Sunday, July 3, 2016

Kaelah's Corner (Jun 2016):
Risk-Aware Consensual Kink

Welcome to another slightly belated edition of Kaelah's Corner. Recently Erica Scott published a post on a well-written article about BDSM called 25 Facts About BDSM That You Won’t Learn In “Fifty Shades Of Grey”. I enjoyed reading it and I even learned something new – and that not even from the article itself but from one of the comments written by zaftigkitten. Casey Gueren, the writer of the article, referred to the acronym SSC (safe, sane and consensual).

Zaftigkitten commented: The SSC isn’t the most common acronym anymore. Most of the community has shifted to RACK (Risk-aware consensual kink, also risk-accepted consensual kink) which describes the philosophical view that is generally permissive of certain risky sexual behaviors, as long as the participants are fully aware of the risks. Essentially, although SSC sounds good, a lot of kinks do involve risks involved and it is much safer to acknowledge said risks when diving into the BDSM realm.

I have to admit that this was the first time I stumbled across the acronym RACK. While I think that SSC is easier to remember and understand, especially for beginners (a point also made by TheLittleRedHeadThatCould), RACK in my opinion is more precise and correct when it comes to describing what is important when engaging in BDSM activities. Because practising BDSM, as many other things in life, involves certain risks and there is no 100 per cent safety.

Plus, what feels sane to one person might already be off-limit for another person. The latter in my mind is one of the problems you often find in discussions about kink – people judge certain practises or a certain level of severity from their personal preferences and limits. What would feel bad or be harmful to them, given their personality and life experiences, can't be sane in their view, even if others say that to them it isn't harmful at all.

The term of risk-awareness takes into account that different people have different preferences when it comes to the amount of risks they want to take. And it also means that for some people it can be okay to take a greater risk from time to time because the outcome for them that comes from a certain scene is so huge that the balance between profit and risk is given. Also, the very same activity might hold a different amount of risk or potential damage for different people – for instance, going to a public spanking party and being outed as a spanko might be much more of a problem for a famous politician than for someone who isn't watched by the media.

Risk-awareness can mean for some kinksters that they only live out their fantasies in their head or by watching kinky porn or reading kinky blogs. For others it means practising their kink with their partner in their private bedroom. Still others take the risk of looking for a play partner online or going to a public party. And finally there are the few who almost dedicate their whole lives to kink and activities around it – like Pandora Blake whose existence was threatened when ATVOD forced her to take down her ethical trade porn site Dreams of Spanking. Fortunately, she found work for other kinky sites during the trial and used the time to enhance her political activities even more. Now that she has won her appeal, Dreams of Spanking has been re-opened which is wonderful news. But Pandora definitely took a rather huge risk when deciding to create a business around kinky porn in an environment which is as kink-unfriendly politically as the UK.

The risks we are willing to take can also vary depending on the situation. When I met Ludwig for the very first time I had scheduled two safety calls, even though well-known members of the community like Niki Flynn had already testified that Ludwig wasn't some kind of strange, dangerous weirdo. Still, when meeting a guy I didn't know personally, I wanted to be as cautious as possible. Later, I decided to put my face on the internet and join Ludwig in filming and posting spanking porn. Of course that comes with a certain risk of being outed and some people would surely call it insane – even more so because I didn't earn any money from it (rather the opposite). But the idea of making that special experience together was so attractive and the possible damage from being outed so low for me personally that I decided to take the risk.

And not only kink – our whole life is based on taking certain risks instead of trying to stick to 100 per cent safety or complete sanity. For instance, telling someone that one has fallen in love with them certainly isn't really safe, as everyone who had to take a “Sorry, but I don't feel the same for you.” as an answer can testify. Flying to the moon – certainly not 100 per cent safe for the pioneers who went there for the very first time. And giving birth to a child – probably not a very sane decision given all the terror, war and environmental problems we are facing in different regions of our planet. But a decision without which humanity would already have become extinct a long time ago, since life never was very safe on our planet.

What about you? Does the acronym RACK resonate with you? Do you prefer SSC? And what does risk awareness mean to you in the context of kink? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section!


Simon said...

I'm not keen on acronyms in general and RACK just seems to be straining for effect. Someone sat down and tried to think of an acronym that had BDSM overtones and goodness knows how long it took them to come up with RACK. How about SMACK (Safe, Mutual And Consensual Kink) and I'm sure your readers can come up with others. As you point out there is an element of risk in almost everything we do in life and we all carry out internal assessments about things whether consciously or sub-consciously. With kinky practices I generally make an assessment based on my health, mood and the person I'm with and decide what to do or have done to me.

Downunder Don said...

I had not heard of the RACK acronym before I read the Erica post, but like Simon said I don't think any acronym is more valid that others. For me any group of letters that spell out the ground rules for anyone who is using that definition or action defines the boundaries and thought processes behind their actions. Personally I like RACK but can also see the validity of SSC and Simon's SMACK and I am sure there are many more.

Another very thought provoking article.

Donpascual said...

you can use all of these acronyms and propagate them in forums, chat rooms and blogs,
they all do describe common sense.
In just one sentence of your post, Kaelah, you mentioned the really important one, the safety call; meeting someone you do not know, is the one and most important risk.
I have never stopped to warn people who asked me about risk taking, never ever to meet someone without taking safety precautions.

Kaelah said...

Thank you all very much for sharing your thoughts on the subject! It's funny that you all don't seem to like acronyms. Of course I agree with you in that I don't expect an acronym to fully cover a complex topic or to represent the most important aspects in a few words in a better way than any other acronym could. What I like about acronyms, though, is that they can highlight certain important aspects in a way that is easy to explain especially to people who are new to something. Plus, acronyms are easy to remember which is also great for a newbie. Okay, maybe I also like the playful aspect of creating them. ;-)

I think when one is familiar with a topic, though, acronyms indeed don't provide much added value. And of course what one really does when it comes to the practical side of things is what really counts. As Donpascual said, safety precautions when you meet a stranger for the very first time are an important aspect to reduce unnecessary risks in our kinky community.