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The Philosophies of Safety in BDSM

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There are many different philosophies behind staying safe in the dungeon or in the bedroom.

I’ve heard people say stuff like, “I don’t care what you do as long as you’re not hurting anybody.” This is an instant red flag for me.

This sort of philosophy does not differentiate hurt from harm. It also implies that you can do anything. It feels like a reckless sentiment. It also does not give any attention to the importance of consent.

If that sentiment doesn’t work, then what else is there? There are a handful of philosophies when it comes to minimizing harm done in any BDSM situation. Some communities or establishments will publicly adhere to a certain philosophy almost as a label to give people an idea of their rules on safety.

Safe Sane Consensual

This is exactly how it sounds, and was the only kink safety philosophy for about a decade.

One must ensure that their scene is safe, taking necessary precautions to make sure nothing goes wrong. This would include not using rusty knives for cutting play, or not hitting someone’s broken bone. This means knowing where the safe spots for impact play, and not doing any permanent damage.

Sane means that activities should be done in a stable state of mind. Practitioners of SSC might have issue with a person having a mental breakdown and wanting to get the anguish beaten out of them because they are not in a sane state of mind. This might also refer to that one time I had my rigger make me a noose and tried to wear it at the club.

Consensual means that each person involved in the scene are consenting to what is being done. Consent is gathered from a negotiation from before the activity begins. If a partner did not consent to sex before entering the scene one would not engage in such an activity until proper consent is given.

It should be noted that consent cannot be given during a scene as one’s judgment is generally impaired due to the flood of endorphins into their brain.

Risk Aware Consensual Kink

RACK is very similar to SSC except it rejects the notion that certain scenes can be 100% safe. It still values consent, but gives to the idea that nothing is truly ever safe. This gives more attention to the unexpected consequences of BDSM play.

This is the philosophy I adhere to. I feel like it allows for a little bit more consensual exploration and allows for things that are more ‘heat of the moment’ to happen, but within the realm of reason. In my experience, I find many primal and edge players to use this as a philosophy.

With some activities like decorative needle play, fear play, or cutting sometimes you can’t always know exactly what’s going to happen. This philosophy allows you to understand that there might be some risks involved and that you are consenting to them.

Personally Responsible Informed Consensual Kink

Also known as PRICK, this philosophy is an evolution of RACK. It speaks to the fact that each person is individually responsible for their choices they engage in. All it really exists to do is stress that you are responsible for the consequences should you choose to engage in something risky.

Committed Compassionate Consensual

This really only exists because the others don’t give much attention to the emotional well-being of the parties involved. This is usually used in Total Power Exchange or M/s situations where main style of play involves consensually revoking consent. CCC is more for 24/7 relationships and exists to remind Masters to give attention to their slave’s feelings. (or Dom/sub)

Consensual Nonconsent

This isn’t really a philosophy of kink, but style of play that revokes consent. All of the above philosophies contain the word “consent,” but there is some argument that consensual nonconsent by nature violates these philosophies. Since consent is consensually revoked, many argue that it is still consensual. Due to the nature of this style of play, there are definitely risks involved and normally is not allowed at establishments that adhere to a Safe Safe Consensual environment.

In your travels to different dungeons and different parties in various communities you’ll find these philosophies may mean different things to different people. Most of these are invented by the BDSM community or by authors. There is no “one true way” to practice BDSM, but the least you can do is be aware that there’s more to it than just “trying your best not to hurt anyone.”

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