BDSM and Kink

Furries, Therians, Pets and Pups

Rhiannon No Comments

#Furries #Therians #Pets and #Pups

My #FetishFriday segments touch upon furries and pony play but I wanted to dive a little deeper into the topic of furries, therians, pets, and pups as well as pony play in order to reach out to a large group of folks that might be seeking out sex therapy services but don’t know where to find an affirming and furry-friendy and pet-aware therapist.

For those of you who don’t know what all this means, that’s okay!  I ask that you read this blog with an open mind AND to be open to perhaps one of these topics is exactly what you might be missing in your own sex and fantasy life (and that many of these personas/identities have little to nothing to do with sex).

For those of you who DO know what this all means, I am hoping by writing this blog, you’ll have more hope on finding an affirming and knowledgeable therapist who won’t pathologize or judge your play/identity.  If you are located in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, or Texas, I can work with you online or in person in Austin, TX.  If you live beyond those states, I would recommend checking out www.aasect.org to help you find an affirming therapist to work with- after all, furries have therapy needs too right?

A lot of the information I am presenting in this blog come from my own clinical experience and training as well as drawn from the presentation “Furries and Pets and Therians, Oh my! Exploring Humanimal Intersubjectivities” presented by Carly Goodkin at the 2018 AASECT Conference.

 

furries photo

So let’s get going!  Let’s start with some definitions so we know what we are talking about here (and if it isn’t clear with what we are talking about, feel free to do some of your own research on what it is that we are talking about!):

Furries: someone with an interest in anthropomorphic animals.

Anthropomorphism: the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

Fursonas: an avatar or alter ego that someone role-plays or identifies as when interacting with other members of the community of furries, also known as the Furry Fandom

Furries is not zoophilia or beastiality.  The majority of furries do not cite sexual gratification as their main motivator (International Anthropomorphic Research Project, 2016)

Pet Play: form of role-play in which one of the multiple participants adopt the role of domesticated, wild, livestock, or mythical animal.  What one might do as a pet:

  • Eating
  • Resting
  • Training
  • The pet may exhibit traditionally animalistic characteristics, such as extensive non-verbal communication featuring animal noises, biting, and nuzzling
  • Pets may interact with each other at conventions

Often associated with the kink community and power exchange.  There might be packs associated with pets, that might have a hierarchy.  There is a lot of gear and the gear/toys generally fall into two categories (gear that help you channel that animal identity- tails, ears, clothes or gear that you would have to play with a pet- leashes, bowls, pet toys).  Pet play can be a scene pet (playing as a pet only in a scene) or a lifestyle pet (playing as a pet as a greater identity in their own lifestyle- home, public, school, work?).

Human Pets: Some individuals engage in human-pet play, a form of role-play in which an individual is treated as a pet without taking on animal characteristics.            Below is a great online petplay class by a youtuber that will walk you through her experience of petplay and being a human pet.

Therian/Therianthrope: People who believe that they are, in whole or in part, a non-human animal and this is part of their core being spiritually or mentally

There is sometimes an Awakening: realizing and accepting that you are a therian and some therians identify as transpecies and draw parallels with transgender narratives.   There can also be mental and/or physical shifting: perceived changes in one’ mental state or aura from human to animal.

Otherkin: People who identify, in whole, or in part, of something non-human:
– Divine
– Monsterkin
– Aviankin
– Godkin
– Spacekin
– Alienkin
– Angelkin

There is a great YouTube Channel: Therian Nation that can explain these concepts more in detail than I do here.  Here is their intro video:

Working with Furries, Pets, Pups, and Therians in the Therapeutic Context

As an affirming therapist and aware and friendly of the furry, pet, pup, therian and kink communities, I want to make sure that my clients who identify in these populations at the very least feel comfortable with not only sharing with their therapist how they identify/play but also feel comfortable that their therapist will not judge or pathologize them for being a part of these communities.

Many furries report not feeling comfortable either going to therapy or sharing with their therapist they participate in this community because of fear of judgment and lack of understanding and the fear of being stereotyped into a category of people that only participates sexually in this identity.  As mentioned before, most furries do not participate for the main reason of sexual gratification.

Why do People Participate/Identify as these Identities?

So why do people participate in these identities? A lot report that it feels more natural (therians) and that this is a fundamental part of their identity.  Some share that it is a social and emotional outlet for them and that they built a strong community within the communities around participate (furries).  Many enjoy the erotic, imaginative, and playful nature of the play (pups, pets, and ponies).  Almost all report a change in their headspace.

Headspace: a basic mindset permission to go away from executive functioning and going primal.

“Great psychological and emotional release to be able to come home and let loos the restrictions of humanity and what humans are ‘supposed to be like'”.  – Skylerpet

People often report that getting into their character or playing in these scenes allows them to let go of human stressors, expectations, anxieties and just be more primal and basic in their play.

Others report that this is the only time they find that allows them to explore their identity and sense of self.

Identity and self-exploration: People share that taking on animal forms allow them to express or explore an innate part of self, and gives them the opportunity to explore different characteristics culturally associated with animals (pups are playful, foxes are mischievous, mules are stubborn, bunnies are timid).  This augments their inner strengths and allows them to create an identity that is an idealized version of self.

Gender and Sexual Orientation Exploration: It allows people to the opportunity to play with fantasy around gender and sexual orientation.

Provides expanded social experiences: People cite this as one of the main reasons for playing and exploring these areas.  Playing/being in these spaces allow stronger nonverbal forms of interaction and broadened forms of physical affection.  Movement beyond normative forms of social interaction to experience altered communication and physical contact could be enjoyable for people.  Many are seeking novelty and often participants report having higher levels of skin hunger.  These communities can easily accommodate and welcome those who have language barriers, who might typically struggle with socializing, and who are differently abled physically or mentally.  Where people may have not felt that they belonged in other social experiences, these communities are very inclusive.

Community Inclusivity: These communities have an emphasis on acceptance and inclusivity, including people who are marginalized on basis of gender identity and sexual orientation and disability status.

Escape from Oppressive Structures: These spaces allow participants to escape from oppressive structures and experience a freedom from the ways they SHOULD be.

With a combination of headspace, inclusivity, and expanded ways of interacting can mean an escape from: capitalist/materialistic concerns and oppression, homophobia, transphobia, racism, body shaming, ableism, and other issues of the world… where else can someone get this?

Expanded BDSM Experiences: human-animal intersubjectivity may offer different experiences of subjugation, humiliation, or degradation; dependence or caregiving especially in a pet/owner dynamic.

Sex as a Motivator: For some people sexual gratification is a primary or partial motivator.  This can be through watching content, in-person interactions, and online chatting or roleplaying.  There is a common interest to meet partners who participate and are accepting of the lifestyle.  But as I mentioned several times, most do not participate for sex or sexual interactions as a main, primary motivator.

A subset of furry pornography is called “Yiff” which is defined as furry content porn.

Yiffing: is the act of having sex when you are this furry mindset.  Most people are not having sex in their fur suits: expensive, hard to clean, and really hot.

 More Research on Anthropomorphism

International Anthropomorphic Research Project

Conventions

Anthrocon

FurFest

Furry Fiesta

Hopefully, this piece has helped to explain these often misunderstood but very delightful sexual subcultures.  If you are a furry, therian, pet, pup, pony and any way you are and are looking for a therapist, feel free to reach out at the number or email below.

 

Introducing FetishFridays

Rhiannon No Comments

INTRODUCING FETISHFRIDAYS: Rhiannon Beauregard, MA, LMFT-S, CST, S-PSB is excited to announce a new segment to be found on Facebook (@RhiannonBeauregardCST) and YouTube (Rhiannon@SexTherapy-Online.com)  entitled #FetishFridays.

Each week, Rhiannon will take you on 2-3 minute carnival ride around a particular fetish.  She provides follow up information on her Facebook Page for people seeking more information (@RhiannonBeauregardCST)

Here is the first video of #FetishFridays, published on 10/20/17.  This segment is weekly so subscribe to keep up-to-date with all content published and follow her on Facebook to continue the conversation going!

The goal of #fetishfridays is to educate and inspire the viewers to be curious and non-judgmental about other peoples fetishes and desires as well as their own.  I hope to encourage folks who may have stayed closeted with their fantasies to step out of their comfort zone and explore an aspect of their sexuality, whether known or unknown, that would bring them a lot of pleasure.

It is also the hope of the weekly #fetishfridays installment that people who are in need of therapy and education about their fetish will reach out to qualified professional to help them legally, ethically, morally, and sexually express themselves in a healthy way.  If you are located in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, or Texas, I could be that person.  Feel free to contact me using the form below or by emailing Rhiannon[at]SexTherapy-Online.com or calling me at 512.765.4741.

Kink and Domestic Violence

Rhiannon No Comments

The relationship between kink and domestic violence can get really, really, really fuzzy depending on who you ask.  You don’t have to throw the stone very far to find folks who misunderstand the kink community and might quickly make a judgment that a BDSM relationship is abusive and violent.  You also don’t have to look very far to find someone in the kink community that has had a previous kink relationship that they would define as “abusive” or “violent”.

So this topic can be VERY confusing and very MISUNDERSTOOD.  I would caution everyone to be careful in making a judgment based on your own views of what you THINK you might believe, at the same time provide someone you have concern about with a respectful view of the facts and what you are noticing.

Based on a recent training at SAFE Austin (www.SAFEaustin.org) on “Discerning Domestic Violence” for therapists and mental health professionals, I’m going to apply some concepts around domestic violence and how these might be similar to kink relationships and how they might be different.

Before I do that, I want to explain just a few concepts about kink that are essential to understanding how kink relationships may mimic aspects of abusive relationships or domestic violence but ARE different.  I call these the Three C’s of Kink and Safety.

  1.  The number one rule of a kink relationship is CONSENT.  That consenting adults who agree to some terms and limits (see contracts) who continuously review consent can kind of do what they want and express themselves how they chose to.  Domestic violence is inherently non-consensual, but it doesn’t always appear that way.
  2. Another very safe concept in BDSM/Kink is COMMUNITY.  The BDSM community is often a great checks and balances to its own members and the acts of its members.  Education, support, training, and mentorship is available within the community.
  3. CONTRACTS are another great way that people in the kink community ensure that their lifestyle avoids some of the vulnerabilities of domestic violence.  Generally, you don’t

This great graphic came from CARAS (www.carasresearch.org), an organization dedicated to promoting alternative sexualities research and providing education for mental health professionals.

 

You’ll see in this graphic that there is a distinct difference between the cycle of abuse and the cycle of a BDSM scene or relationship, and the basis of it is CONSENT.

Domestic violence is a PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR that is used to attempt to control, manipulate, or demean an intimate partner using tactics such as physical and emotional abuse, intimidation, economic abuse, and reproductive coercion.  It is obviously different from a consensual relationship between two adults that might have aspects of manipulation, control, humiliation, and demeaning behaviors and acts based on erotic play.

In domestic violence, the abusive partner may use coercion, intimidation, emotional abuse, threats, isolation, economic abuse and/or the children to control his or her partner.  He or she also minimizes, denies, and blames the partner for their own behavior.  The core issue for the abused is to be in control of the relationship in order to have his or her needs met.  If the aforementioned tactics don’t work, then the abuser enforces their threats with physical and/or sexual violence.

bondage photoIn a kink relationship, the roles of the partners are pre-established and communicated as well as regularly re-evaluated.  Control may be a mechanism of erotic play, but also may be fluid between both partners based on their communication and contracting agreement.

Domestic violence is a COMPLEX situation, and so is kink.  If you think you might be a victim of domestic violence, regardless if you are in a kink relationship or not, get yourself to a safe place and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).  They also have live chat feature on their website.

If you aren’t sure if you are or not, check in with your community and let them know your concerns.  A good way of checks and balances in the kink lifestyle is talking to others about what you are feeling and going through.  You can also contact me at the below link to set up an appointment to discuss what you are feeling and thinking.

Looking for more information, check out this links:

http://www.ncsfreedom.org/resources/50-shades
www.carasresearch.org

 

 

5 Tips for Getting Started in the Kink and BDSM Lifestyle

Rhiannon No Comments

Are you thinking about getting started in the kink and BDSM lifestyle?

That’s exciting!  As a certified sex therapist at SexTherapy-Online, I can help you explore this exciting world to see if it is the right fit for you and have just a few “getting started” tips as you test the waters.

Tip #1
Do some reading.
The first thing I recommend for all my clients when they are getting started in kink and BDSM is to do a little bit of reading homework (or listening- if you aren’t a reader, I recommend audio books!).  The book that I most frequently recommend for those getting started in the kink and BDSM lifestyle is The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment by Jack Morin.  This is a pivotal text on exploring all things erotic and will be a great starting point to exploring who you are as an erotic person.

Tip #2
Study Basic Vocabulary
The kink and BDSM world sometimes sounds like it is speaking a completely different language.  One of the easiest ways to learn about kink and BDSM is to study the basic vocabulary and terms in the kink and BDSM community.  There are a variety of sites that can point you in the right direction, but here are just a few:

Kink and BDSM Terminology 

BDSM Education- Dictionary

Dictionary of BDSM Terms

Tip #3
Talk to people
Do you know anyone who identifies as participating in the kink lifestyle and BDSM? If so, ask them about their experience.  I have found that people who publicly identify (at least in some circles) as kink and BDSM are often very open to talking about their experiences and their lifestyle.  The kink and BDSM lifestyle is generally a very accepting and open community and most people encourage community and networking.  Most major US cities offer a lot of resources to the kink and BDSM community.  In Austin, TX, where I have an in-office practice (although I work online with any clients located in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Texas), there are numerous resources where you can go to educational seminars and community gatherings.  In Austin, there is kind of a one stop shop website http://abdsmcommunity.info/ that lists all events, community gatherings, educational seminars, etc. you can check out.  Even though kink and BDSM in some areas a bit underground, do some searching online and you can find all the information that you need.

Tip #4
Figure out Who You Are
Some people who participate in the kink and BDSM lifestyles feel like this is a part of their identity, not just something they do in the bedroom.  Some people just identify as kinky in the bedroom, but vanilla in the streets.  As you start this journey, keep in mind that kink and BDSM can be a lifestyle and/or a set of behaviors and everywhere and anywhere in between.  Understanding your sexual identity (who you are as a sexual person) is important to understanding what you like and what you don’t like.

A good resource that I like (I don’t know how other members of the kink and BDSM community feel about this website, but I like it) is http://bdsmtest.org/  It’s limited but is interesting on the questions it encourages you to ask yourself and potentially your partner.  There are others out there, just do some perusing in your research.

Tip #5
Communicate and be Flexible
If you are in a relationship or some version of something, and want to explore this, effective communication is essential.  BDSM and kink isn’t something you insist upon as a deal breaker in a sexual relationship if you haven’t already established a strong foothold in the identity.  BDSM and kink is not something that should be used to “save” a relationship.  BDSM and kink isn’t a last resort.  BDSM and kink should never be used as a way to abuse or victimize a person in a nonconsensual way.  Posing it to your partner should be done gently and with a lot of communication.  Not everyone gets it and not everyone identifies with the BDSM and kink lifestyle.  It’s important to take your time in exploring this individually and together, and respecting the boundaries of your existing relationship.

If you or anyone you know needs help with this, feel free to contact me and talk about setting up an appointment with a certified sex therapist using the form below.  This is an exciting journey, and I would be honored to help facilitate your journey.