What healthcare professionals need to know about poly and kink

As a health care practitioner, how do you identify polyamorous and kinky clients?

This week, I had the pleasure of participating in an event at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. (Thanks to Allena Gabosch for recommending me for the event when she was booked!) The event was called the “human library,” and about a dozen of us activists acted as “books” to the participants, who were all in the program. Since health care professional deal with people of all orientations, genders and abilities, we were there to act as open books into our respective communities and to lend advice to future naturopathic practitioners.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, and I had no idea of the questions I might be asked. Most of the students I met with were unsure what to ask and wanted a basic primer on polyamory and kink. “What do I need to know about polyamory/kink?” was the most common question. For this, I recommended two books, a paper and a local resource:

However, some did have specific concerns, including:

  • When I take a history, what would I ask to discover if a person is polyamorous?
  • When I take a history, what would I ask to discover if a person is kinky?
  • What does “polyamorous” actually mean, and what do I need to know about these people?

Creating a safe space

The first question was fairly easy to answer. Just as we poly folks create a safe space for emotional and relationship discussions, health care practitioners should do everything possible to set their patients at ease. The best way to do this is not to make assumptions: don’t assume the person is straight, of one particular gender, monogamous or vanilla. Even if it’s too personal to ask, it’s best not to be heteronormative. Or relationship-normative.

Also, do your best to create a safe, judgment-free zone to encourage your patients to be comfortable enough to reveal their orientations. My favorite personal experience with this was a fantastic gynecologist who, when I was in the stirrups, asked, “Do you sleep with men, women, or both?” I’d never heard “or both” before, and I was delighted she’d asked! I answered, “both,” to which she replied with a cheery, “Good for you!” And just like that, she established trust. I knew I could tell her about my partners, probably even my kinky proclivities, and she wouldn’t flinch, blink or judge.

Compare this to my previous gynecologist, who, when I told her I was now in a polyamorous relationship, left an awkward pause, sat back with considerable discomfort and mumbled, “it’s best if you try to limit the number of partners.” Ugh! At the time, I had TWO long-term, committed partners. She just assumed that “polyamorous” meant I’d installed a revolving door to my bedroom. I knew I couldn’t trust her to be considerate and informed, so I switched to someone I could.

So how does a practitioner establish a safe space to discuss orientations and lifestyles? “Male, female or both?” is a good start. A good follow-up question is, “What is your relationship structure?” Monogamous folks will probably reply “single,” “married” or the like, but this question opens up the opportunity for non-monogamous folks to share both their orientation and partner information if they are comfortable doing so.

What about kink?

Asking about BDSM proclivities and activities is far, far more difficult, and I’ve personally never found a good, non-offensive lead-in to asking if someone is kinky unless he or she had already dropped a significant hint. Most kinksters I know frankly will not share this information with a health care practitioner because they believe it to be private and irrelevant. One could argue against the “irrelevant” factor, depending upon the type of visit and health care practitioner, but it is definitely private and personal information. There is no good way to broach this topic in a casual way. The best you can do is to create a safe space in which your patient will be willing to share relevant details with you and ask you health-related questions as needed.

How do we tell the difference between kink and abuse?

There is of course a big difference between kink and abuse: consent. And health care practitioners are mandatory reporters, so they must by law report abuse. This is why many kinksters don’t come out to their doctors: they could mistakenly be reported as abuse victims and inadvertently make their partner suspect of being an abuser. Health care practitioners are trained to question bruises with a conversational, “Hey, how did that come about?” or “Wow, big bruise. What happened there?”

Here, I’ll give a little advice to the kinksters: be honest. When you try to hide the information, it only makes you look more like an abuse victim! A few suggestions:

  • [big smile] Oh, that? That was FUN!
  • [big smile + eyebrow raise] Do you really want to know?
  • [big smile + happy sigh] That was the cause of my last orgasm.
  • Or, if you must lie: [big smile] Carpet burn.

For the practitioners, do you notice the common theme? While most of the time kinksters will simply lie to avoid sharing private details, you can often discern them from abuse victims by a sincere but fleeting smile when you ask about bruises or marks. It’s similar to the reaction when you ask someone about a hickey: it’s not a litmus test by any means, but it might give a clue that the situation was consensual.

Back to safe

After all that, the creation of a safe space is really what’s most important for health care practitioners if they really want all the information. Doctors know that patients lie all the time: about whether they took their medication or not, about how many drinks they have, about how often they exercise. The best health care folks can do is to let their patients know that they won’t be judged and that the conversation will be easy to have. And the best the patients can do is to be honest about their lifestyle choices and be informed enough to ask your doctor or therapist all your questions, even if some of them are a little embarrassing.

PW 314: Rituals and labels – what carries meaning?

An interview with Lee Harrington, spiritual and erotic educator and author, on where rituals and labels come from and what we need to know about their meaning

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Introduction

Under-18 warning and redirection to Scarleteen

1:00 Announcements and Host chat

8:15 Interview: Lee Harrington on rituals and labels

Lee Harrington is a spiritual and erotic educator, gender explorer, eclectic artist and published author and editor on human sexuality and spiritual experience. He is a nice guy with a disarmingly down to earth approach to the fact that we are each beautifully complex ecosystems, and we deserve to examine the human experience from that lens.

Harrington on the importance of recognizing that the label we use is rooted in our own experience and might not carry the same meaning for others in the community. Also, what is a ritual, what meaning does it carry and why are rituals important (or not)?

Latest book: Sacred Kink, the Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond

Listen to Lee at Erotic Awakening podcast

36:40 Host chat

A quick story on LustyGuy’s and Minx’s KinkFest experience.

Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

How not to be a douche on FetLife

It is always my divine pleasure to present on just about any topic at MomentumCon, one of my favorite sex-positive events. It’s always chock-full of luminaries and sexy thought leaders with forward-looking ideas and insights. Great stuff!

My talk this year was a little more down and dirty. Based on the research you guys helped me conduct, I created a deck of guidelines based on the biggest complaints users made regarding sex-positive community sites such as FetLife. Without further ado, here it is: How Not to Be a Douche on FetLife.

How not to be a douche on FetLife

View more presentations from Minx M

PW 295: Geeky kink

The Geeky Kink event and more on how not to be a douche on FetLife

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Introduction

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit http://www.scarleteen.com

1:00 Host chat

4:00 Topic: The Geeky Kink event review

Christian from New Jersey reviews the Geeky Kink Event.

  • First time event; hiccups at registration, wifi issues, Friday was slow to get up and running
  • He was performer with White Elephant Burlesque  and danced to White and Nerdy!
  • Seemed open and accepting of kink, steampunk, geek, anime, leather
  • There was a bootblack brigade, Jay Wiseman, Lord Percival, Murphy Blue on shibari and connections
  • Other classes on DIY, LAN parties and clothing-optional Rock Band
  • Also had aftercare room “room of requirement”

12:10 Feedback

1.     Focus on people you feel you might have a genuine connection; don’t play the numbers.

2.     Read the profile carefully and bring up a detail in your first communication.

3.     Don’t paper the site with the same email. Don’t play the numbers.

4.     Be confident, literate, appealing and polite.

5.     Demonstrate some depth to your life in your profile.

6.     Be the interesting person you would want to receive a message from.

  • Blake changed his FetLife profile based on 292!
  • Wes from Philadelphia suggests OKC for the poly football-loving guy; Minx didn’t suggest it originally because they specifically said they’d tried it already and couldn’t find enough all-American girls next door

21:45 Correction

Thanks to David for the correction: It was Charlize Theron, not Nicole Kidman in Head in the Clouds.

22:10 Thanks

Thanks to David! And Hero Francis for the three-digit contribution this week!

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment here. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

PW 292: How not to be a douche on FetLife

How not to be a giant douche on FetLife

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Introduction

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit http://www.scarleteen.com

1:00 How not to be a douche on FetLife

Best practices for getting FetLife booty and not being pegged as a douchebag:

  1. Tell us who you are.
    • a. Complete your profile before sending messages to anyone else.
    • b. Have a profile picture that looks like you (not your cock, girlfriend, slave or favorite cartoon character, YOU.)
    • c. Include photos that are primarily of you or your work. This does not include photos of the last 20 girls that sucked your cock. It does include toys you made, pretty rope work and artistic shots of scenes that convey a strong emotion and your own personality.
    • d. List your fetishes.
  2. Pay attention. Read a person’s profile before you message him/her. If the person is smart enough to specify what he/she does and doesn’t like in terms of approach, offers and play, read and respect that. Modify your opening message accordingly.
  3. Be civil. Being confrontational and aggressive or writing in all caps doesn’t make you a hot top, and no one is falling for it. No experienced bottom will associate aggression from a stranger as hot, safe, sane or sexy.
  4. Participate. FetLife is a community. Join groups that you find interesting and participate in discussions (see #3). Show that you’re not just kinky online or in private but an active member of the local scene with other people that know and trust you.

16:15 Movie review: Head in the Clouds

Joreth reviews Head in the Clouds as a poly-friendly movie.

20:30 Feedback

  • Grace asked how to handle mundane things like chores and finances.
  • Blake wrote on episode 288 on geeks and kink in to make a correlation between a creative, open mind and sexual late-bloomers, “I think being kinky and geeky totally makes you more intelligent than the average person.”
  • Angel responded to Matt’s rant against marriage in episode 288 to clarify a personal take on marriage: “To us a wedding is a chance to celebrate your relationship publicly with other people.”

28:00 Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment here. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

PW 288: The collision of geeks and kink

Teresa Jusino and Pendard explain why so many sci fi content creators and fans are kinky

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Introduction

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit http://www.scarleteen.com

1:00 Announcements

2:45 Geeks and Kink

Teresa Jusino and Pendard sign on as geek experts research the correlation between sci-fi geekiness and kink/BDSM proclivities. Why are so many geeks kink-friendly, and why are so many comic books and sci-fi plots kinky?

  • Are sci-fi content creators all kinky, or do the fans demand kink?
  • Why are depictions of kink in sic fi more realistic and more accepted?
  • Are creators/consumers kinkier than the average bear or just average but more willing to talk about it?
  • Four theories on the collision of geeks and kink
  • Pendard shares the kinky background of Wonder Woman; was William Marston kinky himself?
  • The top five geektastic kinky couples
  • Listener question from Graydancer: why are there more “real” geek girls out there now?
  • Geek Girl Con
  • Listener question from Justin: does the geek/kink connection have to do with intelligence?

Jusino’s article in ChinaShop Mag

35:00 Feedback

37:00 Thanks

Thanks to Sarah Elizabeth for the generous donation this week!

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment here. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

PW 280: Kinkster Advice Line

Raven Kaldera answers your questions about being poly in a D/s relationship

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Introduction

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit http://www.scarleteen.com

2:20 Raven Kaldera answers your poly BDSM questions!

Raven Kaldera, author of Polyamory and Power Circuits, shares some wisdom on polyamory in the world of BDSM and power dynamics.

  • 3:00 QuotidianLight: How to structure a relationship where a fem sub has her own fem sub. “Do I ask your daddy?” Who is in charge of whom?
  • 6:55 Nellodee: How to make a long-distance, poly D/s relationship work?
  • 10:45 DocErotiq: How to handle being a sub to your primary but Dom to everyone else. They have an owned and collared sub, and he bottoms to her. Also, how to be a Dom as a parent who is a switch and subs to Mom.
  • 16:10 AdeleLoves: How can a couple where one person is into D/s and the other isn’t make it work?

23:15 Feedback

  • Regarding Am I jealous? Episode 277 comments on religious tolerance – a bit of a rant proclaiming no religious tolerance until the religion tolerates different orientations
  • Josh on episode 221 on the This American Life episode on infidelity

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook, leave a comment here or discuss your own topics at the forums. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

PW 279: Polyamory and BDSM

Raven Kaldera, author of Polyamory and Power CircuitsRaven Kaldera talks about polyamory in a power dynamice–and targets common misakes

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Introduction

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit http://www.scarleteen.com

1:40 Interview: Raven Kaldera on Polyamory and BDSM

Raven Kaldera, author of Polyamory and Power Circuits, shares some wisdom on polyamory in the world of BDSM and power dynamics.

  • Why do we need a poly book exclusively about power dynamics and D/s?
  • Why we should not take lessons from porn
  • The power of months of negotiation
  • Common myth: the BBM (Big Bad Master) has to make all the relationship decisions and simply instruct his slaves how to behave
  • Best advice: force your slaves to talk to each other to deal with conflict
  • Jealousy with owned slave versus part-time sub
  • Dealing with egalitarian partners; addressing Shiny New Lover syndrome with a current/egalitarian partner

32:00 Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook, leave a comment here or discuss your own topics at the forums. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

How to make ShibariCon 2011 Your Best Con Ever

Slides from my intro to congoing and con conversation class at ShibariCon. Thanks to everyone who participated!

PW 274: Am I jealous?

Listener W writes in to ask: am I jealous, or is this situation unfair?

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Introduction and host chat

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit http://www.scarleteen.com

1:20 Topic: Am I jealous?

Wendy writes in to ask advice from the cohost team: am I jealous? She gets a certain number of hours a week with her top, and compares that to the number of hours his wife enjoys with him. She relays anecdotes of her top engaging in sex with another bottom, which was beyond the scope of their agreement, and with his wife, which was beyond her expectations. She relays a situation in which she watched the children for his and his wife’s anniversary trip, but her own collaring anniversary went unnoticed.

Is she jealous and how should she cope? Cohosts Joreth, Pepper and Franklin share insights and give advice, including making a list of the things she needs to feel secure in a relationship and how she would like for commitment to be shown.

20:40 Announcements

Poly in Pictures blog on jealousy – for a little jealousy humor

21:40 Feedback

  • Musqrat comments on the Sister Wives commentary from episode 266, comparing to a sort of institutionalized D/s situation
  • A caller who believes in religious polygyny makes a call for tolerance
  • DDog calls in to appreciate the term “anchors” from episode 260

35:40 Thanks to Earl and John for their donations

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook, leave a comment here or discuss your own topics at the forums. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

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