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"50 Shades of Grey Lesson: BDSM Perfectly Healthy for Women"

on Thursday, 09 August 2012. Hits 1237

Opposing Views

In Gone With the Wind, Rhett Butler tells Scarlett O’Hara he won’t be refused and carries her up a velvet staircase to thrust—err, drive—Ashley Wilkes out of her mind. This famous scene leaves many female readers with their hearts racing.

But at the same time, many people hear “BDSM” and recoil or become outraged. In fact, Dr. Drew recently came out against Fifty Shades of Grey, despite having never read the book. According to Dr. Drew and other opponents, BDSM is anti-feminist, it glorifies subjugation, and it encourages domestic abuse. There’s a disconnect here that’s impossible to ignore.

How many of us have had the “pirate captive” or “sheik’s harem girl” fantasy? How many of us fantasize about bondage or have Google-d “Christian Grey?” This eternal conflict plagues many confident, healthy adult women. How many of us have wondered, “What’s wrong with me?” Not. A. Thing.

Ladies, take comfort – the desire to submit isn’t anti-feminist and a true BDSM relationship has nothing to do with abuse. Consider ballroom dancing. When we give our partner the opportunity to lead, and choose to follow, we dance together. The desire isn’t to be conquered – it’s to surrender.

While Dominant/submissive inclinations are as old as human nature itself, there’s a reason the BDSM fantasy is engaging the female imagination now. We’ve come a long way, baby. We’re in positions of corporate and political power. We have a voice when we stand up and demand to be heard. Yet, at the same time, we’re still the primary emotional hub of the family, and coordinate most of the domestic chores. Getting swept away in a fantasy where our significant other takes the reins, protects and cares for us, takes away any responsibility? I’d argue it’s natural.

Has your partner ever told you to leave your hands above your head while he was… doing wonderful things to you? He didn’t tie you up; he simply gave you the command. Suddenly what he was doing was even more stimulating - simply because you were letting him take the lead. That’s part of BDSM. Whether it’s psychological or physical restraint, giving up power can be very liberating, especially when you trust your partner to take you both where you want to go.

“But that’s not what BDSM is,” you insist. “I saw the truth on an episode of Law and Order!” Perhaps you saw whips, chains, leather – all sorts of stuff that you’re sure will put you on the FBI’s deviant watch list. Certainly those trappings exist – and can be a lot of fun, especially when you decide to do “FBI interrogation” role-play – but they aren’t the true heart of BDSM. ...

International News: "Former Boris Johnson aide cleared of possession of 'extreme pornography'"

on Thursday, 09 August 2012. Hits 1276

Barrister Simon Walsh, 50, acquitted over images that prosecution argued showed activities likely to cause injury

The Guardian

A barrister has been acquitted of possessing extreme pornography in a landmark case over the boundaries of what can be described as "extreme".

The jury was unanimous and took less than 90 minutes to clear Simon Walsh, 50, a former aide to London mayor Boris Johnson, and who served as a magistrate and alderman in the City of London, after a week-long trial.

The case is believed to be the first to address whether images of anal fisting, a sexual practice which is legal, and urethral sounding are extreme pornography, as defined under the controversial section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Earlier this year Michael Peacock was acquitted of charges under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 of distributing obscene DVDs, which featured fisting and bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM).

Walsh was charged with possession of six email attachment images, which were not found by police on either his work or home computers, but on a Hotmail server account he set up to receive and send sexual messages.

Oxford-educated Walsh was sacked from his position on the London Fire Authority on his arrest in April last year. He was a man of impeccable character who had made an outstanding contribution to society, the court heard, and had previously chaired the City of London Corporation police authority and licensing authority. He had been unable to work as a barrister since his arrest on the charges, which carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.

His lawyer, Matthew Buckland, told Kingston crown court that the case raised issues of private personal encounters and "how we view them in an inclusive democracy".

Walsh faced five charges under the 2008 act, which stipulates images are extreme if they are "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character" and if they "portray, in an explicit and realistic way" any act "which results in, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals". ...

"Marine wife slaying throws spotlight on bondage scene"

on Tuesday, 07 August 2012. Hits 1134

Police say ' 'fetishes' motive for Killgore killers

Fallbrook

The disappearance and gruesome slaying of Brittany Killgore, 22, whose naked body was dumped in a ditch in April while her Marine husband was fighting in Afghanistan, has drawn worldwide attention ---- largely because of the sexual kinks of her three suspected killers.

In court documents released last month, police described a sex dungeon and bondage toys, and suggested that the Fallbrook suspects killed Killgore to satisfy their sexual desires. The documents mentioned no evidence that Killgore was involved in their practices.

The case has heightened fears of misunderstanding or persecution in the local bondage community, especially when the best-selling novels in America are those in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy, an erotic series that includes acts of bondage, binding and disciplining for pleasure.

Members of the local bondage community ---- who organize primarily through niche social media websites, discreet clubs, and parties at neighborhood homes or specialty businesses ---- fear being seen as crazy or violent.

Psychologists and sex educators said that bondage relationships can be healthy and are somewhat common, though they often remain hidden from public view.

Such secrets are usually exposed only when something has gone terribly wrong, experts said. ...

"'50 Shades of Grey' Contract for Sex Wouldn't Hold Up in Real Life"

on Tuesday, 31 July 2012. Hits 872

E.L. James's novel 50 Shades of Grey has taken the U.S. by storm and its erotic nature, including a steamy BDSM contract, has caused quite the buzz.

Reuters

Love it or hate it, the book is big news, selling millions of copies.

If you haven't read it yet, there might be some spoilers below. But if you have read it, you must have been curious about the contract that Christian Grey offers to the book's narrator, Anastasia Steele.

The contract sets out terms for a BDSM sexual arrangement between Grey and Steele which made us wonder: would it survive in court?

First things first, is there a contract? For a contract to exist there needs to be an offer, an acceptance, and both parties have to give some 'consideration' as part of the agreement.

Consideration is a legal term for the idea that for people to honor a contract, both parties must promise something of value when making the contract.

Grey makes an offer by asking Steele to sign the contract and there is consideration. If they agree Grey will provide care and training to Steele and Steele will make herself available to Grey every weekend.

Oh right, and she'll offer Grey any pleasure he desires without hesitation and he, in exchange, will refrain from anything that endangers her health or leaves a permanent mark.

Typical stuff? Not really.

But none of that matters since Steele doesn't actually sign, there's no acceptance. No contract.

Grey does admit that other women signed the contract. But would anyone have been able to enforce it?

Contracts that violate public policy will not be upheld in court and that includes contracts for sex. As a society we don't endorse using sex as a tradable good (i.e. laws against prostitution) so contracts can't use sex as consideration.

Much of the contract does involve sex. It includes a list of sexual activities that Steele will or won't participate in and continually refers to her as The Submissive while Grey is The Dominant. Those terms are pretty commonly linked to sexual relationships which means they can't be part of the contract. ...

"Showtime’s Polyamory Is Trashy, Profound and the Best Reality Show on TV"

on Friday, 27 July 2012. Hits 605

Gawker

Just as the concept of polyamory is many things to many people, so is Showtime's current series Polyamory: Married & Dating. It's alternately hilarious, shocking, poignant, titillating and cringe-inducing. But it's also important.

Polyamory and the range of ways it can manifest itself in its practicing groups, and then still, what it means to each person inside these groups, is not an easy thing to telegraph. This show lays it out as carefully as possible in its profiling of two multi-person committed relationships. It works not just as the freak show that we've come to expect from reality TV, but also on a political level. The slippery slope anti-equality argument stating that if gays are allowed to marry, then soon we'll have to allow multiple partners to as well, is bullshit not just for side-stepping the issue – if you believe in the fundamental principle of sexual equality, that it doesn't matter what people do in their bedrooms as long as they aren't hurting others, there is no legitimate ethical argument against the kind of configurations you see presented on Polyamory. If you don't want polyamory, stay out of a triad. Simple.

The "mind your own business" mindset gets complicated when those involved make their private lives public. But then, the lives portrayed here are perfectly suited for the format. Reality TV typically forces its participants to examine themselves closely. In extreme cases, those on screen are deprived of outside stimulation so that their focus turns to the social politics of their living situation. At the very least, those on reality TV are made to sit through marathon interviews picking apart the nuances of their behavior and its motivation. Never have I seen a situation that naturally fits this format as well as that of Showtime's currently airing . As Tahl explains in the video above, "Jen and I have our rules. Mike and Kamala have their rules, but now not only are you just bringing two couples together – it's a four-way dynamic. And so, it makes it more complicated." With their intricate configuration, these people would have to openly and routinely examine their and their partners' emotional situations, with or without cameras pointed at them. The show was already going on.

The emotional articulation of the four described people makes for riveting viewing – not since the early days of The Real World have I been so obsessed with watching people sit around and babble about themselves and their lives, nor have I so deeply lamented that they only do it for 30 minutes once a week. Their self-consumption is infectious. ...

"Fifty Shades of Grey means business for Fascinations chain"

on Thursday, 26 July 2012. Hits 1527

Denver Westword

The Fifty Shades trilogy — often called "mommy porn" — appears to be changing the face of the adult toy business, one pink whip at a time. In fact, ever since E.L. James's novel Fifty Shades of Grey rose to fame as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, romance retailer Fascinations has found a new market in women who've been entranced by the explicitly erotic BDSM scenes and are seeking toys and more to enhance their sex lives.

"Products have been screaming out the door," says Patrick Jagos, general manager for the Tempe, Arizona-based chain, which has six stores in Colorado and twelve in Arizona.

Sales at Fascinations, which had been slumping prior to the Fifty Shades series hitting shelves, are now skyrocketing, he says. The chain, which has a 70 percent female customer base, has had a "nice influx of suburban housewives" and women whose eyes have been opened by James's novel.

In response, several Fascinations stores have put up Fifty Shades-themed displays that include blindfolds, tethers and "various accoutrements that we thought fit well with the story," Jagos says. The Glendale store, for instance, included sexy shoes, sensory-deprivation iPod plug-ins and products from the bondage room. The displays, which target the flocks of women who normally wouldn't feel comfortable stepping foot into an erotic store, have elicited monumental results: Sales in the book department are up 120 percent for the chain, and products like Ben Wa balls — orbs that can be inserted in the vagina to strengthen the Kegel muscles — are selling out.

These and other "vanilla B&D" products fit into a category that is more low-key than traditional bondage and discipline, with items that are cute and inexpensive: Think colorful small whips and furry handcuffs.

"It's not like you have to go in and buy a $300 whip," Jagos says. "It's something that people can dabble in." And women are eating it up: Fascinations has experienced more than a 20 precent sales increase in the vanilla B&D category. The decorative and cute Kegel exercisers are an especially hot item. "No matter what, we can't keep them in," Jagos says. ...

"Poly what?"

on Thursday, 26 July 2012. Hits 739

The Daily Pennsylvanian

Samantha Fraser has been married for the past eight years. Six years ago, she started seeing other people and currently, she boasts two boyfriends and a girlfriend. Fraser isn’t divorced and she isn’t cheating on her partner. She is practicing polyamory.

Fraser is the author of the poly-centric blog Not Your Mother’s Playground and a forthcoming book of the same title. Of her romantic entanglements, Fraser explained that “it’s not like traditional marriage. Polyamory means ‘many loves’ — but it’s not like we’re looking at any sort of rule book.”

The definition of polyamory is somewhat contested: In one camp, people honor its academic roots in the gender and sexuality community as a term for wholly transparent and simultaneous romantic relationships. More recently, people have used it synonymously with phrases like “open relationships,” which are sometimes strictly about sex.

As Dossie Easton describes it, “Poly has come to mean any form of relationship with multiple partners.” Easton is the co-author of what is often regarded as “the poly Bible,” The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities.

“Infinite possibilities” describes polyamory at its core. Those who practice poly range from the lovestruck triad in Oliver Stone’s recent film “Savages” to full-on group marriage within an entire community of people.

Rising Wharton junior Derek Livermont was in a polyamorous relationship last summer, after he and his partner decided to branch out and date other people. He described the arrangement as the most “open and honest relationship” that he has ever been in. Still, the multiplicity of love that springs from polyamory is often met with resistance — both legal and social — which leaves polyamorous people out of mind when it comes to making social progress.

“[Polys] are not only at odds with the heterosexual and monogamous community, but also with an LGBT community that is quickly giving up some of its core beliefs of inclusion and acceptance in exchange for quick payoffs like marriage equality,” Livermont said. “We should find a form of marriage — or lack thereof, as a thought — that works for everyone.”

Livermont nods to the fact that we’ve witnessed strides for the gay community, like the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the legalization of gay marriage in eight states. Still, the changes have focused on incorporating homosexuals into a preexisting system — one that polys simply don’t fit into. ...

"Pull down the shades, pull out the toys"

on Wednesday, 25 July 2012. Hits 1548

As 'Fifty Shades of Grey' goes mainstream, sex toy sales are heating up too

Chicago Tribune

Moms aren't the only ones riding high on "Fifty Shades of Grey." Sex toy sales are surging as more couples add handcuffs and riding crops to their repertoire.

At San Francisco-based Good Vibrations, sales of bondage sex toys have increased 65 percent and erotica 50 percent since "Fifty Shades" rose to the top of the best-seller lists this spring with its graphic tale of an ingenue submitting to the sexual games of a powerful man, introducing mainstream audiences to themes of BDSM (an acronym encompassing bondage and discipline, domination and submission and sadism and masochism). At New York-based Babeland, bondage toy sales have grown 40 percent, with certain paddles, blindfolds and a spiky metal tool called a pinwheel experiencing triple-digit increases, said public relations director Pamela Doan. The store also is offering free classes based on the "Fifty Shades" sex scenes, drawing 125 people to the first event and 400 RSVPs to the second — far more than the 25 to 30 attendees events typically draw, Doan said.

Kegel balls, the beads mentioned in "Fifty Shades" that strengthen pelvic floor muscles for improved orgasms, have become particularly popular. Manufacturer Fun Factory has seen sales of its Smart Balls rise 350 percent this spring over last, and its German factory has had to pick up night shifts to keep up with demand, said marketing director Emilie Rosanvallon.

"I have never seen anything like this," said Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group for BDSM. "We have tracked media coverage of BDSM since the '90s, and it is just astonishing how many people are talking about this."

Just as "Sex and the City" prompted a run on Rabbit vibrators, "Fifty Shades" is giving people — and women in particular — permission to venture into new erotic territory they may have previously been too shy to explore, said Carol Queen, staff sexologist at Good Vibrations.

Though it's hardly the first book on the topic, and movies such as "91/2 Weeks" and "The Secretary" depicted steamy sadomasochistic scenes, "Fifty Shades" managed to hook mainstream audiences with its romance novel tropes, providing a bridge to erotica, Queen said.

Rebecca Salerno said she had never set foot inside an adult toy store until her co-workers turned her on to the book and she went to Babeland's "Fifty Shades of Hot Sex" class. The book, perhaps because it's so silly, she said, made her feel more comfortable talking about and experimenting with sex toys, "and it gave so many good ideas." ...

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