On behalf of NCSF, Jim Fleckenstein and Susan Wright attended the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) Annual Conference on June 5-9th in Miami, Florida.
NCSF organized the AASECT Alt Sex Special Interest Group munch that took place Friday evening in the Hilton Miami Downtown hotel. Over 40 AASECT members attended this dinner to ask questions of several volunteers who are experienced in the BDSM and polyamory communities. It was an informative meeting and provided specific information that the professional service providers wanted. The sharp rise in attendance from last year’s 25 attendees indicates a rise in interest in alternative sexual practices.
Jim Fleckenstein was the lead presenter on What Do Polyamorists Want? A National Survey of an Underserved Population, a workshop discussing the key findings from the Loving More and NCSF internet survey, the largest-ever sample of self-identified polyamorists.
“We made some very important discoveries about this large sample of the polyamorous community,” says Jim Fleckenstein. “Our findings refute a number of negative stereotypes about openly non-exclusive relationships, especially in terms of reported health and happiness. Sharing these findings with the therapeutic community is an essential part of NCSF's service to our constituents.
Susan Wright was the presenter on Understanding Consent in a BDSM Practices, a workshop presenting survey data from the NCSF Consent Counts survey assessing kinky peoples’ attitudes on consent in a BDSM context.
The NCSF booth in the Exhibit Hall featured free copies of NCSF’s newly refreshed guide: "What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory" courtesy of a grant by Alan of Polyamory in the News (http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com), as well as brochures on NCSF’s projects and programs.
This year for the first time at AASECT, two of the plenaries dealt with kink issues: Dr. Ken Zucker and Dr. Michael First discussed the DSM-5: Implications for the Field of Sexuality that explained the process by which the paraphilias were separated from the Paraphilic Disorders. As the plenary description stated, the “(DSM) has proven both helpful and hurtful for addressing sexual concerns throughout history.”
The plenary held on Friday afternoon was “A Journey into BDSM & Race” by Mollena Williams, who discussed her personal narrative of being a black submissive (a minority within a minority group) in the kink world. Mollena’s plenary drew hundreds of people and was well-received by the attendees.
Please help NCSF continue our important outreach at events like the 2013 AASECT conference. Please join as a member now, go to our donation page, or encourage your group to hold a fundraiser for NCSF. Your support is critical to NCSF and we need it to continue to help the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. www.ncsfreedom.org
1. How many people do BDSM? There’s only one good random-sample survey on this question. It was taken in Australia a decade ago. Nearly 20,000 people between the ages of 16 and 59 were interviewed by phone. In the whole sample, 1.8 percent of men and 1.2 percent of women answered yes to the question, “In the last 12 months, have you been involved in B&D or S&M?” (The question went on to explain, “That’s bondage and discipline, sadomasochism, or dominance and submission.”) Among respondents who were sexually active, the BDSM minority barely increased, to 2 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women. Among those who had a sexual partner in the previous year, the figure was 2.2 percent of men and 1.3 percent of women.
That’s roughly equivalent to the sexually active gay population, as measured by similar self-reporting. In the Australian survey, the authors reported “less than 2 per cent of men and women” said they’d “had sex with a same-sex partner in the past year.” The percentage of respondents who said they’d ever had a gay sexual experience (not just in the last year) was higher—6 percent of men, 9 percent of women—and presumably the same is true of BDSM. In the Dutch study, for instance, 448 respondents accessed and completed a BDSM survey through a website devoted to personal secrets. Of these, 3 percent “indicated having had previous BDSM experience.”
2. Is it an orientation? Previously, I argued that homosexuality is fixed (an orientation) but that BDSM is flexible (a lifestyle). Kinksters replied that BDSM, too, is an orientation. What do the data show? Mostly flexibility. In a study of Finnish BDSM enthusiasts, 27 percent “endorsed a statement suggesting that only sadomasochistic sex could satisfy them,” but only 5 percent “no longer practiced ordinary sex.” Furthermore, 40 percent had changed their “preference” or “behavior” (in the authors’ words) from sadism to masochism or vice versa. In another study, conducted in southern California, “32% of the sample indicated that BDSM play occurred less than half the time they spent in sexual activity with partners, and just 11.2% indicated that BDSM play was their only form of sexual activity.” The core group, dedicated to BDSM, seems vastly outnumbered by dabblers.
3. Is it physically dangerous? That depends on what you’re doing. In the Finnish study, bondage and flagellation were standard: More than 80 percent of the sample had done them in the preceding 12 months. The riskier stuff was far less common: piercing (done by 21 percent of the sample), skin branding (17 percent), hypoxyphilia (suffocation games, also known as breath play—17 percent), electric shocks (15 percent), and knives or razor blades (13 percent). The California study found a similar pattern: Bondage, flogging, and spanking were standard (more than 80 percent had done them), but other practices—“fire play” (20 percent), “piercing play” (20), cutting (14), branding (9), and scarification (5)—were rarer. Some potentially dangerous activities were surprisingly common—“electric play” (42 percent), “knife scenes” (40), and “breath play” (27)—though in many cases, the implements were probably just props. It looks as though about 20 percent of these folks are actually cutting, burning, zapping, or partially suffocating each other.
That’s a minority, but it’s still worrisome. In the Finnish sample, those who said they’d previously suffered sexual abuse—23 percent of the women, and 8 percent of the men—were particularly problematic. According to the authors, “Visits to a physician because of injuries obtained during sm-sex were significantly more common among the abused respondents (11.1%) than among the non-abused respondents (1.8%).”
BDSM community leaders preach the importance of “safe words”—prearranged signals that the restrained, flogged, or dominated participant can use to withdraw consent and stop the action. In the Finnish study, 90 percent of the sample said they “sometimes” incorporated such words in their encounters. But less than half did so “without exception.” That, too, is a problem. ...
SAGINAW — The family of Alanna Gallagher, who was found murdered and wrapped in a tarp last week, addressed for the first time speculation swirling about their home life.
Miles McDaniel, listed on the six-year-old's obituary as one of Alanna's two fathers, explained that he, Karl Gallagher and Laura Gallagher are in a "polyamorous" relationship and co-parent the family's children.
"Anybody who knows the family knows there are three parents in the family," McDaniel said. "Talk to school; talk to the church."
McDaniel made the statement following a marathon question-and-answer session with investigators at the Saginaw Police Department.
He said he was requested to come down, and spent the afternoon and early evening hours on Tuesday talking about Alanna.
"There were a lot of questions," McDaniel said. "I think they might be cross-checking answers given by Laura and Karl when they did interviews."
Police have said since last week that no one in the family is a suspect in the murder case, but details in a search warrant first obtained by News 8 on Monday showcased a long list of items — more than 100 — that FBI and other investigators removed from the family home. ...
Last weekend Facebook removed dozens of BDSM-related pages from the site. The group BDSM Against Censorship lists nearly 100 groups affected by the ban, but there are unquestionably more groups and pages that have not made the list. Since last weekend a few of the groups have successfully gone through the process of petitioning for reinstatement, but the vast majority have not.
Fegatofi describes how she learned about the fate of her group. “The only notice I received was a little bubble notice saying it was unpublished and could be appealed, which I have done. The reason was a vague reason saying I violated Facebook regs by having nude, lewd or violent sexual pics posts. Which I did not!”
In a post on their Facebook page, Woman, Action & the Media explains they were not responsible for the Facebook crackdown, “We’ll say this again clearly: WAM! is fully in support of consensual BDSM pages, and have told Facebook explicitly that we oppose their crackdown on these pages. Please ask anyone claiming to attribute a quote to the contrary to us to provide a source for those quotes. They are false, plain and simple.”
Whether the BDSM groups and pages on Facebook were collateral damage from a campaign about violence against women or a decision by Facebook corporate to cut down on adult content, the results are the same; many groups will never return and all BDSM groups on Facebook are at risk from this point forward. If owners of BDSM pages and groups decide to stay on Facebook then they must assume that their groups can be shuttered at any time. ...
Supreme Court decisions on marriage unlikely to directly impact status of polygamy, other multiperson relationships
The U.S. Supreme Court could rule any day on challenges to two laws blocking legal recognition for same-sex marriages – the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's voter-approved Proposition 8 – but advocates for polyamorous couples say "marriage equality" for that minority group is unlikely in the immediate future.
Anita Wagner Illig, a longtime polyamory community spokesperson who operates the group Practical Polyamory, is unsure of the direct impact of a ruling that would legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.
Until recently, she noted, "the polyamory community has expressed little desire for legal marriage," but now more options seem possible in the future. "We polyamorists are grateful to our [LGBT] brothers and sisters for blazing the marriage equality trail," Illig said.
Illig believes there is indeed a "slippery slope" toward legal recognition for polygamy if the court rules in favor of nationwide same-sex marriage, an argument typically invoked by anti-gay marriage advocates. "A favorable outcome for marriage equality is a favorable outcome for multi-partner marriage, because the opposition cannot argue lack of precedent for legalizing marriage for other forms of non-traditional relationships," she said.
But Illig concedes, "there will be quite a lot of retooling of the legal system necessary to establish marriage equality for marriages of more than two people. A marriage of two people of the same sex requires a lot less in terms of adapting today's systems, such as Social Security, for example, to accommodate it."
"It is hard to predict" the possible legal side-effects of the Supreme Court rulings "since [the cases are] about official recognition rather than criminalization," George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told U.S. News.
Turley is representing the polygamist Brown family, which has four wives and one husband, in their challenge to Utah's cohabitation law. The Brown family stars in TLC's "Sister Wives," which records the family's day-to-day life, as well as their flight from Utah to Nevada after local authorities began to surveil them and openly mull felony charges. ...
Polyamory Research Survey Background From February 10th to April 2nd 2012, Loving More (http://www.lovemore.com/) ,with the endorsement of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom https://ncsfreedom.org/) (NCSF) conducted an internet-based survey of over 4000 participants who self-identify as polyamorous. This is the largest survey of self-identified polyamorous individuals to date. Individuals were recruited through local and regional listserves, Loving More email list, the Poly Researchers list, the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality's (IASHS) student and alumni lists, and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists' (AASECT) AltSex list. With the exception of five questions, all the questions were drawn from among those asked in the NORC's biennial General Social Survey (http://www.norc.org/Research/Projects/Pages/general-social-survey.aspx) (GSS) in order to compare a sample of the polyamory community with the general US adult population.
The American Psychiatric Association has depathologized kinky sex – including cross-dressing, fetishes, and BDSM – in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Now the paraphilias are considered to be “unusual sexual interests,” while those who have sex with children or people who haven’t consented, or who deliberately cause harm to themselves or others, may be diagnosed with a Paraphilic Disorder.
“The APA has made it clear that being kinky is not a mental disorder,” says Susan Wright, Spokesperson for NCSF. “That means people no longer have to fear being diagnosed as mentally ill just because they belong to a BDSM group. We’ve already seen the impact – NCSF immediately saw a sharp rise in the success rate of child custody cases for kinky parents after the proposed DSM-5 criteria was released three years ago.”
NCSF would like to thank everyone who participated in signing our DSM Revision Petition and for telling the APA about their own stories of discrimination and persecution. NCSF also thanks every member of the APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup for responding to our concerns, and drawing a hard line between consensual adult kinky sex and those who willfully engage in nonconsensual or harmful activities.
NCSF is proud to build on the work of kink-aware professionals who have come before us, including Race Bannon and Guy Baldwin, who helped make seminal changes in the DSM-IV in 1994.
The following are some statements about the various paraphilias in the DSM-5. Although highly clinical in language, they show the APA’s intent to not demand treatment for healthy consenting adult sexual expression:
“A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention.” p. 686
“In contrast, if they declare no distress, exemplified by anxiety, obsessions, guilt or shame, about these paraphilic impulses, and are not hampered by them in pursuing other personal goals, they could be ascertained as having masochistic sexual interest but should not be diagnosed with a sexual masochism disorder.” p. 694
“Many individuals who self-identify as fetishist practitioners do not necessarily report clinical impairment in association with their fetish-associated behaviors. Such individuals could be considered as having a fetish but not fetishistic disorder.” p. 701
“Clinical assessment of distress or impairment, like clinical assessment of transvestic sexual arousal, is usually dependent on the individual’s self-report.” p. 703
NCSF relies entirely on your donations to advance the rights of consenting adults and to do advocacy like our DSM Revision Project. Please donate now!
But it generated a seven-year legal battle so bitter it ended up in federal court.
And when it was finally done Thursday evening, Gold Coast resident Kim O’Brien didn’t get a single cent out of the multi-millionaire ex-husband she’d sued for allegedly holding her against her will as a “sex slave.”
A jury took just four hours to reject the 52-year-old’s claims that wealthy Wisconsin businessman Kevin Anderson, 57, intentionally emotionally abused her and tied her up, gagged, beat and raped her during an unwanted introduction to the world of bondage, submission and sadomasochism on their California honeymoon in 2005.
The four men and four women jurors instead found it more likely that O’Brien was a “gold digger... motivated by greed” who’d enjoyed kinky sex and had lied about the abuse, as Anderson’s lawyer argued.
O’Brien — who endured repeated innuendos during the two-week trial suggesting she was a prostitute, and was shown naked, bound, blindfolded and spanked in humiliating photos displayed for jurors — pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows as the verdict was announced.
Wearing dark sunglasses, she quickly left the courthouse without comment. Her ex-husband had already returned to Wisconsin and was not in court to hear the verdict.
Earlier Thursday, lawyers for both sides told competing accounts of the couple’s deeply dysfunctional romance, which began when they met in Aspen, Colo., in 2000, saw Anderson shower O’Brien with luxury gifts and expensive trips before he proposed in a Michigan Avenue church in 2005, and ended in divorce soon after.
Representing O’Brien, Dean Dickie said during his closing argument that “whenever there is an allegation or an accusation between a man and a woman about what happened in the privacy of their bedroom ... inevitably it turns into ‘it was all the woman’s fault, and the man was the victim of something that was made up.’”
He said O’Brien had been “psychologically scarred” by being violently held to the terms of a “slave contract” that required her to address her husband as “master” and parade around the house naked, adding that other women would be at risk if Anderson was not held liable.
But representing Anderson, Charles Cole said O’Brien’s account was “a fantasy — it’s a movie script.”
Arguing that O’Brien had lured Anderson into sadomasochism as part of a pre-planned “setup” to later sue him, Cole showed a large naked photo of an apparently unhurt and smiling O’Brien taken hours after the alleged honeymoon assault. ...