Defining Kink, BDSM, SSC, RACK, and 4C’s

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Kink

Kink is an umbrella term, which involves different lifestyles, behaviors, sexual practices that deviate from the so-called mainstream practices. It has kinky lifestyles like monogamy, which includes open relationships, polyamory, and swinging. Different types of fetishes, including cupping and enemas, are part of kink. Apart from that, BDSM, choking, medical play, impact play, age play are other subcategories of kink

Before you start exploring kink, doing extensive research on the same would be helpful. Historically speaking, Michael Foucault, in The History of Sexuality,  states that engagement in pleasurable sexual activities became repressed during the 17th century. Before that, there was a wider acceptance of diverse sexual activities. But, with the sexual repressions in the 17th century, people started to view sex for pleasure as “perverse and pathological.¹” 

As per a research survey¹ conducted at Walden University, the researchers show how people viewed kink as perverse and pathological. They focused on how people continue to present kink as a stigma. Even now,  there are people who consider kink has a close relationship with childhood trauma. It was present in several traditional psychological studies as well. 

In one of the mainstream books/movies, Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey, the main character, practices BDSM because of childhood trauma. This has been a way of stereotyping BDSM and the movie continues to present BDSM in the same light, which is incorrect. Studies like the survey conducted at Walden University and several others show that there is no direct relationship between kink and childhood trauma. 

However, it is time for us to move past these misconceptions and accept kink as a lifestyle, a behavior, and a sexual practice. You can adopt kinky sex practices with your partner(s). Whether it be BDSM or fetishes, ensure that there is consent, which is essential for everything.

BDSM

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Previously known as Sadomasochism(SM), BDSM is the acronym for Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism. Bondage includes tying up; sadism focuses on consensual harm; and masochism on receiving gratification. Dominant is a partner who takes control of the actions, and submissive is the person who receives dominance. 

In simple terms, BDSM includes sexual role-plays, but it is way more than that. Commonly people consider it as a concept of power dynamics. Stereotypically, there would be a Dominant partner(D) and a Submissive partner(S). Here, there would be a power play, and power shifting would act as the essence. 

However, as per recent studies², there are more roles than Dominant and Submissive. They include Master/Mister, Top, Sadist, Bottom, Masochist, Switch. 

There are different layers of BDSM, which include softer and harder BDSM. You have to engage in one that is comfortable for you and your partner(s). For instance, softer BDSM includes activities such as movement restriction and blindfolding. 

Regardless of the BDSM type you and your partner(s) decide to try out, you have to establish some safe words beforehand. It has to be more than “yes” or “no.” It is essential to ensure that you and your partner (s) are on the same page. Besides that, you and your partner(s) have to consider consent and safety throughout the play session. 

If you have watched or read The Fifty Shades of Grey, you might have noticed how the movie deviates from the core aspect of any BDSM play- which is consent. Anna Randall, a clinical sexologist, in a feature on CNN³, states how the movie presents inaccurate BDSM descriptions as it “violates mutual consent.”

Safe Sane Consensual(SSC)

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Safe Sane Consensual or SSC is a credo used by the healthy and engaged members of the kink community, especially in relation to BDSM. It is a way of ensuring all behaviors involved in a kink-based sexual practice as safe. Besides that, it states all the involved individuals have to agree to the acts. 

Safe 

Safe refers to taking care of the partner(s) during BDSM or other kinky sexual practice. Here, regardless of the scene’s intensity, you have to take measures to ensure that there is no unwanted injury or disease transmission.

Sane

Sane refers to acting responsibly while taking part in a kinky sex act. Here, you have to exercise good judgment and, at the same time, focus on self-control. By doing so, you can ensure that you and your partner(s) are comfortable with it.

Consensual

Consent is the foundation of any sexual practice, and kink considers consent as a priority. It is also a part of the basic ethics of BDSM. Here, all the players need to provide informed consent, which helps ensure the relationship is healthy. It will also assist in building support and connection between the partners. Consent and practice of consent are two aspects that assist us in differentiating BDSM from abuse. 

Hence, the safe, sane, consensual, non-exploitative, and truthful practice of kink is something everyone who wants to bring in kinky sexual activities or lifestyle has to consider.

Risk Awareness Consensual Kink (RACK)

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Risk Awareness Consensual Kink or RACK prioritizes achieving consent through negotiation. Here, the focus is on setting up boundaries beforehand and sharing your desires. RACK prioritizes creating awareness and studying the activity in detail. It helps to evaluate the risk factors involved, reach agreements on handling them. 

There was a shift in focus from SSC to RACK in the kink community, a few years back. It is because RACK gives importance to risk awareness and not just on safety. RACK also prioritizes consensual sex, where consent is more than non-refusal. 

Concerning kink, consent has a lot to do with negotiations, communicating, bringing in responsibility, ensuring safety, transparency, etc. RACK also considers its implication and gives importance to distinguishing fantasy from reality. If you lack awareness of the reality, you won’t know for what you are giving consent. Hence, you have to gain clarity on the same beforehand.

4C’s- Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution

4C’s maintains the concepts of consent, safety, and risk awareness present in RACK and SSC. At the same time, it brings in additions in the form of caring and communication. 4C’s is the most recent credo in the kink community concerning kinky sexual activities, especially BDSM. Let’s examine the 4C’s in detail.

Caring

Caring brings in the ethical point of view in BDSM. It gives importance to each person involved and their uniqueness. Through caring, you can also focus on trust and intimacy when you participate in kinky sexual activities. Here, partners can present their sexual values and explain them to each other. You can discuss the definition of safe or good BDSM with your partner(s).

Communication 

By bringing in proper communication, it will help in creating a better understanding of the participants. Since people have different limits, communication can help the partners know about them beforehand. It will also help in embracing the uniqueness of your identities and assist you in conveying your needs.

Consent

Even though consent is present in SSC and RACK, 4C’s approach tries to bring clarity to the same. It is because, in most cases, the consent remains unclear, which brings in confusion. Hence, the 4C’s approach presents consent in three different levels. They are:

  •  The first level is surface consent, which focuses on the concept of “yes means yes,” and “no means no.”
  • The second level is scene consent. Here, the focus is on discussing and negotiating the scene in detail. Even in the middle of the scene, any partner(s) can withdraw their consent using the safe word.
  • The third level is deep consent, which is an ambiguous level. Here, the partner(s) might not be in a mental capacity to use the safe word.

Caution

Caution has a close relationship with consent, communication, and caring. Here, it is about emphasizing the unique experiences of each person involved in the activities. Caution also brings in flexibility and variation. It is a way to navigate through risk and bring in safety for different sexual practices coming under kink, especially BDSM.

References

¹ https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/217233885.pdf 

² https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6525106/ 

³ https://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/10/health/fifty-shades-kink-sex-kerner/index.html 

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