It amazes me how people think that just because your into bdsm or kink that it somehow means you have abandoned all ethical thought.
Unfortunately that stereotype is perpetuated by people in the community who don’t really understand what it’s all about. So why dont we set the record straight and dig into the myths and realities of bdsm.
Let’s start off with a big one. Consent. Trust in a bdsm relationship is incredibly important and ties in with giving consent. But when does consent need to be given? Is it something that only needs to be given once? Or renewed moment by moment? What about consenting to give up your right to consent (CNC)? People sometimes consent to behavior that is damaging to them to please another. It is a breach of trust to allow this. As a dominant it is important to remember that it is up to you to know what may be damaging to your submissive. And even if they tell you they are ok with the activity it is the ethical dom’s responsibility to not damage them. Consent is not a free pass to do whatever you want. A good dom is always concerned about the physical and mental wellbeing of their partner. Enabling self destructive impulses is not ethical or healthy. A dom works to minimize these impulses and maximize the pleasure gained through healthy choices.
Do no harm. People engage in bdsm play for pleasure and it often involves some form of pain or pushing outside of one’s comfort zone. But there is a difference between “hurt” and “harm”. Hurt is temporary, marks on the skin.. sore muscles… embarrassment… ect. Harm on the other hand is lasting. Permanent or long term physical damage.. PTSD.. lowered self esteem.. despair and depression. What makes do no harm a cornerstone of ethical bdsm is that it doesn’t prescribe what people should or should not find pleasure in. People are all different and have different wants and needs. But harm diminishes the ability of a person to be happy or to enjoy life. The do no harm principle keeps things from going “too far” and allows us to enjoy playing with a clear conscience.
Does this mean that things like degradation, objectification, or dehumanization have no place in ethical bdsm? No.. not really… when it is a temporary reversible effect it can even even empower the submissive. But what is wrong is to diminish someone permanently.
Be honest. Dishonesty undermines both consent and trust. We humans have an huge capacity for self deception as well. Being honest with yourself is incredibly important in bdsm. Be honest about your real wants needs and limits. Withholding necessary information makes for unsatisfied play.
Avoid unintended pain. The whole point of inflicting pain or discomfort in bdsm is for it to be intentional and meaningful. To form a connection between the dominant and the submissive resulting from a deliberate choice instead of the random nature of ordinary life. Causing pain without meaning suggests callousness and indifference. This is never a healthy mentality. Ethical sadism is never about unintentional suffering. But submissives need to be aware as well as their own actions or words can cause unintended emotional pain to their partner.
Respect limits. These are things you ether cant do because of physical or mental limitations or things you won’t do because you prefer not to or believe it would be wrong. With time and effort it is possible to expand the boundaries of these limits. But often it is more healthy to simply respect them and leave them where they are. There are some submissives that want the dom to be in total control of limits, that is not to say that they dont have limits.. only that it is the dom that must determine and respect the limits of the submissive. It is the consensual shifting of the responsibility of defining and maintaining those limits to only one person in the dynamic. There are times when a submissive will speak of haveing “no limits” with their dom. ( consensual non consent) This is often confusing for people. It is advanced consent to ignore all protests and limits. This can be vary dangerous and requires a deep bond of trust between both people. In rare cases people say that have “no limits” because they dont care if they are harmed. An ethical dom will refuse to interact with such self destructive people. They should be referred to trained psychologists for therapy.
Risk responsibility. Like any physically and mentally demanding activity there are always risks. It is important to know what they are and be personally responsible for your own decisions as to which risks you choose to take. Learn, be aware and make informed decisions. Takeing needless risks may excite some people but the cost is often higher than both you and your partner are willing to pay.
Dont push. If someone is not ready for something it is not ethical to push them into it. If it is something both people want but one is not ready for take things slow, make shure at every step that both people are comfortable with where they are before moving forward. Listen to your gut feelings. All of them, not just the part that says “I want this” but also the part that says “there is something wrong here”. If something doesn’t feel right communicate immediately. And if someone is pushing you into something your not comfortable with it is fine to tell them your not interested and walk away.
Job and family. Do not… I repeat… do not… fuck with someones job or family. Unless someone explicitly invites you into this part of their lives it is off limits. An ethical dom should do nothing that may threaten a submissives job or family relations. Anything that would “out” the sub without their consent to frends and family should always be avoided. And anything that threatens their livelihood is completely unethical. If the submissive WANTS to give up their job or be open to their frends and family that is of course different. But it should never be forced. On the other side a sub needs to respect a dom’s personal space. It is not ok to call a phone number you have not been given permission to use or to interact with their family or friends without permission.
No regrets. Any time your doing anything with a bdsm dynamic you should never feel like your going to regret it later. It’s ok to be unsure, that just means you should take things slow. But if you feel like you may regret it… dont do it. This is supposed to be a pleasurable and intimate connection. You should never regret anything you feel good about. It can be a learning experience, a personal affirmation of will, pleasure for both you and your partner, or anything else positive.
Finish what you start. If you are unable to continue for whatever reason and as long as your partner has not done harm, dont just walk away. The bond that forms between people in a bdsm dynamic is unique and should be respected. Providing closure is as important as any other aspect of a bdsm relationship. Just because kink is involved, that is no reason to enter into or leave a dynamic frivolously or without concern for all involved.
Starting or ending a bdsm relationship should never be done on a whim. Committing to a bdsm relationship is a big step. And both people should work to create a meaningful and fulfilling relationship. Typically when a submissive asks for release from a dynamic it is up to the dom to decide if they will grant it. However.. unless you have a damm good reason why you shouldn’t let them go you should always honor their wishes. Refusing to release a sub that wants out is crossing a line. So you better be damm shure you can solve whatever problem let to it before you deny it.
Dont use bdsm for therapy. If someone is struggling with mental health it is not ethical to allow them to use your dynamic as an excuse or crutch to prevent them from getting the help they need. Tricking or trapping a partner into becoming your therapist is not ok. They are not trained for it (unless they are) and cannot proved the care you or your partner needs. This can lead to a whole host of problems. It is one thing to be getting help or have gotten help for mental health challenges and then haveing a bdsm dynamic. It is quite another to mask or cover up those problems.
Respect others kinks. Just because it isn’t your thing doesn’t mean you should dislike the person. Give them the respect they deserve just as you would outside of bdsm or kink. This is not to say you need to show respect to asshats. If someone is a jerk.. just because they have a kink doesn’t mean you have to respect them. People like that often hind behind their kink and scream “kink shaming ” if they get any negative interactions. Dont judge based on their kinks, but if their being an asshat has nothing to do with bdsm feel free to tell them where to stick it.
Dont take your partner for granted.
It is easy to fall into a routine or a comfortable place in a dynamic over time. And that’s fine.. but you should always make shure your partner understands how much you value them and how special their submission or dominance makes you feel.
Be good. This doesn’t mean just some of the time. Strive to be the best that you can be for your partner ALL the time. Whatever your roles, whatever technique you use.. learn as much as you can and do it to the best of your abilities. Even if your haveing fun, you will have MORE fun if you play your heart out than if you are just going through the motions. And so will your partner. If you dont do the prep work you cant get the highest rewards. Good play can be spontaneous but only with a solid foundation of trust and skill. Practice won’t make you perfect but it will make you have a great time.
Best wishes -SirHanz