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Encyclopedia > Consent (BDSM)

Consent within BDSM is an issue that attracts much attention in the field. Practitioners interests are the ensuring of appropriate consent both for personal, ethical and legal reasons. The law also has its own approach to consent in deeming certain acts legal or illegal (see consent (criminal)). A collar is a common symbol of BDSM. BDSM is a term which describes a number of related patterns of human sexual behaviour. ... Law (from the Old Norse lagu) in politics and jurisprudence, is a set of rules or norms of conduct which mandate, proscribe or permit specified relationships among people and organizations, intended to provide methods for ensuring the impartial treatment of such people, and provide punishments of/for those who do... In the criminal law, consent may be an excuse and prevent the defendant from incurring liability for what was done. ...

Note that non-consensual play is considered abuse and not accepted by the BDSM community.


Types of consent

Consent is a vital element in all psychological play, and consent can be granted in many ways. Some employ a written form known as a "Dungeon negotiation form", for others a simple verbal commitment is sufficient. Consent can be limited both in duration and content.

Consensual non-consensuality is a mutual agreement to be able to act as if consent has been waived within safe, sane limits. In essence it is an agreement that subject to a safe word or other restrictions, and reasonable care and commonsense, consent (within defined limits) will be given in advance and with the intent of being irrevocable under normal circumstances, at times without foreknowledge of the exact actions planned. As such, it is a show of extreme trust and understanding and usually undertaken only by partners who know each other well, or otherwise agree to set clear safe limits on their activities. A waiver is the voluntary relinquishment or surrender of some known right or privilege. ... Safe, sane and consensual (SSC) is one of several phrases used by a large section of the BDSM and sexual bondage communities to describe themselves and their philosophies who regard SSC to be a watchword for safety. ...

It's not unusual to grant consent only for an hour or for a evening. When a scene lasts for more than a few hours, some might decide to draft a "scene contract" that defines what will happen and who is responsible for what. It's a good way to work out what all the parties want, and usually improves the experience. Some "contracts" can become quite detailed and run for many pages, especially if a scene is to last a weekend or more.

For long term consent, a "Slave contract" is sometimes used. BDSM "contracts" are only agreements between consenting people and are usually not legally binding; in fact, the possession of one may be considered illegal in some areas. Slave contracts are simply a way of defining the nature and limits of the relationship. They are not usually intended to (and usually do not) carry legal force. Other couples know each others likes and dislikes and play occordingly. All these have one thing in common and that is the use of a 'safeword' this might not simply be spoken but can be a sound or handsignal telling that the action in question have gone to far and either stop that oneor that the session would end completely.

Legal aspects

Several of the activities in sexual BDSM play could be concidered illegal as rape, assault or similar. However most legislations include a provision that activities which are performed on someone with that person's consent shall not be considered a crime. This raises some legal and ethical issues, such as:

  • What is consent?
  • Who can express consent? (For example: children are typically not concidered to be able to give consent to sex.)
  • When do we define consent as given?
  • When is given consent invalidated?
  • And are there activities that we still cannot allow, even with the "victim's" consent?

These concerns apply not only to BDSM but to every kind of interaction between persons. See Consent (criminal) for the general discussion. Victim was the title of a British film made in 1961, directed by Basil Deardon and starring Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Simms. ... In the criminal law, consent may be an excuse and prevent the defendant from incurring liability for what was done. ...

The issue of consent in BDSM has caused a controversy in some countries since certain activities, (including some kinds of edgeplay) cannot be legally given valid consent for with the current respective legislation. In such countries, these activities will always be viewed by law enforcement as a crime when discovered, even in private or where mutual informed consent has obviously been given or where parties take turns and no one person is a "victim". A famous case was the Spanner case in England, where participants in a consensual mutual BDSM play party were arrested. The initial case was ruled against them on the basis that a person under English law may not give consent to their own permanent harming, such as might happen in knife play or branding. The European court sustained this saying that the country had the right to make such a rule as a matter of public policy. Other people think that private mutual activities should not be legislated as a matter of public policy, a view which has some legal backing in the United States from the case of Lawrence v. Texas where it was ruled in essence that the state lacked the power to rule a matter illegal on a basis of pure moral opinion. In BDSM, edgeplay is a subjective term for types of sexual play that are on the edge of the traditional safe, sane and consensual creed. ... For the band, see The Police. ... Operation Spanner was the name of an operation carried out by police in Manchester in the United Kingdom in 1987. ... Royal motto (French): Dieu et mon droit (Translated: God and my right) Englands location within the British Isles Official language English de facto Capital London de facto Largest city London Area – Total Ranked 1st UK 130,395 km² Population – Total (mid-2004) – Total (2001 Census) – Density Ranked 1st UK... A play party, is a social event in which people gather to practice BDSM and socialize with like-minded people. ... Knife Play is form of consensual BDSM edgeplay involving knives, daggers, and swords as a source of physical and mental stimulation. ... Branding may refer to either: the imprinting of brand marks on live skin, see Livestock branding, Branding persons and Branding (law). ... Holding A Texas law prohibiting homosexual sodomy violated the liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment of adults to engage in private intimate conduct. ...

Implications for other activities that might fall under the same umbrella, such as body modification, are not clear. Body modification (or body alteration) is the permanent or semi-permanent deliberate altering of the human body for non-medical reasons, such as spiritual, various social (markings), BDSM edgeplay or aesthetic. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Consent (3075 words)
As soon as Cinderella realises that this guy is not Prince Charming she is free to withdraw her consent and whatever he does in the way of BDSM beyond that point is a criminal assault.
Consent must be an act reflecting a positive state of mind.
I have argued elsewhere that healthy BDSM play depends on a relationship of equality (Equality and Why Dominate) and that there is plenty of scope for the growth of trust and the exploration of our boundaries without the risks of non-consent (Power and Control).
Akakor - Pagan Master/slave Lodge - Complete FAQ (12702 words)
At the core of BDSM is the reality that Masters and Mistresses "own" their slaves and often insist that they wear identifying markings of same, which may be something as simple as a removable collar worn on special occasions, or as hard core as a permanent brand or tatoo.
For instance: there are no "BDSM virtues", morality or standard ethos that the whole of the BDSM communities attempt to hold to other than the basic use of a safeword for slaves to put a stop to any scene at a club that's "getting out of hand".
If a BDSM participant, Pagan (or any other free willed individual) hurts another person, it might be our choice to approach that person and investigate their reasons for doing so - partly so a peaceful resolve might be acquired for both parties before the hurt festers and becomes another one of society's greater problems.
  More results at FactBites »



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