Safe, Sane, and Consensual
by Tamar Kay
Copyright © Tamar Kay.
You will often hear it said that
the first and most important rule in B&D-S/M is that all
things we do with each other must be safe, sane, and consensual.
What does this mean? Ask any set of experienced players and you'll
get a different set of answers. Here's mine.
"Safe" means that we
take care of each other as best we can, that no matter how we
want our scenes, however gentle or rough, we do them in ways
that do not injure our partners. "Safe" means that
we take the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases seriously
and use our best efforts to minimize those dangers.
What can you do? Educate yourself.
Learn as much as you can so that you can do safe scenes. That
means read books, take classes, and ask others about specific
techniques that interest you. Want to learn to use a cane? Ask
an expert. Want to swing a flogger? Practice first on a pillow.
Whether you're driving a car
or tying somebody up, safety should always come first. It's especially
important to not let your desire rule your good sense, so think
about the specifics of your scenes outside of the scene. "Don't
think with your groin."
Power exchange is about trust
-- trust that the person who has the power in a scene will use
it responsibly. If you are the Top then it is up to you to use
the power your Bottom has granted you in a respectful and sane
way. Your Bottom has given you a gift of trust, and you are honor-bound
to repay it with good judgment.
If as the Top you are so involved
in your scene that you can't make good judgments, then you are
not in control of yourself, and you have no business being in
control of someone else. Sanity is about control, and self-control
Everything that happens in a
scene between people must be acceptable to all concerned. If
you aren't sure that your partner has consented -- has said 'yes'
-- then you need to talk until you are sure.
The best way to get to 'yes'
is to make sure that 'no' is an equally acceptable answer. This
holds true in every situation, whether asking someone for a phone
number or negotiating a scene. The less pressure you apply, the
more likely that a 'yes' will come and will be a sincere answer.
It's dangerous to play with someone
who has said 'yes' for the wrong reasons. You can quickly end
up in a situation that is neither safe, sane, nor consensual.
To protect against this, refrain from pressuring anyone, and
if you feel you are being pressured, set limits and stand by
them. You should always feel free to say 'no.'
Consensual means that you are
sceneing because you want to, with someone who wants to, that
everyone involved is willing to go ahead with the scene. If you
are in the least bit unsure, stop and talk.
The time to clarify consent is
before a scene, not after.
There are no entrance exams to
pass to get into the community and personal judgments vary. Anyone
who has been around for more than a little while has likely heard
about someone who is reputed to be unsafe, emotionally unstable,
or who doesn't respect limits. You should take these warnings
seriously, but remember that such judgments are necessarily subjective.
Get second and third opinions if you can.
And if you find yourself in the
position of wanting to warn others about a player you feel is
unsafe, be as objective as you can, and give facts whenever possible.
Let's take care of each other.
Copyright © Tamar Kay.
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