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"Poly what?"

on Thursday, 26 July 2012. Hits 810

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 1630

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." ...

"Warrants in Marine wife murder case reveal text messages, sex dungeon"

on Friday, 20 July 2012. Hits 1470

NBC News

Three roommates involved with a "sex dungeon" at their home may have murdered a Marine's wife in California as they tried to satisfy their fetishes, investigators say in newly unsealed search warrants.

Detectives found "bondage type sex apparatuses, toys and tools" at the home of the two women and man who have been charged with murder in the death of 22-year-old Brittany Killgore. Her body was found near a Southern California lake on April 17, less than a week after she was reported missing.

Investigators believe all three suspects were with Killgore at their home in Fallbrook, north of San Diego, shortly after the victim sent a desperate text message to a friend, "Help."

Killgore was last seen April 13 in a borrowed purple evening gown, three days after she filed for divorce from Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, who was serving in Afghanistan at the time. The documents say her body was found with neck injuries consistent with strangulation and marks on her wrist and leg that suggested someone tried to use a saw or other tool to dismember her.

A San Diego County sheriff's detective said in one affidavit that the trio may have targeted Killgore for their "unusual sexual fetishes." Louis Ray Perez and Dorothy Maraglino told authorities they were involved in "master, servant and slave role playing."

The third suspect, Jessica Lopez, said she strangled the victim, fearing the victim would upend a kinky sex ring by seducing her "Master," according to the warrants. Lopez wrote in a seven-page letter that she believed Killgore was trying to come between her, Perez and Maraglino. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Lopez, who calls Perez her "Master," shoulders full blame for the killing, according to the warrants, saying she acted after the victim told her that she had a "whole night planned" with Perez, comments suggesting jealousy was a motive.

Lopez, 25, said she had been burned before in a relationship and knew what she had to do when Killgore entered their Fallbrook home. Lopez said she shot the victim with a stun gun, wrapped a rope around a neck, buried her face in a pillow and strangled her. ...

"S&M Dungeon Ousted From Building With Kids Dance Studio"

on Thursday, 19 July 2012. Hits 575

AOL News

For a while they seemed to co-exist in the same building. That is of course until people fully realized what was going on. An S&M dungeon where people could learn and act out sexual fantasies was housed in the same building as a children's dance studio.The S&M shop has since been kicked out.

See the video...

"Tracking Amazon: BDSM E-books Take Over Kindle Chart"

on Thursday, 19 July 2012. Hits 1752

Publishers Weekly

The 50 Shades trilogy is entrenched in the top three spots on Amazon's Kindle chart, but a number of e-books with BDSM elements have also crept into the top 100. As of July 17, excluding the 50 Shades books, there were seven titles with BDSM themes in the top 100, which means that, including E.L. James's books, more than one out of 10 bestselling Kindle books fell into this category.

The seven non-50 Shades e-books included Sylvia Day's Bared to You, which was #8, and that book's upcoming sequel, Reflected in You (#65). Day's books are published by Penguin and are the only two that have print versions. The other five BDSM titles in the top 100 are e-book only and are $2.99 and under. The seven titles, all of which were published after Vintage rereleased the 50 Shades books in April 2012, are as follows:

Bared to You by Sylvia Day (#8)

Anything He Wants by Sara Fawkes (#25)

Training Tessa by Lyla Sinclair (#28)

By His Desire by Kate Grey (#62)

Anything He Wants 2 by Sara Fawkes (#63)

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day (#65)

Anything He Wants 3 by Sara Fawkes (#68)

On Amazon's print chart, the only similarly themed title (outside of Day's books) is Marisa Bennett's Fifty Shades of Pleasure: A Bedside Companion, landing at #66.

Is vanilla sex boring?

on Wednesday, 18 July 2012. Hits 1772

"Vanilla" hasn't always been a put-down


This article originally appeared on Bitch Magazine.

“Those of us who have different … notions of eroticism and sensuality are simply dismissed. The pejorative word [being] ‘vanilla,’ which is ironically, one of the most sensual aromas.” – Andrea Dworkin.

“I wish [BDSM folks] would stop referring to me as ‘vanilla.’ If you’re making the case that everyone should be free to do what they like without being judged, why call non-BDSM people a derogatory name that implies they’re all prudish bores?” – Anonymous, commenter on Bitch.

If we bemoan the oversexualization of culture, should we also be concerned about the kinkification of culture? As BDSM blogger Clarisse Thorn writes, “Being a sex-positive feminist, I worry that other women will read my work and it will increase their performance anxiety … that it will lead other women to feel like, ‘Gosh, is this something liberated sex-positive women do? Is this something I should be doing?” Thanks to a prescriptive media, the competition to be having the most out-there, kinky, freaky, dirty sex keeps escalating, with “Ultimate Perv” engraved on the winner’s medal. Fantastic if you’re antsy to compete, but what if you’re just not into all that stuff? What if you think you secretly might be … [whisper it, now!] … vanilla?

One of the reasons I didn’t dare join a fetish community website, or go to a play party, till years after I was first curious about BDSM, was a subconscious sense that I was probably “too vanilla.” I didn’t dress head-to-toe in latex or own any seven-inch heels, and I didn’t take my partner down to the local shops on a dog leash. I’ve since realized that the scene is open to anyone who feels their sexual tastes land outside the mainstream — there’s no test you have to pass. However, by labeling every non-kinky person as effectively the same, is the BDSM community just as judgmental as those who judge us?

The term “vanilla” does seem to be a byword for “sexually pedestrian,” and even the mainstream media has got in on the act. In the “Friends” episode “The One With Rachel’s Big Kiss,” Phoebe refuses to believe that Rachel kissed a girl during college, saying, “It just seems pretty wild, and you’re so vanilla” — an accusation Rachel receives with indignation, spluttering,“I am NOT vanilla! I’ve done lots of crazy things!” Being sexually unadventurous is now apparently the most grievous character flaw a person (especially a woman) can be accused of. In the British cult comedy “Peep Show,” when an unenthusiastic Jez reveals his fantasy of a threesome to his girlfriend and then worriedly asks, “Is that too much?” she laughs, “Are you kidding? That’s vanilla!” In this world saturated with faux-lesbian action and pressure to have butt sex, one sometimes longs for the days when showing a little ankle made you the strumpet from hell.

But laying the blame entirely at the feet of BDSM folks is overly simplistic. Although “vanilla” may have its origins within the community, plenty of non-kinksters have adapted it for their own use. “Vanilla” was a term intended to simply differentiate between sexual preferences, but it was not necessarily meant to put down or diminish the value of non-kinky lifestyles. Yes, there are kinksters who use it sneeringly, but I think most kinky folk have experienced enough disapproval to refrain from subjecting other sexual cultures to the same marginalization. I also think if “vanilla” has become a term of abuse, the blame more likely lies with those who profit from people’s insecurity that their sex life is not sufficiently exotic. Anyone who’s flipped through a women’s magazine demanding that you perform “10 Tricks to Drive Him Wild!” or a sex manual that just makes you feel inadequate and unsexy knows who those profiteers are. ...

"Man Assaults Girlfriend with Steak Sauce over ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’"

on Saturday, 14 July 2012. Hits 1150

A British man was charged with assault for his attempt to stop his girlfriend from reading the sexy bestseller.

Time NewsFeed

While the erotic trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey has been credited with arousing the passions of millions of women around the world, for one British man, it only aroused his wrath.

When Emma McCormick, of Carlisle, UK, read aloud passages from her copy of Fifty Shades to her long-term boyfriend Raymond Hodgson, he wasn’t thrilled about hearing McCormick narrate the book’s racy scenes of bondage and seduction. Hodgson, 31, later told authorities that he thought the book was “pornographic” and “distasteful” and didn’t feel it was appropriate for McCormick to read it. He was so bothered, he drove to McCormick’s home the following day and, armed with a bottle of steak sauce, resumed the argument. The fight escalated until Hodgson pulled out the bottle and squirted it in McCormick’s face. He reportedly said he wanted to show her what ‘saucy’ really meant.

Ha ha, we see what you did there — but McCormick and the Carlisle authorities were not particularly amused. Hodgson has been charged with common assault; according to prosecutors, he not only attacked his girlfriend with the condiment but also slapped her in the face. Though he denies striking McCormick, Hodgson pleaded guilty to the premeditated saucing.

According to the Carlisle News & Star, the presiding judge stated that “Hodgson’s actions had clearly been intended to demean Miss McCormick.” Hodgson was ordered to pay her $150 in compensation and cover her $130 in legal fees, and given a 6pm curfew for a month and a half.

"Sexual abuse worse than kinky photos"

on Saturday, 14 July 2012. Hits 706

Victoria Times Colonist

RCMP Cpl. Jim Brown of Coquitlam is facing investigation for inappropriate conduct after pornographic photos of him were posted to a website last Thursday. In the same week, Const. Karen Katz filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the RCMP. That Brown and Katz's stories broke the same week seems to be an unfortunate coincidence at best, and an appalling trend at worst - for Katz's lawsuit is just the latest in a long series of sexual misconduct accusations against the force.

Yet, aside from the fact that both stories contain the words "RCMP" and "sex," how similar are they, really? A decade's worth of institutionalized sexual harassment is clearly not the same as two adults engaging in kinky sex acts.

Since last fall, the RCMP has been wracked by allegations of sexual harassment. The most prominent case has been that of B.C. Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who alleges that long-term sexual harassment at the hands of her colleagues resulted in chemical dependency, post-traumatic stress disorder and finally caused her to go on sick leave in 2007.

Galliford draws attention to the lack of functional mechanisms for reporting abuse within the RCMP, which results in an environment where there is no accountability for abusers, who are often senior officers. Police psychologist Mike Webster argues that this lack of accountability, in conjunction with the generally male-dominated structure of police organizations, creates a "culture of fear" where abuse is downplayed, ignored and dismissed if reported.

Take the case of Sgt. Don Ray, who was disciplined for sexually harassing subordinate officers in Alberta, but whose punishment was a demotion and a transfer to B.C. rather than being removed from a position of power. This is a culture that defends perpetrators rather than victims, even when the perpetrators are publicly acknowledged to be guilty.

So, at a moment when the RCMP is facing a PR nightmare on a massive scale (as well it should be), it's little wonder that Brown's involvement in a sexual-fetish site is garnering serious attention. But Brown hasn't done anything illegal. He was a member of an online community for people interested in bondage, domination, submission and sadomasochistic sex acts. The photos in question depict a man (who may or may not be Brown, according to the CBC) abducting and assaulting a woman, who is herself a fellow BDSM participant, as part of a fantasy scene. Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but as long as the participants are consenting adults, sexual preferences are matters of taste, not morality, and certainly not legality.

Yet for some, these photos were reminiscent of the Robert Pickton murders, an impression that was compounded by the fact that Brown played a role, albeit a small one, in the botched Pickton investigation.

I have yet to be convinced that Brown's BDSM activity was a purposeful recreation of any aspect of the Pickton case, but when the RCMP as an institution has chronically failed to address systemic abuse within its own ranks, and when the Pickton investigation was a textbook case of marginalized women's voices being ignored to disastrous results, I can see why officials are worried about Brown.

Ironically, BDSM communities are often are bastions of safe, consensual sex. Despite sex fetishists' reputation in mainstream culture, if you're going to be tying each other up, conversations about consent, boundaries and gender dynamics are crucial. Webster gets it wrong when he argues that the images of Brown are "severely degrading to women," since he's ignoring the agency of the woman who chose to be a part of that fantasy.

When kink communities have problems, they're likely to be the same problems for which the RCMP is currently being investigated: lack of accountability, a culture of male entitlement, victim blaming and privileging abusers over survivors. Kink isn't the problem. ...


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