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!

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!

Poly Weekly 260: Replacing “primary” and “secondary”

Special guest cohost Steve Eley chats about replacing  the term “primary” and gives advice to new poly kinksters

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Introduction and host chat

Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to http://www.scarleteen.com; friend us on Twitter or Facebook, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums.

Topic: A replacement for “primary” and “secondary”

      Listener question

      • Exploring poly and kink; how do you start dating?
      • What do you do when one partner wants kink only and the other wants full-on sexual relationships?

      Teaser

      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 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.”

      Poly Weekly 259: Mo and the Magic Banana

      Mollena Williams, monogamous-identified kinktastic chick, talks about entering a poly BDSM arrangement

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      Introduction and host chat

      Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to http://www.scarleteen.com; friend us on Twitter or Facebook, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums.

      Announcements

      Interview: Mollena Williams, the Perverted Negress

      • Are you poly-identified? Why or why not?
      • How did an emotionally monogamous person gel with entering a poly BDSM, cross-country arrangement?
      • Why is this banana magic?
      • The importance of metamours
      • Visit Mo and her mojo at her site

        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 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.”

        Poly Weekly 258: The online kinkster

        Princess Kali of The Kink Academy talks about the intersection of kink and poly online

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        Introduction and host chat

        Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to http://www.scarleteen.com; friend us on Twitter or Facebook, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums.

        Announcements

        Miss Poly Manners: Dealing with Party Invites

        How do you deal with party invitations not addressed to the entire poly enclave?

        Interview: Princess Kali of The Kink Academy

        Teaser

        • From Poly and Single: what to do when the couple is fighting

        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 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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