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. ...
After revealing her identity in an RFT feature and on her blog, Kendra Holliday expected fallout. After all, the blog she'd maintained anonymously for years, www.thebeautifulkind.com, features an explicit peek into her sex-positive world filled with lovers, sex toys and BDSM.
Right away she found a great deal of support and criticism, both online and in real life -- commenters on our story called her everything from a hero to a whore. Some parents of her child's classmates shunned her. ...
When most folks think leather or BDSM — that is, bondage, domination, sadism, masochism — chills might run up their spine. Or, perhaps, feelings of disgust flash through their mind.
It’s that initial, gut reaction that most upsets Pam Payne. She lives in and around Hickory and operates a mentoring program and four-bedroom “halfway house,” so to speak, for people in the leather and BDSM “lifestyles” who find themselves in flux or in need of some extra help. She is a part of the BDSM lifestyle herself and she says her way of living is about much more than images of sexual power, pain and perversion most people ascribe to it.
“It’s not purely a sexual identity,” Payne says in rebuttal to arguments about her life and family. “I’d say its a balance of 50-50 — people who just want to belong on a level that doesn’t exist in the vanilla world.”
“Vanilla” is how Payne describes mainstream society, whether gay or straight.
She says most people in the BDSM lifestyle simply long for acceptance and relationships that matter. “I want to be able to do this for you, give this to you, serve you in this way and, in return, I want you to take care of me in this particular way,” she says, describing a typical relationship which she says is built over periods of months — sometimes years — and depends on negotiation and contract.
Riverfront Times Kendra Holliday is a total slut. Go right ahead and say it — she does. She's not hiding from it anymore.
In some ways, she's always been honest about it. She's unflinchingly blogged every detail of her sex life for years — she's a bisexual, polyamorous, joyously partnered divorced mother, living and writing and fucking (and yeah, it's a lot of fucking) in St. Louis. Her blog, www.thebeautifulkind.com, details all of it. It has made her into a celebrity of sorts. It has cost her a job. She's called it her second partner.
But she's been hiding in plain sight, going to great pains to conceal her name, face and identity on the blog — even as she exhorts her readers to "be open and honest." The blog has become a safe space for sex-positive readers in St. Louis and all over the world to come together. It's created a virtual community, and Holliday and some of her kinky friends want to take that momentum and push the Midwest forward into greater sexual freedom and openness.
And it's hard to do that when you're hiding. So Holliday is coming out. ... The situation is definitely complicated. Susan Wright of the Baltimore-based National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a nonprofit that helps protect the rights of people with alternative sexual interests, applauds Holliday's decision to out herself.
"When people knew people who were gay and were able to think of them as their friends and family, they could think of them outside the stereotype," she says. "We need to get the help of the bulk of Americans who really don't care about other peoples' sex lives, so we can fight against the people who want to legislate morality." But Wright, along with others, can see the point in staying hidden.
"I would use as a caveat: If you are a parent of a child under eighteen, don't come out," Wright says. "You could have a great relationship with your ex — once you go public, they could get blowback from people in their lives and try to get custody. I would discourage it, but I admire it and support her wholeheartedly."
"We no longer have patience with an administration that fails to take
a strong stand against police misconduct — and for the civil
liberties of all of its citizens, no matter their sexual orientation.
Reed and Turner must immediately make clear that all members of the
police department will cooperate with the CRB in its investigation,
wherever it may lead. And those who don't must be fired."