Can mentally ill people consent to sadomasochistic sex? Can anyone consent to abusive and degrading sexual acts?
Connecticut's highest court has decided to take up those questions in the case of a Greenwich woman suing a man she alleges had an abusive sexual relationship with her daughter, who had multiple mental and physical ailments. Arguments before the state Supreme Court are scheduled for Wednesday.
While sadomasochism was glamorized in the popular 2011 book trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey," the practice has long been on questionable legal ground.
Some lawyers believe people can't consent to being assaulted or abused under common law, while others say established legal principles provide sexual rights to most people, including elderly people in nursing homes and the mentally ill. There are few court rulings, however, dealing directly with BDSM, short for bondage, discipline, dominance/submission and sadomasochism.
In the Connecticut case, Mary Kortner sued fellow Greenwich resident Craig Martise in 2006, saying her daughter could not have consented to sadomasochistic and abusive sex acts with him because of her mental state. A state jury, however, found in favor of Martise in 2009, concluding there was a sadomasochistic relationship but no proof that Kortner's daughter couldn't consent.
"This was a shocker to everybody who was watching it," Kortner said. "All the allegations were true. He was guilty."
Caroline Kendall Kortner, who died in 2010 at age 39 from an undisclosed illness, had been diagnosed with clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, bulimia and anorexia, and she tried to commit suicide twice, according to court documents. She also had a stroke in 2001 that left her partially paralyzed from the waist down and incontinent, court records say. ...
In a severe threat to online freedoms in the region, the European Parliament is set to vote in the next week on "a ban on all forms of pornography in the media."
The European Parliament will vote Tuesday on a proposal that could lead to a blanket ban on pornography in any forms of media with potentially wide-ranging implications for freedom and expression in the 27-member state bloc.
Passage of the proposal, "Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU," would allow the EU to help secure the rights for those across the gender spectrum, particularly women. While the report states that there is an "increasingly noticeable tendency...to show provocatively dressed women, in sexual poses," it also notes that pornography is becoming mainstream and is "slipping into our everyday lives as an evermore universally accepted, often idealized, cultural element."
But if adopted, the proposal could infringe certain civil liberties in the 500 million strong population.
Christian Engström, member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Pirate Party, said on his blog that the "devil is in the detail," warning that the wording in an older resolution from 1997 could lead to "statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media." ...
Controversial Gainesville Pastor Terry Jones plans to protest a sexually themed event at a downtown Orlando nightclub, his political organization said in a statement this week.
Firestone Live on North Orange Avenue is hosting a "Pansexuality Fetish Party" on March 16, according to its website.
This week, Jones' "Stand Up America Now" group announced protests to "tell [President Barack] Obama, the liberals, and those seeking to destroy marriages and over-sexualize children... that they aren't going to take it, that those types of things aren't going to fly" in Orlando.
The protest will take place at the corner of Amelia Street and Orange Avenue at 3 p.m. this Saturday and again on March 16. ...
Tuesday night's episode of "Our America with Lisa Ling," she interviewed the practice of polyamory. Dictionary.com gives the definition of polyamory as participation in multiple and simultaneous loving or sexual relationships for this episode titled, "I Love You & You ... & You." She also went on to further expound on the meaning as, committed non-monogamy, openly loving more than one person at the same time with the consent of everyone involved.
There is an estimated half a million people in America who practice polyamory. She met with Wes, and his wife Gina, married over a year, in the same bed was Wes' girlfriend Jessie. They live with another married-couple Sean and Ginny. Oh, Gina is Sean's girlfriend too. The estimated half a million families who practice polyamory, can put their status on Facebook as; it's complicated. However, there is plenty of love to go around.
Wes told Lisa that it was intentionally creating a community and has little to do with sexual appetite. Many believe that it is perfectly natural. Be it dark and ugly, or inspiring and beautiful; no matter what, it is "Our America." Monogamy does not always work for everyone. Another household headed by Regina, contains two men and her daughter. Every partner must be on board with the situation. Lisa visited Regina, her partner Dave, her husband Russell. The said that families come in various sizes and decorations. Regina could not find herself coming back to monogamy. She grew up in a Christian home with an Evangelical minister as a father. Seven years into her monogamous marriage and pregnant with their child, her husband asked if she would be interested in opening up their relationship; surprisingly, she said yes. Then she met Russell, who was in a monogamous marriage, and she started a relationship with him. Regina finally divorced from her husband and dated Dave and Russell. After the wedding, Dave moved in. Russell and Dave are two platonic friends both in love with the same woman. Regina mostly sleeps with Russell, but has date nights with Dave that are planned. Lisa asked them; why not just swing? Dave would not agree to this; he is not a casual dater. It takes a bit of commitment on the part of all parties involved. Regina sets up a calendar to give time to both men. Although a taboo subject in monogamous America; they do not keep their situation behind closed doors.
In another blended family, Lisa visited a rural community in central Colorado. There she met Robin and her boyfriend Jesus, nicknamed Chuy. Robin has multiple partners and feels differently towards each one. She has always been polyamorous and founded a website called LovingMore.com and met Chuy at a conference she held for polyamorous people. She has lovers around the world, but now has found another who lives locally. John is a first-timer to the community, after three unsuccessful monogamous marriages. After a fire hit Robin's farm, John helped transport their livestock.
It was Chuy who suggested John as an addition to the relationship. To agree to this, one must experience compersion; an empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy. Chuy just loves the glow Robin has after a date with John. ...
A firefighter who left his girlfriend tied up as part of an elaborate role-playing sex game has been found guilty in her asphyxiation death.
A judge in Longueuil found Patrick Deschatelets guilty of criminal negligence on Thursday in the death of his girlfriend in 2008.
The 39-year-old woman’s identity is guarded by a publication ban.
Earlier, Deschatelets had been charged with murder but the charge was dropped to involuntary manslaughter. He was hoping for an acquittal and argued that the procedure, her being tied up with a collar around her neck, was consensual, and the death an accident.
He went to the store to buy some pasta for a meal they were going to share together and left her tied to the ceiling and told the court that when he came back she wasn’t breathing.
He said he tried to revive her. Paramedics took the woman to hospital where she died 16 hours later. ...
Pain isn't always a pain. Sometimes it can actually feel good.
People experience pleasure during a painful stimulus if the stimulus turns out to be less bad than they were expecting, new research suggests.
"It is not hard to understand that pain can be interpreted as less severe when an individual is aware that it could have been much more painful," said study co-author Siri Leknes, a psychologist at the University of Oslo in Norway, in a statement. "Less expected, however, is the discovery that pain may be experienced as pleasant if something worse has been avoided."
The findings were published in the March issue of the journal Pain.
To see how people perceived pain, Leknes and her colleagues hooked 16 participants up to a device that applied a variable level of painful heat to their arms. At the same time, the researchers measured their brain activity using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
In the first setting, participants experienced a series of either a slightly painful stimulus — about as painful as grasping a slightly too hot cup of coffee — or no pain.
In a second setup, the participants experienced a series of either moderate or intense pain. On a screen, the participants could see what type of pain was coming up next in the series.
In the first scenario, the participants rated the moderate pain as unpleasant.
What a relief
But interestingly, participants rated the moderate pain as actually pleasurable in the second setup, when the alternative was the intense pain. During the moderate stimulus in the second setup, participants' brain activity also showed less activation in the pain region of the brain (the brain stem) and more activation in a region in the middle of the frontal lobes that's associated with pain relief and pleasure than during the same stimulus in the first setup. ...
You can probably predict most of what’s written in today’s New York Times story on the mainstreaming of kink. Fifty Shades of Grey made it so that everyone and their mom (especially their mom) could feel safe owning up to their desire to tie one another up, which makes the BDSM old-timers a little territorial, but mostly excited, because maybe our widespread enthusiasm will make their unjustly pathologized lifestyle more socially acceptable. (It would be nice if they couldn't lose child custody over it, for one.)
But what the Times story does reveal — though it never explicitly states it — is how fundamentally geeky BDSM is. Or rather, that the lifestyle shares many attributes of other nerd subcultures. Even safe words are kind of dorky, if you think about it — a word so silly you would never say it in the course of regular sex. One of the Times sources, “Deb,” is a lifelong Mets fan, so hers is “Yankees Rule,” because “she could only utter it under extreme duress.” It's enough to make you wonder if BDSM is just being DTF for the LARPing set. ...
There’s some actual overlap with science fiction and fantasy. Susan Wright, a community manager for bondage site FetLife and spokeswoman for kink awareness group National Coalition for Sexual Freedom quoted by the Times, is also the author of nineStar Trek novels. And let’s not forget that Fifty Shades began as Twilight fan fiction! ...
On a recent Friday night, a small group of people lined up in a cinder-block hallway inside an unmarked entrance to Paddles, a club on West 26th Street. Two men in their 60s were discussing real estate and a few women in their 20s were sending last-minute texts before going down two flights to the subterranean space.
Paddles is not another trendy table tennis emporium, but a “safe space” to live out erotic fantasies, specifically BDSM (bondage/discipline, domination/submission, sadism/masochism), OTK (over the knee; in other words, spanking), and an alphabet soup’s worth of other sexual practices that, until recently, have gone largely unnoticed and undiscussed by the mainstream world.
But surely in part because of the blockbuster success of E. L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy (65 million copies sold worldwide according to Publishers Weekly), people who are drawn to power exchange in sexuality and may refer to themselves as kinky are finding themselves in the spotlight as never before.
In February, “kink,” a documentary directed by Christina Voros and produced by James Franco, had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. (The Hollywood Reporter called it “a friendly film about lots of seemingly reasonable people who do terrible things to each other on camera for money.”) Phrases like “safe word” are increasingly part of pop culture; on the IFC hit “Portlandia,” one sensitive character said hers (“cacao”) even when her boyfriend is sleeping. On Showtime’s “Shameless,” Joan Cusack plays a kinky mother trying to manage the enthusiasm and pricey toy collection of her younger lover.
And some real-life kinksters — a few of whom are appropriating the epithet “pervert,” much as gay activists seized control of “queer” — are wondering if they are approaching a time when they, like the L.G.B.T. community before them, can come out and begin living more open, integrated lives.
But that time, it seems, has not yet arrived. Though the Harvard Munch Club, a social group of around 30 students focusing on kinky interests, was officially recognized by the university in December, its 21-year-old founding president asked that he not be identified. (“I’m interested in politics,” he offered as one reason.) He said that he had “encountered zero negative responses on campus,” and received messages from alumni expressing solidarity and wishing there had been a similar group when they were undergraduates.
A 20-year-old college student and self-described submissive on Long Island who asked to be referred to only by her middle name, Marie, said that she was disowned by her parents when a partner’s lover outed her as kinky. “They were just beside themselves,” Marie said. “I think they were worried I would get hurt.”
She saw how telling people could be complicated. “It’s like being gay in that it’s a sexual preference, but it’s not like being gay in the sense that it’s not who you love, it’s how you love,” she said, adding, “The coming out is a little bit different.” Still, she said, “among people my own age, I haven’t found anyone who thinks I’m weird or doesn’t want to be friends.”
For those who find hostility in the wider world, though, there are plenty of welcoming environments to be found. Inside Paddles, there are black walls and a mural featuring a cartoon woman in thigh-high red boots standing with a stiletto heel on a man’s back. The bar, called Whips and Licks Cafe, does not sell alcohol, but coffee, sodas and Italian ices, giving the atmosphere an unexpectedly wholesome feeling. Opposite it was a display of paddles, floggers and other equipment for sale. The club’s various nooks and crannies featured rigs, chains, cages and benches where participants could pair up and play out whatever “scenes” they agreed upon.
Tucked away in one room, a man and woman were sharing fire play, which involved accelerant placed on strategic points of the woman’s body and set ablaze in short, dramatic bursts. In another area, decorated to look like a dungeon, a middle-aged man was lashing a middle-aged woman’s bare back with a single tail whip. Intercourse and oral sex are not allowed at Paddles, but many people had their shirts off, mixing comfortably without any apparent self-consciousness.
The crowd was mixed-age and multiethnic, and the mood was friendly and upbeat. If you ignored the occasional yelps and moans and stripped away the exotic gear, it could have been a gathering of any hobby group, albeit one where photos were prohibited and participants mostly used aliases.
“One out of five people these days who come to our events are novices who say they’ve read ‘Fifty Shades’ and it triggered something and they wanted to explore,” said a man identifying himself as Viktor, 49, who works in marketing and is a founder of DomSubFriends, a BDSM education group that organized a lecture on jealousy that night. “In the beginning I thought, ‘They took away my BDSM,’ ” he said of the newbies. “But then I thought, ‘No, more people are enjoying it.’ ”
Fetish shops like Purple Passion/DV8 on West 20th Street, which sell rope, paddles and other accouterments familiar to BDSM aficionados, are also getting more visits. “We always had people coming in looking to explore, but now there’s a lot more people experimenting and trying things out,” said Lolita Wolf, who works behind the counter and teaches classes like beginner rope bondage and how to play with needles at the shop.
For those not ready to explore kink in public, dating sites like Alt.com and social networks like FetLife let them do so from their own homes or mobile devices. Founded in 2008 and based in Vancouver, British Columbia, FetLife added 700,000 members last year, bringing its total membership to over 1.7 million, according to Susan Wright, a community manager for the site as well as a spokeswoman for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a nonprofit group based in Baltimore that is working to raise awareness of kinky people and defend their rights.
It’s understandable that kinky people would seek the anonymous refuge of the Internet; their preferences can be made an issue in custody battles (even if both parents have participated) or contribute to employees losing their jobs. Valerie White, a founder of the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, a nonprofit advocacy and education group based in Sharon, Mass., points to one man whose ex-wife sought to change the terms of their joint custody when she learned of his interest in kinky sex through his blog (the parties eventually settled).
Ms. Wright said the coalition receives 600 calls a year from individuals and organizations seeking help navigating legal minefields. Founded in 1997, the coalition has lobbied to have the American Psychiatric Association update the definitions of certain sexual practices so they can be depathologized in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. “We’re perfectly ordinary people except that we like kinky sex,” said Ms. Wright, 49, who is a science fiction writer and has been married 19 years. “We should not be discriminated against.”
The group also maintains a database of “kink-aware” clinicians and spiritual advisers. Some therapists say “something is wrong with you, that it’s a pathology,” said Dr. Charley Ferrer, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan and Staten Island and the author of “BDSM: The Naked Truth.” (That perception is reinforced by the “Fifty Shades’” protagonist, Christian Grey.) “Most people look at BDSM as being abusive: ‘How can you tell someone to beat you and be happy with that?’ Domestic violence and dominance and submission are totally different.” ...