Please contact The Advocate and protest their removal of their Op-Ed by Jill D. Weinberg entitled “Kink as The Next LGBT Rights Frontier: Why handcuffs and submission may lead to even more LGBT liberation” posted on December 17, 2012.
The comments were very negative against kinky people and demanded The Advocate remove the Op-Ed because it was harming the LGBT movement. The Op-Ed was up for less than 12 hours before The Advocate removed it from their website.
Please contact The Advocate and respectfully tell them that their silencing of this important issue leads to more persecution and discrimination against kinky people. Tell them you want to see more coverage of kink issues in The Advocate. And tell them that 1 in 3 people who identify as kinky are persecuted because of it, and the question of “Kink Rights” as the next frontier should be taken seriously.
Why handcuffs and submission may lead to even more LGBT liberation.
The people have spoken: gay is OK. The recent election gave us political and legislative victories for the LGBT community, including same-sex marriage in three states and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. Senator. On television we have sitcoms like Modern Family, and The New Normal, which portray gays and lesbians as good friends, neighbors, and parents. Finally, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo emerged as leading advocates for same-sex marriage and shedding the homophobic image associated with professional sports.
Now, there is only one thing left to do: get kinky. Incorporating kink into the LGBT movement--and here I mean bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM), as well as the alternative sexualities community like the polyamorous--begins to include all of those struggling for sexual freedom. And, a kinky LGBT movement allows us to think about additional groups to include and form a coalition in the fight for causes that affect a larger collective.
A kinky LGBT movement would mean a long overdue return to the Stonewall Riot-era advocacy in which community identity celebrated difference. Like many identity-based social movements, incremental change was necessary for laying the groundwork of acceptance by the broader public. As protestors became lobbyists, the face of the LGBT movement became male, white, privileged, and arguing for traditional marriage. Radical transformation became assimilation into mainstream society and its institutions.
The strategy is working but the concessions made are at the expense of many. In theory, anyone in the community should reap the benefits for any LGBT rights victory. However, sexual and gender minorities of color continue to suffer a unique sort of discrimination and victimization, perhaps due to the image of what it means to be gay, that has emerged. Integrating kink into the LGBT movement may reignite a more inclusive agenda by recognizing the highly varied sexual and gender diversity within the greater community.
Challenging the status quo through non-normality is not new for many queer radical advocates. The deviance of kinkiness creates an opportunity for several marginal groups to align and frame causes with larger appeal, such as “civil rights.” For example, University of Chicago Professor, Cathy J. Cohen, believes that queer politics offers an opportunity to examine power and not exclusively based on heteronormativity and consider the possibility of “progressive transformative coalition work”. Kink, unlike queer, challenges more axes of oppression, allowing the LGBT community, specifically, and other groups (e.g., race, class, and gender), more broadly, to question their marginalization. In other words, non-normativity unveils the universality and commonalty of grievances and aspirations for social change, and in this case, BDSM and alternative sexualities touch on larger frames, including equality, privacy, and intimate association.
Attempts to move the LGBT agenda down an expansive road is not without risks. Claims of equality are universal in many respects, but I fear that BDSM and LGBT would be simultaneously everywhere and nowhere; we must preserve fundamental values, histories, and identities that defined and connected these communities in the first place. A far-reaching agenda may also obscure the causes that are unique to particular groups. BDSM is pathologized in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and criminalized under assault and battery law, whereas homosexuality is not. And yet, a heterosexual BDSM practitioner can marry and adopt children, whereas gay and lesbians in many states cannot.
Finally, bringing kink to the fore provides greater potential to challenge the institutions that normalize inequality and structure society. This theoretical rumination and political strategy forces us to question why social structures developed the way they did and whether they need to persist. The LGBT movement has played it smart by highlighting its similarities to the heteronormative majority. We can all agree that the defining marriage as a union between man and a woman, or defining family as two parents of different genders, are merely social constructions meant to preserve status quo and those in power. As I see it, current progress, while noteworthy, is not enough. To be content with the current state of affairs would be satisfaction with immobility in sheep’s clothing.
Bottom line, it may be bondage that is liberatory.
UPDATE: The comments were very negative toward this Op-Ed and the concept that kinky people might need help because they're being persecuted. Several called for the Op-Ed to be removed because it reflected badly on the LGBT movement.
NCSF was raising awareness about this Op-Ed on our Facebook page, and a handful of kink activists began making comments along with NCSF staff. The Op-Ed was deleted from The Advocate along with the comments approximately 12 hours after it was posted.
In BDSM, a slave/master contract is an important element to ensure that parties know and understand their respective rights and responsibilities within the context of their consensual relationship. Further, as experienced practitioners of BDSM well know, the drafting, negotiation, execution, and enforcement of such contracts is part of the fun and fantasy of BDSM.
However, BDSM practitioners should not forget that the legal system will not enforce slave/master type contracts no matter how well and emphatic they are written. Worse yet, some players will inevitably want to attempt to manipulate for their own purposes the language of such slave/master contracts. Thus, it is important for BDSM practitioners to take steps to keep their slave/master contracts confidential and to prevent even those who one day might sign such contracts in earnest, from turning on their play partners when their relationship may no longer be as trusting. Participants who enter into a BDSM contract should only do so if they have the intention of honoring the agreement. However, in the BDSM world as in the real world, things change, feelings change, desires change, circumstances occur, etc.
Moreover, when things are in writing, there are inherent risks that the document, rather than benefit parties, could be used to harm one or more of the individuals in terms of custody, divorce, employment, criminal and civil disputes. Regardless of the motivation for drafting and signing a BDSM contact, think in terms of potential forthcoming problems and as well as unforeseen, individual protection.
Cultural anthropologists can provide insight into protecting identities of subjects. Those involved in BDSM can learn techniques utilized by anthropologists to provide protection and anonymity for themselves. On the one hand, think in terms of ‘protection from others’. What if a child, neighbor or relative has discovered your BDSM contract? What if one party dies? Or what if a family member was searching for evidence to use for a custody dispute?
One way to protect both parties is similar to the protection techniques utilized by anthropologists. Code your contract using code words and lock the code key in a different location. For example, if Zeb signed and dated a contract pertaining to ownership, punishment, servitude etc., those parties’ drafting the contract may use “Green” for Zeb, “moon” for ownership, “banana” for punishment etc. In the event, the signing parties forget the code, they simply find the code key locked away. Any person not a party to the contract would face a challenge proving or decoding its content.
On the other hand, consider the need to protect ourselves from each other. Without being paranoid, and in an attempt to prepare for the worst, consider the issue in terms of assets, children, or other investments. If you have anything to loose, and we all do, consider adding a disclaimer to your contract. Whether you are Leopold van Sacher Masoch or John Doe, a disclaimer on the contract can specify that the contract is null and void by either party at any time, or that the contact is non-binding and up for reconsideration, or that what is stated above is agreed upon by both parties but is for entertainment purposes only and not to be used for legal purposes.
Slave and BDSM contracts are as old as masochism and sadism itself. As risk aware consensual kinksters, we must draft and sign contracts with consideration. Those who enter into contractual relationships must consider the risk of others discovering our rules, and the potential of our partner using our own words against us.
Tiffany Jones, M.A. is a registered psychotherapist and has been a sex and relationship coach for the last 11 years. She started Denver Sexology LLC in 2005 to help individuals and couples who are struggling with intimacy issues and seek to improve their sexual satisfaction. She is a kink friendly professional.
Last week, national media outlets were titillated by the news that Harvard University had formally recognized a student-run BDSM group (short for bondage, domination, and sadomasochism). The idea of buttoned-up Crimson coeds discussing their fondness for fetish challenged the conventional image of the Ivy League university, home to the best, the brightest—and now, the kinkiest.
Joining the Composers Association, the Mathematica Club, and about 400 other student organizations, the Harvard Munch will now get money to host gatherings and guest speakers. While conservative pundits on Fox roasted the school for giving money to this “marginal” group, the larger BDSM world welcomed the news. “Within the next decade, I think we’ll see a huge number of colleges and universities providing safe spaces for their students to explore alternative sexuality, just as they have done for LGBT groups,” said Mollena Williams, an educator in the kink community.
Harvard is hardly the first university to have sanctioned such a group. Columbia University’s Conversio Virium (that’s Latin for “exchange of forces”) became the first university-recognized sadomasochism club in the country in 1992. Iowa State University has its long-running, student-funded bondage club, Cuffs; Vassar College has the Sex Avengers, which holds an annual “Masturbate-a-thon”; and the University of Chicago has RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink).
“Munch” isn’t as much of a non sequitur in this list as it sounds. The term goes back to the 1980s, when a small group of bondage enthusiasts began meeting at a restaurant in Palo Alto to casually discuss spanking, flogging, and the like. Despite the connotations it might have, the term “munch” in this context is simply an amalgamation of “lunch” and “meeting.”
Munching isn’t exclusive to cities and college campuses either. One of the longest-running munches is based in Louisville, Ky. Many members of the Harvard Munch were introduced to the BDSM community through the Cambridgeside Galleria Munch, according to a former member. Anschel Schaffer-Cohen, a founder of Tufts Kink, encourages members to check out Cambridgeside’s Munch. “It’s the textbook introduction to the community,” he said. “I went to munches and made friends. It’s a safe venue to meet people with similar interests.”
And anyone concerned that the munch is a sign of rampant campus promiscuity can rest easy. In an informal video survey by The Harvard Crimson asking students whether they would rather join Munch or the pro-abstinence Harvard College Anscombe Society, support was surprisingly evenly split between the two.
I soon received an email from Rebecca Nagle from FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, a feminist activism effort that promotes awareness about rape culture, informing me that Pink Loves Consent is not an official Victoria's Secret PINK line, but rather an effort by FORCE to promote awareness about rape culture.
Even though I was disappointed that Victoria's Secret wasn't actually promoting this positive image, I was very happy to realize that I had been tricked. I was so impressed that an activist group was able to reach so many people and garner such a positive reaction to a campaign that has to do with women's bodies and sexuality. After an election year in which women's bodies became a figurative stage for what has now been dubbed a "War On Women," it was really encouraging to see women successfully reaching out to other women about how our culture's perception of female sexuality must change.
I got the opportunity to chat with Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato (the duo behind FORCE) and ask them about the Pink Loves Consent campaign:
How did the Pink Loves Consent campaign start?
Nagle: Upsetting Rape Culture actually started as an art exhibition in Baltimore in 2010. After we did that, we wanted to keep working, so the next thing we did is we made a line of underwear called "Consent Is Sexy." We came up with this three-pack of underwear with a set of "No" underwear, "Yes" underwear and "Maybe" underwear, which we thought was a cute way of wearing what you were in the mood for. About a month later, Victoria's Secret came out with this underwear that said "Yes, No, Maybe," but it was all on the same underwear. Instead of saying yes, no or maybe and "I get to decide about what happens to my body," it's like, yes, no, maybe, I don't know.
So instead of "No" being a way for young women to set a boundary, it is a way for them to flirt, which I think is part of this understanding we have in our culture that creates and perpetuates rape. So we were like, wow, this is crazy problematic. So the idea started to do a knock-off of Victoria's Secret PINK line and we decided to time it with the fashion show."
What is rape culture and do you think that VS/Pink promotes it?
Brancato: Rape Culture is all the things that allow rape to seem normal and prevent survivors from being able to speak up and out. Rape Culture is silencing. In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape. It includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as "just the way things are."
PINK is specifically marketed towards younger and younger girls, and like the rest of Victoria's Secret, PINK is selling a specific brand of sexuality. VS PINK has co-opted the idea of sexual freedom and twisted it into an image of sexuality in which the woman (or girl) is not really in control. The "Sure Thing" and "Yes, No, Maybe" and "NO peeking" underwear promote the idea of limitless availability, or on the other hand, leaving the choice up to the (presumably male) partner. The brand teaches girls to be coy instead of vocal and makes it seem uncool and unsexy to say no and mean it. By re-enforcing that sex is about an image, that looking good is more important than feeling good, PINK promotes rape culture." ...
On June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, NYC, a group of gay customers took a stand against police harassment and the Stonewall Riots began. These riots, are now largely regarded as the catalyst for the LGBT, civil rights movement in the United States. It is generally looked at as “the moment that changed everything.”
The riots themselves were not the reason that things changed, they were a moment in time that we can point to, when the bubble burst. A tipping point, when the publicity generated from an event brought mass attention to something that was on the edge of change.
The publishing of Fifty Shades of Grey is not the dawning of a literary masterpiece, a factually correct overview of how to do BDSM or a book that will likely be remembered any more than the drink menu & decor of the Stonewall Inn, back in 1969. Like it or not however, it’s an important moment in history.
The USA Today has reported that the Fifty Shades of Grey has sold over 32 million copies as of July 2012. It’s now the biggest selling book of all time in the UK and the biggest selling book on the Kindle platform in the US as well. When you look at how women are treating E.L.James, the writer of the book, you’d almost think she was the second coming of the Beatles. This kind of passion and sales success does not happen solely because of the content of a book, let alone one known as a “trashy romance novel.”
No, this is a shift in culture! This is millions of women reclaiming their right to be whoever and whatever they want to be in the bedroom, regardless of their politics.
These are every day women from all walks of life, overwhelmingly voting YES on the “kinky sex referendum”, saying:
“We like a little spanking and hair pulling… what’s wrong with that?”
Most importantly, people are looking around at the crazy success of this book and realizing, evidently, A WHOLE LOT OF US have these interests, urges and fantasies.
And certainly NOT just dominant male/submissive female fantasies but every combination and flavor that one can think of. These fetishes and predilections that we call BDSM are not about abuse, but rather consensual intimacy in the bedroom.
For years, Sex-positive feminists have embraced BDSM and opposed legal or social efforts to control any type of sexual activity between consenting adults, and now without a bottle thrown or even a harsh word uttered, millions of women around the world have joined them and initiated a bloodless coup, inspired by of all things, a romance novel.
I believe this is part of a bigger picture however. Our world is changing for the better. We are evolving. People are starting to realize that, our institutions and their dogma, are failing us because they have become irrelevant in our ever changing society.
We must move towards truth and away from fear…
As an Alternative Life Coach I want to help people live a more alternative life. To me that simply means living a life where you are always growing, changing and evolving. Where you question, think and create. Where you refuse to settle for what you are told to do… and instead follow a path to real fulfillment and enlightenment.
How you decide to manifest that is up to you
Kinky sex is just one small way you can begin to shake things up a bit in your life. To not settle for the norm. To do something that you perhaps have always wanted to do but were too embarrassed or scared to embrace. Explore art, music, yoga, spirituality, service to your community, a new job doing what you really were meant to do!
When you stop growing… you start dying!
Let’s hope this is the year that it all changed. The year that a silly romance novel was the catalyst for an earth shattering kaboom! The year that we look back on and thank the universe that people are no longer persecuted, lose their children or shunned because of consensual acts in their bedrooms.
One of the reasons I’m writing this post is because I sat down to lunch last week with my good friend Susan Wright, who is the founder of the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom. As we excitedly compared notes on the 50 shades of Grey phenomenon, we were united in our belief that the reaction to this book could be a Stonewall of sorts, for alternative sexuality. That this could open up the lines of communication and change everything. But to do that, it’s going to take a lot of education and a lot of information.
Like most non profit groups, The National Coalition of Sexual Freedom is struggling right now to stay alive in this tough economy. We will need them now more then ever and I ask you to PLEASE SUPPORT THEM WITH A DONATION to help them continue to fight for your rights!
Bo Blaze is a PCC certified “Alternative” life coach; specializing in Alternative Sexual Relationships & Non-Traditional Lifestyles. Bo is a nationally known expert on Kink, Lifestyle BDSM, Ethical Non-Monogamy (Polyamory), the Fetish World and LGBT issues. He has taught and lectured all over the country at hundreds of universities, conferences and various alternative events. He is the winner of the 2011 Pantheon of Leather President’s Award and has helped thousands learn to practice Safe, Sane & Consensual BDSM over the last 10 years, as the the Novice Group facilitator, for the oldest & largest BDSM support and education group in the Country.