James Fleckenstein is presenting Is Your Boss in Your Bedroom? Employer Discrimination Based on Relationship Status/Practices. Check out James’s bio here.
1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
I’ve been advocating for freedom in relationship choice since 1998. I’ve been a leading voice for putting the facts about polyamory and other forms of non-exclusive relating before the scientific and helping professionals communities since 2002. I’ve seen a profound positive shift in acceptance in those communities, though much remains to be done.
2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?
In 1998 I was in therapy with a Johns Hopkins-trained psychiatrist who utterly refused to give a shred of credence to the notion that anyone could seek and sustain non-exclusive relationships in a healthy way. My inability at that time to adduce concrete evidence to break through his negation of who I was and what I wanted in life set me on the path of discovering and advancing the scientific evidence that supported my viewpoint. I’ve been doing that successfully for over a decade now. I guess I owe him a letter…
3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
There continues to be backlash against the hard-won gains that have been made. There continues to be a powerful effort to pathologize behaviors that make some people uncomfortable under the rubric of “sex addiction.” “Slut shaming” is alive and well in many communities, and women continue to be punished and defamed for owning their sexuality and transgressing false boundaries erected around their sexual agency. Social pressure for “compulsory monogamy” has not appreciably lessened. Comprehensive sex education is still not available to young people in vast swaths of this country. These are just the tip of the iceberg.
4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
The tremendous advances in the recognition of same-sex marriage and the striking down of DOMA by the U.S. Supreme Court. The positive U.S. district court decision in Utah striking down the state’s cohabitation law on privacy grounds. The broadening public and media recognition of polyamory as a valid and acceptable relationship choice. The positive changes in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 that removed consensual BDSM activities from the category of mental illness and their refusal to include “sex addiction” in the Manual.
5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Is Your Boss in Your Bedroom? Employer discrimination based on relationship status/practices. to CatalystCon East?
In view of the strides made in legitimizing freedom of relationship choice, it is important to know and react to the hidden “poison pill” that many corporations and organizations have put within their “enlightened” domestic partner policies. An outcry is needed to shine the spotlight on this discrimination and seek to reverse it.
6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
I learned the art and science of grassroots political action as a staff member of the National Rifle Association in the mid-70’s to early ’80’s