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The Lesbian Sex Mafia, founded in 1981, is an information and support group in New York City for lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, and transsexual women. The group's focus is to help promote fantasy role playing, bondage, discipline, sadomasochism, fetishes, costumes, alternate gender identities, and uninhibited sexual expression. The group strongly upholds the principles of confidentiality, safety, consensuality, and a woman's right to explore her sexuality as she chooses. The group is not affiliated with the real Mafia in any way.
The group was founded by Dorothy Allison, among others, and made a name for itself as an early advocate of "sex-positive feminism", and for its organization of a radical "Speakout on Politically Incorrect Sex" at the 1982 Barnard Conference on Sexuality, a significant event in the "feminist sex wars". The group was also a subject of a documentary by the German filmmaker Monika Treut.
LSM is a member-driven and member-focused organization. Membership is open to all women 18 years of age or older; this includes intersex or transgendered women, as well as transgendered men who were assigned female. To become a member, one must attend an LSM Orientation/Safety Procedure Meeting. The orientation is a casual event where several members discuss their experiences with the potential member, as well as discussing the applicant's interest in the organization. The Safety workshop teaches things such as how to tie wrists without cutting off circulation. Once a member, a woman may attend topic and demonstration meetings, discussion groups, and special interest "hands-on" workshops on specific sexual practices. The group also sets up "dungeons" in members' homes or rents S&M clubs to hold private "play parties" (to which members may bring a guest, so long as they assume full responsibility for them). Members also gain access to events held by associated BDSM groups, and receive discounts at some sex toy shops. Although most meetings are open to non-members, members receive benefits within the organization (reduced admission to meetings, voting privileges, ability to run for board positions, access to members-only activities and merchandise) but also general benefits from certain stores and businesses such as discounts.