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Silent Sunday; Leather & Grace

on Thursday, 15 August 2013. Hits 1482

Action Alert from Leather and Grace:
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CROSS-POST THIS ANNOUNCEMENT

Unitarian Universalism lays claim to a heritage as an open and affirming faith movement, one that “speaks the truth in love.” Certainly this has been the case with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, being the first mainstream religious denomination to advocate for GLBT rights, and a preeminent leader for marriage equality.

For kink-oriented UUs, however, ours has been a different experience. Despite increased mainstream media attention around BDSM, despite being told how many UUs have faced discrimination and marginalization for real or assumed kink identity*, despite being provided specific recommendations to be implemented, UUA leaders seem unable to bring themselves to openly address these issues or even acknowledge our existence. We call on the UUA Leadership Council to recognize kink orientation as a reality of human diversity, and an essential part of our identity.


To bring greater awareness to these issues, and to underscore the continued silence of Unitarian Universalist leaders, the Steering Committee of Leather & Grace is calling for people to engage in silent witness at UU congregations across the continent on Sunday, September 29th, 2013.

The Covenant for Silent Sunday:

Those bearing silent witness shall refrain from speaking or singing during worship and other congregational activities; they may communicate by writing and gestures.

Witnesses are expected to identify themselves to others in the congregation, and to explain the reasons behind Silent Sunday; Leather & Grace shall make materials available towards this end.

Witnesses are expected not to disrupt worship or other congregational activities during Silent Sunday, and to treat all people with respect and compassion.

Ministers preaching on this day are asked to acknowledge silent witnesses in attendance, and the reasons behind Silent Sunday.
For more information, please click on the main Silent Sunday page on L&G's website:

To pledge to be a witness, and receive materials from Leather & Grace:

"What's Wrong With '50 Shades of Grey'"

on Tuesday, 13 August 2013. Hits 2255

The difference between BDSM and what’s portrayed in ‘50 Shades of Grey’

US News & World Report

Copies of the book 'Fifty Shades of Grey' by E. L. James are seen for sale at the Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC, August 3, 2012. The first part of an erotic trilogy, the book has spent the past 22 weeks in the number one spot of the New York Times bestseller's list for fiction.

 

There's nothing "grey" about it. "50 Shades of Grey," E.L. James' racy best-seller that's now in movie production, portrays a relationship steeped in intimate partner violence, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of Women's Health.

"The book is a glaring glamorization of violence against women," says Amy Bonomi, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University and lead author of the study. Bonomi explains that Christian Grey, the copper-headed business tycoon for whom James' book is named, controls his young conquest, Anastasia Steele, through stalking, intimidation, isolation and humiliation. In response, Steele "begins to manage her behavior to keep peace in the relationship, which is something we see in abused women," Bonomi says. "Over time, she loses her identity" and "becomes disempowered and entrapped."

The trilogy is known for its depiction of BDSM – a sexual practice that stands for bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; and sadism and masochism. Despite the power differential inherent in BDSM, practitioners take the rules of consent and negotiated boundaries seriously, according to those familiar with the practice. Yet Bonomi points out that "all those things are violated in the book."

With the generated interest in BDSM, sexuality experts have expressed concern about a popularized view of the practice that's distorted and potentially harmful. "Lots of people read things that sound sexy in fantasy, but are not so safe or fun in reality. Or they are only fun for the technically skilled," according to Russell Stambaugh, who chairs the AltSex Special Interests Group of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. "I do worry that new participants won't get the education they need," he says.

Critical to the practice of BDSM is detailed and candid communication required for boundary setting between partners to establish the rules of their game. To provide further protection, partners also establish an opt-out signal, known as a "safe word" – often a color, since "yes" or "no" may be scripted into the role play.

Such transparency may account for the results of a recent study that found, when compared to a control group, "BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, had higher subjective well-being, yet were less agreeable." The authors concluded that "BDSM may be thought of as a recreational leisure, rather than the expression of psychopathological processes," with which such behaviors have been associated. As to Grey's dominance being related to childhood abuse, Stambaugh says, "There is no scientific evidence that childhood physical or sexual abuse are more prevalent in the histories of kinky folk than vanilla. Abuse histories are sadly prevalent for everyone, not just kinksters."

What happens in a BDSM encounter might include a range of behaviors from gentle biting to full-on whipping in medieval regalia. In other words, one man's kink is another's so-called vanilla, the term therapists used to describe traditional sex. And what's healthy for one person may be harmful for someone else.

But the antics belie a bigger purpose, says Amir Afkhami, a psychiatrist for the Center for Sexual Health at George Washington University's Medical Faculty Associates. "People get too caught up in the pageantry and don't realize the emotional aspect to all of this." The desire to be sexually dominated cuts across both genders and provides an erotic high "that people don't get from the typical vanilla sex experience," he says. "It's titillating. It's kinky, and it involves trust" – the linchpin of romantic relationships, he notes. "When you're giving up control, what is that a statement of at the end of the day? It's a statement on trust." ...

"And The Kinkiest City In The United States Is…"

on Sunday, 11 August 2013. Hits 2170

The Gloss

Guess.

Seriously. I want you to guess. Rack your brain, think of the kinkiest people you know and where they reside. New York City? Los Angeles? Some Podunk town in Kansas somewhere? Where, oh where, could they be?

They’re in Phoenix, Arizona, you guys.

To the best of my knowledge, Arizona has an awful lot of retirees. Does this mean your mom and dad, or Grammy and Grampy are getting their freak on morning, noon and night? God, I hope so.

SeekingArrangements.com, the website that matches sugar babies and sugar daddies, discovered, via one of those handy dandy surveys that, once again thanks to Fifty Shades of (why are we still talking about this book?) Grey, those seeking some good ol’ fashioned BDSM has doubled in Phoenix. With a 96.2% increase in those looking to vamp up their sex life with dom/sub hook-ups, Phoenix is at the top of the kink list, and San Francisco, isn’t far behind.

So who else is seeing the biggest increase in the kink?

1. Phoenix, Ariz.: 96.2 percent

2. San Francisco, Calif.: 95 percent

3. Detroit, Mich.: 50.5 percent

4. Indianapolis, Ind.: 49.7 percent

5. Las Vegas, Nev.: 44.4 percent

6. San Jose, Calif.: 42.3 percent

7. Philadelphia, Pa: 42.6 percent

8. Tampa, Fla.: 40 percent

9. San Diego, Calif.: 37 percent

10. Los Angeles, Calif.: 33.3 percent

What the fuck, New Yorkers? Where the hell are you on this list? No nipple clamps, or bamboo paddles for you? Step it up, kids.

Do you live in one of the kinkiest cities? Is this list fairly accurate, or a bunch of bunk? How many people actually even use nipple clamps?

"‘Secret Sex Lives: Swingers’ New Reality Show Aims To Shock"

on Sunday, 11 August 2013. Hits 1510

Atlanta Blackstar

Just when you thought reality shows have featured almost every imaginable way of life, a new show about the obscure lifestyle of swingers will be making its way to televisions across the country.

http://atlantablackstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/secret-sex-lives-swingers-group-shot.jpg

Discovery Fit & Health has reportedly given the green light to a four-part series titled, “Secret Sex Lives: Swingers,” which will focus on five ‘average, all-American’ couples from Atlanta as they allow those in the voyeuristic world to peek into the inner workings of their alternate lifestyle choices.

“The biggest misconception about the swinger lifestyle is that we’re hooking up with people day and night, or that I’m a stripper or something,” Jaymee, a senior account executive said to the Daily Mail.

Jaymee, along with her husband Everett, have been swinging for three years. She told the British newspaper that she had just given birth to their first child six months ago and was positive the baby was her husband’s. Claiming she had not been “hooking up” with any other guys at the time, Jaymee said she knew right away that Everett was the father.

“When I found out I was pregnant my first thought was ‘thank God I haven’t hooked up with any other guys lately, so it’s definitely Everett’s baby.’”

“I’m not like Tiger Woods, picking up chicks behind Jaymee’s back and hooking up with them,” Everett said.

According to a Discovery Fit & Health press release, the series captures the deep internal struggles these couples confront—and the repercussions of exposing their lives to family, close friends and the outside world, busting myths and dispelling misconceptions about this hidden lifestyle along the way.

Secret Sex Life: Swingers” airs Sept. 7 at 10 p.m. on Discovery Fit & Health. Will you be watching? Decide after sneaking a peek at the trailer below. ...

"Rape suspect gives up vampire fiction for bond"

on Sunday, 11 August 2013. Hits 489

Accused of biting woman in kidnap, rape case

Knoxville News Sentinel

It was a promise never before heard in the hallowed halls of the Knox County courts.

Dezayas Smith, 23, vowed Friday to give up his “Twilight” books and movies and to refrain from watching or reading about vampire-human trysts or sadomasochism ala the pop-culture phenomenon “50 Shades of Grey.”

Smith was willing to give up those things in exchange for a bond reduction in a kidnapping and rape case that involved sadomasochism, bondage, neck-biting and blood-sucking, according to authorities.

“No watching ‘Twilight’ movies, (no) reading the books, no ‘True Blood’ (a popular HBO vampire show),” defense attorney Jamie Poston vowed on behalf of Smith.

Smith was being held on a $100,000 bond on charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape in an alleged May attack on his girlfriend.

Poston said the couple had a history of sadomasochistic sex games, including bondage ala the “50 Shades” book and biting and blood-sucking via the “Twilight” trilogy about a girl in love with a vampire.

On May 3, however, prosecutor Leslie Nassios said the victim, who she said suffered prior abuse by Smith, wasn’t game.

An arrest warrant alleged Smith grew angry and began punching the victim, bit her neck with enough force it bled, strangled her and forced her into a shower where he repeatedly raped her.

Records show the victim hailed a cab to take her to a rape-crisis center after the attack.

“He has a predilection for a particular type of perverted sexual interests,” Nassios said in arguing against a bond reduction.

Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz agreed to cut Smith’s bond to $50,000, largely because he has been locked up since his May arrest and won’t stand trial until March.

 

"Swingers club run by FMU professor shut down in Florence"

on Sunday, 11 August 2013. Hits 379

WBTW News 13

FLORENCE, S.C. - The Florence County Planning Department closed down a Florence swingers club after learning that it was violating a county ordinance.

The Beaver Lodge on Hazel Drive was issued a "stop-work" order by the Planning Dept. after determining the business was less than 1000 ft. from both a church and a residential community.

Jay Graham with the planning department said the business did not have building or zoning permits either.

A concerned neighbor heard the Beaver Lodge was going to be a swingers bar and contacted the county's planning department to voice her concern.

Susan Gause, owner of Beads and Bling rents out space in Korner Cuts, located right next to the Beaver Lodge, and she said she was appalled that a sexually oriented business could be located in such a safe neighborhood.

"There were no signs to let us know that was going on because this is a daytime business and to be something that's going on at night, we aren't here but the neighbors are here and the children are still here playing in the yards, people are going to church," said Gause.  "But to be this close....it is very distressing…very distressing."

Although the establishment was issued a "stop-work" notice, several neighbors on Hazel Dr. remain concerned and have started a petition to get the building re-zoned as a residential lot, so something like this won't happen again.

"It doesn't make you feel like your kids are safe--something like that comes into the neighborhood and it puts a bad taste in your mouth for you and your neighbors and your children," said Cliffton Lee.

While looking into the establishment, Graham said they found the Beaver Lodge's website, which promoted itself as an "adult entertainment club" where the Benevolent Order Of Beavers (BOOB) could meet.

"Our focus is a little different in that we have certain beliefs and we like to congregate together," said Robert Carr, owner of the Beaver Lodge.

"It's hard to come up with a one or two word description of what we are; some have described it as a swingers club.  We are a social organization that does believe in the erotic aesthetic."

According to Carr, who is also chemistry professor with Francis Marion University, he was under the impression that the location was in an unzoned area of the county and he did not know permits were needed.

Carr was leasing the building from Palmetto Commercial Real Estate; they released the following statement:

"Both Palmetto Commercial Real Estate and the building owner sincerely regret leasing 1611 Hazel Drive to The Benevolent Order of Beavers. We were misled as to the intended use for the property. The president of the organization compared their club to an "Elks" type of club, which is obviously a misleading comparison.  Had we known their intended use, we would not have assisted in this lease. The lease agreement, however, clearly states that no use may be conducted in the premises that is contrary to any municipal law or ordinance. According to Florence County Planning, the Beavers' use of the premises is in direct violation of the Florence County Code of Ordinances."

Graham said while he was looking at the website on Tuesday, it was being changed as he was on the site.  As he watched, he said the sexually explicit material was taken down the it was changed from an "adult entertainment club" to a "social and fraternal membership club."

Carr said he "reformatted" the club so it was within county guidelines.

"We're not a sexually oriented business, we're not going to be attracting some kind of deviating element to the community; all members are invitation only," said Carr.  "I think the county has taken a very hostile attitude on this and has prejudged us based on a picture and a few sentences on the website,"

Carr re-filed the paperwork to re-open the Beaver Lodge as a social and fraternal membership club on Tuesday.

"My two husbands"

on Monday, 05 August 2013. Hits 1181

Everyone wants to know how my polyamorous family works. You'd be surprised how normal we really are

Salon

My family is very ordinary to me. We eat dinner together. We gather in the living room and watch movies. Last weekend, we went on a camping trip and sat around the campfire making s’mores, the grown-ups enjoying a few beers while my 9-year-old daughter challenged us with endless rounds of “would you rather?” It all feels so wonderfully mundane that sometimes I have to remind myself that most people view us as strange at best, depraved at worst.

I’m polyamorous, which means I believe you can love multiple partners at the same time. I’m in a relationship with my husband of nearly 17 years, and my boyfriend, with whom I celebrated my second anniversary in May. (In polyamorous lingo, our relationship is known as a “V”; I’m the “hinge” of the V and my two partners are the vertices.) People often say our lives sound complicated, but the truth is, we’re quite harmonious. We often joke that we’d make incredibly boring subjects for reality TV.

That hasn’t kept the world at large from condemning us. The right has spent years warning that we are the travesty waiting down the slippery slope of same-sex marriage. With every stride forward for marriage equality, I can count on turning on the TV to find conservative talking heads lumping families like mine in with pedophilia and bestiality. But liberals, for the most part, don’t treat us much better. They’re quick to insist that same-sex marriage would never, ever lead to such awful things — failing to point out how multi-partner relationships between consenting adults do not exactly belong in the same category as “relationships” with children or goats.

Even people who don’t vilify us still have a great deal of misconception. Aren’t you just “having your cake and eating it too,” they ask me? Isn’t this unfair to the men? Doesn’t this hurt your daughter? The confusion is understandable. Many people have never seen a polyamorous family like ours before. So let me explain how it works — or, at least, how it works for us.

My path here was a long one. As far back as I can remember, I felt that loving one person romantically did not preclude the possibility of loving another at the same time. It seemed natural and intuitive to me. But I had no models for that way of living, so I assumed there was something wrong with me.

I married my husband and remained in a monogamous relationship with him for many years. I knew I wanted to be with him for the long haul. But I was never entirely fulfilled. I couldn’t shake the feeling that some part of me was repressed.

When I learned about polyamorous relationships, I knew that’s what I wanted. My husband wasn’t so sure, though. It sounded fine for other people, but just not him. And it still seemed unrealistic to me, so I never pressed the issue.

When I returned to school to finish my bachelor’s degree in my late 20s, I became friends with a man who changed my mind about all that. He believed in polyamory, too, and we had long conversations about it together: how it could work, how it was truly possible.

One night, I sat down with my husband and spilled everything. I told him that being polyamorous was a part of who I am, and I asked if he would at least do some research and give it serious consideration before dismissing the idea. He understood that I never would have asked this if it hadn’t been extremely important.

That conversation could have ended our marriage. But instead, our journey into non-monogamy began.

One of the biggest hurdles in non-monogamy — probably the hurdle — is jealousy. My husband was an incredibly jealous person back then, but he began to question its usefulness and purpose. Jealousy is born from a fear of losing a partner; if you believe that love and intimacy can be shared, and are not diminished by sharing, then that fear loses a lot of its power. It was liberating for my husband to step outside of the box that saw everyone else as some kind of threat. ...

Invitation to Participate in a Needs Assessment Survey on Intimate Partner Abuse Among Practitioners of BDSM/Leather/Kink Lifestyles

on Thursday, 01 August 2013. Hits 3152

All interested individuals who are involved in BDSM/Leather/Kink lifestyles are invited to participate in a survey about intimate partner abuse. The purpose of this survey is to gather information regarding the quality of experiences had by those who sought help from domestic violence service providers, or those who wanted to seek help, but did not do so. The overall goal is to help service providers and outreach educators improve the quality of information, responses and interventions regarding the unique needs and experiences of individuals who live a BDSM, Leather or kinky lifestyle.

 

You are invited to take the survey whether or not you have been involved in an abusive relationship because the survey will collect basic demographic information about those who engage in BDSM, Leather and/or kink, as well.

 

The survey link is available here: https://www.psychdata.com/s.asp?SID=155554

 

The survey will take approximately 25-35 minutes to complete.

 

Please respond no later than January 31, 2014.

 

Your participation is voluntary. All responses are anonymous. However, there is potential risk of loss of confidentiality in all email, downloading and internet transactions. The final results of this study will be used for research and may also be published in a summary format in a peer-reviewed journal.

 

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Elizabeth Fawcett, Ph.D., M.P.H., at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . This study has been reviewed according to accepted Institutional Review Board (IRB) procedures for research involving human subjects, and approved. If you have questions about the rights of research participants or the way this study is being conducted, you may contact Texas Woman’s University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at 940-898-3378 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

When It Is Abuse

by Elizabeth Fawcett, Ph.D., M.P.H.

 

Trust has been lost; consent has been revoked; the relationship has become threatening; you face real danger and possible harm. It’s not the “lifestyle”—it’s this relationship—and you need help. Where do you turn?

 

What happens when kinky folks seek help from publically available domestic violence services to deal with a relationship that may have become abusive? Are the unique circumstances of those who engage in relationships with negotiated power exchange dynamics such as BDSM, Leather or kink, understood and treated with sensitivity and respect by service providers?

 

“When I called the police, they said it was my fault because I consented.”

 

“The people who worked at the shelter talked openly about my D/s relationship, and it got back to my kids. They didn’t know! My children were bullied by other children at the shelter because of it.”

 

“Every time we had a disagreement, my partner threatened to call the police and tell them I beat him. But he asked me to! Who am I going to ask for help? I’m the Dominant! I’m the sadist!”

 

“I was told to leave the lifestyle altogether; they said that the power/control dynamic IS abuse.”

 

Anecdotes such as these prompted my interest in researching and documenting the experiences of those who engage in BDSM, Leather and kinky lifestyles whose relationships became abusive. Do kinky folks feel that they are discriminated against by service providers? Do they feel that they can even ask for help? These are the two major questions I aim to answer in a ground breaking research project on “Intimate Partner Abuse Among Practitioners of BDSM/Leather/Kink Lifestyles.” By placing a spotlight on the experiences and perceptions of individuals who have ever sought help in dealing with an abusive power exchange relationship, or who wanted to seek help, but didn’t, it may be possible to determine if kinky people comprise an underserved population, in order to promote improvement of the quality of information, responses and interventions provided by outreach educators and service providers.

 

I am very grateful to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom for supporting this important research.

 

 

 

 

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