Tag Archive: sexual orientation

World Psychiatric Association – Symposium S08.5


World Psychiatric Association International Thematic Conference
“Diagnosis in Psychiatry: Integrating the Sciences”
Vienna, Austria June 19-22, 2003

Symposium SO8.5
Classification of Sexual Disorders
WPA Section “Psychiatry and Human Sexuality”
Friday, 20 June, 2003

I World Psychiatric Association diskuteres det ulogiske i kriteriene for tre ICD-10 diagnosene F65.0 Fetisjisme, F65.1 Fetisjistisk transvestittisme og F65.5 Sadomasochisme slik de nå er oppført, og man må forvente en betydelig endring av diagnosene ved neste revisjon av den internasjonale diagnosemanualen ICD-10, som utgis av Verdens Helseorganisasjon.

Spesialist i psykiatri, og faglig medlem av LLHs Diagnoseutvalg, Reidar Kjær, deltok 19.-22. juni 2003 på diagnosekongressen til World Psychiatric Association (WPA) i Wien i forbindelse med den forestående revisjon av diagnosemanualen ICD-10. Det er WPA som er den viktigste fagorganisasjon i revisjonsarbeidet med psykiatridelen av World Health Organization’s diagnoseliste som er offisiell liste i Norge.

Reidar Kjær deltok blant annet med foredraget:
”Do we need all the Paraphilias?” Det var plassert i symposiet Classification of Sexual Disorders (S08.5) og ble avholdt fredag 20.juni i kongressenteret i Hofburg i Wien.

Sammendrag (abstrakt) av Kjærs foredrag:

”Do we need all the Paraphilias?”
The ICD-10 diagnoses F-65.0 (fetishism), 65.1 (fetishistic transvestism) and 65.5 (sadomasochism) are no longer used in everyday Norwegian Psychiatry. But they still figure in the International and National ICD-10 manual. This paper addresses the pros et contras in the ongoing discussion about the revision of the diagnoses. A possible approach could be that national health authorities formally decided not to use these diagnoses, as was done in Denmark with 65.5 in 1995, and propose to delete them from the ICD list at the next revision. Parts of this discussion can be followed on the website www.revisef65.org

Abstraktene til denne konferansen ble trykket i et særnummer av bladet World Psychiatry som er Official Journal of The World Psychiatric Association.
WPA har mer enn 150.000 psykiatere som medlemmer fordelt på 106 medlemsland.

Dokumentasjon:
http://www.wpa2003vienna.at/home_E.htm

http://www.mednet.org.uy/spu/wp/WPA_Symposia.pdf

UK report – August 2003

IML 2003 is official supporter of the ReviseF65 Project

Eric and Svein have been rallying support for SM human rights in the UK during august 2003. Representing the ReviseF65 project, they have held four workshops with in all more than fifty people attending. At all the workshops there were represented different gay and straight SM/fetish leaders and mental health specialists from several countries, and during August the number of members on the ReviseF65 mailing list has increased by 50 percent. One of the workshops received the visit of International Mr Leather, John Pendal. Afterwords he decided to support officially the ReviseF65 project.

International Mr Leather, John Pendal (picture left) published August 26th that ReviseF65 is one of five projects that he will support during the year he holds the title. This should provide a good opportunity for informing people about our project work.

John Pendal is one of very few Europeans who has been awarded International Mr Leather. He got the title at the IML contest in Chicago May 25th 2003. He has taken this year off, to give the role his full attention.

Eric and Svein met him at Europride in Manchester 2003. The ECMC leather club MSC Manchester Superchain had invited John to walk in front of their leather-section in the Europride parade Saturday 23rd 2003. For some time Eric and Svein have had mail contact with MSC‘s hon secretary Ian A. He helped us to get a location for our ReviseF65 workshop in Manchester. Friday 22nd Ian presented us to John (picture right) and Sunday John surprisingly attended our ReviseF65 workshop at Malmaison Hotel. It was very interesting and a big honour for us to be able to present our work to the International Mr Leather.

After the lecture we met John at Manchester Legends Bar celebrating MSC Superchain‘s 20th birthday. We asked him if he would consider the possibility of becoming an official supporter of the ReviseF65 project. He answered “yes” immediately and asked Svein to be photographed together with him in front of the Norwegian flag to demonstrate his support (see the upper picture in the right column).

On Monday we wrote John a mail from an internet café in Manchester and thanked him for his support. Tuesday Ian Gurnhill in Spanner Trust (picture left ) told us that John had linked up the ReviseF65 project on his IML Link page. Friday August 29th, we met John and his partner David at the Hoist leatherclub in London. This is John‘s home club where he received the title “Mr Hoist 2003” in February. John told us that he now also had linked the ReviseF65 project to his Support site. This means that ReviseF65 is one of five projects that IML 2003 endorses. This support is of course a big inspiration for us in our work.

In addition to the workshop at Malmaison Hotel, Eric held a “women only” workshop Sunday August 24th at UK’s First International Womens‘ SM Conference in Manchester. On his first trip to the UK, Svein held a successful workshop at the SM Pride festival in London Saturday August 2nd. Another workshop was held at Central Station, Kings Cross, London Thursday August 28th. This lecture was one hour delayed because of the big power-failure (picture right) that stopped all traffic at London‘s Underground system for hours.

The four ReviseF65 workshops attracted from 4 to 40 participants each. At all the workshops central human-rights activists attended. Discussions, dinners and strategy meetings with these SM/leather leaders gave us feedback which will be important for our continued project work.

In addition, our two visits to the UK gave us the opportunity to take a lot of SM/fetish pictures, which we consider an important ingredient of the Revise F65 website.

ReviseF65 meets SM Germany

Report from Folsom Europe 2004

In 2004 the federal German organisation BVSM e.V. – Bundesvereinigung Sadomasochismus e.V. – started the work to remove the diagnoses of Sadomasochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism from their national version of ICD, International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organisation, WHO. This is important because, as with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality, the more countries that stop using stigmatizing national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the bigger is the possibility that WHO will follow suit.

The ReviseF65 committee, located in Norway, had important talks with activists from German SM organisations both during Europride in Cologne in 2002, and held a workshop during the Folsom street weekend in Berlin September 3.-6., 2004. This brings hope to intensify the work towards SM/fetish prejudices in general, and the efforts to delete stigmatising SM and Fetish diagnoses from the ICD classification, in special.

ReviseF65 attended Europride in Cologne 2002. Among other things, we had important talks with german SM-activists, and was interviewed by the magazine of SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V.. This organisation is running 15 BDSM-communities within 11 towns in Germany. The SMart-Info brought a lot of information about the ReviseF65 efforts to delete stigmatising SM and Fetish diagnoses from the ICD classification published by the WHO – World Health Organisation.

Three weeks before the first Folsom Europe street fair in Berlin 2004, the ReviseF65 committee got a very warm invitation from the BVSM e.V. – Bundesvereinigung Sadomasochismus e.V. to meet them at their Folsom Street Fair booth to present and to inform people about our work. This Federal German organisation had been built up in the two years since I last visited Germany.

At a very short notice, together we were able to organise the production of 500 ReviseF65-flyers in both English and German which was distributed by Ole Johnsen and Svein Skeid from the ReviseF65 committee together with Erik Weisdal during the ten hour long Saturday street fair. As if there wouldn´t have been enough work organising the BVSM booth, Raven and Jayneway managed to organise the possibility for Svein to hold a lecture on Sunday, 5th, the day after the Folsom Europe. Within few days they found a space we could use for free and even organised a wonderfull buffet. Nearly 30 SM activists from organisations all over Germany, Austria and Holland visited the lecture and took part in the discussion afterwards. During the talks at the buffet it suddenly came to happen that what was planned as a nice afterhour for the Folsom weekend transformed into a network meeting of SM activists.

Before, during and after our stay in Berlin September 3.-6., 2004, we learned that central SMart-members I talked to in 2002, was founding member of the new federal SM organisation BVSM e.V., and that one of the main goals of BVSM is to work for the deletion of SM and Fetish diagnoses from the national version of the ICD in Germany. Both SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V. and BDSM-Berlin e.V. also support the ReviseF65 project.

This is very important because, as with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality, the more countries that stop using their national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the bigger is the possibility that the World Health Organization will follow suit. This far, the diagnoses of Sadomasochism and Transvestism is completely out of use in Denmark since 1995. In the U.S., Sadomasochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism is considered to be a healthy form of sexual expression as long as it does not impair the daily functioning of the subject.

The Gay Movement more than 30 years ago considered it of fundamental importance to first delete the diagnosis of homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), before any further major human rights improvement was possible. If a group is considered mentally ill, very few people will listen to your arguments aiming at reducing prejudice in society.

The ReviseF65 movement apply the same judgement today. We consider unprofessional and stigmatising SM and Fetish-diagnoses as possibly one of the biggest obstacles to the acceptance of our human rights. Abolishing them is a very important step in the effort to reduce prejudices towards the SM-Leather-Fetish-population.

The pansexual ReviseF65 committee, located in Norway, sets focus on the lack of scientific basis for today’s diagnoses and tries to stimulate the building-up of an international activist and professional network to delete these diagnoses.

One thing I am sure of. The BDSM community is able to reach our goal ourselves. We are not dependent of the Gay movement. But we can learn from their experiences as I referred to in my lecture during the Folsom weekend. Don’t expect anybody to fight for your freedom from discrimination, if you don’t do it yourself.

Like the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality that is no longer applied by the WHO, the SM and Fetish diagnoses are rarely used in clinical practice as a means to assist people. On the contrary the stigma attached to the diagnoses justifies various forms of harassment and discrimination of this sexual minority by the society. The ReviseF65 group can document that people are losing their jobs, the custody of their children etc., because of their SM-love, lifestyle and self-expression. Much of the discrimination is directly or indirectly a result of the diagnoses.

The ReviseF65 representatives look upon the Folsom Street Fair in general, and the Sunday ReviseF65 lecture in special as a big success. We have got feedback from our German friends that this visit and our contact can lead to closer cooperation and stronger efforts to delete the sm/fetish diagnoses.

All european Leather-SM-Fetish communities were invited to participate. One of the goals with The Folsom Europe Street Fair (like the mother arrangements in the US and Canada) was to strengthen the bonds within the Leather-SM-Fetish community, to raise money to several social projects like hiv and aids, and to reduce SM-Fetish pre-judgements by stepping in to the open public. The arrangement was supported by the City of Berlin, the Berlin Police, the Industrial Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Berlin and the Berlin Tourism Office.

What impressed us Norwegians most, besides all the people at the lecture, the wonderful weather, the very well organised street fair and all the proud and friendly leather/SM people of all colors, interests and sexual orientations, was among other things, the booths with leather- and rubber-men fighting hiv and aids, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Police Officers Berlin-Brandenburg e.V., the police Berlin with it’s contact persons for homosexual lifestyles, and not least all the SM activists at the booths of BVSM e.V., BDSM-Berlin e.V. and SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V. .

Svein Skeid

Leader of the ReviseF65 commitee

Sexual Freedom NOW (published 1996/98)

Testimony from Physicians and Psychiatrists
for the NOW S/M Policy Reform Statement

Physicians and psychiatrists about SM as a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality and an important part of people’s sexual orientation.


Psychiatrist Susan D. Wagenheim, M.D.

As a board-certified psychiatrist and supporter of the National Organization for Women, I write in support of amending the policy statement on consensual S/M. It is my understanding that S/M practice is a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality. In my private practice, I hear patients tell me frequently that they were “born this way”; ie submissive or dominant in sexual nature. Their experience is that S/M is their sexual ORIENTATION, and they “come out” to themselves much as homosexual and lesbian people do. With that understanding, there is no place in NOW for discrimination against a woman’s right to choose; her right to choose how, when and with whom to express her sexual self.
Charles Moser, Ph.D., M.D.

S/M practitioners have been victimized by society as a whole and by many groups that should know better. There is no credible evidence that S/M practitioners have any more problems or issues than other sexual orientations. There is no data to suggest that S/M leads to violence. All research so far, indicates that S/M practitioners are indistinguishable from individuals with other sexual orientations, except by their sexual behavior. The revision of the NOW policy is long overdue.
June M. Reinisch, Ph.D., with Ruth Beasley, MLS. The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex

St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1990.

“Researchers estimate that 5 percent to 10 percent of the U.S. population engages in sadomasochism for sexual pleasure on at least an occasional basis, with most incidents being either mild or staged activities involving no real pain or violence. It appears that many more individuals prefer to play the masochist’s role than the sadist’s. It also appears that males are more likely to prefer sadomasochistic activities than females. This means that male sadists may have difficulty in finding willing masochistic females to be sexual partners.

“If partners are located, an agreement is reached about what will occur. The giving and receiving of actual or pretended physical pain or psychological humiliation occurs in most cares only within a carefully prearranged script. Any change from the expected scenario generally reduces sexual pleasure.

“Most often it is the receiver (the masochist), not the giver (the sadist), who sets and controls the exact type and extent of the couple’s activities. It might also interest you to know that in many such heterosexual relationships, the so-called traditional sex roles are reversed — with men playing the submissive or masochistic role. Sadomasochistic activities can also occur between homosexual couples.”
Havelock Ellis Studies of the Psychology of Sex (early 20th cent)

“The essence of sadomasochism is not so much “pain” as the overwhelming of one’s senses – emotionally more than physically. Active sexual masochism has little to do with pain and everything to do with the search for emotional pleasure.” Ellis believed that culture tries to stifle our “natural impulses, which become expressed through various emotional/physical representations of the heirarchal structure of society.”
Iwan Bloch 
Strange Sexual Practices (1933)

“Sexual abnormalities” were common in ordinary people, and that aberrations and deviations were as essential to life as the “sex impulse” itself. Masochism exists among socially powerful men for whom it was a “liberation from conventional pressure and the professional mask.”
Theodore Reik’s 
Masochism in Modern Man (1941)

“Pleasure is the aim, never to be abolished and the masochistic staging is but a circuitous way to reach that aim. The urge for pleasure is so powerful that anxiety and the idea of punishment themselves are drawn into its sphere.”
Bill Thompson 
Sadomasochism (1994)

“As SM devotees carefully refine these simple acts, by dressing them up in role-play, it is easy to see how they are deliberately manipulating various forms of stimulation in the service of sexual arousal; and how this consenting scene where the submissive’s pleasure is carefully planned is obviously very different from a truly coercive act like rape, which involves aggressive action designed to inflict acute pain on a non-aroused victim.”
Dolf Zillmann (1984) [D. Zillmann along with Park Elliot Dietz are two of the world’s leading authorities on the relationship between sex and aggression.]

“As the arousing capacity of novel partners is likely to fade and acute emotional reactions such as fear and guilt are improbable accompaniments of sexual activity, what can be done to combat the drabness of routine sexual engagements that is expected to result from excitatory habituation? Rough housing, pinching, biting and beating emerge as viable answers. In terms of a theory it is the controlled engagement of pain that holds promise of reliably producing excitatory reaction for transfer into sexual behavior and experience…. Pain then always can be counted on to stir up excitement, however, pain must be secondary to sexual excitedness. It must be dominated by sexual stimulation. Only when thus dominated can it be expected to enhance sexual excitedness.”
Park Elliot Dietz (1990) [P.E. Dietz is a forensic psychologist who consistently tries to point out the absurdity of the link between s/m devotees and psychotic criminals.]

According to Dietz, the five main differences between psychotic sadistic serial murderers and SM devotees:

1. Psychotics search for unwilling partners. S/M devotees use a “safeword” that the submissive can say at any time to end the scene, thus the submissive retains real control throughout the encounter.

2. Psychotics force their acts on the victim rather than aiming at pleasing the submissive (as in s/m). The psychotic sadistic acts are quite different from s/m practices, and usually include: forced anal penetration, forced fellatio, or violent vagina-penetration with various foreign objects -rather than the penis.

3. The sadistic offenders’ demeanor is diametrically opposed to s/m devotees: usually the psychotic is detached and unemotional throughout the torture, while the s/m dominant appears to achieve a “high” or pleasure equivalent during the scene.

4. Psychotic criminals torture their victims, inflicting serious and permanent injury, trying to arouse terror in their victims. S/M devotees skillfully enhance the sexual arousal of their partner, following the rules and guidelines that were established before the scene, thus creating only the illusion that the submissive is not in control.

5. Psychotics usually have a past history of sexual crimes such as rape or incest. S/M devotees are average people who typically don’t have criminal pasts.
The sociologists took their lead from the anthropologist Paul Gebhard, whose 1968 essay “Fetishism and Sadomasochism” undermined the idea of individual pathology by pointing to sadomasochism’s cultural roots, and the futility of defining a widespread and diffuse sexual practice by reference to a few “extreme” examples. He stated that S/M practices were “only prevalent in its organized form in literate societies full of symbolic meanings.” This means that far from being a manifestation of a base instinct, sadomasochism required a considerable amount of intelligence and organization.
1929 Hamilton survey on marriage habits: 28% males and 29% females admitted that they derived “pleasant thrills” from having some form of “pain” inflicted on them.
William A. Henkin, PhD.; November 1992 letter to the committee that advocated changes to the entries on sexual sadism and masochism in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

“In conclusion: consensual sadomasochism offers its adherants an opportunity to explore paraphilic urges and fantasies, not in a dangerous or debilitating fashion, but in a safe and supportive manner, where those urges and fantasies can be pleasurably satisfied, and where their values in a person’s psychic life can be revealed.

“Within the past decade prominent clinicians and scholars in the fields of psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, and clinical sexology, eschewing the received wisdom of past masters who south to fit clinical observations to their theories, rather than the other way around, have instead made serious attempts to understand the activities of consensual sadomasochism as well as the dynamic processes that underlie them, and to devise theories that fit the evidence they found in the lab, in the consulting room, and in the field. They have proposed that consensual erotic power play is not a psychiatric disorder: that instead, it can simply be a form of sexual pleasure, and that as a path of psychological and spiritual development it can even be the evidence and experience of triumph over childhood adversity.

“Absent distress, harm, or functional impairment, to define such activity as a mental disorder is to place chains on the human spirit, and to produce a chilling effect on the very processes we as psychotherapists are trained and charged to abet: the healing and liberation of damaged and imprisoned personalities, and their integration in the full creative expression of human beings.”
Dr. William A. Henkin, 1989 presentation to the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (now Sexuality) with Sybil Holiday, published in 1991 as “Erotic Power Play,” Sandmutopia Guardian.

A Clinical Introduction:

“Everyone accomplishes some degree of self-identification in the normal course of growing up. But the process of growing up is one of acculturation as well as one of maturation, so that as we are in the midst of discovering all those special attributes that make us who we are, we are simultaneously being trained to subdue, suppress, or otherwise disown important facets of ourselves. In the ensuing confusion, few people grow up whole. Instead we are to one degree or another dis-integrated, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as being separated into component parts or particles; reduced to fragments; having had our cohesion or integrity broken up. Disintegration is the condition that as adults we either accept or try to alter.

“One of the most direct ways I know for a person to gain access to hidden facets of his self, and hence to move toward integration, is to explore his sexual personas ; and one of the most direct ways I know for a person to explore his sexual personas is to examine the attitudes he brings to sexual activity. But to examine sexual attitudes usually requires more than intellectual assessment: it first needs exposure, practice, and hands-on experience. It also requires a perspective concerning the variety of people’s experiences that is not influenced by cultural norms.”

On negotiation:

“Negotiation includes both initial and ongoing, verbal and non-verbal communications. In erotic power play, negotiation is the underpinning for consensuality: you cannot agree, or consent, to give something if you do not know it has been requested, or to accept something if you do not know it has been offered. In addition, the more completely and openly people negotiate about what they want or have to offer, the more they establish their parity, as it is difficult for unequals to negotiate truly: all parties know that ultimately the person with more inherent power can pull rank.”

On Ritual:

“A major function of ritual is to let us know who we are beyond the confines of our small, individual selves. Baptisms, confirmations, bar and bas mitzvahs, long pants, graduations, marriages – all ceremonies tell us, even as they announce it, who we are to ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, and our world.

“Anthropologists, ethnologists, mythologists, and other psychologists of culture note that where a heritage of meaningful rites of passage does not exist, people will feel enough of a spiritual imbalance to make up rituals of their own. It’s become a cliché that our society offers us a paucity of rituals that touch the spirit, and that those that exist are for the most part competitive or not negotiated: football games, invasions of small islands, and the episodic opportunity to vote for more of the same.

“In erotic power play, rituals of substance can be conceived, developed, and executed in ways that can touch their participants on numerous levels at once: they can be physical, emotional, cognitive, or spiritual; sexual, political, and religious; they are simultaneously as sophisticated and creative as the human imagination can make them, and as basic and primitive as the psyche’s drives for power and sexual fulfillment.”

No more psychopathology among BDSM-people

There is no evidence that SM/fetish people have a higher degree of psychopathology than the rest of the population.

Link to Norwegian version: http://www.revisef65.net/2015/10/04/ikke-mer-sykelighet-blant-bdsm-ere/


Wismeijer & van Assen (2013):
More heathy BDSMers

A Dutch study of 902 BDSM practitioners, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, suggests that the BDSMers had more favorable psychological characteristics than a control group of 434 respondants.

The BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extraverted and had higher subjective well-being than the control group.

The study, that was publised May 16, 2013, also suggests that the BDSM group was more conscientious and less rejection sensitive. BDSMers were however less agreeable than the control group. The doms scored lower than both the subs and the control group with respect to agreeableness. BDSM scores on health were generally more favorably for those with a dominant than a submissive role, with least favorable scores for controls.

Andreas A.J. Wismeijer PhD, Marcel A.L.M. van Assen PhD: Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 10, Issue 8, pages 1943–1952, August 2013.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsm.12192/abstract

Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners
http://www.andreaswismeijer.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/BDSM_JSM_Wismeijer_van-Assen.pdf

Brad Sagarin et al (2009):

The implication of two studies at the Northern Illinois University into hormonal changes associated with Sadomasochistic activities including spanking, bondage and flogging, suggest that it could bring consenting couples closer together. The increases in relationship closeness combined with the displays of caring and affection observed as part of the SM activities offer support for the modern view that SM, when performed consensually, has the potential to increase intimacy between participants. Sagarin, B. J. (picture), Cutler, B., Cutler, N., Lawler-Sagarin, K. A., & Matuszewich, L. (2009). Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 186-200.
http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0bjs1/papers/scclm09.pdf
http://pubget.com/paper/18563549

Cross and Matheson (2006):

Cross and Matheson (2006) found no support for the traditional theories that sadomasochism is an illness.

The researchers found no evidence for the psychopathology/medical-model contention that masochists suffer from any kind of mental disorder and that SM-sadists are antisocial (Krafft-Ebing 1886/1965).

There was no support for the traditional psychoanalytic view of self-harming and guilt-ridden masochists or id-driven and psychopatic SM-sadists (Freud 1900/1906/1953/1954).

Cross and Matheson neither found any evidence for Baumeister’s contention that masochists were more inclined to engage in escapist behaviors such as drug-taking, day-dreaming, or fantasizing than the comparison group (Baumeister 1988, 1989).

Cross and Matheson did however find that SM participants were overall more likely than non-SM respondents to report bisexual/homosexual orientations.

No evidence was found suggesting that sadomasochists espoused anti-feminist, patriarchal values or traditional gender roles to a greater extent that the non-SM-group.

And the sadomasochists were relatively more likely to be in ongoing relationships than the comparison group.

Patricia A. Cross PhD and Kim Matheson PhD in the book “Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures” (2006), published simultaneously as the Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 50, Nos. 2/3.)

Connolly et al (2006):

Results from a research project by Dr. Pamela Connolly (picture) et al, among a group with bondage and sadomasochistic interests (BDSM) showed that

“no evidence was found to support the notion that clinical disorders – including depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsion – are more prevalent among the sample of individuals with BDSM interests than among members of the general population. Moreover, this sample did not show evidence of widespread PTSD, trauma-related phenomena, personality disturbances, psychological sadism or psychological masochism”, disorders in which the sufferer either derives pleasure out of genuine cruelty (not the play-acting kind) or compulsively seeks out harmful levels of pain. ”Similarly, no prominent themes were found in a series of profile analyses.”

”There were, however, som exceptions to this general pattern, most notably the higher-than-average levels of nonspecific dissociative symptoms and narcissism in this sample. That said, this body of findings suggests that, contrary to longstanding assumptions in the psychoanalytic literature, there is very little support for the view that psychopathology underlies behavior.”

Connolly, P.H.; Haley, H.; Gendelman, J.; Miller, J. (2006). Psychological functioning of bondage/domination/sado-masochism practitioners. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 18(1), 79-120.
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1300/J056v18n01_05

Richters et al 2005:

A survey using computer-assisted telephone interviews with 20,000 Australian men and women, showed that BDSM may actually make men happier. Men into BDSM scored significantly better on a scale of psychological wellbeing than other men.

BDSM’ers were no more likely to have suffered sexual difficulties, sexual abuse or coercion or anxiety than other Australians.

– This seems to imply that these men are actually happier as a result of their behaviour, though we’re not sure why, said Dr. Juliet Richters (picture), of the University of New South Wales. “It might just be that they’re more in harmony with themselves because they’re into something unusual and are comfortable with that. There’s a lot to be said for accepting who you are.”

Researchers said the study helps break down the reigning stereotype that people into bondage and discipline were damaged as children and were therefore “dysfunctional”.

Richters, J., & Rissel, C. (2005). Doing it down under: The sexual lives of Australians. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/kinky-you-cant-beat-it/2007/04/16/1176696736407.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,266344,00.html

Martins & Ceccarelli (2003):

A study, presented at the 16th World Congress of Sexology in Cuba 10-14 March, 2003, suggests that non-conventional sexual practices cannot be used as a diagnosed criteria of any kind, which means that the only aspect that distinguishes these individuals from others is their sexual practices.

Picture: Maria Cristina Martins, Clinical Psychologist and Specialist in Human Sexuality. Campinas, SP, Brazil and Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, PhD in Psycopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII, Paris, France.

www.revisef65.org/cuba1.html

Earlier studies:

According to Moser (1999), limited earlier studies show no differences in psychopathology between the S/M group and the control group. Gosselin & Wilson (1980), Miale (1986), Moser (1979).
http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/SM.htm#S/M_PRACT
C. Moser C. (1999). The Psychology of Sadomasochism (S/M). S. Wright, ed., SM Classics, New York, Masquerade Books 1999, p. 47-61.

Gosselin, C, & Wilson, G. (1980). Sexual variations. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Miale, J. P. (1986). An initial study of nonclinical practitioners of sexual sadomasochism. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, the Professional School of Psychological Studies, San Diego.
Moser, C. (1979). An exploratory-descriptive study of a self-defined S/M (sadomasochistic) sample. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco.

SM as a sexual orientation

Physicians and psychiatrists about SM as a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality and an important part of people’s sexual orientation.
http://members.aol.com/NOWSM/Psychiatrists.html

The ICD-11 Revision: Scientific and political support for the Revise F65 reform Second report to the World Health Organization


The ICD-11 Revision:
Scientific and political support for the Revise F65 reform
Second report to the World Health Organization

Oslo, November 11, 2011

By Cand. Psychol Odd Reiersøl and Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid

Abstract

The interdisciplinary research-based knowledge in Revise F65’s second report to WHO, emphasizes that sadomasochism and sexualized violence are two different phenomena and that fetishists and sadomasochists do not present more psychopathology than the general population. The fetish/BDSM group is an equal contributor to the society and scores on the level with most people on psychosocial features and democratic values such as self control, empathy, responsibility, love, equality, and non-discrimination. Because the ICD fetish and SM diagnoses are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing to the fetish/BDSM minority, these diagnoses have been removed in nearly all of the Nordic countries. The diagnoses are so seldom in use, that neither care, statistics, nor research are affected by their abolition. The report concludes that a removal of the fetish- and SM diagnoses in the forthcoming edition of ICD-11, may have health promoting effects and be valuable to the society, in addition to an improved human rights situation regarding legal safety, real freedom of speech, and less experienced discrimination based on fetish- and BDSM identity and orientation.

Keywords: sadomasochism, fetishism, fetishistic transvestism, transvestism, SM and fetish identity, SM and fetish orientation, human rights

Background

As contributors to the book ‘Sadomasochism, Powerful Pleasures’, “Reiersøl and Skeid (2006) focused their efforts [with the Revise F65 reform project] and criticism on the ICD-10, concluding: The ICD diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism and Sadomasochism are outdated and not up to the scientific standards of the ICD manual. Their contents have not undergone any significant changes for the last hundred years. They are at best completely unnecessary. At worst, they are stigmatizing to minority groups in society” (Krueger, 2010).

May 7, 2007, Classification Coordinator Bedirhan Ustun, MD, at the World Health Organization in Geneva invited Revise F65 to cooperate with the work leading up to the ICD-11 revision.

In accordance with this invitation, Revise F65, September 24, 2009, sent the ‘ICD White Paper’ with the professional and health political foundation for completely removing fetishism, sadomasochism, transvestism and fetishistic transvestism in the new, revised version of the ICD, that is, the ICD-11 (Revise F65, 2009e).

In a mail to Revise F65 September 25, 2009, and a 40 minutes long phone conversation November 18, 2009, Senior Project Officer Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed, responsible for WHO’s revision of ICD-10 Mental and Behavioural Disorders, invited Revise F65 to provide additional scientific and political support for the Revise F65 reform to the ICD revision process.

Introduction

In accordance with this second invitation from WHO, additional scientific and political support follows for the Revise F65 sexual rights reform, consisting of research, empirical data, official national health decisions, law commissions and consultative statements, expert opinions, testimony and careful considerations from mental health professionals, researchers, historians, national health bodies and acknowledged fetish- and BDSM authorities.

In messages to WHO’s Senior Project Officer Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed February 4, 2010 and May 20, 2011, respectively, Revise F65 informed that Norway (Revise F65, 2010c) and Finland (Revise F65, 2011b), have completely removed their national versions of five SM and fetish diagnoses. Sweden removed six diagnoses of sexual behaviours in 2009 (Revise F65, 2008), among them the same classifications as Norway and Finland deleted. Denmark withdrew the diagnoses of dual-role transvestism and sadomasochism in 1994 and 1995, respectively (Politiken, 1995:A7).

Norway and Finland removed the following diagnoses February 1, 2010 and May 12, 2011, respectively:

F65.0 Fetishism
F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
F65.5 Sadomasochism
F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference
F64.1 Dual-role transvestism

Sweden, January 1, 2009 removed the following diagnoses:

F65.0 Fetishism
F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
F65.5 Sadomasochism
F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference
F64.1 Dual-role transvestism
F64.2 Gender identity disorder in youth
(Note: Revise F65 and Norwegian health authorities did not recommend deleting the F64.2 diagnosis because it may possibly give rights to children for important medical care).

Denmark, August 19, 1994 and May 1, 1995 respectively, removed the diagnoses:

F64.1 Dual-role transvestism
F65.5 Sadomasochism

Norwegian authorities describe BDSM and fetish as ‘sexual identities’. Finnish health authorities say that fetish/SM “has to do with sexual orientation”. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare says that as a fetishist or a BDSM practitioner, “You are not diseased. You are not perverse. You are a fully valued citizen!”

Definitions

The following terms are being used synonymously: ‘sadomasochism’, ‘SM’, ‘S/M’, and ‘BDSM’. They denote the phenomenon of consensual power exchange between adults.

Sigmund Freud connected the concepts of ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ into ‘sadomasochism’ in 1938 (Moser & Madeson, 1996:23). The concept of ‘BDSM’ was introduced in 1991 as a substitute for ‘sadomasochism’ which was often associated with an outdated notion of mental illness. While ‘sadomasochism’ is often abbreviated to ‘SM’, the acronym ‘BDSM’ implies a wider definition of three activities which may, but does not always, occur within sadomasochistic practice: ‘Bondage and Discipline’ (BD), ‘Dominance and Submission’ (DS), and ‘Sadism and Masochism’ (SM) (Ernulf & Innala, 1995; Reiersøl & Skeid, 2010).

Synonymously with ‘sadist’ and ‘masochist’, we will use the terms ‘dominant’ and ‘submissive’, ‘master’ and ‘slave’, ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’, ‘S’ and ‘M’, plus ‘top’ and ‘bottom’. ‘Leathermen’ may be used synonymously with ‘homosexuals into fetish and BDSM’.

‘SM or fetish orientation’ (Levitt et al., 1994:472; Wagenheim, 1998; Moser 1999b; Cutler, 2003; Hoff, 2003; Powers, 2007) includes inclination or interest for BDSM and fetishism.

We define ‘fetishism’ as a sexual orientation characterized by the desire for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or touching certain objects, pieces of clothing or body parts of a real or imagined partner.

The terms ‘Transvestic Fetishism’ and ‘Fetishistic transvestism’ are used interchangeably. The former is the DSM term which is widely used for research purposes, the latter is the ICD term supposedly used in diagnostic practices world wide.

Sadomasochism was normative before Krafft-Ebing

According to the American historian and sexologist Vern Bullough, sadomasochism was neither classified as a sickness nor a sin before the Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing published the book ’Psychopathia sexualis’ in 1886 (Bullough & Bullough, 1977:210; Moser, 1999b). Bullough documents that our Christian cultural tradition is permeated with sadomasochistic behavior and that Krafft-Ebing constructed a new pathology of a behaviour which had been endemic and normative in Western culture (Bullough, Dixon & Dixon (1994:59,58).

Both physical and mental pain were important in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and punishment was best if the one who did the punishing did so on a person he loved. ”Accompanying the suffering were ecstatic visions which involved a ’high’ similar to what some participants in sado-masochistic activities of today recount” (Bullough, Dixon & Dixon, 1994:57,54).

The Christian ideology accepting both pain and suffering as necessary has long made the Western world prone to accept and tolerate a wide variety of behaviors which have come to be called sadomasochistic but which before the term was coined were more or less normative in our culture. ”Krafft-Ebing, without quite knowing it, made much of Western history a study of pathological behaviour” (Bullough, Dixon & Dixon, 1994:51-59).

This view is supported by a submission to the British Home Office (Slemmings, 2005):
”The history of modern prejudice against BDSM appears to date back to the publication of Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in 1886. Prior to this date BDSM appears to have been accepted as an eccentricity (especially among the rich) and as a form of non-penetrative ‘safe sex’ at a time when syphilis was still a killer disease. Among the working classes the sexual act itself was often referred to as “a bit of slap and tickle” which implies BDSM was also acknowledged and practised even by the poor and less well educated.”

Degeneration, perversion, and moralistic hierarchy

Krafft-Ebing constructed the terms ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ from the authors Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. In a letter to Krafft-Ebing Sacher-Masoch fruitlessly objected to the misuse of his family name (Moser & Madeson, 1996:22).

According to Thompson (1994:20), Krafft-Ebing’s theory was based on “a Victorian stereotype about male and female sexual responses”. According to Krafft-Ebing sadism was a pathological intensification of the masculine character and masochism a pathological degeneration of the distinctive psychical peculiarities of women (Bullough, Dixon, & Dixon, 1994:48).

In 1879 Krafft-Ebing wrote ’Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie’ that became ’the German bible of degeneration theory’.

He described sadism and masochism in terms of the theory of degeneration as published by Bénédict Morel. This stated that characteristics such as perversions can be inherited (Morel, 1857). In 1886, Dr. Krafft-Ebing defined SM as ‘a disturbance in the evolution of the psychosexual processes sprouting from the soil of psychical degeneration‘.

Even though Freud rejected the degeneration theory of Morel and Krafft-Ebing, and made his own theory of psychoanalysis, the doctrine of degeneration, according to Sulloway (1979:297), was long retained as a coordinate concept by many, including Freud. Freud also adhered to Krafft-Ebing’s concept of perversion and developed it further.

After 1933 degeneration became a part of the Nazi ideology (Shorter, 1997:102). The first social circles of heterosexual sadomasochists in the USA can be traced back to sexual refugees from Nazi Germany (USA Today, 2002).

“Those who combine homosexuality with sadistic and masochistic aberrations are among the cruelest people who walk this earth. In ancient times they found employment as professional torturers and executioners. More recently they filled the ranks of Hitler’s Gestapo and SS” (Reuben, 1969:135). In other words, Reuben is talking about a “double perversion” and so did several other educators. US psychiatrist Dr. David Reuben is probably the most well known. The title of his book ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)’ was one of the first sex manuals that entered mainstream culture in the 1960s, and it had a profound effect on sex education and in liberalizing attitudes towards sex. It was the most popular non-fiction book of its era and became part of the Sexual Revolution of modern America. The book was translated into 54 languages and sold in 52 countries and ultimately reached more than 150 million readers. In 1972 it was parodied by Woody Allen in the comedy film of the same name. The chapter on male homosexuality has received much criticism for perpetuating stereotypes and negative images of gay men as sex obsessed beings, of homosexual expression of sexuality as almost entirely impersonal, and of abusive “butch-queen” relationships as being typical where relationships exist at all. The author asserts very clearly that he considers homosexuality to be a perversion. Also calling into question the objectivity and usefulness of the book is its assertion that all prostitutes are lesbians and all lesbians are prostitutes.

The American National Organization for Women (NOW,) that initially condemned SM lesbians as perverse, removed their 20 years old official policy against SM from their ‘Delineation of Lesbian Rights’ policy in 1999 (Wright, 2006).

The feminist writer and cultural anthropologist Gayle S. Rubin Ph.D., observed that sexual identities are arranged in a hierarchical system ranging from monogamous married heterosexuality at the top to sex workers, sadomasochists, fetishists and those who desire across generational boundaries at the bottom. Those at the top of the hierarchy are privileged while those at the bottom are stigmatized and punished (Rubin, 1984/1993). Tiefer (1997) noted in her essay, ‘Towards a Feminist Sex Therapy’: “By ignoring the social context of sexuality, the DSM nomenclature perpetuates a dangerously naive and false vision of how sex really works,” separating what Gayle Rubin (1984) once called “the charmed circle [of] good, normal, natural, blessed sexuality” from “the outer limits [of] bad, abnormal, unnatural, damned sexuality.”

Prejudice disguised as science

The american psychoanalyst and researcher Robert Stoller (Stoller, 1991), cautioned his fellow psychoanalysts against accepting as facts about sadomasochism a set of assumptions made plausible by repetition but based on very little evidence.

He noted: “…psychoanalysts, Freud included, cooked up a soup with too few ingredients. For me, most psychoanalytic theories of sadism and masochism are boiled water masquerading as gourmet’s delight….Until recently, before loading up on facts, I had no reason to doubt the psychiatric and psychoanalytic wisdom… But then I began meeting sadomasochists…” (Stoller, 1991:9,21)

Stoller described how he changed his mind after having studied bondage and SM houses in California. “Presuming that almost everyone else is as I was, it may interest you to note my change in attitude”… “So, though I found my informants’ games unappealing (just as they may find our ‘vanilla’ practices), I no longer extrapolate and think these people are freaks” (p. 21). ”Psychoanalytic explanations will have to be more precise, more anchored in clinical data, and more modest…. it is immoral for psychoanalysts to hide their moralizing in jargon-soaked theory…. when we have little or no evidence, we do best, regarding theory making, to tread lightly, and…when we recognize the low quality of our evidence, we should go out and collect better evidence….” (Stoller 1991:9,21).

The National Coalition of Sexual Freedom (NCSF) criticizes the DSM for not considering the latest research: “Because the scientific evidence contradicts the statements currently within the DSM, we must conclude that the interpretation of the Paraphilias criteria has been politically – not scientifically – based.” “Because of this, BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers are subject to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis” (NCSF, 2010).

Victorian stereotypes in the media

Charlotte Ovesson points out that Krafft-Ebing’s outdated theories are still alive in Swedish reference books (Herburt, 2009) and daily newspapers. She describes this thoroughly in a social psychological oriented sociological study (Ovesson, 2011:37,44).

Words are manipulated, and quotes are taken out of context to increase sales and to promote the stereotype of the unpredictable male sadist without moral limits (Ovesson, 2011:26,31,33,37). Phrases like “violent sex”, “torture”, and “sex torture networks” are being used regardless of consent or non consent (Ovesson, 2011:37).

The media also construct a stereotype of the woman as a victim even though she participated actively and voluntarily in the SM relationship (Ovesson, 2011:23). At the same time dominant women are non existing and women enjoying SM sex are made invisible in the spirit of the victorian stereotype (Ovesson, 2011:32,40,44).

Even where sadomasochism is described positively it is evident that it is considered as a deviation from the heteronormative sexuality (Ovesson, 2011:35). Due to internalized shame, many SM people retain the stereotypes by repeating the prejudices. The word ‘sadomasochism’ is being used in reports about accidents and crimes that have nothing to do with sadomasochism (Ovesson, 2011:34).

The confounding of SM with violence also permeates dictionaries and encyclopedias. In a study of sadomasochism in Swedish reference books 1876-2006, Kim Herburt at the Historical Faculty at the University of Stockholm points out how the reference books seldom describe sadomasochism within a consensual context (Ovesson, 2011:6; Herburt, 2009:418,419).

Nowhere was it clearly stated that sadomasochism and other sexual deviations were illnesses, but they were described in the same way as illnesses because causes and treatments were part of the articles. The reader will therefore interpret the described phenomena as illnesses (Herburt, 2009:417; Ovesson, 2011:6).

Research on pathology

The Revise F65 literature review shows that regardless of how the research is conducted, whether qualitative, quantitative, via telephone, via Internet, or by face to face interviews, there is the following tendency: sadomasochists do not have any more psychopathology than others. This is supported for example by Gosselin and Wilson (1980). They did not find anything pathological about the SM group. SM people did not display particularly high guilt levels nor were they more obsessional than other people. Breslow, Evans, & Langley (1985) also found SM play practitioners to be non-pathological. “These figures do not indicate that depression plays any greater part in the lives of sadomasochists than it does in non-sadomasochist’s lives. It can be concluded that, on the whole, sadomasochists seem to have accepted their SM interest” (Breslow, 1999). Breslow underlines that there is no typical sadomasochist. “The average sadomasochist is unremarkable, he or she is just like anyone else, with the one exception of having an interest in SM” (Breslow, 1999).

A lack of psychopathology is corroborated in studies by Miale (1986), Moser & Levitt (1987/1995:109), Sandnabba et al. (1999), Spengler (1977), Levitt et al. (1994), Sandnabba et al. (2002), Damon (2003), and Stiles et al. (2007).

Connolly et al. (2006), among a group with bondage and sadomasochistic interests (BDSM) showed that “no evidence was found to support the notion that major disorders — including depression, anxiety, mania/bipolarity, and obsessive-compulsivity — are more prevalent among the sample of individuals with BDSM interests than among members of the general population” (Connolly et al., 2006:117). Of special interest is the Connolly investigation of personality disorders. ”Paranoia and borderline pathology, the severe personality disorders described in the psychoanalytic literature as ubiquitous among BDSM practitioners, were remarkable in their absence from this sample” (Connolly et al., 2006:108). However, “While this finding does not support those psychoanalytic notions that imply a narcissistic personality structure is present in all, or even most, it does point to the likelihood that some BDSM practitioners (in this case 30.23%) are ‘clinically significant’ on this measure, indicating the presence of greater-than-average levels of narcissistic features and possibly suffer from narcissistic personality disorder” (Connolly et al., 2006:108). There was also evidence of a significantly higher level of histrionic features compared with general population estimates. The authors caution against interpreting this as pathology in the BDSM population, for example: “It has been noted that people in the Los Angeles BDSM community meet frequently for ‘play parties’ in which a high level of exhibitionism is deemed appropriate” (Connolly et al., 2006:109). On dissociative identity disorder (DID): “there is no evidence of a higher-than-average likelihood of DID” (Connolly et al., 2006:110). As with all other research there are methodological issues and the authors of this study have a thorough discussion about it. They conducted a very high number of comparisons: “After conducting over 100 statistical comparisons, a significant result on one or more disorders seemed almost guaranteed on the basis of chance alone” (Connolly et al., 2006:111).

Schmidt (1995) and Schmidt, Schiavi, Schover, Segraves, and Wise (1998) on the DSM-IV Sexual Disorders Workgroup reported that literature reviews completed for DSM-IV revealed a paucity of data supporting the scientific conceptual underpinning of current diagnostic terminology for sexual psychopathology. McConaghy (1999) suggested that, in view of the lack of a relationship of SM with psychiatric pathology, that sadomasochism, like homosexuality, should not be classified as a DSM disorder.

There is more information on the Revise website (Revise F65, 2009k). While the situation is better now than it was in 1998, we acknowledge there is still a paucity of data and that more research is welcome.

Health promoting sexuality

An early sexual rights reform advocate, the Swedish psychiatrist, Lars Ullerstam had a book published about the sexual minorities, including homosexuality, fetishism, transvestism, SM, as well as other ‘perversions’ that don’t harm anybody. He argues in length for the rights of these people to enjoy their sexuality: “One more thing we can be dead certain of: the “perversions” allow considerable chances to achieve human happiness. And therefore the “perversions” are in themselves good, and therefore they ought to be encouraged” (Ullerstam, 1966:43)

Even though Moser & Madeson (1996:40) and Breslow (1999) warn against probable sampling bias, research indicates that sadomasochists are well educated with higher income than the average population (Breslow et al., 1985; Moser & Levitt, 1987/1995; Levitt et al., 1994; Sandnabba et al., 1999; Breslow, 1999; Alison et al., 2001; Haymore, 2002; Connolly, 2006:88).

A survey using computer-assisted telephone interviews with 20,000 Australian men and women, showed that BDSM may actually make men happier. Men into BDSM scored significantly better on a scale of psychological well-being than other men. BDSM’ers were no more likely to have suffered sexual difficulties, sexual abuse, coercion or anxiety than other Australians. “This seems to imply that these men are actually happier as a result of their behaviour, though we’re not sure why”, said Dr. Juliet Richters, of the University of New South Wales. “It might just be that they’re more in harmony with themselves because they’re into something unusual and are comfortable with that. There’s a lot to be said for accepting who you are” (Richters et al., 2007, 2008).

The implication of two studies by Sagarin et al. (2009) into hormonal changes associated with sadomasochistic activities including spanking, bondage and flogging, at the Northern Illinois University, suggests that it could bring consenting couples closer together. The increases in relationship closeness combined with the displays of caring and affection observed as part of the SM activities offer support for the modern view that SM, when performed consensually, has the potential to increase intimacy between participants. This result is supported by a qualitative study by Thomsen (2002). Several SM techniques were helpful in gaining comfort with sexual intimacy, including control/power role play, communication, trust, a sense of safety, mutual respect, an emotional bond/intimacy, and being able to get in touch with one’s body. Respondents also gained self-esteem, self-respect, and knowledge of one’s self all of which are vital to achieving comfort with sexual intimacy. Cutler (2003) and Panter (1999) also found that SM participants use SM scenes to increase the intimacy of their relationships and experience a greater sense of personal and interpersonal empowerment.


ICD Revision White Paper
Revise F65’s first report to the World Health Organization, September 24, 2009.

Reiersøl, Odd & Skeid, Svein (2006). The ICD Diagnoses of Fetishism and Sadomasochism.  In P.J. Kleinplatz and C. Moser (Eds.). Sadomasochism, Powerful Pleasures (pp. 243-262). Published simultaniously in The Journal of Homosexuality, Volume 50, Issue 2&3, May 2006.

Odd Reiersøl is educated as a psychologist at the University of Oslo. He has been working at Solverv Psychotherapy Institute in Oslo for the last 23 years as a psychotherapist with adults, couples and groups as well as educating other professionals. He also has a university degree in mathematics and mathematical statistics.

Svein Skeid is the leader of Revise F65, and has been working with gay and BDSM human rights for 30 years. He has been awarded prizes several times, included ‘Gay Person of the Year Award’ in 2003, the greatist honor of the Norwegian gay movement.

The Revise F65 project was established in 1996 with a mandate from the Norwegian National LGBT Association of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LLH). Revise F65 consists of gay and straight BDSM human rights organizations as well as mental health professionals. The purpose of Revise F65 is to remove Sadomasochism, Fetishism, Fetishistic Transvestism and Transvestism as psychiatric diagnoses from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

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SM versus violence

The Canadian researchers Cross and Matheson (2006:144-145) found no evidence for Krafft-Ebing’s claim that masochists suffer from psychiatric illness or that SM sadists are antisocial or violent (Krafft-Ebing, 1886/1965). They neither found any support for Freud’s theory about self mutilating masochists or id-driven psychopathic SM sadists (Freud, 1900/1954, 1906/1953, 1924/1961).

‘The Leatherman’s Handbook’ by Larry Townsend was the first pioneer book that describes the psychology, communication and precautions in SM. In this way he gave the first safety rules that have been carried on for generations of gay leather men world wide. Townsend points out that emotional involvement is just as prevalent in SM as in other sexual relationships, that empathy is “the key to the game” and that the S’s “degree of insight into the M’s responses will make or break the scene” (Townsend, 1972:28).

A study by Weinberg (1994/1995) of the type and nature of SM play practices, revealed the importance of control in SM play, as well as mutual concern among its practitioners. The actual power in BDSM may lie with the ‘bottom’, who typically creates the script, or at least sets the boundaries, by which the S&M practitioners play.

The researchers Ernulf and Innala (1995) observed discussions among individuals with such interests, one of whom described the goal of “hyperdominants“. “A good top is an empathetic person who knows how to tell with the least possible feedback exactly what will blow the bottom’s mind. The top enjoys his pleasure vicariously” (Ernulf & Innala, 1995:644).

Luc Granger, Ph.D., head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal, created an intensive treatment program for sexual aggressors in La Macaza Prison in Quebec; he has also conducted research on the S&M community. “They are very separate populations,” he says (Apostolides, 1999)

Fedoroff, Paul J. MD (2008:644,637) points out that sexual sadism is a heterogeneous phenomenon and sexual sadism within the context of mutual consent should not be mistaken for acts of sexual violence or aggression. “Sexual arousal from consensual interactions that include domination should be distinguished from nonconsensual sex acts.”

While consensual sexual sadomasochism may include 5-10 percent of the population (Revise F65, 2009g), ‘‘virtually all of the published papers using DSM criteria for Sexual Sadism have been done on studies of forensic populations’’ (Krueger, 2010). Even if Krueger doesn’t want to remove any diagnoses, in a report for the forthcoming DSM-V, he stresses that it is important “to distinguish individuals practicing S & M as part of consensual sexual activity from individuals who have been arrested for such activity and are in the forensic system”. “One might anticipate that therapy for those practicing S & M may involve issues other than their S & M or involve ‘‘normalizing’’ (i.e., making acceptable) their sexual fantasies or behavior (Kleinplatz & Moser, 2004; Nichols, 2006). With forensic populations, the focus would be on controlling or suppressing sadistic arousal and behavior (Krueger & Kaplan, 2002)”.

Park Elliot Dietz is a forensic psychologist who consistently tries to point out the absurdity of the link between S/M devotees and psychotic criminals. According to Dietz (1990), there are five main differences between psychotic sadistic serial murderers and SM devotees:

1. Psychotics search for unwilling partners. S/M devotees use a ‘safeword’ that the submissive can say at any time to end the scene, thus the submissive retains real control throughout the encounter.

2. Psychotics force their acts on the victim rather than aiming at pleasing the submissive (as in S/M). The psychotic sadistic acts are quite different from S/M practices, and usually include: forced anal penetration, forced fellatio, or violent vaginal-penetration with various foreign objects – rather than the penis.

3. The sadistic offenders’ demeanor is diametrically opposed to S/M devotees: usually the psychotic is detached and unemotional throughout the torture, while the S/M dominant appears to achieve a “high” or pleasure equivalent during the scene.

4. Psychotic criminals torture their victims, inflicting serious and permanent injury, trying to arouse terror in their victims. S/M devotees skillfully enhance the sexual arousal of their partner, following the rules and guidelines that were established before the scene, thus creating only the illusion that the submissive is not in control.

5. Psychotics usually have a past history of sexual crimes such as rape or incest. S/M devotees are average people who typically don’t have criminal pasts.

John K. Noyes, Ph.D. sees SM play as symbolic acts in the form of staged aggression, a kind of consensual play or acting, as distinguished from actual aggression in the form of violent, nonconsensual behavior. “As a staged aggression, it may even be in a position to defuse social violence and to put forward alternative and socially viable models of coping with aggression in a manner that minimizes its negative effects” (Noyes, 1997:30).

The sociologists took their lead from the anthropologist Paul Gebhard, whose 1969 essay ‘Fetishism and Sadomasochism’ undermined the idea of individual pathology by pointing to sadomasochism’s cultural roots, and the futility of defining a widespread and diffuse sexual practice by reference to a few “extreme” examples. He stated that S/M practices were “only prevalent in its organized form in literate societies full of symbolic meanings.” This means that far from being a manifestation of a base instinct, sadomasochism required a considerable amount of intelligence and organization (Gebhard, 1969/1995).

In a manuscript dated May 11, 1955, the Australian composer, pianist and self-documented sadomasochist Percy Grainger wrote: “Flagellantic interests may be grouped together with such games as football, wrestling, boxing in this respect: they all represent something that originally was harsh, cruel, violent and destructive, but which have now become playful rather than cruel, teasing rather than destructive, friendly rather than hostile. In other words, they are typical of a world that has shed much of its warlikeness and become really peaceable, that has replaced competition and hostility with comradeship and co-operation” (Grainger, 1955/1999).

See also: SM versus abuse (Revise F65, 2007).

Pleasure and pain

The British psychologist and medical doctor Havelock Ellis (Ellis, 1926/1995) was among the first who understood that SM practitioners are seeking pleasure, not pain. He also understood that sadomasochistic practices are confined to consensual situations. Among supporters of these viewpoints were (Thomsen, 2002), Iwan Bloch (Bloch, 1933/1994), and Theodor Reik (Reik, 1940, 1941).

Morphine receptors in the brain have been known since the 1970s; these are designed to receive endorphins, morphine-like substances produced by the body that are both powerful pain-killers and antidepressants (Bullough, Dixon & Dixon, 1994:50). The American medical doctor Lawrence Mass was wondering if the newly discovered endorphins could influence SM interactions (Mass, 1979:292). The Canadian writer, Geoff Mains, introduced the notion of endorphins as a critical component of S/M sexuality (Mains, 1984:11,64). The Danish psychiatrist Birgit Johansen, in her book “Smertens lyst” (The pleasure of pain), pointed out how the painkilling endorphins can be a possible explanation for the pain management in sadomasochists (Johansen, 1990).

Professor Emerita, Beverly Whipple PhD, and her colleagues in the 1980s did research on women, sex and pain. They found that sexual stimulation elevates pain threshold by 40 per cent and over 100 per cent during an orgasm (Whipple, 1986). Before orgasm, oxytocin, which is released from the brain, surges up to five times the normal level, which in turn causes the release of endorphins, our natural pain-killing hormones. In addition to decreasing pain, endorphins produce a spiritually elevating effect and positive perception of the environment. Most surveys are done with women, but it is certain that the pain threshold before and after an orgasm is elevated in both men and women, according to Specialist in Neurology Per Olov Lundberg, MD, PhD (VG, 2002).

Even anticipation of pain can activate a general physiological arousal which can be channelled into sexual feelings or be regarded as such by its participants. Weinberg, Williams and Moser (1984) argued that whether pain was real or apparent, light or heavy, was not important to their definition but only to the interpretation that the participants put upon it. Their definition gives as much emphasis to the psychological as to the physical (Bullough, Dixon & Dixon, 1994:50).

The balance between pleasure and pain is dependent on the situation. In a philosophical dissertation at Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee, Ramsour (2002) points out that the only pain that works is what is thoroughly planned and with the correct dosage. The masochist does not gain pleasure or sexual satisfaction from accidental pain. Sadomasochists do not obtain more pleasure than others by visiting the dentist. The intensity of the pain does not determine the pleasure, but the individual balance between pain and pleasure (Bullough, Dixon & Dixon, 1994:50; Reiersøl & Skeid, 2010).

Research by Alison et al. (2001:10) indicate that tops used flagellation as a method of administering pain rather than as a way to inflict humiliation: “for the gay male group the administration and reception of pain was a more intense and real perception and that the symbolic representation of pain (humiliation) was more important for the women and the heterosexual men.”

What SM can teach us

However, most other authors point out that contrary to pain, dominance and submission or power exchange is the essence of SM/BDSM (Gebhard, 1969; Califia, 1979; Scott, 1980/1998; Kamel, 1983; Scoville, 1984; Ernulf & Innala, 1995; Cross, 1998; Weinberg, 2006:33; Cross & Matheson, 2006:158). “Pain is not the central or guiding principle of S&M. Indeed, it is not even essential to sadomasochistic activities” (Baumeister, 1988a:37; Weinberg, 1995:291). “Pain is far from unknown in S&M, but the pain is secondary” (Vail & Goode, 2007:202).

This research indicates that pain is only one of several ways to stage the illusion of dominance and submission. “The only power he’s got is what I let him have”, one of the participants in a study commented. And one master said: “To say I have the power and the control is misleading. We are out to please each other” (Cross & Matheson, 2006:157). In order to emphasize his/her authority, it is not uncommon for the master to push the limits a little to add a feeling of authenticity to the scene (Weinberg, 2006:34).

But as the examples cited above indicate, the participants do not regard the role playing as “real” (Weinberg, 2006:33). Both the power of fantasy and a mutually agreed upon definition are required to fulfill the illusion that the receiver is under total control of the master (Weinberg, 1995:300; Magill, 1982; Brodsky, 1993; Sandnabba et al., 1999; Lee, 1979:87,92).

“The imitation of humiliation is carefully constructed never to produce true humiliation. The imitation of trauma, such as when being humiliated is enacted, is not traumatic. Constant, high attention to one’s partner’s experience is more caring and safer than the blundering, ignorant, noncommunicating obtuseness that governs so many “normal” people’s erotic motions” (Stoller, 1991:21).

Besides pain, for example bondage, various fetishes and responsibility and care on part of the (almost parental) sadist may be used to maintain the illusion of a power and status differential (Cross og Matheson, 2006:157; Reiersøl & Skeid, 2010:313). In line with the results of their research, Sagarin et al. (2009) state that various aspects of care and intimacy are present at every stage in BDSM (foreplay, interaction and aftercare).

SM is symbolic power playing where the receiver as an equal partner voluntarily transfers control to the master. The master takes and administrates the control, while adapting to the wishes and reactions of the receiver (Reiersøl & Skeid, 2010; Moser, 1988:50; Weinberg, 1978/1995; Weinberg & Falk, 1980; Baumeister, 1988b; Brame et al., 1993; Miller & Devon, 1995; Hoople, 1996).

Furthermore, Weinberg (2006:33) states that “sadomasochistic scenes are both consensual and collaboratively produced (Baumeister, 1988b; Hoople, 1996; Weinberg, 1978/1995; Weinberg & Falk, 1980). What may appear to the uninitiated observer to be spontaneous behavior is often carefully planned.” “All parties to the interaction must agree to participate. Forced participation is not acceptable within the subculture; it is only the illusion that individuals are coerced that is approved by sadomasochists” (Weinberg, 2006:34).

As expressed by the American author Annalee Newitz: “Games in which power is exchanged, granted and, most importantly, controlled, can teach players how power works and what it means to defy it. As experienced players often report, S/M games are as much about trusting your partner(s) to take or relinquish power as they are about shiny boots and luscious whips. It’s for this reason that theories of consent are at the very core of S/M thought” (Newitz, 2000).

The researchers Patricia A. Cross Ph.D. and Kim Matheson Ph.D. (Cross & Matheson, 2006:147) found no evidence for Baumeister’s contention that masochists were more inclined to engage in escapist behaviors such as drug-taking, day-dreaming, or fantasizing than the comparison group (Baumeister, 1988a, 1989). Breslow (1999): There is a myth that masochists are high level corporate executives who need to be dominated and humiliated in order to help relieve business pressures. The people responding to the questionnaire had a large range of occupations, including, but not limited to: Medical doctors, lawyers, college professors, psychologists, social workers, fireman, policeman, carpenters, computer programmers, communication systems analysts, forest service employees, members of the armed forces, artists, housewives, clerks, postal employees, as well as welfare recipients, etc. Although a myth exists that SM interests are limited to corporate executives who have high pressure jobs and need SM to “unwind,” or “relax,” it is apparent from this list that sadomasochists have a variety of occupations, which range across all socioeconomic groups.

According to Reiersøl & Skeid (2010) both the dominant and the submissive must be involved in all the phases of foreplay, interaction and aftercare to achieve the important balance of safety and excitement (Pagh, 1985:56, Mains, 1984:65; Califia, 1979; Kamel, 1980; Lee, 1979; Weinberg, 1995:294). During the foreplay, or negotiation phase, security procedures, personal limits and safe words are agreed upon, so that the game can be interrupted in case something feels wrong to either party (Moser, 1998; Califia-Rice, 1994/2000, 1993/2002; Miller, 1995; Wiseman, 1996). This phase may also be non verbal, communicated by clothing, body language and various signals. 90 percent of the communication that takes place during the interaction phase is probably non visible for the uninitiated. The authority of the master is dependent upon her ability to empathize and communicate, as well as knowledge about what turns the partner on. The aftercare, or the landing phase, gives an opportunity to evaluate the session, for example by talking and cuddling to get grounded after the high that was produced by the endorphins during the interaction phase.

The author Annalee Newitz writes: “It’s from S/M theory that we’ve developed the concept of ‘safe words’: established phrases that signal the end of a scene (many people use the easy-to-remember ‘yellow’ to request a slow down, and ‘red’ for stop). But more importantly, S/M theory has inaugurated a whole new way of engaging in sexual communication. In the S/M community, communication is at the root of all sexual satisfaction” (Newitz, 2000).

Charlotte Ovesson writes in her study of sadomasochism in Swedish daily newspapers, 2007-2011, that “when sadomasochism is regarded as sick, that is a problem for those who are sadomasochists, but it is also a problem for the rest of society that does not learn what people with a non normative sexuality know” (Ovesson, 2011:28). Clinical psychologist Edith Thomsen Ph.D. thinks that society could learn a lot by listening to SM negotiation, because it applies to sex in general just as much as to SM (Thomsen, 2002).

The australian writer, broadcaster and researcher Kath Albury Ph. D., points out how “the practice of BDSM offers heterosexual women a structure for sexual negotiation that can also be seen to undermine the conventions of compulsory heterosexuality. ”Unlike the high level of risks — of unplanned pregnancy, STIs, regret or insufficient consent — involved in traditional heterosex, where sex ‘just happens’ (Holland et al, 1998), BDSM is generally expected to involve advanced negotiation and preagreed signals (i.e., a ‘safeword’) to indicate slow down or stop (Califia-Rice, 2000, 2002; Miller, 1995; Wiseman, 1998). This participatory approach offers a radical alternative to relationships, sexual or otherwise, in our lives in which we do not feel empowered to negotiate, sexual or otherwise (Albury, 2002:176-181). Summary by Heckert (2005:25).

SM and equality

Unlike Krafft-Ebing, Sigmund Freud saw sadism and masochism as being two forms of the same entity, and he noted that they were often found in the same person. Sadism and masochism are flexible roles where the sadist and the masochist often switch the dominance during the interaction, depending on the type of activity, from time to time, or as a means of personal development (Freud, 1938:570; Weinberg & Kamel, 1995b:17; Miller & Devon, 1995; Reiersøl & Skeid, 2010).

According to Weinberg (1995:293) many authors have found that a significant number of sadomasochists are flexible, with the ability to switch their chosen role. (Breslow et al. 1985; Moser and Levitt, 1987; Califia, 1979; Gebhard, 1969/1995; Kamel, 1980; Moser, 1988; Naerssen et al., 1987; Spengler, 1977; Weinberg, 1978/1995). Weinberg points out that for many people it seems like the content of the role play is essential and not the particular role that each participant takes (Weinberg, 1995:293).

“Pat Califia (Califia, 1979/1995) discusses the politics of society, men usually being the ones in positions of authority, and how in SM play that is not necessarily the case. She feels that is one of the reasons that many members of society, especially those with authority, dislike SM play” (Thomsen, 2002). Liz Highleyman (1997), argued that, “SM play involves interpersonal power exchange, which is diametrically opposed to real world authoritarian roles, which are typically unidirectional. One participant is always on top, and the other is always on the bottom. Except in rare circumstances, the victim of the cop, soldier, or warden does not have the opportunity to ‘exchange’ any power whatsoever” (Highleyman, 1997). Research on 184 Finnish sadomasochistically oriented individuals found that two-thirds indicated having much flexibility in being able to switch from masochistic to sadistic positions (Sandnabba et al., 2002).

The French philosopher, sociologist, historian and self-identified sadomasochist Michel Foucault emphasizes how SM differs from social power: “What characterized power is the fact that it is a strategic relation that has been stabilized through institutions. (Through) courts, codes and so on . . . the strategic relations of people are made rigid. The SM game is very interesting because it is a strategic relation, but it is always fluid. Of course, there are roles, but everybody knows very well that those roles can be reversed. Sometimes the scene begins with the master and slave, and at the end the slave has become the master. Or, even when the roles are stabilized, you know very well that it is always a game: either the rules are transgressed, or there is an agreement, either explicit or tacit, that makes them aware of certain boundaries” (Halperin, 1995:86; Gallagher, 1989/1994).

The European Fetish and SM movement has a long tradition working against racism and Nazism. For example, in 1998 the homosexual umbrella organization ECMC, with its 50 European member clubs clearly condemned “racist and Nazi attitudes, statements, actions, and membership in such anti democratic organizations”. Such manifestations are according to their objectives incompatible with membership in ECMC (European Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs) (Revise F65, 2004f).

Tyler McCormick was elected International Mr. Leather 2010. McCormick, a female-to-male transgender man who uses a wheelchair, bested a field of 50 contestants, from across the U.S. and around the world. This is another example of non discrimination policies within the SM and fetish movement (Revise F65, 2010b:6).

Safe, sane and consensual

Weinberg, Falk, Lee and Kamel (1983) studied the SM environment in San Francisco and New York during a seven year period from 1976. They found that the SM community had developed their own techniques, rules, tenets, structures, language and organizations in order to reduce possible damage (Thompson, 1994:122).

Likewise, the clinical psychologist Edith Thomsen found in a qualitative study (Thomsen, 2002) how “the different techniques and activities involved with SM play are infused within a structure consisting of rules, that are mutually agreed upon in advance by the participants, and framed within a context of mores held by the SM community”.

Kama Sutra, written by Vatsysayana, year 100-400, described safe practice of several types of activity which we today can call sadomasochism: erotic striking, biting, scratching, and different accompanying cry of pain. According to Moser “SM behaviors are seen throughout history, dating back at least to ancient Egypt and the Hindu culture in India…” (Moser & Madeson 1996/1999:34). There is evidence of the masochistic side of SM play in the 1500s, in Europe, of its spreading during the 1600s, and being widespread by the 1700s” (Baumeister 1989/1997:9).

“In 1788, the French doctor Francois Amedee Doppet, at the end of his article “Das Beisseln und sein Auswirkung auf den Geschlechtstrieb”, gave safety tips for flagellants. This is the first known SM safety text in modern time.” (Leather History Timeline, 1999)

Larry Townsend who wrote “The Leatherman’s Handbook” in 1972 was the pioneer who described the psychology, communication and the safety rules in SM. Technical and psychological skills were transferred from experienced to inexperienced leathermen. Even though the value of Townsend’s book has been doubted, by for example Scott (1998:xi), he did give the first hints about security rules which have been taken, expanded, and carried further by later generations of leathermen (Townsend, 1972).

As a stigmatized minority within a minority, gay leathermen were hit hard by the AIDS crisis in the beginning of the 1980’s. Simultaneously the epidemic resulted in more focus on non-penetrative sexual practices as alternatives to unsafe sex. SM is relatively safe sex that does not produce children nor does it result in sexual diseases. The latter may have contributed to the increasing popularity of sadomasochism among homosexuals (Newitz, 2000).

In the wake of the AIDS epidemic, the American gay SM group GMSMA for the very first time used the phrase “safe, sane, consensual” in 1983. Since then “safe, sane, and consensual” has become one of several recognized moral ethical principles and cornerstones of SM activity (Stein, 2002; Revise F65, 2004e).

Townsend’s message about empathy and practical SM advice were expanded to contain prevention of HIV and AIDS. In Europe, the half hundred member clubs of the gay leather umbrella organization ECMC, European Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, published Safer sex-manuals, in many countries financed by the national heath authorities. Switzerland and Norway were the first, in 1990 and 1991 respectively (Loge 70, 1990). In Norway, this cooperation with the health authorities was the first seed that in 2010 led to the repeal of the fetish and SM diagnoses. People are not protected against STDs by labelling them as ill (Revise F65, 1997).

BDSM women

According to Weinberg (2006:32), the assumption that there were few women in the BDSM culture has been rejected. There is an increasing amount of research on this issue (Alison et al., 2001; Moser and Levitt, 1987/1995). Breslow, Evans, & Langley (1985) reported a significant number of women in the SM subculture. By combining the data of Breslow et al. (1985) and Levitt et al. (1994), a ratio of four male masochists to each female masochist was found (Moser & Kleinplatz, 2005). Fedoroff (2008:640) argues that “surveys have found no difference in frequency of sadistic fantasies in men and women.” On an internet questionnaire of 6997 Fetish/BDSM practitioners, 43 percent were female and 57 percent male (Brame, 2000). In the national Norwegian fetish and SM association SMil Norway 40 per cent of the 356 members are female (SMil-Norge, 2010).

Breslow (1999) pointed out that the Freudian myth that women don’t have SM interests doesn’t stand up to examination. ”It is evident that there are enough SM women to allow many men and women to find each other and enter into long term relationships.” The Canadian researchers Cross, PhD and Matheson, PhD (2006:146) found no evidence suggesting that sadomasochists espoused anti-feminist, patriarchal values or traditional gender roles to a greater extent that the non-SM-group.

Female Fetishism

The ICD is stuck with the notion that fetishism is almost exclusively a male phenomenon. “Fetishism is limited almost exclusively to males” (from the diagnostic guidelines in the ICD-10).

Gamman and Makinen (1994) refer to numerous studies that document female fetishists. These authors have reviewed psychoanalytical reports. After extensive reading of clinical data they concluded: “women made up a significant number of the case studies cited and yet the clinicians each claimed their own female patient was a ‘rarity’” (Gamman and Makinen, 1994:6). “At least a third of the psychoanalytic literature we have looked at contains detailed references to women who fetishise” (Gamman and Makinen, 1994:96). They further claim that more examples of female fetishists have gone undetected. “This is because, on the whole, fetishists do not see their problem as abnormal; case studies tend to arise when a fetishist enters analysis because of some other personal problem” (Gamman and Makinen, 1994:98). They think that the “phallocentric” theory of fetishism in psychoanalysis contributes to the ignoring of female fetishism: “The primacy Freudian theory gives to the fear of castration and the phallic mother has, we feel, created a blindspot that prevents the analysts and psychologists from seeing the evidence in front of their own eyes” (Gamman and Makinen, 1994:98). Being psychoanalytically oriented themselves, they offer an alternative theory of the origin of fetishism based on conflict at the oral stage, resulting in separation anxiety which in turn can create fixation on certain objects that may be sexualized (Gamman and Makinen, 1994:117). A conflict at the oral stage could of course be at least as troublesome as at the phallic stage, but conflicts do not necessarily result in pathology. Neither do “fixations”. Developing fetishes might just as well be considered healthy adaptations.

Female fetishism is underestimated also because women traditionally, for cultural reasons, were more sexually inhibited than men. Women have in fact been regarded as non sexual. As women become more aware of their sexuality, they let themselves fantasize and take initiative to various types of sex. It is reasonable to assume that there will be a lot more evidence of female fetishists as the years pass by. Unfortunately there has been very little, if any, demographic research on fetishism.

There has been several studies on SM populations, but even in that area more research is needed. We have, in our experiences, encountered many fetishists, both men and women. In our experience it is not unusual that women get sexually turned on by wearing men’s clothing, for example male underwear.

The authors of the book Different Loving (Brame et al., 1993), say:

“We believe that both genders are equally likely to be fetishistic, but that from childhood on, men are apt to be more aware of the erotic connection because their arousal is visible. As adults they are more assertive in seeking out encounters and discussing the interest. Women are liable to be unaware of the connection between object or act and personal arousal. And since women are usually discouraged from acting on their sexual impulses, they probably are more likely to hide their desires, even from themselves” (pp. 360-361).

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Discrimination

The American lesbian SM-group Female Trouble in Philadelphia in 1994 published the study “Violence against SM Women within the Lesbian Community” (The “Jad Keres Report”). Based on 539 questionnaires completed by lesbian sadomasochists, the study documents that 56% of them were subjected to some form of violence from vanilla lesbians because of their SM orientation (Jad Keres Report, 1994; LLC, 1998).

Even though it seems that women are more likely than men to be discriminated against, both men and women are targeted on a large scale. The NCSF Violence & Discrimination Survey, 1999, found that 1/3 of over 1000 leather/fetish/SM persons surveyed suffered violence, discrimination and persecution — losing their job or even their children because of their sexual lifestyle and identity (NCSF, 1999).

The most up to date and the largest material that we have found is an online, internet-based survey carried out by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom with 3,058 respondents (NCSF, 2008), showed that 37.5% of the participants indicated that they had either been discriminated against, had experienced some form of harassment or violence, or had some form of harassment or discrimination aimed at their BDSM-leather-fetish-related business. 60% of the respondents were not ‘‘out’’ about their BDSM interests; the stress of being closeted and/or coming out promotes distress and impairment in these individuals, similar to that experienced by homosexuals. 11.3% of the total number of respondents reported being discriminated against by professional or personal service providers like medical doctors and mental health practitioners. The study included respondents from 41 countries, including Europe, in addition to the United States (83,4%). More women than men responded to the survey and more women than men were discriminated against (NCSF, 2008). Susan Wright states that “Legal complications and interpersonal difficulties are common consequences of the stigma and discrimination against BDSM practices.” “Pathologizing unusual sexual interests has led to increased discrimination and discouraged individuals from seeking treatment for physical and mental health problems” (Wright, 2010).

Revise F65 has written two reports, including case studies from Norway, that confirm the NCSF’s findings (Revise F65, 2004c; Revise F65, 2011a). The latter was submitted to the Norwegian Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Audun Lysbakken, October 11, 2011.

NCSF’ finding that 60% of the respondents were not ‘‘out’’ about their BDSM interests, illustrate an important point about non visibility of the BDSM group. People in the pride parade in Oslo, 2011, typically wore masks as a protection against being identified. This is a problem when fighting against discrimination and for equal rights. We do not know how many of the BDSM people in Oslo who chose not to participate in the parade, were ashamed of showing themselves in public. But we do know that even though the diagnoses are removed from the Norwegian diagnostic register, there is still a danger of discrimination, for example in the work place. Shame is apparently a problem that is related to discrimination. When people are shamed by others, they often internalize that shame. This is particularly true for people in a group subject to discrimination. Knowledge on stigma (Goffman, 1963) shows that many psychological, physical, and social problems are not due to the person herself, but due to taboos, prejudices, and discrimination imposed by the surroundings (Reiersøl, 2002; Reiersøl & Skeid, 2010).

Repressed sexual desires and distress over BDSM interests may signify socially imposed, internalized BDSM negativity (Nichols, 2000) similar to feelings of shame and internalized homophobia sometimes experienced by gay clients (Nichols, 2006; Falco, 1991). Richters et al. (2008) point out that distress to BDSM participants also can be caused by legal persecution (Ridinger, 2006; White, 2006) or social or professional disapproval (Kolmes et al., 2006; Nichols, 2006). Double minorities are especially vulnerable. For example people who are both homosexual and fetishists may have to come out of at least two closets, first as homosexual, then as a fetishist, and maybe also as an SM practitioner (Reiersøl & Skeid, 2010).

Childhood trauma?

According to Powers (2007), various case studies have tried to show a connection between sadomasochism and pathological family relations during childhood (Blos, 1991; Blum, 1991), but these reports lack empirical data. Others have asserted that the majority of BDSM people have been subjected to childhood sexual abuse (Bass & Davis, 1998). Empirical studies indicate, however, that the frequency of SM people who report early damage or sexual abuse are about the same as for the rest of the population (Santilla et al., 2000; Brame, 2000; Moser, 2002). The SM group had not experienced more corporal punishment during childhood (Gosselin & Wilson, 1980). A survey using computer-assisted telephone interviews with 20,000 Australian men and women, BDSM’ers were no more likely to have suffered sexual difficulties, sexual abuse or coercion or anxiety than other Australians. Researchers said the study helps break down the reigning stereotype that people into bondage and discipline were damaged as children and were therefore “dysfunctional” (Richters et al., 2007, 2008).

One would think that if sadomasochism is due to childhood trauma, the SM diagnosis would be applied more than it actually is. Information from Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish health authorities show that the diagnosis has virtually not been in use in modern time (Revise F65, 2005/2011). American studies show that out of a total of 446 million outpatient ambulatory consultations to therapists and medical doctors, not a single person was diagnosed with sexual sadism or sexual masochism (Krueger, 2010).

A study by Powers (2007) indicate that some participants find BDSM activities to be an empowering, erotic exploration that resolves emotional or physical pain from childhood abuse, physical disability and illness. While trauma is no more common in BDSM participants than in the general population, erotic encounters can lead to “transformative intrapsychic, spiritual and interpersonal growth” (Powers, 2007; Schnarch, 1991; Maltz, 1991). In this way, healing may occur via corrective emotional experiences that transform and reintegrate a participant’s relationship with the past (Kleinplatz, 2001). This should not be surprising since clinical work with survivors of child sexual abuse (Courtois, 1993) suggests techniques paralleling those described by observers and practitioners of BDSM play (Powers, 2007; Kleinplatz, 2006; Thomsen, 2002). Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse have difficulty trusting others and often have a great need to be in control (Courtois, 1988). The consensual exploration of trust and control are two integral elements of most BDSM play that allow participants to discover sexuality in an environment that may feel safer to them. It allows participants to consensually redefine past and present trauma through new, positive experiences (Haines, 1999). BDSM play provides a structure in which the participants can experiment with sexual activities and emotional intimacy within specific boundaries to overcome inhibitions that have evolved from part interactions (Thomsen, 2002). This may allow them to achieve emotional and sexual communication in ways that they had not been previously able to obtain. A qualitative study of eight SM practitioners in long-term committed relationships showed that SM enactments can be healing tools and tools for transformations (Hoff, 2003).

Prejudiced therapists

Reiersøl and Skeid (2010) write in the Journal of Psychological Health Work that “therapists holding prejudiced attitudes towards BDSM are at best unable to help their clients. In the worst case, they risk making their patients worse. This situation is parallel to the problems that lesbians and homosexuals used to encounter within the health care system” (Revise F65, 2011a).

Quantitative and qualitative studies confirm that psychotherapists show negative, uninformed and judgmental attitudes towards SM practice. The negative attitudes ranged from the therapist asking ignorant and judgmental questions to instances of client abandonment. Some of the SM practitioners reported avoiding any reference to SM to their psychotherapist because they feared the therapist’s reaction (Hoff, 2003, 2009; Moser & Levitt, 1987/1995; Moser, 1988; Queen, 1996; Kolmes, Stock and Moser, 2006). The psychologist and sex-therapist Margareth Nichols (2006) found that stigma will cause the practitioner to narrow the focus of therapeutic interaction to the BDSM sexuality against the will or desire of the client. Moser (1999a) stated that “health care professionals cannot give top-notch care to someone whose lifestyle they don’t understand or don’t approve of. Sexual minorities cannot get the best that the health care system has to offer if they refuse to use that system, or if they withhold information out of fear or shame.”

Animal kingdom

(Wiseman, 1996:14: “If you think there’s such a thing as “natural” sex, consider the variety of sexual expression found among animals.”)
Not only are SM and fetishism natural parts of human diversity. SM-type behavior is known even in the animal world where Ford & Beach (1951) contend that biting and aggressive behavior are common. Kinsey et al. (1953) found SM-type behavior prevalent in animal cultures. They noted that twenty-four different mammals other than humans bite during coitus, and Gebhard (1976:163) concluded that “from a phylogenetic viewpoint, it is no surprise to find sadomasochism in human beings”. According to Bagemihl (1999) the animal kingdom embraces a whole spectrum of sexual behaviour like different kinds of fetishism, transgenderism, erotic biting and even non-violent play-fights.

Ethology: Sign Stimuli.

Research by Tinbergen and others showed that stimuli stronger than the naturally appearing sign stimulus may be more effective in releasing behavior. For example, oyster catchers and other birds prefer to sit on a huge super-normal egg rather than on a normal-sized egg. This phenomenon is seen in other types of intimate behavior among birds. For example, an artificial, super-normal model of the beak of a herring gull has been perceived as more attractive than the real one (Fantino & Logan, 1979). In our thinking this can be interpreted that fetishism is a phenomenon occurring not only among humans, but also among other species. That means that fetishism is not uncommon. Rather it is a natural variation that may occur depending on the kind of exposure an individual is subjected to.

Birgit Johansen is a Danish psychiatrist who wrote a book about fetishism, largely based on her own psychotherapy practice. One of her objectives is to normalize fetishism. She equates a fetish with an ‘erotic pleasure point’. Such pleasure points can be animate and inanimate objects, scenarios, behaviors and erotic zones in a person’s body. In her thinking, everybody is a fetishist to some extent. She sees nothing problematic about fetishism. To the extent that people may be bothered by their inclinations, she helps them accept their sexuality and sometimes expand their range of pleasure points for more satisfaction (Johansen, 1988).

Transvestic fetishism/Transvestism

Blanchard (2009) acknowledges implicitly that there are ego-syntonic well-adjusted transvestites. He still argues for keeping the diagnosis with some alterations.

In his reference list is a survey by Langstrom and Zucker (2005). The sample for the study consisted of 2450 randomly selected men and women aged 18 to 60 from the general population of Sweden who agreed to participate in a larger study of sexual attitudes and behaviours. Items concerning cross-dressing behaviours were embedded in the survey questionnaire. One item asked (the dependent variable): “Have you ever dressed in clothes pertaining to the opposite sex and become sexually aroused by this?”

A total of 2.8% (n = 36) of the men and 0.4% (n = 5) of the women reported that they had ever become sexually aroused by cross-dressing. Most of these men (85.7%) reported that they were only sexually attracted to women and none reported a main or exclusive attraction to men. Among the variables that were NOT significantly associated with cross-dressing behaviour among men were socioeconomic status, history of sexual victimization, satisfaction with life in general, psychological and physical health, or current psychiatric morbidity. Among the variables that were significantly associated with cross-dressing among men were being separated from parents during childhood, being easily sexually aroused, having same-sex sexual experiences, use of pornography, and masturbation frequency.

Blanchard is following a traditional basic assumption about a “syndrome” of Transvestism (also called Transvestic Fetishism) consisting of four elements. “These four elements are: (1) cross-dressing (2) associated with sexual arousal (3) in a biological male (4) with a heterosexual orientation. ”This clinical consensus is supported by the available epidemiological data (Langstrom & Zucker, 2005)” (quotes from Blanchard, 2009). While Langstrom’s study supports the notion that there are more men than women who fit the (1) and (2) criteria above, it does not, however, support the idea that this constitutes a syndrome or that it should be diagnosed. If a phenomenon is to be called a “syndrome”, there must be strong enough evidence that this phenomenon constitutes medical or psychiatric pathology. In our opinion this is not sufficiently substantiated in Langstrom’s article. Blanchard does not refer to any other “epidemiological data” in the article mentioned.

Potentially problematic results from this study were: “Transvestic fetishism also was strongly related to experiences of sexual arousal from using pain, spying on others having sex, and exposing one’s genitals to a stranger.” There is no clarity in the report of what this really means, if for example these strangers were informed, whether they consented or not. The authors point out some limitations of this study, and cautions about the fallacy of drawing conclusions about cause and effect. One could speculate that people who get specially easily sexually aroused are more likely than others to be sexually aroused by just about anything, including “exhibitionism” and “voyeurism”. There is no reason to believe that problematic sexual behaviors or transgressions originate in transvestism. We will also argue that people who may have their sexuality diagnosed may be more likely to be sexually transgressive than others, because acting out some kind of alternative sexuality will likely be perceived as a transgression. A self image of somebody sexually transgressive could easily create self fulfilling prophesies. Also: diagnosing a specific kind of sexuality will probably increase the likelihood of becoming ego dystonic which in turn could increase the likelihood of transgressions.

An earlier study from 1996 (Brown, et. al., 1996) suggests that cross-dressers not seen for clinical reasons are virtually indistinguishable from non-cross-dressing men using a measure of personality traits, a sexual functioning inventory, and measures of psychological distress.

In an article, Moser and Kleinplatz provide a case study of a person who could be diagnosed with transvestic fetishism. They give a convincing argument for removing this diagnosis: “Should this behavior, which can be regarded as adaptive rather than distressing, be construed as psychopathological? The rationale for pathologizing a coping skill is questionable.” (Moser and Kleinplatz, 2002).

Basen together with Langstrom (2006) published a book about “unusual sex”. They try to evaluate the current thinking about the paraphilias including SM, fetishism and transvestic fetishism. Included in the book are interviews with several practitioners. ”Our goal when starting on this book was to try and understand sexual deviation or paraphilia. We encountered the project with some prejudice. We were mentally prepared for meeting “weird” people who could even be dangerous. But we met people who, apart from having statistically unusual sex, for the most part were obviously ‘usual’ ” (Basen & Langstrom, 2006: 255,256). “Socially speaking, we experienced people who comprised an average segment of the Swedish society” (Basen & Langstrom, 2006:256). “Our basic view is that every one has the right to assert his or her sexual peculiarity as long as it does no harm. It is of course not acceptable that people suffer due to intolerance and prejudice. If so, the attitudes of society should be targeted – rather than giving treatment to the individuals” (Basen & Langstrom, 2006:260, 261). We want to point out that one year after the survey by Langstrom and Zucker (2005), Langstrom in 2006 has taken a more accepting position to these sexual minorities. And we again want to emphasize that Blanchard (2009) mistakenly claims that Langstrom and Zucker’s article corroborates the notion of a “syndrome” of Transvestic Fetishism. We will further argue that such a claim could contribute to intolerance and prejudice.

According to Eisfeld, who in 2011 gave an oral presentation at the 20th World Congress for Sexual Health, there have been instances of Transvestic Fetishism being used against male to female transsexuals. People who have been seeking help for sexual reassignment have been rejected by psychiatrists who have diagnosed them with Transvestic Fetishism and therefore they have not been taken seriously as having Gender Identity Disorders. If the diagnosis of Transvestic Fetishism stands in the way of giving people appropriate treatment, this is in our opinion an additional reason to repeal that diagnosis. Eisfeld also had a comment concerning the B criteria of the paraphilias: It would be important to add that the distress, as expressed in the B criteria, is not caused by discrimination or external prejudice. (Eisfeld,J., 2011)

Masturbation

Since fetishism is very often practiced with masturbation, we have chosen to devote a section to this topic. Mostly, at least up till now, masturbation has been looked upon as a substitute for sexual intercourse. What if we reverse the order and say that intercourse could be a substitute for masturbation? There are indeed fetishists, and others, who prefer masturbation to intercourse, even if intercourse is available to them. That the ICD puts such a premium on intercourse (as seen in the definition of fetishism), sometimes creates a pressure to have intercourse for the sake of performing. These kind of performances are probably not the healthiest ones. Masturbation, whether performed as solo activities or in settings with a partner (or partners) may under certain circumstances be more satisfying, especially when it comes to fetishistic practicing.

Even though masturbation no longer has the kind of stigma that it used to a hundred years ago, when it was mostly thought to create severe illnesses and degeneration, it still is largely looked upon as a second rate activity. That is for example implied in the ICD definition of fetishism. We don’t see any advantage in always having intercourse as the ultimate goal of sexual activity in this day and age when the population explosion is threatening the planet. If masturbation is perceived as an equally valid sexual practice, much of the stigma connected to fetishism could be avoided, and the pathologizing of fetishism, due to lack of intercourse, would be absurd.

So far the most extensive written work we have found on masturbation is the 300 page plus book by Martha Cornog. It contains thorough accounts of the history of attitudes towards masturbation, as well as more modern viewpoints, whether solitary or shared pleasures (Cornog, 2003). Masturbation and intercourse may also blend into one unified act. A documented example with a known visual artist, who was a stocking fetishist, Pierre Moliniere, can be found in an essay by Peter Gorsen (Moliniere, p.22).

SM/fetish and love

Baumeister (1989, 1997) asserted that long lasting and committed love relations between SM people were rare and non functional. The sparse research in this area contradicts that assumption. Steady, committed, relationships between SM practitioners are according to Cutler (2003) reported by several authors (Young, 1973/1979; Baldwin, 1993; Califia, 1993/2002, 1994/2000; Bean, 1994; Campbell, 2000). According to Dancer et al. (2006:85), there is no reason to assume that deep and caring emotions contradict the establishing and maintaining of long lasting SM relationships, as reported by Brame et al. (1993), Gosselin, Wilson & Barret (1987) and Moser (1988). Qualitative and quantitative studies by Cutler (2003) and Dancer et al. (2006:82), respectively, indicate that “SM relationships are numerous and often highly functional” and that “SM relationships were long-lasting and satisfying to the respondents.” The latter consisted of committed relationships where the respondents live in a full-time so-called 24/7 SM slavery.

Bienvenu and Jacques (1999) found that 89% of 940 BDSM respondents had been involved in a BDSM relationship at some point in their lives and that 77,3% of 816 BDSM respondents were currently involved in a committed BDSM relationship. In a BDSM/Fetish Demographic Survey by Brame (2000) 55 per cent of 6997 respondents were ’permanent partnered/Married’ (38%) or lived in ’committed relationships’ (17%). It is, however, unclear whether the relationships in the Brame study were BDSM or ‘vanilla’ relationships.

Identity building

Norwegian health authorities have since 1996 pointed out the necessity in health preventive work to fight stigma and discrimination and give gay leathermen a positive SM-identity in order to stop the HIV and AIDS epidemic (Revise F65, 1997).

Revise F65 has all along cooperated with the Norwegian health authorities. This includes working on the repeal of the stigmatizing fetish and SM diagnoses. According to the governmental HIV prevention plans, the life circumstances of a group affects the ability to protect oneself against sexually transmitted diseases. One key concept in the prevention strategy is “identity building”. A central part of the strategy is to help marginalized and stigmatized groups to boost their “collective self respect” in order to empower the individual to feel the self value needed to protect oneself against STD.

“As for the repeal of the homosexuality diagnosis in 1982/1990, the deletion of the national and international fetish diagnoses is maybe the human rights reform that will have the highest significance for the self confidence and identity of the SM and fetish population. This gives increased possibilities for taking responsibility for own health and to protect oneself against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV” (Revise F65, 2009h).

Nordic sexual reform

As Finland repealed the diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism, Sadomasochism, Multiple disorders of sexual preference and Dual-role transvestism May 12th 2011, these sexual preferences, sexual identities and gender expressions related to sexual orientation are no longer diseases in Norway, Sweden and Finland (Revise F65, 2011b). Denmark withdrew the diagnoses of dual-role transvestism and sadomasochism in 1994 and 1995, respectively (Politiken, 1995:A7). Revise F65 regards this as an important human rights reform affecting a sizable minority (a low estimate is probably one million people) of the Nordic population (Revise F65, 2009g).

SM and fetish identity

Norwegian and Nordic health authorities now officially use the concept of “sexual identities” to describe the fetish/SM population (Helsedirektoratet, 2010a). In 2010 fetishists and sadomasochists were explicitly and officially included in the group of sexual minorities together with the rest of the Norwegian LGBT population (Helsedirektoratet, 2010b).

There are several reasons to consider fetish and SM sex as identities or orientations. First of all, more and more of the people coming out tell us that they feel their sexuality as an orientation or identity. Secondly, this feeling of identity starts very early in life, during childhood. It is also common knowledge among clinicians trying to “cure” these conditions, that such efforts in general are futile. This is the same as for homosexuality (Hoff, 2003; Wagenheim, 1998; Moser, 1999b).

Conclusions

The interdisciplinary research-based knowledge in Revise F65’s second report to the World Health Organization concludes that sadomasochism and sexualized violence are two different phenomenona. The fetish/BDSM group is an equal contributor to the society and scores on the level with most people on psychosocial features and democratic values as self control, empathy, responsibility, love, equality, and non-discrimination. There is no typical fetishist, transvestite or sadomasochist. Except from the sexual interest and identity, he or she is like everyone else. These people do not present more clinical psychopathology or severe personality pathology than the general population.

Revise F65’s first report to the World Health Organization concluded that the ICD-10 does not distinguish between consensual SM and harmful violence, and that the ICD fetish and SM diagnoses are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing to the fetish/BDSM minority.

Research in this second report indicates that reference books, dictionaries, encyclopedias and daily newspapers, pass on this confounding of SM with violence, subjecting BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers to discrimination and social sanctions because of their fetish/BDSM interest, identity and orientation.

Based on these professional and health political reasons, Sweden (2009), Norway (2010) and Finland (2011) decided to totally remove the diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism, Sadomasochism, Multiple disorders of sexual preference and Dual-role transvestism. Denmark withdrew the diagnoses of dual-role transvestism and sadomasochism in 1994 and 1995, respectively. This sexual rights reform probably affects one million people of the Nordic population, as a low estimate, and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare concludes that the diagnoses are so seldom in use, that neither care, statistics, nor research is harmed by their abolition.

This second report concludes that the society can have somewhat to learn from the participatory approach of people with an alternative and non normative sexuality. At the same time every democratic society must be evaluated on the basis of how it treat it’s minorities.

The Nordic countries and the rest of the world experience a wave of sexual reform that gives hope to millions of people with fetish and BDSM orientation. The World Health Organization is the only instance that has the power to remove the badge of stigma from the forehead of millions of people.

On the basis of these two reports, it is our opinion that a removal of the fetish- and SM diagnoses in the forthcoming edition of ICD-11, will liberate human resources which will benefit society. Resources that today are used to live disguised in fear of social sanctions, may in the future be used differently. Then these resources will have health promoting effects and contribute in valuable ways to the society. We will see an improved human rights situation regarding legal safety, real freedom of speech, and less experienced discrimination based on fetish- and BDSM identity and orientation.

 

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Revise F65 (2004c). Discrimination and violence towards the SM/fetish population. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/discrimination.html

Revise F65 (2004e). Sikker, sunn og samtykkende [Safe, sane, and consensual as a moral ethical principle and cornerstone of SM acticity]. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/sikker.html

Revise F65 (2004f). Kink against racism. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/antinazi.html

Revise F65 (2005/2011). Sovende fetisj- og SM-diagnoser [Diagnoses not in use]. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/sintef.html

Revise F65 (2007). SM versus abuse. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/violence.html

Revise F65 (2008). Fetish and SM diagnoses deleted in Sweden. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/Sweden.html

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Revise F65 (2009k). No more psychopathology among SM-people. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/psychopathology.html

Revise F65 (2010b). Transgender IML Winner Breaks Barriers and Makes History. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/Folsom2010_6.html

Revise F65 (2010c). SM and fetish off the Norwegian sick list. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/friskmelding_eng.html

Revise F65 (2011a). Vern mot diskriminering på grunnlag av seksuell fetisj- og SM-orientering [Report on discrimination and violence towards the Norwegian SM/fetish population delivered to the Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Audun Lysbakken, October 11, 2011]. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/diskrimvern.html

Revise F65 (2011b). Finland joins Nordic sexual reform, May 12, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/finland_eng.html

Richters et al. (2007). Selected Abstracts of Presentations During the World Congress of Sexology, 2007: Demographic and Psychosocial Features of Participants in BDSM Sex: Data From a National Survey. Journal of Sex Research, 45(2), pp. 90–117. Australian Associated Press April 16, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/kinky-you-cant-beat-it/2007/04/16/1176696736407.html

Richters et al. (2008). Demographic and Psychosocial Features of Participants in Bondage and Discipline, “Sadomasochism” or Dominance and Submission (BDSM): Data from a National Survey. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 5(7):1660- 68.

Ridinger, Robert B. (2006). “Negotiating Limits: The Legal Status of SM in the United States.” Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press. Co-published simultaneously as Journal of Homosexuality 50(2/3):189- 216.

Rubin, Gayle S. (1984/1993) ”Thinking Sex: notes for a radical theory of the politics of sexuality”. in H. Abelove, M Barale & D Halperin (eds) The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. New York, Routledge. P. 11-16.

Sagarin, Brad J., Cutler, Bert, Cutler, Nadine, Lawler-Sagarin, Kimberly A., & Matuszewich, Leslie (2009). Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 186-200. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0bjs1/papers/scclm09.pdf

Sandnabba, N. Kenneth; Santtila, Pekka & Nordling, Nicklas (1999). Sexual behavior and social adaption among sadomasochistically-oriented males. The Journal of Sex Research. 36, 273-282.

Sandnabba, N. Kenneth; Santtila, Pekka; Alison, Laurence; Nordling, Nicklas (2002). Demographics, sexual behaviour, family background and abuse experiences of practitioners of sadomasochistic sex: a review of recent research. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 17, 1, 39-55.

Santilla, Pekka; Sandnabba, N. Kenneth & Nordling, Nicklas (2000). Retrospective perceptions of family interaction in childhood as correlates to current sexual adaptation among sadomasochistic males. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 12, 69-87.

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Scoville, John W. (1984). Sexual Domination Today: Sado-masochism and Domination-submission. New York: Irvington.

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Spengler, Andreas (1977). Manifest sadomasochism of males: Results of an empirical study. Arch Sex Behav 1977;6:441–456. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.springerlink.com/content/xr3052m52714414n

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Stoller, Robert J. (1991). Pain & Passion: A Psychoanalyst Explores the World of S & M. New York, Plenum Press.

Sulloway, Frank J. (1979). Freud, biologist of the mind: beyond the psychoanalytic legend. New York: Basic books.

Thompson, Bill., Ph.D. (1994). Sadomasochism: Painful perversion or pleasurable play?. New York: Cassell.

Thomsen, Edith (2002). Techniques of SM that are helpful in gaining comfort with sexual intimacy for survivors of child sexual abuse who practice SM play. Unpublished post-doctoral dissertation. Center for Psychological Studies: Berkeley. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://cpsphd.com/dp_ediththomsen.htm

Tiefer, Leonore (1997). Towards a Feminist Sex Therapy. In Marny Hall, Ph.D. (ed), Sexualities, Binghampton, NY: Harrington Park Press.

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VG (2002). Sex like bra som morfin mot smerte [Sex as good as morphine against pain]. The Norwegian newspaper VG, March 31, 2002. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.vg.no/helse/artikkel.php?artid=2918924

Wagenheim, Susan D. (1996/98). Testimony from Physicians and Psychiatrists for the S/M Policy Reform Statement from Susan D. Wagenheim, M.D. A board-certified psychiatrist. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.revisef65.org/NOWSM.html

Weinberg, Martin S., Williams, Colin J., and Moser, Charles (1984). The social constituents of sadomasochism. Social Problems 31: 379-389.

Weinberg, Thomas S. & Falk, Gerhard (1980). The social organization of sadism and masochism. Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1, 379-393.

Weinberg, Thomas S. & Kamel, G.W. Levi (1983). “S&M: Studies in sadomasochism”, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.

Weinberg, Thomas S. (1995). S&M: Studies in dominance and submission. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Weinberg, Thomas S. & Kamel, G. W. Levi (1995b). S&M: An introduction to the study of sadomasochism. In T. S. Weinberg, Ph.D. (Ed.), S&M: Studies in dominance and submission (pp. 15–24). Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

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White, Chris. 2006. “The Spanner Trials and the Changing Law on Sadomasochism in the UK.” Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press. Co-published simultaneously as Journal of Homosexuality 50(2/3):167-87.

Wiseman, Jay (1996). SM 101: A realistic introduction. San Francisco: Greenery Press. Arch Sex Behav (2009) 38:186–200.

Wright, Susan (2006). Discrimination of SM-identified individuals. In P. J Kleinplatz & C. Moser (Eds.). Sadomasochism: Powerful pleasures, 217-231. New York: Harrington Park.

Wright, Susan (2010). Depathologizing Consensual Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Transvestic Fetishism, and Fetishism. Archives of sexual behavior. Volume 39, Number 6, 1229-1230. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.springerlink.com/content/p1314043464r7560

Young, Ian (1973/1979). Sado-Masochism. The New Gay Liberation Book. Len Richmond and Gary Noguera (Eds.). Ramparts Press, Palo Alto, Calif. Also published as the article “S/M” in the Sweedish magazine Revolt #9, 1973.

 

No more psychopathology among BDSM-people

There is no evidence that SM/fetish people have a higher degree of psychopathology than the rest of the population.

Wismeijer & van Assen (2013):
More heathy BDSMers

A Dutch study of 902 BDSM practitioners, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, suggests that the BDSMers had more favorable psychological characteristics than a control group of 434 respondants.

The BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extraverted and had higher subjective well-being than the control group.

The study, that was publised May 16, 2013, also suggests that the BDSM group was more conscientious and less rejection sensitive. BDSMers were however less agreeable than the control group. The doms scored lower than both the subs and the control group with respect to agreeableness. BDSM scores on health were generally more favorably for those with a dominant than a submissive role, with least favorable scores for controls.

Andreas A.J. Wismeijer PhD, Marcel A.L.M. van Assen PhD: Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 10, Issue 8, pages 1943–1952, August 2013.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsm.12192/abstract

Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners
http://www.andreaswismeijer.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/BDSM_JSM_Wismeijer_van-Assen.pdf

Brad Sagarin et al (2009):

The implication of two studies at the Northern Illinois University into hormonal changes associated with Sadomasochistic activities including spanking, bondage and flogging, suggest that it could bring consenting couples closer together. The increases in relationship closeness combined with the displays of caring and affection observed as part of the SM activities offer support for the modern view that SM, when performed consensually, has the potential to increase intimacy between participants. Sagarin, B. J. (picture), Cutler, B., Cutler, N., Lawler-Sagarin, K. A., & Matuszewich, L. (2009). Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 186-200.
http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0bjs1/papers/scclm09.pdf
http://pubget.com/paper/18563549

Cross and Matheson (2006):

Cross and Matheson (2006) found no support for the traditional theories that sadomasochism is an illness.

The researchers found no evidence for the psychopathology/medical-model contention that masochists suffer from any kind of mental disorder and that SM-sadists are antisocial (Krafft-Ebing 1886/1965).

There was no support for the traditional psychoanalytic view of self-harming and guilt-ridden masochists or id-driven and psychopatic SM-sadists (Freud 1900/1906/1953/1954).

Cross and Matheson neither found any evidence for Baumeister’s contention that masochists were more inclined to engage in escapist behaviors such as drug-taking, day-dreaming, or fantasizing than the comparison group (Baumeister 1988, 1989).

Cross and Matheson did however find that SM participants were overall more likely than non-SM respondents to report bisexual/homosexual orientations.

No evidence was found suggesting that sadomasochists espoused anti-feminist, patriarchal values or traditional gender roles to a greater extent that the non-SM-group.

And the sadomasochists were relatively more likely to be in ongoing relationships than the comparison group.

Patricia A. Cross PhD and Kim Matheson PhD in the book “Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures” (2006), published simultaneously as the Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 50, Nos. 2/3.)

Connolly et al (2006):

Results from a research project by Dr. Pamela Connolly (picture) et al, among a group with bondage and sadomasochistic interests (BDSM) showed that

“no evidence was found to support the notion that clinical disorders – including depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsion – are more prevalent among the sample of individuals with BDSM interests than among members of the general population. Moreover, this sample did not show evidence of widespread PTSD, trauma-related phenomena, personality disturbances, psychological sadism or psychological masochism”, disorders in which the sufferer either derives pleasure out of genuine cruelty (not the play-acting kind) or compulsively seeks out harmful levels of pain. ”Similarly, no prominent themes were found in a series of profile analyses.”

”There were, however, som exceptions to this general pattern, most notably the higher-than-average levels of nonspecific dissociative symptoms and narcissism in this sample. That said, this body of findings suggests that, contrary to longstanding assumptions in the psychoanalytic literature, there is very little support for the view that psychopathology underlies behavior.”

Connolly, P.H.; Haley, H.; Gendelman, J.; Miller, J. (2006). Psychological functioning of bondage/domination/sado-masochism practitioners. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 18(1), 79-120.
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1300/J056v18n01_05

Richters et al 2005:

A survey using computer-assisted telephone interviews with 20,000 Australian men and women, showed that BDSM may actually make men happier. Men into BDSM scored significantly better on a scale of psychological wellbeing than other men.

BDSM’ers were no more likely to have suffered sexual difficulties, sexual abuse or coercion or anxiety than other Australians.

– This seems to imply that these men are actually happier as a result of their behaviour, though we’re not sure why, said Dr. Juliet Richters (picture), of the University of New South Wales. “It might just be that they’re more in harmony with themselves because they’re into something unusual and are comfortable with that. There’s a lot to be said for accepting who you are.”

Researchers said the study helps break down the reigning stereotype that people into bondage and discipline were damaged as children and were therefore “dysfunctional”.

Richters, J., & Rissel, C. (2005). Doing it down under: The sexual lives of Australians. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/kinky-you-cant-beat-it/2007/04/16/1176696736407.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,266344,00.html

Martins & Ceccarelli (2003):

A study, presented at the 16th World Congress of Sexology in Cuba 10-14 March, 2003, suggests that non-conventional sexual practices cannot be used as a diagnosed criteria of any kind, which means that the only aspect that distinguishes these individuals from others is their sexual practices.

Picture: Maria Cristina Martins, Clinical Psychologist and Specialist in Human Sexuality. Campinas, SP, Brazil and Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, PhD in Psycopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII, Paris, France.

www.revisef65.org/cuba1.html

Earlier studies:

According to Moser (1999), limited earlier studies show no differences in psychopathology between the S/M group and the control group. Gosselin & Wilson (1980), Miale (1986), Moser (1979).
http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/SM.htm#S/M_PRACT
C. Moser C. (1999). The Psychology of Sadomasochism (S/M). S. Wright, ed., SM Classics, New York, Masquerade Books 1999, p. 47-61.

Gosselin, C, & Wilson, G. (1980). Sexual variations. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Miale, J. P. (1986). An initial study of nonclinical practitioners of sexual sadomasochism. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, the Professional School of Psychological Studies, San Diego.
Moser, C. (1979). An exploratory-descriptive study of a self-defined S/M (sadomasochistic) sample. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco.

SM as a sexual orientation

Physicians and psychiatrists about SM as a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality and an important part of people’s sexual orientation.
http://members.aol.com/NOWSM/Psychiatrists.html

Discrimination and violence towards the SM/fetish population (Revise F65, 2004; NCSF, 1999)

See also: NCSF 2008: Second National Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities
NCSF’s Violence and Discrimination Survey 1999.

 

 

(Some more discrimination cases are included under “Discrimination and stigmatization” on the full index page: Site map!)

På norsk
A lot indicates that the instances of violence, harassment and discrimination in connection with work, home and custody of children that we are aware of are just the tip of the iceberg. As the situation stands today, it is often spokespeople for SM interest organisations etc. that by the power of their visibility experience discrimination. The pathologising and diagnosis of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are often the direct or indirect cause of these attacks.

As a person interested in SM/fetish, you risk losing your job, custody of your children, problems with neighbours, your innermost circle of friends and your closest family members. This then means that we might not have so many sources of support left in our lives. Many people therefore choose to keep their orientation hidden because of the fear of what could happen if they disclosed this.

As a consequence, many individuals do not report being attacked because of the fear of being further harassed by the police. Even if 36 percent of respondents in the American study described below experience violence and harassment, 96 percent of these didn’t report this. As a taboo minority, SM ers and fetishists also experience a significant degree of suppression and invisibility in society, including in the press. When we are referred to, this is usually in connection with “scandals” where the people in question’s sexual orientation is used as a piquant detail to spice up the story for readers.

Violence and harassment

A study (n=1017) undertaken by the SM rights organisation The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), shows that belonging to the SM community and SM sexual orientation generally speaking means that an individual exposes themselves for being socially stigmatised.

Thirty-six percent of subjects had been subjected to violence or harassment because of their SM/fetish orientation. This included verbal insults (reported by 87%), physical violence (25%), stalking (19%), damage to property (19%), blackmail (17%), sexual harassment (13%), rape (10%) and other types or violence or harassment (7%).
https://ncsfreedom.org/component/k2/item/452-ncsfs-violence-and-discrimination-survey.html

The swedish police department Säpo point our that lesbians and gay men are the group that is exposed to most violence and persecution in Sweden. The worst attacks have happened at events with a theme of SM and fetish. See: www.revisef65.org/fefestninger.html [Norwegian text only]

EXAMPLE 1
In Norway, the newspaper Klassekampen (27th July 1990) and the monthly publication Blikk have documented how in 1992 a van with nazi symbols drove round the centre of Oslo threatened and shot at gay leather/SM men.

EXAMPLE 2
Nazi attack against RFSL
Nazist violence and murder of homosexuals is a large problem in Sweden. Leather- and SM- gay men are hardest hit.
Source: Qmagazine October 13, 1998
http://www.revisef65.org/linkoping2.html [Swedish text only]

EXAMPLE 3
Neo-nazis screamed, “bögjävlar” (“fucking buggers”) and made Nazi salutes to SM/fetish gay men. Nazi vandalism to the offices of the gay organisation RFSL has set off a debate about the risk level, with RFSL demanding that homosexuals should be covered by the law on hate crimes towards minority populations.
Source: Qmagazine October 19, 1997.
http://www.revisef65.org/linkoping.html [Swedish text only]

Discrimination

Thirty percent of individuals in NCSF’s study had experienced discrimination because of their SM orientation, preference or method of expression. Forty percent had experienced harassment, 25% loss of job or contract, 17% loss of promotion, loss of custody of children 3%, denial of membership to an organisation 11%, unauthorised arrest 5%, or other forms of discrimination.
https://ncsfreedom.org/component/k2/item/452-ncsfs-violence-and-discrimination-survey.html


Discrimination by official bodies

EXAMPLE 4
Lack of legal security for SM-ers
Denmark: Attacker escapes prosecution. By Ole Martin Larsen. Police in Copenhagen have refused to prosecute a man for rape because the victim is a masochist. The woman herself raised the alarm to police from the man’s home. She was found there by a police patrol, dissolved in tears, chained with both foot- and handcuffs and with blood streaming from cuts in her thighs. Despite this, the police consider that there is not sufficient evidence to convict the man.
“Even if I am a masochist, no still means no, and that should be respected. And I said this clearly, amongst other ways by calling the police. What is my legal security worth if this cannot lead to a conviction”, said the woman, a female doctor, to Berlingske Tidende. She has appealed to the public prosecutor about the police’s decision. According to the sadomasochist’s organization SMil, the case is unique, and raises a fundamental question of whether a no from a masochist has the same value as a no from others. Because of this, SMil considers the matter to be concerned with the legal security o f sexual minorities.

Source: Berlingske Tidende/Arbeiderbladet 22th October 1994.

EXAMPLE 5
Murderer goes free because victim was a sadomasochist
In August 1993, an American court of appeal let a brutal murderer free because the victim had written a sadomasochistic fantasy in their diary. In this way, people’s right to consent is placed outside the law because of their sexual orientation, even to the extent that their death has been involved.
Leitner v. State (1983) 631 So. 2d 278-9.
www.csun.edu/~hfspc002/PoliceFreeGaySlaves.html

The “sadomasochist” is often seen as having given up h/er rights to protection from violence or abuse. It is clear that homosexual men as prosecution witnesses face similar difficulties in credibility as heterosexual women. In August of 1993, an appellate court released a man convicted of murder because the murder victim had written a long sadomasochistic sexual fantasy in his journal and the trial court had refused this journal entry as evidence at trial. The fantasy is reproduced for the delight of the court in its entirety in the published case. The unspoken implication here is that a man who fantasizes about homosexual sadomasochism has somehow consented to a brutal murder: “The journal excerpt was essential to the appellant’s defense. It suggested Craven may have desired to be involved, and may have been involved in voluntary sadomasochist sex when he was killed. If he suffered from these desires, then he might have sought out an amenable partner”[20] who eventually killed him. (That wasn’t very “amenable” of the partner if you ask me). Again, the law has constituted the sadomasochist as an always-already willing victim, even to the point of death.[21] This opinion also highlights the idea of “voluntary sadomasochistic sex” as a “desire” that one “suffers from,” a common thread in much of this discourse. The official status of “perverse” desire is thus situated as a medical and psychiatric condition that places those “afflicted” beyond the protection of the law and unworthy of inclusion in “civilized” society.


EXAMPLE 6
English rapist freed because of victim’s SM orientation
In a rape case heard at Leicester Crown Court in England on 29th November 1994, the defendant was freed even though rapist Ben Emerson had admitted the attack. The discovery of SM toys in the woman’s flat, together with her sexual leaning, led to the rapist being freed. Do we see any similarities here to the general debate concerning rape about “loose” and scantily clad women who are not taken seriously when they say “no”. It is actually the woman’s sexual leaning that stands in the dock, not the perpetrator’s acknowledge attack.
Source: Press Association Newsfile 30th November 1994; “Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case”.

1994: The “crime” of being a pervert: Despite of a self identified rapists confession, on 29 November 1994, a man was found “not guilty” of rape at Leicester Crown Court, because SM-toys was found in the female victim’s apartment. “There can be no doubt from the evidence that what was really on trial during this event was the prosecution witness’s sexuality — the mere existence of an interest in kinky sex made her charge of rape untenable”, writes Ben Attias at the California State University of Northridge, USA. “A woman’s privilege to say “no” to sex is here circumscribed by the discursive apparatus invoked by her sexuality — a woman with an interest in sadomasochism, rubber skirts, and body piercing, judge and jury seem to have reasoned, cannot be raped. Her sexuality implicitly predisposes her to consent to sex — she is inscribed as always already willing.” [Ben Attias http://www.csun.edu/~hfspc002/PoliceFreeGaySlaves.html] [“Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case,” Press Association Newsfile, 30 November 1994].

Rape Defendant Ben Emerson

Despite this frank confession, Ben Emerson was awarded a verdict of “not guilty” of rape on 29 November 1994, after a two-minute jury deliberation at Leicester Crown Court. The judge commented to the jury, “I wholeheartedly agree with your verdict.” The judge had actually recommended to the jury that it render a quick decision before even hearing the defense’s case: “At the end of the prosecution case the judge summarized the alleged victim’s evidence and reminded the jury how she and Emerson had oral sex without her objecting at her home….the judge told the jury: ‘When he went to get some baby oil to massage her body, what is this young man to think when he finds in the drawer artificial penises, magazines designed to excite sexually? He finds a riding crop near her bed and chains on the bed,” (ibid). After the trial, a friend of Emerson stated, “Justice was served in the end.”

“Justice,” in this case, meant the release of a self-identified rapist because the “alleged” victim had committed the prior crime of being a pervert. There can be no doubt from the evidence that what was really on trial during this event was the prosecution witness’s sexuality — the mere existence of an interest in kinky sex made her charge of rape untenable. A woman’s privilege to say “no” to sex is here circumscribed by the discursive apparatus invoked by her sexuality — a woman with an interest in sadomasochism, rubber skirts, and body-piercing, judge and jury seem to have reasoned, cannot be raped. Her sexuality implicitly predisposes her to consent to sex — she is inscribed as always-already willing. Ben Emerson, quoted in “Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case,” Press Association Newsfile (30 November 1994). www.csun.edu/~hfspc002/PoliceFreeGaySlaves.html

EXAMPLE 7
USA: Released after multiple rapes
Donald Kekich, Bruce Battista, Harold Phillips and Daniel Phillips were found not guilty by Ohio’s court of appeal of having carried out rape and mistreatment throughout the night of 14th July 1977. The victim Jane Lucas had been careless enough to write a birthday card to Kekich from which her masochistic interest was clear. By the force of her sexual leaning she was seen as “always willing” and prepared for sex and in practice declared to without the legal capacity to oppose the attack.
Source: [17] State v. Battista, Case Nos. CA 4815 & CA 4816, Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth Appellate District, Stark County, Ohio, Slip Opinion 8th November 1978.

On 8 November 1978, an Ohio appellate court handed down a similar verdict to two men accused of rape, felonious assault, and felonious sexual penetration. The court included a detailed description of the events of 14 July 1977 in the court transcript, providing an account of victim Jane Lucas’ testimony “[a]t the risk of memorializing the conduct of the Defendants for the future delight of the sexually perverse.”[17] This invocation of a notion of potential prurient interest in the testimony of the victim is characteristic of the Court’s treatment of the issues involved — outright violence is sexualized and treated as potentially “nonserious” in the serious context of the courtroom.[18]

According to Lucas’ testimony, she drove to Donald Kekich’s apartment with the intention of having sex with him. When they got there, Kekich told her to undress and asked if she needed to use the bathroom. In the bathroom, she was grabbed by a naked man (Howard Phillips, another of the defendants), raped, and severely beaten. Kekich and Phillips continued to rape and beat her for hours, later taking her to the apartment of other friends who joined in her torture, which lasted all night and included being threatened with a shotgun, which was then shoved inside of her while pictures were taken.

The defendants were convicted of “felonious sexual penetration,” but were acquitted of rape and assault on the basis of the discursive apparatus mobilized by the following testimony: “She asked for everything. She asked to blow you, she asked to go to bed with you. I mean, every sex act that happened was through her. I mean came out of her mouth and with each and every guy,” (Bruce Battista). The appellate court vacated convictions on rape and assault charges based on testimony from a friend of Lucas’ that she had overheard Lucas express masochistic fantasies, and the following birthday card sent by Lucas to Kekich, with whom she had a sexual relationship prior to the assault:

“I think you’re a brute, an animal and a Sex Fiend! — And I want you to know I appreciate it! Happy Birthday! To a man who won’t stand anything he doesn’t like, do without anything he desires, or even be polite to people unless they please him. As mean as you are – you will live a century & then some – Happy Birthday, Turkey!

…Love, Janie Lucas”

According to the appellate court, “It is evident in the instant case that Jane Lucas who accompanied Donald Kekich, Bruce Battista, Harold Phillips and Daniel Phillips initially by invitation got much more than she bargained for. However, it is equally obvious from evidence of record and especially from the birthday card admitted as Defendants’ exhibit, supra, that had acts which followed been limited to sexual conduct it would not have been necessary to compel Jane Lucas to submit by force or threat of force and that no charges would have been filed with nothing further being heard of such occurrences.”

Here the mere suggestion that Ms. Lucas might have consented without force to a sado-masochistic sexual relationship is taken as a priori evidence that she cannot legally be raped. Again, her sexuality inscribes her as always-already willing. The appellate court’s conviction of the defendants on charges of “felonious sexual penetration” further indicates that what went wrong on July, 14, 1977, was not so much the violence and terror to which Ms. Lucas was subjected, but rather the introduction of a foreign object into one of her orifices — the defendants, in other words, were convicted of violating a dildo law. (The relevant portion of the law states as follows: “No person without privilege to do so [it is unclear who has this privilege] shall insert any instrument, apparatus, or object into the vaginal or anal cavity of another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply: (1) The offender purposely compels the other person to submit by force or threat of force…”)

 

EXAMPLE 8
The Spanner case
A hundred years after the case against Oscar Wilde, England has been the only land in Europe to criminalise safe, sane and consenting SM-sex between equal gay partners. Heterosexual sadomasochists have been found not guilty for similar activities. In the European Commission of Human Rights, seven lands voted to free the Spanner gay men, while 11 wanted to convict them. Subsequently the court unanimously followed the majority vote in 1997. The tragedy here is that the Nordic lands would have counted in the balance of votes. If they had supported the Spanner gay men, then the opposite outcome would have been achieved. The Norwegian representative didn’t even turn up to vote. In the English highest court of appeal (1993), the Spanner men were sentenced by three votes to one. The convicted men have received moral and economic support from a collective Norwegian and international gay movement and a range of Norwegian political organisations with many hundreds of thousands of members from both the political left and right. This was a broad mobilisation of people for important principles such as freedom from harassment and not being allowed to work in the public sector, the right to free expression and adult individuals’ right to take their own decisions regarding their bodies and sexuality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Spanner

An official appointed British Law Commission in 1995 came to the conclusion that SM or sadomasochism, short of causing serious or permanently disabling injury, should be no crime between consenting adults. – Under the Law Commission’s new proposals, the Spanner men would never have been prosecuted, according to the director of the civil rights group Liberty, John Wadham (Pink Paper December 22, 1995).
http://www.revisef65.org/lawcomm1.html

Discrimination on the internet

EXAMPLE 9
AOL discriminates against gay SM people
Gay rights organisations threatened to boycott internet service provider AOL because America OnLine discriminated against SMers, whilst racists’ and homophobes’ expressions are tolerated. On Monday, NationalGayLobby.org demonstrated outside the town hall in San Francisco because AOL had removed the user profile of a SM gay man which included the words “submissive” and “bottom”. Activists warned that this would be just the first in a series of protests if AOL didn’t stop the censorship or throw out the homophobes.
Source: Wired News 25.10.1999.
www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,32106,00.html

EXAMPLE 10
SM-censorship on Geocities
The Swedish website Robin1 for lesbians and gay men was censored by Geocities after Robin1 posted up theme pages on fetishism. There was no pornography on the pages. Here, you can read Robins story about the censorship and about his own coming out process as a leatherman. Skeive nyheter December 1997. www.revisef65.org/fesmsensurgeocities.html [Sorry, only in Swedish]

Scandalisation in the press

“Sado-murder” and “sado-rape” are usual headlines when the tabloid press want to bring out the spicy details that are supposed to send a shiver down reader’s spines and sell more papers. Despite modern research having shown that SMers are no more likely to commit crimes, the person’s “sadomasochistic” learning is used as an obvious explanation for why the attack took place. The media do the same as they used to with homosexuals in terms of how they build up stereotypes. It is exactly this kind of media blunder that was in our time the reason that in 1981 an anti-discrimination law was passed in Norway relating to gay men and lesbians (Else Bugge Fougner and Berthold Grünfeld in Norway’s Offentlige Utredninger (NOU) om strafferettslig vern for homofile, 1979).

One of many possible examples, the case described here is the witch hunt against the SM-er and weapons inspector Harvey McGeorge.

EXAMPLE 11
Witch hunt against human rights activist
The American weapons inspector Harvey McGeorge (53) was scandalised and ridiculed in the press throughout the world because he had worked to inform people about safe, sane and consenting SM sex. The weapons inspector’s Swedish boss, Hans Blix, stated however that McGeorge’s private life was not relevant to his position as a weapons inspector. Source: Smia-info 30th November 2002. www.revisef65.org/fefnsm.html [mostly Norwegian. One English link]
http://www.londonfetishscene.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2207:qsaddamasochistq-revealed-as-weapons-inspector&catid=30&Itemid=76

Loss of job

There are many examples where fetishists and SM-ers lose their jobs because of their SM interest and orientation. Others are threatened with dismissal if they continue to inform people publicly about the group’s human rights.

A survey among readers of “The Leather Journal” in 2001 could indicate that one in four fetishists experiences discrimination at work.
http://www.theleatherjournal.com/?q=politics

A study undertaken by the SM rights organisation The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, NCSF, shows that one in 13 SM-ers had lost their job because of their orientation.
https://ncsfreedom.org/component/k2/item/452-ncsfs-violence-and-discrimination-survey.html

EXAMPLE 12
Threatened with dismissal
”Lasse”. In 1996, Oslo local authority threatened to dismiss a 22 year-old Norwegian bisexual male musician from his job in a free theatre group for children if he did not stop giving out information about fetishism in the media. The man was at this point a committee member in the Norwegian fetish organization Colorful People and had taken part in a debate on fetishism on ZTV. The man chose to sacrifice his freedom of expression in order to keep his job.
Source: Personal documentation.

EXAMPLE 13
Dismissal of temporary worker
”Kjersti”. In December 2000, a 26 year-old Norwegian heterosexual woman lost her temporary job as a salesperson in an insurance company in Eastern Norway because of her openness about her SM-orientation. This occurred despite the fact that she had completed internal training with the best results of the entire new intake of temporary staff. At a teambuilding seminar, participants were invited to tell their colleagues something about themselves that the others didn’t know about. The woman wondered whether to tell them about her interest in SM, but felt that this would not be quite right and therefore chose to contribute something else. Later the same evening, after dinner had been eaten and the atmosphere was more relaxed, she opened up to two or three of her colleagues and told them a bit about her interest in SM. This was met with good humour and taken as something “cool” by the colleagues, and in the first couple of weeks back at the office, this was joked about with “kinky” jokes in breaks, especially between the woman and these colleagues. The team leader heard the jokes, but did not share in the humour. Two weeks later, the woman was dismissed. The boss blamed this on the firm’s financial situation and said that he had taken on too many new employee s. However, the consultant in the deputy agency that had sent her to the firm in the first place afterwards gave her a friendly hint not to be so open about private matters in her next job. Two months later, the insurance company advertised again for new temporary staff for its sales team – temporary work with the possibility of permanent employment. The woman chose not to fight for her job, in the belief that she was only a temporary worker and therefore did not have the same rights as a permanent employee. Additionally, she would have been labeled as a troublemaker and would perhaps have missed out on the possibility of getting work through the temping agency in the future.
Source: Personal documentation

EXAMPLE 14
Dismissal of teacher at primary school
“Eros”. Norway, place unknown, 2003. A person of unknown sex, aged between 20 and 40 years. The person worked as a teacher in a primary school and is active in the Norwegian SM scene. In the course of the first few months in 2003, members of the local community around the school worked became aware of the person in question’s SM preferences. The person in question had not “come out” by themselves; this knowledge being made public was due to gossip behind their back. The gossip reached the school’s administration and the person received a sharp reaction from the school’s leadership: they were dismissed from their position at the school. It is hopeless to take up the fight again a dismissal like this. Such dismissals are clearly against the law, but should a person win a case against their employer, it would be just about impossible for the person to return to their workplace. The possibilities are all too great that the remaining employees would be in possession of misinformation and prejudices which would mean that they would not look upon that person as unsuitable to work with children, and as a result would “freeze” them out within the workplace.

EXAMPLE 15
Lost children because of SM diagnosis
“Hilde”. In 1997, a 42–year-old Norwegian woman in Eastern Norway let herself be pressured by her own lawyer to give up her custody of her two daughters after her divorce. The lawyer considered that the woman had a poor legal case because SM is defined as a psychiatric illness in Norway. This happened after her ex-husband got hold of the woman’s holiday photographs which showed her interest in SM – sado-masochism. He passed the photographs on to his lawyer. The children were also informed about the woman’s orientation. Today, the woman lives almost 40 Norwegian miles (400 kilometres/248 English miles) away from her children, but has partially regained contact with them after many years without contact.
Source: SMil-bladet, no. 2, 2002.

EXAMPLE 16
Children lost their father for 10 years
“Severin”. In 1983, a 39-year-old Norwegian man, who had been open with his wife of 12 years about his homosexual SM-orientation, lost shared custody rights of his three children (6, 10 and 12 years) because of his fetish- and SM-orientation. The smallest details of the man’s private sexual life was described by his ex-wife and her new husband in the court case (with jury). After this, he did not see his children for 10 years, until them became old enough to themselves make contact with him. Today, the man has a good relationship to them. An important element of the case is that the man was granted visitation rights to the children, something that was sabotaged by his ex-wife throughout the years of separation from his children.
Source: Personal documentation.

EXAMPLE 17
SM-preference does not affect caring ability
“Janne”. A 28-year-old Norwegian heterosexual woman had her parental rights to her two small boys under the age of six withdrawn in 2000 after she had asked the Child Protection department for help after the break-up of her partnership with the children’s father. Her ex-partner later became aware of her new interest in SM via an unknown source and informed the Child Protection department of this. SM-orientation was taken as a sign of illness and that the woman was not fit to be a parent. She was also reported for inadequate parenting of her children. The ”judgment” on the loss of parental rights including the woman’s SM-orientation, was announced by the Child Protection department in the presence of the children. After this, the woman was only allowed to have the children for between one and a half to two hours, one or two times a month, under supervision. She was not allowed to see the children in her own home. It became clear in the time following the judgment that the children had not received inadequate parenting from the woman, but instead one or both were born with a mild learning difficulty, which made him/them somewhat more demanding than unaffected children. The woman has employed a lawyer who is pursuing the case. The woman also wishes that something good should come out of the whole affair; namely that experts used in comparative cases in the future should intuitively know that the sexual preferences of adults – what one enjoys together with one’s partner – has nothing to do with a person’s qualities as a parent.
Source: Personal documentation.

Trashing: SM women harassed by other women

As with other types of attack, it looks as if women are especially vulnerable. According to the Jad Keres report from 1994, 56% of lesbian or bisexual women have experienced discrimination and violence from other women in the lesbian scene because of their interest in SM

https://ncsfreedom.org/component/k2/item/453-violence-against-s/m-women-within-the-lesbian-community-a-nation-wide-survey.html

One quarter of the sm women surveyed were physically assaulted by members of the lesbian community.

Discrimination within the lesbian community affects 30% of the women surveyed because of their sm orientation, including being ejected or refused admittance from a public accommodation, denied housing, and/or refused membership in a social, recreational, political, educational or spiritual lesbian group.

The lesbian author Pat Califia (Patrick Califa-Rice) in an interview with the Swedish paper Homoplaneten describes the harassment “trashing” of American SM activists:

“SM lesbians are beaten up and closed out from women’s social meeting places. Our literature is burned, they call our employers and say that we are perverts so that we lose our jobs”.
Source: “Samtaler med Pat Califia” [Talks with Pat Califia]. RFSL 12.10.1998.
http://www.rfsl.se/?p=3815&aid=4757

Things show that trashing where the most radical feminists harass women also happens in Norway. SM lesbians here too are denied entry to women’s social meeting places.

EXAMPLE 18
“Banners that express support of SM go against the basis guidelines for
having banners and the “8th of March”- days intentions and are therefore unacceptable in the parade.
Decision of the 8th of March committee in Oslo on 20th February 1997.
Source: Letter and telephone call from 8. mars-komiteen 1997.

EXAMPLE 19
A 32-year old lesbian woman was in 1997 outed and publicly exhibited as an SM‘er at her place of work by a Norwegian extreme radical feminist. The 32-year-old had taken part in a newspaper debate on SM and arranged a meeting on this theme. The feminist participated in a educational gathering at the woman’s workplace. The 32-year-old was not at the gathering, but figured as a therapist on a video used in the session. The feminist recognised the lesbian women on the video and said in front of the victim’s colleagues, head of department and representatives from other institutions “It is shocking that this woman works as a therapist when she is an SM-er”.
When the lesbian woman came back to work after the weekend, shocked colleagues told her what had been said. The victim felt that she had to turn up at a meeting of all the employees and prepared herself for the fact that she might no longer be able to work there. After this, the situation calmed down and the woman no longer works there.
Source: personal documentation

EXAMPLE 20
It can seem as if certain feminists systematically teach women to fear SM women and SM lesbians. The same 32-year-old mentioned above also experienced in 1995 that a colleague at an institute for outreach work with young people refused to work with the SM woman “because she couldn’t feel safe with the woman’s attitude towards violence”. The woman was called in by her boss in connection with the matter, but he didn’t have any problems with the SM lesbian’s sexual orientation. Neither did the third person in the team, a muslim American, have problems with this. The woman was at that time the leader of an SM rights organisation.
Source: personal documentation.