Everything you wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about S&M.
Even if you're not sure what S&M actually entails, the letters alone probably conjure up vivid images: Whips and chains, leather and latex, a tubby guy named The Gimp tugging on his leash as he hungrily eyes Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction. It's common to assume that sadism-and-masochism enthusiasts are at best unusual or shocking and at worst downright depraved. But are they really? Well, The Gimp certainly is — living in a locked crate in the basement of a pawnshop will do that to you. And anecdotal evidence does suggest that S&M enthusiasts differ from"normal" people in two ways: They have higher levels of education and tend to be very creative. S&M is also more common than you probably think; experts estimate one in five couples dabble, and one in 20 engage in very serious play.
"Couples enjoy S&M in part because it lets them explore new roles and visit different places with each other," says Dr. Pam Spurr, author of Naughty Tricks & Sexy Tips: A Couple's Guide to Uninhibited Erotic Pleasure. "Pushing the boundaries as far as you want can be an exhilarating release from the routine."
It also can solidify a strong foundation of trust and honest. And if you think you have little interest in S&M yourself, take a closer look at your sex life. Pinning your partner's wrists against the bed, tugging on hair, or biting a shoulder are simply milder ways of expressing desires that eventually lead some people to devote closet space to studded leather. The trick part is figuring out how — and if — you want to take it to the next level.
After Steven Lilla* and his girlfriend, Rebecca Simon, had been dating for a few months, she told him that S&M play typically had been an important part of her sex life. He was surprised, but not uncomfortable; she brought it up outside the bedroom, and she didn't put pressure on Steven to indulge her. Still, he had to confront a belief drilled into his head since he was old enough to smack toy-hugging playmates. "Most American males are raised to think it's never OK to be rough with a woman," says Steven, a 32-year-old martial arts instructor from Los Angeles. "That was something I had to overcome. But after learning more about S&M and taking some baby steps, I ended up really liking it."
They went slowly, sitting together — fully clothed, without sex playing any part — and practiced using ropes and chains so that neither of them experienced unwanted discomfort. Their toys, kept in a locked chest, only emerged when Rebecca's daughter wasn't home. Nine years later, Steven and Rebecca are still together, and S&M — role-playing, bondage, "forced" sex — is still a major part of their sex lives. But it's hardly the only part. "A big fallacy is that if you're into it, it's all you're into," says Rebecca, a 34-year-old who works at a museum. "But we very much enjoy regular vanilla sex."
They belong to a local club — there are dozens nationwide, easily found by an Internet search — with classes on safe ways to explore kinks, and parties where couples can play in front of other members. ("There's music and food like any other party," Steven says. "Except there are spanking noises in the background.") There's also an outreach program for law and psychology students and police officers, to help them differentiate between consensual and criminal sex. Of course, when cops need assistance sorting out sexual practice from crime, bringing up that practice with your partner can be more than a little daunting.
Paula Myers was lucky enough to find an entrée in casual conversation when her boyfriend told her she needed a spanking for being grumpy. "That really got me excited," says Paula, a 40-year-old from Seattle. A few weeks latheer, when he offered to give her a back rub, "I told him what I really wanted was for him to spank me, and not stop even if I asked him to." That Christmas, without prior discussion, she bought him a flogger, and he bought her a paddle. (Paging Mr. O. Henry...). ...
EDMONTON - An unusual Edmonton group is seeking to raise awareness about their unique formula for blissful romance. Polyamory Edmonton is a group of people that practise consensual, non-monogamous relationships. They are in the process of becoming a non-profit organization and want to educate Edmontonians about their unconventional take on romantic partnerships.
Founder Alyson Sidra, who is married and dating outside that relationship, gives a crash course on polyamory and explains why it can be a recipe for relationship success.
What is polyamory?
If someone identifies as polyamorous, they are open to having more than one romantic partner with the openness, consent and honesty of everyone involved. There wouldn’t be any cheating or anything secretive. Everyone knows who the other is dating or involved with.
What makes polyamory any different from polygamy or polyandry?
Polyamory can take on many different structures. People may have heard of swinging, for example, which is an open relationship, but strictly sexual. But polyamorous relationships are open to romantic partnerships rather than just sexual ones. Some couples might date other people separately, outside of their relationship. Others go into it wanting to mutually date the same person, where everyone is equally involved with each other. There are triads with three people, and other relationship groupings with four or more. How interactive those people are with each other can definitely vary.
Does this relationship structure actually work out in the long-term?
Yes, several people in our community who identify have been in relationships that lasted several years, five years, 10 years. I know personally of several members who have had long-term relationships with multiple people that lasted decades. Some are short-lived, some are long-lived, just like any monogamous relationship would be.
Polyamorous relationships must be tough to manage with so many people involved. Is it tricky?
It can be. We jokingly say that poly people can be very adept at scheduling. Other than that, most poly relationships have very similar issues to monogamous ones, just with more than one person.
Some people might say that romantic love doesn’t work when it is not exclusively between two people. How do you view it?
In my marriage, it felt comfortable for us to open up to love and to date other people without it feeling at all threatening or making our own relationship insecure. In fact, in a lot of ways, it tended to make it stronger. There’s a lot of communication involved.
You are not born with a certain amount of it and it definitely doesn’t get depleted the more people you have in your life. People view romantic love as something very different, but the love that you have for family and friends and children, it multiplies. For polyamorous people, so does romantic love. I think most poly people would agree that their capacity for love is just part of who they are. ...
Can a survey of one dating app’s users be explained by the Big Apple’s kinkiness?
More than Chicagoans, more than Houstonians, more than Los Angelenos, single New Yorkers are on the hunt for long-term relationships. (News to us, yes!)
That’s according to a survey of 15,000 users of the dating app Clover, which matches users with other people nearby who like them (sort of the equivalent of Tinder, but with some added functionalities and without the dreaded accidental left swipe remorse.) The results—which, it must be stressed, are as unscientific as it gets—indicate a stark divide: Thirty-nine percent of New York City (NYC) respondents said they’re looking for a Long Term Relationship (LTR), compared to 27%, 25%, and 22% of those in Chicago, Houston, and LA, respectively.
For denizens of New York City, those results might be met with disbelief. My own experience and a quick survey of friends’ dating lives in New York confirms that, anecdotally at least, we think of New York City as a free-wheeling land of singles and casual sex. In the land of possibility, LTRs are like unicorns: mythical things that few have ever actually seen, which are presumed to be beautiful, yes, but also capable of making you feel like you’ve been trampled by hooves and spiked repeatedly through the gut.
“It can’t be done,” said one woman, when asked about having an LTR.
“I thought those were so 2005,” said another woman.
“Must have car and sailboat,” said another woman. ...
A 32-year-old Seymour, Indiana man is accused of raping and beating his wife after forcing her to sign a “slave contract,” WFIE-TV reported on Thursday.
Kenneth Eugene Harden is accused of 38 counts of battery, criminal confinement and rape. He reportedly married the woman just over a year ago after meeting through an online personal ad. Harden allegedly described himself as a Christian during their brief courtship, only to reveal six months into the marriage that he was a “sadist.”
According to a police affadavit (PDF), police learned about the conditions Harden imposed on his wife after she called them to their residence on Aug. 30. The woman said Harden choked her with a collar she was required to wear as part of the “contract.” However, she said, Harden continually broke rules in the agreement barring abuse of her.
Authorities also found a “slave manual,” signed by the woman and Harden this past June, and paperwork granting Harden power of attorney for the woman. She told police that despite being abused for months, she could not leave him, in part because she suffered from diabetes and Harden never taught her how to operate her insulin pump.
“This is what I’m supposed to live by, and I’m tired of the abuse,” the woman was quoted as saying. “I’m tired of getting hit every day. Please, I’m scared.”
She also told officers that she would yell while Harden hit her, in hopes a neighbor would call for help.
“We could hear them fighting sometimes and we heard a lot of loud noises upstairs,” downstairs neighbor Tyler Davers was quoted as saying. “But I never thought anything of it.”
Washington, DC – NCSF is disappointed with the decision against Gregory T. Miles, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, by the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, which upheld the convictions of consensual attempted sodomy and indecent acts. As NCSF previously stated in its Amicus brief, accepted by the Court in March, 2014:
· Regarding the “indecent acts” conviction (Article 120(k)), the Court ignores the fact that this provision is explicitly, on its face, inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s holding in Lawrence v. Texas that a criminal statute cannot be predicated on moral disapproval, but rather must protect a legitimate societal interest. Article 120(k)’s definition of “indecent acts” is specifically keyed to moral disapproval.
· The court’s analysis of the Lawrence treatment of sodomy is incorrect. The issue is not whether Lawrence made sodomy a “fundamental right,” the issue is whether sodomy can be criminally prosecuted, a very different thing.
· Also, to equate “open and notorious” with Lawrence’s use of the word “public” is to play with words. As demonstrated in the NCSF Amicus brief, the Supreme Court’s statement that Lawrence does not deal with “public conduct” cannot rationally be read to mean that commission of sodomy in public can be prosecuted as sodomy (as opposed to, say, public lewdness).
· Lastly, the Court’s statements on the forcible conduct charges are simply astonishing: “acquittal on criminal charges does not prove that the defendant is innocent; it merely proves the existence of a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.”
Despite this defeat, NCSF remains committed to supporting the decision made in Lawrence and will continue to fight against moral interpretations of the law.
When I was a young queer, my local coffee shop was crucial to my existence. The coffee wasn't important; it was the community there that mattered. It was the place I took my first girlfriends on dates and the place I played music in front of an audience for the first time. But in the late 1990s, the coffee culture shifted toward national chain stores, and the small community shops started to disappear.
Despite the decline of mom-and-pop coffee shops, kinky San Francisco transplants Ryan Galiotto and his wife decided to assume the risk of opening one in 2009. But they wanted it to be different from the Chicago shops they had frequented in the early '90s: They wanted to create a place that would cater to the local kink, Leather, and fetish communities. And thus, Wicked Grounds, America's first kink café and boutique, was born. Galiotto describes it as a place where "people don't have to worry about saying the word 'dildo' and offending the soccer mom at the next table," a place where one can kneel to lap up a latte from a dog bowl or enjoy a freshly made waffle inside a cage. Located in the heart of SOMA at Eighth and Folsom streets, the café follows in the footsteps of other kinky businesses that have made their homes in the neighborhood. Though Wicked Grounds has a vibrant community of kinksters who frequent the shop for weekly gatherings called "munches," the place has had a rocky five years — financial hardships, changes in ownership, and even divorce. Galiotto has experienced firsthand the challenges of owning a brick-and-mortar business in this city, sometimes working over 60 hours a week as barista, bookkeeper, and manager. His commitment to the café is unwavering, and he is the first to admit that it is a nostalgic labor of love.
Asked why he has devoted his life to this quirky little coffee shop that sells sex toys and has pictures of naked women in bondage on the walls, he responded with a story about a long-running event at the café, the monthly Littles Munch.
At the Littles Munch, adults who like to engage in age-related role-play socialize, color in coloring books, wear onesies, and drink milkshakes. Galiotto's eyes light up as he recounts the tale: "Early on in the Littles Munch, there was a guy in his 50s, professional, went to work in a suit and tie every day. [When he] came home, he'd switch to a onesie, watch cartoons, and eat his cereal. He heard about us, came and checked out the Littles Munch. He sat at a table away from it, watching it, and eventually felt comfortable enough to go to the bathroom, change into his onesie and join the party." Galiotto wants do more than serve coffee to people in leather; he wants to provide a space to "help people come out of their kinky closets." ...
It was feminists like Budapest who made it hard for people, especially feminists, to come out as kinky in the seventies, eighties, and nineties. With their statements that you are a failure as a feminist if you engage in kink, especially dominance and submission play, they made a lot of kinky feminists feel alone, marginalised, and ashamed. It is hard enough to come to terms with being kinky in the prevailing culture without having your own communities attacking you. People in kink-excluding communities, who have to remain in the closet, live in fear of being exposed as kinky, and feel marginalised, alone, and attacked. Their membership of the community feels conditional upon not coming out as kinky. Endless research studies have shown how damaging it is for LGBT people to remain closeted – surely the same applies to kinksters?
Similarly, the biologically essentialist view of being a woman held by many second-wave feminists made it very hard for those who are gender-variant. Their rhetoric about all penetrative sex being rape obfuscated the issues around rape, made things difficult for lesbians who enjoy penetration, and for heterosexual and bisexual women who enjoy sex with men. Even other lesbians in relationships were attacked for “aping men”.
This is in spite of the fact that kinksters have been part of the queer liberation movement from the outset. In spite of the fact that the BDSM community is very strong on consent (obviously there are some who don’t walk the talk, but that is the case in all communities). The watchwords of kinksters are ‘Safe, Sane, and Consensual’.
The power play in kink involving dominance and submission (D/s) subverts and undermines the power dynamics of conventional power structures. Many people find the role-play aspects of BDSM liberating. All the women I know who are involved in D/s (whether dommes or subs) are powerful women in their own right. And D/s has very little to do with gender, in any case.
The use of pain as a tool for spiritual and psychological transformation is an ancient shamanistic practice, and its effects – psychological, spiritual, and biochemical – are well-understood. There is a reasonable amount of research on this.
In addition, various therapists have written on the psychological aspects of kink, and why it is not harmful for those who enjoy it.
I would argue that kink, polyamory, and monogamy are sexual orientations in the same way as homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, and pansexuality. That means that for a kinky person to try not to be kinky is just as painful and impossible as for a gay person to try to be straight. ...
Working crisis intervention with adolescents was an area as a counselor I grew to love because of the diversity of clients I would get to interact with on a daily basis.Several years ago my passion for working with children and the area of crisis/trauma would open a new door for my professional and personal awareness.I had the opportunity to work with a young teen from a family who was struggling with what as a counselor I would expect to see in a teenage boy starting middle school, identity issues, bullying, and the usual horrible experience so many teens sadly go through.
However part of my counseling experience has shown that developing a support system is vital when working with children and teens, which is why family therapy is a necessity.During the first intake, we had gone over the typical counseling questions and discussed the importance of family counseling that we start after a couple of individual sessions between me and their son.Mom and Dad were extremely cordial about the process, extremely concerned about their son, and you could see their investment in helping him grow and survive this situation; yet something was still off.There was something mom and dad were holding back, and I could tell they were not ready to bridge that conversation yet.
So what did I do as a counselor? I left it alone.My therapeutic approach to counseling understands that this is a process where the client has to take the lead sometimes.When you work with children and adolescents he or she may be the primary client but the family is the overall client.After all they act as the support in creating environmental changes to help the kid or teen.
As time grew closer for our first family meeting the mother of my client called and asked if her and her husband could meet with me to discuss something important about their family.Now as a counselor at this point I had worked with many diverse families and as a counselor, my experience has always been there is more to learn from my clients then my client can learn from me.One of the first questions the parents asked me during our meeting with just the three of us was what I was required to report to the state about child abuse.As a counselor, this is not usually something you want to hear because you know the time that is going to be involved in having to make a report; however as a counselor who specializes in children and teens it comes with the job responsibilities.
I reminded the parents of the informed consent which we covered during the initial intake that I was required to report any suspicions of child abuse by state law.The questions that followed were similar to that of an academic inquiry on what was considered child abuse within our state.I will admit this had me concerned, and my direct approach was to ask “do you believe your son has been physical, sexually, or emotionally abused in some way?”The mom and dad instantly went to denying any occurrence of abuse, and I admittedly told them I was a little confused about their concern on the child abuse reporting laws for our state.
Dads’ response was “we are polyamorous.”I had in my personal experiences learned about polyamory and fortunately knew through some great resources the terminology; however, I value the importance of report building with my clients, and I wanted to continue building trust with my clients’ family.It was also important to understand what polyamory meant to this family.I was aware that poly can mean and look different to individuals and family units.For the remainder of the hour, we talked about their amazing family which included six adults who their son and other 3 children got to refer to as parents.Mom and dad’s greatest fear was that as a professional, this would be reportable, and they could have their children taken away from them because their life views are one of growth of love among the family unit.Our next family session all 6 adults attended, and it became very apparent to me as a counselor the opportunities we had to work really as an amazing support structure for this teen and help him through this difficult time of his life.
While this is a very short account of my beginning experience working with poly families which I have continued to work with over the past several years, this particular family and several others.However as a counselor it was an important learning experience to remind me the fear and concern which can often be with individuals because of societal expectations.If my life is outside of what society wants what does that mean for me? For my family? For my children?
I also am reminded that there is a need to acknowledge our clients as the experts in what is occurring in their life.This family had lived as a family unit, with their ups and downs, like every relationship for the span of over 20 years before stepping into my office.My job is that of acceptance and protection.There was no harm occurring within the family and if anything this family was making something that “society” driven relationship between two individuals often struggle doing.But as a counselor I had to be willing to learn.
I worked with the family for over a year and during that course of time they educated me on not only their family but resources, books, articles, and even polyamorous meetups in the area with other families and individuals interested in relationships.I had to be willing to grow and because of that and this particular family I believe I am not only a better professional but individual because I stepped outside of my box.
Communication is important, as a professional, as an individual, and as someone considering going to a professional for guidance.We should not be afraid to talk to our professionals about our lifestyles, and likewise as professionals we shouldn’t be afraid to listen to our clients about their lifestyles.We need to advocate continued expression and freedom because we hold the balance in making it “ok” and not a big deal.
I have been pleased and amazed to be able to present this particular client case to colleagues in past trainings who in the beginning struggle with the idea of working with a poly family and often I see many skewed views of what this means for the family and children.However, after we talk about and demonstrate the work we were able to do in family therapy and how the family having multiple parents actually strengthened my work with the teen, colleagues often leave with a changed view.As a professional that gives me hope and I appreciated for the opportunity this particular family had given me to work within the poly community as a counselor.