There are a few misunderstandings regarding Consent which I would like to clarify. All those new to the lifestyle, and even those experienced, would do well to reflect on the below and ask themselves how their choices align or diverge from the observations & recommendations. This post will have several strong assertions because consent is central to the kink and BDSM culture, and the reader (you) must understand the difference between the Romanticized vs Realistic forms of kink.
The concept of Consent is core to BDSM and other kink lifestyles. Very simply put, Consent is ensuring you have permission to engage in various activities or conduct a relationship in a certain manner. If Consent is not given, then you cannot proceed. Full stop.
In other words, Yes means yes, and No means no. While this seems simple, so many make mistakes of thinking they had consent, contrary to the view of the partner. Therefore, a good rule to follow is if you have to assume, guess, or suppose – you likely do NOT have consent and need to ensure you have it FIRST.
Respect & Communication
Consent is about showing mutual respect for the rights of the other, as much as it is a basic communication skill. From a matter of respect, it’s learning how to be accepting of another’s personal decisions without trying to rationalize or mitigate those decisions. One must either learn to accept that decision graciously, or decide that partners goals or objectives are not a good match for you.
From a communication perspective, its about Listening with the whole self. Its best to seek confirmation without challenge or conflict, in the spirit of reaching a mutual understanding and appreciation for each others perspectives.. One can simply ask to understand, when you are seeking further explanation for the sake of clarity. However, this does NOT include asking for an explanation so you can challenge or devalue their reasons or choices.
Explicit & Enthusiastic
Explicit and enthusiastic consent is particularly important in casual play and scenes with new partners. The idea of explicit consent is simple: there is nothing up to interpretation, assumption or guesswork. So, either one has been given full, clear, enthusiastic, and explicit consent, or it’s off limits. It may not be permanently off limits, but for the moment it should be considered absolutely restricted.
Keep it Simple, Sexy (KISS) prevents misunderstandings which can lead to significant tension, drama, or actions that might be taken as a violation of trust – or worse, violation of a person’s body, rights, and the law. If you want more options and fluidity, you merely have to ask what activities MAY be engaged in so you have a choice in how to shape the scene. I call this loading the palette; for like painter, you will likely not use Every color you have, just the ones you feel be most effective.
Implied consent is a veritable minefield of trouble and is best to be avoided. The very notion employs a false logic, starting with the bad assumption. This tends to be expressed as:
“well, if the bottom/sub agreed to “X”, then “Y” should be okay too”.
This line of reasoning is dead wrong. Consent in any one thing does not equal the giving of consent in another. This is because you cannot assume you know the full history, and emotional state of your partner. Consent to spank someone’s bottom is not consent to slap their face. If you cannot tell the difference between these two, then either you need significant mentoring and coaching, or you should consider that BDSM and casual play is not for you. Don’t assume, VERIFY you have consent.
Consent By Omission
This is similar to Implied Consent, only working with a backwards rationale. Consent by omission tends to follow a logic that goes something like this:
“well, X wasn’t on their soft or hard limits, so X must be okay…”
This line of thinking is completely and utterly wrong. If someone does not mention something, it does NOT mean they are giving you permission – it only means they didn’t consider bring it up. The major error here is that in all actuality, the person making the assumption is taking great liberty with anothers state of mind. Such attitude takes a rather dubious position that they (the assumptive) knows what is right, better, or deserving for the other person. That borders on narcissistic, if not downright dangerous and immoral.
Perhaps the most formal method of mutual understanding and agreement is Contractual Consent. The purpose of which is to ensure we avoid the aforementioned mistakes by having a clearly articulated set of understandings for consent. This means that the desires/likes, soft and hard limits, and are documented for all those involved to review and agree upon.
Contractual consent may include an umbrella agreement that includes typical relationship dynamics and activities, and then addresses specific activities, such as where limits are going to be tested and pushed. In addition, you can identify soft limits that may have a range of risk. One can then discuss which may be easiest or least likely to be overcome in the future, and what would be required to provide the assurances necessary to grant consent.
It may sound complex, but it’s not. Just have a talk and jot down the key points (use bullets) on a notepad. The benefits far outweigh the effort, for it invites all parties in participating and giving thoughtful consideration to what they are consenting to, the possible risks and consequences involved, and the measures of care or responsibility should things go awry.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to understand is consensual non-consent. Because it can be confusing to many folks, I’m going to try to break it down further in another post. But here is a high level glimpse:
Consensual Non-Consent (CNC), also known as blanket consent or meta-consent, is more commonly found in long-term total power exchange (TPE) relationships. This is a relationship where the owner (be that Master or Mistress) and slave are attempting to build a “limitless” relationship. Often achieved through formal training, time, and mindful challenging of boundaries.
Such a relationship is not handled lightly, and requires significant work and dedication by all involved. This is because most forms of CNC often involve situations where the bottom would otherwise refuse. However, due to the mutual goals of those within the relationship, the exception has been made to exceed specific limits, push boundaries, and overcome fears.
CNC scenes offers some of the most raw, intense, and risky forms of play. These include but are not limited to scenes involving kidnap, interrogation/torture, rape, assault, forced sexual service, severe humiliation or objectification, and rites of ordeal. As a result, CNC scenes are not appropriate for pick up play, for new or short term relationships, or for public scenes. Unless you and your partner have significant experience in a stable BDSM relationship, I would not recommend you attempt play involving CNC.
Getting consent is easy – just ask. If consent is not given, then respect their stance, or accept that your choice in partners may not be right for your needs. Neither you nor they need to be liked or loved by everyone, and if it’s not a good fit, don’t try to warp things to “make it fit” – move on.
If there is room for interpretation, seek clarity. Each individual has the right to decide for themselves what they allow or restrict. If your understanding requires clarification, ask so that you may grow to understand. Do not take it upon yourself to decide what or won’t be acceptable.
Accepting the consequences of choices. Even if made in ignorance, “I didn’t know” is not a defense or excuse. If action was taken without consent, it was wrong to do. If assumptions were made, it was wrong to do. If you feel they are not being honest, or are being manipulative, then move on.
Respect decisions of partner, and yourself. Once you or your partner have expressed their consents or limits, respect it. Do not argue with their reasons or beat down their viewpoint. Respect the person, and yourself, by just accepting it. Similarly, don’t allow your limits or consent to be pushed by another unless you have given express permission to do so. Better to miss one opportunity than have a significant regret or wind up in mortal danger.
Copyright 2015 Limits Unleashed