Sunday, May 19, 2013

Consent Counts

Before leaving the topic of consent too far behind and beginning a series of posts about where the idea that sexual variation might be pathological came from, I want to end this very abbreviated exploration of consent with a description of the Consent Counts Project.  This is a very significant effort by The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) to advocate for changes in US law to support legal protection for consensus in kinky sex, to promote public awareness of the importance of consent, and to promote dialogue within the BDSM communities about the concept of consent and its application.  Again, this is a slogan about the social reality that NCSF is working to bring about, rather than an apt description of current social conditions.  A program like Consent Counts is essential precisely because often, consent is observed in the breech, rather than the observance.

The National Organization for Sexual Freedom was founded in 1997 to advocate for the freedom to practice sexual variations safely and legally.  Along with The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, named after nineteenth century sexuality activist Victoria Woodhull, NCSF is a leader in the advocacy effort for sexual freedom.  NCSF maintains a list of Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) who understand the medical, legal, mental health and other needs of the sexually variant communities.

The Consent Counts Program is directed by Susan Wright, who is an AASECT Member of longstanding, and a founder of NCSF.  It has many dimensions, and she will be expanding on them in her AASECT presentation “Understanding Consent in BDSM Practices” at the fast-approaching AASECT 45th Annual Conference in Miami, Saturday Morning, June 8 at 9-10AM.  I will only outline Consent Counts’ dimensions here:

  •          Legal reform, including advocacy efforts and legal database of applicable state laws so users can understand the applicable laws in their jurisdiction(s).
  •          Community Assistance Guides to best practices for BDSM groups and individuals, including ways to determine if assault has occurred, handing of consent violations, and legal defense when these arise.
  •          A very sophisticated set of threads on FetLife about what consent is and how its violation happens and matters in the community.
  •          A survey of consent violations in the community is under development.

This program is thus focused not just on advocacy for more favorable legal statutes covering BDSM, but education of professionals who service kinky clients, resources to help kinky organizations in the self-educational efforts, and direct support for kinky individuals who may not consume the services of the existing organizations.  And it is focused on sophisticated discussion of consent in BDSM by kinky individuals.


The National Coalition of Sexual Freedom Website:, one of the primary, and least commercial, on-line communities for BDSM:

The Consent Counts main thread on FetLife (You will need to open a Fetlife account to visit):

The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, another organization working to protect sexual freedom:

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