Consent in D/s and BDSM – No One Way
Consent to engage in sexual or romantic activities is not only important in D/s or BDSM contexts but in all human connections. Sex, play and romantic gestures should not be driven by lust, love and passion alone. They also need to be enjoyable for all partners involved. And that is why communication is important. It needs to be clear that everyone is excited and wants to do the naughty with each other. Consent in sexual play is something that has been linked to only BDSM and D/s in the past, because some of the practices involved can be dangerous or might not be enjoyable if someone doesn’t have a certain kink. But ever since the feminist movement has become stronger, consent is also something that needs to be considered in vanilla connections. Especially with the deconstruction of the idea of primal masculinity ever since the 1970s.
Consent can seem unsexy and like a moodkiller. Sitting down with someone to discuss the details of an intimate encounter is probably not on everyone’s minds when they are horny and want to get down to business. But I think that is not exactly what it is like. In vanilla encounters, all you need to do is to ask if the other is interested in what is most likely going to happen. And you need to make sure hey understand that they can say stop whenever they are not comfortable with what is happening anymore. It is literally no more than that. The idea of consent being a moodkiller is really just a leftover from the patriarchal idea that sex should be all about ravishing someone. That it is about the primal release for the male part of the act.
Well, dear cockowners, this is 2019. Open your mouth, ask the question, get consent. It is not that hard. As a survivor of sexual assault, I am very happy that some countries like Sweden have adjusted their laws to including an absence of enthusiastic consent as a marker of sexual assault. Sure, there is the question of how to define enthusiastic consent, but that is something that lawmakers and society will eventually figure out.
Consent in BDSM and D/s
Now, in a BDSM and D/s context the idea of consent is a little bit more complicated, Here it is about giving up power, about giving up control, about giving consent to getting physically and mentally hurt, degraded and used. Some might say it is consenting to abuse. And because a lot of the practices in this context are seen as abusive by the general public, there has been a focus on spreading the importance of consent in BDSM and D/s encounters.
But I think there are different forms of consent, and there doesn’t always have to be explicit consent before every play scene. I personally very much agree with the idea of sane, safe and consensual sex and play. Anything else would be sexual assault in my eyes. But! Does there always have to be a lengthy discussion before every scene? Hell no. It all depends on the context.
If you are at a play party or an dungeon party, then the consent discussion definitely needs to happen. You might play with someone you don’t know at all, or you only have a shallow connection with otherwise. What I have seen at play parties is usually that a submissive or a Dominant gets asked if they are interested in playing. If the answer is yes, the two of them sit down and discuss what exactly is going to happen in the scene, the hard limits and what tools are going to be used. And of course a safeword is agreed upon. I think play at play parties is the most clear example of how consent works and should work.
Then there is consent between partners in a D/s dynamics, those that are either playing with each other often or that are in a romantic relationship with each other. I think the most important discussion here is the one before any kind of play begins. You can discuss soft limits and hard limits, you can communicate needs and you can consent either generally to any kind of BDSM play, or certain parts of it. Some couples have whole contracts that cover in detail what is okay and what is not, and where it is made sure that everyone involved understands what they consent to.
And from there it can go in different ways. But I think that a continuous communication around consent is important. Soft limits and hard limits can change with time, different needs can come up, new kinks you want to try out with each other. So if anything changes, it is important to communicate that. Some people plan out whole scenes together, just like they would at play parties, going into details. And if that works for your relationship, then that is fine. It could also just be more of a spontaneous deal where the submissive doesn’t want to know beforehand what is going to happen, or where just a general consent is given.
A lot of people are icky about consensual con-consensual play because it can be very close to sexual assault. But I personally don’t understand the fuss, because it is not like someone is being overtaken against their will. They want to be used like that, they don’t want to always say “yes yes, I want this”, before anything happens. For me ickyness starts when the safeword doesn’t apply. A safeword is a powerful tool of consent, because it can evoke consent whenever something doesn’t feel right. Safewords make things, yes, safe.
Consent in my Relationship
In my D/s relationship we have general consent. In the beginning of our relationship we talked about our needs, about our soft limits (where we can be pushed) and hard limits. It was different online than it was in real life, but we always continued the conversation around what we want and need, sexually and in other parts of our relationship. And we still very much do so. We have quite a good overlap in kinks too, so he doesn’t have to hold back on much.
With general consent I mean that he can basically can do whatever he wants with me, within the framework we have discussed. That means that we have talked about how far things can go, and where the stop signs should be placed. And whatever happens within these lines, I am fine with and consent to. I am his submissive, and he is my Master. That means for me that he can give me commands if he sees it fit and that he can do sexually with me as he pleases.
Yes, that includes consensual non-consensual sex. And the few times we had something close to that, it was very enjoyable for me! An example would be that he just all of the sudden forces me to lie on my back, pulls down my panties and fucks me, no matter if I am ready or not. Or that I come out of the shower and he pushes me against the wall and fingers me without a forewarning. Or he slaps my boobs out of nowhere. I very much love these moments where he shows me the power he has over me,
The reason why general consent works for us is because we are in a committed relationship and we know each other well. We of course constantly learn more about the other, and we sometimes make mistakes. But general consent makes our connection so much more spontaneous, so much more passionate. It makes the D/s aspect easier to implement too (like when he needs to punish me). We don’t like planning scenes in detail, we like going with the flow, and general consent works way better with that approach.
I feel safe in this kind of framework of consent because we communicate and I am not afraid to use the safeword. But our way doesn’t have to be everyone’s way to work with consent. I can understand that others rather want to write out a detailed contract, or need to negotiate every scene with each other. It is all about what makes you feel safe with each other and there is no one way that works for everyone in that context. Especially when playing with someone new, you need to communicate your limits and make sure that you are aware of what you consent to.