N.B: This blog post was inspired an email from the Loving BDSM 30 Days of D/s. If you haven’t listened to their podcast yet please do so, you can also check out the website for great resources and links on how to listen or follow on social media.
Before we join the kink scene we all know the dictionary definition of consent. In the non-kink world it seems to matter and count in a different way than what it does to kinksters. My favourite tale to tell to highlight this is as follows …
I was in a non-kink gay bar with two girlfriends, and a chap kept loitering near us, eventually finding a way to speak to us and offering to buy us drinks. My friends accepted but I declined. I’m not comfortable accepting drinks from strangers with whom I have no intention of further interacting. As evening progressed he made small talk with my friends, but I kept a very cool distance. At this point it was clear he was looking for a hook-up, and I was most definitely not interested. Apparently my icy exterior was not icy enough though because at one point he asked me to dance, holding out his hand as he did so. I politely declined while my hands remained firmly by my side, with my feet welded to the floor. I then received the very convincing argument of ‘but I saw you dancing with him’, pointing to the very attractive Kit Harrington look a like, who was also very obviously a gay man, and danced with me not to hit on me but to have fun. He then wandered off, and my friends said, to my absolute horror ‘why didn’t you just dance with him?’ Consent. Consent is why not.
I do not owe anyone a single thing by virtue of existing. I didn’t owe that man a dance because I had consented to dance with someone else. I didn’t owe him the chance to enter my personal space because he’d bought my friends a drink.
When we join the kink scene, this is something that is understood by the majority of people. That said it is unfortunately something we have to keep repeating, because there is always someone who doesn’t quite get it, or even worse decides they do not need to abide by other people’s consent.
I am a big believer in very enthusiastic, very clear, consent. Yes means Yes. No means No. Lots of other things mean no to me too, such as:
- Being pushed away
- Someone turning away
- ‘I don’t want to’
- ‘I don’t feel like it’
- ‘I don’t know’
- ‘Not sure’
There’s probably even more that can be added to that list. If someone declines to give consent they do not need to justify it, not to me, not to anybody.
There are lots of things Bakji and I have done together, sometimes things don’t get done for a while and we start to mix them back into play again, most of them are things that we talk about often enough for me to know that there is consent there for them. However if I was planning on doing something that we’d perhaps only done once before I would seek consent to do so. I do not believe that being in a relationship gives me automatic consent to do things.
There are some other situations that I don’t believe give automatic consent either:
- We’ve done it before
- Consent to one-act meaning consent to another
- Being drunk
- The absence of no
- Type of clothes or no clothes
When someone consent to an activity with me, I want them to be fully behind the yes they give me. I want them to go away from our time together feeling positive about our interaction together. I don’t want them spending the days, weeks, months, years following our physical intimacy wondering if they actually did want to me to lick their boobs while they were in my rope.
My consent is really important to me. There’s so much stuff I won’t consent to with people, some of it pretty low-key, for example if someone I barely know, and don’t get good vibes from asks for a hug, I’ll say no. Other people’s consent though, somehow that matter so much more. I never, ever want to be the person who got it wrong.
I know I’m only human though, and getting it wrong can mean many things, and maybe one day I will get it wrong. I will never stop doing my best to get it right though, whether that is with Bakji or with a new play partner.
When it comes to BDSM I know all too well from personal experience how the rush of subspace can mess with your decision-making skills and your perception of what is occurring. It can also make people incoherent and in some cases completely non-verbal. Mid-scene is really not the time to ask someone if they want to engage in something they have not previously given consent to.
This is one of the reasons I am such a big fan of things like Fetish Checklists, if nothing else it starts a conversation about what our expectations are with a new partner. I know sometimes we are going to undertake new activities in situations where that wouldn’t be possible, for me this would be at a Fetish event or a rope event. I think it those situations asking clear, direct questions is the way forward, and less with a debrief afterwards that there could have been more, is better than more with a debrief afterwards that more was too much.
I appreciate in long-term established dynamics the nuances of consent become a little different, discussions may be had that do give ongoing consent, safewords will replace words like ‘no, and stop’, in certain situations, which is useful for someone like me who with a trusted partner in the height of intense orgasms will say both those things and not mean them. At the end of the day though no matter what dynamic is in place, any person at any time has the right to establish consent and also to remove it.