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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).

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.

Every year, NCSF helps hundreds of people, events, groups and businesses that are being persecuted for their association with the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities.

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing, and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please contact NCSF for assistance.

The following are statements from events, businesses and individuals NCSF has helped.

Published in Incident Response

 

Some Quick Facts:

 

  • Millions of Americans practice some form of kink or nonmonogamy in their loving and caring relationships.
  • These consenting adults have created over 1,000 nonprofit educational and social groups, and hundreds of businesses across the country.
  • People from all walks of life, including professionals, parents, teachers and police officers, practice kinky sex.
  • In the 2008 and 1998 Violence & Discrimination Surveys conducted by NCSF, 37% of the 3,000 people surveyed said they had been discriminated against or suffered from harassment or violence

 

Additional Information:

 

BDSM vs. Abuse
Guidelines for distinguishing between safe, sane & consensual SM & abuse

 

What is Polyamory?
Overview of demographics of polyamory, benefits and types of relationships.

 

What is the Lifestyle?
Overview of demographics of swingers, and social and sexual attitudes

 

 

Published in Media Resources

NCSF Supports Your Rights!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conventions

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

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

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

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

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

Clubs

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

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

Media Incidents

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discrimination

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

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

Criminal Cases

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

NCSF: On the Front Lines

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. If you are contacted by the media, please call NCSF immediately so we can assist in educating the reporter about SM, swing or polyamory.

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

Overview: NCSF Supports Your Rights!

In 2002, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) once again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of 29 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Leigha Fleming, who instituted new methods for tabulating responses in 2002. In total, nearly 600 contacts were made between NCSF and individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses who requested assistance. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but many evolved into much larger projects such as the series of attacks by religious political extremists against SM conferences in the midwest.

In 41% of the incidents, NCSF assisted individuals. The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent. Individuals also consulted with NCSF on a variety of other issues, including: the legality of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, and dealing with personal media exposure.

In 2002, NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in Florida and Phoenix by holding open-forum discussions about how to affect zoning regulations and current litigation against lifestyle clubs. NCSF also worked with the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA) to lobby against the Washington DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation 905, which has been used to prohibit SM play in local establishments with liquor licenses even when liquor isn't being sold or consumed.

Conventions

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 these SM conferences. The attacks took place in the midwest: 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.

In April, Missouri State Senator John Loudon introduced a resolution to prohibit SM conferences from being held in that state. NCSF educated the Missouri State Attorney General about the educational benefits of SM conferences, and the state health department sent an observer who confirmed that all activities were safe, sane and consensual. Beat Me in St. Louis was held exactly as planned.

With two of these SM conferences, the host hotels canceled their contracts. However both conferences were able to re-locate to new host hotels. Cendant Corporation, the world's largest hotel franchiser with more than 6,400 hotels, bowed to pressure from religious political extremist groups and threatened its franchisees with reprisal if they booked "controversial" guests or groups that "national interest groups find offensive." NCSF conducted a successful media and write-in campaign that convinced Cendant Corporation to clarify its position, honoring the right of hotel franchisees to host the events of their choice.

Clubs

In 2002, there were several police raids against alternative sexual expression clubs, including a raid that resulted in the closure of Behind the Scenes, an SM club in Philadelphia, PA. In July, a raid against Club Zinc, a swing club in Atlanta, GA, resulted in the arrest of patrons who consulted with NCSF. Another lifestyle club in Connecticut was raided and closed in June because they were improperly located in a residential neighborhood. In Phoenix, AZ, NCSF worked with several swing clubs that continue to be threatened with closure because of overly-restrictive zoning laws.

Media Incidents

Spokesperson Susan Wright gave 81 interviews with the media in 2002 including print, radio and television interviews on national shows such as The O'Reilly Factor. Incidents such as the CWA attacks against SM conferences required extensive media contacts. In addition, the trial and conviction of serial killer John Robinson in Kansas City necessitated media work because Robinson met several of his victims in SM chat rooms. The witness who reported Robinson's theft of her toys to the police, resulting in Robinson's arrest, consulted with NCSF prior to her appearance in the trial.

The SM community rallied when Jack McGeorge's participation as a UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq was questioned by the Washington Post in a series of SM-negative articles. It was suggested that McGeorge should be dismissed from the UN weapons team because, among other things, McGeorge is a former Chairman of NCSF. Community members sent dozens of "Letters to the Editor" to the Washington Post, NY Daily News, CNN, and Fox News protesting the attacks against McGeorge, who received support from Hans Blix and remained on duty as a Weapons Inspector.

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

Discrimination

Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a dozen people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims. One Tennessee man lost his job because he belonged to a leather club. NCSF referred a Texas man to the EEOC because of racial discrimination. A California woman contacted NCSF when a job offer was withdrawn when her personal website was discovered. Another woman was dismissed from a private Catholic university because of her private sexual expression.

Discrimination complaints were also made about two Internet companies in 2002. In July, E-bay pulled all of its SM-related material for sale, while Match.com deleted a therapist's ad because it mentioned their poly therapy practice.

Criminal Cases

NCSF was contacted by individuals, attorneys and prosecutors on a variety of criminal cases, including: an exhibitionist arrested for public exposure, prostitution and obscenity charges against a pro-domme, and one individual cited for carrying SM toys in their car. NCSF also made referrals to resources and the appropriate authorities in several domestic violence incidents. In one case, a protective order was obtained.

In September, NCSF assisted in a behavioral forensic investigation concerning the alleged kidnapping of a Vancouver, Washington, man who was involved in master/slave relationship. NCSF worked with both prosecution and defense. The result was the dismissal of the unfounded charges of kidnapping and assault.

NCSF On the Front Lines

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824.

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

The following Principles and Guidelines are intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. consensual sadomasochism (BDSM). BDSM includes a broad and complex group of behaviors between consenting adults involving the consensual exchange of power, and the giving and receiving of intense erotic sensation and/or mental discipline.

BDSM includes: "intimate activities within the scope of informed consent that is freely given."

Abuse is: "Physical, sexual or emotional acts inflicted on a person without their informed and freely given consent."

 

Principles
The BDSM-Leather-Fetish communities recognize the phrase "Safe, Sane, Consensual" as the best brief summary of principles guiding BDSM practices:

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

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

Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant at all times. One of the recognized ways to maintain limits is through a "safeword" which ensures that each participant can end his/her participation with a word or gesture.

Guidelines


Informed consent must be judged by balancing the following criteria for each encounter at the time the acts occurred:

  1. Was informed consent expressly denied or withdrawn?
  2. Were there factors that negated the informed consent?
  3. What is the relationship of the participants?
  4. What was the nature of the activity?
  5. What was the intent of the accused abuser?

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?

These guidelines were created by activists and leaders at the Leather Leadership Conference in 1998.

 


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
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.)
Published in What is SM

A handful of significant sociological studies have been done to determine percentage of the population engages in SM activities.

The 1990 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex reports:

"Researchers estimate that 5-10 percent of the U.S. population engages in sadomasochism for sexual pleasure on at least an occasional basis, with most incidents being either mild or stage activities involving no real pain or violence. Most often it is the receiver (the masochist), not the giver (the sadist), who sets and controls the exact type and extent of the couple's activities. It might also interest you to know that in many such heterosexual relationships, the so-called traditional sex roles are reversed -- with men playing the submissive or masochistic role. Sadomasochistic activities can also occur between homosexual couples."

June M. Reinisch, Ph.D. with Ruth Beasley, M.L.S (1990). Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, St. Martin's Press: pg. 162-163.

A new Playboy poll by Dr. Marty Klein appeared in November, 1998, p. 81:

  • 18% of the men and 20% of the women have used a blindfold during sex.
  • 30% of the men and 32% of the women have tied someone up or have been tied up during sex.
  • 49% of the men and 38% of the women have spanked or have been spanked as part of sex.

 A survey by Hunt (1974) of 2,026 respondents found that:

  • 4.8% of men and
  • 2.1% percent of women had obtained sexual pleasure from inflicting pain and
  • 2.5% of the men and
  • 4.6% of the women obtained sexual pleasure from receiving pain.

 

These numbers are probably underestimates, because the erotic response to "pain" is only one aspect of SM. (M. Hunt, Sexual Behavior in the 1970s, Chicago: Playboy Press.)

A mid-1970s independent research organization poll funded by Playboy surveyed 3,700 randomly selected students from 20 colleges found that 12% women and 18% of the men had indicated a willingness to try bondage or master-slave role-playing. (Playboy, "What's Really Happening on Campus", October 1976.)

A survey by E. Hariton (1972) found that up to 49% of women fantasize about submissive scenarios during sexual intercourse with 14% doing so frequently. (E. Hariton, "Women's Fantasies During Sexual Intercourse with their Husbands: A Normative Study with Tests of Personality and Theoretical Models'" unpublished doctoral dissertation, City University of New York.)

Paul H. Gebhard, is an anthropologist and was the executive director of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University from 1956 to 1983. Gebhard noted in Fetishism and Sadomasochism (Dynamics of Deviant Sexuality, 1969, pg. 79.) that "consciously recognized sexual arousal from sadomasochistic stimuli are not rare." The Institute for Sex Research found that one in eight females and one in five males were aroused by sadomasochistic stories.

In 1929, Hamilton's marriage habits survey reported that 28% of men and 29% of women admitted they derived "pleasant thrills" from having some form of "pain" inflicted in them. (G.V. Hamilton, A Research in Marriage, Boni, New York.)

Published in What is SM
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Resources for Media

Resources for Media

Includes vital statistics on alternative sexual expression, interview contact list, and a selection of articles from national publications.

Community Resources

Community Resources

Includes tips on how to speak to the media, sound-bites on alternative sexual expression, and a primer on how to write a letter to the editor.

"NCSF" in the News

"NCSF" in the News

CDA Media Reports

CDA Media Reports

Media reports covering the Communications Decency Act lawsuit launched by co-plaintiffs NCSF and Barbara Nitke.

  • 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…






    Tags: Media News
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian - January 14, 2002

    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…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • San Francisco Frontiers - January 23, 2002

    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…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - January 2, 2002

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? Part 2   By Judd Handler   Ynot News, January 2, 2002   Last week's editorial featured an interview with John Wirenius, lead counsel for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Barbara Nitke, an adult content photographer. Wirenius, on behalf of the NCSF and Nitke, filed a lawsuit on December 11 against Attorney General John Ashcroft seeking to overturn Internet…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - December 20, 2001

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? By Judd Handler   Ynot News, December 20, 2001   One would think it would take the giants of the industry to force the government to rethink existing, not-applicable-to-the-Internet obscenity laws. On the contrary, the little players may be the ones who are successful in getting the federal government and the Supreme Court to throw out irrelevant local community standards when…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Wired - December 12, 2001

    New Suit Targets Obscenity Law By Julia Scheeres Wired, December 12, 2001    A national organization that promotes sexual tolerance and an artist who photographs pictures of couples engaged in sadomasochism filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Internet obscenity laws. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and photographer Barbara Nitke argue that the obscenity provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is so broad that it violates free speech.…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Spectator Magazine - January 11, 2002

    STANDING UP TO BE COUNTED: BARBARA NITKE CHALLENGES JOHN ASHCROFT ON S/M AND INTERNET OBSCENITY By David Steinberg Spectator Magazine, January 11, 2002 "No matter how we're wired to express love, freedom is having the courage to be who we are." - Photographer/plaintiff Barbara Nitke On December 11, Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom brought suit in New York City's Federal District Court, seeking to have the…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Press - August 28, 2002

    What's Obscene in Podunk By John Strausbaugh New York Press, August 28, 2002   Barbara Nitke is a well-known and much-seen photographer in her field. She's president of the New York Camera Club and teaches a course in darkroom technique at SVA. A nice, neat, sweet individual, she's the very very last person in New York City you'd suspect of being a pornographer. Which she's not, not exactly. She's more…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Newsday - July 25 2005

    New York judges refuse to say Internet obscenity law is unconstitutional By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Writer, July 25, 2005, 7:58 PM EDT  NEW YORK -- A special three-judge federal panel on Monday refused to find unconstitutional a law making it a crime to send obscenity over the Internet to children. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 had been challenged by Barbara Nitke, a photographer who specializes in pictures of…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Daily News - July 15, 2002

    Fotog vs. Feds in Obscenity Law: Files suit to keep photos on Web by Veronica Vera New York Daily News, July 15, 2002 Photographer Barbara Nitke is used to being behind the lens, but if legal matters heat up, she may soon find the government focusing on her. Nitke is ready to step into the foreground as the chief plantiff in Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Nerve - December 11, 2001

    Nerve December 11, 2001 Photographer Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) filed a lawsuit today, claiming the Internet censorship provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The provision stipulates that "local community standards" will judge whether or not something is indecent. Yet attorney John Wirenius argues that "By allowing the most restrictive jurisdiction to define what speech can…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • CNN - December 20, 2001

    Lawsuit targets last scraps of Net-obscenity law By Sam Costello (IDG News) CNN, December 20, 2001 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and artist Barbara Nitke have filed a lawsuit challenging the remaining provisions of the Communications Decency Act, much of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. The act, or CDA, was passed in 1996 and was the first U.S. law designed to allow…






    Tags: CDA Media
  • Adult Video News - February, 2002

    NCSF Tackles "Community Standards" For The Web By Mark Kernes Adult Video News, February Issue Washington, DC The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom may not be a household name, even in the adult entertainment industry, but if their recently-filed lawsuit succeeds, they may go down in history as the first group to secure Americans' core constitutional speech rights.  NCSF is based in the nation's capital [~] in fact, only a…






    Tags: Media CDA News
  • ABC News - July 29, 2002

    Love or Obscenity? S/M Photographer Challenges Internet Decency Standards By Dean Schabner ABCnews.com, July 29, 2002 When Barbara Nitke wanted to put her photographs of loving couples on the Internet, she thought she should check into the laws first. That's because Nitke's recent photographs have been focused on how some couples express their love through sado-masochism. What Nitke found after reading up on Internet law and talking to lawyers was…






    Tags: Media CDA
NCSF Newsletters

NCSF Newsletters

A quarterly newsletter produced by the NCSF staff to inform our communities about the important work our coalition is doing.

  • NCSF Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2014

    NCSF Newsletter 3rd Quarter, 2014 edited by Julian Wolf In this issue 2014 Roundup NCSF Thanks! Incident Reporting & Response Daily Flogger Satire Guest Blog: Out To The Doctor? Are You Ready for 50 Shades? Media Updates Representing on FetLife NCSF's 2014 Roundup         2014 has been a year of progress for NCSF and for people who are kinky and nonmonogamous. The national conversation about gay marriage, consent, and…





    Written on Monday, 05 January 2015 14:08
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 3rd Quarter 2014

    NCSF Newsletter 3rd Quarter, 2014 In this issue NCSF Mental Heath Survey Incident Reporting & Response NCSF Thanks! Merchant Services Question A Touch of Humor Media Updates Representing on FetLife NCSF Mental Health Survey Please take the NCSF Mental Health Survey! We would like to know more about your BDSM practices, mental health and relational violence experiences:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FZ2XDMP    NCSF is working with researchers at Sam Houston University's Department of Psychology and Philosophy who will compare our responses to…





    Written on Friday, 19 December 2014 16:32
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 2nd Quarter 2014

    NCSF Newsletter 2nd Quarter, 2014 In this issue Go to the Cops Poly in the Vanilla World Meet Your Board Coalition Corner Media Updates Available for Your Event Representing on FetLife  Go to the Cops  Susan Wright You CAN go to law enforcement to report assault even if you're kinky. I get so mad when I hear people say, "You can't go to the cops," or "They'll treat you badly because…





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:16
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 1st Quarter 2014

    NCSF Newsletter 1stQuarter, 2014 In this issue Erotic Awakenings Take the Consent Violations Survey 2014 Annual Meeting Meet Your Board DC Professional Dominatrixes Rock NCSF Expands Its Legal Resources Polyamory as Orientation? Amicus Brief in Support of Consensual Nonmonogamy Representing on FetLife Erotic Awakening interviews NCSF Board Member Jsin  Listen to NCSF Board Member Jsin's interview about NCSF that took place at the recent Beat Me in St. Louis. Hear what…





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 09:45
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2013

    NCSF Newsletter 4th Quarter, 2013 In this issue Happy New Year! NCSF's Consent Violations Survey 2014 Annual Meeting Meet Your Board Sexual Freedom in the News An Obituary for Leigha Fleming Representing on FetLife Happy New Year!   From all of us at the NCSF we hope you had a wonderful holiday season and your new year is already great.   Return to Top Coming Soon! NCSF's Consent Violations Survey  …





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 04:10
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 2nd Quarter 2013

    NCSF Newsletter 2nd Quarter, 2013 In this issue Come talk about BDSM and consent! The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK! Why Support or Join NCSF? Representing on FetLife  Come Talk about BDSM and consent! NCSF's Consent Counts project is holding discussions around the country to gather your input on our Consent Statement so we can move forward to change laws and perceptions of BDSM. Kinky people still have significant legal, political and…





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 03:49
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 1st Quarter 2013

    NCSF Newsletter 1st Quarter, 2013 In this issue NCSF's Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit Meet the Board NCSF presents at Yale Law School's RebLaw NCSF Launches Fire Recovery Fund Testing the Waters Coalition Corner Representing on FetLife NCSF's Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place…





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 03:26
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2012

    NCSF Newsletter 4th Quarter, 2012 In this issue NCSF 2013 Coalition Partner Meeting in Phoenix Scholarships Available for Annual Meeting Support from a Leather Bar Meet Your Board: Candidates for Reelection Foundation Liaison to Present at Poly Living Coalition Corner Representing on FetLife  NCSF 2013 Coalition Partner Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 8-10   Please mark this date in your calendars.   In order to make reservations at the Drury Inn & Suites…





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 03:00
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 3rd Quarter 2012

    NCSF Newsletter 3rd Quarter, 2012 In this issue NCSF 2013 Coalition Partner Meeting in Phoenix Representing on FetLife International Swingers Day NCSF at FetFest Coalition Corner Meet Your Board!  NCSF 2013 Coalition Partner Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 8-10   Please mark this date in your calendars!   In order to make reservations at the Drury Inn & Suites Phoenix Airport and get the group rate of $109, please reference group #2151272 when you…





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 02:44
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 2nd Quarter 2012

    NCSF Newsletter 2nd Quarter, 2012 In this issue NCSF Annual Meeting 2013 NCSF Steps Up for Detroit NCSF at AASECT NCSF's Coalition Partners Come Together in Sunny Minnesota Coalition Corner Meet Your Board! Come Find the NCSF at These Events  NCSF Annual Meeting 2013    NCSF is thrilled to announce - well ahead of schedule - its 2013 Coalition Partner Meeting! Come to Phoenix, Arizona, on Feburary 8-10, and make the NCSF…





    Written on Thursday, 18 December 2014 01:51
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
Press Releases

Press Releases

  • NCSF’s 2014 Roundup

    NCSF’s 2014 Roundup    2014 has been a year of progress for NCSF and for people who are kinky and nonmonogamous. The national conversation about gay marriage, consent, and even Fifty Shades of Grey are transforming mainstream attitudes. The change in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 stating that BDSM is a healthy form of sexual expression has also had a significant impact on both the courts and public opinion about…





    Written on Sunday, 28 December 2014 15:51

  • National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: Are you ready for the Fifty Shades of Gray Movie?

    Does your media agency have resources for these special interest pieces?  Contact the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom for interviews and information on kink and open relationships. NCSF is the national advocate for consensual adult sexual expression.    Why kink?   There has been a significant interest in BDSM sparked by the wildly successful Fifty Shades of Grey.  Similar topics appeared in recent TV Shows from CSI to House to Desperate Housewives, and even animated shows such as American Dad.      Furthermore many…





    Written on Friday, 19 December 2014 12:30

  • 50 Shades of NCSF Palm Cards

    Are You Ready for Fifty Shades? To coincide with the launch of the movie, get your Fifty Shades of Kink palm cards from NCSF to put out at your club or in local sex shops and bookstores so that people who are looking to find out more about kink know where to go. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to request your cards. NCSF’s Fifty Shades of Kink resource page is for people who…





    Written on Friday, 12 December 2014 15:16

  • GayLawNet Joins Forces with NCSF

    NCSF’s Kink Aware Professionals joins forces with GayLawNet   NCSF has expanded the reach of its Kink Aware Professionals by collaborating with GayLawNet, which now offers a way for lawyers in their database to self-identify as Kink Aware Professionals:  gaylawnet.com/attorneys/ussolc.html   “Whenever someone can’t find a lawyer in NCSF’s KAP list, I always refer them to GayLawNet,” says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. “Many of their gay-friendly lawyers are eager…





    Written on Monday, 01 December 2014 15:10

  • Tides Awards NCSF $1,500 Grant

    NCSF Receives Grant Award NCSF is proud to announce the receipt of a $1,500 grant awarded by Tides Foundation. About Tides #TidesProject “Since 1976, Tides Foundation has worked with over 15,000 individuals and organizations in the mutual endeavor to make the world a better place. These include foundations, donors, corporations, social investors, nonprofit organizations, government institutions, community organizations, activists, social entrepreneurs, and more. We break down the walls between entrepreneurs…





    Written on Monday, 24 November 2014 15:01

  • NCSF Mental Health Survey

    NCSF Mental Health Survey Please take the NCSF Mental Health Survey! We would like to know more about your BDSM practices, mental health and relational violence experiences: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FZ2XDMP NCSF is working with researchers at Sam Houston University’s Department of Psychology and Philosophy who will compare our responses to two other sample populations – one college-aged and the other LGBT. NCSF will use these results to help with our advocacy, benefiting…





    Written on Thursday, 11 September 2014 14:57

  • Military Court Accepts NCSF's Amicus Brief

    Military Court Accepts NCSF’s Amicus Brief in Support of Consensual Nonmonogamy April 24, 2014 – Washington, DC – The Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals has accepted NCSF’s amicus (“friend of the court”) brief advising the court that prosecutors are avoiding the Supreme Court decision, made in Lawrence v. Texas, that moral judgment is not a basis for criminalizing consensual sexual conduct, and that consensual sex should only…





    Written on Sunday, 31 August 2014 14:51

  • Ombudsman Committee Established

    NCSF Appoints Members of the Ombuds Committee   June 3, 2014 - NCSF is proud to announce these appointments to the Ombuds Committee: Desmond Ravenstone, James Huesmann and Bjorn Paulee. The Ombuds Committee handles complaints and concerns regarding the conduct of NCSF officers and staff, and the operations of NCSF institutions. The NCSF Ombuds Committee shall be established as an Advisory Committee, as per NCSF bylaws, to review Coalition administration…





    Written on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 14:47

  • NCSF Files Amicus Brief in Military Court

      NCSF Files Amicus Brief in Support of Consensual Nonmonogamy March 26, 2014 – Washington D.C. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety."   In its brief, NCSF points out that…





    Written on Thursday, 03 April 2014 14:42

  • Annual CP meeting 2014

      NCSF’s Coalition Partners Come Together in Nashville, TN   March 24, 2014 – The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Nashville, TN from March 14-16, 2014. The Coalition Partners voted in the new Board of Directors for NCSF, approved the 2014 budget, and brainstormed on NCSF’s projects and goals for the coming year.   “The annual meeting gives NCSF's Coalition Partners the opportunity…





    Written on Monday, 24 March 2014 14:34


Support this program!

Media Outreach: We're Making a Difference

  • NCSF has successfully changed the discussion in the media by debunking stereotypes about BDSM, swinging, and polyamory
  • NCFS has developed a strong media outreach and training program for its coalition, supporting, and other partners.
  • NCSF has successfully become through dedicated advocacy, the leading media authority on BDSM, swinging, and polyamory

 

About Media Outreach

The Media Outreach Program is designed to reach outward to educate media and respond to media stories about alternative sex. In addition it is designed to reach inward to our own constituents to teach and train them in how to respond and deal with media effectively.

Program Goals:
The goal of the goal of the Media Outreach Program is to change the public discussion about alternative sexuality and to educate and support our members when they have occasion to deal with the media.
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