Sex-positive NUS group cancels ‘BDSM workshop’ after participants doxxed

Image: Charles Deluvio
Image: Charles Deluvio

Organizers of a BDSM-related online discussion for university students say they canceled the event yesterday after their personal information was exposed via an online petition accusing them of promoting sexual violence.

Members of the tFreedom group, which advocates sex education at the National University of Singapore, said they canceled the event to “protect the privacy and mental health” of members, participants, and speakers from a bondage studio. They denied accusations that the Rope Bondage Zoom Sharing promoted sexual violence, as such activity involves consenting parties, but noted it could have better communicated the event was about discourse, not intercourse.

“Let us be clear: our group and events have never promoted violent sex or non-consensual activities. We share the petitioners’ concern for the welfare of students,” the group said yesterday in a statement to Coconuts Singapore.

After this story was published, the school announced Tuesday afternoon it had suspended tFreedom and launched a review of its activities.

“Upon further review, the tFreedom talk that was scheduled to be held this week was cancelled and tFreedom’s operations will be put on a hiatus, while we look into the alignment of its activities with the Code of Gender and Sexual Respect, and the educational value we must bring as a college of learning,” said university spokesperson Kelvin Pang, an associate professor at its Tembusu College.

The poster for the BDSM workshop organized by the group. Image: tFreedom
The poster for the BDSM workshop organized by the group. Image: tFreedom

The controversy erupted after the petition, Stop Promoting Violent Sex at NUS, spread online. Organizers said it mischaracterized their event and promoted misinformation about the tFreedom.

The 90-minute event set for tomorrow was meant to feature two representatives from 0101 Studio sharing how they use rope for bondage sessions. 

“The petition misrepresented the event as one that promotes and facilitates violent sexual fantasies among students. This is entirely false. The intention was to provide the students a safe space to learn more about a lesser known practice from a studio that values communication, respect, and consent,” tFreedom added.

The online petition, which has drawn more than 7,300 signatures as of publication time, revealed the names of the studio reps and a link to tFreedom’s Telegram channel, exposing its 65 members. 

“We are alarmed that the petition has exposed the personal details of our members and the members of the studio, leaving them vulnerable to harassment. We condemn the unauthorised sharing of personal information and the significant distress it has caused students,” tFreedom said.

That led to the event’s cancelation, it continued, “to protect the privacy and mental health of those who are affected.” 

Petition author Hope Leow countered that the Telegram group channel was not set to private, saying tFreedom should have done so if it was concerned about privacy. 

Leow had said that the content of the workshop was not appropriate for the university and was promoting “violent sexual fetishes” and “loose sexual behavior.” He also criticized the group for hosting weekly discussions where they talk about sex and masturbation. 

“tFreedom is organising a talk that glamorises ‘creative’ bondage sex. Such dangerous fetishes should never be promoted in an educational institute. Such content should be ‘Restricted’ because it facilitates violent sexual fantasies among students,” Leow wrote in his petition. 

tFreedom did express regret over its poster design, which showed a woman’s arms tied in professional knots, saying it may have caused some to be concerned about the event. 

“We acknowledge that the poster could have been better designed to more clearly communicate the discourse-driven aspect of the event. We regret that this lack of clarity has caused people to mistake the nature and intention of the event, and caused some anxiety as a result,” tFreedom said. “We also regret that we failed to consider how the image might have brought distress to victims of sexual assault, and sincerely apologise for any distress caused.”

A counter-petition titled “Stop Censoring Sexual Discourse at NUS” has since drawn more than 1,700 signatures. tFreedom said it was not behind it. 

tFreedom’s events are mainly targeted at university dorm residents. The group, which has a Facebook following of nearly 400, also hold discussions on gender, sexuality, and feminism. 

The Rope Bondage Zoom Sharing event was organized by a division of the group called Let’s Talk About Sex, which was previously behind a number of sexual assault awareness campaigns.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a note from the college.

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