Violence And Discrimination Against S/M Women
Presenter: Susan Wright
"My boss started grabbing my breasts when he found out"
"I have a friend who may lose her job"
"Simply, I was beaten up due to the jerk thinking that [my S/M] meant [I was] free game to beat up and rape"
Harassment of and discrimination against women who choose to engage in S/M practices is an everyday occurrence. That so many women in this community are "in the closet" makes them particularly vulnerable.
Of the first 200 people responding to NCSF National Survey of Violence and Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities:
36% have experienced discrimination
37% have experienced violence or harassment
80% are not completely "out"*
This was a direct result of their consensual involvement in S/M or other sexual minority practices;
attempting to remain closeted is not a defense. Of those who suffered harassment or assault, 96% never reported the crime.
Not all violence against S/M women is perpetrated by men. A nationwide study in 1994 found that, of 539 lesbian and bisexual S/M women surveyed:
56% had experienced discrimination or violence from other women within the lesbian community because of their participation in consensual S/M
47% had experienced harassment from other women
30% had experienced discrimination
25% had experienced physical assault.**
"Regardless of personal feelings and opinions about consensual BDSM, no one has the right to harass, discriminate against, or physically assault S/M women."**
*Violence and Discrimination Against You: National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, 1998.
**Violence against S/M Women Within the Lesbian Community: A Nation-Wide Survey. Sponsored by Female Trouble of Philadelphia. Copyright 1994 by Jad Keres.
A growing community of SM/leather/fetish activists, all of whom recognize the distinction between S/M and abuse, are fighting for freedom of sexual expression among consenting adults. S/M activists who are also Members of the National Organization for Women (NOW) have created the Sexual Freedom Now project to promote sexual self-determination for women.
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