Kink School: Consent Comes First

When I was asked to blog for HotMovies, the topic of my first submission was an easy choice: consent. As a lifestyle fetish and BDSM player for over 30 years, I was taught from my first live experience that every encounter begins with a discussion of likes, dislikes, and limits. Some call it “the negotiation,” or “the talk,” but it’s something that every responsible player does, even with someone that they’ve played with many times. You see, consent is fluid; it can be given or withdrawn at any point during your time together, for any reason, and what you consent to on one day might change for the next.

An example: years ago, I was at a play party and I had consented to a heavy whip-play scene with my hands bound to a cross over my head (something I had done many times before). Earlier in the day, I played in a volleyball tournament and—I later found out—torn my rotator cuff. I thought that it was just a strain, so I rested, iced it, and went to the party. When the dominatrix I was playing with and I discussed the scene, I said that I was fine with the type of play and bondage, but shortly after we started to play, I felt a jolt in my shoulder and blurted out my safe word before I almost passed out from the pain. My point, something I was okay with at one point, I suddenly became not okay with. My state changed, I withdrew my consent and she, being a safe and responsible player, stopped the play immediately, got me out of the bondage, and into a position where I could rest and ice the shoulder.

So, let’s back up a bit. First of all, those of you who aren’t into fetish or bondage are probably saying, “What does this have to do with me?” Well, in this day and age, the era of #MeToo and all, consent applies to everyone: straight, gay, CIS, transgender, kinky, vanilla… everyone. Okay, actually it’s always applied to everyone, it’s just that now it has become part of the public discussion. If you are having any kind of sexual experience, you better be having it with full and informed consent. In most places it’s the law, but more than that, it’s the right thing to do.

Cybill Troy & Jimmy Broadway in Kink School: An Intermediate Guide to BDSM

What is Consent?

Now, what is consent? Simple: consent is the act of communicating to your sexual partner your willingness to do what you are about to do. It can be verbal. It can be written. It can even be given with gestures, as long as it is clear and affirmative. The coolest thing about consent is that, in addition to showing that you respect your partner, it can also make you a better lover. By talking with your partner, you find out what your partner enjoys, what turns them on, and what they may not really care for. So instead of fumbling around and hoping you get it right, you’ve got instructions!

Communicating Consent

Consent doesn’t have to be an interrogation (unless you are both into that sort of thing, then, by all means, break out the metal chair and bright light). Saying, “Damn, your tits are hot, I’d love to bury my face in them,” and then waiting for a response from your partner is a consent discussion, as long as both partners are clear on the meaning of the response. By working lines like, “Oh, you like that, don’t you? Do you want more?” and, “Tell me what you want, baby,” into your pillow talk, you can get ongoing consent without breaking the mood, as long as your partner’s answers are clear. If they aren’t, don’t be afraid to ask in a different way until you are sure that the answer is yes.

Now a lot of people say, “No means no, no questions asked.” Personally, I prefer, “No means no, but may I ask why?” Please hear me out here. First off, I consider, “I’d prefer not to discuss it,” to be a perfectly legitimate answer to this, one that I will totally respect. If that is the answer, then the conversation stops there. However, if my partner is willing to share why something is a no, that will guide my actions as our relationship moves forward. Is this a hard, fast, forever no, or are you saying no because you’re just not up for it tonight? Is this something that brings back a past bad experience? For example, if what I’m asking brings up traumatic memories of an assault or abusive ex, in our ongoing consent discussion I will ask if there is anything else that brings up those memories, so I know what to avoid. Or maybe, like in the example I started this with, it’s something that you would enjoy doing at some other time, but at this time you don’t feel up for it. Maybe it’s something you tried with another partner and they didn’t know what they were doing so you had a bad experience, or its something that you don’t know a lot about and it scares you. In that case, maybe you’d be interested in taking a class on it together and trying it again, knowing that we both know how to do it properly (or not, consent should never involve pressuring your partner to do something they don’t want to). Is it something that we could do differently, in a way that we would both enjoy? You might be down to fuck, just not in the position that I was suggesting. Or you may enjoy bondage, but you’re not a fan of rope. Consent is not just yes or no; consent is clear, ongoing, honest communication with your partner.

Jay Taylor & Tim Woodman in Kink School: An Intermediate Guide to BDSM

Who can Consent?

Finally, there’s the matter of who can consent. The short answer: sober adult humans. If someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then they are not of the right mind to be consenting to sexual activity. A good rule of thumb, if they can’t safely and legally operate a motor vehicle, they can’t consent. If they are under the age of 18, they can’t consent. Okay, this one has a little grey area. But if you’re 45 and going after 16 year-olds… no way, you are looking for a non-consensual relationship and will probably be going to jail. And human: animals cannot consent. Don’t even open that door with me. (Anyone who follows me on the Twitter knows that both Dee Severe and myself are very strong advocates for animal rights and the ethical treatment of the creatures that share this planet with us.) I’m all for animal roleplay, I’ve done it before and it can be a lot of fun, but sex with actual animals, that’s a hard no under any circumstances.

Charli Piper & Dominik Kross in Kink School: An Intermediate Guide to BDSM

Now that we’ve had our talk, can we have a relationship—as I’d like to keep writing to you on a regular basis, entertaining and hopefully educating—if that’s okay with you? Go out there and be safe, sane, and, most of all: consensual!

Jimmy Broadway is a pansexual lifestyle BDSM and fetish player who makes his living as an adult film producer, director, performer, and educator. With his wife, Dee Severe, he co-owns Severe Sex Films and Severe Society Films, and their work can be found right here on HotMovies.

Follow @FetishDirector and @HotMovies on Twitter