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Old 06-21-2018, 04:02 AM   #1
seela
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On the Origin of Consent

The discussion in the emotional sadomasochism thread prompted me to finally start this thread that I've been thinking about off and on for years. What can I say, the procrastination is truly strong with me. And I've been uncharacteristically active on Lit recently, so this feels like a good time.

Consent is no doubt the key element that makes BDSM different from abuse. But does it matter to you what the origin of the consent is? I'm not talking about someone coercing another to give consent -- coerced consent is hardly consent, unless you've consented to being coerced, which kind of renders this whole dilemma moot -- but rather about the internal motivations behind someone giving consent.

Is all consent equal? Say, for example, can someone with a lifetime of conditioning to believe they're truly worth less than other people give consent to be hurt and humiliated? Should the fact that they might have never even entertained the thought of saying no be taken into account when negotiating playing with them?

Does the origin of consent matter to you? If it does, what is "good consent" and "bad consent" to you? How do you take it into account when negotiating with or first getting to know someone?

The origin of my consent to certain types of play and kinks has been questioned sometimes, and it's left me wondering. I don't have answers, but I'm interested in hearing what you guys think.
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Old 06-21-2018, 04:35 AM   #2
Jada59
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This is interesting to me. I have only been with one person who was into that. We really didn't discuss it. And it just sort of happened the first time we had sex. I have told this story here before but here's the background.

He saw me dancing in a club but it was closing time. He said he wanted to dance with me. My usual thing is not to make a real date but just to tell the guy to meet me there on some other day. I had also given him my phone number. I believe he said he would be back the following Fri.

But on Wed. he called me and said he couldn't wait till Fri. I agreed to meet him that day at the same club not realizing that there was no band playing that day. We only had a few sips of our drinks and I told him that we needed to go back to my place. Now... I am not in the habit of doing this but it just felt right.

We fooled around some on the daybed in the living room and then went into the bedroom where he found some scarves, tied me up and left me there, blindfolded and in the dark for a time. I did freak only because really the only things I knew about him were that he was divorced, had 5 kids and a vasectomy.

But it was all good. He introduced me to BDSM. Asked me a get a few things like belts, various toys and clothespins. I did.

The only time I recall sort of protesting was when he said he wanted to put a clothespin on my clit. I think I said that would hurt. He just chuckled and didn't do it.

Another time, and I can't remember what he was doing to me, I said, "Don't" followed by "Stop!" He just laughed and said, "Oh! Don't stop?", then continued doing it. This caused me to laugh.

In my case, it was all very good. But I think this was because we could read each other very well. We just seemed to know what to do and when.
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Old 06-21-2018, 06:30 AM   #3
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In my opinion, consent is true when the person really wants to do something. And it doesn't really matter what background they have. Sometimes you don't want to do something in particular, but you will consent to it because your partner wants it and you really want do give it to them. Is that consenting? Well, I say yeah, why not.

Your other example is about a person who has been conditioned to believe he/she is below everyone. Can they give consent? Yes, I think they actually can, but you'll have to be careful with them. They have a system of values wants and needs, just like everyone else. If they WANT something, then it doesn't matter if that desire is a product of the life they have led. It's a genuine desire at the moment, and there's nothing wrong of accepting their consent.

The dangerous thing though is if someone is brought up as a slave and is conditioned to automatically agree to everything their betters desire, even if they don't want it personally. Then you could talk about dubious consent.
But hopefully none of us has to deal with such a person, or if we do - we will be smart and perceptive enough to know when consent is real or when it's customary.

In fact, this last part applies to all people to a lesser extent. Each of us, at one opint or another in our lives, has consented to something we didn't want to happen (not talking just about sex here). People tend to have a lot of reasonings like fear to lose someone or something, or insecurity. That's why it's up to each of us to be a decent person, and when we ask for someone's consent - we should at least screen the response we have and not take "yes" for granted.
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Old 06-21-2018, 08:01 AM   #4
Bramblethorn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seela View Post
Is all consent equal? Say, for example, can someone with a lifetime of conditioning to believe they're truly worth less than other people give consent to be hurt and humiliated? Should the fact that they might have never even entertained the thought of saying no be taken into account when negotiating playing with them?

Does the origin of consent matter to you? If it does, what is "good consent" and "bad consent" to you? How do you take it into account when negotiating with or first getting to know someone?
A while back, I encountered this rather interesting Twitter thread about a common problem with conversations about consent. It's worth reading the whole thread, but my paraphrasing:

When we start talking about consent, that very often tends to become a conversation about the law: Should X be illegal? Is everybody who does Y a rapist? etc. etc.

By its nature, the law has to work in binaries. Either you're over the age of consent, or you're not. Either you're proven guilty of a crime, or you're not. etc. etc. The law also works on an adversarial basis: one side is trying to prove guilt, the other side is trying to prevent that from happening. In legal terms, if somebody accuses you of rape, probably your best advice is to lawyer up and claim that it never happened, or that it was consensual all the way.

But 99% of important discussion about consent takes place outside a legal context, and outside the courtroom that binary/adversarial framework is often not a helpful way to approach that conversation. Sometimes it's better to acknowledge shades of grey, and to talk in a way that lets people acknowledge harm done and try to repair it without that being treated as admission to a felony.

My personal rule of thumb is that I don't want anybody to regret having sex with me, and I expect my partners to show the same consideration. As a consequence, I aim for something a fair bit stronger than legal standards of consent; if I ever find myself having to figure out exactly where the line is drawn between consensual and non-consensual sex in my own life, then somebody has fucked up very badly. I try to live according to that.
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
My personal rule of thumb is that I don't want anybody to regret having sex with me, and I expect my partners to show the same consideration. As a consequence, I aim for something a fair bit stronger than legal standards of consent; if I ever find myself having to figure out exactly where the line is drawn between consensual and non-consensual sex in my own life, then somebody has fucked up very badly. I try to live according to that.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:19 AM   #6
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The origin of consent is absolutely vital to me. It has to come from a healthy place and from someone who is whole and complete in who they are and with their self worth. There have been instances where I have chosen not to be in a relationship/ D/s dynamic because I felt that the consent and need were coming from an incomplete space, and had a lot more work to do to be complete. I think that’s also the reason why I prefer very strong and confident women.

Great thread btw. The posts and threads in this part of the forum are thoughtful and outstanding.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by seela View Post
Say, for example, can someone with a lifetime of conditioning to believe they're truly worth less than other people give consent to be hurt and humiliated? Should the fact that they might have never even entertained the thought of saying no be taken into account when negotiating playing with them?
That would strike me as a form of disability and render them unable to give 'consent', at least the type you're asking about.

And only worthless fuckwits would use Twits at all let alone reference them as some sort of valid information.
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Old 06-24-2018, 05:03 AM   #8
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Thank you for all the replies, they've given me some food for thought!

Especially Bramblethorn's rule of thumb of no regrets afterwards made me think. I realized I'm not necessarily a particularly regret averse person myself. I think it all ties into my penchant for emotional masochism. But of course there's regret and regret.

It sounds like a very good rule of thumb and I think most people would benefit from looking at all sexual activities from that angle, bdsm or not.

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Originally Posted by Darkrhytm View Post
The origin of consent is absolutely vital to me. It has to come from a healthy place and from someone who is whole and complete in who they are and with their self worth. There have been instances where I have chosen not to be in a relationship/ D/s dynamic because I felt that the consent and need were coming from an incomplete space, and had a lot more work to do to be complete. I think that’s also the reason why I prefer very strong and confident women.

Great thread btw. The posts and threads in this part of the forum are thoughtful and outstanding.
How do you gauge if the consent comes from a healthy place?


And a general question on the topic. Does the origin of consent matter more or less in certain situations, depending on what's done for example? Does breath play, rape play or humiliation require a "stronger" consent than spanking or hair pulling?
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Old 06-24-2018, 07:42 AM   #9
Bramblethorn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seela View Post
And a general question on the topic. Does the origin of consent matter more or less in certain situations, depending on what's done for example? Does breath play, rape play or humiliation require a "stronger" consent than spanking or hair pulling?
For me, definitely. The sort of stuff that influences my thinking about how meticulous I need to be about consent:

- level of risk involved (physical and/or emotional)
- level of knowledge of one another and of the activity in question (which influences both the actual risk, and our ability to gauge that risk). Robot Hugs has a good strip on this.
- power imbalances between us (age, money, social status, physical size/strength, ...)

"Whether it comes from a healthy place"... I'm not sure if that can ever really be answered in the affirmative, for some of the stuff we're talking about. If humanity was truly healthy and well-adjusted, would BDSM exist at all? I don't know if it would. I don't have a good understanding of where my own inclinations come from, let alone anybody else's.

Maybe more answerable (slightly) is whether it's going to a healthy place. Like, if somebody tells me that they're into BDSM because of some fucked-up thing that happened to them, and that it's a coping mechanism, or at least that it isn't exacerbating those issues... I don't have a problem with that. We're all fucked up in our own way and sometimes it's okay just to roll with it.

OTOH, I don't want to be part of enabling behaviour that really is self-destructive. Sometimes it's hard to know the difference.
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Old 06-24-2018, 08:10 AM   #10
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Consent should be informed consent. If the bottom recognizes and understands that BDSM is not a substitute for therapy, sure, go for it.

I would be more uncomfortable if this involved blood play, though, because having someone else cut you is no healthier than cutting yourself.
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:24 PM   #11
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Bramblethorn expresses my thoughts on consent far more eloquently than I can, so I'll be mostly quiet except to chime in and say I agree with those words.

This reminds me of a lot of writings about consent (and the resulting comments sections) I've seen on Fet over the years. It often feels like those conversations devolve into a theory that there are two options regarding consent: either everyone had a great time and everything is hunky dory, or it was cold-blooded rape. As Bramblethorn pointed out, that kind of binary is needed for legal contexts, but as everyone who has negotiated consent knows, there are whole swaths of gray areas between paradise and rape. And the areas of gray any individual is comfortable playing in is up to that person.

For me, I use the same considerations to decide how I feel about the situation in question. I also like to talk to my partner about what they are looking to get out of doing X, Y, or Z, and where are they coming from emotionally. I think especially for heavy physical or emotional play, understanding those things helps me make informed consent on my end, too.
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Old 06-26-2018, 03:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles Long View Post
This reminds me of a lot of writings about consent (and the resulting comments sections) I've seen on Fet over the years. It often feels like those conversations devolve into a theory that there are two options regarding consent: either everyone had a great time and everything is hunky dory, or it was cold-blooded rape. As Bramblethorn pointed out, that kind of binary is needed for legal contexts, but as everyone who has negotiated consent knows, there are whole swaths of gray areas between paradise and rape.
I'd note that while enjoyment and consent are strongly correlated, they're not quite the same thing.

I think any long-term relationship eventually involves making some trade-offs between one person's happiness and another's. Sometimes that's "I got offered a fantastic new job but it means my partner has to uproot her life and move cities", sometimes it's "both of us like being spanked and don't enjoy giving spankings".

Those are challenging to resolve, and it's perfectly legitimate to say "I'm not thrilled about this but I'm going to do it anyway, because it's important to you" - as long as the bigger picture is about give and take on both sides. Might not be anybody's ideal relationship, but still consensual.
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Old 06-26-2018, 04:35 AM   #13
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For me, I use the same considerations to decide how I feel about the situation in question. I also like to talk to my partner about what they are looking to get out of doing X, Y, or Z, and where are they coming from emotionally. I think especially for heavy physical or emotional play, understanding those things helps me make informed consent on my end, too.
This is an excellent point!

It's so often overlooked (and I kind of did in my OP as well) that PYLs have to consent as well rather than just act as the recipient of the pyls consent.
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Old 06-26-2018, 04:36 AM   #14
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Very thinkable!
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Old 06-26-2018, 04:41 AM   #15
seela
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Consent should be informed consent. If the bottom recognizes and understands that BDSM is not a substitute for therapy, sure, go for it.

I would be more uncomfortable if this involved blood play, though, because having someone else cut you is no healthier than cutting yourself.
I find this differentiation interesting.

If someone used different methods for self-harm, like burning or beating themselves, would you feel uncomfortable about those things as well or is this solely about cutting?
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Old 06-26-2018, 06:47 AM   #16
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Thank you for all the replies, they've given me some food for thought!

Especially Bramblethorn's rule of thumb of no regrets afterwards made me think. I realized I'm not necessarily a particularly regret averse person myself. I think it all ties into my penchant for emotional masochism. But of course there's regret and regret.

It sounds like a very good rule of thumb and I think most people would benefit from looking at all sexual activities from that angle, bdsm or not.



How do you gauge if the consent comes from a healthy place?


And a general question on the topic. Does the origin of consent matter more or less in certain situations, depending on what's done for example? Does breath play, rape play or humiliation require a "stronger" consent than spanking or hair pulling?
I think we always end up in the same place- gauging healthiness of consent comes from truly knowing and understanding a person; good communication, honesty and trust.

I think all play requires that deeper understanding (for me).
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