Kink community worried about state legislator’s attempt to curb domestic violence
San Diego City Beat
It’s not as if California’s gimps, leather daddies and dominatrices are going to march on the state Capitol, but the kink and fetish lobby will send a letter to Sen. Christine Kehoe, a Democrat who represents parts of San Diego, about a piece of legislation that could inadvertently clamp down on their fun.
On Feb. 16, Kehoe introduced SB 430, which would create new categories of violent crime—attempted strangulation and suffocation. Both felonies would be punishable by mandatory two, three or four years in prison, plus an extra two years if the perpetrator is in a relationship with the victim.
The intent is to crack down on domestic violence, but, because of the bill’s wording, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) says the legislation could have the unintended consequence of criminalizing a range of intense sexual activities, especially within the scope of “breath play.”
SB 430 defines “strangle” as to “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impede the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a person by applying pressure on the throat or neck.” The definition of “suffocate”—“intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impede the normal breathing of a person”—could have the greatest impact on BDSM practitioners, since even milder sexual practices, such as face-sitting and the use of leashes, gags, gas masks and hoods, can impede breathing.
What makes the bill especially dangerous to sexual liberties is it specifically states prosecutors do not need to prove intent to cause harm in order to secure a conviction. However, Kehoe’s office tells CityBeat that the law would only apply to perpetrators who “willfully and unlawfully” strangle or suffocate another person. This language, they say, would exempt legal activities, such as wrestling teams, from prosecution.
Susan Wright, national spokesperson for NCSF, says that doesn’t go far enough and the bill should explicitly exempt consensual activities.
“We would want to them insert ‘non-consensual,’ so it wouldn’t be misinterpreted by people whose standards are different from ours in terms of what they believe people do,” Wright says. “Some people like intensity with their sex.”
Even though Kehoe may have noble motives, Wright says, the bill could give sexually conservative prosecutors a tool to persecute those who engage in bondage, sado-masochism, domination, leather play and other kinks.
“Point taken,” Kehoe told CityBeat. “We haven’t heard from that community, and we’ll have to deal with their concerns when we hear more about it.”
The NCSF is currently evaluating laws in every state as part of its “Consent Counts” project to identify places where consent is not a defense to assault and battery. Wright points to the famous 2000 “Paddleboro” case in Attleboro, Mass., where prosecutors pursued criminal charges against individuals caught using wooden paddles at a sex party. The organization also supported the defense of the “San Diego Six,” the members of the “pansexual leather / BDSM fetish group” Club X who were prosecuted for various lewd-acts-in-public charges related to a fetish party in 1999. Eventually, then-San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn dropped the charges against five of the defendants. The other defendant won a not-guilty verdict. ...
The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University estimates that as many as 4 million Americans participate in some form of group sex or couple swapping. With its welcoming beaches, year-round sunshine, and fine appreciation for vices, South Florida has become the mecca of swinging in this country. Couples make sexual pilgrimages here from points all over the world. At least four different swinger cruises depart from South Florida every year. While swingers anywhere can connect through websites and classified ads, South Florida has five on-premises sex clubs (four in Broward, one in Miami-Dade, none in Palm Beach) catering to a variety of different lifestyles.
The owner of Club Hedonism is a large Italian man in his 60s named Franco Monte. He can be found striding through his club with purpose, wearing black slacks, a black shirt, and a thick gold chain. His employees are diligent, because they know he's a perfectionist and they dare not upset him. Every inch of the club must be spotless. Every employee must embody a delicate blend of attentiveness and discretion. He says he wants people to think of his place as "the swingers' club where everybody knows your name." Like Cheers — but where the characters have sex with one another.
Clark County has tightened its code regarding “sex clubs” after a U.S. District Court judge found last summer that the county’s existing ordinance was unconstitutionally vague.
The county commission, acting as the zoning board, approved an updated ordinance from the district attorney’s office earlier this month.
Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said the new language would allow the district attorney’s office and Metro Police to more effectively prosecute cases against alleged sex clubs, which are illegal in Clark County.
The rephrased ordinance “will make it easier for businesses and law enforcement going forward,” he said.
The new ordinance eliminates unnecessary language and provides a more detailed definition for “live sex act,” among other terms — all at the suggestion of U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Delaney, who in August decided the Clark County Code was “unconstitutionally vague.”
Delaney was ruling in a lawsuit between the county and Borchers Family Trust, the owners of the Red Rooster, 6405 Greyhound Lane. The county declared the operation a chronic public nuisance in December 2008, and its owners sued in response in January.
A Brooklyn man lashed out at the woman he is accused of keeping as a sex slave yesterday, claiming their relationship was consensual and the tryst started when she posted an ad on craigslist looking for a kinky hookup.
In an exclusive jailhouse interview, John Hopkins said he has one question for the Wisconsin woman who has accused him of rape: "Why did you do this to me?"
Wearing a gray Department of Correction jumpsuit, Hopkins, 45, looked disheveled and unshaven as he recalled responding to the ad his accuser posted on craigslist two years ago looking for sex.
The Williamsburg resident said they started to meet up for role-play sex sessions that involved him tying her up as the "slave" while he acted as "master."
"I didn't rape her," insisted Hopkins, who works as an audio engineer. "Everything we did was role-playing. In the game of role-play, the 'slave' actually has the power."
Hopkins is holed up in Rikers Island in lieu of $350,000 bail. He faces a first-degree rape charge and a litany of other charges.
The victim, whose name has not been released, claimed that she was the one to respond to Hopkins' advertisement about a room in his apartment, and he offered her free rent in exchange for cooking.
A Wisconsin woman looking to move to New York found herself living a nightmare after a man who lured her to Brooklyn through Craigslist with the promise of rent-free digs allegedly subjected her to more than a week of sexual torture.
The victim, 27, e-mailed John Hopkins, 45, about his Web ad, which said he had a room in his East Williamsburg apartment, police sources said.
After telling her she could stay for free if she cooked and cleaned, Hopkins paid for her plane ticket and picked her up at Kennedy Airport on Feb. 4, according to the sources.
As soon as they arrived at his place on Humboldt Street, Hopkins allegedly told the woman that she was to be his slave. He then allegedly blindfolded and gagged her, handcuffed her to a radiator, and began beating and raping her.
For the next eight days, Hopkins allegedly kept the woman chained in his apartment, but then allowed her to leave for a job she had landed at a Manhattan restaurant.
Bizarrely, the woman did not call 911 while she was away from her alleged tormentor. But last Saturday, she contacted her mother, who alerted the NYPD. When cops arrived, they found her shaking on Hopkins' bed. She was treated at Woodhull Hospital.
Hopkins was hit with charges including rape, assault and unlawful imprisonment.
Republicans are back in power (well, partly) and so of course it's time for all the conservative religious and religious conservative groups to begin beating the drum for more obscenity prosecutions—never mind that the government's last attempt to do so met with less-than-sterling results.
Even as rumors have been flying around First Amendment legal circles for weeks that Attorney General Eric Holder has abolished the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force—it was one of four main topics discussed at the recent legal seminar at the XbizLA conference—and even as the two Task Force attorneys assigned to prosecute John Stagliano—Pamela Stever Satterfield and Bonnie Hannum—appear to have left the unit, former DOJ prosecutor Patrick Trueman, recently tapped to become CEO of Morality In Media, orchestrated letters to be sent to both Holder and several well-known anti-porn senators calling for stepped-up scrutiny of sexual commerce.
The "bipartisan" letters, one from Reps. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), a well-known anti-porn activist, and "Blue Dog" Mike McIntyre (D-NC)—he voted against TARP, healthcare reform; was the only Democrat to vote against repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell"; and is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act—and the other from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who unfailingly questions and browbeats judicial nominees regarding their views on porn, push the lie that "research continues to show that hardcore adult pornography is increasingly harmful, addictive ... and linked to other crimes such as domestic violence and sex trafficking."
Hatch's letter urges his fellow senators (and possibly House members as well) to sign onto a letter, likely written by Trueman, urging the Justice Department to "vigorously... enforce federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography," reminding Holder that in 1998, as Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, he authored a memo to all of the U.S. attorneys around the country urging them to give prosecutorial priority to "large-scale [adult video] distributors who realize substantial income from multistate operations and cases in which there is evidence of organized crime involvement."
Rihanna's latest video for her song "S&M" hasn't even been out for a week, and it's already stirring up a controversy. Due to the sexual nature of the video and its subject, "S&M" has been banned in 11 countries, restricted on YouTube (it's only available if you log-in with an account that proves you're over 18), and pulled from play on some radio-stations until after 7pm. Some radio stations have even changed the name from "S&M" to "Come On."
But seriously, come on! While some critics and fans are outraged by her sexual lyrics and fetish-filled video, I can't help but wonder where the boundaries of entertainment actually stand.
Women are seen as sexual beings, but when they express that sexuality in any way that would make someone uncomfortable, it's not okay. Even recently, the indie film Blue Valentine with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling came under fire for the scene where Ryan's character performs oral sex on Michelle. We live in a world where it's OK to fellate a man in a movie, but it's not accepted for a woman to receive cunnilingus. Although the NC-17 rating was eventually dropped (thanks to Ryan Gosling fighting for it in the press), it shows that double standards still exist in movies and in music. This isn't 1950!
Rihanna's "S&M" video plays with two concepts: Rihanna's public/private life being slung through the mud (thanks to the press) and Rihanna exploring her playful, sexual side that is turned on by sadomasochism (also known as S&M). Scenes include members of the press with ball-gags in their mouth, Rihanna walking celebrity blogger Perez Hilton on a leash, Rihanna wearing latex while holding a riding crop, and a Japanese bondage scene where Rihanna is tied up. It's a fluffy world of pop art - sexually inspired. The video is colorful and jam-packed with jaw-dropping entertainment.
On the other end of the boundary spectrum is the idea of exploration and expanding your boundaries. If you have known what you enjoy for a while and are ready to try new things, there are many different activities to try to expand your sexual boundaries. Ingram and Grosser suggested the idea of BDSM (Bondage Discipline Dominant Submission Sadomasochism), an umbrella term for a lot of different techniques and activities. Perhaps you would not self-identify or be afraid of BDSM, but, in fact, many people actually perform it or fantasize about it. For instance, using handcuffs or spanking your partner are both forms of BDSM. Intrigued yet? All types of people have been known to enjoy BDSM, whether they’re gay, straight, queer, young or middle-aged women. For people who have too many responsibilities in their lives and want somebody else to take the reins, or for people who feel like they have lost control of everything around them and want to regain a dominant position, BDSM with a consenting partner could be for you.