BDSM 101

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SSC vs. RACK

Consent and communication are the two most important factors in BDSM. The reality is that some of the practices and play can be dangerous to a person's physical, mental, or emotional well­-being. People in the BDSM lifestyle have different methods of classifying whether an activity is safe and OK to do. Some people use Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC) while others follow Risk­ Aware Consensual Kink (RACK).Both have a similar underlying concept ­ of consent and safety from harm. Deciding which principle to follow is a personal decision, ­ as is everything in BDSM, ­ but it helps to have a basic understanding of each.

Safe, Sane, and Consensual

The three parts of this concept are pretty self explanatory. Keep it safe. Don't try a new activity, say suspension bondage for example, without learning and practicing first. Don't use a flogger for the first time on a person; ­ use a pillow until you get used to the motions and the feeling. Ask questions of fellow kinksters who know more about an activity than you do. Learn by reading, watching, and talking to people. Oh, and practice, practice, practice before you try it on your partner.

Keep it sane. Be sensible in the activities you choose. A sense of danger can be sexy and erotic, but real danger can land someone in the hospital. Don't do something that has a real risk of injury unless both of you are a trained in how to do it and know how to handle emergencies. If you're going to try something dangerous anyway, make sure you're certified in first aid and CPR.

Keep it consensual. Whether it's by using a safe word or communicating hard limits and boundaries, don't do anything without the full consent of your partner. When in doubt, stop and ask. Yes, even in the middle of a scene. Asking, "Do you want me to continue?" can be erotic ­ but even if it's not, ask the question anyway.

Risk­ Aware, Consensual Kink

RACK is used most often by those who worry that SSC is too vague and broad. One person's idea of sane might be different from someone else. Risk­ aware means making sure everyone involved is fully aware of the risks. Knife play holds the risk of blood being drawn. Fire play can result in burns. Breath control can lead to asphyxiation. Before you try it, you need to know the real risks.

Consensual. There's that word again ­ consensual. Have you discussed what you want to do together? Do you know the safe word? Is it within your limits? If you can't answer these questions, it might not be consensual. Stop and talk about it first, then play and have kinky fun.

If it's out of the "mainstream," it's probably kinky. However, one person's kinky is another person's vanilla. Here's the way to know if you need RACK. ­ Do you consider what you're about to do kinky? If the answer is yes, then you need RACK.

Neither SSC or RACK are perfect and include every single possible variation or situation. Some kinky play has a true element of danger to it (that's part of the appeal for some people). Don't try a new activity with your partner until you've researched it, learned about it, asked questions, and practiced on an inanimate object, if possible. Doing this can reduce the potential dangers. Whichever you pick, SSC or RACK, follow them, use them, and be smart about your kinky activities. There's little fun to be had when you're sitting in the emergency room explaining a third degree burn or a deep cut.



Written by Kayla Lords
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Professional writer, sex blogger, erotic author, sexual submissive, and kinkster, Kayla writes more than is probably healthy over at A Sexual Being and overshares about the kinky and mundane side of her BDSM relationship. Her mission: to make BDSM, specifically Dominance and submission, less scary, less weird, and much more real and attainable for anyone willing to learn more.

 

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