BDSM vs Abuse Pt. 2: Consent

With the rise of the #metoo movement and the growing conversation about sexual abuse and assault, consent has become an important topic in the public space.

In one sense, it’s simple. If you do something to someone or force them to do something that they say no to, that’s wrong, right? But what if they don’t say no? What if they just seem kind of uncomfortable, but don’t resist or protest? And what if they’re someone who likes to be “forced” to do sexual acts?

I’ve talked to a few people with sadistic and brutal fantasies who are very concerned that they are wrong or even damned for it. Those who are new to the lifestyle or not familiar with BDSM at all find it hard to accept, let alone embrace, that part of themselves, for obvious reasons. They are generally kind, ethical, stable people, and yet they are excited by the idea of hurting someone, forcing them to do things, humiliating them, degrading them.

Then there is the other side of the coin. There are people, like me, who have always fantasized about being taken control of, being hurt, being forced, being humiliated, degraded, threatened. We’d love nothing more than to have someone play that role in a negotiated scene, someone we can trust. We’d love to know that they will respect our boundaries while pretending they don’t.

So it comes down, once again, to communication. When you’re dealing with sadism and masochism, rough play, and other activies that are considered violent and abusive in the vanilla world, it’s not safe to assume anything. That’s why it’s a good idea to use safewords and signals during a scene as well as communicating and negotiating openly prior to a scene.

It’s the same situation for any type of sexual activity. Vanilla sex may not require that same type of negotiation or safewords, but it’s still better and easier to navigate if you clearly communicate. It may not always be verbal. There are physical queues that can help both partners figure out what each other is fully consenting to and what you may need to stop and talk about before proceeding. That’s why it’s important to pay attention.

No one literally asks to be abused or raped…or do they?

Actual abuse or rape is inherently unwanted and nonconsensual, and yet there are situations in which people play under consensual non-consent, which is blanket consent given in a certain timeframe or to a certain partner. It’s important to remember that even in those situations initial consent was given. Because the nature of consensual non-consent play can be more ethically ambiguous, many people prefer not to engage in it, opting to give or receive specific consent for each situation and type of play. This decision depends on your risk profile and how close to the edge you’re willing to play.

You may run into a situation in which the person giving consent isn’t legally able to, such as if they are a minor or if they are mentally impaired due to intoxication. This is part of why most kinksters steer clear of playing while impaired by drugs or alcohol (the other part being the safety risk). And most kinksters also disapprove of minors being involved in BDSM at all for this reason.

Consent is extremely important. As evolved beings with the ability to communicate, there is no good reason to violate consent. No one should feel pressured or be coerced to give consent. If you don’t want to consent to something, make it clear. Speak up. That is your personal right and responsibility. Don’t ever feel wrong for exercising it.

Don’t ever feel wrong for calling out someone who violates your consent, either. If they did it to you, they’re very likely to do it to someone else.

When you share yourself with others in any intimate capacity, there has to be some level of trust. Establishing consent is vital to that trust. Once that trust is broken, it’s not easily repaired.

Consent is a beautiful thing. Consent is honesty. Consent is freedom. Consent is connection. Don’t underestimate it.

Love and light.

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