Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) – which received more than $2.75 million in government funding in 2012 – has produced and posted online a video specifically aimed at teenagers that promotes bondage and sadomasochism (BDSM) and proposes “rules” to follow when engaging in these activities.
“People sometimes think that those who practice BDSM are emotionally scarred or were once abused – not true, it’s a total myth,” the host of the video, Laci Green, informs its intended audience of teens.
“BDSM relies upon and creates trust,” she says.
In a message published at the beginning of PPNNE’s 2012 annual report, PPNNE President Meagan Gallagher described the genesis of the project that produced the video on bondage and sadomasochism.
“We continued to grow our online presence, and launched an innovative social education project called ‘A Naked Notion’ (anakednotion.org),” wrote Gallagher. “The numbers show that young people took notice – PPNNE’s ‘A Naked Notion’ YouTube channel has been viewed more than a million times!”
The homepage of PPNNE’s website includes a menu of tabs that lead to internal pages. One of these is entitled “For Teens.”
“We are dedicated to protecting the sexual health of teens by providing accurate information, opportunities to explore and establish beliefs and attitudes, and the skills to communicate their needs,” says PPNNE’s “For Teens” page.
“For teens who are sexually involved, Planned Parenthood is committed to providing resources for safeguarding their emotional and physical health,” it says.
The “For Teens” page also includes a tab leading directly to the PPNNE website’s “A Naked Notion With Laci Green” page and also a tab leading to PPNNE’s “Teen Resource Center,” which features a link to the YouTube page for “A Naked Notion With Lace Green.”
In its 2012 annual report, PPNNE said “A Naked Notion” reached “young adults” through Facebook and YouTube. “Launched ‘A Naked Notion; (anakednotion.org), a social media education project, reaching more than 2,300 young adults through Facebook and more than 11,382 on YouTube, where it has garnered more than 1,005,655 views,” said the report.
“A Naked Notion is a brand new project dedicated to frank, open conversations about sexuality,” says the PPNNE webpage for the program. “It stars sex educator Laci Green and is brought to you by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
Green is described by PPNNE’s website as a “22 year old San-Franciscan” and a “Sex educator, video blogger, blog blogger, crisis counselor, social scientist, asparagus lover & artichoke dipper.”
One of PPNNE’s Naked Notion videos – “Getting Kinky (BDSM 101)” – features Green telling teenagers that October is “national kink month” and a good time to talk about bondage and sadomasochism.
“According to some random websites, October has been officially declared national kink month,” says Green on the video. “And when you think about it – October and kink–they are kind of a fitting pair. Halloween and kink are both about adventure and fun and exploring rolls and dynamics that are maybe a little bit different from everyday life. So many of the common kinks out there fall under the umbrella of BDSM. You may have heard of BDSM what with all of the 50-Shades-of-Gray craze and sort of getting a lot of attention right now.
“Today,” says Green, “I want to talk about what BDSM is, what it isn’t, and some of the rules that come with it.”
“People sometimes think that those who practice BDSM are emotionally scarred or were once abused—not true, it’s a total myth,” Green says later in the video. “People across the spectrum with various backgrounds participate in BDSM. The pain-is-exhilaration concept is not only old as dirt, it’s pretty common outside the bedroom.”
Before laying out a set of actual rules to follow when engaging in BDSM, Green seeks to reassure her audience that BDSM is not “abuse” and “has rules, limits and boundaries that are respected by all parties.”
“The idea of using power and control and pain in a set scene understandably sets off alarms in some people’s heads,” says Green.
“They hear that BDSM involves spanking and pain and torture – oh, my God, it’s scary stuff,” says Green. “With no further knowledge, it’s easy to conflate BDSM with abuse. But BDSM and abuse are actually very different. BDSM is about a consensual power exchange. Abuse is not. BDSM is negotiated and agreed upon before anything happens. Abuse is not. BDSM has rules, limits and boundaries that are respected by all parties. Abuse does not. BDSM relies upon and creates trust.”
According to PPNNE’s 2012 annual report, it received $2,755,235 million in federal, state, and local funding, which accounted for 15 percent of its $18.9 million annual operating budget. PPNNE also received $255,000 in federal Health Information Technology (HIT) funding.
CNSNews.com called PPNNE president and CEO Meagan Gallagher and Dr. Donna Burkett, the group’s medical director, numerous times over the course of three days to ask why the group thought it was appropriate for a tax-funded organization to promote bondage and sadomasochism to teenagers. A staff member later confirmed that Gallagher received the messages.
A woman answering the phone at the group’s Burlington, Vermont headquarters on Tuesday told CNSNews: “We are currently not commenting or talking to you. At this point, I am going to disconnect” before hanging up the phone.
On Wednesday, CNSNews.com called PPNNE’s office in Burlington again and asked the person who answered the phone to relay this question to Gallagher: “Why is it appropriate for a federally funded organization to produce a video that promotes bondage, sadism and masochism to teens?” The person said that the organization would not be commenting and then hung up the phone.
CNSNews.com also contacted all the members of the New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont congressional delegations and asked them whether they thought it was appropriate for a federally funded organization to produce a video promoting bondage and sadomasochism to teens.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) was the only member of Congress to reply. According to spokesman Jeff Grappone, “Senator Ayotte thinks this video, which is clearly targeted at a younger audience, is inappropriate and troubling. She believes taxpayers shouldn’t be directly or indirectly funding activity like this.”
However, despite repeated requests for comment, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), and Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) did not respond.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Angus King (I-ME), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) also dodged CNSNews.com’s questions.