CONSENT in BDSM in general
Consent is one of your foundation blocks for BDSM. It is a very important concept for anyone to understand as well as to apply, regardless if you are participating in any BDSM related activities.
So for the next few articles, I am going to concentrate on the different ways consent is and can be applied in different scenarios. BUT it always has to be present.
Our first one is going to be just the basic idea of consent in BDSM itself and why it is so important.
You might have heard a lot about the following terms and will see it crop up time and time again on this website:
SSC: Safe, Sane and Consensual
RACK: Risk Aware Consensual Kink
PRICK: Personal Responsibility Informed Consensual Kink.
In all three these approaches you see that Consent is a very important part of it. Reason for it is simple. We want everyone that is taking part to be willing to take part and have fun. They need to be able to consent, not to be coerced into it, and that they do this of their own free will. Without the consent part what is happening is not consensual anymore and you are in fact abusing a person.
So how does consent look like? It takes many different forms as you get all sorts of different ways you can partake in BDSM. So one method of consent won’t always be the same method for all. But for today we are just going to look at the basic method of consent in a general situation.
For you to take part in any of the activities (regardless if it is just sex or kinky activities without sex or any combination of that):
1. You need to be able to consent: This means that you can’t be drunk, heavily medicated, under the influence of any substance that can alter your decision-making skills. It also means that emotionally you are in a place that you can consent.
Take BDSM itself out for a moment. Think of the following: You have someone that got completely drunk and passed out and you always wanted to do it with that person. Do you think it is okay to have sex with them?
What if this person is starting to come onto you? But they are just too drunk to really know what they are doing?
What if this person just broke up with someone close to them and they are extremely vulnerable?
Now some might argue that in some of these cases it is not black and white. But life is not black and white. It is just mostly shades of grey. But to get consent it NEEDS to be a bit clearer as there is almost more at stake and there can be very serious consequences on either side.
Without Consent, it is abuse.
2. You need to know what you are consenting to: This means knowing exactly what is involved for Tops or Bottoms. What is more or less on for play, and what is not.
It is easy to say you consented to sex but in the end, it landed in anal sex. And what one person thought they consenting to is completely different to what another person meant. This gets back to communicating. Clear communication in a way that all parties know exactly what they are consenting to. See articles on negotiating and the different methods you can use.
3. Agree on safewords: This is a way to make sure consent is always present. Both sides have safewords to either halt play for a bit (see safeword article on more) or to stop play. Use safety signals if you can't use safewords.
If you play without safewords you are getting in a bit more murkier water as you might overstep someone’s boundaries and you might go towards or over the line of not having consent anymore. So be safe and play with safewords.
4. Age of consent: Now this some might say is not part of basic consent and more an ethical or moral or even legal issue. But I am going to put it in here. Yes, some countries have a legal sex age limit but I think if we going to talk about BDSM you need to look even further. A lot of studies have shown that a brain is still developing at age 16 (legal age of a lot of countries) but even at age 20, some brains are still developing. You also still have to deal with a lot of hormone influxes to confuse the situation even more.
Studies have shown that teenagers are more impulsive can take more risks and not think of consequences, where other studies have shown it is less on risk-taking itself but the urgency to learn more about the world. Either way it is something to take under consideration. Different countries will have different age limits for sex or even have a different one for certain type of sexual activities. In regards to this article, I would highly recommend at least age 18. (and in some cases even 21). But always make sure that who you play with is the legal age of consent.
Watch out for the next article in the series of consent.