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:
All participants are knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what they are doing, and all act in accordance with that knowledge.
Knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, and acting in accordance with that knowledge.
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.
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.