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For more information and current press releases.  

             

S&M! Lewd Ken dolls! Worhington's wild weekend.
The Other Paper (Columbus, Ohio)
February, 12, 2009

Despite Right Wing Pressure, Straight BDSM Gathering Goes Forward
The Boston Edge
February 10, 2009

Interview with Susan Wright, Spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
Kasidie Magazine
October 2008

Shrinks: Kinky Sex is a Mental Disorder
Mom Logic
September, 19, 2008

 

For some, Gitmo interrogation techniques are a real turn-on
New Jersey Star-Ledger
August 2008  

Leather Scene Not as Gay as Imagined: Many gay folk in the bondage S/M scene relate more to the leather community than the LGBT community
By Bill Schoell
NY Blade
August 08, 2008

Man on video in R. Kelly trial: He did what?
By Rex W. Huppke
Chicago Tribune
June 8, 2008    

Daddy do-right; The Sexies Awards
By Dan Savage
Detroit Metro Times
March 5, 2008  

Death shines light on dangers of sex play
By Carly Weeks
Globe and Mail
February 28, 2008  

Bound and Flagged: Members of Seattle kink community face discrimination in custody battles
By Jason Simms
The Stranger
February 21, 2007

When three's no crowd
By Rachel Breitman
Gay City News
October 25, 2007   

Media, critics get whipped into frenzy by Leather Fest
By Jefferson Siegel and Lincoln Anderson
The Villager (NYC)
October 10 - 16, 2007   

Pollard denied access to papers; Justices refuse to hear appeal
By Guy Taylor
The Washington Times
March 21, 2006

Arts Briefly: Justices reject photographer's appeal
By Ben Sisario
New York Times
March 21, 2006   

Foes of Anti-porn Law Prep Appeal To Supreme Court
By Fresia Rodriguez Cadavid
Technology Daily
August 22, 2005  

Spanking Jessica Cutler: Capitol Hill attorney sues Washingtonienne for exposing his kinks
By Rachel Kramer Bussel
Village Voice
May 31, 2005 

Nothing wrong with sex
UCLA Daily Bruin
Feb 14, 2005   

Waltham sex boutique aims to attract couples
By Joshua Myerov
Boston Globe
October 14, 2004

Sex, art & politics takes on John Ashcroft
By Susan Wright
San Francisco Bay Area Indymedia
August 30, 2004 

Iowa State U.: Iowa State Board of Regents next to receive Cuffs appeal.
By Morris L. Manning
The America's Intelligence Wire
June 1, 2004   

Iowa State U.: Members of Iowa State U. bondage group appeal assault verdict
By Tom Barton
The America's Intelligence Wire
May 3, 2004  

East Carolina U.: Club focusing on fringe sexuality denied East Carolina U. association.
The America's Intelligence Wire
April 8, 2004   

Iowa State U.: Group wants Iowa State U. Cuffs charges dropped.
The America's Intelligence Wire
By Tom Barton
February 23, 2004  

Kenner police heavy-handed
The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
October 20, 2003  

Sex club is shut down: Restraining order targets 'private' fetish group in Lakewood
By Ann Schrader
Denver Post
May 21, 2003   

Queen of Pain, Dominatrix: I'll whip courts over sex rap
Philadelphia Daily News
August 27, 2003   

Slap leather, S&M lovers: 'Thunder' to peal soon
By Ann Schrader
Denver Post
June 1, 2003   

Controlling clubs a zoning matter
By Peter Ward
The Sun (Lowell, MA)
December 28, 2002   

A taste of the whip for Saddam: U.N. weapons inspector Jack McGeorge's leadership role in the Washington S/M scene isn't a liability, says a friend -- it'll help him distinguish between fantasy and reality.
By Kerry Lauerman
Salon
December 3, 2002   

Monitor irons out kinks with UN
By Joe Williams
NY Daily News
November 30, 2002   

U.N. begins searches in Iraq
By Maggie Farley, John J. Goldman And John Hendren
Los Angeles Times  
November 28, 2002   

No background checks on applicants: Critics say U.N. inspectors are inexperienced
By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post
November 28, 2002  

Cendant, sex lobby communicate but don't make up
Lodging Hospitality
October 1, 2002   

Cendant spars with sexual freedom lobby
Lodging Hospitality
August 1, 2002   

Bound by a boycott
The Advocate
May 28, 2002   

Sex-Oriented convention opens today despite effort to ban it
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 27, 2002   

What is going on in that ballroom?
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 25, 2002   

Senator will try to block sadomasochism seminar
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 22, 2002  

Senator wants sex seminar outlawed,  says event is 'absolutely dangerous'
Belleville News-Democrat (St . Louis, MO)
April 22, 2002 

Hotel will host seminar, despite objections from Southern Baptists...
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 7, 2002   

One more faction whips Congress
The American Enterprise
March 1, 2002

Group with unconventional tastes draws ire over gathering
By Burt Constable
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
February 7, 2002

The erotic web offensive
By Annalee Newitz
AlterNet
January 14, 2002   

New suit targets obscenity law
By Julia Scheeres
Wired
December 12, 2001 

Tough Love: Inside the city's growing sadomasochistic scene
Philadelphia Daily Ne
ws
July 10, 2001

Kinky find a cause in 'Paddleboro'
By Amy Pagnozzi
Hartford Courant
March 9, 2001   

Lawsuit targets last scraps of Net-obscenity law
By Sam Costello
CNN
December 20, 2001   

New Suit Targets Obscenity Law
By Julia Scheeres
Wired
December 12, 2002

1976 case seen a key to Attleboro sex party charges
By Cindy Rodriguez
Boston Globe
July 17, 2000

N.Y. woman charged in Mass. spank party
By Leo Standora
NY Daily News
July 13th 2000

Safe, sane and consensual' is rule for sadomasochists
By Stacy Downs and Dawn Bormann
The Kansas City Star 
June 16, 2000 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NCSF Profile
An interview with Leigha Fleming, then-interim Executive Director of NCSF.

On Our Backs
Tristan Taormino interview former NCSF Executive Director Judy Guerin.

 

 

Published in NCSF in the News!

by Female Trouble
March 1994

 

Within the women√Ęs community, over half (56%) of the 539 lesbian and bisexual women surveyed experienced discrimination, harassment, or physical assault from other women because of their participation in consensual s/m. This survey only dealt with the discrimination or violence occurring within the lesbian community against S/M women.

Harassment is the most common form of attack against s/m practitioners in the lesbian community. 44% of the S/M women reported some form of violence against them, with one-third of the reported incidents of harassment had occurred in the last year (1993).

 

30% of the S/M women in the survey experienced discrimination in the lesbian community because of their s/m orientation. This discrimination included being refused membership or being ejected from social, recreational, political, education, spiritual groups within the lesbian community.

 

Incidents of physical assault in the lesbian community because of S/M orientation were reported by 25% of the women. This includes being slapped, punched or kicked by other women because of their s/m orientation.

 

Of the 367 s/m women who were victims and/or witnesses of violence at some point in their lives, only 22% felt safe enough to report the incidents to police or event organizers, group leaders, bar staff, etc. Only 25% stated that their complaints had been handled satisfactorily. This reputation within the lesbian community for not supporting victims of violence, harassment and discrimination prevents s/m women from fully participating in the community.

 

In the forward of the Female Trouble analysis, Jad Keres writes: "The S/M women who have taken part in this survey have something important to tell us. Listening to them does not require an understanding of their sexual expression nor approval of their lifestyle. It does require a willingness to still the persistent noise of hard-held opinions and unyielding dogma. As a community, will we finally allow the voices of all women to be heard and heard consistently or will we continue to blatantly censor and dismiss the lives of women we do not understand or approve of? As a community, will we finally acknowledge and stop the political violence that has preyed upon S/M women or will we continue to ignore the real bloody consequences of the 'Sex Wars'?"

 

Female Trouble, PO Box 30145, Philadelphia PA 19103


17th Annual Symposium
in San Diego, California on Aug 27, 1999

 

I. Who we are... why we are doing this

 

Introductions of Dr. Ruth W., neurologist, and Susan Wright, Policy Director of NCSF

 

We are presenting on "SM Issues for Healthcare Providers" because the same issues which may lead to inadequate health care for patients with non-mainstream sexual orientations or gender identity affect those who participate in sexual minority practices.

 

There are many questions related to physical or psychological health which patients may feel unable to ask because of fear of discrimination or of breach of confidentiality. As health care providers, we have a responsibility to be able to address these concerns without passing judgment.

 

An understanding of the basic principles of SM play enables us to fulfill this responsibility. In addition, it is important that we be able to identify when someone is in an abusive, non-consensual situation, and to provide them with appropriate support. This workshop will address the physical and psychological aspects of SM practices and provide an understanding of common scenarios.

 

II. Examples of questions Doctors may get

 

A 50 y/o man defers consulting his family physician about lower abdominal cramping associated with bowel movements because he is afraid the doctor will be able to tell he is into anal sex play and enemas, and that this may be related to his problem.

 

A 30 y/o woman gets a vaginal tear from fisting, which is continuing to bleed, but doesn't want to consult her doctor or got to the ER.

 

A 45 y/o man is left in bondage by a professional dominatrix for too long and develops numbness and weakness of both arms which does not resolve after a couple of days.

 

A 25 y/o woman newly diagnosed with MS is scared to explore her new interest in SM with her girlfriend, because she doesn't know how to ask her neurologist about what might be safe or dangerous for her to do.

 

The same issues which may lead to inadequate healthcare for patients with non-mainstream sexual orientation or gender identity affect those who participate in sexual minority practices. This includes gays, lesbians, bisexuals, folks who enjoy SM, who have body modifications such as piercings, tattoos, who crossdress, who are sex workers, who have multiple partners, who are transgendered or engage in fetish behavior.

 

There are many questions related to physical or psychological health which patients may feel unable to ask because fear of discrimination or of breach of confidentiality. Simple problems fester or become chronic. Patients are afraid to tell their doctors about their alternative sexual expression - even doctors they know are kink-friendly.

 

We are all unused to discussing sexuality in a neutral atmosphere and we are not given training to do it. In the LGBT community we are at an advantage, because sexuality is often more to the forefront than in the heterosexual community, but this certainly doesn't make us immune to being judgmental about practices outside our realm of experience. But precisely because of this reason I would argue that we have more of a responsibility to address issues related to alternative sexual practices.

 

Everyone deserves adequate health care, whether they are kinky or straight. As a prerequisite to good health care, the patient must trust their physician.

 

As healthcare providers we have a responsibility to be able to address these concerns without passing judgment. An understanding of the basic principles of SM play enables us fulfill this responsibility. In addition it is important that we be able to identify when someone is in an abusive situation and to provide them with appropriate support.

 

III. What is SM?

 

SM includes a broad and complex group of behaviors between consenting adults that involves the consensual exchange of power. This includes the giving and receiving of intense erotic sensation and/or mental discipline and power games.

SM activity is often called "playing" or having a "scene" because that is the way the SM-Leather-Fetish community approaches our form of sexual expression. Our equipment is often referred to as "toys". Like any other kind of game, we have rules we play by.

 

Individuals negotiate their limits prior to having a scene. Negotiation is ongoing; before, during and after the scene (what's known as "aftercare") to make sure the bottom is fine with what occurred. In our community, it's considered polite to check in with a bottom the day after the scene (or to request that they call you). This is usually more for the psychological issues that may have arisen rather than physical concerns.

 

SM does not feel like what it looks like. SM rests on a firm foundation of ongoing communication because most of what's going on is in the participants head. I'll use the term top and bottom, but it's also called dominant and submissive, or master and slave. SM is sometimes called D/S or BDSM or the practitioner may not identify or label their activities at all.

 

Contrary to popular stereotypes, the bottom is in control of the scene and can stop the activity at any time. Often people use a predetermined "safeword". This is a word or gesture that will stop the scene. At community events, the established safeword is "safeword," but individuals often have their own personal safeword, or some simply use "no" to mean "no." Sometimes people who are very submissive have trouble saying no, so a word like "red" is easy for them to say. Or some bottoms like to resist and say no, when they really mean yes, so they choose to have a safeword.

 

This community-wide standard was codified more than ten years ago in the creed: "safe, sane, consensual."

 

1. Safe is being knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what you are doing, and acting in accordance with that knowledge.

 

This includes protection against HIV, STDs, and hepatitis. It also includes notifying your partner of any physical condition that may impact on the scene, like asthma, bad back, epilepsy, etc. It also includes psychological safety, such as you were abused as a child and don't like a particular part of your body touched.

 

The community concerns itself with safety issues by supporting hundreds of educational and social organizations that teach people the proper way to use their equipment. Such as: how to tie wrists without putting pressure on the insides; how to properly clean equipment; which areas on the body are unsafe to stimulate, such as the face, joints, spine, bottoms of the feet.

 

2. Sane is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, and acting in accordance with that knowledge.

Since physical acts has so much power, there are many fantasies that can be acted out by only hinting at the physical conditions someone fantasizes about. That's why our language is so symbolic: dungeon, slave, words of humiliation, or affectionate ownership. You may have to break through the fantasy to make sure your patient likes and wants what is happening.

 

Sane includes being of clear mind, and the community strongly recommends that mind-altering substances should be avoided during a scene, including alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs that impair judgment.

 

3. Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant at all times. One of the recognized ways to maintain limits is through the "safeword" I mentioned. If it's nonconsensual, then it's abuse or assault. SM must be consensual.

 

To determine if informed consent has been reached, you can ask the following questions:
a) Was informed consent expressly denied or withdrawn? (similar to rape standards, if one of the participants withdraws consent during the activity, that must be respected)
b) Were there factors that negated the informed consent? (alcohol impairment, drug use, underage participants)
c) What is the relationship of the participants? (first encounter or long-term partner?)
d) What was the nature of the activity? (did it cause permanent harm, was it unsafe, was it enjoyable?)
e) What was the intent of the accused abuser? (to cause pleasure, to gain dominance, to gain control, to hurt?)

IV. SM vs Abuse

 

The community standard of safe, sane and consensual emerged from the growing national concern with domestic violence. SM is not domestic violence, but increasingly as SM gains wider mainstream acceptance, there are abusers who take advantage of men and women who enjoy SM. This makes it difficult for you, as a doctor who is required to report abuse.

 

If there are physical signs, you can usually judge by the marks:


1. SM rarely results in facial marks or marks that are received on the forearms (defensive marks).
2. There is usually an even pattern of marks if it is SM, indicating the bottom held quite still during the stimulation.

3. The marks are often quite well-defined when inflicted by a toy like cane or whip, whereas in abuse there are blotches of soft-tissue bruising, randomly distributed.
4. The common areas for SM stimulation is on the buttocks, thighs, back, breasts, or the genitals. The fleshy parts of the body can be stimulated intensely and pleasurably.

 

Questions to ask to determine if it is abuse. Whether an individual's role is top/dominant or bottom/submissive, they could be suffering abuse if they answer no to any of the following questions:

 

1. Are your needs and limits respected?
2. Is your relationship built on honesty, trust, and respect?
3. Are you able to express feelings of guilt or jealousy or unhappiness?
4. Can you function in everyday life?
5. Can you refuse to do illegal activities?
6. Can you insist on safe sex practices?
7. Can you choose to interact freely with others outside of your relationship?
8. Can you leave the situation without fearing that you will be harmed, or fearing the other participant(s) will harm themselves?
9. Can you choose to exercise self-determination with money, employment, and life decisions?
10. Do you feel free to discuss your practices and feelings with anyone you choose?

 

V. Intersections of SM and Healthcare 

 

The role of Health Care Providers is to educate the patient to understand the medical problem. Give the patient the info to help determine what is safe, and what to do if there is a problem. If they don't know already, they should know to educate play partner(s).

 

1. When SM causes health problem (least common). An accurate report of activity is essential and requires trust from patient:
a) Fainting or dizziness
b) Bondage-related - causing nerve damage, joint strain, numbness
c) problems releasing retained rectal objects

 

2. When the patient wants advice on what is safe (pretty common). Much of this we can figure out from common medical knowledge (eg how long can vascular supply be cut off), but you may need expert advice on this from scene-friendly physicians:

a) extreme bondage (breast, genital)
b) play-piercing
c) breath control
d) anal play
e) nipple piercing and breast-feeding

 

3. When health problem inhibits a patient from full expression of sexuality. This is more straightforward, and involves educating patient about their disease:

a) MS: fatigue, overheating, numbness, coordination, sexual dysfunction,
b) CAD: HTN level of exertion,
c) Diabetes: avoiding hypoglycemia,
d) Asthma: need quick-release restraints, no chest or breath restraint,
e) Epilepsy: awareness of aura, what to do if seizure occurs,
f) LBP, arthritis: avoid putting strain upon joints (shouldn't do this anyway).

 

VI. Talking to your Patients about SM

 

1. Who is involved in SM?

 

You have patients involved in SM practice and you don't know it. One out of every ten Americans engages in diverse sexual behavior, yet the stigma against these millions of people means that these people aren't talking about their sexuality as it impacts on their health concerns.

 

How does a patient come out about SM activities to a healthcare provider? It may be that the provider simply notices piercings or marks or shaved skin. Don't ignore these signs--ask questions to ensure it is consensual SM. That will encourage your patient in turn to ask their health care questions. As you ask questions, never assume you know the kinky activity by a person's appearance.

 

As an added bonus, Doctors can benefit from being kink-aware because the SM community constantly talks to each other. They belong to support groups, women's groups, special interest groups, and word gets around. You could find you're getting many referrals if it's known that you don't pass judgment on their lifestyle.

 

2. Don't discriminate against SM practitioners.

 

It is imperative for you to be nonjudgmental. As a prerequisite to good health care, the patient must trust their physician. To create that trust, the HCP must be receptive. Patients are often inhibited from going to HCP in the first place because of embarrassment/fear of being judged or discriminated against. Many practitioners don't even tell their therapists much less their doctors.

 

You must be aware that there is REAL discrimination and persecution going on against SM practitioners. The analysis of the NCSF Violence and Discrimination Survey indicates that 1/3 of the respondents have suffered discrimination because of their SM practice, and another 1/3 have suffered attacks and harassment because of their SM practice. People lose their kids, their jobs, their spouses, and even suffer estrangement from family members because of the stigma. NCSF has received complaints from people who have been lectured by their doctors to stop what they are doing, or they were made to feel like they were wrong.

Just because you treat and understand a kinky patient, that's not the end of the road. Often you have to make referrals, and you will have to educate other HCP. This includes making them comfortable enough and knowledgeable enough to give quality medical care to the patient.

 

3. How do you talk about SM with your patient?

 

You as the Health Care Provider may be embarrassed about expression of sexuality in patient. Most of us are uncomfortable with discussing sexuality. Medical school doesn't address this issue, and our society is taught to treat sexuality as a joke or something to be avoided.

 

4 out of 5 of the people who participate in the organized SM community are closeted at work or with their friends and family. Some don't even tell their primary partner about the SM activities they engage in. This can cause problems for the doctor when the patient hems and haws and doesn't ask their real question until your hand is on the door knob. It can take up extra time you don't have. So be sensitive to hints and tentative probes - it may be up to you to help them discuss their activities and how it might be adversely affecting their health.

 

Remember that your patients have had no experience talking about this in the way that you require. They may provide too much information about their personal desires and explain their sexual encounters in ways that are embarrassing to you. They aren't trying to shock you - they are simply sharing in the way they've learned through SM support and educational groups. You can gently help them stay on track by asking questions and keeping the dialogue moving.

 

VII. Conclusion

 

We are here because we want to be able to address these needs of our patients, as they can have deep impact upon level of healthcare sought and given. Patients have a right to this. If we don't feel comfortable we should refer to someone else, and not at patient's emotional expense. As LGBT Health Care Providers, I feel we are better equipped to deal with these issues because our sexuality is a more prominent factor in our identity, and we should have more empathy for those who feel marginalized because of sexual practices.

 

We don't have all the info about what the patients' needs are, and they may not tell, or even anticipate all of their activities, and they don't have the medical information to make decisions about safety.

 

How we can appear non-judgmental:

a) Ask about sexual partners/activities when taking medical history
b) Be very careful about judgmental language and use open ended questions.
c) Ask patient to define terms used rather than making assumptions.


VIII. Open up for questions
Published in Recommended Reading
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  • Helps hundreds of people every year who need assistance because of their consensual BDSM, swinging, or polyamory interests and activities.
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About Incident Reporting & Response

The NCSF Incident Reporting &  Response (IRR) program provides assistance to individuals and groups within the alternative sexual expression communities who become victimized because of SM, leather, fetish, or swing practices.

Program Goals:
NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response
was created to provide assistance to individuals and groups within the BDSM, swinging and poly communities who are experiencing discrimination or needs assistance because of their interests and activities.
Contacts:

Incident@ncsfreedom.org 
Request For Assistance Form
Emergency Number: (410) 539-4824

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