The Next Level

iStock_000007813019SmallEverybody has to start somewhere. For most of us, we begin to present classes and workshops because we’re known for a particular skill set or a certain type of knowledge, and we teach what we know. Eventually, though, many of us come to the conclusion that we don’t want to just teach the same thing, over and over – we want to do something different, or expand our offerings, or just break out of the rut of being a “one trick pony”.

What do we do when we want to grow as an educator? Some people consider going back to school, or taking (often pricey) classes to help them get more credentials, but that’s not a possibility for everyone (nor is it even a good idea, depending on how much energy you want to give towards your experience as an educator). There are, however, some amazing things you can do without breaking the bank (or your schedule)! Here are some basic concepts for ongoing growth & improvement that you can use.

1. Read. Read everything you can get your hands on (and find interesting) that relates to sexuality. Read synopsis of things that you think you already know about. Read a review of things that aren’t that interesting. Every new piece of information that you learn has the potential to change how you teach, and to inspire you to teach something new.

2. Learn basic presentation skills, either by taking classes in it or reading books. Passion about your topics of choice will only get you so far; what makes an effective presenter is the ability to communicate information to others in a way that helps them learn & apply it to their own lives.

3. Go to workshops. Seriously. When you keep an open mind, you can always learn something new. At a recent educator’s series that I co-facilitated, a newer presenter taught a brief class on flogging – a topic that I normally get bored with pretty quickly. However, they had a technique that they demonstrated that I had never thought of, and I could immediately see ways to use to improve my ability to use a flogger. Look! An old dog CAN learn a new trick!

4. Be mentored. Ask someone to teach you the basics of a new skill, or the finer points of one that you already have. Work with another presenter to hone your abilities. Have friends edit, make suggestions, and give guidance to you when it comes to writing your bio, your handouts, and your class outlines. Even if you are always the “go-to” person, working with someone else can help expand both your range and your depth of knowledge.

5. Mentor someone else. Teaching one-on-one rather than one-on-many involves a different set of skills, and has more of an exchange of information than a usual classroom setting allows for. Often, people that mentor find that it improves their own skills – both as a technician, and as an educator.

6. Ask for feedback & ideas. I often get more inspiration out of comments, questions, and resources that attendees at my classes offer than I do out of my own reading. The ability to integrate the experiences (and lessons) of other people into our work allows us to offer a far wider perspective than we would otherwise be able to.

7. Stay humble. No matter how fantastic your skill set is, there is always room for a new technique, a new way of looking at things, or a better practice. As soon as we think we know it all, we close ourselves off to new experiences and risk becoming obsolete. And really – nobody wants to be “that person” that knows everything and eschews any other way of thinking.

8. Network with other educators. Nothing helps us plan our next steps like knowing what the options are, and our colleagues (whether non-professional or professional) are the ones who are already thinking about the same things we are. By sharing our experiences and asking each other questions, we can become better at finding our own direction & developing classes that we’re excited about.

By Sarah Sloane (originally posted on August/2011)


CineKink Tenth Annual Kinky Film Festival

CineKink Announces Dates for Tenth Annual Kinky Film Festival
February 26-March 3, 2013

Scheduled for February 26-March 3, 2013, the tenth annual CineKink NYC will feature a specially-curated program of films and videos that celebrate and explore a wide diversity of sexuality. In addition to screenings, plans for the festival also include a short film competition, audience choice awards, a special adult entertainment showcase, and a gala kick-off event, along with retrospective screenings commemorating a decade’s worth of kinky programming. A national tour will follow, showcasing audience favorites from the NYC festival selections.

Billing itself as “the kinky film festival,” the event is presented by CineKink, an organization dedicated to the recognition and encouragement of sex-positive and kink-friendly depictions in film and television. With offerings drawn from both the independent cinema world and the adult, works presented at CineKink NYC will range from documentary to drama, comedy to experimental, slightly spicy to quite explicit–and everything in between.

“It’s so amazing to me that we’ve made it to the decade marker,” said Lisa Vandever, Co-Founder and Director of CineKink. “Looking back on all the films we’ve presented since 2003, it’s incredibly gratifying that we’ve been able to connect such smart and sexy works, and such talented filmmakers, with an appreciative, like-minded audience. And we’re looking forward to another year of it!”

The organization is currently seeking works for CineKink/2013, with a call for entries open until December 11, 2012. The festival line-up and schedule for CineKink NYC will be announced in January.

For more information visit


Fearless Press Authors

With the relaunch of in July, we’ve brought in some new authors and are still looking for monthly columnists to write about the following:

All of the topics must somehow related to: sexuality, gender, relationship or communication about any/all of those three

Spirituality: Catholic, Jewish, Pagan, Atheist, Tantra

Style: Fashion, Body Image, Etiquette

Art: artist reviews, art news that relates to gender or sexuality, art history relating to gender or sexuality, film reviews (not porn reviews)

Relationships: Monogamy, Long Distance, Dominance and Submission,

Book Reviews: Books on gender, sexuality, relationships or communication relating to any of the other topics

Living: food, parenting, business, law, health, psychology, humor

Community: sexy travel, event reports, sex in the news, activism, sex history

There is a 500 word minimum with a flat rate payment. I prefer writers who can commit to a monthly deadline (and then stick to it!) although I am now accepting guest posts. You can find more information at the Submission Guidelines page.





Sex and the Law: Consent and Beyond

This article was written by Brian Flaherty and was originally published on Fearless Press

I presented a class on BDSM, Sex, and the Law: Consent and Beyond at the New England Dungeon Society last Friday, subtitle: “when things go horribly wrong.”   Because the truth is, “The Law” doesn’t get involved unless things do go horribly wrong.  In fact, some might say that getting “The Law” involved is the very definition of things going horribly wrong.  Nevertheless, I had the pleasure of doing this presentation, and it gave me a chance to think a lot about where the criminal law and BDSM intersect, how that intersection has changed over the years, and where we’re headed.  Note: I am not covering every relevant case here – for those interested in a comprehensive listing of state appellate decisions, check out the consent counts resources site at NCSF.

Looking at the cases and the law, it appears that over time, courts have become more willing to accept consent as a defense to assault in the context of a BDSM relationship.  The first important case here is from 1967, People v. Samuels.  This case is notable because it is the only case with no complaining witness – no “victim.”    Every other case here is based on a relationship gone horribly wrong; the prosecution was based entirely on a film.  In that case, the court wrote that it was a matter of “common knowledge” that nobody in “full possession of his mental faculties” would consent to such assault.  Nevertheless, the court continued, even if there was consent, Samuels would still be guilty of aggravated assault.  Again in 1980, the Massachusetts case of Commonwealth v. Appleby, the court wrote “Private consensual sadomasochistic behavior was not a defense to the charge of assault and battery.”

Fastforward to 1985, the Iowa cases of State v. Collier – another case where the court considers consent as a possible defense to BDSM.  This case is interesting because Iowa actually has a law that provides for consent as a defense to assault, so long as the assault is in the context of a “sport, social or other activity not in itself criminal,” for example.. boxing, or football.  Alas, the court didn’t see BDSM as a sport, a social, or even an other activity.  The court wrote: “it is simply preposterous to advocate…that the Iowa legislature even remotely intended that the sadomasochistic activity evidenced in this case was a “social or other activity” within the meaning of the statute.  Not good for our side – but I would call attention to “social or other activity” language.  I believe that as BDSM becomes a recognized “social or other activity,” the courts will be more likely to find consent as a defense. Moving on…

In 1999, the case of New York case of People v. Jovanovic is interesting with regard to consent to assault.  There was extensive email negotiation between Oliver Jovanovic and Jamie Rzucek.  They met, had a rather intense scene, & afterwards she went to the police claiming that it was assault (remember the part about relationships gone horribly wrong?).  At trial, the court excluded the email negotiation from evidence, saying that it should be kept out by New York’s rape shield law.  Oliver Jovanovic was convicted of sexual assault, assault, and kidnapping, and given a 15 year sentence.  The appeals court, however, said that the Emails should be allowed as a defense to sexual assault (where consent IS a defense) and Kidnapping (where consent is ALSO a defense), and so threw out those convictions.  The court also threw out the conviction for assault  suggesting that consent might have been a defense for that as well.  They wrote in a footnote that consent was still not a viable defense – despite the fact that they just allowed it.  Weird, huh?

One more state case – the 2009 Rhode Island case of State v. Gaspar: It begins the way many of these cases begin: Boy meets girl on internet, boy and girl connect & have intense scene, relationship goes wrong, boy is charged with assault.  But in this case, in instructing the jury, the judge writes that the case “ultimately presented only one question… did the events of the night in question constitute a mutually consensual sexual encounter between two adults, or a brutal sexual assault?”  While the judge writes about consent to sexual assault, he’s clearly talking about the BDSM scene as a whole.  And so in this case, the way I read it, consent could have been allowed as a defense to BDSM.  Alas, the case was decided on technical points, and so the court never really held that consent was or was not a defense.

As I was looking at these cases & preparing a presentation, there seemed to be a trajectory – that through the years, the courts have grown more willing to accept consent as a defense to assault in the context of BDSM.  In 1967, consent to assault was evidence of someone “not in full possession of his mental faculties.”  In 1985, it was “preposterous; in 2009 it seems as though the court was ready to accept this.  At the same time, BDSM itself seems to have gained a certain amount of public acceptability (evidence of this is easy to find, from the exponential growth of fairs and fleas, to the local bestseller lists).    I would argue that as the things we do become more culturally acknowledged, as we are considered in full possession of our mental faculties, as we are removed from the DSM-V, BDSM begins to be seen as a “social or other activity,” consent becomes more available as a defense.

This, for me, is something of an evolution.  At one point, I might have advocated for a specific defense for consensual assault in the context of BDSM.  However, in relationships and scenes that do not go horribly wrong, it is exceedingly rare that someone is charged with assault.   On the other hand, assault is all-too-common in relationships gone wrong: Domestic Violence.  In situations of domestic violence, it is also common for the complaining witness, the victim, to recant their story out of fear of future abuse.  If there was an explicit defense to assault between consenting adults in a relationship, it would be too easy for an abuser to claim that the assault, the violence, was consensual – especially where a victim recants their testimony.  As I said, I believe the answer is in a cultural recognition of BDSM relationships as a perfectly healthy relationships, and “assault” within such relationships as “sport, social, or other activity.”