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You do not have to be afraid of people who engage in SM. SM players are doctors, lawyers, teachers, construction workers, fire fighters, secretaries and everything else you can imagine.

 

In her 1983 book Erotic Power, sociologist Gini Scott examined the dynamics of the heterosexual SM subculture.

She stated: "Unlike the psychiatrists and psychologists who deal primarily with psychologically troubled individuals who are also interested in D&S [Dominance and Submission], I did not find them to be psychologically troubled or socially inept; rather, a spirit of good humor and fun prevailed, and the participants appeared to be mostly attractive, quite ordinary-looking people who had ordinary relationships outside the D&S scene... A vast variety of people with a diverse range of erotic interests participate in sadomasochiSM. Their backgrounds, activities and attitudes are quite unlike the social stereotype that depicts sadomasochiSM as a form of violence, mischief, or mayhem perpetrated by the psychologically unstable who seek to hurt others or to be hurt themselves... At the core of the community are mostly sensible, rational respectable, otherwise quite ordinary people. Thus, quite unlike its public image, the community is a warm, close and supportive one."

Gini Scott (1983). Erotic Power, Citadel Press: pg. x.

Monday, 18 June 2007 06:50

The Psychiatric Opinion About SM

The Psychiatric Opinion About SM

 

In recent years as more research has been published, the mental health and medical communities have begun to accept that SM is a safe, legitimate pursuit.

 

According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) which defines currently recognized mental disorders, SM per se is NOT a mental disorder. In their diagnostic criteria for both sexual masochism and sexual sadism, the DSM-IV states that SM only becomes a diagnosable dysfunction when:

"the fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning."

 

In addition, the DSM-IV clearly allows for non-pathological sexual behavior:

 

"a paraphilia must be distinguished from the non-pathological use of sexual fantasies, behavior or objects as a stimulus for sexual excitement."

 

[The entire diagnostic criteria for sexual masochism and sexual sadism are reproduced Appendix A.]

Monday, 18 June 2007 06:48

SM is not Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional intimidation of one partner to coerce or isolate the other partner without consent. Abuse tends to be cyclical in nature, escalates over time, and characterized by apologies between the episodes that it will never happen again.
SM is not abuse or domestic violence because:
  • SM is voluntary. The partners agree to erotic power exchange of their own free will and choice. Either partner is free to leave at any time. The fact that SM relationships do split (amiably or not) without retaliation or violence supports the importance of this distinction.
  • SM is consensual. All partners involved agree to what is going to happen. Discussion of limits is usual and customary. Violation of those limits is a serious offense within the SM community.
  • SM partners are informed. Participants involved in erotic power exchange have an understanding of the possible consequences.
  • SM partners ask for and enjoy the behavior; they are often disappointed if the behavior does not happen. There is no apology for the behavior after it is over, rather both partners are happy and satisfied that it occurred.
  • SM partners take great care to make sure that their activities are as safe as possible. To truly damage their partner would deny themselves of being able to participate in the behavior. Individuals that violate their partners limits soon find that they are lacking partners in which to engage in the behavior. To emphasize the point, SM groups frequent hold educational meetings on how to safely engage in the behavior.
 
Nonetheless, as with any group of people, you will find cases of domestic violence among SM practitioners. The organized SM-Leather-Fetish community does not condone domestic violence and actively encourages victims and abusers to seek help.
 
Sociologist Thomas S. Weinberg is the author of numerous professional articles on human sexuality in various scholarly journals. In Studies in Dominance & Submission, Dr. Weinberg says:
 
"While the individuals we have discussed are different in many ways there are, nevertheless, some common themes running through them. These similarities are all related to S&M as a form of social interaction. For example, the importance of learning both attitudes and techniques through a socialization process is evident in all of these [sigma] In order for an S&M scene to be successful, from the viewpoint of both partners, it must be collaboratively worked out. Unless there is satisfaction on the part of both master (or mistress) and slave, the relationship will terminate. Thus, there must be agreement on the scene and consent given by both parties. Adjustments must be made by participants so that they are both stimulated."
 
Thomas S. Weinberg (1995). Studies in Dominance & Submission, Prometheus Books: pg. 89.
Monday, 18 June 2007 06:40

SM is Safe, Sane, and Consensual

SM-Leather-Fetish educational and social organizations consider the cornerstone of SM activity to be the guidelines: "safe, sane, and consensual." While it is possible to do any activity in a reckless and dangerous manner, SM is no more dangerous than skiing or other thrilling activities.

Safe

Safe is being knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what you are doing, and acting in accordance with that knowledge. Safety includes the responsibility of protecting yourself and your partner from STD (sexually tranSMitted disease) infection including the HIV virus.

While the media often portrays the more extreme SM behaviors, the reality is that a lot of SM play never goes beyond a playful spanking. Just as there are ways to reduce the risk in activities such as scuba diving or driving a car, there are ways to reduce the risk and engage in SM behavior safely.

The organized SM community is active in promoting safety seminars and teaching the practitioners how to engage in these behaviors safely. The fact that SM practitioners are not clogging the emergency rooms every weekend, is an indication that these programs are working. If SM injuries were occurring, it seems obvious that the press would be highlighting this for the entertainment of its readers/viewers.

Sane

Sane is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Fictional accounts of SM are often distorted for fantasy sake, and are not representative of real situations and relationships.

Sane also distinguishes between mental illness and health. A real distinction between mental illness and health is when a behavior pattern causes problems in a person[base ']s life. Washing your hands until the skin is peeling off, or so frequently that you can not otherwise function is a sign mental illness. SM, like any other behavior, can be a sign of psychiatric problems. However the vast majority of its practitioners find that SM enriches and promotes functionality in the other areas of their life.

Consensual

Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant at all times.

Consent is the prime ingredient of SM. One difference between rape and heterosexual intercourse is consent. One difference between violence and SM is consent. The same behaviors that might be crimes without consent are life-enhancing with consent.

The type and parameters of control are agreed upon by the people involved, and the ongoing consent of all participants is required. Some practitioners use a safeword, which is a designated word that signals the scene must slow down or stop.

Rick Houlberg writes in "The Magazine of a Sadomasochism Club: The Tie That Binds":

"The only 'cardinal' rules which the Club's membership insists each member must uphold are that all SM activities must be consensual, nonexploitative, and safe. As children are not considered to be able to consent, all activities must be between adults. The consensual and safety rules of the Club are constantly being reinforced. Safety and etiquette issues, including restrictions on overt and heavy drug use, are strongly stressed at new-member orientations and in all written materials produced by the Club."

Rick Houlberg (1993). "The Magazine of a Sadomasochism Club: The Tie That Binds." Journal of Homosexuality 21 (1/2), Haworth Press: pg. 167-83.

Monday, 18 June 2007 06:36

Is SM Sexual Orientation or Behavior

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

 
SM is not easily defined; the range of behaviors are quite broad and most participants do not enjoy all of the activities or roles. The problems with the definition are discussed at length in an article by Weinberg, Williams and Moser. They found five features present in most SM interactions they studied:
  • Dominance and submission - the appearance of rule and obedience of one partner over the other
  • Consensuality - a voluntary agreement to enter into SM "play" (interaction) and to honor certain "limits" (ground rules of how involved and in which direction the play can proceed);
  • Sexual content - the presumption that the activities have a sexual or erotic meaning;
  • Mutual definition - the assumption of a shared understanding by the participants that their activities are SM or a similar concept;
  • Role playing - the participants assume roles either for the interaction or for the relationship that they recognize are not reality.
 Weinberg, M.S., Williams, C.J., & Moser, C.A. (1984). "The social constituents of sadomasochism." Social Problems, 31, pg. 379-389.
Monday, 18 June 2007 06:12

What is SM? Introduction

By Susan Wright
with contributions from Charles Moser, Ph.D., M.D.

In the last decade, SM awareness has exploded into popular culture. SM is commonly depicted in advertising, books, movies, music, and is becoming commonplace on television. SM has been positively covered by Newsweek, Time, Ms. Magazine, the New York Times and many other national publications. SM fashion accessories have become commonplace, as have jokes about SM play.

Yet separating the truth about SM from the stereotypes can be difficult.

This article is an attempt to educate the public about sadomasochism (SM). The following are some answers about consensual SM that are supported by scientific research.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
  1. SM is a Sexual Orientation or Behavior
  2. SM is Safe, Sane and Consensual
  3. SM is not Domestic Violence
  4. Seeking A Professional
  5. Should I Be Afraid of People Who Enjoy SM?
  6. How Many People Engage in SM Activities?
  7. More Information About SM Activities
  8. Appendix A

 

Tuesday, 22 May 2007 06:32

Media Outreach Program

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom does media advocacy for the millions of Americans who suffer discrimination and persecution because of their normal interest in some form of alternative sexual expression, such as SM, fetishes, polyamory, and swinging. A great deal of the bigotry against sexual minorities occurs because of a lack of information and the resulting negative depiction by the media. We offer resources for both the media and the alternative sexual expression communities.

Monday, 30 July 2007 21:14

Volunteer Opportunties

VolunteerRaise your hand and be a part of the solution!!

Consider donating one of your most important assets, your time!

Whether you want to work behind the scenes or take a more public role -- we have a project just right for you! There are important tasks to be done and we need your help to make it all happen.

Commit to as much or as little as you'd like, but please, make a decision today to help make a difference.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to find out more about volunteering with NCSF for other jobs and tasks!

 

Open Positions

Media Volunteer(s)

NCSF's Media volunteers are the people who put the face on what we do. From writing press releases, newsletters, articles, to doing interviews and coordinating with the press, they are the people who craft our presentations to the outside world. If you have good communication skills, come help us!

Freelance Writer - Develop articles about NCSF for hardcopy magazines

Description/Responsibilities

Opportunity for freelance writers to get international exposure writing articles about NCSF for the hardcopy magazine, Power Exchange Magazine.

Writers will cover a NCSF program, project or aspect of our services by interviewing staff members and Coalition Partner reps. Essays can be 1,000 to 1,800 words long.

Possible ideas are - a Coalition Partner fundraiser roundup; the swing and poly and what BDSM community has in common with those communities; the NCSF EOP program and presenters; a behind-the-scenes look at our Board and the work they're doing; NCSF's KAP program and people who have benefited from it.

Writers will report to the Media Committee. If you've volunteered to write for NCSF before, please volunteer again!

 

Wednesday, 12 September 2007 22:05

Previous NCSF Boards

NCSF Board of Directors  (2006-2007)

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   (Board Chair)

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   (Board Chair-Elect)

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This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   (Board Treasurer) 

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This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    (Board Secretary)

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Monday, 29 December 2008 06:06

NCSF History

Hard at Work to Defend Your Rights

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) was formed in 1997 by a small group led by Susan Wright under the auspices of the New York SM Activists. The goal was to fight for sexual freedom and privacy rights for all adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior.

The first five organizations who joined reflected our desire to be a nationwide organization:

  • National Leather Association—International
  • Gay Male S/M Activists
  • The Eulenspiegel Society
  • Black Rose
  • Society of Janus  

Today, NCSF has over 50 Coalition Partners who elect the board that runs NCSF, and establish our goals at the annual Coalition Partner meeting. Coalition Partners are groups and businesses who serve BDSM, swing and polyamory practitioners and also support NCSF by holding an annual fundraiser. NCSF also has over 100 Supporting Members – groups and businesses that support NCSF.

Over the years, NCSF has formed alliances with other organizations that defend sexual freedom rights: Free Speech Coalition, the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators Councilors and Therapists, Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others.

Early Successes for NCSF

The 1998 Violence & Discrimination survey revealed the extent of discrimination and persecution that exists against the SM-leather-fetish communities. NCSF found that 36 percent of SM practitioners have been victims of harassment and that 30 percent have been victims of discrimination. This discrimination resulted in 24 percent losing a job or a contract, 17 percent losing a promotion and 3 percent losing custody of a child. This survey helped NCSF gear our energies towards issues that matter most to our constituents.


NCSF also lent assistance to the local communities in San Diego and Baltimore, to help to stop the selective enforcement of zoning and public indecency laws against the SM-Leather-Fetish communities. Next, NCSF assisted the local communities in Attleboro, MA and Washington, DC as those cities faced the same selective enforcement that had been attempted in Baltimore and San Diego. NCSF continues to work with State Attorney Generals and local District Attorneys to help educate these authorities about SM, swing and polyamory practices to prevent dangerous precidents from being set against adult consensual sexuality.

NCSF and the Media

As an advocacy organization, one of NCSF's strategies has been to educate the media about issues facing the SM-Leather-Fetish, swing and polyamory communities. You can help by signing up for NCSF's Newsletters and read our Blog for NCSF News and Media Updates. This weekly email will alert you to stories about alternative sexual expression in the news, and will give you contact information so that you can respond to an editor to let them know if you liked or disliked an article and why. We also give you tips on how to write a letter in our Activist Resources. Even if your letter is not printed, these letters influence how editorial decisions are made in the future.

NCSF's Media Outreach Program has developed a package of materials that provide information about NCSF and the communities we represent. This program provides education and training to groups and individuals on how to effectively interact with the media.

One example of NCSF's advocacy efforts took place in the Attleboro MA coverage in July, 2000. In the first media reports regarding the Attleboro arrests, the incident was characterized as a "sex club" raid. Within 48 hours, a coordinated effort led by NCSF and the local community to educate the media resulted in a major change in the characterization of the arrests. The tone of the coverage went from defending the actions of the law enforcement officers to questioning their judgment and several reporters raised legitimate questions about possible civil rights violations.

From February to May 2002, five SM conventions were targeted by Concerned Women for America, American Family Association, and the American Decency Association. NCSF worked with each event to counter sensationalized attacks in the media as well as resisting action by local authorities who attempted to shut down some of these SM conferences. The attacks took place in the midwest against My Vicious Valentine and International Mr. Leather in Chicago, Bound by Desire in Michigan, Tribal Fire in Oklahoma, and Beat Me in St. Louis in Missouri.

NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response Program: Helping you...

n 2012, NCSF's Incident Reporting and Response helped hundreds individuals, groups and businesses when they faced persecution because of their involvement with BDSM, swinging or polyamory. The IRR program has been underway since 1997, providing people with advice, documentation to assist their efforts, and help with strategy and tactics.

NCSF consults with attorneys representing defendants in criminal and civil cases as well as with prosecutors and District Attorneys. We also receive requests from individuals, groups and businesses asking:

• How to operate legally

• How to do law enforcement outreach

• How to file for nonprofit status

• How to do media outreach and crisis intervention

• How to do hotel or venue outreach

• How to deal with family court in divorce or custody issues

Please support NCSF to help change the legal, political and social environment in the U.S.

 

Education Strategies

Early in 2000, NCSF launched its Education Outreach Program (EOP). This program is designed to educate law enforcement officials about our communities, and educate members of our community regarding the risks of selective enforcement and how to minimize the risk of becoming a target. NCSF has published a number of pieces of literature for this program and has assembled and trained a team of individuals from across the country to deliver the educational presentations developed by the NCSF-EOP. New presentations are always being developed by the EOP team.

 

We Need You! 

ACT Now - Support NCSF!In the past decade, alternative sexual expression has become much more visible to the general public. As we continue to move into the streets of mainstream America, we face an increasing number of attacks against our right to freedom of sexual expression. While the battles that NCSF has waged have been successful, our resources are depleted. will continue to defend against these attacks, but the success of that fight depends on your support. You can provide that support by becoming an individual member of NCSF, volunteering to join the NCSF staff, making a donation to NCSF, or encouraging your group to become a Coalition Partner of NCSF.

 

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Page 10 of 33
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.