Consent, Consent, Consent and other BDSM Safety Rules & Protocols

Teddy bear dressed in fetish leather gear and holding a flogger

Many forms of kink play carry risks. They can be physical, psychological, personal, and societal, and to indulge in a relatively safe and trusting session, these risks need to be assessed and mitigated. This is a basic run-down on the most common BDSM safety rules and protocols, how consent is integral, and some tips to empower your play.

Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC)

This is the first and foremost concept to grasp when beginning your kink journey and will continue to be relevant and useful throughout your kink play. Much of it’s popularity is due to the simplicity of the breakdown.

Safe: In the most part, this is the consideration made to physicality – ensuring the space and tools being used are agreed upon and that fragile body parts are protected.

Sane: This is relevant mostly to the mental space of the players, and asks us to ensure all play is conducted with clear heads, preferably without any drug use. 

Consensual: Without consent, kink and BDSM lose all meaning. People MUST give their permission to both give and receive any act within a BDSM and kink context, as well as stop play whenever they choose. Without consent, it would be nothing more than abuse.

For some players, SSC has limitations. It is sometimes criticised for failing to acknowledge that some kinks and BDSM play just ISN’T safe, and part of the thrill is knowing there is some inherent risk (however small), be it to your body, reputation, or emotional state. Others find the terms ‘safe and sane’ are too subjective, based on opinion rather than knowledge. And ‘consent’ is a concept undergoing an evolution that goes past the basic premise of simply granting permission, and considers coercion as a tool to gain consent. 

Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)

Risk-Aware Consensual Kink takes some of the perceived limitations of SSC and expands upon them to give players room to define the risks they are willing to take and be responsible for. 

Risk Aware: This suggests the parties involved in the kink play are not only agreeable to it, but are agreeable after assessing any physical and mental risks. It also assumes a degree of risk minimization and management has been negotiated.

Consensual Kink: This takes a small step up from basic ‘consent’ to contextualize within a specifically Kink and BDSM space. Consensual Kink (CK) is a practice in which all parties are involved in negotiating a dynamic or scene, and continuing mindful engagement with those negotiations for the duration. When practiced actively CK can eliminate some of the so-called ‘vagaries’ that are often problematic when trying to establish consent violations.

As people learn more about kink and develop their skills they often move from an SSC mindset to RACK, but RACK is not without it’s own flaws. The term ‘risk aware’ is often perceived to mean someone knows what they’re doing – it doesn’t. Awareness of risk is not the ability to mitigate risk, or the capacity to deal with any negative ramifications the risk may manifest – both of which are arguably more important than a general ‘awareness’ that BDSM has risk involved.

Personal Responsibility Informed Consensual Kink (PRICK)

This is a relatively new philosophy that asks players to take the responsibility of play on themselves, regardless of role. In this scenario the emphasis is on YOU as a player to make the best INFORMED decisions for yourself before consenting to any play.

Personal Responsibility: This is the responsibility you have to ensure your own level of comfort and safety, suggesting active negotiations, and risk-assessment.

Informed: The play style has been researched, learnt, or is well-practiced, and any risks associated with the play have been assessed and accepted.

Consensual Kink: As above.

PRICK pushes an idea that the kink community would be a better place if we all just took responsibility for ourselves in terms of creating and maintaining boundaries, and made a little more effort to be mindful taking extra care in our interactions. This isn’t a terrible thing. But there’s an element of ‘personal responsibility’ that some players give up in their kink play, and this can be hard for those people to reconcile with a PRICKy outlook. 

The role of Safe Words

Even within the confines of SSC, RACK or PRICK it’s important to have safe words. Whether you’re a Dom or a sub, no amount of negotiation and planning can prepare you for some of the unexpected repercussions of kink play, so it’s vital you can find you voice when you need it. 

The Traffic Light System is the simplest place to start

Green = Keep Going 
Amber = Getting close to the limits… 
Red = Stop!

Eventually, you’ll probably want your own unique safe word - just keep it simple, and please don’t use it in jest or teasing. It’s important it remains understood as a word that stops everything. Immediately.

What is Tapping Out?

For some people, words leave them when they play – perhaps they’re in subspace, maybe they’re primal players. So be it verbal or not, it’s still important to indicate when limits are being reached or boundaries crossed. In these cases we can use body language to indicate our comfort levels; from a simple thumbs up, to tapping on your partner, or grabbing an agreed upon body part. 

As you become more confident with your play and style, you’ll find a safety protocol that’s right for you and those you play with. The above list is by no means exhaustive, nor are the concepts identified by SSC, RACK and PRICK mutually exclusive. In fact, if anyone wants me, I’ll be creating PECKER - Practitioners (of) Enthusiastic Consensual Kink Embracing Risk.

2 comments

  • BloodSlut

    BloodSlut

    More than a month ago

    As per usual giving some excellent food for thought. Too many over enthusiastic folk forget the keyword is consent. Also really big props for defining those acronyms!

    Reply
  • Zamboon

    Zamboon

    More than a month ago

    Good article - I learned a lot ... I usually just say Ouch!

    Reply
Copyright © 2024 MisKnickers It is illegal to use any or all of this article without the expressed, written permission from Adult Match Maker and the author. If you wish to use it you must publish the article in its entirety and include the original author, plus links, so that it is clear where the content originated. Failure to do so will result in legal action being taken.
The content posted on this blog is intended for informational purposes only and the opinions or views within each article are not intended to replace professional advice. If you require professional relationship or sexual health advice you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.