Vice article makes argument that women in DOS did not give consent

DOS stands for Dominant Over Submissive. It is also spelled Dos, for Dominus servus.

Sarah Berman has another interesting article in on NXIVM

A BDSM Educator Tells Us Why NXIVM Sex Cult Allegations Aren’t Consensual Kink 

Based on what we know from court docs and former members, Keith Raniere’s women “slaves” probably weren’t in a position to give full consent” reads the sub headline.

What is a BDSM educator? It is “kink educator Carlyle Jansen from Good for Her in Toronto” who talks about “what informed BDSM consent looks like and how the allegations against Raniere stack up.”

The story in Vice says, “Like any relationship, the key to a healthy dom/sub relationship is communication. ‘If you’re playing with something more edgy, communication has to be much stronger and clearer,’ Jansen told VICE.”

“From what we’ve learned about NXIVM ‘slaves’ so far, lines of communication were not particularly open. According to court documents and former insiders VICE spoke to, members of the sorority were sworn to secrecy and strongly discouraged from asking questions. To learn about the group, women were required to submit damaging information about themselves, and naked photos were kept as proof of their vow to secrecy.

“Key information about Raniere’s involvement, including his access to nudes and videos submitted as ‘collateral,’ was hidden from women initiated into the group. Before the initiation, women VICE spoke to learned that they would receive a small ‘tattoo.’ As the branding ceremony was about to begin, the women were shown a mirror image of the symbol that obscured the initials KR and AM. The full meaning of this symbol—a tribute to Keith Raniere and Allison Mack—was not explained….”

Read the entire story here .…  it makes an argument that the fulsome consent Raniere, Clare Bronfman and others claim was part of DOS was in reality entirely missing.


Consent seemed to be missing – when women were told they were getting a tattoo – and wound up being branded – and after they gave blackmail worthy material to those in charge of the branding.


A lecherous middle age man named Vanguard kept it a secret from the women that he was running the DOS show behind the scenes. He could not tell this to all the women, because then some of the ones he wanted to have sex with might not want to be members of DOS and branded with his initials.

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Frank Parlato


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  • Keith had to know and approve of the branding due to the fact that many women were branded over a long period of time.
    He had to see the brands because he was having sex with them. If he did not approve of the branding it would have stopped after the first group of women were branded. Allison may voice that she is taking the blame ,but I’m not falling for the banana in the tail pipe.

    • I would challenge anyone to prouve that much of anything ever transpired within NXIVM that didn’t have to be approuved by Raniere. The guy is an insane control freak, and very much into the details of it all.

  • You’d better believe lies were told and “fulsome consent” based on prior explanation was not given. I despise VICE for trying to make BDSM hip and edgy, but at least they weren’t trying to justify DOS using BDSM – which is what I would have expected from VICE

  • Raniere, is a master Hypnotist. Consent does not occur when it is used. It does not work on everyone, but when it does one can plant any seed or thought one wants. Past NXIVM members have said their first meetings they did not remember much. This is why. The police need to check into this. I thought I read that all DOS members had to have a private meetting with Ranier, this is how he does it.

  • Thank you for this. The cult’s professionally embarrassed, albeit increasingly wealthy defense team, are likely to offer BDSM as mitigation for the cruel and unusual practices of the nxivm cult. Raniere’s skinny handmaids, will continue to gurn their rictus grins as proof of their ‘badass’ and joyful consent and there will be much tittering and double entendres, as the actors take their turn in the witness stand. It is important that hard won sexual freedoms are not eroded by conflating violent exploitation, with even the most extreme consensual sexual practices. Simply a case of clearly defining terms, in this case – consent. Absent in nxivm sexual practices. Present, as you explain, in BDSM.

  • I’m from the Capital District. I am an innate [male] sexual dominant. Have known all my life something was different. Not until puberty set in did it make more sense. This is not roleplaying and/or something I can transition in and out of – much like being short or tall or black or white. With that said, to see me on the street a person would never know who I am as a sexual being.

    Let me start by saying – regardless of a person’s credentials – Dom/sub [D/s] is not the same as BDSM. Society-at-large quickly assigns labels to identify all that they do not fully understand – that is why so many in the mainstream misidentify these distinctively different groups. The disparity is the same as saying Sunnis and Shiites are the same because they’re Muslim.

    ***I do not condone ANYTHING Raniere or his followers have done. I do not believe this falls within the purview of D/s. To the trained eye, these people appear to be opportunists preying on the vulnerable and/or innately sexual submissives.

    Although my comments do not conform to the narrative of your website, I feel compelled to give a glimpse into what makes ordinary, everyday people do things that seem outlandish.

    D/s is a strong psychological – almost primal – connection between two individuals – predicated on vetting and establishing a strong bond of trust. Participants are typically overeducated, white collar, very unassuming types.

    The vast majority of dominants and submissives live what is considered a straight lifestyle. This is where it gets complicated. Almost always a submissive will gravitate towards the same gender. Typically women do this so they do not feel exploited by males. Male submissives submit to dominant males because they pose more of a physical challenge than a woman. Part of the excitement for either gender is constantly balancing the duality of the two worlds – so the people [spouses/family/co-workers/etc.] around them are oblivious to the connection with their D/s counterpart.

    A sexual submissive does not yearn/desire to have sex with ordinary people of the same gender. They give of themselves to their dominant because it is the ultimate sacrifice. The bond between a dominant and submissive can be and usually is stronger than a traditional marital bond.

    From what I understand of BDSM [and it’s not much] discussions take place beforehand to establish limits with safewords, etc. That is not the case for D/s. When a submissive is under consideration or eventually contract, they fully understand the dominant controls what takes place in this context. As odd as it might sound to many, this is what the submissive needs to feel fulfilled.

    To me, it seems like Mack, and possibly Raniere, roleplayed the part to appease the inner-desires of these ordinary people who happen to be sexual submissives. To dilute by saying someone, who was able to fully function in society, was brainwashed to lay on a table and be painfully branded like cattle is foolish. It appears these women gave of themselves to Mack and her subordinates purely out of trust – and in the process were mutilated. Ironically, something so careless and over the top is usually the earmark of a rookie dominant and/or roleplayer emptying their proverbial bag of tricks.

    At this stage, I’m not sure how many people who have been involved with this group will come forward and fully disclose the context. It seems it’s easier to appear victimized than air dirty laundry as to how it got this far out of control in the first place – and I can fully understand. For the record, this is the first time I’ve ever disclosed on a platform like this who I am as a sexual being.

    • A note regarding the misuse of words:
      I have always found it so interesting for people to use such a mistaken term as sado-masochism. A sadist can only enjoy inflicting pain on someone who does not receive it, and a masochist can only enjoy receiving pain by someone who does not enjoy inflicting it.
      They are completely at odds with each other.

  • If the women had consented to being burned, Dr. Danielle Roberts would have signed informed consent forms from every single woman.

    • And it’d be nice to see the consent forms Dr. Brandon Porter got signed before undertaking his “fright experiments”.

    • Which completely excludes anyone remaining a NXIVM member. That’s the problem. How do you talk to people without any common sense whatsoever? It’s very Orwellian with them. Slavery is freedom. Pain is joy. The victimiser is a martyr. On and on.

  • Overdue article. I’ve been to BDSM get togethers. In the scene. I see the quasi connection. But it’s twisted and has absolutely nothing to do with the community. It might behoove you to reach out to reputable BDSM entities to get thier take on this story. It might enlighten some members.

  • Since deception and blackmail were used to falsely obtain consent, any claim of consent is null and void.
    When Allison Mack claimed the DOS members consented, she was lying through her teeth.

    What else would one expect from a woman who fabricated scandalous stories to destroy the reputations of her parents and nephews?

    • Do you wonder if Allison sibling(s) let her hang out with their children since she’s returned home to live with mommy and daddy?

      • Even if either circumstance were stand-alone (the sexual exploitation of women OR the patently false accusations of her brother abusing his sons) I would not let someone like that have anything to do with my family ever again.
        I don’t see how any reasonably intelligent, remotely caring mother or father could. Our duty comes to the children we brought into this world, first.

  • Yeah good article.

    The sex trafficking and forced labor charges all come down to ‘consent’.

    The sex itself was already admitted by Keith. So if the jury believes these women did not give legal ‘consent’ to those sex acts (because of blackmail) then Keith’s goose is cooked.

    Even if these women verbally agreed to sex or branding and even if the defense team has emails or videos to prove this…….it won’t matter, because ‘consent’ can’t be legally given if a person has blackmail material being held over their head.

    Before deliberations… The judge will instruct the jurors what “coercion” means and how it nullifies sexual consent. The blackmail material is the final nail in Keith’s coffin.

    Anand Jon got sentenced to 59 years for serial sexual assault (different charges, but similar in other ways)….and the evidence against him was far less than this case, since he didn’t threaten to release blackmail material on his victims to coerce them into sex.

    I feel sorry for Keith since he’s gonna get OODLES and OODLES of time in prison. 🙂

    Actually, I don’t feel sorry for Keith. LOL

  • I bet that Raniere’s team will buttress their argument with testimony and/or all the depositions from women still in D.O.S. It would be hard to imagine that a jury would buy such testimony because each juror would imagine him/herself in such a position.

    • There may be an interesting issue with not all of those women wanting to come forward to acknowledge their involvement in a sex cult.

      Knowing what Allison Mack said about her nephews, their families will question what they have done to set them up to go to jail or lose their children.

      Everyone will look at them, and know that they have shared nude photos of themselves, made videos of themselves masturbating, etc., etc.

      And the jury gets to read all of the comments Mack and Raniere and probably Lauren Salzman too made about other peoples’ collateral in texts and e-mails. I don’t think we can even begin to guess just how salacious this is going to get.

      None of those women are going to be able to testify on his behalf without getting on the stand. At that point, prosecutors are compelled to ask them if they were aware of people who had access joking about the shape / form of their genitalia as demonstrated in the e-mails between Mack and Raniere in the following thirty exhibits. Would you please read that e-mail to the court?

      • Just to add to that, the jury can also look at pictures of the womens’ genitals that they gave as collateral WHILE they are on the stand.

        Women think they are going to get on a stand and gush about their lord and master, when in reality, they are going to a war the likes of which they have never seen.

        • At this point if they’re still in, they’ve stuck it out through Keith’s arrest, FBI raids of their leaders’ homes, a media firestorm, and news cameras chasing them around their neighborhoods. The people who are still mentally all-in (the ones who are just too frightened or lacking resources to leave aside) are beyond easy wakeup calls – the FBI knocking on doors would have been the time to split, if they were still able to understand their situation properly.

          They’ve sat through coursework encouraging them to be a martyr for the mission, to “keep their commitment” even if that means their own destruction. So the commenters here dismissively saying DOS women would easily wake up after a few days in jail, or being on the stand, sound ridiculous to me. These women have been starved, sleep-deprived, beaten, branded, sexually abused, and held captive in cages. They’ve normalized all of it and still believe they need to martyr themselves for their abuser. It might serve as a wakeup call to a few, but acting like a quick brush with the legal system would easily “scare everyone straight” after the level of abuse they’ve normalized by now seems strangely dismissive to me. After having your skin seared open for forty uninterrupted minutes, I imagine a lot of deeply horrible experiences would seem like a picnic in comparison.

          And physical abuse aside, in some ways I think going to jail as a martyr to a nonexistent cause might be easier for some than having to confront the fact that all that abuse and all those lost years of their lives were all just part of one long con job. Just imagining these people having to grapple with that, and unravel what’s been done to them is absolutely heartbreaking to me. The people who have made that jump have my utmost respect.

          • – all those lost years of their lives

            IMO, this is one of the worst things to grapple with. Money you can get back. Youth and time you can never get back. People who don’t respect your time don’t respect you.

      • I don’t think that we can make any assumptions about the psychological state of these women. They’ve been in the cult and remained with the cult after the branding. Everyone assumed that Allison Mack would flip upon arrest and Frank reports that she appears brainwashed past basic survival instincts (i.e. rat out Raniere). It’s easier, as you do, to presuppose the jurors’ reactions since we are in a cult.

          • If that doesn’t cause them to wake up, there is no hope whatsoever for them.

            Most of us are in a cult. The Democratic Party is a cult. So is the Republican Party. So is every other form of religion (and yes, politics are religion).

            That is defining a cult as a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

            We may consider NXIVM a “bad” cult, but almost every aspect of our lives is a cult.

          • – Most of us are in a cult. The Democratic Party is a cult. So is the Republican Party. So is every other form of religion (and yes, politics are religion).

            Absolutely false. Conflating all sorts of groups and religions to cults diminishes what a real cult is. This is the type of things leaders of real cults like to say to give them some sort of semantic legitimacy. However, there are clear demarcations to what defines cults and distinguishes them from other groups by those who have studied them for years. Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform is one of them.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

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