Safety in BDSM: Understanding SSC, RACK, and PRICK

As much fun as BDSM can be — in or out of a D/s relationship — it’s also inherently risky. We fuck with each other’s minds and bodies in ways that take us to the edge of our limits and our physical and mental comfort. Thinking about safety as a kinkster is extremely important.

There are three common safety philosophies in BDSM: SSC, RACK, and PRICK. Like everything else we do in kink, the one you follow is up to you. Plenty of people (John Brownstone and myself included) stay with the old school “safe, sane, and consensual” but it’s definitely not the only method. Whatever you choose to follow, you need to understand what it means and how it relates to you and your (potential) partners. Ultimately, you need to choose whatever speaks to your style and philosophy about safety.

Prefer to listen rather than read? Check out the Safety in BDSM Mini Podcast Episode

Safe, Sane, and Consensual or SSC

SSC, most commonly known as safe, sane, and consensual is the original in terms of keeping your kinky fuckery on the right path. For those of us who follow SSC, we ask ourselves three questions:

Is our kinky thing safe to do?

Is it a sane thing to do?

Do we consent to it?

In order for SSC to work, both partners have to agree on what’s safe and what’s sane. This works wonderfully when you and your partner are on the same page, feel the same way about things, and have a similar worldview on kink. When you don’t, it can lead to confusion (which is where good communication comes in). But if SSC doesn’t work for you or feels too vague, you’ve got other options.

Risk-Aware Consensual Kink or RACK

RACK or Risk-Aware Consensual Kink was created as a response to those who felt that SSC was too damn vague and confusing. Who’s version of “safe” or “sane” are we talking about? What if I think something is insane but you think it’s perfectly rational? Who wins that argument?

Enter RACK which lays things out more specifically.

Risk-aware: Simply put you’re “aware of the risk” but I’d say it should go further than that. You should be able to name said risks and know how to prevent them.

Consensual: Everyone is on board with what you’re about to do or what you’re currently doing.

Kink: The thing, activity, power exchange, scene, or moment — your kinky fuckery

If you’re new to RACK but you like it, use this like a checklist. Can you name the risks? Are you both able to affirm your consent to each other? Do you understand exactly what event/activity is about to take place?

Personal Responsibility, Informed, Consensual Kink or PRICK

You’re not a prick if you follow PRICK. (‘Cause I’m sure no one has ever heard that joke before, amirite?) PRICK is the next evolution beyond RACK. It stands for Personal Responsibility, Informed, Consensual Kink and was developed as a response to make it clear that all kinksters should take personal responsibility for their kink. Informed means (or implies) that you understand what is about to happen — risks and all. Consensual kink is what we’re all looking for. The idea being that if you take personal responsibility for yourself and you’re informed, now you can have some consensual kink.

We’re not going to tell you which one is the “right one” to follow. Many kinksters feel very strongly about their safety protocols, whether it’s SSC, RACK, or PRICK, which leads to some heated debates. Talking about the merits (and the shortcomings) of each philosophy are fine (preferred even) but we should all be free to choose what works best for us.

Thanks to Little Rara for this week’s topic suggestion. You can hear more about SSC, RACK, and PRICK and what we think in episode 128.

11 Responses

  1. ChinaDoll320 says:

    Love this. Thank you for spelling it all out.

  2. I definitely see the need for PRICK. I couldn’t have said it better, so I shared your post on 1) my blog within the community and a link to your post 2) on my WordPress blog in the Mature Content disclaimer. Thank you for the great information.


  1. May 4, 2018

    […] Safety in BDSM: Understanding SSC, RACK, and PRICK (blog post) […]

  2. September 3, 2018

    […] first time John Brownstone came to see me, we met in my home. Sure, I knew the safety measure of meeting in a public place and letting someone know where I was going. This was a time when I […]

  3. September 23, 2018

    […] Her method is Safe, Sane, and Consensual — although there are other consent philosophies like RACK and PRICK. Nothing she said was counter to anything I think about consent. I was more fascinated listening to […]

  4. October 8, 2019

    […] RACK – Risk Aware Consensual Kink […]

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    […] RACK – Risk Aware Consensual Kink […]

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    […] Safety in BDSM: Understand SSC, RACK, and PRICK (blog post) […]

  7. June 3, 2020

    […] models can be a good starting point in trying to find if you’re on the same page. Here is a link that provides some information about some of the most common […]

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