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Best BDSM Practices

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) believes that the most important issue facing the BDSM/Leather/Fetish communities today is the consistent practice of courts and law enforcement officials to prosecute BDSM as criminal assault, with no defense of consent permitted.  We know that BDSM is not assault, but rather is pleasurable, loving adult erotic activity, as long as it is mutually consensual.NCSF is leading a major national campaign – Consent Counts – to change the laws and police practices that our communities now endure, and to establish that consent is available as a defense in criminal BDSM prosecutions.

Best Practices in the BDSM/Leather/Fetish Communities
The practice of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, SM) consists of intimate mutually pleasurable erotic activity within the scope of informed consent.  The following “best practices” have been developed by our communities to ensure that the standard of “safe, sane and consensual” is met by all BDSM participants:

Guiding Principles
“SAFE”

All participants are knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what they are doing, and all act in accordance with that knowledge.

“SANE”
Knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, and acting in accordance with that knowledge.

“CONSENSUAL”
All participants understand the nature of the activity in which they will be engaged, and the limits imposed by each participant, and respect such limits at all times.

Best Practices
Each participant should fully understand both the desires and the limits of each other participant.  Such understanding may be based on long familiarity with the other participant(s) or, where participants are new to each other, on a full discussion in advance of the BDSM activity.

  • Consent must be clearly given to all aspects of planned BDSM activity and such consent must be freely given.
  • Each participant in a BDSM activity is free to withdraw previously given consent at any time.
  • Each participant should fully understand any limitations on another participant’s ability to understand and consent fully to the planned BDSM activity, such as age, diminished mental capacity or use of drugs or alcohol.
  • A means should be provided - normally a “safe word” - for the “bottom” to signal clearly her/his desire to terminate the activity.
  • Relationships among BDSM practitioners should be fully respected by others.  It is the responsibility of each person to make clear to others any relationship that imposes limits on that person’s participation in BDSM activities.
  • At parties or other events, the use of monitors may be advisable and rules should be clearly displayed.
  • The more intense and physical the BDSM activity is, the more important it is to ensure clear understanding of and consent to the planned activity.
  • Participants must recognize that BDSM activity resulting in serious bodily harm or that goes beyond the expectations of one of the participants may be deemed criminal, even where consent was initially given.

Established in 1997, theNational Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the US that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions. NCSF aims to advance the rights of, and advocate for consenting adults in the BDSM-Leather-Fetish, Swing, and Polyamory Communities. We pursue our vision through direct services, education, advocacy, and outreach, in conjunction with our partners, to directly benefit these communities.

 

Consent Counts

Consent Counts

Learn More about Consent Counts
In the News

In the News

  • NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit

    NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit   The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place Friday evening, and Coalition Partners were able to participate via streaming video to give their input on the new Consent Statement. Go to www.ncsfreedom.org to see the Consent Statement and comment on it.   “The Consent Statement…






    Tags: Consent_Counts
  • NCSF Survey on Consent

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF Survey on Consent The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) wants to hear from you! Please take our Consent Counts survey and tell us what you think about consent: www.ncsfreedom.org/survey.html As part of decriminalizing BDSM in the legal codes, we need to be able to articulate a clear definition of consent that the BDSM communities believe in. The results of this…






    Tags: Survey Consent Counts consent fetlife
  • NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts

    NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts February 27, 2012 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) announces two new publications as part of its nationwide campaign, Consent Counts. The Consent Counts Project was launched by the BDSM-leather-fetish communities in 2006 to decriminalize consensual BDSM in U.S. law by ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws and other statutes. "For…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Press Release consent
  • Action Alert - Take Action Californians!

    Our BDSM communities could be adversely impacted by a well-intentioned, but overly broad, piece of proposed criminal legislation that has been introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe in the California Senate.  NCSF is asking all of you to sign and send to NCSF letters (a draft is attached below) that we can introduce if necessary at a hearing likely to be held in April, 2011. The purpose of the bill, SB…






    Tags: Consent Counts action alerts california SB 430
  • NCSF Press Release - Missouri Indictment

    In an indictment rendered by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Missouri on September 9, 2010, five Missouri men allegedly participated in torturing a mentally disabled woman online or in person over a multi-year period when the victim was between the ages of 16 and 24. Among the charges are: Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud or Coercion, Forced Labor Trafficking, Transportation for Sexual Activity, and Conspiracy. The allegations…






    Tags: Consent_Counts SSC Press Release Indictments
Resources
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Consent Counts: We're Making a Difference

  • Completed Federal and State Legal Research
  • Developed Educational Programs and Outreach Materials
  • Built Alliances With Sexual Freedom Advocacy Groups

About Consent Counts

NCSF is leading a major national campaign—Consent Counts—to change the laws and police practices that our communities now endure, and to establish that consent is available as a defense in criminal BDSM prosecutions.

  • BDSM is prosecuted as assault in the U.S., even when it is consensual.
  • No state or appellate court has allowed consent as a defense to assault in BDSM cases.
  • Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM.
 
Program Goals:
Consent Counts
is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM through education, advocacy, legal actions and lobbying.

 

Contact:
Judy Guerin
Director, Consent Counts 
 
Help us reach more communities