Risk Aware Consensual Kink

In the world of BDSM and kink there is a well-known phrase ‘Safe Sane Consensual’ or ‘SSC’. This term has been the most popular and well-known “rule” that all good kinksters follow. It has been “the” rule of thumb for a while but now there’s RACK. RACK is a newer acronym standing for Risk Aware Consensual Kink, and it also just happens to be a great pun. Now, why not both, why is one better than the other? Here I will compare RACK and SSC to give you a better idea of the difference.

SSC, Safe Sane and Consensual, sounds great right? Let’s break it down.

Safe

What is safe? Nothing we do as kinksters is truly safe really, there are huge risks to both our physical and psychological well-being involved in BDSM and other fetish and kink activities. We can obviously make attempts at safety but at the end of the day there is risk involved, yet safe implies no risk.

Sane

Kinksters, just like the rest of society, are holistic human beings and this includes mental illness, making the word sane here potentially offensive and exclusionary. Should someone with a mental illness not be allowed to make the executive decision to involve themselves in kink? Many kinksters I know use BDSM as a form of self-care and therapy, nothing soothes them more than being bound and tied or having a good session on a St Andrews cross to relax after a hard week of work. I assume this was meant to imply that everyone involved in the kinky activities was not doing it from a place of rage or an abusive mindset, unfortunately, abuse is still common in the world of kink as it is possible in any interpersonal relationship, but it is the wrong choice of word. Not everyone with a mental illness is abusive and not everyone who is abusive has a mental illness. In short, having sane as part of our community’s unofficial rule for kink is ableist.

Consensual

Consent: there’s no kink without it. It’s the main thing that separates the wonderful world of kink from abuse. We love consent in all its forms and it’s something that doesn’t happen just once, it’s constant and something to routinely check in on. Consent absolutely belongs in this acronym and is the only part of SSC I agree with wholeheartedly. Consent has to be freely given by a person of legally consenting age.

On a surface level, SSC sounds good, but let’s look at RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) and why it’s – in my opinion – better.

 

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Risk Aware

Risk aware more accurately describes what we do, and also ties into consent, everyone involved in a BDSM or a kinky activity should be well aware of what they’re getting themselves into. For example, rope bunnies and riggers alike should be aware of the risks in rigging and rope play, as you can permanently damage someone’s nerves with the wrong knot, dislocate something, or there’s the potential risk of being dropped.

The more risk aware you are, the more educated on the activity, and that is what BDSM and kink should be about. Being aware of the risk also includes the risk to your mental health – sub drop and Dom/me drop is a thing and should be taken seriously. Also, the risk that the person you are playing with is potentially an abusive person. Being risk aware means being vigilant about who you choose to engage in play with, it can mean asking around for references and learning to trust your gut.

Consensual Kink

Consensual kink replaces both the Sane and Consensual parts of SSC. Someone with mental illness doesn’t have to be “sane” (which is a loaded word anyway), to participate in what they want to. If anyone, mentally ill or otherwise, is lucid and can consent – meaning a sober and INFORMED* – then they have just as much right as anyone else to be involved.

Consent can be revoked at any time. This goes for kink, general romantic and sexual activities. Consent is something that should be checked before, during and after play. If someone feels their consent was violated it’s something that needs to be discussed. In the world of kink we have ‘safe words’ and having a safe word (and in some cases a hand signal, noise, or nonverbal cue) is a big important part of consensual kink.

Consent can be formal, like in some D/s (Dominant/submissive) relationships people will write up a contract of everything they are agreeing to, but it should never end there. Consent should be given before, during and after and this doesn’t have to be formal, it can be fun, sexy and part of the experience. A simple “harder?”, “softer?”, or “do you like that?” are examples of refreshing consent in the middle of an activity. Consent is never because you feel pressured or obligated, even in kink and D/s you don’t owe anyone anything.

* Someone cannot consent to something unless you have explicitly laid it out for them. Kink is all about truthful communication. Details are mandatory.

I hope now you can make an informed decision on which suits you, SSC vs RACK or even something else, it’s really up to you. At the end of the day all that matters is that you are informed and consenting/have consent but also that you are enjoying yourself and getting what you need and want from the experience. You will need to take note of the risks of BDSM Play and be aware of the steps needed to stay safe during couples sex.

About the author: Erin is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle CentresSave

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Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women's lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

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