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.
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.