Consent at BED

Consent is, at its core, a basic structure of values and behaviors that influence and direct our interactions, especially those that include physical interaction and intimacy, with other humans in a specific way, regardless if BDSM is a facet of that interaction or not.

At its foundation are the ideas of AUTONOMY—the right to dictate what happens to your body and AGENCY—the capacity and power to assert that right.

Consent is informed/risk aware, voluntary, and given by someone with sufficient mental capacity, concepts, agency, and understanding to do so.

Creating consent is a cooperative process that requires effective communication and collaboration to set expectations and boundaries.

Consent is ACTIVE, not passive. Consent is a verb. It is something you DO.

Consent is AFFIRMATIVE. Without an effective discussion that establishes an understanding of how the interaction will go—what is wanted and what isn’t—consent isn’t established.

Consent is voluntary and free from coercion. If there isn’t room to say NO without fear of repercussion or if there is pressure to change a no to a yes, then there isn’t consent.

Be clear what you are negotiating for and what you want or don’t. Language is nuanced, so be explicit and build your concepts of “things” by asking clarifying questions. “Sexual contact” is subjective, so define what you consider sexual contact to be, and ask what they consider it to be, and if you want it, or don’t, say that explicitly and directly.

If you want to put anything into any orifice on anyone’s body, you need explicit and direct consent to do that. Do not assume that consent for ‘sexual contact’ or a ‘sexual scene’ is also consent for penetration of any orifice by anything. Penetration requires its very own special conversation. When it comes to penetration, if you didn’t get or give explicit consent for that, then there is not consent for that.

If you are negotiating with someone that is inexperienced, you have an obligation to mindfully and intentionally lead them through negotiation and the process of creating consent in a way that reflects their lack of experience and to ensure they are informed and have a reasonable concept of their agency in the interaction, risks they are deciding about, and what it is they are consenting to. Consider yourself their field guide and if you aren’t up for this added responsibility, don’t play with inexperienced people.

Check your power! Power differentials exist due to status, position, and privilege (societal structures,) and/or experience level. Recognize the impact those can have on interactions, negotiation, agency, and consent, and intentionally, mindfully, and explicitly address that, and their impacts, in your negotiations.

We are all personally responsible for being mindful of what we are looking for in an interaction, our own risk profile and our physical, emotional, and psychological limits and for being active participants in the process of creating consent in a way that effectively communicates those and reaffirms both the autonomy & agency of everyone involved in the interaction. If someone doesn’t clearly communicate these things, ASK clarifying questions! If they don’t seem sure about something, then you shouldn’t be sure you have consent for it.

It is the responsibility of all parties to intentionally participate in the process of CREATING consent, regardless of the label you use or how you identify.