Review of Consenting Adults

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Consenting Adults is the quarterly publication of an organization in England called the Sexual Freedom Coalition. I opened this newspaper with some hesitation; it's pretty common with political organizations which also produce a publication for the publication to primarily serve the specific political goals of the organization, which frankly can get a little boring after a while.

That's not the case with Consenting Adults. This newspaper is excellent, and to be honest if it didn't appear that the Sexual Freedom Coalition is sending it to SHS for free I'd probably subscribe. In this review I'll describe the Sexual Freedom Coalition organization first and then their publication, which hopefully will put the publication in better context.

Basically, the Sexual Freedom Coalition is a London-based organization seeking to liberalize legal treatment and media treatment of sexuality in England (and possible the entire EC itself - I'm not quite clear on that point), and which also seems to have a lot of fun and serve worthwhile educational needs at the same time.

The editor in chief of Consenting Adults is Dr. Tuppy Owens, who also publishes the Planet Sex international sexual resource guides. Their published list of supporters includes about 70 people and organizations, including Dr. Betty Dodson, Annie Sprinkle, Cal-ACT, COYOTE, Feminists for Free Expression, Paramour Magazine, The Spectator (S.F.), etc. The organization's published aims are:

Nice. Basically, it seems they're similar to SHS except they've taken the time we've put into our internet resources and real-life workshops and sunk it into a printed publication and political lobbying instead.

They're currently working on several projects including a Sexual Freedom Bill that they intend to push for legislative adoption in 1998. This year they held a Sexual Freedom Parade, and organized a "Sex Workers Show 'n' Tell Road Show" (legalizing prostitution is one of their priorities). Other than that, since they're a coalition, they tend to work together with more specific sexual-rights organizations.

Sexual Freedom Coalition raises money in part through throwing large parties. This is obviously a nice win-win situation for sex-positive organizations, as they can give everybody a nice time, an opportunity to network, a chance to learn, etc., and still raise money for the organization. From reading the paper I learned that they tend to throw large parties in private homes, and also organize the annual Sex Maniac's Ball (to be held next on Thursday, April 9, 1998; write to SFC for details). To encourage excellence in the sex industry and sex-positive culture, they've created the "Erotic Oscars" which are awarded annually at the Sex Maniac's Ball.

By the way, apparently SFC formed initially as a protest against the police raid of the 1996 Sex Maniac's Ball. What they've done must have worked somehow, because the 1997 Sex Maniac's Ball WASN'T raided, and in fact you can find quite a few full-color pictures of the saucy blokes who attended it in this Winter 1997 issue of Consensting Adults.

Every once in a while I get e-mail from folks in England who want to know if there's a chapter of SHS in their area. Frankly I don't think they need one; any English folk interested in the same sorts of things SHS is should join SFC and start receiving Consenting Adults posthaste. Their meetings are held publicly, so if you're politically-minded getting involved with the organization's political activities shouldn't be too difficult.

Now, about Consenting Adults itself. As you might expect it has articles on some of the SFC events that I mentioned above. But the nice thing is that it also has general-purpose articles about sex and sex-positivity. Page 4 has an article on sex work, which consists of about eight women in different braches of the industry talking very directly and informatively about how they got into their profession, why they got into their profession, how the job works, what it's like, what they get out of it, and what the common (and incorrect) myths are about that profession. In this article, like most articles in Consenting Adults, there's a resource guide which accompanies the article giving references to organizations that might be of interest to those who would like to explore the article's subject matter further. I believe these are intended to supplement your copy of Planet Sex, but in some cases they looked like they could stand on their own.

Page 7 was about S/M. The article and resource guide described and gave contact information to quite a few pro-SM political and social organizations, and also listed QUITE A FEW clubs which are having fetish or S/M play nights. Apparently the Spanner case hasn't shut down England's community as much as we in the states tend to think it has. Lately I've been hearing rumors that the situation is actually BETTER in England after Spanner, because the Spanner case so heavily galvanized the community and increased awareness of S/M issues outside the community. Apparently a group called S/M Pride is doing a lot of organizing right now, including a large educational and social event called PerveFest.

Other articles discussed England's Naturist ("Nudist") community, the Gay/Lesbian/Bi community, "Sex on the Internet", Censorship, Sexual Health and Sex Therapy (which I found to be especially good), Sexuality and the Disabled, etc. The last page contained a list of forthcoming events.

The article in this newspaper on "Sex and Drugs" was probably the best and most honest I have seen on the subject. With the exception of Carol Queen's writings on the subject I feel the same way about their emminently practical "How to Throw a Great Sex Party" article.

Really, as far as I can tell all this organization really needs is a few more local chapters and a web page. Other than that, they meet this reviewer's sometimes impossibly high standards. NICE WORK SFC!!!!

For more information write to

PO Box 4ZB
London W1A 4ZB

This is the same address to write to if you want to get the most recent edition of Dr. Tuppy Owens' Planet Sex resource book or just want to subscribe to Consenting Adults.

I believe they also have a phone number: (0370) 884 985

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