Franklin Veaux wrote, as usual, a thoughtful and erudite post. I mostly agree with most of it, and I’m eagerly looking forward to part 2 to hear how he expands on his ideas about Safe, Sane, and Consensual vs. Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. You’d be well advised to read his post before reading this for some context.
I’ve also had problems with the “SSC” and the “RACK” ideas, both for the “safe” and “sane” things as well as the idea that you are actually “Risk Aware”.
In the first part, it’s not about the interpretation of “safe” or “sane” – it’s about my right to be unsafe and insane as long as I and my partners (if any) choose to be. If I am about to ski down a black diamond hill, or jump out of an airplane, or eat Fugu, it could reasonably be argued that even though I have taken safety precautions, it is NOT SAFE. And as there is a fairly high probability of death or maiming if something goes wrong, that could be expected to be a lack of sanity.
Yet I do not see people arguing that these are evil. I know of people who choose very extreme forms of “play” – blood draws, crucifixions, deliberately playing beyond their boundaries – and while I may not care for them myself, I happen to firmly believe, as Voltaire said, “I may not agree with how you are fucking, but I will defend to the death your right to fuck it!” (maybe I got the quote wrong, I’m not an academic).
Then there’s risk-aware. Ever since a partner and I had an accidental needle-stick (when we were not fluid-bonded) this phrase has changed meaning. You see, she flipped out, saying “I did not consent to having our blood mingled!” I felt awful, beat myself up about it…then did a little research, a little thinking.
The thinking went something like: “Hmm. How common are needle sticks? And what are the actual dangers?” In classes, the attitude is basically “IF YOU GET STUCK, YOU GONNA DIE!” Hep C, HIV, you name it.
In actuality, after some research, I find that 50% of of health professionals have reported unintentional needlesticks. Of those, .02% actually have a medically-related infection due to it. And that’s the REPORTED ones.
It taught me that there is more to being risk-aware than just going to a class and believing what people say. It also taught me that there is a misconception as to the personal responsibility involved in agreeing to a risky activity. In other words, if you consent to needle play, you consent to the risk of a stick. If you consent to suspension, you consent to the risk of falling. If you consent to a flogging, you consent to the risk of a bruise. If you consent to non-consentual play, you consent to the risk that there may be miscommunication between the top and the bottom (please note that I am not saying that only the bottom is taking a risk).
I can’t remember who – and I wish I could, because they deserve credit – gave me the acronym that I use: Personally Responsible Informed Consensual Kink. It has the “C” word, of course, but it includes two other parts that I think are well worth remembering.
There’s also BORK: Balls-Out Reckless Kink, which is a valid choice, I think, as long as you do it somewhere else. It’s not something that belongs in any kind of “community”, necessarily, but if you can do it without hurting anybody but your own foolish self…more power to you. I confess to enjoying a BORK or two in my youth, and occasionally venture into it now as well.
This one time at Rope Camp…well, that’s another story.