The Good Men’s Project’s views on what defines sex-positive expression by good men and women, and what does not, was made clear to me recently. They censored my featured column on GMP, The Sex Positive Male. I was told I could no longer include any content referring to D/s-BDSM, Kink or Fetishsexuality.
This censorship occurred despite their editorial claim that the Good Men Project’s mission is to have “the conversation no one else is having.” They further emphasize exactly how open-minded they consider themselves to be. They declare how important it is to be open to more than one view about what constitutes good –“the question of what is good opens the door to huge philosophical implications. Where does goodness start and where does it end? Who is the judge of what is good?”
Well apparently the “who” in this case are the same people, who despite the above claim, ARE afraid of having me include this particular conversation no on else is having about kink and BDSM.
I was warned and even criticized by a number of peers who felt the Good Men Project took too narrow a view of mature healthy masculinity and sexuality when I first took on the column last April.
From my view as a sex-positive writer and advocate for sexual authenticity, honesty, education and research, the GMP had a significant audience to write for. I took them at their word about their stated intention. As long as they did not restrict what I could write about I was happy to offer my sex-positive views. I felt they were welcoming my professional experience and insights about the broad spectrum of sexual desire emerging in the culture globally, and its potential for conscious, empowering and healing expression.
Due to the strong response, I was invited to write an on-going featured column two times per month under “The Sex Positive Male” byline. My column was going to run on Saturdays to avoid NSFW status. I submitted my second column, “Is the Problem Sex/Porn Addiction or Sexual Dishonesty?” and got this reply from my editor at the time…
“After reading your latest installment today, I realized the caliber of content–message, depth, etc.– needs to be a weekday spot. In general weekends are slow traffic for us, and too, a good place to put NSFW content. But the quality of what you are writing deserves weekday attention. LOVE the depth of your material.”
In subsequent columns I focused on growing interest and news emerging about Kink, D/s-BDSM and Fetishsexuality, embodiment, sexual intimacy, sexual healing and other conscious sexuality topics. As a member of both the conscious sexuality and kink communities for over 15 years, and as a Transpersonal psychologist I had helped hundreds of individuals and couples maneuver the complexities of conscious engagement of their kinks. I felt I could offer a reasoned perspective about healthy practices to support the exploding, uninitiated interest in Kink generated by Fifty Shades of Grey and later the Jian Ghomeshi incident. My focus was always on conscious expression, sexual honesty, negotiated consent, embodiment, empowerment, healing past trauma and shame, and deepened intimacy and connection with partners.
The response to my column and messages to me privately have been exceedingly positive, encouraging and often outright grateful for bringing Kink so straightforwardly into the conversation.
I was very impressed that GMP had an expansive enough if not enlightened view to recognize the validity and prevalence of kink oriented sexuality. So it was a shock to receive a cease and desist order direct from the publisher.
“It is with regret that I tell you that from now on we will not be able to run sexually explicit content, and that includes references to graphic sex, kink, BDSM, fetishes and sexually suggestive pictures. You are welcome to contribute non-sexual content, of course…”
Of course…not! This sanitization of a significant dimension of human sexuality from GMP is equivalent to banning any content relevant to gay or lesbian sexuality 50 years ago. It is a slap in the face to anyone who identifies as a Fetishsexual just as it would have been to be excluded from writing relevant content for homosexuals back then.
Just in case they may have lost their minds in a moment, I asked for clarification about what content specifically would be excluded… new psychological research that described aspects of Kink?… education about physical and emotional safety when engaged in D/s-BDSM? … case-studies that often show others that they are not alone in their own desires? …discussion of what conscious, negotiated consensual fetish explorations can look like? …descriptions of the ecstatic depths of Eros that can be reached, and the healing of old wounds, shames and fears inherited from a sex-negative culture? Did they really intend to whitewash the entire reality of Kink, Fetish and D/s-BDSM from their content?
After 6 weeks, I have still not received any clarification or response. Their position is clear on the face of it.
They are afraid that by allowing this particular conversation no else is having to continue, others might judge them as actually believing kink, BDSM and Fetishsexuality were a normal, acceptable part of the sexual landscape.
“Other’s” in this case are not readers, but advertisers and members of the board of GMP. The readers had nothing to do with the decision. As the publisher put it…
“There are several reasons, but they all have business consequences.
–Two advertisers have brought it up as problematic and are asking to withdraw their advertising.
– Our Board of Directors is uncomfortable putting that content in front of investors and potential investors.”
How can the Good Men Project claim to support what is good for men, when the driving call is to cater to advertisers and investors – particularly ones that are either ill-informed, sex-negative, prudish, bigoted or all of the above? These are the views that have power over what GMP can publish? I do not have an issue with a business operating in its best interests. But I am disappointed that a popular publication that claims to be on a mission to create a culture of conscious men, wants a prominent community of Kinky, D/s-BDSM, Fetishsexuals to be kept in the closest out of sight. They may as well put a sign on their home page – “No Kinky People Allowed.”
If the Fetishsexual community were as organized and prominent as the LGBT communities are in this current era, this is the kind dismissal of a significant sexual community that would cause all hell to break loose in the virtual realms.
I would guess we are a generation or more away from Conscious Kink being considered a relevant and integral part of sex-positive culture.
It is still a challenge for most all levels of society to behold those who identity as Fetishsexuals and Kinksters, with a healthy, respectful regard. Instead there is the prevalent judgment that these “poor souls” must have been damaged or traumatized in some way, or they are outright products of the devil or evil.
What seems more damaging and traumatic, to me, are the outdated cultural, moral, social, political, legal, therapeutic and religious codes that are intended to make people feel afraid, ashamed, immoral, criminal, pathological, sick, disgusting, or dangerous regarding their authentic sexuality. Fetishsexuals are, in my opinion, about 2 generations behind the gay and lesbian communities who fought hard and still fight to be recognized as authentic representations of human sexual diversity. It will take a similar united effort by the Fetishsexual communities to preserve our freedoms, legal rights, and safeguard our dignity for ourselves and the generations that follow.
Over the last 14 years, Galen Fous, MTP has worked with hundreds of men, women and couples seeking support to be honest and empowered about who they are sexually, and heal from the decades of fear, shame and judgments that has held back their authentic desire. He holds a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. His academic and research emphasis is on authentic sexual expression, particularly on what he calls Fetishsexuality.
Fous is actively researching and developing a new therapeutic model of sex-therapy for individuals and couples seeking to resolve inner conflicts between their authentic desire and the parts of their psyche that resists their healthy expression. His innovative Sex-Research Survey, “Discover Your Personal Erotic Myth,” has over 1,200 fascinating and revealing responses so far. He presents regularly at a variety of sexuality-related conferences, grad and undergrad psychology programs at colleges and universities, and has been interviewed and written for numerous media for his innovative views on conscious sexuality. His popular column, “The Sex Positive Male,” appears twice a month on the Good Men Project, and his work and research has been featured on the Dr. Jane Greer Show, Condom Monologues, Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, Dr. Gloria Brame show and many others.
Fous has been advocating for sex positive approaches to understanding the complex nature of sexual desire and has been active publicly in the Sex-Positive, Fetish/Kink and Conscious Sexuality communities since 1998. He has also studied and practiced a variety of facilitation and counseling processes including depth and archetypal psychology, shadow/wound oriented process work, voice dialogue, neo-tantric practices, mindfulness, embodiment and conscious movement arts, ritual dominance and submission, and BDSM. He has been actively involved in the Mankind Project since February of 1999 and has been a Weekend Leader for both Boys to Men ROP Weekends and Inner Mentor/Adolescent Wound training. His private coaching/counseling practice is located in Portland, OR. For more info see GalenFous.com.