Many times I have encountered clients / submissives who come to me damaged and fearful. One may assume that the submissive has been damaged by personal experiences, social outcasting, relationship failure or an aspect separate to the BDSM lifestyle. Your assumptions would be incorrect. Most, if not all of my damaged submissives are those damaged by a Top/ Dominant. Usually a Mistress with little practical experience, learned and practiced skills, no understanding of the psychology of BDSM and definitely no understanding of safe, sane & consensual.
- SM practitioners must strive to make their SM Safe
- SM practitioners must strive to make their living sane.
- Obtain consent, and respect the limits and of others.
Most know the basic 3 rules of SSC within S&M. But within these rules are subtle difficulties. Definitions, clarity and a true understanding of what SSC actually means is needed to make these rules work.
Anyone wishing to enter the BDSM realm, whether as a submissive or a Dominant, should make themselves familiar with the proposal below, which outlines a more indepth understanding of what Safe, Sane & Consensual ACTUALLY should mean.
Below is a proposed definition of SSC (courtesy of LeatherRoses) which ALL tops should read, understand and practice within their S&M.
A PROPOSED DEFINITION
SAFETY: SM practitioners must strive to make their SM Safer while acknowledging that risk can never be eradicated completely.
- “Safety” means practicing with your tools and techniques to attain and maintain proficiency. It means making a passionate effort to leave your partners in a physical and emotional condition that is acceptable to them. It means knowing the difference between hurt and harm, and striving mightily to avoid letting harm come to your partner. It means bringing up safety concerns on your own if you feel you ought to, whether you are in the dominant or submissive role.
- “Safety” means having thought through what you are going to do before you do it, and exercising common sense during a scene, no matter how exciting the scene may become. It means proceeding with extra vigilance and caution when embarking on an activity that is new to you or your partner.
- “Safety” means developing a firm sense of the difference between fantasy and reality, and keeping realistic concerns in focus, even as you explore fantasy scenarios.
- “Safety” means knowing that limits are not weaknesses, but realities that may change and expand if you take things at a pace that’s right for you and your partner.
- “Safety” means observing safe sex practices, and taking steps to avoid pregnancy, STDs, and emotional harm. It means dominants would do well to have experienced the receiving end of the scenes they practice so they are not ignorant of how they feel to their partners.
- “Safety” means careful consideration of your choice of play partners, particularly people not known to you or your friends. It means becoming comfortable using silent alarms, or requesting that play take place in the familiar presence of friends, at play parties, SM socials, etc, until mutual trust has been established. It means developing and trusting your instincts about people.
- “Safety” means developing, maintaining and communicating a clear and realistic image of what you can handle and what you can’t. It means exercising judgment about the use of intoxicants like drugs or alcohol. It means not getting so carried away in a scene that you let harm come to your partner or yourself.
- “Safety” means taking active precautions to maintain the confidentiality of your partner and yourself to whatever extent is necessary. It means attention paid to phone messages, emails and verbal comments that could jeopardize the secrecy of your scene activities. It means being careful about where you keep literature and erotica, and thinking long and hard before making tape recordings, photographs, or videos with you, your partner, or your legal names in them. It means taking precautions, negotiated or otherwise, to not allow marks to appear on you or your partners body if they cannot afford to show them.
- In group situations, “Safety” means having one or more designated dungeon monitors whose purpose it is to assure a conducive environment to play. It means acquiring or developing rules for conduct within the play space and enforcing them fairly.
- “Safety”means exercising compassion and care in your conduct with others to avoid injuring the feelings, spirit, enthusiasm and confidentiality of others. It means having the brains not to provide a potential friend with the reason to regard you as an enemy. It means striving to reduce the gossip, slander, and petty hatreds that sometimes plague our community.
SANITY: SM practitioners must strive to integrate SM into their lives in a sane and healthy manner.
The purpose of making our SM “Sane”, in this context, is to keep our activities and lifestyles from being gored by the horns of the American Psychiatric Association’s definitions of “sadism” and “masochism” in their Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM). According to the DSM, orientations like sadism, masochism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and transvestic fetishism run the risk of diagnosis as mental illness if they cause “clinically significant distress or impairment in social occupational or other important areas of function” or if they are visited upon unconsenting peoples. In short, if your kink activities do harm to your well-being and peace of mind (or to someone else’s) your sanity could be challenged medically. This is hardly fair – vanillas don’t have their sanity questioned by the APA when their sex lives get complex – but it’s how things are for now. And the threat of DSM being used against us underscores the importance of making sure that SM contributes to – and does not detract from – our ability to lead a sane, moral and functional life.
- “Sanity” in this context, means maintaining perspective and outside interests, and not allowing the scene to overshadow and overwhelm other important aspects our lives.
- “Sanity” means taking steps to insure that our involvement in SM does not disrupt our peace of mind, our self esteem, our sleep, our livelihood, our financial well being, the custody of our children, or our relationships with friends, the law, employment or our families.
- “Sanity” means not allowing our involvement in SM to become a narcotic, or an escapist dodge distracting us from life’s other responsibilities.
- “Sanity” means taking similar care that our SM involvements, not jeopardize the functional sanity or well being of others. It means not letting our SM activities, however intense; stray into abuse or tolerance of abuse.
If SM is having a consistent deleterious effect on your life, then some soul searching and adjustments are probably in order. Perhaps now just isn’t the time, perhaps you aren’t playing with the right people or at the right level of intensity. That is for you to determine. But good SM, like surfing, dancing, meditation or prayer, should be a restorative process, that should leave you, at least when its over, feeling better than you did when you started.
CONSENT: SM Practitioners must obtain informed consent and respect the limits of others.
Consent towers above the other two principals in importance, particularly from a legal perspective. With someone’s consent you can embark on all sorts of risky, even stupid ventures. Without it, even the mildest play could be construed as assault, battery, molestation, or kidnapping. Even as we explore new terrains and push old limits we have to make sure that both partners want to be there together. And “informed consent” means that consent was not coerced against one’s will, in a state of inebriation or from someone under the legal age.
- “Consent” means that all participants must have acknowledged their wish to engage in SM play, before it begins.
- “Consent” means identifying, before the scene starts, any health issues (might not be a good idea to gag an asthmatic!) and emotional landmines before you step on them. It means discussing likes and dislikes, past experience, fears and apprehensions, desires and requests, safe words to use, panic buttons to avoid, limits not to be exceeded.
- “Consent” means establishing and using safewords during play, which if uttered by either partner, stops the scene cold (“Safeword”, “Red” or “Limit” typically end a scene; “Mercy” or “Yellow” can be used to request a pause or slow down before continuing). It means honoring safewords reflexively, or risking irrevocable damage to your partner’s trust and your own reputation. At very least some form of communication must exist, verbal or nonverbal, for the bottom to express distress to the top.
- “Consent” means remembering that a submissive who has “gone deep” may not remember to use their safeword, letting the scene get heavier than was intended, and raising the possibility of “morning after resentment” if they feel you took them farther than they wanted to go.
- “Consent” means knowing you must not coerce or pressure someone into doing something they don’t want you to do. It means not letting yourself be pressured into doing something you don’t feel ready for. It means using your safeword if you feel you need to.
- It means cultivating communication skills, and making a habit of honest, clear communication to understand your partner and be understood by them. It means monitoring your partner for danger signs, to maintain a sense of how a scene is going. It means changing your plan if it no longer fits with the reality of the scene as it progresses.
- “Consent” means gracefully and immediately acknowledging any of the inevitable screw-ups and mistakes that routinely take place in even the best run dungeons.
- For dominants, “Consent” means not assuming that you have the right to dominate ANYONE who hasn’t first consented to your domination.
- For submissives “Consent” mean knowing that NO ONE has a right to demand your submission, by sole virtue of your orientation, your collar, your shackles or for any other reason unless you freely and willingly consent to their dominance.
- “Consent” means making a constant and diligent effort to be courteous and fair with others. No one willingly consents to being treated with disrespect.
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