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Discipline and punish: the Schneiderman allegations and the line between BDSM and what’s legal




New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a press conference at the headquarters of District Council 37 on April 3, 2018 in New York City.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a press conference at the headquarters of District Council 37 on April 3, 2018 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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Last night, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo assigned a Special Prosecutor to look into claims of physical abuse against recently resigned state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

This is following a Monday New Yorker piece which cited accounts of four women who collectively claimed Eric Schneiderman  choked, slapped and spit on them. Two of the women are named, and were, at different times, in romantic relationships with Schneiderman.

Schneiderman resigned late Monday under pressure from Governor Cuomo and other elected officials. He later tweeted, “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

Schneiderman’s defense has similarities to the one used by Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, whose program “Q” was carried by KPCC until assault allegations against him from three women. Ghomeshi was tried and acquitted. He’s now a podcast host.

How does the defense of consensual rough sex play out in court? And how is consent for “rough sex” usually negotiated in a safe way in the bondage, discipline, dominance and submission (BDSM) community?

Guests:

Ambrosio Rodriguez, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney; he led the sex crimes team in the Riverside County D.A.’s office

Julie Fennell, associate professor of sociology at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where her research includes gender, sexuality, and BDSM and nonmonogamy subcultures; she is also a member of the Washington, D.C. BDSM community and has a blog called “Slut, Ph.D.

Domina Elle, a dominatrix for 20 years and board member of the non-profit Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education, and Research Project (ESPLERP); she’s based in Denver, Colorado