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Press release from National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: BDSM Romance is a National Phenomenon March 6, 2012

Posted by Greg Korgeski, Ph.D. in Uncategorized.
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Here’s the release; I don’t have anything to add as I haven’t read the book, except that it certainly common for mainstream commentators (whether motivated or not by their fears of offending one or another vocal group) to tilt toward conventional opinions, particularly when it has to do with sex. Which has a damaging effect on the development of a more compassionate culture.

But hey, read the release, read the book… and decide for yourself.)

March 5, 2012

NCSF Press release

BDSM Romance Fifty Shades of Gray is a National Phenomenon

Everyone is talking about the run-away success of the novel Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James, the first book in a BDSM romance trilogy. On March 1st, 2012, the novel hit #1 on the Amazon ebook bestseller list in the genre, romance and erotica categories.

The book got a big boost from The Today Show, with supervising producer Joanne LaMarca saying, “I downloaded a copy and don’t think I put it down until I finished it, despite what the pilot on my flight to Florida said. I can say, along with many other women I’m sure, that reading this book is very good for your marriage!”

Read the coverage on the Today show on MSNBC by clicking here.

In a segment televised on Today on March 2, 2012, sexologist Dr. Laura Berman touted the appeal of submission: “Now we’ve moved on to a new generation where women are more empowered than ever before, the glass ceiling has been broken, and we have as much control as we want-and what are we longing for? A little bodice-ripping.”

NCSF supports the open discussion taking place about Fifty Shades of Gray, and celebrates the fact that acceptance of kinky sex between consenting adults is taking place. NCSF has worked hard to educate the media and the public about BDSM, and the benefit of having responsible, healthy sex through negotiation, communication, trust and honesty.

The only sour notes were sounded by Today’s Chief Legal Analyst Savannah Guthrie, and Dr. Drew Pinsky, who called the BDSM romance “violence against women”:

“But there is something about this. It’s not just a matter of steamy sex scenes. The context is this bondage, this submission, and frankly stripped bare: violence against women,” said Guthrie.

“It does disturb me actually… the swept-away fantasy is a common fantasy but as you’re saying, Savannah, it’s going beyond that into violence against women,” said Pinksy.

The voice of reason was relationship expert Dr. Logan Levkoff who said, “I’ve read these books. I don’t see these particular books as violence against women.” She added, “The community has very organized rules. It’s consensual. Let’s be clear, this does not depict rape or anything like that.”

See the video on MSNBC by clicking here.

NCSF believes that adults who engage in BDSM with other consenting adults, as well as those who just want to fantasize about roleplay and power dynamics, should not be stigmatized. Experts who voice their opinions on television should make the distinction that consensual sex is good and nonconsensual sex is violence. Until that happens, the BDSM community will continue to be discriminated against and persecuted because of the misconception that we are violent people.

Please let Today know your opinion by writing to them. Click here to write the Today show.

NCSF has been the national advocacy resource for BDSM, swing and polyamory communities since 1997. For more information about BDSM, contact Susan Wright at 917-848-6544 or email susan@ncsfreedom.org

Press release from National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: BDSM Romance is a National Phenomenon March 6, 2012

Posted by Greg Korgeski, Ph.D. in Uncategorized.
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(Here’s the release; I don’t feel much need to add anything, not having read the book. Except that it’s certainly true that there is a huge distinction between consensual anything in sex, and actual sexually abusive practices.)

Everyone is talking about the run-away success of the novel Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James, the first book in a BDSM romance trilogy. On March 1st, 2012, the novel hit #1 on the Amazon ebook bestseller list in the genre, romance and erotica categories.

The book got a big boost from The Today Show, with supervising producer Joanne LaMarca saying, “I downloaded a copy and don’t think I put it down until I finished it, despite what the pilot on my flight to Florida said. I can say, along with many other women I’m sure, that reading this book is very good for your marriage!”

Read the coverage on the Today show on MSNBC by clicking here.

In a segment televised on Today on March 2, 2012, sexologist Dr. Laura Berman touted the appeal of submission: “Now we’ve moved on to a new generation where women are more empowered than ever before, the glass ceiling has been broken, and we have as much control as we want-and what are we longing for? A little bodice-ripping.”

NCSF supports the open discussion taking place about Fifty Shades of Gray, and celebrates the fact that acceptance of kinky sex between consenting adults is taking place. NCSF has worked hard to educate the media and the public about BDSM, and the benefit of having responsible, healthy sex through negotiation, communication, trust and honesty.

The only sour notes were sounded by Today’s Chief Legal Analyst Savannah Guthrie, and Dr. Drew Pinsky, who called the BDSM romance “violence against women”:
“But there is something about this. It’s not just a matter of steamy sex scenes. The context is this bondage, this submission, and frankly stripped bare: violence against women,” said Guthrie.
“It does disturb me actually… the swept-away fantasy is a common fantasy but as you’re saying, Savannah, it’s going beyond that into violence against women,” said Pinksy.

The voice of reason was relationship expert Dr. Logan Levkoff who said, “I’ve read these books. I don’t see these particular books as violence against women.” She added, “The community has very organized rules. It’s consensual. Let’s be clear, this does not depict rape or anything like that.”

See the video on MSNBC by clicking here.

NCSF believes that adults who engage in BDSM with other consenting adults, as well as those who just want to fantasize about roleplay and power dynamics, should not be stigmatized. Experts who voice their opinions on television should make the distinction that consensual sex is good and nonconsensual sex is violence. Until that happens, the BDSM community will continue to be discriminated against and persecuted because of the misconception that we are violent people.

Please let Today know your opinion by writing to them. Click here to write the Today show.

NCSF has been the national advocacy resource for BDSM, swing and polyamory communities since 1997. For more information about BDSM, contact Susan Wright at 917-848-6544 or emailsusan@ncsfreedom.org

 

Sex famine in NH — could this be? July 13, 2011

Posted by Greg Korgeski, Ph.D. in Uncategorized.
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from another blog…

Dateline: August 1, 2013

The Latest in the New Hampshire Sex Famine

On its second anniversary, the two-year “sex famine” continues unabated in New Hampshire, as pretty much every woman in the “Granite State” continues to refuse to have sexual relations with any New Hampshire man as a result of the 2011 defunding of Planned Parenthood. What started as a kind of internet joke caught fire two years ago, and by August there was a grassroots movement to abstain from sex with guys in that state until Planned Parenthood was restored, health care for poor women (reproductive and other) was guaranteed, and at least half of the state legislature was female.

No one thought the “nookie famine” would last, but when bumper stickers began appearing on women’s cars that read, “We can take it, can you?”, the strike began to get serious traction. Not that it was easy: many very loving “Granite women,” as they began to be called, felt badly that their husbands and boyfriends had to “go without,” and of course the women themselves suffered as well. Frustrations — and nothing much else — mounted, although there were some rumors of NH guys suddenly getting very interested in sheep farming.

By fall of 2011, the stubborn Republican politicians having decided to channel their own sexual frustrations the way they often do (airport restrooms, for instance, though the lack of airports in New Hampshire made even them suffer a bit), it was clear that a long seige was in order. While hitherto loyal right-wingers began organizing recall elections of their own leaders, scores of New Hampshire women and men began to “cross the river,” a new euphemism for “going to Vermont to get some.” The tourist and bar business in Vermont began to pick up as freshly showered and perfumed “Granite women” crossed the covered bridges to the Green Mountain State to meet some Green Mountain men. Between the sudden appreciation of liberal guys and what can be done in the back seats of Subarus, and the new universal healthcare just begun in Vermont, lots of women decided to just stay on in Vermont. Aware of the importance of the whole Planned Parenthood institution and convinced that they had to be supportive of NH women fighting the “war against women,” the women of Vermont also got involved in the fight, sporting t-shirts from the Vermont Women for NH Women’s Health organization that said “There’s enough to go around — real VT women share.”

New Hampshire guys were less fortunate, as women from both states began to “card” guys to make sure they didn’t come from the state where, it was universally agreed, all the guys had to be “cut off.” After awhile, guys with no motorcycle helmets were automatically assumed to be off limits as well, causing a sudden rise in the helmet business throughout the New England states.

Now, two years into the “great famine,” things may finally be ready to change. The politicians who engineered the Planned Parenthood defunding have been removed from their jobs and mostly moved to Arizona, and as of the last election 44% of the NH legislature is comprised of women, all as eager as the guys for sanity to prevail and the “good times,” as they are now wistfully called, to return. All it will take will be a few more female legislators, and the smiling faces of Granite people will be as common once again as tourists used to be in the state.

As the fall elections near, the women running for the NH Legislature are reminding the state’s voters that it gets very cold very early in New Hampshire, so vote wisely. As they keep saying, “elections have consequences.”

Alternative sexual preferences, civil rights and hate speech April 28, 2009

Posted by Greg Korgeski, Ph.D. in Uncategorized.
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Here is a link to a speech by Dr. Gloria Brame on alternative (particularly BDSM) sexual communities.  She makes many good points that underscore the basic truth that folks whose core sexual identities include some kind of identification with, or fundamental interest or pleasure in “kinky” experiences, are basically treated differently, with less respect, in the mainstream press and communities than “vanilla” or even gay/lesbian/transgender individuals.  (Which is similar to my critique of the tone of Bergner’s Other Side of Desire in my recent posts.)  

Brame goes on to say,

But when did you ever see a headline describing someone as “Vanilla Madman?” Or a “Only Likes Missionary Position” Girlfriend? Never. No one ever bothers to expose the intimate lives of vanilla people. Yet when it comes to people like us, the press — and the law — feel entitled to invade our privacy and expose us to public ridicule. When media and courts put the spotlight on what we do, instead of who we are, they show a bais against BDSM by implying that crime and BDSM are linked. That implication is a subtle form of hate speech that goes unnoticed — except, of course, by anti-SM proselytizers whose prejudices are fueled by such propaganda.

Her speech is well worth a read.

Why Are Alternative Forms of Relationships So Scary? March 22, 2009

Posted by Greg Korgeski, Ph.D. in Uncategorized.
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I just did a post on my other blog that was inspired by having watched the film Paint Your Wagon. As I mention there, the film contains a very positive portrayal of an alternative kind of loving relationship, one involving a marriage between one woman and two different men. The question I bring up is why this kind of thing isn’t shown more often in film or literature, and what the fears are that make these possibilities seem so horrifying in our rather crazy culture.

In that post, which is really a kind of advice-for-writers piece, I explore the topic of why audiences seem unwilling to endorse alternative lifestyles from three vantage points: the political, the commercial, and the psychological. While I think all three are critical and of course are really just three different categories for discussing the same phenomenon, I focus on the psychological. I’ll just quote myself here, on what I called the “psychology of conservatism”:

“I’m not talking about merely the “Rush” brand of conservatism, though it includes this too. (And reducing all conservatism to “evil fucking blowhards” won’t help you think this through.) Rather, it’s useful to think about the psychological needs and difficulties that lead not just “right wingers” but most people to generally prefer the familiar versions of reality in their stories…

“…the thing that makes people uneasy about, say, a story about a polyamorous relationship, is ‘what then?’ Just as, when I was a kid, my father gently explained that I should not consider dating black girls because ‘nobody will accept the children,’ most people don’t understand how to think about your wonderful, alternative version of how life could be because they just can not imagine how it will play out as well as the ‘normal’ way of doing things. What then? What will your little half-black baby do? What will happen to a poly family after the movie ends? “And if they can’t imagine the answers to those questions, they simply will not accept the story. “Or they will fill in the blanks with the available stock visions, and once that happens, your vision may be sunk simply because the stock versions are not what you had in mind, and odds are, they’re not at all pleasant.

“…Take poly relationships. The current dominant vision of polyamory is a pretty unappealing one: a gristly 99 year old Mormon humping a dozen thirteen year old semi-retarded slave wives pretty much captures it. Who (other than 99 year old Mormon geezers) wants that? If that is the only possible version of ‘what might be,’ your partially completed vision of an alternative community of polyamorous good people will be very hard to market.”

It’s arguable that modern day pioneers are the people who are daring enough to go out and live their own version of family, to have their own version of the joy of sex. After the pioneers go out and create new ways of being, other people gradually try to shape these into what they see as “civilized.” But over time, the process of subverting limiting versions of what is “the right way to be” tends to win out. It may take years, or even generations, but if you do your life the way your own inner voice tells you is right, eventually you will change the world.

Bergner’s “Other Side of Desire” — part 2 March 9, 2009

Posted by Greg Korgeski, Ph.D. in Uncategorized.
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In my first grumpy comments on Daniel Bergner’s recent book The Other Side of Desire, I expressed my concerns about the book.  Briefly, it seems that both Bergner and many of the writers who have reviewed his book played right into the most negative, sensational, and even terrifying pictures of unconventional sexualities.  As a psychologist who have long been a therapist and consultant for persons with kinky or other sexual preferences, it seemed to me that Bergner’s choice of material, and his sometimes dramatic way of presenting it, might do more damage than good to people trying to work out their own sexualities.

Bergner’s choice of subjects was very limited and very, very unusual.  Consider that of his four profiles, one was an unusually tormented man, despite a rather common and even non-kinky fetish  (a foot fetish that he feels makes him a “monster” — tell that to famous foot fetishists such as, reportedly, Quentin Tarantino among many others); another had sexually abused an adolescent, while two others were less tormented/criminal but still rather unusual in their sexual lives.  Without wanting to suggest there is anything wrong with most of their activities (though of course, child sexual abuse is a different thing), these are nevertheless highly dramatic, unusual, and probably not very typical of “real kink” as experienced by most real people.  Sure, there are tons of fetishists, many female sadists in the kink community (though some would say, “never enough to go around”), and of course, too many people who haven’t been able to manage their sexual desires for children or others whom they’ve hurt (though these are not people in the “kink community” by any means, and it’s questionable if they should be discussed in the same essay.)  But the sense of dramatic “monsterism” that emerges in many of their self-presentations, seems excessive.

There is also the issue of whether his subjects who feel they have “problem sexuality” actually do, or rather, whether they merely have preferences that don’t fit the supposed “norm” in American society.  (A norm which can certainly be questioned, and has been as far back as Kinsey’s famous studies.)  As pointed out by Elizabeth on her blog at Sex In the Public Square,

“…he never does come out and argue that the dominant culture in the United States – the world of these four individuals – limits sexual expression in damaging ways.

“Perhaps my nagging dissatisfaction with the book begins with my reaction to Bergner’s title. The Other Side of Desire implies a binary relationship, as if there is a good side and a bad side, a light side and a dark side. But desire is multifaceted, and the lines between acceptable and unacceptable desire are arbitrary and socially constructed. I was hoping for a book that would expose those arbitrary lines, that social construction, and what I read was a book that reveals instead a deep ambivalence about the diversity of erotic orientations and that raises more questions than it answers.”

In his reply to Elizabeth (and others, including my post there), Bergner (same citation) says that he has avoided being an advocate, and he does present himself as trying to balance the many dilemmas in an exploration of this field.  He adds, “I probably didn’t set out to write the book she and others might hope for.”

I suppose that’s fair, to an extent. But I don’t find myself entirely comfortable with Bergner’s defense of his choices as a writer.

Look, the need to write non-sensational journalism about something that has real impacts on the world, that will be cited (or used as ammunition) by many people in our society who participate in personal or organized efforts to suppress, criminalize, or ostracize the sexually different, is not all that hard for a good journalist to understand. It’s not journalistic rocket science to recognize that there are many groups, the same groups that picket and harass hotel chains when they accept conferences of kinky individuals or LGBT groups, who will be delighted to wave Bergner’s book next to their Bibles and proclaim that “it says it right here, these people are child abusers and there are women who literally roast men on spits in that conference!”

I suspect Bergner would be delighted if, say, he were to find he’d won one of the “Sexies” awards for “sex-positive journalism.”  I would guess that he’ll be nominated; if for no other reason than the fact that there just aren’t many great books or articles written about sexuality at all.  But I also suspect that for every person who admires his work, there may be others that feel his book is kind of, well, sex-negative more than positive.  Consider some of the criteria for the “Sexies” award:

* show evidence of fairness in seeking sex-positive sources to respond to sex-negative ones
* ask hard questions about the motivation and background of sources who rely on sex-negative soundbites
* avoid biased or sensationalistic language
* cover newsworthy topics, events, or issues that might tend to be swept under the rug because of
controversial sexual content
* report accurately, respectfully and with nuance on sex research results
* contain fair, accurate, and non-sensational portrayals of sexual subcultures
* keep a clear separation between sex crimes, such as sexual assault or pedophilia, and things that
merely make people uncomfortable
, such as consensual kink, teen sexuality or gay priests; and help
readers who may not be familiar with the issues make the distinction
* specifically challenge sex-negative assumptions or practices in society at large or in a specific
community
* educate the public as to the diversity of sexual behavior without sensationalizing
* celebrate sexuality as a positive force in human lives

(Bold highlights mine.)

To my thinking, his book has probably not really succeeded, despite his highly empathetic portrayals, in presenting a very positive view of atypical (meaning, not statistically common) sexual preferences.  Child abusers, people who seem to be “monsters” to themselves, and women who roast men alive are hardly what you’d want to bring up in a high school (or even graduate level) class of young people as examples of creative, healthy, “as normal as you or I” sexual expression.  Both by sensationalizing kink and combining child abuse with non-abusive practices, Bergner undermines some of the main goals of sex-positive journalism.  Despite his seeming to be a very caring guy and a great writer in many respects, if I were voting on these awards, I’m afraid it’d be thumbs down.

Follow up on “…Desire” February 19, 2009

Posted by Greg Korgeski, Ph.D. in Uncategorized.
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I want to finish my review of Bergner’s The Other Side of Desire, but have been slowed down by my cold and my own book deadline.  But I just found a nice review by Elizabeth at Sex and the Public Square, and a comment by the author.  (I also added a comment of my own in response, but it’s not up yet and I’m afraid I may have omitted to make myself a copy to stick here.)  So, more shortly.