RACK – Risk Aware Consensual Kink

Author: Ginger San
A to Z | Basics

R.A.C.K. stands for…

…Risk Aware Consensual Kink and is one of the two guiding philosophies for BDSM relationships and activities. RACK was created as a counter-proposal to the SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) principle, as many BDSM supporters could not sufficiently identify with the latter. Because it has a younger origin, it is less common than SSC.

Both principles serve as a model and basis for the practice of sadomasochistic practices and the differentiation from criminally relevant violence.


…represents the risk that every BDSM activity entails.


…means that all participants are well informed about the potential risks associated with each proposed activity.


means that all parties involved have given their prior consent in their right mind before participating in an activity. In addition, everyone involved can revoke their consent at any time. For example, through a previously agreed safe word or symbol.


…generally means that the activities being discussed are classified as a form of alternative sex. However, “kink” can also be understood as a broader term that covers additional aspects that differ from the thoughts, feelings, actions and habits of the majority of the population.

So what kind of role does RACK play?

The RACK concept cannot be considered without the SSC philosophy as it challenges the principles of the latter. SSC focuses on the objectively vague concept of security. In contrast, RACK emphasizes the personal responsibility and personal risk assessment of those involved.

After all, why should BDSM practitioners not engage in certain actions that do not appear to be completely safe if everyone involved is aware of it and still desires it?

The same applies to actions that seem unreasonable, which in most cases is linked to security. RACK therefore provides a perspective that generally allows certain risky sexual behaviors as long as those involved are fully aware of the risks and voluntarily consent to them. “I know the risk and take it consciously.”

The aspect of consensual agreement is non-negotiable in both philosophies, but is emphasized even more strongly in the RACK principle by linking it to individual risk assessment.

What to look out for with RACK:

At first glance, it seems that RACK games are more dangerous and less sensible than those based on SSC and all practices are permitted as long as all participants are aware of the foreseeable and equally unforeseeable risks. However, that falls short.

The RACK philosophy states that it is simply impossible to completely eliminate all risk because every game involves certain physical and psychological risks. These depend on the individual participants, their mindset and experience, the practices carried out, the game context itself, possible external factors and numerous other factors.

By pointing out these risks and appealing to awareness about them, a realistic idea of BDSM is created instead of a false sense of security.

Nevertheless: the RACK principle is also based on a subjective assessment. How conscious is conscious enough? The same applies here: Find out as much as you can about all possible concrete and imponderable risks and try to minimize them as best you can before agreeing to any actions.

Which BDSM games fall under RACK?

If you follow the arguments of RACK supporters, everyone actually does. In particular, the so-called edge play practices should be mentioned, such as needle games, cuttings, suspensions, breath play or breath control, rape play or so-called tunnel games such as figging.


As mentioned at the beginning, the more defensive SSC principle is older and more widespread than RACK, which seems to promise more freedom. The common denominator of both philosophies is consent, the basis of every action in BDSM. As long as this is taken into account, each person is free to decide which concept he or she chooses. Or why not go for a mix of both?

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