|Safe Sane and Consensual: Does it exist?|
My views on S.S.&C are somewhat mixed. I believe we can play safer, but safe is not really synonymous with what we do. We are risk takers playing with psychological emotions, buttons, triggers, coupled with physical limits etc.
We take this risk of potential danger because of the endorphin or adrenalin high we know will come.
We can know how to use our implements of play normally referred to as toys. However even the most skilled top can make a mistake or have an accident inadvertently causing someone harm. For example: one time, when I was playing with a good friend of mine - she had not been eating properly and bruised with the slightest touch. When I saw her turn purple I immediately applied compresses, because I didn't want her to look like she'd been in an accident. It was only after the fact did I find out she had an eating disorder and therefore she suffered from the lack of certain vitamins.
This will cause major bruising, and possibly dangerous hematomas. Hey, you never know everything about a person until sometimes it is too late. Therefore, the question of safety to me is somewhat moot.
We must recognize that we must approach our play with an element of caution but safety is a very difficult concept to apply to our play. Especially because everyone will have his or her own definition of just what safety is all about.
Sane is at best an extremely subjective word that always leads to the driving question, by whose standards? By yours, or mine because by mine I am completely sane and you1re insane and naturally by yours you are sane and I am completely insane. Ask my submissives they may not want to touch this issue with a 10-foot pole. However by other people's standards it gets even worse. It is because of its ambiguity and elusive nature of definition, I believe this term should be eliminated from the DS community as a standard phrase. I am not comfortable calling anyone I do not know sane nor am I comfortable calling him or her insane. To me, this SSC is something people in the public relations industry would like to coin as a catch phrase.
But upon true investigation as to its significance with what we actually do it has no real place in the scene, as I know it. We have coined this phrase to give the vanilla world the impression what we do is in fact in line with what they feel is okay. This is why when we use the term SSC we are trying to sell them. The fact of the matter is they are right to a degree we are all freaks. It goes back to why we do what we do. We take risks - with risks come a gene (chromosome) that others don't have by medical standards - we are not the norm. Does not being the norm mean insane- I don't think so. Not to mention the fact that normal can be connected to mundane, which is in fact boring. Now we can all be accused of many things but boring certainly isn1t one of them.
We finally come to area where a good deal of agreement or common ground should be found- the question of Consensual behavior. There is a definitely a definition of consensual that most people can agree upon. This is a private definition that changes with the different partners and what the people involved in a relationship or scene want achieve for themselves through their play.
This area of consent naturally will differ as the people involved change or even their partners change. The problem with consensual comes from relationships that extend beyond the onetime scene or casual play. Most people who are in a relationship want to be taken beyond their limits- that's where the high we are working to achieve will be reached. So what we have is a dichotomy. How can we agree about what we will consent to when really don't know where in reality we want to go.
The fact of the matter our consent is a form of trust, we are really consenting to being taken to those places we haven't yet gone. Ergo we don1t know where in fact we are consenting to being taken or to where we are in fact going. Naturally if you have never been there and don't know whether or not you are going to like it how in reality can you give consent to go there? As I said before in this case consent must be more a matter or trust which is the permission to conduct an individual on this trip.
Therefore, I do not really consider the term consensual to be of a specific nature. It is given in a much broader generic sense, if you wish to look at it that way. It is a license of trust of one individual putting themselves in some one else's hands. Trusting that person to whom the consent has been given will not do anything intentionally to cause or act carelessly as to cause unnecessary stress, harm or emotional damage etc. It is saying I will trust that you have our mutual interests for fun and pleasure at heart plus the knowledge to know where its unsafe to go.
This is a never-ending debate. If the scene is around in the year 2100 it will still probably be being debated. However, for my purposes I can say I know how to be a safe player. Furthermore I only play with those people who trust me enough to know I would never intentionally put their physical, spiritual or emotional health in harms way. This again demonstrates the key element I believe in trust. Coupled with the fact that by the way you carry yourself in the scene.
How you show concern for your play partner, trust is something you earn. It more importantly is something you must earn again and again as you play in the scene. You must never forget your responsibilities as either a top or a bottom.
We are taking the time and space to address this issue because it is so important to the well being of the people who participate in the scene as well as for the survival of he B&D / S&M as a whole. The safety, comfort ability, and trust of the participants must always be of the utmost importance to all participants. Quite candidly from many stories I keep hearing especially from female submissives it is becoming more apparent that many "Masters" especially are losing touch with the reality of the situation. There is a big difference between fantasy in ones own mind, fantasy acted out in role play and the reality that in fact encompasses all play - whether or not individuals wish to recognize this or not.
The phrase "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" is firmly anchored in reality. How we play, with whom we play and what are the limits of play must be keep in mind at all times. It must also be remembered that everyone is an individual. What is perfectly okay for one individual may be extremely dangerous for another person. Keeping this in mind we must make sure we properly communicate with each individual person we role-play, whether it is for just one evening or a lifestyle 24/7 relationship. We must never in fantasy lose sight of the rights of the individual in reality. Their trust must be earned, reinforced, and valued as a sacred gift. It is not to be ignored or frivolously toyed with, as it seems many are more than willing to do. The really appalling thing, to me, is that it seems to be happening among people who have been involved for a long time in play as well as those who are just starting out to play with each other.
Lets start with the question what is safe and what is not safe play. Naturally if you place a 100 people in a room you should come up with roughly 100 definite definitions. However certain aspects of safety or a common ground should also materialize at the same time. The first question in terms of safety put bluntly; are you sure you know what the fuck you are doing. Plain and simple if you are using a toy on a person do you know how to use it - not that you think you know how to use it. Are you aware of at what point you should stop using that toy. What are medically acceptable limits of bodily damage from heavy play? It is one thing to draw some blood when playing with a cane it is another thing to pound someone1s butt and upper thighs totally black and blue with a paddle or strap etc. Just like single-tail play a small amount of bloodletting is acceptable while cutting eighth of an inch deep lashes in someone1s back is not really safe. The limits of play should be known both by the top and the bottom. Even a heavy masochist should know when he or she has been unduly shredded.
The top (Master or Domina) must recognize that it is his or her ultimate responsibility to play safely. They must never let chevalier fantasies betray the trust the bottom (casual player, submissive or full slave) has placed with them. The prevalent idea amongst many of he uninitiated or just plain fantasy fools that he she is mine to do as I will with is just totally ridiculous. A mutually agreed upon brand, tattoo, or cutting is not the same as leaving permanent scars from such toys and single tails or canes.
Now comes the less obvious question of safety. The master must know at all times what is happening to and what is the condition of the bottom. This must be done. It cannot be assumed since the bottom hasn1t used a safe word that all is well. This is especially true when sex gets involved in the scene. In less than one week I have heard of two women who felt that for one reason for another they were in fact raped or violated during play. Now, fortunately for the misguided masters involved, neither one of them went the hospital for a rape kit or notified local law enforcement. If these ladies had, some asshole1s ass would be in jail and his name all over the front pages of many newspapers. There is always a question of mental as well as physical safety involved in playing. Also what might have been acceptable at one point in time for various reasons may no longer be acceptable to the other partner. Find out where you are before you proceed with an act that could land your ass in jail.
Lets move the question of Sane, the good sense of what you are doing. Now I know sanity has as many definitions are there are people in a room. I am not also interested in the Vanilla definitions of sanity because they are just as fucked up as we are, but there is still a common ground for the concept of sane. My opinion is simple - anything that gives the people involved emotional contentment should be considered sane. Any type of play that can lead to emotional scarification or distress should be left outside the realm of Sane. Example, it is not a good idea to do a rape scene or forcibly take a woman as part of play if in fact she has been raped for real in the past. It may also not be a good idea to take an individual sexually abused as a child and do a mommy little boy or daddy little girl scene with that individual. I could also add as further example to ponder upon. It is not a good idea to put claustrophobic people into body bags. Nor is it a good idea to do plastic mummification scenes with them. The psychological well being of the bottom is in the hands of the top when doing a scene. You don1t want people to freak out on you nor do you want to be sending them out to psychologists and psychiatrists as a result of your play. This just isn1t a good idea nor is it a good example of sane play. Again this is not a question of whose kink is sane or whose kink isn1t sane.
Consensual or the issue of consent is an ongoing thing. By this I mean it is not something given once at the beginning of a B&D S&M relationship and after that time is inscribed in rock or covers all the Master or Domina feels is in order. This is especially true in Master slave relationships involving sexual play between both the two primary people and the possibility of a third party or more being introduced into the play. It is extremely advisable to know what the person1s feeling about this are before one gets into it. It can save a lot of good relationships from going down the drain or, in rare cases, from people having dumb looks on their faces as they are paraded into court in handcuffs. Naturally the more you are involved with an individual and the more you play with them the more trust that builds and the more that might be allowed comes forth. This is also true with the concept of taking people where they have never been before. Make sure where you want to take them is reasonable. It is one thing to try and raise someone1s level of pain tolerance and try to get them into sub space. It is another thing to try and force new sexual activities upon them in a scene or use forms of degradation or abuse that might trigger off flash backs to extremely traumatic events of which you had no previous knowledge.
Remember this is fantasy play. There is no such thing as real slave in the year 2000. Therefore everyone1s fantasies must to complementary to everyone else1s involved in the scene play. I don1t mean the world1s I mean the particular individuals involved. This is especially true in the area of Master female submissive play. I believe women have a much better understanding of men than men do of women. It is imperative that in fulfilling ones fantasies we don1t get carried away with our own perceived importance and fail to take the females needs, desires, likes and dislikes into the mix of a relationship or for that matter casual scene play.
I might be a good idea after finishing this piece to reread She Said for last month1s editorial. It seems to me there are too many serious problems surfacing for these issues to be ignored. If these ladies who are willing to play, submit and serve can1t feel comfortable in fulfilling their fantasies. It will not be long before the whole scene is going to be in serious trouble both internally and possibly with society at large.