by Lord Unicron
A note regarding the featured image: This image was originally featured on EverydayFeminism.com for an article that discusses the “gray area myth” of consent. Neither I nor Covert and Carnal own the rights to this image, and it is included here for educational, non-profit use and illustration only as provided for under US fair use laws.
There are very few absolutes in the kink world. What repulses me may be just the thing that gets every nerve ending in your body singing the Hallelujah chorus. What you as a D-type wouldn’t do to your s-type in your darkest, most depraved nightmares I may do to my s-type just because it’s Tuesday night and I’m bored. You may like pee, scat or whatever; I want no part of either of them. You and your s-type may like to play so hard one or both of you is bleeding at the end. Blood’s a hard limit for me.
AND THAT’S FINE!
But when it comes to consent, I do think there should be a uniform standard of behavior for how consent violations (CVs from here) are dealt with by both parties. What follows is the protocol I follow for dealing with CVs. If you have a better, more effective or more efficient way, please leave a comment at the end of the post to present your point of view for discussion! I am not the sole repository of all knowledge and wisdom regarding kink, nor do I pretend to be. There is always a better way out there if you’re willing to look hard enough, and for all my experience, I am constantly seeking out new things. Your help in this endeavor is appreciated, as I wish to learn as much or more than I teach!
I talked on Tuesday about my hard limits, and my personal parameters by which they are set and enforced. Today, I want to look at ways to deal with CVs on both sides of the slash, in an appropriate, reasoned and mature fashion. The idea is not to put anyone on the defensive, but to make it clear that certain acts or behaviors are not okay. And, since it’s Friday, I figured a “listicle” is about due. Let’s take a closer look at 10 things to do when consent is violated.
*Note: Everything following goes for both sides of the slash, unless specifically noted.
For the recipient
Stop CVs before they start.
Having a clearly defined set of hard limits is never a bad idea. These should be reviewed as an ongoing part of your negotiations, regardless of which side of the slash you occupy. Having them in writing tends to lend them a little authority and a certain frisson of seriousness that expressing them verbally doesn’t seem to convey. Make sure your partner is clear on your hard limits as they apply to the scene or relationship before you ever get started. This is one case where an ounce of prevention is worth a metric fuckton of cure.
Stop the scene!
I’m using “scene” here to mean a kink scene, a conversation or any other interaction where hard limits could be violated (which is ALL of them), so adjust as appropriate. This is a good time to reiterate that PEOPLE SCREW UP! D-types do it. So do s-types. It’s called being human. However, just because you’re in the middle of a scene, conversation or what have you does not mean that consent violations should not be addressed right away, if at all possible. Obviously it’s hard to give a safeword when you’ve got a ball gag in your mouth and you’re trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey, but you should still have a way to stop the scene. For scenes involving gags, a quick, short series of grunts may be an alternative. “Three grunts means RED, right?” However you do it, stop the scene as soon as you can. Sooner is better!
There are some times and situations where this isn’t possible. No one expects an s-type to stay calm when a dragon tail opens her back to the bone and she’s bleeding all over Hell’s half-acre, nor is it reasonable to expect a D-type to be chill when the s-type does something that causes a panic attack. However, when and where possible, staying calm and collected while being firm about the scene needing to stop while the problem is dealt with is the best way to resolve the situation before it has a chance to escalate into something really ugly.
Explain exactly what the violation was.
Phrasing the violation the right way can solve a host of problems right away. I find it useful to explain the violation like so: “When you ________, it makes me feel __________. It’s hurtful, harmful and one of my hard limits. Can you explain why you chose to do that?” This gives the other party an opportunity to understand where you’re coming from and make a sincere apology and/or present any ameliorating facts. Understanding your partner’s headspace and how they understood the information you conveyed can help both of you reach a deeper understanding. This is not always appropriate or desirable, but when possible, it’s better to seek common ground than to go off half-cocked.
Use your judgment and your words.
If the violation is severe enough to warrant immediate action, take it. Explain clearly and succinctly why the violation is beyond your tolerance and what remedial action, if any, must be undertaken. In cases where the violation is serious enough to warrant an immediate termination of the relationship, saying something like “You knew X was a hard limit of mine. You chose to break it. I cannot trust you and do not wish to continue this with you, because you have made it clear that my hard limits are a secondary consideration for you.” Once you do this, stick to your guns. Especially if there is an ongoing pattern of behavior, this may be the only way to make the point that the behavior is unacceptable. Always remember Maya Angelou’s words: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
ONLY YOU CAN SAY WHAT CONSTITUTES A FORGIVABLE VERSUS AN UNFORGIVABLE BREACH OF LIMITS. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO A PERSON WHO WILLFULLY CHOOSES TO HURT THEM IN A WAY THAT CANNOT BE READILY HEALED.
For the violator:
Safewords mean STOP.
Either side may invoke the safeword in a scene. D-types often forget that they have just as much right to end a scene as the s-type does. Safewords or other indicators that the scene needs to end must be honored by both sides if they are to have any meaning at all. If the scene is halted, there is a reason.
Check in immediately.
When the scene stops, the first question to ask is, “Are you okay? What do you need?” The person who didn’t call the safeword should be the one to ask this question, because no one calls red “just cuz.”
Having a scene ended prematurely can sometimes trigger an anger response. This is understandable. However, when the safeword is given, it is important to remember that you and your partner agreed to stop the scene if necessary. Just because you don’t think anything happened that warranted ending the scene does not make you right. Remain calm and collected, instead of throwing a fit.
Listen to what you’re being told.
No one likes being told they screwed up. That’s human nature. However, you owe it to your partner to listen without judgment and try to put yourself in their place. If your hard limits overlap your partner’s and you broke them, it’s on you to muster the empathy to be able to see it from their side without trying to jump to your own defense until you have all the information. Communication consists at least as much in listening as it does in saying your piece.
Comply or begone.
Once you have all the information, if the violation is not egregious enough to warrant someone walking out the door, you now have a choice to make: comply or begone. This may mean something as simple as, “I’m sorry and that won’t happen again,” followed by starting aftercare. It could be as big as the other person walking away permanently. Everyone makes mistakes and errors in judgment, especially in the heat of the moment. There is a difference between this and acting with deliberate, malicious intent. Any relationship where both partners are not scrupulously honest with themselves and their partners about their actions and motivations is by definition toxic. Regardless of the side of the slash you occupy, if you cannot be honest with yourself and your partner, and/or cannot and/or will not comply with their hard limits in order to make your play and relationship a safe place for both sides to explore and grow, then you need not be there. This is one of the few situations in which everything is black and white, in my opinion.
THERE ARE NO SHADES OF GRAY WHEN IT COMES TO CONSENT.
Having said all this, I’m curious to hear what your experiences with and opinions about consent are. Please leave a comment below! If you prefer, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to the staff, or send me a message directly at email@example.com. Please check back on #TastyTuesday to see what next week’s discussion is, stay kinky and have a safe and sexy weekend!