Consent in BDSM

Page semi-protected
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Consent (BDSM))

Submissive woman being pushed into a box with her consent.

Consent within BDSM is when a participant gives their permission for certain acts or types of relationships. It bears much in common with the concept of informed consent and is simultaneously a personal, ethical and social issue. It is an issue that attracts much attention within BDSM, resulting in competing models of consent such as safe, sane and consensual and risk-aware consensual kink.[1] Observers from outside the BDSM community have also commented on the issue of consent in BDSM, sometimes referring to legal consent which is a separate and largely unrelated matter. However, the presence of explicit consent within BDSM can often have implications for BDSM and the law and, depending on the country the participants are in, may make the differences between being prosecuted or not.

Where an act has been previously consented to, the consent can be terminated at any point, and by any participant, through using a safeword.[2] Within the BDSM community, it is generally considered a high risk activity to engage in BDSM without a safeword. Acts undertaken with a lack of explicit consent may be considered abusive and those who ignore the use of a safeword may be shunned within the BDSM subculture.[3][4] One study has shown that BDSM negotiations to establish consent consist of four parts covering style of play, body parts, limits and safewords.[5]

Consensual non-consent

Consensual non-consent (CNC), also called meta-consent and blanket consent, is a mutual agreement to be able to act as if consent has been waived. It is an agreement where comprehensive consent is given in advance, with the intent of it being irrevocable under most circumstances. This often occurs without the submissive having foreknowledge of the exact actions planned.[6][7]

Consensual non-consent is considered a show of extreme trust and understanding. It is controversial within BDSM circles, even often frowned upon due to concerns about abuse and safety. It is mainly limited to those in Master/slave relationships. It is also applicable where a submissive will submit to being disciplined in a manner they don't want to at the time they are getting punished but do see a need for being subjected to it in the relationship.[6]

Models and philosophy

BDSM communities share a common language of consent. Various models are expressed as acronyms representing differing approaches towards a philosophy of consent.


SSC stands for Safe, Sane, Consensual. It is far and away the most recognizable and popular model of consent in BDSM circles, though not without criticism.[8]


RACK stands for Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. It is the second most popular consent model. It was created to overcome perceived shortcomings of SSC.[9]

Other models

Other less well known models of consent in BDSM include CCC, which stands for Committed, Compassionate, Consensual and the 4 C's — Caring, Communication, Consent, Caution.[10]

Legal aspects

The March 5, 2007 conviction of Glenn Marcus on counts of sex trafficking and forced labor in renewed much debate on the issue of consent in BDSM, both within and outside the community.[11] In a similar case of an accusation made by a participant that the activities had not been consensual, in April 2007 two UK men were convicted of false imprisonment in a case where a third party who had been treated like a dog asserted the matter had not been consensual.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Williams, D.J. (2014). "From "SSC" and "RACK" to the "4Cs": Introducing a new framework for negotiating BDSM participation". Journal of Human Sexuality. 17: 1–10 – via Gale Academic.
  2. ^ Brown, Ashley (2019). "A Systematic Scoping Review of the Prevalence, Etiological, Psychological, and Interpersonal Factors Associated with BDSM". Journal of Sex Research. 57 (6): 781–811 – via Taylor & Francis.
  3. ^ ” on safewords”
  4. ^ Holt, Karen (2016). "Blacklisted: Boundaries, Violations, and Retaliatory Behavior in the BDSM Community". Deviant Behavior. 37 (8): 917–930 – via Taylor & Francis.
  5. ^ “Conversational-Phases-in-BDSM-Pre-Scene-Negotiation” Journal of Positive Sexuality
  6. ^ a b "Consensual non-consent" Archived 2009-09-01 at the Wayback Machine, Informed Consent dictionary, Accessed 12 June 2012.
  7. ^ Dictionary of BDSM Terms, "Consensual Non-Consent", Accessed 12 June 2012.
  8. ^ Jacques, Trevor (1993). On the Safe Edge: A manual for SM play (1st ed.). Toronto, Canada: WholeSM Publishing. pp. 3–4. ISBN 9781895857054.
  9. ^ Switch, Gary (2001). ""Origin of RACK: RACK vs. SSC"". Vancouver Leather. Retrieved 2024-04-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Kaak, Ayesha. "B&D, S&M, D&S, RACK, PRICK, SSC... An entree of acronym soup and kink". Australian National University.
  11. ^ ""Sex Slave Trial" New York Post". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
  12. ^ "Man was forced to live like a dog" - BBC News. (Analysis of consent issues on BDSM forum Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine)