When Cuiplash and I first dipped our toes into this exciting new world of BDSM a number of years ago, I quickly became aware of all the labels and acronyms surrounding risk, consent and play. It became obvious to me that the wealth of activities, toys and implements carried a wide range of actual or perceived risk.
The first one I became familiar with was Safe, Sane & Consensual (SSC). This seemed to be the most familiar and accepted guide as a cover all for most activities and is pretty self explanatory. It assumes that participants agree that what they do is safe, that it is done with sound mind and with consent from all involved. One criticism of SSC, however, is that it doesn’t necessarily encompass risk awareness. It also relies somewhat on perceptions of what is safe or sane and potentially assumes some acts as safe and others as not, when in fact, all carry risk and are not inherently safe, or sane.
This takes us to the next broadly accepted alternative guide that is Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK). This focuses much more on assuming all parties are risk aware and consent is implicit so I would say it’s potentially an improvement on SSC, although can also be criticised on the assumptions that participants have ensured they are risk aware.
A third acronym deals more specifically with the emotional and mental well-being of all involved, a notion not necessarily encompassed by SSC or RACK, and is known as Committed Compassionate Consent (CCC). This one, for many, fills a perceived gap in ensuring not just the physical safety of those involved but the consideration of the whole person.
My favourite, however, is Personal Responsibility, Informed Consensual Kink (PRICK), which is seen as an extension of RACK. I love PRICK (lol) as it makes more sense to me to be actively involved in my own kink education and risk awareness. It makes sense to me to accept personal responsibility for choosing to participate in risky activities from an informed position.
I feel I cannot expect to put that responsibility entirely on Cuiplash, despite trusting him implicitly. Despite being his submissive, I am also first and foremost his wife, his partner, his best friend and the mother of his children and I believe I have an equal part to play in learning and understanding the risks we take with my body, my emotions and my mental wellbeing when we play the way we do sometimes. His emotions and wellbeing are of equal importance and, for us, knowing we both understand what we are doing and why, and the potential impacts, serves to strengthen our connection and mutual trust and confidence in each other to do no harm.
As we developed our D/s and our S&M we explored many things and slowly and gradually pushed boundaries, particularly around the more ‘edgy’ activities including fisting, breath play and knife play. It took us a number of years to build upon and develop an increased repertoire to our initial kink and play foundation and I would really urge new people to take it slowly and at your own pace. For each, however, I wanted to ensure I knew exactly what the risks were, what to be aware of, what not to do and where the risks lay. I remember researching caning early on, when it was a hard limit for me, and finding out skin can be split and feeling terrified at the prospect. Caning is now a firm favourite for us both as that boundary shifted over time with experience and confidence, and despite receiving some impressive welts, stripes and bruising thankfully my initial concern has never been realised. I think I appreciated the act and the cane more for understanding its risks.
Cuiplash and I regularly share information, discuss concerns and jointly and individually research and test out toys and activities before we use or do them so we are both involved in understanding and appreciating the risks involved and making an informed decision on how, and to what extent, to proceed together. I enjoy learning alongside him and jointly choosing what will work for us or what he or I would like to try. The final decision, of course, is his and how, when and if I do.
I think it’s important to note that all of these terms are subjective and are open to interpretation and scrutiny. Some are received and accepted more than others and all have their pros and cons. Whether you subscribe to SSC, RACK, CCC or love PRICK like me, I think it’s important to understand what each means to you both and to what extent it applies to and works for your own relationship.