Categories
Articles

Why Pay for Porn?

[cross posted at my blog, Long Live the New Flesh]

So, when I do a google search for “Why Pay for Porn”, there’s not much in the way of real, substantial answers to this question. There’s a whole bunch of good reasons why you should pay for porn, but first let’s start with some background information. Let’s look at why people might pirate porn:

Privacy

If you go to a tube site or torrent site, there’s usually not a process to sign up. No email, no credit card, no personal info entered anywhere. This makes the process of finding and consuming pornography a fairly anonymous activity. This is especially important to people who do not tell their partners about their pornography habits. However, this belief is not particularly well founded… There are plenty of ways to track online activity, and just because you don’t enter a credit card number doesn’t mean you’re anonymous.

Security

Porn is often linked to viruses, Trojans, phishing, and other malicious activity. This is not completely unjustifiable. Go to any Black Hat forum, and you’ll likely see quite a bit on creating porn related exploits. However, according to the 2011 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, pornography is #10 on the list of website categories that delivered malicious code. It accounts for only 2.4% of websites delivering malicious code, well below shopping and business sites.
Anything you do online entails a degree of risk, but if you employ some basic security processes the risk can be manageable.

Price

I’m skeptical about this one… I think there are a number of issues at play. Due to the widespread presence of piracy, the price of porn is somewhat inflated. If someone produces a clip that only 10 people buy, they have to charge considerably more than if they had 1000 customers. Let’s say they charged $5 for the clip and made $50. If they had 1000 customers, they could charge $.05 for the clip and make the same amount. This is just an example- but you can scale it a lot of ways that still make the price quite reasonable. Should producers start charging .05 per clip right now? Of course not. It doesn’t make sense. The question is- would people pay the .05 per clip if it were available? I’d like to think so. If they would feel comfortable paying that if the conditions, why not at least buy 1-2 clips per month now? The more people pay for porn, the lower the prices will go. It could create a more stable environment for performers by allowing them to focus more on content production than on marketing. Personally, I enjoy independently produced porn, which would be more financially viable if there were a higher volume of folks paying.

Portability

When porn is pirated, it’s usually 1 of 3 ways- posted to a tube site, posted to a file sharing site with a link posted to a forum, or through a torrent site. All 3 of these options offer a high degree of flexibility when it comes to access and portability. Tube sites can pretty much be accessed anywhere, and torrents/file shares usually convert videos to standard AVI or MP4, which work well with most Operating Systems. That said, there is an increasing degree of portability present in independent porn sites. Clips4Sale allows a wide array of formats for their content, and sites like Streamate are easily used on iPads. People increasingly pay for convenience, which the Adult industry is quickly catching on to.

Male Entitlement

I feel like this is a bigger one than is usually acknowledged. Men tend to be conditioned to see women as pleasure objects, and this is heightened by porn and the anonymity of the Internet. They feel entitled to women’s bodies, and typically get insulted or violent when they’re not freely given. I’ve outlined how this plays out in the Fart Fetish community, but it appears common across the porn spectrum. It appears to be especially prevalent when it comes to pirating porn produced by women of color, as they bear the brunt not only of patriarchy but racism and colonialism, which presents a unique form of hyper sexualization.

If I had a hammer... I'd SMASH Patriarchy
We should all find our hammers…

For some reason, lots of guys see porn seeking as a form of dating… Which is fine, if you’re aware of the fact that it’s fantasy, but I get the sense a lot of guys don’t really see it that way… It doesn’t help that a bunch of cam and porn sites use misleading ads about dating sites, then send you to some performers room. That said… what guy really believes there’s some random attractive woman waiting around on her webcam in a chat room full of guys getting naked and looking for… a boyfriend? It’s an absurd delusion! Props to those who can play through this delusion, but it’s still kinda messed up that it exists in the first place.

So, we’ve outlined some reasons that might motivate someone to pirate porn. Some are more legitimate than others, but they can all be addressed in a way that’s fair to both consumers and producers of porn. Let’s get to the heart of the matter:

Why should you pay for porn?

Quality

You get what you pay for. If you order clips through a reputable site, you will be rewarded with a well thought out clip that caters to your interests. The producer will have thought out the lighting, sound, outfits, scenarios, and other aspects of porn that, if done well, are hardly noticed but greatly enhance the experience. Good independent producers do their research, and provide high quality services at reasonable prices.

Intimacy/Personalization

When you pirate porn, the last thing you want is to interact with the models who you’re pirating, because they’ll probably be pretty pissed that you’re stealing from them. When you buy porn, you get to know a lot about the performers! You get to see their career evolve, and learn about other services they offer that wouldn’t be available to you through tube sites. Have a foot fetish? How awesome would it be to buy a pair of socks you saw in your favorite clip? You can also follow your favorite models on Twitter, so you get to know when they have new clips available or they’re available on cam or Niteflirt.

Security

Despite the issues listed in the previous Security section, most porn sites are fairly secure. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I don’t believe in 100% secure websites, but reputable porn sites do a good job of ensuring security. I was especially impressed with a job posting I saw for NaiadDev, the company that runs Streamate. In their posting for a customer service rep, the first required skill is “Able to detect and handle social engineering calls.” Humans are usually the weakest link in a security system, so I was happy to see social engineering in the description.

In contrast, tube sites make their money off high volume traffic. They don’t have an incentive to offer good support or prevent the delivery of malicious code. The lack of oversight of these sites is appalling to me- their presence is comparable to Google or Facebook, but they don’t receive anywhere near the same level of scrutiny when it comes to protecting users and their information. Which leads to…

Privacy

Tube sites and torrents which make money off traffic are much more likely to view you as the product rather than the consumer. The content they post on their sites is essentially designed to be a minimal quality tool used to record your browsing habits, personal info, search terms, browser usage, and other information that can be easily mined through websites. This information is the commodity these sites sell, in addition to banner sales and other forms of ad revenue. When you’re the product, it becomes very hard to safeguard your information.

Not Being a Dick/Supporting Women

Again, this has to do with male privilege, and the sense of entitlement men feel towards women’s bodies. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you should read up on to educate yourself if these terms are foreign to you. I’d start with:
http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/11/nerds-and-male-privilege/all/1/
http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/12/dont-be-a-creeper/
http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2011/01/supply-side-rape-prevention.html
http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2011/03/rape-culture-defending-indefensible.html
http://www.shakesville.com/2010/01/feminism-101.html

This deserves its own post, and I will do my best to get one up in a timely manner. There are so many ways that patriarchy and misogyny effects pornography consumption… Not something that performers need to be “saved” from, but more ways that guys act that are messed up. I just don’t have the brainpower to go into it in the depth it deserves right now. The above links are a good starting point, though.

Price

I’ve gone over this already, but will add a few more points. Porn is a luxury item, like cable TV, a Netflix subscription, a magazine or newspaper subscription, a trip to the movies, etc. These aren’t exactly human rights, but things that are nice to indulge in when you have the disposable income for it. You shouldn’t have to go into debt to buy porn, but you should pay when you can. Even buying 2 clips a month is better than not buying anything. Performers are generally understanding of financial difficulties, but when you say you can’t purchase a $3 clip, it begs the question- why are you wasting time on the Internet? Time is money, and the time you use begging for free stuff could be used finding a new or better job, selling some old stuff on eBay, or browsing Craigslist for odd jobs. If you’re not going to make the effort, why should they?

Ease of Use

It’s sooo much easier to find paid content than it is to find quality tube sites or torrents. Once you find a few sites you like, you can count on those sites to reliably supply quality content. This is especially true for niche producers. The sites are usually pretty straight forward, though I have to say the My Free Cam token system drives me nuts… Some cam sites also have daily spending limits, so it makes containing your spending much easier.

Content Curation

You really don’t get this from tube sites, and torrents usually do a crappy job of it. Content curation, when it comes to porn, is about the skill a producer has in creating content that caters to their audience. They listen to what people want, research different fetishes and sexological acts, and incorporate this knowledge into how they package/present their material.

What does this all boil down to?

Adult performers deserve to be paid for their time and effort. Most independent porn producers do much more than model. They typically are a one stop shop, needing to be proficient in photography, videography, photo/video/audio editing, choreography, marketing, sales, psychology, social networking, social media, accounting, PR, presentation skills, HTML, computer security, identity protection, fetishes, law, sexology, and time management… to name a few! To suggest that they don’t deserve to be compensated for their skills in these areas is sexist and insulting. If people don’t pay for porn, they will take these skills and go elsewhere. Let’s not let that happen!

Categories
Articles

Assessment of therapists’ attitudes towards BDSM

Assessment of therapists’ attitudes towards BDSM

Published in 2012, the paper surveyed 766 therapists from the American Psychological Association’s Practice Directorate website to assess therapists’ attitudes towards the BDSM. Most people consider the APA to be a mainstream organization.

While BDSM participants are wary of their interactions with mental health professionals, the data are more encouraging. According to the paper, “The majority of those surveyed did not agree with statements equating BDSM with pathology. Sixty-seven per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: ‘BDSM can be part of a healthy, long-term relationship.’ Similarly, 70% disagreed or strongly disagreed that interest in BDSM should be eliminated by therapy.”

Seventy-six per cent of therapists reported having treated at least one BDSM client but only 48% perceived themselves to be competent to treat BDSM clients. Not surprising since 64% reported receiving no training in BDSM during their graduate education. Thankfully, 52% sought additional training after graduation. Those with even some training had more accepting attitudes than those without any training. Older and more conservative therapists had more negative attitudes towards BDSM, as well.

The good news is that most are willing to learn and this is where CARAS has an important role. Currently, our conference is the only one specifically focused on alternative sexualities. It also provides American Psychological Association approved continuing education for therapists. Usually, 2/3 of our conference attendees are from outside the community. We fill a significant unmet need and we are helping mainstream appropriate therapy for people from alternative sexuality communities including BDSM.

Often, it seems that the community views therapists as potential adversaries. As this paper points out, we’ve largely won the BDSM versus pathology battle. What we need to concentrate on now, is better professional education for a largely willing and interested therapeutic community.

This was posted in the CARAS Fetlife group by entropy

Categories
Articles

A Beginners Guide to Awesome Anal Sex

Anal sex can be incredibly hot but it is often misunderstood (no, enjoying anal sex doesn’t make someone gay, it merely means they like anal sex… and with all the nerve endings located in the anus, that’s not such a surprise!) and can be intimidating. But it’s not for everyone. If you have no desire to try anal sex, then don’t. Just like with any other sexual activity, you should never be pressured into doing something that you aren’t comfortable with.

While it’s normal to be a little apprehensive at first, here are some tips to help ease any anxiety you may have, because relaxation is key, and to guide you on the way to having some incredibly hot and sensual anal sex. And let me be brutally honest here, I love anal sex but I always approach it with a degree of apprehension because for me there is an initial discomfort (note, I didn’t say pain but discomfort) that goes far, far away and transforms into something absolutely magnificent once the object, cock, butt plug or dildo, is firmly planted in my bottom.

Clean up. One of the first things people are afraid is the cleanliness factor. What you may have seen in porn, spontaneous anal sex, is largely a fantasy. Actors and actresses prep for anal scenes, and that prep may involve something as extreme not eating the day before and definitely includes anal douching. Douching is safe and simple. You can either buy a disposable enema kit or an anal douche. If using an enema kit, replace the fluid with warm tap water, insert and expel. You may want to do this a few times until the expelled fluid is clear. With that one concern off your mind, and I know I’ve changed enough diapers to want to limit my contact with mood-killing poop, you may find you’re already much more relaxed and eager to get going.

Break out the lube. Everyone needs lubricant for anal sex. While the vagina self-lubricates, the anus does not, making lube an absolute necessity. Never mind that you’ve seen some guy spitting on some porn star’s butt before ramming it home, for one, she may be pre-lubed with a water-based product and the saliva is rehydrating it, for two, she’s a sexual athlete and you’re probably not and last, the application of prodigious amounts of lube no doubt happened before the filming began or ended up on the cutting room floor. I love porn but I’d be happier if porn was prefaced with a warning – trained professionals, please do not attempt these feats at home. Thick, gel like lubes produce a cushioning effect which makes them ideal for anal play. While you might know people who use desensitizing lubricants for anal play, I don’t recommend it. Desensitizing your bottom won’t help you relax and since these products numb the nerves, you won’t feel pain or discomfort. And pain is important; it’s your body’s natural warning system and lets you know when something is wrong before things go too far awry. By numbing yourself, you risk irritation or even serious damage to those delicate anal tissues.

Be horny. It helps to be really excited, so get ready with tons of foreplay. Whether you go down on each other, engage in some sensual massage or touching, it’s all good as long as it turns you on. Also, try stimulating the area surrounding the anus before diving in with fingers, toys or penises. The anus is nervous, you don’t want to just dive right in or it will tighten up like a clam shell with discomfort and frustration likely ensuing.

Experiment with butt plugs. Butt plugs are a great way to prepare for anal sex. First, because you can either insert it yourself or have your partner insert it as foreplay. You can try various shapes and sizes and materials until you find your perfect fit. Second, you may well find that you like to wear your butt plug during the day just because it keeps you in an aroused state. I have my mind set on trying butt plug Pilates but haven’t braved that one yet. When you remove the plug, which can be done privately or as part of play, your bottom will be more accepting. No, you aren’t going to get all stretched out; your muscles will have relaxed a bit and will soon return to their usual state.

 Go slowly. Use your fingers or a small anal toy (as long as it has a flanged base, this will prevent a not so sexy trip to the ER to retrieve a lost toy). Let it take as long as it takes to get comfortable and feel confident. If today is not the day, fine, you can try again another day.Experiment with different positions. In a seated position, you can try lowering yourself onto the cock and going at your own pace. If you’re in a doggie position, back up onto the cock. Feeling in control is another great way to alleviate anxiety and relax.Push. While this may seem counter-intuitive, bearing down relaxes your muscles. Try it. When you press in or squeeze, your muscles tighten, when you bear down the muscles ease. If you’re almost but not quite there, before giving up, try to push against the object entering your bottom. Pushing is another reason that doing a light anal douche can help you relax, you’ll be sure that nothing unexpected will be making an appearance.

Consider gloves. Gloves can prevent discomfort and scratching from ragged fingernails and provide a silky smooth surface that works great with lube. No oil-based lubes with latex gloves, as oil will degrade the glove. Plus, gloves make for simple clean up, just take’em off and toss’em. Women should be especially careful of using oil based lubes for anal sex; they tend to be thin and can drip into the vagina sending anal bacteria where it doesn’t belong.

Leading us right to just say no to ass-to-vaginal sex. Never, ever, ever go from anal sex to vaginal without using condoms and changing them in between orifices. Even with this precaution, washing the object that just came out of your butt after removing the condom is very much advisable before inserting said object into a vagina.

So if the thought of having something in your butt turns you on, go forth, get your lube, douche and butt plug ready, get excited, play with positions and take your time. Anal sex is extremely pleasurable for many men and women, it’s a definite don’t knock it till you’ve tried it activity. For a more detailed look at anal sex, check out the oh-so-fabulous Tristan Taormino’s Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women.

Categories
Articles

Sex Tips from Personal Trainer JJ Flizanes

Even if your body type fits the current media/fashion inspired ideal of what is beautiful, essentially thin is in, working out is necessary for everyone in order to maintain a level of physical and cardiovascular fitness. Don’t work out because you want change who you are and squeeze yourself into that little box mainstream media tells you is desirable, work out because you’ll feel better and when you feel good, you also feel sexy and desirable.

You know that after-sex glow you get, well think of getting an after-workout glow, that radiates beauty and well-being from the inside out.

Today, personal trainer JJ Flizanes shares her perspective on fitness along with some exercises you can do for all around sexy fitness. Break out your sweat bands and leotards and prepare to get physical!

Says JJ, “The act of lovemaking is physical, and your fitness level affects your sexual performance. Stamina, strength, and confidence are required for a pleasurable experience. Sex can be like gymnastics: you may be requested to hold a position that challenges your body in ways your workout does not. What are the key elements to include in your workout to get the full potential of your physical body? Here are a few tips from my book Fit 2 Love: How to Get Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually Fit to Attract the Love of Your Life available on Amazon.com.”
Cardio:
Endurance training is necessary. The latest trend is to abandon steady state endurance training and only do interval training, but I disagree with that principle. Every type of exercise has a purpose. Unless you want to be a one-pump chump, you will want to be able to keep up for a long duration, and steady state endurance training is the way to go.
Upper body:
Since lovemaking rarely resembles lifting weights in the gym, try doing isometric exercises to strength your ability to hold yourself up with your arms. An isometric exercise is where you hold a position in the exercise without doing the full range of motion.
Leg Exercises:
Squats, lunges, and leg presses are great choices for building thigh (quadriceps) and butt (gluteus maximus) strength: alternate isometric exercises with long regular sets of at least 30 repetitions.
Hip Exercises:
In order to gain flexibility in your hips, you need to do exercises in all active range of motion for your hips. Do not stretch because it does not create strength. Instead, do some Pilates exercises that challenge your hips, working both the inner thigh and outer hip.
Core Exercises:
Thrusting your pelvis requires your abs to be strong enough to help do the job. The lower back muscles also need strength and flexibility to pull the pelvis back and maintain a contraction, if necessary.

Internal:
Doing kegels will strengthen the inner vaginal walls and help with orgasms for you and your partner. Kegels for men will help keep the prostate healthy. Keeping these muscles strong will also keep your sexual fitness youthful as you age.
Your Sexual Essence
Being sexually fit also means activating ecstasy, passion, and sensuality on a regular basis. This kind of energy is a magnet, not only for men, but for everyone around you. There is no need for a partner to exercise this aspect because it is an inside job.

Are you still sitting here reading? Get off the couch and get started. I’m going to dig out my weighted hula hoop once I but away the Pilates Ring I’ve been using to strengthen my inner thighs and PC muscles while I write!

Categories
Articles

Sex Related Podcasts

There are a number of great sexuality related podcasts out there, here are a few of my favorites

Graydancer has been running the Ropecast for many years and doesn’t *just* talk about rope :)

Cunning Minx runs the fantastic Polyamory Weekly “Responsible non-monogamy from a kink-friendly, pansexual point of view”

The Masocast offers “casual conversations with intelligent, funny and all around interesting kinky people

Raven Lightholme runs Freedom of Fetish that shares “sex, relationship, and fetish advice”

The Big Little Podcast which is “an audio program by, about, and for age players of all kinds”

The Erotic Awakening podcast is hosted by Dan & Dawn Williams, Barak & Brat Sheba and Lee Harrington

Categories
Articles

How to Multiply Your Orgasms with Sex Toys

Any orgasm is a good orgasm, but, let’s face it, some are better than others. I’ve had mellow O’s, mind-blowing O’s (quite literally, but that’s another story involving phone sex, a dying vibrator and what I thought was an aneurysm), and O’s so strong that when I got up immediately after, I had to sit back down or risk falling over. I love them all and I’m sure you love yours too. But have you learned what it takes to get your orgasms to go from satisfying to off-the-chart? Whether you’re engaging in sizzling solo sex or getting it on with a sexy partner, sex toys can lead the way towards new levels of pleasure.

Sex doesn’t start in your groin, it starts in your head, therefore the logical organ to begin stimulating is your brain. Fantasize. What makes you hot every time? Is it something dark and forbidden or is it more sweet and sensual? Do you want to be overpowered, tied up and taken? Maybe what turns you on the most is the thought of being watched. Or maybe what gets every nerve in your body tingling is the idea of a slow and sensual erotic massage. It doesn’t matter what your fantasy is; it’s yours, so own it and use it to help get yourself in that juicy mind frame before the action starts.

Whether you have a very specific fantasy or not, one that really gets you in the mood for sexy times, reading erotica can take you farther into that mysterious place that makes you hot and bothered and it can help you realize that other things you’d never thought of can really push your buttons. By choosing either themed or more general erotica, anthologies are a great way to either target your specific fantasies or open you up to the incredibly wide scope of what turns people on.

Once the sexual energy is flowing, if you’re a fan of nipple stimulation, go ahead and try some nipple clips. If you’re starting out get adjustable ones that will take you from light to heavy pressure. You can even get vibrating nipple clamps for added sensation.

I love rabbit style vibes, vibes that provide simultaneous internal and clitoral stimulation, but for some, anatomy can make hitting on the perfect one for you challenging. The easy way around that, and one that provides greater versatility, is using a clit vibe in tandem with a dildo or a separate vibrator, one that hits your g-spot is even better. It may require two hands but it’s definitely worth the extra effort. Also, and this is true for me, after a while, you may not particularly need thrusting, but just love the feeling of fullness you get with a dildo or vibe in place. Giving your vaginal muscles something to grasp and squeeze against when orgasming tends to pump up the power.

So your head’s in the right place, you’re merrily buzzing along feeling those amazing sensations in and around you clitoris, you have a dildo inside that you can contract your muscles around bringing you closer and closer — what else could you do to make this even better? Well, here’s where I like to go for the trifecta and make use of a butt plug.

You can start your session out by inserting the plug of your choice, and with the amazing variety of butt plugs out there, you’re sure to find one that’s just right for you, or you can add one after you’ve warmed up a bit. The feeling of being filled, back and front, is truly one I adore. If you’ve ever had double penetration fantasies, this is a great, safe way to experience those sensations.

Using sex toys is one way to take your orgasms from great to un-freaking-believable. Take your time, give these techniques a go when you’re not rushed and can really relax into the sensations, try adding one toy at a time, and remember you can try these with a partner too. There’s no reason not to add a clit vibe or a butt plug when you’re having sex with your partner.

Whatever you decide to try, let’s all applaud orgasms. Orgasms relieve stress, help you sleep better and heal faster. They’re a form of natural pain management and can help you lose weight, both my burning calories and curbing craving, and they increase blood flow keeping you looking younger and glowingly healthy. Simply put: orgasms rock. Yay, orgasms!

Categories
Articles

Brick & Mortar Sex Shops (America)

 

Independent Sex Toy shops have thankfully become much more prevalent across America. These stores make buying sex toys easy, shameless and educational which makes it possible for women and couples who might not have felt comfortable shopping in the back alley sex shops that used to be the only options

Good Vibrations was the first to create a “woman friendly” sex shop and kicked off a revolution that made shopping for sexual accoutrements mainstream. Good Vibes (as it’s affectionally known) has stores in San Francisco, Boston

Pleasure Chest has stores in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles

Sugar – in Baltimore

The Tool Shed is in Milwaukee, WI  and has the right “tools” for the job!

Categories
Articles

“That” Question

“So, what did you say you do for a living?”

That question, no matter how many times I’ve heard it, always makes my heart skip a beat. It is not a simple question to answer and only opens up a torrent of other questions inside my head, which causes me to pause. And the pause rarely goes unnoticed. Who doesn’t know how to explain what they do for a living?

My answer depends a lot on those other internal questions: How long have I known this person? What is the context in which they know me? Do they appear open minded? Is an honest answer going to change the way they interact with me? Is this going to out-right freak them out?

My experience of sharing honestly has varied considerably. I have certainly had positive experiences, but I have frequently been surprised by those that I thought would take it in stride but instead become offended, even disgusted. All too often I have felt sad at how the declaration of my career choice has derailed a conversation or friendship that otherwise began very well.

My having moved much more into the education realm has admittedly made my response more palatable to others. Hearing “sexuality educator” is very different than “professional dominatrix.” The individual might not really know what I mean by either phrase, but the former is certainly less intimidating than the latter. Regardless, deciding how to respond to this innocuous – but oh so bothersome! – question remains a difficult decision for me every time.

Frankly, either way I answer feels like I’m going to get screwed (and not in the fun way). If I lie, then I’m not being true to myself; I am not presenting the proud professional pervert that I actually am. I am proud of my life, my accomplishments, and the incredibly intimate and amazing experiences I’ve shared with so many in the kink community. But, on the other hand, if I tell the truth, then I have to see that “look.” The same look that everyone gets, whether they accept/approve of what I do or not. The look that says: “What the F*ck?! Really? YOU?!” The look that illustrates the shocking incongruity: this nice “normal” person does, um, illicit things for a living.

I have lied, many times actually. My usual answer is that I do “website and new media development,” which is both sufficiently vague yet accurate. If they probe deeper, then I say that I own my own business; that I have a tech person that handles the actual building of the sites, and I serve as the PR person and general manager of the business. Um, yeah.

Every time I say that half-truth, my heart hurts for a moment. But sometimes an honest response is just not appropriate given the time constraints (if I’m on an airplane and don’t want to spend the flight giving a kink 101 class). Other times I know that I’m going to be interacting with the person out in the “real” world, and it’s just not worth disturbing their image of me. But when the opportunity presents itself, and I sense that the person who asked the question – the inquiry that has become “THAT” question in my life – might be open to the real answer; then I take the plunge. I say it. And though my heart skips yet another beat, and I can’t help but (still) be a bit anxious about their response, I feel proud that I have stood up and spoken my truth.

Categories
Articles

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.”

Categories
Articles

Information for Sexuality Professionals

This site is going to be a resource for sex educators & aspiring sex educators (as well as sexuality therapists & researchers + social workers with a focus on sexuality & gender)

I am working on the back end now, so in the meantime please follow the twitter account @BeASexEduator for updates. I’m hoping to launch the site officially in the next few months.

Information such as reading lists, book reviews, bibliographies and websites will all be featured. What kind of information would you like to see here? Please comment below so we can get a good idea of how ya’ll would like to use this site and I will implement your suggestions into the design.

This site is being produced by Erotication.com