Having her informed consent

I’m very taken with the informed consent principle stated on the standing stonenew “Informed Consent” website.  It says:

The Informed Consent Principle is that BDSM requires the freely given informed consent of all participants; that participants should make genuine efforts to reach a shared awareness of risks and consequences; that if consent is given under duress or is invalidated by mental incapacity or intoxication then it is not legitimate; and that BDSM with this informed consent should not be criminalised or lead to discrimination.

This has huge appeal for me, not least because I don’t feel like a particularly deviant person (nor does c_b) and I’d like to live my life with her openly (I don’t mean blatantly or showily – just without fear of discrimination).

OK, this will take time – but getting to a form of words like this is a great first step to showing the rest of the world that we aren’t so different and that we care for each other, just differently.

I also think this blog, by David Stein on Leatherati. Is amazing reading – and a really thoughtful, helpful piece of work on the morality and ethics of BDSM. Highly recommended. Quite independently of this I had a go at our own “10 commandments of kink” – and was pleased that some of it resembles the much more thoughtful Mr Stein’s. His writing forces me to look at that again though.

Risks and consequences

The rest of this post is just a few first thoughts about the concept of a “shared awareness of risks and consequences”.

It seems to me that this encompasses and moves beyond both SSC (Safe, sane and consensual) and RACK (Risk aware consensual kink) in an entirely beneficial way. Risks and consequences could mean many thing including:

  • Physical harm
  • Psychological harm
  • Harm by proxy to friends and family
  • Risk of law-breaking
  • Risk to the participants’ relationship or dynamic

It encompasses the key difference between SSC and RACK that some activities are, by their nature, not safe – but are still things we do, aware of the risks. The idea of “shared awareness” (without any form of duress or lack of competence) also implies sane decision-making too, involving both parties.

For some, there will be an issue here. We have an umbrella hard limit, which we use to test the things I demand of her. Things I rarely discuss with her and usually just do. But, I don’t think that breaks the IC principle: What we both want is for me to take responsibility for her safety and not to bring her to harm.

Our “shared awareness” is that I will do so, with her trusting me to be mindful of risk. That we both want me to take responsibility for the things I do. We’ve always understood that, if I fail to be mindful of risk, trust is lost and consent is withdrawn.


I think it does have a small, negative effect on our dynamic: In that I do try to show her, before committing her to some new sensation, that I’ve taken proper precautions – because, if things go wrong, I want her to know that the issue was something that could not have been readily foreseen. That removes some of the spontaneity it would be nice to have with things one has never done before.

The biggest thing, for me, that comes from this aspect of the IC principle is that it is “shared awareness”. I have spoken to many people from the non-BDSM world (and heard/read more) who think our relationships are, by nature abusive. Commitment to this principle shows – clearly – that they aren’t. However, this is undermined, in the wider world, by those times when consent is not obtained or overridden. This study clearly shows that does happen – and far too often. Eliminating this will be a small, but, key, factor in changing public perception of our kink.

Please comment and vote on the BDSM definitions

%d bloggers like this: