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BDSM Rule: Safe, Sane and Consensual

Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC) is one of the two guiding philosophies for BDSM relationships and activities alongside RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). SSC is older and more widespread in both handling and attention than RACK. Both principles serve as a model and basis for the exercise of BDSM practices and the differentiation from criminally relevant violence .

Safe

Safe means within this principle 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.

Sane

Sane means something like “with common sense” or “reasonable”. So it’s all about knowing the difference between fantasy and reality and knowing when an activity has reached its limit. 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 item “Safe”. Because if an action is not designed to be as safe as possible, it is not really reasonable either.

Consensual

Consensual means all participants agreed to the activities of their own free will and in their right mind. However, it also means that the limits of each individual participant must be respected at all times and that consent can be revoked at any time. For example, with a pre-agreed safe word or sign that ends the activities immediately. 

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What role does the principle of Safe, Sane and Consensual play?

Is it safe to implement a practice? If no, why not? Is there a lack of experience on the part of those involved? How can I customize the execution to be as secure as possible? What if she’s reasonably safe physically, but possibly not mentally ? where can I inform myself? Is it clear to everyone involved what is at stake and do they all understand the planned activities to be the same?

By checking each planned activity against the three points and adjusting it if necessary, the SSC principle provides a secure basis for exercising your kinks. A framework within which you can gain important experience in order to later try out other, more risky forms of play step by step. In case of doubt, especially for beginners, it is better to omit an action.

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

Safe, Sane and Consensual

What to look out for with SSC?

With the emergence of the RACK philosophy, the usefulness of Safe, Sane and Consensual was increasingly questioned by practitioners and theorists of BDSM, since the principle of safety in particular is considered to be very subjective and open to interpretation. It is also argued that it gives a sense of pseudo-safety.

“How safe is safe enough” differs based on individual point of view, level of knowledge and situation. Thus, sanity based on personal things such as cultural background and consent is also something very subjective. After all, nobody knows everything and there is always some unknown risk. After all, even a morning shower carries a certain risk。

Or a supposedly 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 can happen even if the players are not careless.

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

SSC or RACK?

Even though the more defensive Safe, Sane and Consensual 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 consensual, the basis of every action in BDSM. As long as this is observed, everyone is free to choose which concept he or she chooses. Or why not a mix of both?

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