Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of E. L. James’s erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey (it’s sold over 40 million copies). What I’ve noticed is that the voices of a few “shades” of people have been missing from mainstream discourse about the books: namely, Black folks.
The book contains explicit scenes of acts associated with the BDSM lifestyle (bondage, discipline, Dominance/submission and sadomasochism). I’ve often heard brothers and sisters dismiss this…let’s say “alternative” way of life as “something White folks do,” but the fact is African-Americans participate too. Some people of color simply like to push the boundaries of standard or “vanilla” sexual behavior (as it is called in the lifestyle).
In fact, there is a growing community of those of us actively engaging in BDSM. We, too, have proudly chosen to incorporate certain sexually alternative behaviors into our lives that allow us to freely express ourselves and indulge in kinkier pleasurable acts. Black BDSMers see ourselves as different, yes, but different ain’t bad.
WHAT IS BDSM, REALLY?
To go deeper (pardon the pun), BDSM is the broad term for a sexual lifestyle wherein informed adults discuss, negotiate and consent to their roles and participation in activities generally based on hierarchical relationships. Generally, two people come together and establish a dynamic where one person is the dominant partner (or the “top”) and the other is the submissive partner (the “bottom”) in anything from a one-time-only enactment of kinky “scenes” to lifelong partnerships. ...
Police raided home of man who revealed Mountie's naked bondage photos
The RCMP are using extraordinary measures to silence a critic who outed an officer posting naked bondage photos of himself online, according to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
Grant Wakefield says he and his wife were terrorized by police during a raid on their home this past August. The raid was executed after Wakefield provided police with evidence RCMP Cpl. Jim Brown had posted several bondage-type photos of himself on social media websites for people with sexual fetishes.
In some of the photos Brown was wearing RCMP riding boots while posed in sex acts with women in submissive positions. That eventually triggered a code of conduct investigation of Brown.
Using the warrant they raided Wakefield's home and seized his computers and cellphones.
Extraordinary powers misused
Now the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is accusing the RCMP of misusing their powers to silence critics.
BCCLA executive director David Eby points out any private citizen who has been defamed must sue in civil court, but only police can use the rare criminal charge of defamatory libel.
"They're using this very rare provision, they're using such extraordinary measures that we don't see in other situations and he's a critic of the RCMP, and we say it's a fair question to ask," said Eby.
Last month the RCMP did release a version of the information filed to obtain the search warrant, but significant parts of the information were blacked out on 55 of the 71 pages released.
Now Eby is asking the court to release an uncensored version of the document.
"The RCMP should be extra transparent in a situation like that and instead they're being extra secretive," said Eby.
Both the CBC and the Vancouver Sun newspaper were also in court this week seeking the release of the full document, arguing the case begs for public scrutiny as to whether the RCMP acted appropriately.
Censored warrant reveals some details
What the censored version of the information used to obtain the search warrant does reveal is that Wakefield was working with the RCMP to provide photos and information to police about Brown's online activities and photos posted on sexual fetish websites.
But then after Brown's activities were revealed in the media, the investigators turned their attention to Wakefield, accusing him of defamatory libel after he posted comments and tweets critical of Brown and the RCMP on a Twitter account that had only 13 followers.
The document says many of the online comments and tweets alleging criminal and other inappropriate behaviour by Brown are false....
A man who claims he was an RCMP agent says he collected information and sexually explicit photographs that Coquitlam Mountie Cpl. Jim Brown posted of himself on the Internet.
In an affidavit filed in court describing himself as “not a mere informant” but “an agent” directed by the force, Grant Wakefield says he provided the RCMP with that material and accused Cpl. Brown of engaging in sex while on duty and being involved in bondage- and domination-themed websites.
The RCMP found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but concluded “allegations of professional misconduct appear to be supported.”
The RCMP said Cpl. Brown has been suspended since July.
On Aug. 18, the Mounties raided Wakefield’s home and seized his computers.
Along with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and media outlets, the New Westminster man is asking the court to unseal the information police used to obtain the controversial warrant to invade his apartment.
He portrays himself in his affidavit as a police agent whose message the RCMP has gone to great lengths to suppress.
A vetted version of a 71-page document sworn by Surrey RCMP Const. Phia Huffman to obtain the search warrant was released Sept. 21.
The vetting was done in part to conceal the identity of a confidential informant labelled in the document as “Informant A.”
But Wakefield wants to see an unedited version because, among other things, he believes he is the person referred to as “Informant A” in that material who is used to buttress the request for the search warrant.
Wakefield’s affidavit and the full day of arguments before Judge Peder Gulbransen laid out an extraordinary sequence of events focused on Cpl. Brown and the response of the national police agency.
Wakefield said in his affidavit that he believes he was “erroneously characterized” as a confidential informant though “I was acting at the direction of the RCMP at all times relevant to this proceeding and was not a mere informer.”
Liliane Bantourakis, a lawyer representing the RCMP, maintained that the RCMP does not consider Wakefield an agent.
In January or February, Wakefield said, “a distant family friend” contacted him after meeting a man who called himself the “Kilted Knight” on a dating site, Plenty of Fish.
She asked Wakefield to make inquiries.
Trolling Internet sites such as Twitvid, Twitpic and Fetlife.com, Wakefield said he found a number of disturbing images depicting a man called the Kilted Knight wearing the high brown boots of the traditional RCMP uniform and little else. ...
Emily and Griff, as they are known within the swinging community, tell us that swingers are the everyday folk you see around town. From teachers to Home Depot clerks, you never know who's got a "secret sex life." Plus, what do Emily and Griff think constitutes cheating?
A Pennsylvania appeals court has overturned a trial court order giving custody of two children to their maternal grandparents rather than their father. The trial court penalized the father for his past polyamorous relationship. The case, V.C. and C.B. v. J.E.B. and C.C., is the first one I can remember using the phrase "polyamory" or discussing the practice without prejudgment.
The father, C.C., and the mother, J.E.B., never married. The two resided with the mother's husband, and the three had a polyamorous relationship. In June 2007, when the children, A.B. and Z.B., were approximately two and three years old, the older child sustained a spiral fracture to her leg, prompting an abuse investigation by the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services. While the investigation was pending, the children were placed with the mother's parents. Although the agency determined there was no abuse in about six months, the children remained with their grandparents another nine months, until September 2008.
Sometime in 2007, another woman joined the polyamorous relationship. The father married that woman and had a daughter with her. When A.B. and Z.B. returned to their parents, they lived with all four adults until the four-way polyamorous relationship ended and the father and his wife moved to an adjoining apartment in the same building and, in April 2010, to a new home, still walking distance from the mother's home. The mother and father shared legal custody, rotated physical custody, and gave the grandparents partial custody (otherwise known as visitation) on alternating weekends.
In February 2011, the grandparents filed a petition that either they or the mother receive primary custody. This prompted the father to file for shared legal custody with the mother and primary physical custody with him, and for the mother to request primary physical custody with her. After a December 2011 trial, the judge awarded primary physical custody and sole legal custody to the grandparents, with two non-consecutive days of visitation to the mother and the father monthly.
The father appealed. (The mother did not file an appeal but she did file a brief asking that the trial court order be overturned.) The appeals court emphasized the high burden of proof on the grandparents. In fact, this case reminded me of several cases in the 1970 and 80s in which lesbian mothers lost custody to their own parents, the children's paternal grandparents, or other relatives. (The most publicized such case actually happened in the early 1990s, when Sharon Bottoms lost custody of her son Tyler to her mother....More on another similarity to that case later). The court said the grandparents needed overcome by clear and convincing evidence the presumption in favor of the father, and that the trial court was wrong to find they had sustained that burden.
The appeals court said the judge interjected "artificial morality concerns" into its determination, something not permitted by the list of factors in the custody statute. Although the trial judge claimed otherwise, the appeals court found that the judge's "general disfavor of polyamory" played a role in the decision. At the time of the trial the father was no longer in a polyamorous relationship. They appeals court noted that "while ultimately unsuccessful, his former experimentation with that lifestyle did not harm the children and does not currently affect the children negatively." The appeals court called polyamory "a nontraditional sexual practice," but considered it analogous to other cases in which a parent's previous sexual conduct was found irrelevant absent evidence of harm to the child.
Sex figured into this case in another way. The trial court considered the father's wife's friendship with a professional dominatrix and her blog post in which she described herself as a "closet poly." The appeals court found that "the trial court's preoccupation with these morality issues is improper, particularly where, as here, there is a dearth of evidence to suggest that the sexual practices affected the children at all." ...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The details of consensual sex that occurred between a man and his wife should not be used as evidence that the man sexually abuses women, a defense attorney in a southwest Missouri sex slave case said in court documents filed this week.
"Because the government will allege these are bad acts committed against Marilyn, it will cast Edward Bagley as a bad actor and Marilyn Bagley incorrectly as a victim," Dill wrote.
Ed Bagley, 45, and Marilyn Bagley, 47, are scheduled to stand trial in February on several charges, including sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking, document servitude and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity. The charges involve a woman who prosecutors say was 16 years old when she moved into the couple's trailer near Lebanon, Mo., in 2002 and was forced to be Ed Bagley's sex slave.
He is accused of giving her drugs, sexually abusing her while she was a minor and torturing her after she turned 18.
The Bagleys claim the woman came to them and asked to be part of their kinky lifestyle, while the government says Ed Bagley started grooming the woman to be his sex slave while she was still a minor, which would be illegal.
In August, prosecutors filed a motion indicating they plan to introduce evidence of "sadistic sexual assaults" committed by Bagley against his wife. While acknowledging those sex acts were consensual, prosecutors cited Missouri law that says consent is not a defense against abuse when serious bodily injury is involved.
The Bagleys were involved in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, in which extreme or even bizarre sex acts are part of the lifestyle. Federal prosecutors contend many of the acts amount to torture, especially when performed on the girl.
The case is being closely watched by BDSM advocates, who argue that the government has no business telling people what they can do in their bedrooms, no matter how shocking some of the acts may be to non-practitioners. ...
Prosecutors plan to use Ed Bagley's consensual sex acts against his own wife as evidence that he abused women.
KSPR ABC News
A federal court case against a man from Lebanon gravely concerns those who practice an alternative sexual lifestyle nationwide and here in the Ozarks.
Ed Bagley is charged with 11 counts of abuse against a woman whom police say he made his sex slave. The prosecutor wants to show Bagley had a history of abusing women by bringing up Bagley's sex life with his own wife.
The Bagleys practice something called BDSM, short for bondage, discipline and sadomasichism. Locals in that lifestyle say what they do is pleasurable, not criminal.
A man whom we'll call Bill tours the country giving presentations on BDSM. Yet, here in the Ozarks, he won't show his face.
"If they don't know, then they're scared of it," he said on Thursday.
Bill says what they don't know is there is an underground network of sadomasichists called dominants and submissives, or masters and slaves, right here in middle America. We're just slow to accept it, he says.
"Most conventions they have in big cities, we'll have anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people at those conventions," Bill said.
The group that he ran in Springfield for more than two decades had, at its peak, 500 members and a private dungeon. They played with devices like whips, floggers, cuffs, and ropes. Bill says they played safely.
"That is why we basically set up the club we started, so people would learn what they should do, shouldn't do, their rights, how to play with somebody because there are certain parts of the body you touch that can be very dangerous. We taught them how to slowly build a person up so that they could play a little harder. We taught the submissives how to recognize when somebody is doing something wrong and they could say 'back it off, that's not what I want,'" Bill said.
He and other advocates and practitioners of BDSM are concerned the case from Lebanon that calls into question the defendant's kinky sex acts with his own wife will criminalize their lifestyle.
"It means that everybody who is kinky right now and doing any sort of those bedroom activities, it means those things could be used against them as some sort of evidence of assault if they get involved in a case like this," said Susan Wright with Baltimore-based National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Wright says it means fear. Fear of persecution is what keeps Bill's face in the shadows but fear of criminalization could do worse.
"Strictly somebody brand new or wanting to know something about it, then it would scare them," he said.
Even though BDSM is growing in popularity, Bill says the single thing that's helped the BDSM community most is the internet, because it's been an easy and private way for those interested to learn about the lifestyle.
Anyone who aspires to be a novelist has got to wonder at the success of E. L. James, the author of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy that has sat at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for nearly two months and sold more than 30 million books.
This middle-aged, middle class mother of two teenagers who lives in an attached house in West London has written a love story you wouldn't want your teenager to read about a college student's attraction to a 27-year-old billionaire (Christian Grey) with decidedly BDSM proclivities.
Local demand for the book is evident in the multiple, ongoing requests for the many copies of the book that Greenwich Library has. (Surely the fact that the library has invested in so many copies is testament to how far we've come in intellectual freedom.)
When a rash of articles began appearing in the New York press recently about a new wave of single girls from Manhattan frequenting high-end Greenwich bars in search of rising hedge funders with McMansions, Ferraris, private planes and helicopters, I began to wonder if they weren't all looking for a Christian Grey.
I've found myself in certain settings asking hip young women what they think of "Fifty Shades," and their response is immediate: "We are so grateful to E.L. James for writing these books! They are the fantasy we need!"
Some said they know married couples that read the books aloud to each other to reenergize their sex lives. A recent e-mail at work had the subject line, "Fifty Shades Baby Boom." The content was a fertility counseling firm, reporting, "Many couples are turning to these steamy novels in efforts to have children and take the stress and struggle out of it."
And now those couples can add a musical component to the written work with E.L. James's new CD . . . "Fifty Shades of Grey - The Classical Album," . . . made up of selections (including Bach, Chopin, and Debussy) she listened to while writing her books -- to best drown out the noise of her teen aged sons.
Interviewed at the recent Manhattan release of her CD, James threw off one of her rare and offhand remarks on the state of her success. "It's nice," she said, "that people who don't normally listen to classical music are listening to classical music -- and that people who normally don't read are reading."...