban press conference over the first amendment.
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>
Page 7 of 32
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
Or please complete the
Presentation Request Form

Help send our trained presenters to give important educational workshops.
Join NCSF and help bring workshops to groups both inside and outside our communities.