Friday, February 25, 2011

Leather Bear Tails: Understanding Consent

There is so much talk about consent in the leather/bdsm/fetish and kink worlds, and on the surface it seems like it would be a pretty easy thing to understand. The buzz words of the community are SSC which means safe, sane and consensual, and RACK, which I means risk aware consensual kink.

So let’s take a look at surface stuff, two people (or more)enter a leather relationship; and everyone says yes ok, I am good with this or that, and/or no that one thing is my hard limit, I consent to this type of treatment, and I agree to fulfill my part of the deal. Yes we will both hold jobs and all money goes into a collective account, ECT… Two adults looking at what they can and cannot do in a relationship and consenting to agreed upon parameters.

Usually when looking at non consensual behavior that same is also true, it is easy to identify, I agreed to flogging and you used canes, I did not agree to you seeing other people and not telling me about it. I did not get into this relationship with the intention of being the only person working. Those are clear cut lines of consent being crossed. People who cross consent in the community eventually get a reputation of being a dangerous player. Also crossed consent does not apply to just tops; it applies to bottoms as well. This does one of two things, it either draws play partners to them, the partners thinking that they can handle anything~ this applies to both tops and bottoms, or it draws play partners away from them, all depending on what someone is looking for.

So where does this consent thing get tricky? When do the lines of consent become blurred? How about this question~ can a person give consent if they are under emotional duress? For example, a couple is having difficulties in their relationship and one is expressing a desire to leave. So the other one tops harder or more then they are comfortable with because of the fear of the loss of the relationship. Or someone bottoms harder and farther then they want to for the same reason. Can we then say that these activities are entirely consensual? Or have the players bent consent because of their fear?

I have met more than one bottom who felt that they had to play in public with whoever would offer because if they didn’t then they would lose out on other play opportunities. More than once these bottoms felt both internal and external pressure to play with people that were unsafe and did damage. Did the pressure to play compromise the players consent?

A few months back I ran into a person that said that they do not know how to say no, and they were proud of this. If the bottom does not know how to say no, refuses to say no, or refuses to communicate, as far as I am concerned this takes away the tops ability to consent to the scene. If the bottom if triggered in a bad way but does not tell the top, and the top continues unknowingly, this may be going beyond were the top consented to go in the first place.

Crossing the lines of consent can happen to newbie’s and people that have been doing this awhile. It can be coming from the tops side or the bottom side and it can be both blatant and subtle. So stop, think, and be aware that someone giving their consent to a scene may be doing so only partially, and if so, no matter which side of the whip you are on, that is defiantly something you need to know.

If you are interested in play parties, power munches, or hands on workshops in the Albuquerque area, please contact:

If you are interested in an online New Mexico Community check out:
group name: New Mexico Fetlifers

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