Getting off on consent in 5 steps

Author: KatKristall
Kinky Life | Recommendations

Why do we talk so much about consent in BDSM? 

Consent means “agreement” or “concurrence”. The word “consensus” is also often used. It refers to the unanimous opinion of individuals on a particular question without covert or overt opposition.

In BDSM or in the sexual context in general, this consent or consensus exists when all those involved in a sexual act, session or practice give explicit and mutual permission to each other to perform certain acts. This consent is an important aspect of sexual relationships in order to feel safe and is therefore the basis of every form of BDSM activity and every sexual act in general.

Consent is important in every relationship, regardless of its nature, whether professional, BDSM or vanilla, i.e. sexual but without BDSM or fetish elements. Consent begins with obtaining permission for touching, terms or the creation of a power differential and ends with the fact that this consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Consent is the absolute minimum that should exist between two people. It is not a debatable variable, but a prerequisite. A principle from the American scene is that the best and only true consent is enthusiastic, i.e. cheerful and already associated with anticipation.

You don’t want: “That’s okay with me.”
You want a, “FUCK YES, DO THAT!” 

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Consent and BDSM

BDSM and consent go hand in hand. It’s often about borderline experiences and play that can involve all kinds of risks. That’s why a well-developed consent conversation is always the basis. This is where you discuss preferences, language, soft and hard limits, talk about aftercare and the first to last steps you want to take together.

There are various consensual systems in BDSM. The best known are SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) and RACK (Risk-aware-consensual kink). These more or less regulate the details of specific BDSM practices of a sexual and non-sexual nature.

However, there are also rules such as CNC (Consensual Non Consent) and TPE (Total Power Exchange), which are more like blanket consents to a specific type of power exchange and leave some details to the discretion of the dominant or controlling person. While all of these are a general consent for BDSM practices, they require a prior and subsequent ongoing conversation about consent.

When engaging in a session, there is often a power imbalance. D/s, for example, usually means there is at least one dominant person and at least one submissive person. It is often assumed that only the latter has to give their consent. This is not the case. It is important that both or all of them agree to the actions and want to do them.

What can a negotiation for the first time look like?

Your dates were successful, you’ve met someone, you want to play. First time BDSM together. You’ve probably already talked roughly about BDSM and your preferences while you were getting to know each other, but now it’s time to get down to business.

1. Consent begins on neutral ground

Take your time for the conversation, preferably outside the place where you will be playing. Sit on the couch, in the kitchen or go outside. If you stay in the place where it is about to happen, you often build up internal pressure.

2. Focus on your first time

Talk about what you would like to do the first time. It’s not about all the things you like or would like to do, but really explicitly what you would like to do this first time and what you would feel comfortable with.

3. A touch is not just a touch

Ask for permission to touch the other person, where you are not allowed to touch, how much pressure you are allowed to use and in what way. Because touching such as stroking, holding, gripping, pulling and scratching can be done with different intensities. Find a common understanding of what is “gentle” and what is “firm” for you.

4. Sex is not a given

Be clear about whether you want to have sex that day, what contraceptives are needed and what your safe sex policy is. Find a common ground. Even if you agree to sex in general, state your preferences for positions and practices. Sex and sexual acts have a different definition for each person and therefore it is important to have understanding here.

5. Clarify the framework

Clearly define your personal status. Talk about your boundaries and limits. How far is too far, when does it start for you? This part can be long and detailed to make sure that you both have a comprehensive understanding of each other’s preferences and limits. Include your aftercare in your conversation, as well as questions you should ask before each session.

What can a consent negotiation look like for a specific situation?

Consent doesn’t just have to be given the first time, but should ideally be renewed on an ongoing basis. Especially in an ongoing relationship, you always discover new preferences and ways of dealing with each other. Your own boundaries can also shift. Or you may want to try something completely new together.

A new play is like the first time. So talk about the following things:

  1. Your previous limits and how they will behave in the session
  2. Your ideas for the session
  3. The procedure and sequence
  4. What the outcome should be
  5. What exactly the appeal is for you
  6. the equipment that will be used for the session, how it works, the strength and also the preparation such as disinfection
  7. Language you would like to use in a session. Dirty talk? Commanding tone? Degrading language? Check-ins?

  8. Should the game be sexual or not? How sexual can it be and where are the boundaries?
  9. Safer sex?
  10. Safeword or traffic light system?

  11. Aftercare

Embarrassing? Not a bit!

Some people have inhibitions about saying exactly what they want or don’t want. But talking about consent can also be sexy. Instead of approaching it from the perspective that you don’t want to do things, you can simply start by saying what you do want. A positive instead of a negative list, so to speak. This can also be a great way to get dirty talk started, to heat up the mood and lower your inhibitions about talking about it.

For example, “I’m okay with you touching me restrictively with your body and kissing me” can be expressed more positively by saying, “I want you to push me against the wall and hold me while you kiss me.” If you want to express that you desire sexual acts and are into edging, orgasm control, you could start by saying, “I want to have you so far that you beg for your orgasm.”

Some like it businesslike

If this is too intense for you, you can also refuse this type of conversation and approach it on a factual level. Lists of preferences, for example from Bad Girl or Gentledom, which are worked through step by step, are a bit tedious, but leave little room for misunderstandings in the confusion of terms, fetishes, practices and toys and help beginners in particular to reflect on their own limits. For more information you can also browse this ABC, especially the two categories Kinks and Products.


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