BDSM – A New Sexual Orientation?

Jul 22 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

The term ‘sexual orientation’ is mostly used about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual (LGBT). This powerful concept – ‘sexual orientation’ – pioneered courageously by members of the LGBT community, has empowered people, within the last 50 years or so, to think of themselves as not bad, or sick, but just different.

Readers may remember that it is not all that long since homosexuality was considered a form of sickness. Until 1973 Homosexuality was listed in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a psychopathology: a form of mental illness. The underlying assumption here was that gay people had something wrong with them. While there are of course still individuals who think this, it is no longer generally seen in this way, at least in the USA and UK.

Most people have heard of S&M, or SM (in case you’re one of the few who hasn’t, it stands for Sadism and Masochism). Fewer have heard of D/s (domination and submission), but the most comprehensive acronym which is in general use by those who take part in these activities is BDSM (the B is for bondage). If you Google BDSM you will find a lot of porn websites, some community sites run by members of the BDSM community, sites of suppliers of BDSM gear (fetish clothing, specialist fetters and restraints, whips and so on).

However for those looking for serious research into the prevalence and experience of people who indulge in BDSM with consenting adults, there is not very much around. And yet these practices seem quietly to be sneaking their way into our consciousness, with a growing stream of articles and documentaries which, while they are not serious academic work, are also not purely porn. The internet, TV and mainstream magazines are providing media for people who are perfectly nice, and ‘ordinary’ (whatever that means) to reveal that they get off on BDSM activities. In these articles and TV shows, participants generally don’t seem to feel there’s anything wrong with them, or that they have anything to apologise for about their sexual practices. Having said that, most BDSM-ers feel uncertain about how they might be judged for their activities by, say, employers, friends, health professionals and family. In effect, then, it seems many BDSM-ers think of themselves as not sick, but as having a different sexual orientation.

If we think of BDSM as a sexual orientation then what are the implications of this? The following is a rough list.

  • BDSM is not proof of some kind of emotional damage (e.g. trauma or abusive parenting)
  • People cannot be counselled or otherwise ‘treated’ out of being into BDSM
  • People should not be discriminated against for being into BDSM
  • People are not in some way ‘ill’ if they are into BDSM
  • People are not in some way ‘bad’ if they are into BDSM

Those who do see BDSM as a form of sickness can still find support in the DSM, where activities involving, for example ‘the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner’ are classified as a paraphilia: a form of mental disorder. But this is a grey area because there is a systematic ambiguity about whether ‘suffering’ or ‘humiliation’ within a mutually consensual roleplay situation is what is meant here. The BDSM players who are on our TV screens, or internet sites, or who are running businesses around BDSM are talking about exactly this mutually consensual game, as opposed to real, non-consensual torture or humiliation.

For therapists who may encounter clients who present with BDSM-related issues, I invite you to consider the bullet points above, and to see if any of these statements conflicts with attitudes you may have held about BDSM. I invite you to entertain the idea of BDSM as a sexual orientation.

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Sexual Responsiveness & Orientation

Jul 22 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Sexuality is about responsiveness and orientation, both of which are determined before we are born. Among the genes we inherit from our parents are those that determine responsiveness and orientation. Any child can potentially be born homosexual. Likewise, we are all born with varying degrees of responsiveness. Responsiveness is a measure of the frequency with which a person’s mind responds positively to eroticism in such a way that causes arousal (blood to flow to the sex organ). When we have an opportunity to focus on our mental arousal, this tension gradually builds up until it peaks and is released as nervous energy, that is called orgasm.

There are three key aspects to responsiveness: biological, emotional and intellectual. The most important aspect is biological since this is the physiological response. All men orgasm (with varying frequencies) because male orgasm is the physiological trigger for ejaculation of semen. Ejaculation is a male glandular emission related to men’s territorial instincts to dominate and fight for possession of resources. Male mammals mark out their territory by spraying glandular emissions over land marks to deter competitors. Female mammals are not territorial in the same way. Women do not have male glands so women cannot ejaculate as men do.

Most men engage in regular sexual activity throughout their active lives. Most (but not all) men enjoy masturbation and fantasies. But men usually need a partner to enjoy the best erotic satisfaction. The need for regular penetrative sex with a lover is emotionally significant to men (important to their state of well-being). The term ’emotionally significant’ has nothing to do with the emotional aspects of intercourse women may enjoy. Even if a woman is responsive, her enjoyment of orgasm is an occasional pleasure.

Responsiveness reflects a person’s total orgasm frequency both alone and with a lover. Men are much more responsive than women ever are. Even responsive women only ever orgasm by masturbating alone. Being unresponsive (rarely or never having an orgasm) is completely normal for women. Research indicates that around 10% of women openly admit they have never had an orgasm in their whole lives. Another 20% (30% in total) are essentially unresponsive: they readily admit that they rarely orgasm.

No one teaches us how to orgasm. We discover orgasm because we have the capability. Orgasm is a significant response that we definitely realise we have had. Naturally we are naturally pleased when we have our first orgasm but we don’t tell our parents or our friends about it. Our instincts tell us (if the general embarrassment over sex doesn’t) that orgasm is personal. Even later on, orgasm is a pleasure that we keep private. Those who truly orgasm (men for example) don’t typically boast about it.

Our orientation is defined by who we are attracted to, for example, the same sex or the opposite sex. Most people are heterosexual, which means that they are attracted to people of the opposite sex. Some people are attracted to their own sex. When this is exclusive (they are never attracted to the opposite sex) we say that they are homosexual. A person who engages in sexual activity with someone of either sex is called bisexual. Orientations are completely normal and accepted in most societies today.

We have no choice over our orientation. It is just the way we are. Orientation is not a life-style choice. We do not become gay because of the people we associate with or because our parents raised us in a certain way. Our sexual orientation (whether we are aroused by or amenable to sex with a lover of the same or opposite sex) is innate (we are born that way).

There is a biological precedent for heterosexuality because intercourse between a man and a woman is the basis of reproduction. But human sexuality is much broader than a purely reproductive function. Although it is usual for people to be heterosexual, it is not abnormal for someone to be attracted to a person of the same sex either exclusively or just occasionally.

Sexual orientation is just one aspect of ourselves. Orientation does not change how we are as human beings, our personalities and talents. Men are more likely to identify their orientation because men are responsive. Most men deduce their orientation during puberty because of the fantasies they have. Orientation is less significant to women because of their lack of responsiveness. Many women never have sexual fantasies. A woman may feel different to other women but not understand the reason why. Lesbians often marry and have children before realising years later that they are gay.

Far from being a disorder, low libido is just the natural state of affairs for many women. (Bella Ellwood-Clayton 2013)

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Burning Plastic Causes Cancer, Sexual Orientation Problems, and Respiratory Diseases

Jul 22 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

The smoke of burning plastic contains toxic particles; these toxic particles can cause cancer when inhaled. When these burnt particles fall back to the ground, they contaminate the soil for many years and may render vegetables and fruit harvested from gardens in these areas unsafe to eat.

Separate plastic from other rubbish that is to be burnt and dispose of safely. Pigs, goats and chickens eating grass or food scraps contaminated with dioxins from the burnt plastic will pass it on to humans when these animals are then eaten.

Open burning of plastic waste is simply dangerous to your health and the health of the environment. Plastic such as PVC (polyvinylchloride) is common in such products as: bottles, jugs, plastic packaging and plastic bags from the supermarket. When these plastics are burnt, carbon monoxide, dioxins and furans are released into the air. Studies have linked dioxins and furans to cancer and respiratory diseases, most especially in children as their respiratory systems may not be fully developed. It also causes birth defects in the respiratory and cardiovascular systems when inhaled by a pregnant mother.

Dioxin is a toxic organic chemical that contains chlorine and is produced when chlorine and hydrocarbons are heated to high temperature.


These toxic components inhaled with smoke from burning plastic materials can cause hormonal and sex behavioral orientation problems with your newborn child, as a result, the child could begin exhibiting behavior in total contrast to his or her sex – a male acting female or vice versa.

Researchers have established that inhaling burnt plastic materials have altered sexual characters of some birds (from male to female). They have also revealed the same defects can easily occur in human beings. Plastics should never be burnt in the open air, there are recycling options available for disposal of these waste products.

Dioxins and furans can also cause impotence, asthma and a myriad of other allergies in humans. Medical reports show exceptionally low sperm counts in young men in comparison to previous generations. Testicular cancer has increased by 55 % between 1979 and 1991 and fewer boys are being born in areas where burning plastic is practiced. Some girls are achieving puberty earlier than earlier generations, this can also be a result of inhaling dioxin and furans.


STOP BURNING PLASTIC NOW! If your neighbour is burning plastic, report them to your health department.

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Sexual Orientation – What Direction Is Your Compass Pointing?

Jul 22 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Sexual orientation can be simply described as what sort of sex a person finds themselves attracted to and in what way. Sexual orientation is described by the American Psychological Association as follows: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.” It is an integral part of who we are as humans, though it may not be apparent in a person’s conduct, activities, or appearance. There are many factors that go into one’s orientation, and it usually encompasses a combination of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and biological factors.

While there are numerous orientation groups, there are four that are agreed upon in scientific circles. These terms were coined in the 19th century, and we use them to this day.


This defines the group that feels attracted to the opposite sex, examples being a man attracted to women or a woman attracted to men. This is also known in slang terms as “hetero” or “straight.”


This term is used to define the group that feels attracted to the same sex, examples being a woman attracted to women or a man attracted to men. Men who are homosexual sometimes use the term “gay,” and homosexual women often use the term “lesbian.”


Those that associate with this group fall neither within heterosexual nor homosexual definitions, but instead feel emotionally romantic toward and/or sexually attracted to both men and women, whether they themselves are a woman or man. People who have distinct (but not exclusive) attraction to a gender may also fall into this category – an example would be a woman who prefers men, but will also consider attraction with another female.


Classic ideas about sexual orientation have been steadily changing over recent years to accommodate for the term “asexual.” An asexual person is someone who does not feel any sort of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction. In essence, it is a lack of either interest in sex, or sexual attraction to others.

The asexual orientation has only recently been adopted as an orientation at all, and is still disagreed upon by many. Some interject that, for an orientation to exist, it must point in a certain direction, and that the lack of sexual desire is a sickness or dysfunction. The image of a compass is used as a metaphor – while a compass can point in many different directions, and even change directions, a compass that does not have a needle is not pointing anywhere and is in fact broken. Again, we’re talking about other people’s opinions here. If a person is happy and healthy and functioning properly, who’s to say that being asexual can somehow be compared to a broken compass? It can’t and nor should it be. If a person is happy with who and what they are, why suggest anything is broken in the first place?

Additional Orientations

There are many more variations of sexual orientation, and some conjecture that we have yet to discover them all. Among these are pansexual, the attraction to all sexes and/or gender identities; polysexual, an attraction to multiples sexes and/or gender identities; and intersexual, being someone who is neither biologically male nor female, and may or may not include a missing sense of sexual orientation.

Though these additional orientations are not widely accepted, taught about, or spoken of, they do indeed exist and are just as valid a form of orientation as any of those previously mentioned.

Lack of Mutability in Sexual Orientations

For many years, it was rumoured (and widely believed) that one’s sexual orientation could be shifted and changed based on how one was raised or what sort of sexual or emotional experiences one had while growing up. However, with the acknowledgment by scientific professionals that sexual orientation is not a choice, there also came the acknowledgment that people have one orientation and it does not change. While there are many who hide their orientation, or are sometimes confused about their true orientation, this does not mean the orientation is shifting.

It has been agreed upon that as much as one may try to “change how they feel,” in the long run there has been no evidence this results in the desired outcome. In fact, psychologists have proven that trying to force someone to feel sexually towards a gender that they are not attracted to can cause long term mental repercussions.

Social Influences on Sexual Orientations

Sexual orientation is said to, arguably, go hand-in-hand with social identity and orientation. This means that one’s social environment, such as the behavior, thoughts, and orientation of the people surrounding an individual, is often what helps to define one’s sexual orientation. The example may be used that, due to an individual’s family being of a certain religion, they will be predisposed to a certain form of sexual orientation. This is arguable due to the fact that many individuals have come out of social environments that look down upon their sexual orientation, and the person is forced to either hide it or reject that social environment.

The Kinsey Scale

Also called “The Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale,” this scale was created by Alfred Kinsey in an attempt to deepen the description and definition of sexual orientation. Based on one’s sexual history, they can find their place on the scale and describe themselves based upon it. The scale goes from 0 to 6, where 0 is purely heterosexual and 6 is purely homosexual. Therefore, the numbers 1 to 5 indicate some scale of bisexuality. Kinsey described the reasoning behind his scale: “The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history [… ]. An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life. [… ] A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist.” These days, the Kinsey Scale is considered a step in a better direction, but by no means a complete reference, as it is far too linear. Rating sexuality in a 0-6, in an up-or-down method, does not even begin to describe the uniqueness of each sexual orientation.

So, as we begin to explore the uniqueness of each individual, I hope that from the brief descriptions given above, we can at least see that people come into this world with their compasses pointing in different directions. Indeed, even acknowledging and accepting those who have no needle in their compass!

Copyright Piaras O Cionnaoith 2013

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