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Guest Blog: “BDSM Contracts: When the Law Doesn’t Protect You, Protect Yourself”

on Saturday, 15 December 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline

By Tiffany D. Jones, M.A.

In BDSM, a slave/master contract is an important element to ensure that parties know and understand their respective rights and responsibilities within the context of their consensual relationship. Further, as experienced practitioners of BDSM well know, the drafting, negotiation, execution, and enforcement of such contracts is part of the fun and fantasy of BDSM.

However, BDSM practitioners should not forget that the legal system will not enforce slave/master type contracts no matter how well and emphatic they are written. Worse yet, some players will inevitably want to attempt to manipulate for their own purposes the language of such slave/master contracts. Thus, it is important for BDSM practitioners to take steps to keep their slave/master contracts confidential and to prevent even those who one day might sign such contracts in earnest, from turning on their play partners when their relationship may no longer be as trusting. Participants who enter into a BDSM contract should only do so if they have the intention of honoring the agreement. However, in the BDSM world as in the real world, things change, feelings change, desires change, circumstances occur, etc.

Moreover, when things are in writing, there are inherent risks that the document, rather than benefit parties, could be used to harm one or more of the individuals in terms of custody, divorce, employment, criminal and civil disputes. Regardless of the motivation for drafting and signing a BDSM contact, think in terms of potential forthcoming problems and as well as unforeseen, individual protection.

Cultural anthropologists can provide insight into protecting identities of subjects. Those involved in BDSM can learn techniques utilized by anthropologists to provide protection and anonymity for themselves. On the one hand, think in terms of ‘protection from others’. What if a child, neighbor or relative has discovered your BDSM contract? What if one party dies? Or what if a family member was searching for evidence to use for a custody dispute?

One way to protect both parties is similar to the protection techniques utilized by anthropologists. Code your contract using code words and lock the code key in a different location. For example, if Zeb signed and dated a contract pertaining to ownership, punishment, servitude etc., those parties’ drafting the contract may use “Green” for Zeb, “moon” for ownership, “banana” for punishment etc. In the event, the signing parties forget the code, they simply find the code key locked away. Any person not a party to the contract would face a challenge proving or decoding its content.

On the other hand, consider the need to protect ourselves from each other. Without being paranoid, and in an attempt to prepare for the worst, consider the issue in terms of assets, children, or other investments. If you have anything to loose, and we all do, consider adding a disclaimer to your contract. Whether you are Leopold van Sacher Masoch or John Doe, a disclaimer on the contract can specify that the contract is null and void by either party at any time, or that the contact is non-binding and up for reconsideration, or that what is stated above is agreed upon by both parties but is for entertainment purposes only and not to be used for legal purposes.

Slave and BDSM contracts are as old as masochism and sadism itself. As risk aware consensual kinksters, we must draft and sign contracts with consideration. Those who enter into contractual relationships must consider the risk of others discovering our rules, and the potential of our partner using our own words against us.

Tiffany Jones, M.A. is a registered psychotherapist and has been a sex and relationship coach for the last 11 years. She started Denver Sexology LLC in 2005 to help individuals and couples who are struggling with intimacy issues and seek to improve their sexual satisfaction. She is a kink friendly professional.

 

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