Consent In Kink
“Consent is the cornerstone of everything we do in kink, and we should have a common language that we do. For what we do in kink & BDSM is not inherently safe or sane.”
Does Consent in Kink Differ vs. Sex?
We’ve already written about how “Consent is Everything” and is one of the cornerstones of what we do in kink and BDSM. We’ve also shared a little video about Tea and Consent illustrating that talking about and understanding the principles of consent doesn’t have to be overly complicate. However, it should be understood that when we move from general sexual relationships and activities into more kink / BDSM focused activities that there are inherent differences that should be recognized.
Acronyms We uSe When Discussing Consent
When it comes to talking about consent in the realms of kink and BDSM specifically, there are a number of terms that we use within the community. The most common terms that are used when discussing consent in kink that you have likely heard are:
- SSC – Safe Sane Consensual
- RACK – Risk-Aware Consensual Kink
- PRICK – Personal Responsibility, Informed, Consensual Kink
These terms aren’t new, as SSC came into existence in the 1980’s as the gay S&M clubs in New York and Chicago became more passionate about education and advocacy. It was in 1983, that a NYC non-profit organization call GMSMA (Gay Male S/M Activists) announced in one of their newsletters that they were serious interested in “safe, sane, and consensual” S/M. And the term RACK was initially coined by Gary Switch in 1999 as a response to what were perceived as shortcomings in SSC.
If you’d like to read more about the history of these acronyms, we’d recommend looking into the history of SSC (Safe Sane Consensual) vs RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink).
RACK as an Evolution of SSC
SSC was intended to say that we should practice kink in “safe, sane, and consensual” means. However, when RACK was introduced it was a response to two shortcomings that were seen with SSC.
- RACK acknowledges that every kink isn’t necessarily safe
- RACK also argued that the concept of what is “sane” is subjective between participants
And we believe that these differences that RACK was highlighting are indeed valid. The activities that we engage in within kink and BDSM are not inherently safe. In fact, we know that even when participating in kink activities consensually that we are participating in things that can be inherently unsafe. We may engage in activities that can leave or, or all partners “bruised” physically or physiologically. Many of us enjoy participating in activities and relationships that can involved unequal power dynamics. And there are also many of us who enjoy participating in activities that are considered “edge play” and are designed to press boundaries and limits by design.
And while RACK was seen by many as a progressive evolution from the original concepts of SSC, it too has also become somewhat dated as we continue to expand our own understandings and definitions of consent in kink.
PRICK introduced the concepts of personal responsibility
We’re not exactly sure when the concept of PRICK was introduced, but it was a response to RACK arguing that just being risk aware and understanding that what we do isn’t necessarily “safe” or “sane.” PRICK when on to emphasize the fact that every human being has a personal responsibility to take ownership of their actions.
And when this is then applied to kink and BDSM, it states that every participant in a scene must have taken the responsibility of researching and understanding the inherent risks in the activity. Individuals are now 100% responsible for educating themselves, being honest about their own feelings and concerns, acknowledging their own shortcomings or lack of understanding, and recognizing that they play a role in the overall scene.
And we believe that introducing personal responsibility is very important—which you will see in our own Code of Conduct.
However, we also understand that not everyone is fully educating and aware of the risks of what we do. In fact, when people are new to kink and BDSM there is an inherent gap in experience and understanding that may not yet even be known. And like the 1980’s we also have seen situations where Dominants may seek out submissives who are new to the community and take advantage of that.
PRICK ALSO Means Being Responsible for Others
While we believe that we are responsible for ourselves in the kink scene, we also advocate that we each have a responsibility to our our partners that we are involved with in the kink scene. So as part of being a good kink citizen, we have a responsibility to look out for the others involved in our scenes, to help lessen the chance for a violation.
How Do We Apply Prick in Kink
Like many other concepts for consent, applying PRICK (Personal Responsibility, Informed, Consensual Kink) does not need to be overly complicated. In fact, we like to think that it can be as easy as these three steps.
- Be Responsible for Your Part: Take responsibility for your own involvement in scenes and activities that you want to engage in. Educate yourself, be informed, ask questions and be inquisitive. If you are newer to the kink community express your own experience levels and concerns, seek clarification of not only what you will do but what are the risks associated with them. Additionally, we should also look out for everyone involved in our scene as a way to lessen the chances for consent violations.
- Negotiate for Consent: Negotiation is the tool that we use to gain affirmative consent from everyone for the activities we want, and don’t want to do. It is also the time that we have to fully understand the activities and the risks involved. Again, if you are new use the negotiations as a way to ask questions so that you can fully understand your participation.
- Be Risk Aware: Make sure that you are education yourself on the risks of what we do. Make sure that you are discussing and understand the risks of the activities that you are considering doing. Ask questions. Both sides of the scene should help explain and make sure that the risks are understood by everyone participating.