Safe, Sane, Consensual
By Mistress Kashiko
Risk Aware Consensual Kink
There are different philosophies when it comes to the guidelines for safe BDSM play. The biggest disasters in BDSM happen when the players involved do not have a clear understanding of who the other player is, if they are a trustworthy person, and what that player's history is with BDSM (Brame, 2000). |
For a long time, the phrase "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" held dominance for being a significant phrase translating into a message of comfort and safety between players. Recently another dominant school of thought has arisen with the mantra of "Risk Awareness Consensual Kink" (also known as R.A.C.K).
Both of these phrases boil down to the same message, and for many it is a matter of personal preference, but here we will explore the meanings behind both and highlight any differences between the two schools of thought at the present time
Safe, Sane, ConsensualThe phrase "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" can be traced back to the GMSMA report in August of 1983, which appears to be its earliest mention. It is thought that the "safe" and "sane" originated from the sayings of having a "safe and sane" 4th of July celebration. The idea of having a good time while being careful seemed appropriate for BDSM and begun to pick up in popularity (Stein, 2000).
Someone not engaged in the BDSM lifestyle may look at BDSM and wonder how "safe, sane, and consensual" enters into the picture as they may see BDSM as unsafe or unhealthy by definition.
The common dictionary states that safe is to be "secure from liability to harm, injury, danger, or risk" (LCC, 2011). In this context, kinksters see safe BDSM as taking care of their partner so that no matter how intense the scene may be, no unwanted injury or transfer of danger disease occurs; that all precautions have been taken to minimize potential dangers (Kay, 2011). This means doing the research and being knowledgeable about your chosen kink activities to protect your partner as well as yourself.
Sane is generally considered to be of a healthy mind and free from psychological derangement (LCC, 2011). Through the BDSM lens, this means that players act responsibly and exercise good judgment. The ability to engage in appropriate self control is a big part of the "sane" portion of this philosophy. If you cannot control yourself, you should not enter into a situation where power exchange is a key aspect (Kay, 2011).
Lastly, the consensual portion refers to the mandate that all players involved have given informed consent (Ownership & Possession, 1997). The importance of it being consensual is paramount to keep within BDSM ethics. It is important that consent is obtained prior to a session and not during or after (Kay, 2011).
Risk Aware Consensual Kink (R.A.C.K)This mantra was rumored to be first put forth by Gary Switch on the TES mailing list in order to provide a more accurate guideline for the types of play that people engage in (Ownership & Possession, 2003). This philosophy stems from the idea that every activity has a degree of danger to it and "safe" is best determined by the individual; what one person considers safe, another will not (Switch, 2001).
To be risk aware is to understand that the activity or activities you are engaging in carries a degree of danger and potential for unwanted harm. Some kinksters draw comparisons between the choice to engage in BDSM and activities such as mountain climbing or sky diving; there is an awareness of possible outcomes. The rest of this mantra focuses on consent and ethics.
What's the Difference?So when it comes down to it, what is the difference between the two perspectives?
The difference is highlighted how each term defines "sane" or "safe". SSC defines these terms separately and leaves them mildly vague and open to interpretation. It can be implied that what is considered "safe" and "sane" is based on common views of the community and society.
In contrast, R.A.C.K acknowledges the differences between individuals views of what is "safe" and encourages the individual players to choose for themselves what level of risk they wish to take. It allows more flexibility for those who wish to engage in play while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or certain types of play that have a significantly higher level of risk.
Which is better?It is the opinion of this writer that neither term is better than the other. Both terms adequately put across the most important idea: that play should be engaged in by consenting parties who are knowledgeable and taking all precautions they deem necessary for the type of activity; the important intent is put across, the rest is semantics which can (and probably will) be debated at length
The important point here when choosing what definition works for you is to understand the underlying message. Each person will choose which is better based on their experience and comfort.
For the purposes of this site, we will make use of R.A.C.K as this site will cover activities with a wider range of risk.
Written October 13, 2011
Community LinksR.A.C.K Facebook
The Official BDSM Club of UChicago
ReferencesAmor, B. (2008, 08 25). BDSM 101 - SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) Vs RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). Retrieved 10 13, 2011, from Associated Content: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/950741/bdsm_101_ssc_safe_sane_and_consensual.html?cat=72
Brame, D. G. (2000). Come Hither: A Commonsense Guide to Kinky Sex. New York: Fireside Rockefeller Center.
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LLC. (2011). Dictionary.com. Retrieved 05 20, 2011, from Dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/
Michael, M. (n.d.). SSC and RACK. Retrieved 10 13, 2011, from Louisville Munch: http://www.louisvillemunch.com/article/ssc-and-rack.html
Nichola, L. (2006). From SSC to RACK to RISSCK?. Retrieved 10 13, 2011, from Different Equals: http://www.differentequals.com/rissck.html
Norman, S. (1997). Safe, Sane Consensual?. Retrieved 09 24, 2011, from Safe, Sane Consensual: http://www.coolcatdaddy.com/cyrwyn/SafeSane.html
Ownership & Possession. (2003). Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. Retrieved 10 13, 2011, from Ownership & Possession: http://www.ownership-possession.com/wiki/Risk-Aware_Consensual_Kink/
Ownership & Possession. (1997). Safe, Sane, and Consensual. Retrieved 10 13, 2011, from Ownership & Posession: http://www.ownership-possession.com/wiki/Safe,_Sane,_and_Consensual/
Stein, D. (2000). Safe Sane Consensual. Retrieved 09 25, 2011, from Safe Sane Consensual: http://www.leatherleadership.org/library/safesanestein.htm
Switch, G. (2001). Origin Of RACK; RACK vs. SSC. Retrieved 10 13, 2011, from Leather Roses: http://www.leathernroses.com/generalbdsm/garyswitchrack.htm
TV Tropes. (n.d.). Safe, Sane and Consensual. Retrieved 10 13, 2011, from TVTropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SafeSaneAndConsensual
Image ReferencesSomeone else's art deserves recognition! The images presented in this article were borrowed from the following places:
Image 1: http://www.uncharted-worlds.org/graphics/ibadges/designs/safesane.gif | Retrieved October 13, 2011