Safety and Consent

Written by

Hypnos-san

For safety protocols in BDSM scenes, we endorse a combination of RACK + FRIES, as explained below, but let's also go through some other commonly cited ones (and why we do not recommend them).

 

SSC: Safe, Sane and Consensual. Although seen by many as a core principle of BDSM, it's lacking in specificity. Other acronyms (displayed below) do a better job of describing what exactly defines proper safety and consent, whereas "sanity" is arguably a meaningless concept in this context. What does it mean for a kinky practice to be "sane"? Limited amount of risks? That's safety. Being aware of those risks? Informed consent. If you're not in control of your cognitive abilities at any given moment, you're unsafe and unable to give proper consent, not "insane". It's all about safety and consent, really. "Sanity", in this context, is a shadow of prejudice against psychiatric conditions, being used as a form of kink shaming in practice - something we do not endorse at all. Saying something is "insane" is pointless, hence why we do not endorse the SSC acronym.

 

RACK: Risk Aware Consensual Kink. Safety must be a core principle of any BDSM practice, but it's important to point out RACK, because "safety" can be misinterpreted as a lack of risks. There are always risks (in some activities more than others), and one should know about them before engaging in anything, as well as do their best to minimize potentially undesirable outcomes. We endorse the use of RACK.

 

PRICK: Personal responsibility, informed consensual kink. Like SSC, another questionable concept. It was created as a compliment to RACK, aiming to emphasize one's personal responsibility over their informed consent, as if they were supposed to "live with the consequences of their choices", no matter what happens next. This is an extremely awkward point of view, both from a medical and a legal perspective. Suppose you agree to be choked by someone. You know there are risks (namely: you can suffer from hypercapnia and hypoxemia, your intracranial pressure may increase due to an impaired venous return, and the carotid sinus reflex may limit proper adjustment of your blood pressure in response to that), but obviously you expect the person executing that to minimize such risks as much as possible, considering they will be mostly in charge of the act, depending on the circumstances. If something goes wrong and it's somehow proven to be due to either negligence or imprudence on their part, it's disingenuous to claim both parties share an equal amount of fault. When someone claims to know how to execute a dangerous kink (i.e. minimize risks as much as possible), it may be virtually impossible for the other side to be sure that is indeed the case, and so their arrangement is based upon good faith. It's not a 50/50 responsibility split - not when avoidable risks rest more on one side than the other. With that in mind, we do not endorse PRICK, believing the combination of RACK + FRIES to be the ideal approach.

Different people may have varying reasonings for preferring one safety protocol over the other, and that's understandable. Productive debate is always welcome. Just be reasonable and coherent - anecdotal evidences and emotional reasons should be avoided.

The best and most accurate way to describe proper consent in BDSM is to use the acronym FRIES.

FRIES: Freely Given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific. A comprehensive way to describe what proper "consent" should look like. People who are not in complete control of their cognitive abilities (e.g. drunk, sleepy, confused) are not able to provide adequate consent. Neither are minors, according to most countries' laws. Even in TPE (total power exchange) dynamics, all consent must be reversible at all times to avoid going down the rabbithole of abuse. A safeword must always be in place, as someone may regret their previous decision to agree with a given scene after starting to go through it - and that's okay. It's also important to note that dubious instances of consent (i.e. non-enthusiastic) should not be seen as "good enough". Specificity of the intended activities is also crucial - broad or vague arrangements should always be avoided, as they may lead to miscommunication and severe disruptions of the dynamic moving forward. We endorse the use of FRIES.