Stands for Risk-Aware Consensual Kink

RACK is an ethical philosophy that serves as an alternative to SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual). Critics of SSC argue that the term is too vague to be of meaningful use for our purposes in BDSM, pointing out that very little of what we do in the lifestyle is actually ‘safe’ or entirely without risk. In truth, we can only operate under differing degrees of ‘safer’ and ‘less safe’. RACK acknowledges this while emphasizing personal responsibility.

Let’s break the term down to understand it fully.

Risk-Aware

We cannot responsibly consent to an activity in BDSM unless we’re fully aware of the risks it entails. These risks may be physical, emotional, or psychological depending on the type of play. A common misconception among beginners is that doms are the only ones who need to be aware of these risks, as they are in charge of leading the dynamic and carrying out each act during sessions. This is false. Submissives are equally responsible for being aware of everything they consent to do. Every participant must take the time to research the specific activities they wish to try before diving in with a partner.

Consensual

The word ‘consent’ is literally defined as ‘permission’, but this fails to fully capture the level of consideration needed for ethical kink. For an act to be truly consensual, all participants must freely agree to it in advance, with full awareness of the risks involved and the understanding that consent can be revoked or renegotiated at any point. They must also be of sound mind and legally able to give permission for sexual activity. Children and animals, for example, lack the ability to consent to any of the acts we do in BDSM. Likewise, people who are intoxicated, unconscious, asleep, or otherwise cognitively impaired can’t give consent. Any pushiness, guilt-tripping, or coercion on the part of either party will effectively render any agreements made during negotiation null and void. The goal is for everyone involved in a D/s dynamic to enjoy themselves and be fulfilled in exactly the ways they sign up for.

Kink

The word ‘kink’ is often used interchangeably with BDSM and fetishism, but actually covers a wider area of activity than either of those terms. Any type of sexual activity outside of what society would consider the norm or ‘vanilla’ sex can be considered kink. Whether you adhere to SSC or RACK as your go-to ethical guide in BDSM is up to you and your partner(s). Either way, it’s worth discussing to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

RACK Best Practices

There are a number of best practices you can follow to incorporate RACK into your BDSM ethos.

Dominants

Submissives

Both Partners

By Molly Lazarus

Molly Lazarus is a sex blogger, kink educator, and erotic fiction author. Her website, Kink Out Loud, serves as a resource for readers who are curious about BDSM or new to the practice. Offline, Molly acts as Volunteer Coordinator for the Bay Area chapter of Kinky Salon. You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest, or browse her fiction on Amazon.

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