SSC – Safe, Sane, Consensual

Author: Ginger San
A to Z | Basics

S.S.C. stands for…

…safe, sane, consensual and is next to R.A.C.K. (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) one of the two guiding philosophies for BDSM relationships and activities, with SSC being older and more common in both management and observance. Both principles serve as a model and basis for the practice of sadomasochistic practices and the differentiation from criminally relevant violence.


… translates as “safe” and within this principle means that everyone involved understands the risks of BDSM activities and tries to either eliminate them or reduce them as much as possible. It also means that those involved act in accordance with this knowledge and take all necessary safety precautions.


…means something like “with common sense” or “reasonable”. So it’s about knowing the difference between fantasy and reality and knowing when the limit has been reached in an activity. It also means that everyone involved should be of sound mind and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “Sane” is quite similar to the first point “Safe”. Because if an action is not designed to be as safe as possible, it is not really sensible and vice versa.


…means “amicable”. So that all participants agreed to the activities of their own free will and of sound mind. But it also means that the limits of each individual participant must be respected at all times and consent can be revoked at any time. For example, with a pre-agreed safe word or sign that immediately stops the activities.

What significance does the principle have?

Is it safe to implement a practice? If not, why not? Is there a lack of experience among those involved? How can I adapt the execution to be as secure as possible? What if she is physically somewhat safe, but perhaps not mentally? where can I inform myself? Is it clear to everyone involved what it is about and do everyone understand the same things about the planned activities?

By examining each planned activity based on the three points and adjusting it if necessary, the SSC principle offers a secure basis for practicing your kinks. A framework within which you can gain important experience so that you can later try out other, riskier forms of play step by step. If in doubt, it is best to leave out an action, especially for beginners.

While “Safe” and “Sane” are quite close in meaning and are more interpretable within the framework of the partner principle RACK (risk-conscious, consensual kink), the third point, consensuality, is non-negotiable in both philosophies. If something is not 100 percent wanted by someone involved or there is a different understanding, this action will not be carried out.

What to consider with SSC:

With the emergence of the RACK philosophy, the usefulness of SSC has been increasingly questioned by practitioners and theorists of BDSM, as the principle of safety in particular is considered very subjective and open to interpretation. It is also argued that it provides a feeling of pseudo-security.

“How safe is safe enough” varies depending on individual views, level of knowledge, and situation. Therefore, sanity based on personal things such as cultural background and consent is also something very subjective. After all, no one is omniscient and some unknown risk is always present. Ultimately, even a morning shower carries a certain risk.

Or a seemingly harmless role-playing game without physical interaction: perhaps a person takes part who has at some point suffered a psychological trauma that is triggered by an action or a statement within this game. This is neither safe nor sane, but it can happen even if the players are not negligent.

However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to play as safely as possible, especially as a beginner. And the following applies: information is everything. Find out as much information as you can about every possible risk in order to get as close as possible to the greatest possible “safety”.


Even if the more defensive SSC is older and more widespread than the freer RACK principle, it cannot be viewed and judged without the latter. The common denominator of both philosophies is consent, the basis of every action in BDSM. As long as this is taken into account, it is up to each person to decide which concept he or she chooses. Or why not go for a mix of both?

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