50 Shades Of Grey Can Turn Up Unsafe

Many more people are engaging in BDSM or “Bondage, Discipline, and Sadomasochism” than ever before. Or at least there is more abundant information, and perhaps opportunity, for those who wish to experience this area of sexual play or kink. Although it consists of behaviours and practices that would be considered completely off-limits for many, the community of BDSM practitioners is thriving.

BDSM practices are varied and can include erotic spanking, fire play, ropes and other restraints, piercings, costumes, and role playing that emphasizes the power differential between partners, such as master and slave, or animal and trainer. Some types of kink focus on the degradation and humiliation of the sub. There is little in BDSM play that can be considered universal practice, except that in most encounters, or “scenes” there is a dominant partner, the “dom,” and a submissive partner, the “sub.” Although it may give the appearance of a loss of control or erasure of boundaries, BDSM practice depends on trust and respect and for most practitioners those aspects are of tantamount importance.

Power and safety

The exchange of power that occurs in a dom/sub relationship is often referred to as “the gift”. For a BDSM scene to be considered consensual and not coerced, an open negotiation must take place before the play commences, with both parties in agreement as to the rules and limits. In effect, a sexual practice that depends on the sub willingly relinquishing power to the dom, is actually guided by a set of expectations and procedures that prevent the play from veering into abuse and worse. While pain or humiliation is being inflicted on the sub, responsible play is nonetheless dependent on the mutual respect and trust of the participants. It is, after all, despite the pain and bruises, meant to be pleasurable.

Safety is central to BDSM communities and good practice is maintained by following some guidelines known as SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) or RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) standards. This includes the use of safe words, pre-scene negotiation, and observance of rules that forbid certain parts of the body, for example, the kidneys and lower back during a flogging, from being harmed.
But what about BDSM practice that does not feel safe? A good dom will never let a situation get out of control. It actually takes a great deal of awareness, education, and maturity to safely and responsibly act out the dominant role.

On consensuality

One of the most critical factors is consent. BDSM that happens with a partner who is under age or high or coerced is obviously not permitted. If a sub is unable to communicate a safe word, or is bound to the point of numbness, or cannot breathe, then clearly safety is being sacrificed, and the practice has likely gone from mutually satisfying fun to unsafe and dangerous. This is called abuse and it is morally and legally prohibited.

If you are in a BDSM relationship that feels as if it has gone too far, or is coercive or makes you feel bad in a not-good way then it is time to consider whether or not your play has crossed the line into abuse. Furthermore, if a relationship has suddenly taken on aspects of BDSM without the consent and negotiation of both parties, then it is time to seek help.

Few important points

In determining whether a BDSM relationship has deteriorated into an unsafe and abusive situation, try to answer the following questions:

  1. Are you able to express your needs and limits without fear?
  2. If you show unhappiness or jealousy are you safe in doing so?
  3. Are you able to continue normal work and social activities?
  4. Are you allowed to say no to illegal practices or substances?
  5. Are you free to leave the relationship without threats to your safety, or that of others?
  6. Are you able to make your own decisions about where you work or live, how you can spend your money, or when you can come and go?
  7. Are you allowed to speak openly with others about the BDSM aspects of your partnership if you wish to?

If you cannot answer affirmatively to all of these questions, then it is very likely that your relationship has gone beyond what can be considered safe kink. Try to find someone to confide in, such as a therapist, doctor, or legal advocate who can help you free yourself from a situation that is not mutually enjoyable. Above all, do not allow yourself to be the victim of someone else’s physical or emotional abuse, because that is just not acceptable in any form of safe BDSM practice.

Images on Creative Commons license courtesy of Richardgiles, shockinglytasty, freakshow9

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s