Article

From "SSC" and "RACK" to the "4Cs" : Introducing a New Framework for Negotiating BDSM Participation

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Abstract

The BDSM (consensual sadomasochism) community has commonly utilized Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC), or more recently Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) as basic frameworks to help structure the negotiation of BDSM participation. While these approaches have been useful, particularly for educating new participants concerning parameters of play, both approaches appear to have significant practical and conceptual limitations. In this paper we introduce an alternative framework for BDSM negotiation, Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution (4Cs), and discuss its potential advantages.

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... Although this story remains within the heroic imaginary, which is linked to typical masculine role of being "action oriented" (Wetherell & Edley, 1999), by situating through ethical principles (Anapol, 2010) it facilitated the deconstruction of "protective but not caring." This view resonates with available frameworks for BDSM negotiation like the 4Cs (Caring, Communication, Consent and Caution) introduced by Williams et al. (2014) to describe care as a central pillar of BDSM practices. The two non-exclusive heterosexuals were both involved into BDSM practices, open relationships and were comfortable with same-gender sexual acts, regarded as "practices" to try after discovering anal masturbation. ...
... Diverse imaginaries of masculinities can support and create new stories within relationships, the present study suggest that signifying the idea of "protection" as "Care" (Gusmano, 2019b) might enhance positive and reflexive masculinities for those men who "Enhanced the Label" of masculinity resisting hegemonic models. Expanding the principle of "Communication" (Williams et al., 2014) was most useful for the Bi+ men who constructed gender as "Going Beyond Categories," since they had to negotiate not only CNM relationship agreements but their desires to more than one gender as a way to achieve a Bi+ and/or queer identity. Encountering and developing CNM relationships and desires strengthened the principle of "Consent" (Williams et al., 2014) by challenging the predatory model of masculinity which sees men as a biologically driven sex machine (Bertone & Ferrero-Camoletto, 2009). ...
... Expanding the principle of "Communication" (Williams et al., 2014) was most useful for the Bi+ men who constructed gender as "Going Beyond Categories," since they had to negotiate not only CNM relationship agreements but their desires to more than one gender as a way to achieve a Bi+ and/or queer identity. Encountering and developing CNM relationships and desires strengthened the principle of "Consent" (Williams et al., 2014) by challenging the predatory model of masculinity which sees men as a biologically driven sex machine (Bertone & Ferrero-Camoletto, 2009). ...
Article
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The stories we tell about our identities and sexual orientations shape how we perform gendered scripts and negotiate relationships with significant others. Previous literature inquired the styles and outcomes of consensual non-monogamous (CNM) relationships, but more research is need on how CNM men resist or abide to hegemonic models of masculinity. To understand how constructions of masculinity and conceptualizations of sexual orientation are embedded in CNMs, the study analysed the stories of non-monogamous Bi+ and heterosexual men. Following a critical narrative approach, the study inquired the diverse conceptualizations of masculinity, sexual orientation and relationship practices in the narratives of 20 non-monogamous Bi+ and heterosexual identified men. The semi-structured in-depth narrative interviews (105 min on average) were analyzed via Nvivo 12 and explored their stories of desire and the sense-making process of being sexually oriented to one or more genders and to one or more partner/s. Engaging in non-monogamy was signified as a relevant insight from their personal stories and/or from adopting new concepts of desire beyond the “love as a zero-sum game.” The latter theme was also shared by many heterosexual participants that, when negotiating a non-monogamous agreement, signified their attractions to more than one person as part of their personal identity. Finally, the paper discusses how non-monogamous spaces can offer a positive and safe space for bisexuals/Bi+ people to explore and reaffirm their identities, constantly challenged by biphobia, invisibility, and erasure. Experiences and stories of Italian cisgender Bi+ and heterosexual men cannot be generalized to the whole spectrum of masculinities within CNM spaces, and the study lacks how other gendered and sexual subjectivities construct masculinity. Diverse stories and construction of sexuality and gender can lead to similar relationship preferences and understanding how we signify them can greatly improve our understanding of intimacies.
... Consent lies at the "heart" of BDSM activities (Williams et al, 2014). While there "are a variety of S&M worlds", and "tremendous diversity among groups as well as individuals in terms of their preferences and tastes", there are also clear "commonalities" (Weinberg, 1995, p. 290). ...
... The conception of a "sexual culture" reflects the points of connection across the BDSM subcultures around issues such as "establish[ed] codes of behaviour' and 'system[s] of shared meanings" (Sisson, 2007, p. 25). Consent is a central connecting concept with the BDSM sexual culture and is reflected in the various community mantras that guide BDSM activities such as SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual), RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink), and the newlyproposed 4Cs (Caring, Communication, Consent and Caution) (Williams et al, 2014). The BDSM sexual culture has also developed practical mechanisms around consent that are "de rigueur" for BDSM participants to utilize, and these include negotiations, safewords and aftercare (Sisson, 2007, p. 26 Negotiations BDSM participants will typically communicate about consent prior to engaging in BDSM activities. ...
... Negotiations will typically cover issues such as a general outline of the activities to be engaged in, each participants' "limits" (what they are unwilling to engage in), the kinds of activities they enjoy, any relevant health issues that may impact on the activities, and the setting of a safeword (Beres & MacDonald, 2015;Haviv, 2016;Holt;Kaak, 2016). Negotiations are considered "an important part of establishing a relationship" between BDSM participants (Moser & Kleinplatz, 2007, p. 38) and are a predicate of what the BDSM sexual culture considers "[a]cceptable BDSM" (Williams et al, 2014). Negotiations will generally be more in-depth and prolonged where participants have not played with each other before and may be less formal or truncated where participants have a shared history of negotiated play, for example when the participants are in an ongoing relationship (Newmahr, 2011, p. 75). ...
... The 4Cs negotiation framework of Caring, Communication, Caution, and Consent (Williams et al., 2014) emphasizes the importance of caring to BDSM. The framework's originators proposed it in part to emphasize elements of caring and communication, which were not specified in the previous Safe Sane Consensual (SSC) or Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) frameworks. ...
... The framework's originators proposed it in part to emphasize elements of caring and communication, which were not specified in the previous Safe Sane Consensual (SSC) or Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) frameworks. Williams et al. (2014) argued that caring provides many benefits. It motivates the establishment of alternative communities, "creates safety, trust, and respect for our partners" (p. ...
... Kohlberg (1971) framed morality as the ability to independently make moral judgements free from the influence of emotion. Gilligan's (1982) feminist ethic of care, in contrast, views moral decisions as subjective and relational, and accounts for multiple ways of understanding (Williams et al., 2014). Caring is reflected in the attitudes of BDSM practitioners with regard to oppression. ...
... Although this story remains within the heroic imaginary, which is linked to typical masculine role of being "action oriented" (Wetherell & Edley, 1999), by situating through ethical principles (Anapol, 2010) it facilitated the deconstruction of "protective but not caring." This view resonates with available frameworks for BDSM negotiation like the 4Cs (Caring, Communication, Consent and Caution) introduced by Williams et al. (2014) to describe care as a central pillar of BDSM practices. The two non-exclusive heterosexuals were both involved into BDSM practices, open relationships and were comfortable with same-gender sexual acts, regarded as "practices" to try after discovering anal masturbation. ...
... Diverse imaginaries of masculinities can support and create new stories within relationships, the present study suggest that signifying the idea of "protection" as "Care" (Gusmano, 2019b) might enhance positive and reflexive masculinities for those men who "Enhanced the Label" of masculinity resisting hegemonic models. Expanding the principle of "Communication" (Williams et al., 2014) was most useful for the Bi+ men who constructed gender as "Going Beyond Categories," since they had to negotiate not only CNM relationship agreements but their desires to more than one gender as a way to achieve a Bi+ and/or queer identity. Encountering and developing CNM relationships and desires strengthened the principle of "Consent" (Williams et al., 2014) by challenging the predatory model of masculinity which sees men as a biologically driven sex machine (Bertone & Ferrero-Camoletto, 2009). ...
... Expanding the principle of "Communication" (Williams et al., 2014) was most useful for the Bi+ men who constructed gender as "Going Beyond Categories," since they had to negotiate not only CNM relationship agreements but their desires to more than one gender as a way to achieve a Bi+ and/or queer identity. Encountering and developing CNM relationships and desires strengthened the principle of "Consent" (Williams et al., 2014) by challenging the predatory model of masculinity which sees men as a biologically driven sex machine (Bertone & Ferrero-Camoletto, 2009). ...
... BDSM relationships can be strictly negotiated and specified with a determined end date/time, or long term with an ongoing dynamic. No matter the temporary or permanent nature of the relationship itself, activities are still typically conducted in a safe, negotiated space over a specific period (Williams, Thomas, Porter, & Christensen, 2014). Long, formal activity sessions where two or more people come together in a planned session to practice BDSM are known as scenes while the actual practice, use of tools, and use of skill related to BDSM activities conducted within the scene is known as play (Popp & Kaldera, 2014;Wiseman, 1996). ...
... The Kink community adopted their own set of principles that represent the core values, which include consent, negotiation, safety and risk reduction, communication, and aftercare (Taormino, 2012). A common phrase to encompass these values within the Kink community is the motto of "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" (Williams et al., 2014). Of these values, the one of highest importance is that of consent (Jozifkova, 2013;Tripodi, 2017;Williams et al., 2014). ...
... A common phrase to encompass these values within the Kink community is the motto of "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" (Williams et al., 2014). Of these values, the one of highest importance is that of consent (Jozifkova, 2013;Tripodi, 2017;Williams et al., 2014). ...
Article
This article reports a Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) analysis of the experiences of 12 participants who identified as LGB and received counseling that addressed religious/spiritual foci. Participants identified two primary and intersecting themes including an increased sense of agency and locus of control, as well as increased cognitive flexibility. Additional subthemes included manifestation of agency and locus of control intrapersonally, interpersonally, and globally. Subthemes of cognitive flexibility were also identified intrapersonally, interpersonally, and globally. Implications are discussed for counseling, counselor education, and future research.
... The importance of consent is exemplified by mottos the BDSM community has adopted, such as "Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC)" and "Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)." These mottos serve as frameworks for BDSM participation and are useful for educating new practitioners in what is acceptable behavior (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). More recently, Williams and colleagues (2014) introduced an alternative framework for BDSM negotiation and education that addresses some of the practical and conceptual limitations of SSC and RACK: "Caring, Communication,Consent,and Caution (4Cs)." ...
... Safety precautions, such as negotiation and safewords, are of paramount importance in the practice of healthy BDSM. Acceptable BDSM is predicated on thorough negotiation (Williams et al., 2014): the process of establishing consent and communicating boundaries. Negotiation represents an integral precursor to any BDSM scene or power-exchange relationship (Langdridge, 2007;Moser & Kleinplatz, 2007). ...
... Aftercare is generally viewed as an important aspect of play by both the Top and Bottom and provides an opportunity to discuss any misunderstandings or problems that may have arisen during the scene (Holt, 2016). Although more formal negotiation takes place prior to a scene, ongoing communication is important during and after a scene (Holt, 2016;Williams et al., 2014). Prior research has found that good communication is a key ingredient to a positive BDSM relationship (Cutler, 2003;Harrington & Williams, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Consent represents a central focus in the controversial realm of BDSM—an overlapping acronym referring to the practices of Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism. Many authors have argued that the hallmark feature that distinguishes BDSM activity from abuse and psychopathology is the presence of mutual informed consent of all those involved. This review examines the relevant literature on consent in BDSM, including discussions on safety precautions, consent violations, North American laws pertaining to BDSM practice, and the role of the BDSM community with respect to education and etiquette surrounding consent. Practical information relevant to professionals who work toward the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse is provided. The explicit approach to consent practiced by those in the BDSM community is proposed as a model for discussions around consent in clinical and educational contexts. Criteria for distinguishing abuse from BDSM and identifying abuse within BDSM relationships are outlined. It is our hope to demystify the consent process and add to the growing body of literature that destigmatizes consensual BDSM practices.
... In viewing sexual consent as having a number of components such as desire and willingness to engage in the behavior, Williams et al. (2014) considered yet another component: value or expected outcome. This is particularly salient because one often consents to activities not having had the benefit of hindsight to know how they will turn out. ...
... This is easily understood by considering the example of BDSM/Kink. Williams et al. (2014) considered consent in this context on three levels: Surface consent (i.e., the verbal yes or no to engage in activity), scene consent (consenting to and negotiating the mechanics of in-scene communication), and deep consent. For Williams et al., deep consent encompasses an awareness of the deeper, unknown psychological aspects of an activity-that will only be available to analyze and discuss in hindsight, after the scene is complete. ...
Article
Consent to sex is a topic of much research, particularly with the goal of optimizing sex education for youth, college students, and military service personnel. Sex educators have tended to err on the side of clear and concise definitions of consent for ease of instruction. However, the sexual science literature has steadily shown that the navigation of consent to sexuality activity is much more nuanced, situated and contextual. When consent is conceptualized as a yes or no answer to particular sexual acts or sexual activity altogether, it overlooks the dynamic nature of how people experience consenting. This article examines consent in the sexual science research literature and then considers these findings through the lens of some of the contributions of phenomenological philosophy. We then discuss the experience of consent as a dialogic process that can lead to moments of transcendence of the self and deep reverence for the other, despite some moments of lack of clarity or ambiguity within the same sexual act.
... Such tools can be and are applied in the practicing of consensual communication outside of the kink context (Twist, 2021). One such tool is the 4Cs framework (Williams et al., 2014), which as a consent communication tool is a good fit for sharing with youth in secondary schooling and/or in the developmental stage of adolescence. The 4Cs framework details the following practices as necessary to agree to and follow in order to have more consensual exchanges: 1) being caring before, during, and after said exchange, 2) clear communication, 3) grounding and centering the exchange around consent, and 4) practicing caution as such exchanges often exist along a continuum from an enthusiastic yes to a cautious maybe to a hard no (Williams et al., 2014). ...
... One such tool is the 4Cs framework (Williams et al., 2014), which as a consent communication tool is a good fit for sharing with youth in secondary schooling and/or in the developmental stage of adolescence. The 4Cs framework details the following practices as necessary to agree to and follow in order to have more consensual exchanges: 1) being caring before, during, and after said exchange, 2) clear communication, 3) grounding and centering the exchange around consent, and 4) practicing caution as such exchanges often exist along a continuum from an enthusiastic yes to a cautious maybe to a hard no (Williams et al., 2014). ...
... Because consent is so important to the BDSM community, kinksters have debated the nature of true consent and concluded that it is an agreement generated between informed adults absent coercion (Barker, 2013;Pitagora, 2013;Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014) and used consent to distinguish kinky sex from abuse (Kieran & Sheff, 2016;Ortmann & Sprott, 2013). Consent is a key element of power exchange in which kinksters negotiate transferring personal power from one person to another and underlies both mottos of kink communities both "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" (SSC) and "Risk Aware Consensual Kink" (Williams et al., 2014, p. 2; see also Downing, 2007). ...
... The woman was upset, feeling embarrassed and violated by an action she decided she did not actually want to endure. This case highlights the complexity of consent in kinky sex (Pitagora, 2013;Williams et al., 2014). The man thought he had established consent when she said "I want you to Trump me," and the woman apparently did not think she had given consent for that action to occur in that moment, in a crowded public space with onlookers who were not aware of their negotiation. ...
Article
Full-text available
This commentary begins by describing the author’s research and expert witness practice serving sex and gender minorities, especially practitioners of BDSM/kinky sex. Then, it reviews the three most common reasons that BDSM is legally prosecuted. First, consent: was this assault, rape, and/or kidnapping, or was it consensual kinky sex that either got out of hand or is now being strategically employed to punish the other partner? Second, age play: was this adult trying to have sex with children or was he (and it is virtually always men) intending to age play with an adult who is pretending to be an adolescent? Third, death by kinky sex: was this a person who murdered their lover or was this an accidental death? Finally, this article concludes with recommendations for kinksters who wish to assure consent and safe play, and for litigators involved in the prosecution of kinky sex.
... Sometimes, the phrase "risk aware consensual kink" (RACK) is used in place of SSC to guide communication and negotiation of potential BDSM activities. More recently, scholars have discussed the advantages of a framework focusing on "communication, consent, caring, and caution" (4Cs) to structure communication and negotiation among BDSM participants (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). ...
... Healthy experiences are dependent on sufficient personal awareness and careful negotiation among participants. Thus, when social workers encounter problematic BDSM encounters reported by clients, they should explore how the experience was structured based on a negotiation framework such as the 4Cs (Williams et al., 2014) mentioned earlier. ...
... This consent is obtained before and throughout each play encounter, or scene, and is subject to revocation or amendment at any time (Fanghanel, 2019). The two most commonly referenced frameworks of consent originating within the BDSM community are "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" (SSC) and "Risk Aware Consensual Kink" (RACK) (Williams, Thomas, & Prior, 2014). Both SSC and RACK focus on consent and safety/risk awareness, although many individuals have discontinued the SSC terminology with concerns that the term "sane" pathologizes those individuals who practice BDSM who currently face or have a history of mental illness. ...
... There are three distinct levels of consent: surface, scene, and deep consent (Williams et al., 2014). Surface level consent is illustrated by the initial "yes, I'm interested" or "no, I'm not" when a scene is first propositioned and occurs before the specific details of the scene are negotiated. ...
Article
Full-text available
BDSM is an overlapping acronym that includes bondage and discipline (BD), dominance and submission (DS), and sadism and masochism (SM). Over the past few years, kink culture and BDSM practices have become more prevalent in the mainstream culture. Kink is an umbrella term used to describe BDSM practices and paraphilias (Popp & Kaldera, 2014), kinky sex, role play, sex games, fantasies, fetishes, and other erotic expressions (Taormino, 2012). Although kink and BDSM represent exclusive terms, many individuals use them interchangeably (Taormino, 2012). The authors of this practice brief use the term kink culture to refer to the community as a whole while specifying when topics are specific to individuals who practice BDSM.
... Within the context of D/s relationships, the concept of consent is complex, nuanced, and sometimes ambiguous (Barker 2013;Beres and MacDonald 2015;Fanghanel 2019;Tsaros 2013). Williams et al. (2014) proposed that BDSM practitioners conceptualize consent according to three levels: surface consent, scene consent, and deep consent. At the surface consent level, consent is fairly simple; a question is asked and then "no means no" and "yes means yes". ...
... Or, consent can be applied with a broader meaning, as in consensual nonconsent, or "the illusion of suspended consent in order to facilitate erotic power play" (Tsaros 2013). As mentioned earlier, when considering consent in the context of BDSM, it can be helpful to think of the three levels: surface consent, scene consent, and deep consent (Williams et al. 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Identities shape how people make sense of their world. Overlapping identities create borderlands fraught with tension and oppression in which individuals struggle to avoid blaming, hating, and terrorizing themselves or others when viewed as wrong/other. Women who are feminist and submissive can experience polyrhythmic realities if beliefs about feminism contradict beliefs about submission, and vice versa. In Dominance/submission relationships, the Dominant partner takes psychological and/or physical control over their submissive partner. Some people perceive this as incompatible with feminist values. Dominance/submission relationships are seen as inherently unequal, even when the submissive partner has chosen to allow their Dominant partner to make decisions and establish expectations for their conduct and behavior. Recent scholarship has explored BDSM through diverse feminist lenses, including a radical feminism, postcolonialism, sex-critical approaches and Black female sexualities. In online forums, women have discussed their challenges navigating feminist and submissive identities, yet little is known about how researchers have addressed these identity dilemmas. The purpose of this structured literature review is to examine the scholarly literature on women in the BDSM community who identify as both feminist and submissive and how they perceive and navigate those intersecting identities. Three themes emerged: agency, power, and consent as feminist constructs; normalization of BDSM; and reconciliation of feminist and submissive identities. Implications and areas for future research are offered.
... Research describes the centrality of consent within kink communities with most kink clubs, conferences, and other community spaces placing a strong emphasis on safety and consent (Weinberg, 2006), including providing workshops for community members that highlight community-defined boundaries for safety and consent (Newmahr, 2011). Many authors have argued that the hallmark feature distinguishing kink activity from abuse and psychopathology is the presence of mutual informed consent of all those involved, as exemplified by the community mottos of Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC), and more recently Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) and Consent, Communication, Caring and Caution (4Cs) (Dunkley & Brotto, 2019;Williams et al., 2014). However, in a U.S.-based sample, 29% of kink practitioners described experiencing consent violations, and 30% described being touched without prior consent within a kink context (Wright et al., 2015). ...
Article
Kink practitioners are marginalized and experience adverse health and social outcomes, which are exacerbated by consent violations. This study aims to understand experiences of reporting consent violations within a kink context. Kink practitioners ( N = 2,888) completed a survey focused on consent violations, reporting, and recommendations, with 767 (25.56%) of them reporting consent violations in the kink context. The type of consent violation (sexual assault or kink-related behaviors), disclosure, and reporting significantly differed based on gender, sexual orientation, and injury status, but not age. Additionally, recommended steps included avoidance of police and others in positions of power and increased accountability.
... Kinksters-those who identify with kink sexuality-are intentionally focused on ensuring consent, safety and risk awareness. A contemporary expression of these attitudes and approaches is found in the 4C's approach, which emphasizes Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution as a framework for BDSM negotiation (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). This emphasis on clear, spoken agreements between participants of what is allowed and what is out of bounds, is what makes BDSM activity clearly distinquishable from pathological, non-consensual, criminal sexual acts (Balon, 2013;Connan, 2010;Newmahr, 2010;Peoples & Meyer Stewart, 2017). ...
... Based on the experiences of our three TMSM participants that were narrated in our case studies, deliberate partner negotiations prior to kinky sex foster clearer communication, establish explicit consent, and build trust, which are all important tactics that could be employed, in addition to the other risk-mitigating strategies that have been more traditionally perpetuated by CMSM-focused HIV services and programs such as the promotion of HIV status disclosure, condom use, and PrEP use [1,8,9,62]. In the last two decades, deliberate negotiations, clearer communication, explicit consent, and the forging of trust have gradually been entrenched and deeply embedded as part of evolving frameworks (i.e., safe, sane, and consensual (SSC); risk aware consensual kink (RACK); and caring, communication, consent, and caution (4cs)) that have informed and helped establish the culture and norms of BDSM, role playing, and other forms of kinky sex [74][75][76]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Growing research in the last two decades has begun to investigate the HIV risks and sexual health practices of transgender men, especially as a subpopulation of men who have sex with men (MSM) that likely shares certain HIV risks and sexual health practices with cisgender MSM, the sociodemographic group that continues to be at highest risk for HIV in many developed countries since the start of the epidemic. As part of our Community-Based Participatory Research project and larger strengths-based qualitative study that was dedicated to examine multiple factors that promote resilience to HIV utilizing the perspectives and lived experiences of middle-aged and older MSM, the case studies we present in this article feature the distinct insights and experiences of three HIV-negative transgender MSM from Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who participated in our one-on-one interviews. The three case studies provide not only an enlightening snapshot of some of the specific contexts, HIV risks, safer sex practices, and HIV prevention needs of transgender MSM, but also a unique opportunity to critically reflect on the potential implications of the insights and experiences that were shared by our participants, particularly for adapting and developing current and future HIV services and programs to maximally benefit transgender MSM.
... Many scholars and non-academic community members alike claim consent is the defining line between BDSM and abuse [1]. This emphasis is typified through community mottos such as Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC) and Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) which guide responsible conduct and emphasize knowledge and skill building [5]. However, despite their emphasis on consent, formalized kink communities are not free of consent violations and sexual violence. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Alt-sex practitioners are a diverse group with diverse unconventional sexual behaviors including consensual non-monogamy (CNM), kink, fetishism, and bondage/discipline dominance/submission, sadomasochism (BDSM). Perhaps because of their openness to non-normative sexuality, these communities often comprise a large proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, among others (LGBTQ+) individuals. LGBTQ+ individuals experience higher rates of sexual violence and consent violation than their cisgender, heterosexual peers both inside and outside of formalized alt-sex communities. Pleasure, including but not limited to sexual pleasure, is often a motivator for engaging in sexual and alt-sex activities. This study examines how consent violations influence pleasure among LGBTQ+ alt-sex members. Methods: We conducted an electronic one-time survey of LGBTQ+ alt-sex practitioners (N = 1354). In this study, we analyze open-ended responses for ways pleasure was described in response to questions about consent violations. We use thematic analyses in Dedoose online software. Results: Two subthemes emerged related to the violation itself, (a) pleasure as a motivator for violating consent and (b) pleasure in spite of consent violation. As the second theme that emerged, pleasure was a component of the aftereffects of the violation in two ways: (1) pleasure was reduced or inhibited by consent violations; (2) pleasure was a motivator for healing and advocacy. Conclusions: We discuss practical and research implications based on the complex relationships between violations and pleasure reported by participants.
... Acknowledging the multidimensionality of sexual thoughts also enables practitioners, in collaboration with the client, to consider the implications of the different thought elements, holistically, for the client's life and behavior. For example, the potential personal and social benefits and negative impacts for that particular client of having a thought with these collective elements at this point in their life, whether or not they would like to enact a thought with these collective elements, and if so, for thoughts involving adults, whether they could do so ethically (e.g., individuals wishing to enact the Dominance and submission type could follow kink community guidelines; Williams et al., 2014). Based on these considerations, the various elements within the thought might be less or more "risky" for a particular individual. ...
Article
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We identify and examine three assumptions underpinning “sexual deviance” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders: (1) the “sexual deviant” – often, “the male sex offender” – prefers “deviant,” and has limited (if any) “non-deviant,” sexual fantasies; (2) this differentiates them from the non-sexual-/non-offending “norm”; (3) preferred fantasies are “deviant” or “non-deviant.” Adult volunteers (N = 279; equal numbers of sexual offending [SO], non-sexual offending [NSO] and non-offending [NO] men) provided anonymous descriptions of their favorite sexual thought and responses to a revised Wilson Sex Fantasy Questionnaire during a wider computerized survey of 6,289 men from prison and the community. Latent class analysis identified five types of favorite sexual thought; vaginal/oral sex with 1+ woman was commonest for SO men and the WSFQ findings supported this – challenging the first assumption. Both SO and NO men were over-represented for thought types considered “deviant” by the DSM – tempering the second assumption – although SO men were over-represented for thoughts involving children specifically. All thought types were multidimensional; none included solely elements considered “deviant” by the DSM – contesting the third assumption. Notions of the “sexual deviant” as “different”/“other” may underpin these assumptions, potentially negatively impacting research, therapy and understanding sexual crime.
... Safety is a major topic of discussion within the kink community and goes far beyond concerns around disease. For kinksters, to be safe is to have clear and open communication, sensitivity towards each partner's thresholds, to approach sex with a sense of care, and to always be cautious (Williams et al., 2014). Play is also a common term to describe different kinky practices, as Justin (25, NZ) demonstrates here: ...
Article
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This article explores the ways gay and queer men employ the concept of 'play' in relation to sex. Using Judith Butler's theory of performativity to analyse the experiences of 16 individuals from Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia who identified as a gay and/or queer man or a member of the gay community, I present how my participants used 'play' to refer to casual and/or kinky sexual encounters, describe certain safer sex practices, and delineate the difference between queer and straight sexual identities. 'Playing' also involved a range of personally cultivated rules connected to the pursuit of well-being. When these rules were broken, the activity no longer felt 'playful' and became risky for some. 'Play' was ultimately a way for my participants to discuss how risk, pleasure, desire, identity, relationships, and personal well-being related to sexual practices.
... The use of alcohol and other drugs within a kink context is much less frequently discussed. One reason for this is the stringent focus on safety, consent and control of many kink communities, whether through the most well-known phrase "safe, sane and consensual" (Williams et al. 2014) or other more recent adaptions, such as "risk aware consensual kink" and the "4Cs" framework (consent, communication, caring and caution) (see Wignall, 2020). Within these frameworks, excessive consumption of alcohol or other drugs and the resulting loss of self control could be seen as threats to these rules-most notably of safety, given that some psychoactive drugs may lower inhibitions, change perceptions and affect the ability to fully and freely provide informed consent, putting oneself and other people at risk in such a context. ...
Article
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Little is known about the other leisure activities of people who engage in kink, including sexual practices and the use of alcohol and other drugs. This article examines the drinking, illicit drug use and sexual practices of people who engage in kink from a novel sample of attendees at an English festival. Of 966 respondents, 64 reported having engaged in kink within the past 12 months. We provide evidence of these respondents’ self-reported demographic characteristics, alcohol and other drug use in their lifetime and within the past 12 months, as well as other sexual practices they engaged in. This study illustrates the value of accessing participants through in situ festival fieldwork to understand kink practices, and helps us move beyond notions of clustered risky activities toward a leisure studies approach to understanding the practices of people who engage in kink.
... Emphasizing this, kink subcultures often have sophisticated rules and social norms, such as how to interact with others in kink environments (e.g., Bauer, 2014;Stiles & Clark, 2011); limitations on how one can gain access and membership to a subculture (Rubin, 1981;Weinberg, 2006); particular notions of how kink should be practiced (Downing, 2007;Williams et al., 2014); and debates around the boundaries what is considered kink (Damm et al., 2018;Simula, 2019a). Such protocols and restrictions relating to kink subcultures and ways of practicing kink were often labeled "Old Guard" with more recent examples of kink subcultures forming the "New Guard." ...
Article
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This study presents findings from a community survey on pup play. Pup play is a kink activity and a form of role play that is growing in popularity internationally, and gaining increasing attention in sexology, yet prior research on pup play has almost entirely employed qualitative methods and primarily involved gay and bisexual men. Using survey data of 733 pup play participants primarily from the US, but also internationally, this study reports on the demographics of participants, how they engage in pup play, its social and sexual elements, and how it relates to social identity and mental health. Unique pup names and identifying with breeds of dogs were used to foster a sense of individuality within pup play, while the majority of participants owned and wore gear when engaging in pup play. We also found significant associations between being younger and identifying as a pup. Most participants reported that pup play improved their mental health. Binary logistic regression analyses indicated that having a mental health diagnosis was associated with identifying with a more social style of pup play and self-reporting the mental health benefits of pup play. We find that the conceptualization of pup play in the existing literature to be accurate to this international sample and highlight areas where further research is needed, alongside limitations of the study.
... Not all consent violations that occur within an alt-sex context are intentional (Dunkley & Brotto, 2019), and certain types of play should be approached with increased caution (Williams et al., 2014). However, when participants were asked about the reasons behind their most recent consent violation, they most frequently reported: a perceived selfishness or carelessness (23%), getting caught up in the moment or lack of self-control (16%), manipulation (12%), or relationship abuse (10%) on the part of the violator. ...
Article
Background As behaviors, alternative sexual (alt-sex) (i.e., kink, bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism , consensual non-monogamy, swinging, leather, and fetish practices) practitioners often emphasize that consent and boundaries are key elements of alt-sex activities. Despite these emphases, individuals experience consent violations and sexual assault both prior to engaging and during their involvement in alt-sex activities. Purpose This study examines alt-sex practitioners’ sexual assault and nonconsensual experiences in order to highlight potential means of intervention and prevention, as well as inform clinical and legal professionals. Methods In collaboration with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, this study uses an international survey of adults in alt-sex communities ( N = 2996) to examine sexual assault and nonconsensual experiences both within and outside of alt-sex contexts. Results We found a lower rate of consent violations in the alt-sex community (26%) compared to sexual assault as an adult outside of alt-sex contexts (34%) and sexual assault as a minor (40%). We found significant differences by groups in sexual assault as a minor (gender, sexual orientation, age, and live in the US or not), sexual assault outside of alt-sex contexts (gender, sexual orientation, and age), nonconsensual experiences in alt-sex contexts (gender, sexual orientation, age, and race), receiving nonconsensual touch in alt-sex contexts (gender, sexual orientation, and age), giving nonconsensual touch in alt-sex contexts (sexual orientation, age, living in the US or not, and race), and being falsely accused of nonconsensual touching in alt-sex contexts (gender, age, and living in the US or not). Within the most recent consent violation, the most common behaviors were non-kink related, except for lack of aftercare. Nearly 40% of participants reported the reasons for their most recent consent violation in alt-sex contexts were being selfish or caught up in the moment. Implications Focused interventions are needed to address how different populations are experiencing assault and violations in alt-sex contexts.
... BDSM practitioners emphasize the importance of pre-scene (i.e., pre-interaction) negotiations, hard (i.e., generalized and non-negotiable) and soft (i.e., context-specific and/or requiring further negotiation) limits of consent, and mutually agreed upon safe words that signify the end of affirmative consent (Wiseman, 1996). The importance of consent is exemplified by popular mottos of the BDSM community-"Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC)," "Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)", and "Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution (4Cs)" (Williams et al., 2014). These heuristics allow experienced practitioners to introduce curious and new practitioners to the community and affirmative sexual consent (Dunkley & Brotto, 2020). ...
Article
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As efforts to improve awareness and prevention of sexual assault increase, the importance of a workable definition of sexual consent becomes apparent. Affirmative sexual consent, often summarized as “yes means yes,” has been adopted by sexual assault prevention activists and much of popular culture, whereas legal policy and scientific pursuits seem to lag behind. For example, despite its importance for not only the prevention of sexual assault but also the facilitation of satisfying and meaningful relationships, affirmative sexual consent has not been subjected to a conceptual behavioral analysis. This article offers a behavioral conceptualization of affirmative sexual consent with specific implications for how consent is defined, what behaviors compose the response class of consent, and what contexts control those behaviors. Specifically, we propose that affirmative sexual consent as a functional response class involves tact–mand combinations of appetitive contingencies under appetitive control, shifting with the changing context. Action implications are provided for defining affirmative sexual consent, identifying the target behaviors that compose it, and setting the context for training those behaviors. It is our hope that this functional approach to affirmative sexual consent might provide a preliminary foundation for empirical and applied pursuits to move beyond “yes means yes.”
... as observed in other work (A. Brown et al., 2020;Ortmann & Sprott, 2013;Shahbaz & Chirinos, 2016;Weiss, 2006), the kink community enabled social support while socializing participants into the fundamentals of BDSM practice (Cascalheira et al., 2021), thereby allowing this sample to explore their trauma as risk-aware community members (Thomas, 2020;D. Williams et al., 2014). The community element paralleled the supportive relationships phase in the Arias and Johnson (2013) model of healing from childhood sexual abuse. Finally, participants in the present sample reported the transcendent quality of pain, which is consistently identified in the literature as a motivator for BDSM involvement (Labrecque et al. ...
Article
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Bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM; “kink”) are frequently pathologized as derivatives of abuse. Although the link is unsubstantiated, some kink-identified people who happen to be survivors of trauma may engage in kink, or trauma play, to heal from, cope with, and transform childhood abuse or adolescent maltreatment. The present study sought a thematic model (Braun & Clarke, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101, 2006) of trauma recovery through kink using a critical realist, inductive approach to inquiry. Participants were eligible if they had experienced early abuse, were adults, and practiced kink. Six superordinate themes were generated from semi-structured interviews with 20 participants from five countries: cultural context of healing (e.g. using BDSM norms and previous therapy to reframe kink and trauma), restructuring the self-concept (e.g. strengthening internal characteristics which had been harmed or distorted), liberation through relationship (e.g. learning to be valued by intimate others), reclaiming power (e.g. setting and maintaining personal boundaries), repurposing behaviors (e.g. engaging in aspects of prolonged exposure), and redefining pain (e.g. transcending painful memories through masochism). Notably, participants only reported retraumatizing experiences prior to learning about the structural safeguards of BDSM. Research and clinical implications are discussed by drawing on general models of trauma recovery.
... BDSM practitioners emphasize the importance of pre-scene (i.e., pre-interaction) negotiations, hard (i.e., generalized and non-negotiable) and soft (i.e., context-specific and/or requiring further negotiation) limits of consent, and mutually agreed upon safe words that signify the end of affirmative consent (Wiseman, 1996). The importance of consent is exemplified by popular mottos of the BDSM community-"Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC)," "Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)", and "Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution (4Cs)" (Williams et al., 2014). These heuristics allow experienced practitioners to introduce curious and new practitioners to the community and affirmative sexual consent (Dunkley & Brotto, 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
As efforts to improve awareness and prevention of sexual assault increase, the importance of a workable definition of sexual consent becomes apparent. Affirmative sexual consent, often summarized as “Yes Means Yes,” has been adopted by sexual assault prevention activists and much of popular culture, while legal policy and scientific pursuits seem to lag behind. For example, despite its importance for not only the prevention of sexual assault but also the facilitation of satisfying and meaningful relationships, affirmative sexual consent has not been subjected to a conceptual behavioral analysis. This paper offers a behavioral conceptualization of affirmative sexual consent with specific implications for how consent is defined, what behaviors comprise the response class of consent, and what contexts control those behaviors. Specifically, we propose affirmative sexual consent as a functional response class involves tact-mand combinations of appetitive contingencies under appetitive control, and shifting with the changing context. Action implications are provided for defining affirmative sexual consent, identifying the target behaviors that comprise it, and setting the context training those behaviors. It is our hope that this functional approach to affirmative sexual consent might provide a preliminary foundation for empirical and applied pursuits to move beyond “Yes Means Yes.”
... A newer model related to BDSM negotiationthe 4Csemphasizes these aspects even more clearly by outlining the constructs of Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution. 9 Most sexual health curricula focus on consent negotiation to prevent negative sexual health outcomes (e.g. unwanted sex, unintended pregnancies and STIs) rather than emphasizing pleasure. ...
Article
Sexual assault in higher education is a continuing concern. At the same time, college students are engaging in a range of consensual sexual behaviors that could appear to be sexual violence. Sexuality education on college campuses should address the spectrum of sexual behaviors and college health professionals and administrators need to be able to distinguish consensual rough sex from sexual violence. Common consent negotiations in BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) contexts may serve as an appropriate model for acquiring consent. This viewpoint article aims to (1) review the increased participation of college students in diverse sexual behaviors, and (2) introduce the consent process of BDSM as a framework for college health professionals to discuss consent for other sexual behaviors.
... Rubin, 1991;Sagarin et al., 2019), but still a way of establishing trust. While participants did not use SSC or RACK, their engagement in kink more closely reflected the 4Cs framework (Williams et al., 2014). Participants emphasized the importance of communication in kink; negotiated consent through describing their interests and limits; and were cautious in who they engaged in kink with. ...
Article
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Kink practitioners have adopted phrases, like “safe, sane and consensual” (SSC), to describe a non-pathological approach in considering risk and harm in kink practices. However, little is known about how risk and consent are negotiated online, particularly when the kink activities occur in private rather than the public or semi-public spaces of kink community venues or events. Drawing on 30 in-depth interviews with self-identified kinky gay and bisexual men, this article examines how risk and consent are discussed when organizing kink sessions through online platforms. Most participants were unaware of SSC or alternatives. Instead, participants employed diverse methods of negotiating consent and risk which predominantly involved indepth communication online. Interestingly, participants were more concerned with the risks associated with meeting others online, such as catfishing, than the risks involved with kink. Finally, some participants described a laissez-faire approach to their kink sessions through not planning or discussing risk and consent beforehand
... Positive sexuality is rooted in an intersubjective sense of morality and ethics that is sensitive to circumstance and promotes social justice. The CPS scholars argue that ethical sexual behavior be based on caution, communication, consent, and caring (Williams, Christensen, Capous-Desyllas, 2016;Williams, Thomas, Prior & Christensen, 2014). Critiquing previous approaches that emphasize a rational process of objective cognitive discernment, the CPS authors are inspired by a feminist ethic of care that sees morality situated within evolving relationships ). ...
Article
Inspired by a lineage of Zen Buddhism, Zen Peacemakers provides a transformational path that integrates theory and practices, including meditation, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), the Way of Council, Bearing Witness Retreats, activism, and social enterprise. As an ordained Minister in the lineage who personally apprenticed with co-founder Bernie Glassman, I have seen these principles and practices provide great benefit. This article will highlight some of the many possible theoretical and practical points of resonance between Zen Peacemaking and the Eight Dimension Model of the Center for Positive Sexuality (CPS) (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Walters, 2015) by suggesting how this rich and cohesive peacemaking methodology might help actualize each of the eight dimensions of positive sexuality, one dimension at a time. The eight dimensions are: (a) peacemaking, (b) multiple ways of knowing, (c) open, honest communication, (d) ethics, (e) application across all levels of social structure, (f) strengths, wellbeing, and happiness, (g) the recognition that individual sexuality is unique and multifaceted, and (h) humanization.
... While BDSM participants represent a wide variety of erotic interests and practices, there is also scholarship on many other diverse, closeted, sexual identities and preferences that often challenges common assumptions, including asexuality (Sloan, 2015;Yule, Brotto, & Gorzalka, 2017), casual sex enthusiasts (Armstrong, 2012;Ghaziani, 2017;Wade, 2017), swingers (Edgar, 2017;Kimberly, Hans, & Hans, 2017;Platteau, van Lankyeld, Ooms, & Florence, 2017), and many more. In evaluating the acceptability of sexual practices, whatever these may entail, priorities among participants should include consent, thorough communication, an ethic of care, and caution (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). Similar to sexual identity politics and sex education, a peacemaking approach to understanding diverse sexual interests and practices must address peoples' various fears. ...
Article
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Peacemaking is included as one of eight interrelated dimensions of positive sexuality, yet it is perhaps the least familiar aspect of positive sexuality to both professionals and lay people within modern Western society. Although a peacemaking process has been practiced by indigenous cultures for centuries, the contemporary U.S. political climate is now to a point, unfortunately, when ubiquitous war-making to address social issues is normalized and commonly assumed to be the only process for resolving such issues. In this article, we summarize key features of a peacemaking approach and suggest how peacemaking is related to, but also distinct from, other dimensions of positive sexuality. We emphasize the need to apply attributes of conscientious peacemaking to a range of contemporary sociosexual problems and issues, while addressing identity politics, sex education, and sexual crime, as specific examples.
... Other consent frameworks used within the community include Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK), Personal Responsibility in Consensual Kink (PRICK), and the "4Cs"(Williams, Thomas, & Prior, 2014). I am grateful to the Reviewers for bringing the 4Cs to my attention and regret not being able to include a more in-depth discussion of these different frameworks at this time.4 ...
... Recommended curricula topics should include teaching students respect and acceptance across a wide range of sexual behaviors, building communication/ negotiation skills within intimate relationships, maintaining safety when practicing kink and BDSM behaviors (where applicable), and initiating critical discussions focused on the complexity of sexual consent. Further examination into the BDSM principles around safety, communication, consent, and care can serve as a template for college and university professionals for educating their students about consent (e.g., Fanghanel, 2020;Rothman, 2019;Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). Learning to engage in intentional communication about desires, boundaries, interests, safe words and gestures, and power may be increasingly important given how ubiquitous rough sex appears to be among young adults, including college students. ...
Article
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Using data from an undergraduate probability sample, we aimed to: (1) describe the prevalence and demographic characteristics of students who reported having engaged in rough sex with their current partner; (2) assess which sexual behaviors students consider to be rough sex; (3) describe the frequency with which participants report engaging in rough sex as well as their reports of initiating and liking rough sex, in relation to gender and sexual identity; and (4) examine predictors of rough sex frequency. Participants were 4998 students randomly sampled from a large Midwestern university who completed a confidential Internet-based survey (2453 women, 2445 men, 41 gender non-binary, 36 transgender or other gender non- conforming identities). Within these, 1795 individuals who reported a romantic/sexual partner of at least 3 months responded to questions about engaging, liking, and initiating rough sex. The most common behaviors participants considered to be rough sex were choking, hair pulling, and spanking. Transgender and gender non-binary students more often endorsed behaviors as rough sex. Also, rough sex was conceptualized as multidimensional, with one cluster being more consistent with earlier conceptualizations of rough sex (e.g., hair pulling, spanking) and the second cluster including behaviors such as choking, slapping, punching, and making someone have sex. About 80% of those with a current sexual or romantic partner engaged in rough sex with them and most who engaged it liked it. Bisexual women reported greater rough sex frequency and enjoyment (54.1% indicated enjoying it “very much”). Implications for sexuality research and education are discussed.
... Potentially in response to concerns around 'condom fatigue', or the non-use of condoms due to exhaustion around sexual health promotion and the threat of HIV (Adam, Husbands, Murray, & Maxwell, 2005) (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). 'Play' is also a common term for kinky practices (Guidroz, 2008 Being a pup or engaging in pup play is generally considered a type of kink. ...
Thesis
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Gay and queer men tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues, STIs/HIV, suicide, substance dependency, and poor well-being than other demographics. Despite sustained public health efforts internationally, many of these issues continue to disproportionately affect members of the gay community. This thesis presents a new approach to the health issues gay and queer men face. It examines how 'risky' health-related practices including condomless sex and the use of illicit drugs might be legitimate ways of performing self-care and pursuing well-being. In order to address this aim, I conducted 16 interviews over a 12-month period in New Zealand and Australia using a constructionist grounded theory approach and a theoretical framework that draws upon the work of Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz, Michel Foucault, Homi Bhabha, Kane Race, Nikolas Rose, and Pierre Bourdieu. My participants and I explore a wide range of topics including the performative nature of sex and the notion of 'play', how pleasure and the emotional significance of sex might be related to self-care, the ways in which space might influence sexual practices and experiences, and to what extent having sex outside the home might be a form of self-care. I also cover safer sex practices and the experience of disease, how PrEP has radically changed the way gay men approach sex, the way drugs are bound up in self-care practices, and the relationships between self-care and community. The concept of 'wild self-care' emerged from these interviews and describes how practices or behaviours which appear risky, dangerous, or unhealthy can also be seen as legitimate ways of caring for the body and the self. I demonstrate how my participants used creative, unexpected, ii and alternative methods of caring for themselves using substances or 'risky' forms of sex and describe the way self-care is communal nature rather than a solitary practice. I also present the notion of health-as-process. This concept allows researchers to approach health as an ongoing process rather than a state of being that might be achieved. This speaks to the emotional and personal way that risk is constructed and experienced. All these facets come together to articulate the deeply complicated ways that people care for themselves.
... Naproti tomu konsensuální sadomasochistický sex (často pro zjednodušení zahrnutý do skupiny sexuálních aktivit pod názvem BDSM 3 ) nutně nemusí působit ani jednomu ze zúčastněných újmu či nepříjemné pocity. Předpokládá to ovšem dodržení několika základních pravidel definovaných v rámci BDSM (Williams et al., 2014). Obvykle se klade důraz na: ...
Article
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Abstract: The paper focuses on the extent to which the BDSM topic can be considered as sensitive. Nevertheless, two-thirds of respondents from a representative sample of Czechs were willing to answer the block of questions on this subject. The willingness was slightly lower only in the oldest people and a slightly higher in individuals preferring to take risks and to tolerate violation of norms; the overall willingness to answer the questions was, however, quite high in all categories. There was no strong evidence of either a link to a specific attitude or a more general tendency to choose „do not know“ answers. The potential controversy of the subject seems to be offset by the management of impression: Czechs tend to present themselves as liberal and open, especially in the field of sex. This gives a fairly good chance to further empirical reserach in this area. Keywords: sensitive questions, consensual violence, sex, questioning techniques
... A positive sexuality approach recognizes that sexual diversity, both cross-culturally and individually, is the norm, which cognitively shifts appraisal of sexual practices away from social "deviance" to one of human diversity and ethics. In other words, similar to valuing a broad range of potential leisure choices, individuals should be free to engage in a wide variety of erotic and sexual practices free from stigmatization and shame, so long as such practices meet basic legal and ethical standards pertaining to consent, communication, care, and caution (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). ...
Article
There is a growing interest among leisure scholars to investigate a wide range of diverse sexual topics from a leisure science perspective. However, leisure experts sometimes struggle with issues surrounding their topics that are firmly rooted in broader socio-historical controversies. Indeed, these controversies continue to play out in fierce academic and professional battles, referred to as the “sex wars,” that began several decades ago. Recently, there has been a call among some sexologists and health experts to move toward a much more positive approach to sexuality, which acknowledges well-known risks and dangers of sexual behavior, yet also emphasizes the importance of sexual pleasure and potential benefits of sexual behavior and expression. This paper summarizes current academic literature on the need for positive approaches to sexuality and outlines a multidisciplinary eight-dimensional positive sexuality framework. Existing connections between positive sexuality and leisure scholarship are illustrated.
... Mainstream commentators on campus affirmative consent standards worry about a "gray area" between persuasion and consent, or that requiring agreement at each stage of intimacy will drain the eroticism out of sex (see Dalmia, 2014). Yet consent can be negotiated nonverbally in a PSE among strangers without "killing the mood," and an understanding of consent as an ongoing process-without obligations to continue or be inclusive-is widespread in collective sex environments (Klement, Sararin, & Lee, 2017;Pitagora, 2013;Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014), contrasting with "hookup" scenes where alcohol or drugs may be used to overcome shame or guilt or to persuade reluctant partners (Boyle & Walker, 2016). If every college or university maintained an SOPV for students where condoms were readily available, substance use was monitored, and explicit rules guided interactions, perhaps some of the contemporary crisis around consent on campus would be alleviated. ...
Article
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This article provides a narrative overview of research on HIV/STI risk and collective sexual behavior based on an inclusive analysis of research on environments where people gather for sexual activity-sex clubs, swingers' clubs, bathhouses, parks, private sex parties, etc. The aim is to analyze how collective sex has been approached across disciplines to promote conversation across paradigms and suggest new lines of inquiry. Attention to context-such as the location of sex-was a necessary redress to universalizing models of sexual risk-taking behavior, leading to insights rooted in the particularities of each environment and its users. However, the identification of ever more precise risk groups or environmental idiosyncrasies eventually becomes theoretically restrictive, leading to an overestimation of the uniqueness of sexual enclaves, and of the difference between any given enclave and the broader social milieu. Using a theoretical framework of transgression to interpret the interdisciplinary literature, similarities in the spatial and social organization of collective sex environments are identified. Insights generated from this complementary perspective are then applied to understandings of collective sex: first, the example of male-female (MF) "swingers" is used to illustrate the need to establish, rather than assume, the distinctiveness of each non-normative sexual enclave, and to broaden the conceptualization of context; second, questions are raised about the practicality of interventions in collective sex environments. Finally, new lines of intellectual inquiry are suggested to shed light not just on collective sex but on sociosexual issues more generally, such as increasing protective sexual health behavior or negotiating consent in sexual encounters.
... Sexual diversity includes the acknowledgement and affirmation of multiple sexual orientations and a spectrum of gender identification, roles and identities, relationships and activities, pleasures and desires, and scripts and fantasies. It is about accepting, affirming, and including the diverse ways that individuals choose to express themselves sexually while acknowledging that no expression of sex and sexuality is more valid than any other, provided that participation includes consent, communication, basic respect for those involved, and awareness of potential implications (Williams, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014). Positive sexuality includes appreciating the ways that each person's unique sexuality contributes to the whole of who that person is. ...
Article
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In recent years, there has been considerable attention within the social work profession surrounding diverse personal, family, and community issues pertaining to sexuality, yet social workers typically receive very little training on sexuality. This article discusses several such issues before introducing a recently proposed positive sexuality framework, which was designed to help facilitate sexual diversity and resolve a wide range of sociosexual problems. The positive sexuality framework is comprised of eight interrelated dimensions and, while designed to address sexual issues specifically, overlaps with and complements social work generalist practice. Thus, social workers and helping professionals may find increased success in better understanding and addressing a wide variety of sociosexual problems and issues by utilizing a positive sexuality framework in conjunction with generalist practice.
Chapter
In this article, we broadly trace the development of how healthy sexuality has been conceptualized in modern Western cultures. This evolving process reflects the broader shift in how general health has expanded from a monolithic definition emphasizing reproductive biology and the absence of disease to a much more multidimensional approach that incorporates research from several disciplines and theoretical approaches. We also discuss current multidimensional notions of sexual health along with sharing new scholarship that furthers a positive understanding of healthy sexuality.
Thesis
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Bondage/Discipline/Dominance/submission/Sadism/Masochism (BDSM) is most frequently conceptualized as only non-normative, 'kinky' sex. In this dissertation, I combine feminist ethnographic accounts of women's experiences as BDSM practitioners alongside theoretical frameworks of gendered embodiment to propose a reading of some BDSM practices as other-than-sex. Rather than narrowing the definition of sex, I instead take up Foucault's expression of the possibilities of bodies and pleasures to explore how alternative relationality is formed between practitioners with some types of BDSM play with pain and power. In doing so, there is an expanded potential for women's queer pleasure and a real possibility of disrupting patriarchal social structure with practitioners' altered being-in-the-world. This analysis is centred on accounts from eighteen women participants in Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, who were active BDSM practitioners. Participants in this project challenged traditional understandings of pain and masochism to produce new understandings of both. They accounted for safety and risk considerations in practices that help formulate a more robust consideration of the complications of consent in other-than-sex practices than is typically allowed for in either mainstream or BDSM-specific frameworks of consent. Lastly, they expressed conceptions of the strategic eroticization of power that accounted for it in play without eliminating the social power that some bodies exercise more flexibly than others. The alternative relationality that is fostered by other-than-sex BDSM practices is powerfully intimate and based on the radical vulnerability and bodily access between practitioners.
Thesis
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Rope bondage subculture is a social world positioned underneath the broader umbrella of pansexual BDSM subculture. It is characterized by its own norms, spaces, words, practices, art, career opportunities, events, identities, and more. The status of rope as a sub-subculture spread across and between locations renders it mostly invisible to outsiders. As such, although there are a few studies on rope bondage, its discrete social world has rarely been recognized in academic research, and never as the primary focus. Through my insider status I investigate the shape of the rope bondage world and the experiences of some of the people within it. I draw on 23 qualitative interviews with people who practice rope bondage in Canada and the United States to investigate peoples’ experiences of rope bondage practice and subculture. My analysis is supported by a theoretical foundation informed by symbolic interactionism, feminism, critical disability studies, and critical race theory. I explore the theoretical and methodological intricacies of conducting qualitative research on rope bondage from the inside, while prioritizing and theorizing ethical participant-centered methods informed by select kinky etiquette and practices. My findings suggest that rope bondage subculture is characterized by almost indescribable experiences of pleasure, belonging, and joy, along with experiences of conflict and discrimination at personal and structural levels. It is both a vibrant social world and a subculture informed by (and reflective of) the racism, ableism, sexism, homo/transphobia, and classism that plague wider society. The accounts of disabled and racialized rope bondage practitioners are crucial to understanding both oppression and resistance in this world. I build upon Weiss’ (2006) concept of unintelligibility to argue that kinky pleasure that is not strictly, normatively sexual appears to be unintelligible to most BDSM researchers. Further, in some respects, kinky pleasure is unintelligible—or at least ineffable—to some of the practitioners themselves. My findings show that understanding the texture of rope bondage’s pleasure requires listening to how rope bondage practitioners theorize their own desires, pleasures, and lives. This work offers theoretical, conceptual, and practical tools to understand rope bondage practitioners, complex sexualities, BDSM, and participant-centered research on deviantized demographics.
Book
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Sex-Positive Criminology proposes a new way to think about sexuality in the fields of criminology and criminal justice. Sex-positivity is framed as a humanizing approach to sexuality that supports the well-being of self and others. It is rooted in the principle of active and ongoing consent, and it encourages perspectives that value bodily autonomy, the right to access education, and respect for sexual difference. In this book, the authors argue that institutions such as prisons, schools, and healthcare facilities, as well as agents of governments, such as law enforcement, correctional officers, and politicians, can unduly cause harm and perpetuate stigma through the regulation and criminalization of sexuality. In order to critique institutions that criminalize and regulate sexuality, the authors of Sex-Positive Criminology examine case studies exploring the criminalization of commercial sex and related harm (at the hands of law enforcement) experienced by those who sell sex. They investigate sex education in schools, reproductive justice in communities and institutions, and restrictions on sexuality in places like prisons, jails, juvenile detention, and immigrant detention facilities. They look into the criminalization of BDSM practices and address concerns about young people's sexuality connected to age of consent and privacy violations. The authors demonstrate how a sex-positive perspective could help criminologists, policymakers, and educators understand not only how to move away from sex-negative frameworks in theory, policy, and practice, but how sex-positive criminological frameworks can be a useful tool to reduce harm and increase personal agency. Written in a clear and direct style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in criminology, sociology, sexuality studies, cultural studies, criminal justice, social theory, and all those interested in the relationship between sexuality and the crimino-legal system.
Article
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Research with individuals who practice consensual Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism (BDSM) has shed light on a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon. How much this experience relates to sexuality and sexual pleasure is a controversial topic in the literature. This review offers a critical re-conceptualization of the sexual component, comparing BDSM and non-BDSM sexual experiences, and highlighting the importance of the erotic construction of power as a source of pleasure. It also discusses whether the erotic power exchange experience (EPE) reveals a sexual or an erotic orientation. The variety of terms and acronyms used to designate the experience of eroticization of power (BDSM, EPE, S&M sadism and masochism, D/S or sadomasochism, Fetish, kink and kinky sex) reflects the many perspectives that have been taken in observing the phenomenon. Generalizing BDSM as an eminently sexual experience has obscured a more nuanced understanding of the specific meanings relating to the activities promoted by the communities and simplified a variegated geography of experiences. These experiences are difficult to summarize in terms of typifications and can be better described as “finite provinces of meanings”.
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This article explores issues of consent in the context of BDSM. I argue that consent is a complex expression which must be thought beyond the ‘yes means yes, no means no’ that proliferates mainstream debates around consent education. This article draws on qualitative interview data to examine how BDSM practitioners talk about consent and consent violations. It examines how these discussions about consent within a BDSM context interact with non-BDSM discussions and how they do, or do not, inform each other. Though consent is centralized in BDSM as a practice of community-building, sometimes consent violations are ignored or dismissed because this community-building also relies on neoliberal constructions of the autonomous self and heteronormative accounts of desire to explain them. These findings have serious implications for better understanding not only of consent within this subcultural practice, but how heteronormative values saturate contexts where unequal power relations or hierarchies manifest themselves outside of this. By insisting on this nuanced understanding of sexual consent, this article transforms existing debates about consensual sexual practice by exploring consent as a grey area, and where violations are experienced as abusive and where they are not. It also offers pertinent insights into how mobilizing an ethical consent praxis might better attend to questions of consent.
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Making a contribution to the sociology of intimacy, this article aims to present how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer people live their ethical non-monogamous relationships in Italy. Giving great space to the concept of consent through the literature on the ethics of care, I will refer to different conceptualizations of critical consent given by feminist and BDSM communities, spaces in which ethics is based on unveiling power structures through the focus on consent. In fact, the centrality of the collective dimension in embracing ethical non-monogamies appears fundamental, challenging the self-help – and neoliberal – literature according to which polyamory is just a personal choice. Afterwards, I will deepen the concept of care, developing it through its means of communication, attentiveness, responsibility, and responsiveness within relationships. Presented this way, care recognizes us all as interdependent: at the same time, care-givers and care-receivers. I suggest that this interdependency is symbolized by the kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a mix of golden powder, a representation of the manifold matrix of care, composed of care-giving, care-receiving, and care for oneself.
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This study sought to gain insight into the attitudes, beliefs, and values that shape bondage/ discipline/sadomasochism (BDSM) activities and to explore the degree and consequences of unintended or non-negotiated harms, including physical, emotional, and sexual violence. A qualitative approach, consisting of 22 semistructured interviews and over 150 hours of observations of BDSM events and activities, was used to develop an in-depth exploration of the lived experiences of participants. Thematic analysis was employed to elucidate the ways in which participants define and in some cases experience harm. Findings suggest that individuals construct rational identities that emphasize safe practices and managing harm; however; there are instances where "boundary slippage" occurs. Implications for understanding the dynamics as well as the potential dangers of "consensual" violence are discussed.
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Assessing pathological from non-pathological expressions of alternative sexuality requires close connections between research, clinical practice, and professional training. Stigmatization of various forms of sexuality can cause significant difficulties in gaining information from and making observations about people with alternative sexualities. The present investigation employed a content analysis approach to stories and reflections expressed by 32 heterosexual couples who practice consensual erotic BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism), and their experiences in therapy. Five main categories emerged: Termination Of Therapy, Prejudice, Neutral Interactions, Knowledgeable Interactions, and Non-Disclosure Of BDSM Sexuality. This analysis highlights, from the point of view of the client, the importance of treating a disclosure of BDSM sexuality as only one of several possibly important factors about the client during the therapeutic interaction. Also important to effective therapeutic interaction is to avoid automatically communicating about BDSM sexuality from a cultural model of “BDSM is sickness/pathology” or “BDSM is immoral/wrong” but to discern whether the client’s activities fit the alt-sex community standard of “safe, sane, and consensual.” Retrieved from http://www.ejhs.org/Volume12/bdsm.htm
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This article explores questions of sexual agency and consent in mainstream representations of BDSM using Pauline Reage's Story of O and EL James's Fifty Shades trilogy as examples. It addresses normalizing tendencies and explores to what extent BDSM can be represented before being rejected by mainstream readers. Based on critiques of both novels, I outline the degree to which the concept of consensual non-consent, that is, the illusion of suspended consent in order to facilitate erotic power play, works in both novels. A close reading reveals a return to more traditional notions of femininity and female sexual agency in Fifty Shades, as well as a growing tendency to normatively limit the depictions of sadomasochistic desires.
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This article, in examining gender and justice, seeks to examine the relationship between feminist theory and social work. Specifically it reviews writings on social work ethics and suggests that little attention has been paid to feminist scholarship that resonates with social work practice. Focusing primarily on community care, it demonstrates how debates within feminism have become more complex and have problematized understandings of both care and justice. It argues that for social work it is unhelpful to dichotomize justice and care; we should aspire to just social work practice.
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It has been generally thought that the practice of bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, sadism-masochism (BDSM) is in some form associated with psychopathology. However, several more recent studies suggest a relative good psychological health of BDSM practitioners. The aim of this study was to compare scores of BDSM practitioners and a control group on various fundamental psychological characteristics. For this aim, 902 BDSM and 434 control participants completely filled out online questionnaires. Associations were examined using χ2 tests of independence with φ and Cramer's V as effect size measures and eta or Pearson's correlation. Group differences were tested using analysis of covariance, with partial η2 as effect size measure. A priori contrasts were tested using α = 0.01 to correct for multiple testing; for all other tests we used α = 0.05, two tailed. The study used Big Five personality dimensions (NEO Five-Factor Inventory), attachment styles (Attachment Styles Questionnaire), rejection sensitivity (Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire), and subjective well-being (World Health Organization-Five Well-being Index). The results mostly suggest favorable psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners compared with the control group; BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extraverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, had higher subjective well-being, yet were less agreeable. Comparing the four groups, if differences were observed, BDSM scores were generally more favorably for those with a dominant than a submissive role, with least favorable scores for controls. We conclude that BDSM may be thought of as a recreational leisure, rather than the expression of psychopathological processes. Wismeijer AAJ and van Assen MALM. Psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners. J Sex Med 2013;10:1943–1952.
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This article presents an overview of philosophy of science and research paradigms. The philosophy of science parameters of ontology, epistemology, axiology, rhetorical structure, and methodology are discussed across the research paradigms of positivism, postpositivism, constructivism-interpretivism, and the critical-ideological perspective. Counseling researchers are urged to locate their inquiry approaches within identifiable research paradigms, and examples of "locating" 2 popular inquiry approaches--consensual qualitative research and grounded theory--are provided. Examples of how counseling research would proceed from varying paradigms are explored, and a call is made for expanding the training students receive in philosophy of science and qualitative approaches to inquiry. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Sado-masochism (SM) is described as a pathology in current psychological and psychiatric textbooks, and is often discussed alongside behaviours such as child sexual abuse and rape. Individuals who engage in SM are invariably positioned as experiencing intra-psychic conflict ameliorated through the displacement of the sexual drive. This is a limited and one-dimensional analysis of a complex phenomenon. This article presents the results of an in-depth qualitative study designed to further our understanding of the psychology of SM consistent with a social constructionist approach. Twenty-four self-identified sadomasochists, recruited through SM clubs and agencies and informal social networks, were interviewed. Thematic discourse analysis was used to generate a four-factor definition of SM: consensuality, an unequable balance of power, sexual arousal and compatibility of definition. Participants positioned SM variously as dissidence, as pleasure, as escapism, as transcendence, as learned behaviour, as intra-psychic, as pathological and as `inexplicable'. The research findings, their relevance to our understanding of SM sexualities and the limitations of the methodology and subsequent formulation, are discussed.
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There is a concern among consensual BDSM participants that they will receive biased care from mental health professionals. Results are presented of an anonymous Internet-based survey administered to both BDSM-identified individuals who have received psychological care and to mental health professionals. The survey included socio-demographic data and invited participants to write narrative accounts of biased or culturally sensitive care, from which common themes were identified. Mental health providers (N=17) responded in fewer numbers than those who identified as BDSM-identified participants (N=175). Descriptive characteristics of the sample will be discussed. Themes from the qualitative data may be useful in informing the future development of guidelines for practitioners to work more responsibly with clients who identify as members of this sexual minority group.
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People with sexual interests in bondage and discipline, "sadomasochism" or dominance and submission (BDSM) have been seen by many professionals as damaged or dangerous. To examine sexual behavior correlates of involvement in BDSM and test the hypothesis that BDSM is practiced by people with a history of sexual coercion, sexual difficulties, and/or psychological problems. In Australia in 2001-2002, a representative sample of 19,307 respondents aged 16-59 years was interviewed by telephone. Weighted data analysis used univariate logistic regression. Self-reported demographic and psychosocial factors; sexual behavior and identity; sexual difficulties. In total, 1.8% of sexually active people (2.2% of men, 1.3% of women) said they had been involved in BDSM in the previous year. This was more common among gay/lesbian and bisexual people. People who had engaged in BDSM were more likely to have experienced oral sex and/or anal sex, to have had more than one partner in the past year, to have had sex with someone other than their regular partner, and to have: taken part in phone sex, visited an Internet sex site, viewed an X-rated (pornographic) film or video, used a sex toy, had group sex, or taken part in manual stimulation of the anus, fisting or rimming. However, they were no more likely to have been coerced into sexual activity, and were not significantly more likely to be unhappy or anxious-indeed, men who had engaged in BDSM scored significantly lower on a scale of psychological distress than other men. Engagement in BDSM was not significantly related to any sexual difficulties. Our findings support the idea that BDSM is simply a sexual interest or subculture attractive to a minority, and for most participants not a pathological symptom of past abuse or difficulty with "normal" sex.
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This chapter discusses how clinicians who conduct criminal responsibility evaluations should use a framework that is legally informed, ethically, and empirically guided, especially when conducting evaluations concerning mentally insane criminals. The underlying principle establishing the need for an insanity defense is that individuals who commit crime for irrational reasons or because they were unable to control their behavior should not be convicted and punished. Such individuals may be considered in need of treatment in a forensic facility rather than confinement in a prison. Psychotic disorders are widely accepted as a basis for an insanity defense Mental retardation, organic disorders, and affective disorders are relatively common among insanity defense cases, reflecting approximately 5, 7, and 10 percent, respectively. In order to facilitate the validity of an assessment, it is argued that psychologists have an ethical responsibility to always assess for response biases. Many common self-report measures, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2), contain scales that measure exaggeration of psychopathology, minimization of psychopathology, and inconsistent responding.
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Whilst the Fifty Shades trilogy has increased public awareness of BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism), the understandings of consent depicted in the novels remain reflective of those prevalent in wider heteronormative culture. Responsibility for consenting is located within the individual (woman) and consent relates to sex rather than to the relationship as a whole. This contrasts with understandings of consent currently emerging on the BDSM blogosphere where the locus of responsibility is shifting from individuals to communities, and the concept is opening up to encompass awareness of intersecting social power dynamics and interactions beyond the sexual arena.
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This article calls for a more thorough exploration of the concept of deviant leisure. Although deviant leisure often relies on psychiatric discourse as a primary explanation for participation, many forms of deviant leisure cannot be explained convincingly through accounts that focus on psychopathological motivations. Examples discussed herein include consensual sexual sadomasochism, self-identified human vampires, and radical body modification. Such forms of deviant leisure may be better understood by focusing on diverse social discourses and the properties of legitimate leisure experience.
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This paper presents readers with one (research) story about (sexed and gendered) bodies not as objects with inherent boundaries and properties but as material-discursive phenomena. In telling such a story I examine the role that the screendance, Becoming Bodies, has played in knowledge production and argue for a less ontologically ‘old fashioned’ view of what counts as ‘evidence’. Throughout the paper I draw from a range of feminisms: biological, phenomenological, poststructural, psychoanalytical, and post humanist and performative scholarship of sex and gender. These discourses contest nature/nurture, male/female, body/mind dualisms, and take the political and ethical view that bodies are not neutral; that sex and gender, being a woman or a man are both socially and biologically constructed forms of identity (similar to class and race) that are acquired and learned through socio-cultural regimes of discipline and intersubjective bodily practices. Building on this dynamic and developmental bio-psycho-social view I discuss selected aspects of interview data: (1) the material-discursive tensions and contradictions of sexing and gendering bodies and (2) troubling the intersubjective implications of this for clinical practices.
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Techniques of Pleasure is a vivid portrayal of the San Francisco Bay Area’s pansexual BDSM (SM) community. Margot Weiss conducted ethnographic research at dungeon play parties and at workshops on bondage, role play, and flogging, and she interviewed more than sixty SM practitioners. She describes a scene devoted to a form of erotic play organized around technique, rules and regulations, consumerism, and self-mastery. Challenging the notion that SM is inherently transgressive, Weiss links the development of commodity-oriented sexual communities and the expanding market for sex toys to the eroticization of gendered, racialized, and national inequalities. She analyzes the politics of BDSM’s spectacular performances, including those that dramatize heterosexual male dominance, slave auctions, and US imperialism, and contends that the SM scene is not a “safe space” separate from real-world inequality. It depends, like all sexual desire, on social hierarchies. Based on this analysis, Weiss theorizes late-capitalist sexuality as a circuit—one connecting the promise of new emancipatory pleasures to the reproduction of raced and gendered social norms.
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A demographic questionnaire and 7 psychometric tests were administered to 32 self-identified Bondage/Domination/SadoMasochism (BDSM) practitioners. Although psychoanalytic literature suggests that high levels of certain types of psychopathology should be prevalent among BDSM practitioners, this sample failed to produce widespread, high levels of psychopathology on psychometric measures of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsion, psychological sadism, psychological masochism, or PTSD. In fact, on measures of clinical psychopathology and severe personality pathology, this sample appeared to be comparable to both published test norms and to DSM-IV-TR estimates for the general population. There were, however, some exceptions to this general pattern, most notably the higher-than-average levels of narcissism and nonspecific dissociative symptoms found in the sample. This study also raises significant concern about the appropriateness of the diagnosis of sexual masochism and sadism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association or, minimally, the diagnostic criteria of these disorders.
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It is important for health professionals to remember that despite narrow social scripts that define 'normal' sexuality, there remains tremendous sexual diversity across history and cultures.
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This article, written primarily for clinicians, draws from a variety of sources and provides a basic overview of sexual sadomasochism (SM). SM represents a wide range of behaviors and practices often associated with sexuality, yet it may also refer to a specific lifestyle or subculture composed of participants who regularly engage in such practices. Although large numbers of individuals are likely to participate in SM practices in various possible forms, many professionals may be unfamiliar with the diversity, terminology, possible motivations, and issues surrounding SM. Given that SM is easily misunderstood, it is important for professionals working in the area of human sexuality to become familiar with alternative expressions of eroticism, creative stimulation, and intimacy. It is suggested that SM potentially may be enriching and beneficial to many who safely participate, or it sometimes may be considered pathological and destructive. Insights are provided herein to raise awareness of issues and to help clinicians negotiate these determinations.
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One hundred and twenty students from both Brazil and Norway were tested with Skoe's Ethic of Care Interview (ECI), which is a test of Gilligan's hypothesized gender-related ethic of care. Subjects were also tested with Bem's Sex Role Inventory and Triandis's Test of Cultural Orientations. The ECI was shown to be related neither to gender nor to sex-role concepts, and lower ECI scores from the Brazilian sample could be related to their higher collectivism scores on Triandis's test. The results suggest that Gilligan's ethic of care, as tested by the ECI, is not gender-related and may be culture specific.
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This review explores literature relevant to understanding the psychological well-being of people who have an interest in sexual sadomasochism (SM). It focuses on evaluating the traditional psychiatric and psychodynamic perspectives of SM, which conceptualize SM practitioners as being psychologically unwell. The empirical information reviewed is inconsistent with a number of aspects of the traditional theories of SM. The validity of conceptualizing the majority of SM practitioners as being psychologically unwell is questioned and the negative psychological impact that these traditional theories can have on SM practitioners is noted. The implications for professionals' working with SM-practicing clients is considered.
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Postmodern feminist theory provides a valuable perspective for designing and teaching human sexuality courses. The utility of this approach is explained and strategies for helping students understand a constructivist framework presented. The theory is put into action, and the following course goals are addressed: (a) shift from a problem-oriented to a strengths approach, (b) provide information and skills that are relevant and useful, (c) expand students' thinking about diversity, and (d) help students maximize their own sexual health and minimize exploitation of themselves and others. The article concludes with a discussion of pedagogical and ethical challenges of teaching from a postmodern feminist perspective.
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Intersubjectivity refers to the variety of possible relations between perspectives. It is indispensable for understanding human social behaviour. While theoretical work on intersubjectivity is relatively sophisticated, methodological approaches to studying intersubjectivity lag behind. Most methodologies assume that individuals are the unit of analysis. In order to research intersubjectivity, however, methodologies are needed that take relationships as the unit of analysis. The first aim of this article is to review existing methodologies for studying intersubjectivity. Four methodological approaches are reviewed: comparative self-report, observing behaviour, analysing talk and ethnographic engagement. The second aim of the article is to introduce and contribute to the development of a dialogical method of analysis. The dialogical approach enables the study of intersubjectivity at different levels, as both implicit and explicit, and both within and between individuals and groups. The article concludes with suggestions for using the proposed method for researching intersubjectivity both within individuals and between individuals and groups.
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Based on extensive ethnographic research in a public SM (sadomasochism) community, this paper frames SM as recreation. Drawing on Robert Stebbins’ work on “serious leisure” (1982), I posit that in order to more adequately understand SM as it occurs in this community, we need to shift from mainstream assumptions of SM as (simply) “kinky sex” to a more nuanced perspective. I explore the unique skills required in order to engage in SM, as well as the benefits and rewards that participants derive from it, in order to illustrate that SM can be more usefully understood as serious leisure. KeywordsBDSM-Sadomasochism-Leisure-Serious leisure-Edgework-Sexuality
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Psychological and medical perspectives on sadomasochism (SM) have historically been concerned with understanding it as a form of psychopathology. In the past (but still often today) studies of SM have been concerned with extreme and most often non-consensual acts. More recently, however, there has been growing interest in exploring the meaning of sadomasochism in non-pathological ways. Safe, Sane and Consensual includes work from across the social sciences exploring a variety of aspects of SM from a non-pathological perspective. There are discussions of the history and culture of SM, medical and legal understandings, along with theory and original research on the topic. There are also sections on SM and psychotherapy and writing on bridging the academic/activist divide. The book includes contributions from an international group of academics, practitioners and activists and represents some of the most recent cutting edge work in the field by leading scholars.
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Drawing upon social constructionist and postmodern perspectives, together with recent feminist debates about ‘the ethics of care’, this paper reflects upon the productive ways in which contemporary social work can be thought about, organized and practised professionally . It argues that an emphasis on: process; plurality of both knowledge and voice; possibility; and the relational quality of knowledge are key elements in taking these issues forward. In contrast to the traditions of abstract and instrumental reasoning where the pursuit of knowledge is intertwined with the pursuit of control, the importance of sensory knowledge, symbolized by the unity of hand, head and heart is underlined.
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Recent literature about sadomasochism in Sociology and Social Psychology is reviewed. Studies include survey research and questionnaire studies, content analyses, ethnographic research, and critical essays. The current state of our knowledge of sadomasochism, including its defining characteristics, sadomasochistic identities, and sadomasochistic subcultures is briefly summarized.
Ties that bind Los Angeles: Daedalus Publishing Consent is a grey area? A comparison of understandings of consent in Fifty Shades of Grey and on the BDSM blogosphere
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The ultimate guide to kink: BDSM, role play and the erotic edge
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