We need to talk about consent in BDSM

We need to talk about consent in BDSM

Consent is something those of us steeped in BDSM lore take for granted. We assume there will be negotiations and discussions, agreements and limitations. Safe, sane and consensual are words we live by, or variations on them.

When BDSM was an underground lifestyle, this was all right and proper. We dealt with missteps (largely) within the community, and those who made genuine mistakes were schooled and educated in the errors of their ways.

BDSM is no longer underground. It’s mainstream. It’s gone from being a lifestyle with a powerful sense of identity, to an activity performed by bored couples taking inspiration from a Kardashian and or Cosmopolitan. Worse, the abundance of kink porn has replaced the exploration of sexuality with ¬†horror stories of strangulation and abuse.

The apparently reality is the vast majority of people who enjoy kink do so as part of a wide range of activities. They do it in a safe, sane and consensual context where there have been conversations. No harm comes of it (beyond what’s agreed) and participants live to enjoy another day.

A small few has spoilt this fun for the rest of us. They think a partner wants strangling on their first date with no discussion or warning. Tying someone up is surely what everyone wants? Isn’t an upturned bottom asking to be spanked?

A minority of society focuses on these few and claim this abhorrent behaviour is the norm. They use it to show “rape culture” and misanthropy without understanding the wider context. An attitude prevails that screams for bans and law changes that alienates potential allies and does little to tackle the underlying problems. The cry goes out to “educate boys about consent” without understanding it goes two ways. Consent is the outcome of a discussion.

There does need to be a conversation in society about consent. It needs to focus not only on that all important outcome, but on the process by which adults get there. Discussions about limits, exploration, compromise and all the other elements that go into a trusting sexual relationship must be had. At the moment they are not.

The current state of affairs makes this discussion unlikely, at least on a public stage. Politicians are all too eager to push their narrow agendas and support easy-to-score-points campaigns without opening up the wider debate. We’ve seen in the UK how this can go horribly wrong with the public failure of attempts to “censor” internet pornography. Recent law changes to ban the so-called “Fifty Shades Defence” in sexual deaths has opened up the potential for another Operation Spanner.

Perhaps we should return to the simplicity of Safe, Sane and Consensual. We should structure conversations about sex and relationships around a simple framework that give confidence to explore, and boundaries to stay safe within. Our discussions with new partners and old should be open and honest. We should look for compromise where it is sensible, accept a limit where it is not.

Unfortunately, these grown-up conversations are unlikely to take place. For the time being at least she who shouts with the most horrifying view of the world gets their way. The rest of us may face a retreat from more liberal times back to a world where BDSM is seen as deviant and those who practice it to be feared.

And we know how well that turned out last time.

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About Razz

I'm a creative dominant type with a love of BDSM and fetishism. This blog is an outlet, so don't take anything you see or read too seriously.

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