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Guest Blog: Another Opinionated Post on Consent and BDSM

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014. Hits 1272

A Submissive's Initiative

The Jian Ghomeshi scandal has become unavoidable.  It is literally everywhere on the internet, television and, of course, on the radio. If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a timeline by Global News of accusations and evidence against the former radio show host. Since he was let go by CBC, the scandal has started a much needed social discussion on BDSM and what consent actually is. Not only that, but it has also prompted the question “Why don’t victims speak up?” or the idea of the “Jian Ghomeshi Effect” that Camilla Gibb talks about in her recent Salon article.

So let’s explore the definition of consent shall we. If I were to explain consent to a child, I would say it simply means saying “yes” or giving permission. However, for adults consent usually isn’t that black and white. There are grey areas where we could argue that consent was implied or previously agreed upon.

If my husband and I were to explore some impact play tonight and I enjoy it, does that mean I’ve given my consent to be spanked tomorrow? No. But if we go to our room later and we’re interested in doing it again, the conversation would go something like this:

My husband: “We both really enjoyed the spankings last night, do you want to do it again tonight?”

Me: “YES!” (some excited clapping and jumping up and down might happen too)

If I continue to give consent to be spanked, then it becomes a part of our routine and consent is implied. If my husband were to try to spank me two weeks from now and I didn’t feel into it, I can immediately remove that consent with a safeword.

Woah! Where did that safeword come from?!

Let’s go back to when my husband and I were first figuring out what our kinks were. Before we began exploring BDSM together I printed out a long checklist of fetishes and toys and activities I had found online and we sat down as a couple and went over the list. We quickly discussed each item, looked up a few terms we weren’t familiar with, giggled about some of the things that made us uncomfortable and in the end had an awesome list of new things to try out together.

Now, we didn’t immediately tear of our clothes and run to the bedroom.. the list flying behind us…to start checking things off. We knew that each of these activities had certain risks, some more than others, and we did our research (and we’re still doing our research) on how to safely explore our desires. The very first thing we did was establish an undeniable way to let our partner(s) know we needed to slow down or stop. We chose the very common “green, yellow, red” as our way of communicating that. Later on, as we got more into bondage, we also chose a safe-signal for when I am unable to verbally communicate (this is especially important for me when I’m in subspace).

Even in our almost 10 year relationship, there are still times when I may need to use my safeword. It isn’t very often, but if I need to remove my consent I have the option, and a plan, to do so.

Trust Does Not Equal Consent

The crazy thing is, so many kinksters still don’t think they need a safeword or they aren’t even sure what a safeword is. My husband and I have been together for a long time. We have an immense amount of trust in each other to do the right thing, but we still have a safeword. Why? Because life is unpredictable.

When you participate in play that involves pain your body’s reaction is to flood you with chemicals to sort of compensate. The amount of endorphins your body releases produces a “high”, which results in a sense of fogginess or for some even an out-of-body experience.

On the opposite spectrum is Domspace where the top becomes so intensely involved in the scene that they develop a sort of “tunnel-vision”. Misssubmistressrose explains this very well in our article To Domspace, Dom-drop and Beyond!

It is very important to understand and recognize when subspace or Domspace occurs so we can react properly. If a submissive is in subspace and is unable to communicate to their Top that they’ve reached their limit, then does their partner have consent to continue? Even if they originally consented to a whipping, when they enter their highest level of subspace they may no longer be able to make the decision or communicate to their partner to stop. In this situation the bottom’s state of mind has changed, and according to legal presets, they can not consent to further activities. The same applies to other forms of altered state of mind, such as drinking or emotional instability at the time of initiation.

Not everyone’s experience with subspace is the same, if you wish to continue a scene during subspace that is up to you and your partner to discuss. Playing during subspace or having sexual contact during the higher levels of subspace can be extremely pleasurable, but this is when the areas of consent begin to grey.

To avoid miscommunication about what happens during subspace, please, please, please do not make decisions to continue in the middle of a scene or while you or your partner are in subspace. The first time you hit subspace, you most likely won’t see it coming. Experience it in all its glory and then recognize what it is. Tell your partner it happened. If they don’t know what it is, educate them (Hey, send them here!). Being in subspace while someone unknowingly takes advantage of your altered state is very dangerous…for both of you.

When you play it is extremely important to have a short, clear safeword you can easily regurgitate should you reach subspace or need to stop for another reason. For me, I can’t even talk when I’m in subspace, so we agreed on a safe-signal (two fingers up, a “peace sign”) that I normally wouldn’t ever gesture towards my husband that he can recognize. This safeword/signal tells him to immediately stop in the event he doesn’t read my body language first.

Set Your Boundaries

Know where your line is and don’t let anyone cross it. If you are ok with having sex on the first date, more power to you, but if you want to keep your clothes on, don’t let them get away with unbuttoning your shirt.

In fact, to avoid that situation all together, make your boundaries clear beforehand. I’m not saying you have to negotiate a contract, but a simple “Sure, I’ll come in for coffee, but can we just spend some time talking tonight?” should be enough of a hint for any decent person that you aren’t interested in sexual contact right now.

The same applies for online dating too. If you’re on a social or dating website, make it clear what your expectations are and what kind of communication is acceptable. Don’t entertain anyone who crosses those lines. If they can’t respect your clear boundaries in an online setting, then what makes you think they will do so in the bedroom?

In a D/s relationship your boundaries should also be explored before engaging in play. I’ve heard too many horror stories of strangers or recently introduced partners playing without first talking about a scene and it only leads to someone being physically or emotionally hurt.  (Even consensual non-consent should be agreed on and have boundaries, even if they are broad)

Affirmative Consent

Unfortunately consent can be hard for some people to interpret or even communicate. If you’re at a party, hanging with someone, smiling and laughing at their corny jokes, that is not consent, it is flirtation. Seriously, I would be so turned on if someone asked permission to kiss me. Hell yes. Kiss me HARD.

I know some people out there are against the idea of affirmative consent (asking permission vs. just reading body language), but your interpretation of someone else’s body is not consent. Plain and simple. The new Affirmative Consent law on Californian campuses requires that both partners “pay more attention to whether they’re feeling enthusiastic about the sexual experience they’re having“. It’s not necessarily a verbal “yes” for every sexual advance, but as requires you to consider their wants and needs, think about how to bring them pleasure, and ultimately approach sex like a partnership instead of a means to your own end.”

This is one reason I rarely use my safeword, because my husband is so good at making sure we’re on the same page. This is how I honestly believe it should be in any sexual encounter, but especially when it involves BDSM. When you and your partner are aware of your limits, and respect those limits, you can enjoy each other more fully and there is less of a chance for misinterpretation or miscommunication.

That is what people like Jian Ghomeshi fail to understand. You cannot force your desires on someone else. You cannot stand too close to them at a party and you cannot take them to your hotel room to be rough with them without their consent. Doing these things simply shows a lack of respect. Not just towards women, but towards people. Everyone deserves to be asked “Are you ok with this?”

The Fifty Shades of Grey Effect

Some people will argue that their partners don’t want for them to constantly ask for permission. They want to be dominated without foreseeing their partner’s actions. Unfortunately, I used to be that girl. I used to want a guy to take me home and push me up against a wall while he forced his hand up my shirt. What I didn’t realize was that that fantasy only works when it’s with someone you trust. I learned that the hard way. And due to my lack of understanding about sex and early exposure to society’s poor sexual standards, I also didn’t understand what sex actually was.

Now that I am aware of my ability to make decisions about my own body, I can mutually agree to consensual forms of masochism with a man who respects me enough to not only WANT to know my limits and boundaries, but to respect them as well.

Our society is so set in our ways that men feel entitled to sex simply because their partner turns them on and women are ashamed of being active, educated participants in their own sex lives. We romanticize abusive domination disguised as consensual BDSM and forget that there is a difference between the two: Consent.

http://asibdsm.com/consent-and-bdsm/

 

NCSF Receives Grant Award

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Hits 478

NCSF is proud to announce the receipt of a $1,500 grant awarded by Tides Foundation.

About Tides #TidesProject

“Since 1976, Tides Foundation has worked with over 15,000 individuals and organizations in the mutual endeavor to make the world a better place. These include foundations, donors, corporations, social investors, nonprofit organizations, government institutions, community organizations, activists, social entrepreneurs, and more. We break down the walls between entrepreneurs and their efforts to bring positive change to their communities. We are all about new ideas, innovation, and providing the tools to make these great ideas a reality.”


NCSF is proud to join a long list of grantees supported by Tides Foundation - http://www.tides.org/impact/grantees/#c649

"Jian Ghomeshi did not ask for consent, accusers say"

on Sunday, 30 November 2014. Hits 507

The women who have made allegations of sexual abuse against the former CBC host say he never raised the topic of BDSM.

The women making abuse allegations against Jian Ghomeshi — there are now 15 — say he never raised the topic of BDSM or asked for consent.

New allegations include a woman, a student at the time, who said the former host of the CBC Radio program Q tried to smother her by covering her nose and mouth with his hands, and others who describe how, with no warning, Ghomeshi made guttural snarling noises, hit, slapped, bit, choked them and in some cases pulled their hair so hard they were yanked down to the floor or onto a bed.

In one case, a woman said Ghomeshi did ask at one point if “I was into choking” and told me “that it would heighten the experience” of sex. When the woman said she was not (this was in 2011) she said Ghomeshi became “sulky and distant.” At another point she recalls how he struck her across the face and “called me a slut.”

In the incident where the woman alleges a suffocation attempt (in 2012), the former student said she had a tumultuous five-month relationship that included numerous assaults. She left him after one particularly traumatic incident in his house where she alleges he was suffocating her.

“I could die here tonight and no one would know what happened,” said the woman, who said she used her phone to contact a girlfriend from Ghomeshi’s bathroom. Her friend told her to “get out of there.”

This woman, and the others the Star have interviewed, said Ghomeshi never used the term “BDSM,” which refers to bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism. In his Facebook posting where he defended his actions, Ghomeshi said he was part of a BDSM community where these activities are all consensual and condoned. People in Toronto who are part of that community have contacted the Star and said that Ghomeshi’s alleged activities do not fit their lifestyle.

The Star’s original stories, published a month ago, detailed accounts of six women who say they were assaulted by Ghomeshi, and two women (both CBC employees) who said they were sexually harassed. Toronto author and lawyer Reva Seth added her allegation in a posting on Huffington Post. That brought the total to seven women making abuse allegations and two making harassment allegations.

Since that time, the Star has received information from seven more women making abuse allegations. One other woman, who has not spoken to the media, made a complaint to police and her complaint forms part of the police investigation that led to four charges of sexual assault and one of overcome resistance — choking, this week.

To the Star’s knowledge, there are now 15 women making abuse allegations and two making harassment allegations. Two men the Star has spoken to describe incidents where Ghomeshi fondled their genitals in a public place without consent. The Star has also interviewed two women who, when they were as young as 16, felt that Ghomeshi inappropriately contacted, touched and flirted with them. Neither of them alleges physical or sexual assault, but found his advances unsettling. In one case, the person he made advances on was 16. Ghomeshi was 40 at the time.

None of the allegations against Ghomeshi has been tested in court. ...

"Crown ‘ups the ante’ with overcoming resistance by choking charges against Ghomeshi"

on Thursday, 27 November 2014. Hits 400

The Globe and Mail

by Sean Fine

By charging Jian Ghomeshi with a single count of “overcome resistance – choking” on top of four counts of sexual assault, the Crown has signalled that it intends to seek a long penitentiary sentence if Mr. Ghomeshi is convicted, legal observers say.

“It ups the ante for sure,” Ottawa defence lawyer Paul Lewandowski said. “It’s a beacon of the severity of the charges.”

The maximum penalty for overcoming resistance by choking to commit an indictable offence is life in prison, while the maximum for sexual assault is 10 years. Not often used, the charge of overcoming resistance by choking for the purpose of committing another offence was written into Canada’s original Criminal Code in 1892, and until 1972, whipping was one of the prescribed punishments, Osgoode Hall law professor Benjamin Berger said.

“It is very much like [a charge of] attempt murder except the Crown doesn’t have to prove the intent to cause death,” Calgary defence lawyer Lisa Silver said.

She said the Crown, which would have participated in discussions with Toronto police before police charged Mr. Ghomeshi, probably had tactical reasons for choosing that charge. Other options in a sexual-assault case are to lay a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm, or aggravated assault; both carry a maximum of 14 years in prison.

“Why didn’t they charge bodily harm? It’s hard to prove. There’s a whole area of case law. There’s also the issue of whether two consenting adults in a sexual relationship can consent to bodily harm. If it’s not sexual assault, you can consent to bodily harm but it hasn’t been completely decided for sexual [assault]. So the Crown is trying to get away from the tough issues, yet still have the ability to show that these charges are serious and that they will be asking for a large penitentiary sentence if he gets convicted.”

Mr. Lewandowski said that a cross-examination of someone who alleges she was choked would be tricky, unless there were e-mails or other evidence that the person consented to be choked. “The lawyer will say, ‘that was one of your fantasies.’ But if none of those collateral sources [of evidence] are available, you’ll be stuck with her answers – ‘that’s not something I asked for. It was completely unprovoked.’”

Overcoming resistance by choking is an offence of specific intent, meaning the Crown would have to prove it was done for the purpose of committing a serious offence such as sexual assault, Mr. Lewandowski said. Sexual assault is a general intent offence, requiring that the Crown prove unwanted touching of a sexual nature.

He estimated the case would take a year or two to reach trial.

NCSF’s Kink Aware Professionals joins forces with GayLawNet

on Tuesday, 25 November 2014. Hits 513

NCSF has expanded the reach of its Kink Aware Professionals by collaborating with GayLawNet, which now offers a way for lawyers in their database to self-identify as Kink Aware Professionals:

gaylawnet.com/attorneys/ussolc.html

 

“Whenever someone can’t find a lawyer in NCSF’s KAP list, I always refer them to GayLawNet,” says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. “Many of their gay-friendly lawyers are eager to work with kinky people, and the GayLawNet database is huge.”

 

NCSF recently started an outreach campaign to the lawyers who have listed themselves on GayLawNet to let them know they can also list themselves on NCSF’s Kink Aware Professionals list:

https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/kink-aware-professionals/kap-program-page.html

 

“GayLawNet has been actively supporting the LGBTIQ community worldwide since the beginning of 1996,” says retired lawyer David Allan, founder of GayLawNet. "This new association with the NCSF is a further development enabling those with diverse expressions of sexuality to obtain sensitive professional advice concerning their legal rights and responsibilities. With recent substantial changes to matrimonial law across the US, those in relationships would be well advised to ensure that they have in place all the necessary legal protections to secure their family's future.”

 

The KAP referral database is the most-visited resource on NCSFreedom.org, and NCSF is dedicated to growing and improving this list. If you know a professional who is kink-aware or kink-friendly, please suggest they sign up on the Kink Aware Professionals list:

https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/kink-aware-professionals/becoming-a-kap-professional.html

Guest Blog: Out To The Doctor?

on Monday, 24 November 2014. Hits 933

By Barak

AdventuresinSexuality.org

 

So there you are, in the semi-private exam room at your Doctor’s office or the Emergency Room, or any other patient care access point... and it’s time to be seen.. The nurse has taken your vitals, checked some general questions, and before leaving the room, asks you to get into a gown. You have removed your clothing and have fitted the stylish blue plaid garment as best is possible. The rough material slides over your front, and you get a sore twinge from those nipple clamps you were wearing last night. Images begin to form in your head, as you reminisce about that fantastic scene from last night and your pulse increases slightly. The door opens, and as the doctor walks in you blanch recalling the purple mosaic of bruises you saw reflected in the mirror this am.

What is the Doctor going to think? Will they turn you in? Will they throw you out? Can you get a straightjacket out of this? What do you say? How do you handle it? Do you tell the truth?

Let’s chat about this one. I have been in healthcare, as a Nurse or a Paramedic, for over 20 years. I have worked in Home Health, in Doctor’s Offices, Psych centers, and at busy ERs and have seen almost everything. Really. I can tell you stories from decades ago about things stuck in places… But, let’s save that for a fun night at a Meet N Greet, and get to some real discussion for now.

I will start off by introducing you to something called The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. If you read through this Act, you will find that a Doctor, nurse or other healthcare providers (HCPs) can only release records or information that is specific to you or could identify you in any way, if it pertains directly to your care or billing. That’s it. If this info in shared in any other way? That is illegal and prosecutable. It’s actually very serious in the medical field.

The HIPAA laws prevent HCPs from even disclosing immediate family info. For instance? Let’s say Sheba was in the hospital for testing. Let’s also say that I was working for this same facility and had access to the computer systems. Even if she asks me to, it is illegal for me to access her records. Why? Because I am not on her care team and thereby don’t have a “legitimate” reason for taking a peek.

Where are we going with this? Because this law essentially covers Doctor / Patient confidentiality rules. However, there are a couple loopholes that you may want to be aware of. If a Doctor or other HCP feels that there is some form of danger, like you are being threatened, abused, harmed, etc. They are Mandated Reporters. Meaning, if they feel there is that type of issue, they can legally disclose information to Law Enforcement investigators. But this is for your protection.

Now that you are aware of those pieces, we can continue. What is my advice? I always encourage honesty. If you are hurt, or there is something wrong? Be frank and honest about it. Don’t try to make something up that “might” fit what happened.

Let’s say you had a shoulder injury during a rope scene. There are certain things you might leave out, but make sure you don’t leave anything out that contributed to the injury. For instance, while Kinksters may love the terms, "Tied up and fucked," "BDSM," “Rape Scene,” etc... There is no reason to try and bait them by playing, “Shock the Doc.” In situations like this, discretion is the better part of valor. Take time and amend possible inflammatory terms. HCPs are fine with the terms, "Kinky Sex." "I like it a little rough," “Creative Sexual expression,” etc..

Depending on what you were actually doing, you may not have to get into that discussion at all. For instance, if you were doing suspension work you might just let them know you were "experimenting with Rope," and "were being held off the ground by rope around your arm, shoulder, etc..." when you felt XYZ or however it happened. Meaning, you don't have to get into why you were suspended, other than you were playing around with Rope.

Either way, you should always be honest about the how it happened. There is really no reason to get into the why most of the time. ya know? As HCPs, we are very adept at understanding the way the human body looks, acts, and works. We are also aware about the mechanics of damage, trauma and wounds. We have spent years listening to stories, comparing injuries, and calculating facts. We have a very finely tuned intuition, so if something feels out of place? We investigate much more fully.

Just know that even if you are completely honest, you may get a visit from the friendly facility social worker. They may verify that everything is on the up and up, that your participation is consensual, and there is not any abuse going on. However, if the HCPs feel as though you are hiding something, deliberately baiting them, or trying to get a reaction, it may mildly irritate or it may really piss em off. Not a great idea, as they can certainly cause problems for you. If you set off their red flags, there is a good chance it will turn into much more of an inquiry that could involve people with a different looking uniforms and badges.

If you are with your partner? Make sure you are on the same page, and don’t become resentful if they separate you. They just want to make sure this is not domestic violence. So, smile alot, and make sure you both have the exact same story. One of the best stories? Is the one where you shyly admit you like being tied up, and your partner was trying to accommodate you.

Furthermore, if the reason you are at the doctor’s has nothing to do with the bruises on your ass & thighs? Just smile knowingly and say, “It’s consensual, I like it rough.” Then bring them back to the subject at hand, like the sore throat and cough symptoms you are having. If they bring you back to it? Just be factual and direct. Take a “nothing to see here,” attitude.

What to do? Should you come out to your Doctor? In the end that is up to you. However, as I have said, we have seen a lot. I can assure you that handprints don’t look like something accidental. Whip, flogger and cane marks? Hello! Your best bet is to be honest and straightforward. If you can’t or won’t come out to your HCP? Then either make sure you don’t have marks, don’t get injured, or just find another HCP you are willing to share with. It’s your health and your choice.

 

International Media Update: "National Taiwan University delivers blow to kinky bondage club"

on Monday, 24 November 2014. Hits 410

The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's top university took the dominant role this past Wednesday when it gave a firm “no” to students who wanted to start a school-sanctioned club centered on BDSM, the broad range of erotic practices mostly identified with bondage and dominance role-play.

A committee made up of students, teachers and administrators at National Taiwan University convened that day to hear proposals for new student groups, but hopes for a BDSM-centric club soon unraveled when it only managed to harness support from six of 17 committee members.

The case has gained national media attention in the days since because of preconceptions shackled to BDSM practices and the clashing images of people tying themselves up in rope and chains for pleasure against the archetype of the “guai guai” (well behaved) NTU student.

The president of the still unendorsed BDSM Club, who calls himself Lisa Lu, said that while NTU may be the first Taiwanese school to try to set up a society for ropes and role-play, it is not unprecedented at other distinguished institutions on top of the academic world.

“There don't seem to be any others (in Taiwan),” Lu told CNA. “But as for schools abroad, I have learned that Harvard has an S&M student group on campus.”

Harvard gave approval its local BDSM society in 2012, but it's far from the only university to do so. Iowa State University established a bondage club called Cuffs back in 2003, and Conversio Virium at Columbia University, established 1994, claims to be the oldest student-led bondage education group in the United States.

What all these student clubs have in common is offering a safe, welcoming environment for people practicing or interested in exploring BDSM culture. Lu's is no exception.

“It's not easy to talk about this in society as BDSM is still a taboo issue, and we face the pressure of being harassed. We want to create a place for people in this culture to meet up and work together to build their respective senses of identity,” he said.

“Our aim is to explore the diversity of eroticism through academic discussion and practice,” he said.

It's the practice part that has caused friction and made some uncomfortable, even though Lu said that only makes up “about one-fourth” of the mostly academic agenda and operates on a strict policy of informed consent. ...

"Dishes, Dinner, & Sex"

on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Hits 450

The well-organized home life of a polyamorous Springfield family

Valley Advocate

 

Glance at Michelle, Aimee, Micah and Ian on the street and you might assume they’re two straight couples — or two gay couples. But they’re all going home together.

That home is a large, sunny house in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield. It’s where this group of four polyamorous partners — a “quad’” — live, laugh, eat and sleep under one roof.

These four adults are intimately connected to each other, but they’re also open to new flings and encounters. And so they face an unusual challenge: running a communal household while tending to the myriad romantic relationships that hold the four of them — and their lovers — together.

“It’s structured chaos,” says Michelle. “But we’ve maintained it for years now because we come together and talk about how things are playing out.”

 

For years, the four of them slept together on a queen-size and a king-size bed pushed together. But it’s not the hedonistic free-for-all some might imagine.

Having kids, for example, changed everything. When Aimee and Micah had their son Connor, the two beds came apart. Aimee and Micah slept alongside the crib, while Michelle and Ian — both light sleepers — moved to a different room.

But kids weren’t the only complicating factor. “Polyamory” in Latin means “many loves,” but a polyamorous household also features a surprising amount of scheduling, financial planning and debate.

For daily logistics, they use a Google Calendar and a family email list. They also share a bank account, which they discuss at quarterly finance meetings. These are Type-A people, professional and well-organized.

Michelle Driscoll, 35, works in human resources in Northampton. She is married to Aimee Bouchard, 34, a lawyer in private practice. Each also has a deep relationship with one of the two men in the house: Aimee with Micah Schneider, 43, a Springfield math instructor, and Michelle with Ian Rose, 44, who works a corporate job in Hartford. And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind: the kids have four parents, not two.

Just ask Connor. Micah is “Bubba.” Ian is “Daddy.” Aimee is “Mama.” Michelle is “Mama Too.” And at the most recent parent-teacher night at Connor’s school, the four of them showed up together.

Many poly people are straight, but all members of this quad identify as bisexual. Legally, Michelle and Aimee are the two spouses. But all four are committed to each other. “I think of the quad as a single relationship that contains a lot of inter-relationships,” says Ian. ...

Latest Reader Comments

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