Informed Consent

by Saynine

@saynine

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to the idea of “Informed Consent” and the role it plays in BDSM play and negotiation.

I think a majority of BDSM players, at least those who participate in any heavy physical play at all, have come to realize that the idea of the acronym SSC “Safe, Sane and Consensual” was a good term to create spin against a growing fear of SM that was growing in the 80′s. However, to classify much of what we do as “safe” or “sane” is counterproductive to informed negotiation.

More recently the acronym RACK or Risk Aware Consensual Kink has come to better describe the concept behind ethical BDSM play. And this is the jumping off point for what I want to discuss.

If you follow me on twitter, or some of my play partners you may be aware that I sometimes engage in very heavy impact play, and other “edge play” that can result in very obvious marking of the sub or bottom. As empathetic humans our brains often trigger a response of sympathy towards the “victim” of such play, and anger or disgust at the perpetrator of such “abuse”. What is not often clear is the extensive exchange of information and consent involved in the prior negotiation of such play.

As a Dom/Top negotiating such play, the very first thing I try to determine in the motivation of a partner interested in participating in such play. Is there a deep desire to experience a physical play outside the comfort zone based on a kink? Or is the motivation to prove something to themselves or others. The latter is a warning sign for me.

Secondarily the type of play and risks associated with it are discussed in-depth. I do my best to assure the other person that while I am experienced and use best practices, there is always risk of injury beyond what was intended, and such injuries can result in a need for medical intervention and possibly extended recovery time. I find it interesting that some folks find such a discussion shocking yet are not at all surprised when a friend or co-worker is injured and misses work due to sports or recreational injuries.

Recently I began playing on a semi-regular basis with someone who was very eager to explore their limits of mental and physical edge play. Before our initial play date I discussed in depth the possible types of play we may engage in, including such things as spanking, paddling, caning, and slapping. We discussed possible risks and I suggested we play on a Friday so that they would have a weekend to recover before work on Monday.

At the end of a moderately heavy play session my new playmate expressed what a good time she had but that she regretted that we has not played harder, and after a few days when the bruises faded she was sad to see them go. I explained that for a first time of play this feeling of wanting more was perfect, but if by the next time we prepared to play she felt she wanted to take things further, we would negotiate for it.

Within a month we were in fact negotiating much heavier physical and psychological play. She confirmed that she wanted to take the level of play much further. Again I watched for signs that this request was based on anything other than a kinky desire to explore limits. As the scheduled time was established I suggested that a weekend would not be enough recovery time and that she should consider taking several days off, which she did. I also asked several times on several days if she understood that the sort of play I had in mind -heavy impact play, including paddles, canes, fists, and well as choking, and intense humiliation and other psychological play- could result in injuries that could result in a need for medical intervention. I made it clear that this was not my intent and I would endeavor to prevent this, but that I did need verbal confirmation that she understood. And she did.Ass Beating

The planned date came and play proceeded as I intended. It was intense, and exciting, but also fun and fulfilling for both parties. There was bruising, welts, and even a bit of localized bleeding. There were no injuries that required more than a bit of cleanup and some aftercare. Both were provided.

In a gesture of celebration of the play we both made some photos of the resulting damage available through several social media outlets, that day and the following.

There were of course the expected exclamations of shock, and some of envy. A wide range of response is expected when pictures like this are presented to an audience of mixed experience, and we appreciated all the comments.

What happened in the ensuing days is what is very interesting. A vanilla-ish friend of my play partner discovered the photos and was shocked and unhappy about them. This was an unfortunate outcome. However what I find intriguing are the “Kink Friendly” folks that in the following days expressed privately and semi-publicly to my playmate that they were concerned for her welfare and safety.Beaten Tits And this is not the first time I have experienced this. I truly question the motivation of these folks, but more important I think is the point that other folks are not party to the negotiation between play partners and should not presume to know anything about what was involved in the consent to such play.

I think such inquiries serve to undermine the confidence that a bottom has in their decision to trust a Dom/Top even after the fact.

In truth “Informed Consent” is formed between play partners and is the basis of ethical BDSM play. I feel fortunate to live in a State where one person can consent to trust their safety to the skill and instincts of a partner or partners.

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