When Keifer Johnson headed back to school after last year's summer break, he had reason to believe that the truly awesome part of his college experience was still to come. He was a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, a Kerouac-spouting English major and a rising star on WSCU's highly regarded track team. He planned to train and run like hell, read stacks of books, write poetry and have fun.
The first clue that his life on campus was about to undergo a profound change came in a terse e-mail from an English professor. The note said that he would no longer be allowed to serve as a teaching assistant for a freshman writing course, a course for which he'd been a TA the previous semester. The professor urged him to contact Gary Pierson, the university's dean of students, if he had any questions about the decision.
Baffled, Johnson made an appointment and went to see Pierson. The dean told him that he was in possession of a letter that Johnson had sent to a girl who'd been in that writing class. Pierson wouldn't let him see the letter, but he let Johnson know that he found its content to be inappropriate and even disturbing. Come home prepared, I will devour you.... Expect pain. Expect pleasure. Expect both; they slide hand in hand too easily. Welcome to the jungle, baby. There will be fun and games.
Johnson acknowledged that he knew the girl. They had flirted a bit over the course of the semester, then hooked up during finals week. The relationship had quickly caught fire, the two of them engaging in some bondage-themed role-playing patterned after E.L. James's best-selling S&M romance, Fifty Shades of Grey. Johnson had written the eleven-page letter, a graphic and purplish work in the Jamesian mode, for his lover to read while she was in rehab in another state in June, trying to get clear of her drug and alcohol problems.
I sink my jaw frenzied, wolfing your essence, as I begin to tighten and pound away the calamity of you, the impossibility of you. I destroy myself into you, as I howl your name, as I rupture release profoundly deep within you. I explode myself into you, as we scrape transcendence, as your desperate failing body floods over me. Breathless, I look into you, into the essence [of] you.... The beauty of violence. Holding you there, unmoving, silence shackling the air, I gaze into you, you into me.
Johnson had broken up with the girl -- known here simply as Emily -- at the end of July. Now, barely three weeks later, here was Pierson, questioning him at length about the letter and the relationship. Johnson did his best to explain that the savage sex play described in the letter was pure fantasy, but he wondered why the dean was so interested in a freshman pas de deux that had played out over the summer, far away from campus.
"His questions were strictly about my relationship with her and my personal sex life," Johnson says. "It was definitely a condemning tone. I said, 'While this relationship may seem unsettling to you, it was entirely consensual.' I was frank and forthcoming. I had no reason not to be. I thought I would explain myself and that would be the end of it."
But the meeting with the dean was only the beginning of Johnson's journey through Western State's complicated process of investigating possible sexual misconduct involving its students -- a process that Johnson found infuriating and humiliating, as well as panic-inducing. A few days later he was summoned to the office of Chris Luekenga, the associate vice-president for student affairs, to respond to charges that he had violated policies outlined in the student handbook.
Two of the infractions -- accidentally pulling out Emily's meal card instead of his own in a campus cafeteria, and a "breaking and entering" charge for slipping through an open window into a dorm with other students to check out who was occupying the rooms they'd had the previous semester -- were relatively minor. The third, however, was more ambiguous. Johnson was being accused of "inappropriate behavior" toward another student, apparently based on the letter he'd written Emily.
Once again, Johnson fielded questions about his relationship with the girl and the wilder passages of his letter. Luekenga told him that he'd received a complaint from an "outside party" about Johnson's conduct but refused to provide more specifics. "He said, 'Tell me why you should stay here as a Western State student,'" Johnson recalls.
The meeting turned into a disciplinary hearing, with Johnson found guilty on all counts. He was suspended from the track team for several days while Luekenga pondered what other sanctions to impose. A letter from Luekenga outlined his punishment: 48 hours of community service, a letter of apology to the dining-hall staff for the meal-card incident, and four hours of "counseling sessions that will address your decision-making skills and thought processes." Johnson was also placed on "judicial probation," which meant that he could be suspended from school if he committed any additional infractions.
Johnson didn't entirely agree with the finding; he didn't see anything wrong with the letter to Emily, and he would later learn that there was nothing in the student handbook prohibiting possession of another student's meal card. But he had screwed up by going into the dorm without permission and figured he would just take his medicine. ...
Terri-Jean Bedford brought her trademark riding crop Wednesday for her appearance before the Senate justice committee considering C-36, the new prostitution law.
The retired dominatrix seemed to make the Tories nervous. They should be nervous.
Bedford used to run an upscale “dungeon” in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, called the Bondage Bungalow, where clients paid to have women hit them with riding crops.
In 1994, York Regional Police shut her down, seized two moving vans full of equipment and charged her with “keeping a common bawdy house.”
She fought them all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which last year ruled unanimously in her favour, finding that our prostitution laws violated the charter rights of sex workers to “security of the person,” since the laws made it more difficult for them to protect themselves.
The Conservatives, who must motivate social conservatives if they are to have any chance in next year’s election, introduced a new law modelled on Sweden’s, which makes it illegal to buy sex.
At committee, witnesses have been divided on the wisdom of that.
Social conservatives, shelter workers and former sex workers argue that sex work is inherently exploitive, degrading and violent. They say that by targeting clients — “perverts” as Justice Minister Peter MacKay called them — the law will reduce demand for paid sex, which will cut down on the amount of exploitation, degradation and violence in the world.
Sex workers and their advocates argue that the new law will be as much of a threat to safety as the old law, since they won’t be able to, for instance, hire security.
Bedford told the senators that many in the industry are happy in their work.
“Senators, please, please don’t allow Parliament to force Canadian women to have sex only for free,” she said.
And she warned that if they ignore her pleas, she will name politicians who go to sex workers.
“I’m going to make you guys forget about Mike Duffy,” she said. “I have got more information and more proof on politicians in this country than you can shake a stick at. I promise.”
At times she used her crop as a gavel, smacking the table to emphasize her point. When a senator interrupted her, she refused to stop talking.
The chairman, Sen. Bob Runciman, told her to pipe down or he would throw her out.
“You’ve given lots of other people lots of time,” she said. “I have 30 years of your abusive laws, so I should be allowed at least an extra five minutes to talk about it. You pat everybody else on the back, but when you know I’ve got a bombshell to deliver, you want to try to avoid me at all costs.”
Runciman had her ejected.
Outside, a reporter asked if she really did have the names of politicians who hire sex workers. ...
Starbucks baristas who've long been forced to hide their tattoos may soon be able to show off their ink.
In an internal email to employees last week, Starbucks said that it's reviewing its dress code, including its long-standing policy forbidding workers from displaying their tattoos. The move comes as baristas mobilize against the coffee chain, demanding the freedom to let their tattoos be seen. A petition to overturn Starbucks' tattoo policy has gathered nearly 23,000 signatures since Aug. 20.
Kristie Williams, a 25-year-old mother who works at a Starbucks in Atlanta, started the petition because covering her tattoo caused constant discomfort. Williams has a tattoo of her 2-year-old daughter’s name, Summer Blythe, written in cursive up her left forearm. When the air conditioner in her Starbucks went out in the middle of the Georgia summer, she had to suffer the oppressive heat in her long-sleeved shirt.
“The day I buy my first short-sleeved shirt will definitely be a great day,” said Williams. “I know personally I could work better and faster if I wasn’t sweating and fussing with my sleeves all the time at work in order to hide my tattoo.”
Starbucks requires its workers to wear black or white collared or turtleneck shirts with “professional” black or khaki trousers, shorts or skirts, according to copies of the employee manual posted on the blog Starbucks Melody. Hair and nails must be kept clean. Facial hair must be neatly trimmed. Perfumes and aftershave aren't permitted. Earrings are restricted to a maximum of two per ear, and all other piercings are banned.
In July, a Starbucks in suburban Detroit reportedly threatened to fire a five-year employee if she didn't remove the outline of a heart tattooed on her hand, according to Fox affiliate WJBK. It is unclear whether the woman, identified only as Kayla, was fired.
Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment.
Sara Frandsen, a 25-year-old who worked at a Starbucks near Amazon’s campus in Seattle, said she had to wear long sleeves to cover a tattoo of roses on her right arm and one of characters from the video game “Legend of Zelda” on her left arm. The outfit choice was unsanitary, she said, because the cloth shirt soaked up milk and syrup as she worked.
“It looks really unappetizing when you’re helping a customer and your arms are covered in milk, but you can’t roll up your sleeves because, heaven forbid, they see your tattoos,” she told HuffPost in an interview on Friday. “You’re never going to make everyone happy, but I feel like most customers don’t go into coffee shops expecting robots to serve them.” ...
Televisa USA is adapting the book trilogy with 'Dallas Buyers Club's' Rachel Winter
The Hollywood Reporter
by Lesley Goldberg
Has the small screen found its own Fifty Shades of Grey?
Televisa USA (Lifetime's Devious Maids) has acquired TV and digital rights to Anne Rice's best-selling book series The Sleeping Beauty, with plans to produce the erotic BDSM trilogy as a TV series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
First published in 1983-85 as The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment and Beauty's Release, the series is set in a medieval fantasy world. The books center on a young princess who, like Sleeping Beauty, is awakened from her long sleep — only in a more provocative fashion than in the fairytale.
The controversial series — an underground cult hit that has gained new life thanks to Fifty Shades — is among the American Library Association's list of 100 most frequently challenged books of the 1990s, and includes steamy and very detailed sex scenes.
Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers Club producer Rachel Winter, a longtime fan of the novels, approached Rice about developing the book series for TV in 2012 and will executive produce alongside Rice. Endemol North America CEO CharlieCorwin and former CAA motion picture lit agent-turned-producer Jessica Matthews will also exec produce. Televisa USA managing director PaulPresburger and chief creative officer Michael Garcia will oversee.
"I wrote this to be fun, in the belief that dominance and submission can be romantic and delightful as well as erotic," said Rice, who noted in February that she's prepping a fourth book in the series.
Added Garcia: "Now is the perfect moment for this project. On the heels of such boundary-pushing adaptations as Fifty Shades and HBO's Game of Thrones, the topics explored in this series are in the zeitgeist and we feel television is finally ready for them. We are now going out to writers and talent, and will put all the creative, production and distribution elements in place quickly." ...
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-identified.
NCSF will use these results to help with our advocacy, benefiting both existing and developing programs. Specifically, the study’s results will assist in educating law enforcement, legal and psychological professionals about the practices and mental health of BDSM practitioners.
The survey will take approximately 35 minutes of your time.
This survey is anonymous. NCSF or outside researchers do not have access to any identifying information about participants.
BDSM isn't a black and white topic. There are 50 shades of grey in between.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" is an erotic romance novel featuring bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism, known colloquially as BDSM.
A local BDSM community member said the books are great for encouraging sexual self-expression, but that some people are putting themselves in dangerous situations.
“Anyone can pick up a flogger and start hitting someone, but to do it in a way that’s safe and won’t truly harm the recipient takes time and research,” said Dovah, who asked the Kaimin to refer to her by her “domme” name in the BDSM community.
"It's a very taboo subject and I have people in my life who would not accept that particular lifestyle, including my family,” she said. “It also protects the people who identify as my submissives so people won't begin to question them as well. Anonymity is extremely important in our community and outing someone is one of the worst possible things you could do.”
The trilogy follows the relationship and sexual exploits of college graduate Anastasia Steele and businessman Christian Grey.
Doctor of Human Sexuality and clinical sexologist Lindsey Doe said the books have brought much awareness to BDSM culture. She said it has prompted more discussion and normalized it in conversation.
“It’s a starting point for dialogue, which may even be to say that this is not what practical BDSM looks like," she said. "On the negative side, you have a single perspective of BDSM, which can’t be representative of all the experiences of BDSM."
The books have sold over 100 million copies, and helped popularize BDSM worldwide.
“'The Fifty Shades of Grey' books are more than a trashy piece of literature. They’re a gateway for many people into the world of BDSM," Dovah said.
Peer health educator Emily Cohen said she has done research on BDSM in Missoula. She said the "Fifty Shades of Grey" books give the community a bad image and that it goes against everything they practice and believe in.
“A lot of misconceptions about BDSM is that it is sexual abuse, that it is extremely violent and only aimed to hurt people,” she said.
Cohen works for the Curry Health Center Wellness Office and plans on becoming a sex educator and counselor. She said she has never practiced BDSM herself, but has witnessed it at events before. ...
Everything you wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about S&M.
Even if you're not sure what S&M actually entails, the letters alone probably conjure up vivid images: Whips and chains, leather and latex, a tubby guy named The Gimp tugging on his leash as he hungrily eyes Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction. It's common to assume that sadism-and-masochism enthusiasts are at best unusual or shocking and at worst downright depraved. But are they really? Well, The Gimp certainly is — living in a locked crate in the basement of a pawnshop will do that to you. And anecdotal evidence does suggest that S&M enthusiasts differ from"normal" people in two ways: They have higher levels of education and tend to be very creative. S&M is also more common than you probably think; experts estimate one in five couples dabble, and one in 20 engage in very serious play.
"Couples enjoy S&M in part because it lets them explore new roles and visit different places with each other," says Dr. Pam Spurr, author of Naughty Tricks & Sexy Tips: A Couple's Guide to Uninhibited Erotic Pleasure. "Pushing the boundaries as far as you want can be an exhilarating release from the routine."
It also can solidify a strong foundation of trust and honest. And if you think you have little interest in S&M yourself, take a closer look at your sex life. Pinning your partner's wrists against the bed, tugging on hair, or biting a shoulder are simply milder ways of expressing desires that eventually lead some people to devote closet space to studded leather. The trick part is figuring out how — and if — you want to take it to the next level.
After Steven Lilla* and his girlfriend, Rebecca Simon, had been dating for a few months, she told him that S&M play typically had been an important part of her sex life. He was surprised, but not uncomfortable; she brought it up outside the bedroom, and she didn't put pressure on Steven to indulge her. Still, he had to confront a belief drilled into his head since he was old enough to smack toy-hugging playmates. "Most American males are raised to think it's never OK to be rough with a woman," says Steven, a 32-year-old martial arts instructor from Los Angeles. "That was something I had to overcome. But after learning more about S&M and taking some baby steps, I ended up really liking it."
They went slowly, sitting together — fully clothed, without sex playing any part — and practiced using ropes and chains so that neither of them experienced unwanted discomfort. Their toys, kept in a locked chest, only emerged when Rebecca's daughter wasn't home. Nine years later, Steven and Rebecca are still together, and S&M — role-playing, bondage, "forced" sex — is still a major part of their sex lives. But it's hardly the only part. "A big fallacy is that if you're into it, it's all you're into," says Rebecca, a 34-year-old who works at a museum. "But we very much enjoy regular vanilla sex."
They belong to a local club — there are dozens nationwide, easily found by an Internet search — with classes on safe ways to explore kinks, and parties where couples can play in front of other members. ("There's music and food like any other party," Steven says. "Except there are spanking noises in the background.") There's also an outreach program for law and psychology students and police officers, to help them differentiate between consensual and criminal sex. Of course, when cops need assistance sorting out sexual practice from crime, bringing up that practice with your partner can be more than a little daunting.
Paula Myers was lucky enough to find an entrée in casual conversation when her boyfriend told her she needed a spanking for being grumpy. "That really got me excited," says Paula, a 40-year-old from Seattle. A few weeks latheer, when he offered to give her a back rub, "I told him what I really wanted was for him to spank me, and not stop even if I asked him to." That Christmas, without prior discussion, she bought him a flogger, and he bought her a paddle. (Paging Mr. O. Henry...). ...
EDMONTON - An unusual Edmonton group is seeking to raise awareness about their unique formula for blissful romance. Polyamory Edmonton is a group of people that practise consensual, non-monogamous relationships. They are in the process of becoming a non-profit organization and want to educate Edmontonians about their unconventional take on romantic partnerships.
Founder Alyson Sidra, who is married and dating outside that relationship, gives a crash course on polyamory and explains why it can be a recipe for relationship success.
What is polyamory?
If someone identifies as polyamorous, they are open to having more than one romantic partner with the openness, consent and honesty of everyone involved. There wouldn’t be any cheating or anything secretive. Everyone knows who the other is dating or involved with.
What makes polyamory any different from polygamy or polyandry?
Polyamory can take on many different structures. People may have heard of swinging, for example, which is an open relationship, but strictly sexual. But polyamorous relationships are open to romantic partnerships rather than just sexual ones. Some couples might date other people separately, outside of their relationship. Others go into it wanting to mutually date the same person, where everyone is equally involved with each other. There are triads with three people, and other relationship groupings with four or more. How interactive those people are with each other can definitely vary.
Does this relationship structure actually work out in the long-term?
Yes, several people in our community who identify have been in relationships that lasted several years, five years, 10 years. I know personally of several members who have had long-term relationships with multiple people that lasted decades. Some are short-lived, some are long-lived, just like any monogamous relationship would be.
Polyamorous relationships must be tough to manage with so many people involved. Is it tricky?
It can be. We jokingly say that poly people can be very adept at scheduling. Other than that, most poly relationships have very similar issues to monogamous ones, just with more than one person.
Some people might say that romantic love doesn’t work when it is not exclusively between two people. How do you view it?
In my marriage, it felt comfortable for us to open up to love and to date other people without it feeling at all threatening or making our own relationship insecure. In fact, in a lot of ways, it tended to make it stronger. There’s a lot of communication involved.
You are not born with a certain amount of it and it definitely doesn’t get depleted the more people you have in your life. People view romantic love as something very different, but the love that you have for family and friends and children, it multiplies. For polyamorous people, so does romantic love. I think most poly people would agree that their capacity for love is just part of who they are. ...