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More like guidelines and a lot less like definitions.


In basic terms consent means permission or agreement for something to happen. Within the BDSM community the difference between assault and play can be the presence of consent.

Consent should be taken very seriously and good consent practices within the BDSM community are very prevalent. Before people do a kink or sexual activity together they will usually have extensive consent negotiations and commonly discuss consent models and preferences between people that are part of the play or dynamic. Most often consent is between specific people about specific activities. Some consent can be negotiated to be ongoing (such as in 24/7 power exchange dynamics) other consent is for specific occasions or situations (such as for a particular scene).

Consent is something that all people participating in an interaction participate in. All sides of the spectrum in a play have a right to their limits and their boundaries regardless of role, gender, age, race or any other differentiator.


Unlike in modern kink practices, in Traditional/Core BDSM consent is usually given to the Authority Transfer, not to each scene or activity as it happens. An Authority Transfer (AT) is negotiated beforehand so consent is limited to the negotiations that precede it.

Once a submissive consents to the Authority Transfer they are considered no longer entitled to further rights of consent within the areas of submission. In contrast once a slave consents to a Total Authority Transfer there are generally no (or negligible) areas where the slave retains their agency.

After this the only recourse a submissive or slave has to the will of their Dominant/Master within a Core BDSM dynamic is to withdraw consent to the dynamic itself, therefore ending it (similar to ending a relationship).

Enthusiastic Informed Consent

In modern kink practices consent is more nuanced and is an ongoing practice that continuously takes into consideration a partner's understanding and eagerness. Which means;

  • that all participants are enthusiastic about the prospect of what they are about to do,
  • they are full informed about the play - including potential risks, rewards and potential side effects of what they are embarking on,
  • and they are giving explicit consent about those particular things.

Terms like SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual), RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink), RASH (Risk Aware Shit Happens) or PRICK (Personal Responsibility In Consensual Kink) have this meaning of consent in mind when talking about consent, although these models can vary in their approaches and ethos.

Consent negotiation

Consent negotiation is a way to determine the consent between the people participating in an activity. Commonly people will discuss what model of consent is used, how things should be communicated, what the needs of all the participants are and where people's limits lie.

Time of negotiation, duration and format differs greatly between people but it is usually done before the activity.

  • It can be done shortly before play, especially common in pick-up play at events.
  • It can be done over a period of time before the activity to allow people to think about things, often done through discussions.
  • It can be done by exchanging lists that outline a persons limits and interests and then having a conversation about the lists.

Common elements of negotiation are:

  • type of activity: What are we doing?
  • body parts contact and awareness: To who and how are we doing this to a person?
  • limits and limitations: Where are the personal and physical limits that we need to stay within?
  • safewords: How do we empower people to get out of a situation?

Often during negotiation aftercare will also be discussed between participants.

Ability to consent

In some cases a person will not be able to give consent for an activity. The reasons for this could be related to them not being informed enough to give consent, they are physically unable to consent or they are mentally not able to consent. Generally within the BDSM community if someone does not have the ability to consent then there is no consent. In every day situations there can grey areas in this (e.g: playing with someone when you are both drunk) and this can result in undesirable situations.

Making sure the person giving consent is able to do so in a way to enables them to make an informed and clear decision is the key here. So consent negotiations with a person still high on endorphins, intoxicated or otherwise compromised is considered a very high risk to all people negotiating.

In-scene negotiation

In-scene negotiation is consent negotiation that happens during a scene and is a practice that some people do. This however comes with certain risks that need to be discussed.

In some cases in-scene negotiation may be needed due to changes in the situation or scene. However these cases are usually related to safety, accidents or changes in the environment of the activity that have not been foreseen and that need acute attention. Most of the time these are situations that will stop the activity so that consent can be negotiated before actually proceeding.

Consent violation

When an agreement has been made between people and limits have been set it can still happen that these set limits are crossed. Sometimes intentional, other times accidental. In both cases the person that has their limits crossed can feel that their consent has been violated. How consent violations are processed after depends highly on what limits have been crossed and how severe the incident has been. Often a consent violation will result in a lapse of trust from the person who had their limits crossed towards the person that crossed these limits.

Consent incident

Sometimes people will talk about a "consent incident" before calling it a consent violation. This reference is mostly made when a crossing of someone else's limits is not a clear cut situation. It often depends on intention (why the limit was crossed) and how the person that has crossed the limits responds and how they are providing care for the person that has their limits crossed. A violation is usually named as one when the person with crossed limit feels they have not been respected and supported in their experiences, if the situation was dangerous or when the intention of the other person appears to be inconsiderate or manipulative.

Some people may still feel their limits have been crossed, even if their communication up until to the point of revoking consent indicated that they were okay. The feeling of limits being crossed is still valid and the person crossing these limits may not be aware of this change or that they have crossed a limit. This is why communication from all participants during an activity is very important. Sometimes consent incidents can create a stalemate between two different views on the same situation where everyone involved may seem to have a valid viewpoint.

Revoking consent

Also sometimes referred to as "discontinued consent" this is where there was consent for an activity beforehand but a participant no longer wishes to participate in the activity. Some people may use a safeword is used to achieve this but this can also happen outside of an activity.

Revoking consent does not always mean there has been consent violation or incident, it can also signal a wish to discontinue something. Generally it comes down to communication between people when a consent incident has happened and how that change or feeling of crossed limits is handled is between the people involved.

The term "discontinued consent" tries to be specific and mean that from that point onward there is no longer consent for that activity. Meaning that before this discontinuation no violations or crossed limits occurred but after this point for that activity the person will consider it a violation.

Consent models

There are many different kinds of models and often there will be discussion about how people want to talk about consent. You can see it as a framework that is discussed between people and then adopted for their own negotiations as it is common that mixture of things will be discussed between participants.

A model that often appears in the BDSM & kink community is called the Wheel of Consent from the book, "The Art of Receiving and Giving: The Wheel of Consent - Betty Martin". This framework is also part of other models and is used in many other communities outside of kink. Other models, often medical ones, are related to common consent models seen within the kink community.

Common model within the kink community include:

  • Specific consent: related to the white-listing of activities. Specifying what activities we are about to do and specifically naming what can be done. Often used in demo or workshop settings as well as first experiences for people. A very safe way to start talking about consent as only what is allowed is performed.
  • Broad consent: related to the limit-listing of activities and often adopted in exploratory play. Specifying the activities and broad directions that need to be avoided leaving room to explore everything else.
    • limit-listing: this is also sometimes referred to as sub-lists. Going through a list of potential activities and marking those that are a hard limit (absolutely not) or a soft limit (only okay in some circumstances) . Things people are curious about and desires are also listed and commonly discussed between participants.
  • Tiered consent: related to intent based consent. Where a compromise between specific and broad consent is made so that a broad section of activities (intent) is white-listed and there is room to explore similar activities (usually within the context of a specific scene or type of play).
    • Intent based consent: Discussing intent of activity rather than specific limits in order to get a better understanding of desires and limits beyond lists or specific limits, usually to understanding the other person's reasoning.
  • Dynamic consent: related to in-scene negotiation, implied consent and progressive consent. Generally an ongoing negotiation and communication during play. Often combined with other models.
    • In-scene negotiation: A continuous conversation during the activity that will adjust and check in with the consent of the participant and makes adjustments possible. There are risks to this when it is the only model used as a person may become incapacitated to give consent during an activity so it is often combined with other consent models.
    • Implied consent / Progressive consent: Generally used for exploration and often done in a slow way. Closely related to in-scene negotiation, but done without negotiation before an activity, usually between people who have negotiated a particular dynamic or play before and are therefore have some awareness of each other's prior limits. Can be considered high risk but with clear ongoing communication it can offer options for certain dynamics (e.g: master and slave) or consensual non consent scenes.
  • Transferred consent: related to certain power dynamics that allow another person to determine consent for someone else participating in an activity. In certain dynamics between D-type and s-type people, the D-type person may give consent for the s-type person to do an activity with others.

Specific consent terms

These are sometimes related to the common models.

  • Blanket consent: an open form of consent where prior consent is essentially given for any activity to occur at any time. Common among long term and highly involved play partners that have each other's trust and understand each other's limits. Related to "Dynamic consent".
  • CNC (Consensual Non-Consent): a type of play that involves pretending that consent has not been given or that all withdrawals of consent are to be ignored or replaced with safewords. Common in scenes where play is 'forced' such as rape play.
  • Consent contracts: sometimes used in M/s dynamics where a contract is written up with exact details of consent given by the s-type person and may include specific agreements with the D-type person. These contracts are a symbol and are often completed in a ceremonial way as a form of acknowledging a relationship. The contract itself however is not legally binding but is an expression of intent to be in a particular relationship together.
  • TPE (Total Power Exchange): common in M/s, Core BDSM, and other more intensive power dynamics where the consent of the s-type is fully and willingly given to the D-type in the relationship for all activity. Also sometimes related to "Transferred consent"

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