The Wolf has been arrested. So where to from here?

Dear Sydney,
We’ve woken up to the news this morning that the fellow amongst us formally known as “The Wolf” has, finally been put into his cage. Beyond his most ardent followers, most of us have taken a moment to stop and breath. Could this be the tipping point for us? Could this be the one arrest that breaks open the fragile façade of consent that has enveloped the community. The cover that hides the true darkness that we know exists but need to deny because it will force some serious introspection about what it is we do?
It’s safe to say that I am not the biggest fan of the way consent is conceptualised within kink. I find the cheap words vile and the calmness that surrounds the absolute cognitive dissidence nauseating. Victim blaming quickly followed by the paternalistic defence that proudly proclaims the need to do, while systematically refusing to acknowledge that those that do are responsible for their choices that fulfils their needs. Intentional blindness and blind obedience.  A cultural refusal to acknowledge the difference between the fantasy in our minds and the experiences we choose.
I’ll admit I gave the air one serious high five when I read my news alert this morning. I’m not at all upset that this man, who one report stated is “understood to have legendary status amongst Sydney’s online BDSM community according to a police source” is now on strict bail until his court appearance in December.
But I am preparing for that overwhelming devastation that will come once his fan gaggle collects themselves and begins their militant campaign of support. Anyone else convinced that will be using a few of the suppositions and tactics of camp Trump 2016, but instead of “locker room banter” it will be “BDSM”? I know it will come. You know it will. Because that is how kink works! I’ve seen it before. I saw it with his (alleged) child victim. I’ve seen it with other victims regardless of whether or not kink is apart of their assault.
But there is something else that I do know.
This is front page media news! Print, digital, radio, morning TV, women’s media. It is going to go “viral” so to speak. And thank-freaking- god!
This perpetrator saturated Fetlife with his recounts of his actions. He wrote books about them. His cheer squad wrote passionate defences of him and outlined his behaviour towards them. All of which now creates the peripheral framework for this case. He put it out there, the police will now use it.
Our community chose to enable this by becoming passive enablers. And yes, I consider myself as being a part of this! How many times have I encountered something which I knew needed addressing but was so fatigued from trying so many times before and just closed the tab on my computer? I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only feminist who feels this fatigue. Who feels so overwhelmed that they check out and go binge watch Outlander and pretend, for a few hours that this shit doesn’t happen!
I live in Sydney! This fucking animal preyed (okay I’ll add another allegedly here) on a child the same age as my daughter and has been accused of another rape, with police urging other victims to come forward! So yeah, this one is a bit closer to home for me. I took what I knew to the police in January and have sat here ever since waiting for this. Waiting for the police to knock on his door. Hoping with crossed fingers that, one day soon, he will be forced to account for his choices.

I just didn’t know there are more victims! I should have known, his patterns of behaviour, his addiction to the feedback loop he’s created through social media, the sloppy yet aggressive way he has created this animalistic caricature of himself and his, dare I say it, pathological posse of female devotees. They all come together to create an individual who sees himself in the third person. As someone not like you and I. Someone who has given himself permission and who acts within the validation of outsiders. Who can disconnect from the humanness of himself and others. I’m not going to label this, but anyone with the slightest understanding of the psychosocial components that created this will know what he is!
I read one commenter, in a vain hope I’m assuming, invalidating his arrest by claiming that this is nothing more than the police showing their bias towards kink. Let’s get this one out of the way. This was KINGS CROSS, the alternative mecca of the Southern Hemisphere. The most popular Kink club Hellfire is located within the Kings Cross police area. They are not some country cop shop, but inner city, community engaged and diversity – including sexuality aware officers.
It’s not about the aesthetics. it’s not about what this looks like, how “violent” ones actions may seem to an outsider. Although objective perceptions of BDSM will form a part of any jury’s considerations if the case proceeds to trial. What matters, right now, is that his victims subjective experience of her interaction with him meet her and now the law’s, measure of sexual assault. What matters right now are HIS choices. HIS actions. What HE understood (Mens Rea). What HE did (Actus reus).
Because let’s remember his whole MO is to render his victims passive in order to conquer them by his “alpha” superiority. We’ve all read his writings. We know how he chooses to present himself. He’s the absolute alpha who can drag women into his assumed nirvana bliss whenever, however he decides. And this. This attitude. These choices. THIS is what has landed the puppy in the dog house! It is what he did to her, as opposed to what they did together. The moment he chose to step outside the mutuality of the interaction and into his idealisation of himself; that, is when he crossed the line from kink to sexual assault causing actual bodily harm.
And here’s what I know:
The police have created a “Fact Sheet” within which they have created a narrative of events based on the known circumstances of the offence (sexual assault) and the aggravating factors (actual bodily harm). That is that on the 21st of August at (an undisclosed) Kings Cross hotel Liam Murphy, 41 raped X, aged 21, twice and attempted to rape her once.
These are the known facts as they are right now. Due process, right up until a verdict is handed down (as far as I understand it) allows for these charges to be negotiated between the DPP and the defence. These charges can be changed.
I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve spent years researching and writing about consent and the law in NSW. I’m not an “expert”, the law is complicated and there is a reason that lawyers get paid the amount they do! Interpreting and creating argument is something that I wouldn’t know how to competently do. But I am confident enough in my understanding about these few points to put it here.
Sexual assault comes from the nonexistence of consent. It is deliberately removing personal agency. Consent in my State, so the State within which this case exists, is present within a sexual interaction when a person “freely and voluntarily agrees to the sexual intercourse” {NSW Crimes Act 1900 – SECT 61HA].
Actual (as in actual bodily harm) – doesn’t actually have a definition within the Statute. But there are “typical” examples of injury caused (through unlawful actions of another). These range from scratches and bruises through to psychological harm.
Common law however has found McIntyre v R (2009) that injury… “[N]eed not be permanent, but must be more than merely transient or trifling — it is something less than “grievous bodily harm”, which requires really serious physical injury, and “wounding”, which requires breaking of the skin”
Actual bodily harm uses ordinary meaning, that is an injury is assumed to interfere with the health and comfort of the victim. He may have done the exact same thing to a dozen other women, who found her overall experiences of his actions pleasurable. But this woman found them to have a negative effect, she has deemed them something that has caused her to have interfered with her overall health, wellbeing and comfort.
The other thing I want to mention is “recklessness”. R v Bloomfield (1998), Blackwell v R (2011) the prosecution has to prove that the accused intentionally and recklessly assaulted the victim AND as a CONSEQUENCE of that actual bodily harm was a result.
I’m not going any further into the legal aspects of this case. Luckily for me the Downing Centre Court is about 500 meters from where I am so I can attend the hearing on the 6th of December. But I will state this –
It is all too common (and I would be pretty certain that this will apply here as well) within both answers to accusation put to an accused and as a formulated defence within trials for the accused to admit sexual activity but assert that there was consent. So the question is can or should the existence of BDSM (as a prescribed social acronym depicting particular non-heteronormative sexual behaviours) be enough to definitively argue that consent exists and that the accessed actions were in fact lawful and not the intentional infliction of harm?
As the statutory and common law interpretation of what consent varies considerably across jurisdictions, there is insignificant consistency to create a common language to define precisely what is and isn’t within the boundaries of proscribed and approved behaviours. There is way too much geographical and so jurisdictional variation to lay any claim to BDSM being an absolute defence to the harm created through ones actions.

 
There is no doubt that BDSM adds additional complexity to what is already a multidimensional and difficult experience of victims. When you consider that BDSM has, until recently remained on the peripheral of mainstream sexual understanding, can we really assume that those invested in what they do will supplant what has been accepted as consent for what is consent in the rest of the world?
There is, outside of BDSM, plenty of criticism “grey area” if you like, surrounding the line between consent/agreement and mere compliance. Sex and rape. Interpretation of behaviours and understanding the wants of others.  If this line is blurred within case of sexual assault that seem straight forward, then the complexity must be exacerbated by adding elements of BDSM to the context of the crime. So, no the existence of BDSM cannot, as far as I’m concerned, defend ones understanding of harm and the occurrence of harm caused by our choices/actions!
No matter how kinky you might think you are, no matter how much you’re showcased on K&P and if you’ve reached the peak of Fetlebrity status you live in the real world! The real world that, the last time I checked, does not have an asterisk in the Statue enabling those of us who fuck a tad differently to our neighbours to act outside the law!
Because I am SICK & TIRED of men like this using BDSM as a justification for their criminal choices! BDSM, for me and for a lot of us, is a healthy and safe sexual manifestation. Something that allows us to explore our bodies and our relationships in ways that work the best for us. BDSM is not a get out of gaol free card. BDSM does not excuse you from your choices any more than religion excuses a man who chooses to shoot an abortion clinic.
So where to from here –
We need to reframe BDSM and fast! We need to exclude men like Murphy from our communities and distance ourselves from their choices! We need to make consent central to everything and focus on the actions and the intentions of those that do before we start interrogating those who are having it don’t to.
BDSM is not violence and it is not assault! It is a means of playing with sensation, language and behaviours in order to gain sexual and relationship satisfaction. THAT IS IT! You can kinkwash it all you like but the bottom line is that BDSM is not a means of causing harm to another. BDSM is not “illegal”. Causing harm to another person is illegal. Using behaviours and props, language and imagery commonly assumed to be BDSM within our intimate relationships is NOT illegal. Choosing to sexually assault someone where there is harm experienced by your victim is illegal.
Look, I get the need to be transgressive and to be seen as extraordinary! Brene Brown explains our culturally ingrained fear of being considered ordinary really well. She explains in Daring Greatly that it is our fear of ordinary that creates this new surge in narcissism (– it’s a must read!) I get that, for some, sex and relationships are the only stage within which they can become more than just another shmuck. BDSM allows us a platform in which “othering” ourselves and creating something more is hero worshiped.
Being motivated by your shame-induced fear of ordinary (seriously you HAVE to read Brene) might make you a Fetlebrity. But it won’t make you immune from the consequences of your choices.
And it’s these choices that need to be the catalyst for the next step.
We need to start asking questions like
“What made you think your choices were okay?”
“How did you know that what you did was exactly what they were asking for?”
“When you chose to do X how certain were you that you were doing what was asked of you?”
We need to start focusing our attention onto the actions and choices of those who are choosing to use BDSM as a mirror from which they deflect their responsibilities. Those who think that they can do as they please, those who are validated by others and those who are enabled by websites and businesses to continue unchecked.

Men like Murphy do not “do” kink, they use kink as a defence. And that, no matter how much you word game it cannot be okay!

Yours sincerely
Someone who is pissed!
 

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My consent is not what makes his choices okay!

I’m not here to write passionate arguments defending BDSM. The socially constructed acronym used to umbrella an innumerable number of experiences doesn’t need my few words to argue on its behalf. I don’t feel the need to defend anything that I do nor do I feel the need to explain away the absolute bullshit that others claim as kink that I encounter almost daily. Those who demonise or glamourise BDSM typically lump all and everything into their explorations and conclusions and will never be persuaded by anything that I could say.

But I did try once or twice.

I’ve written a few times here that I started this as a means of adding to the conversations that we have about sex. Something that I’m passionate about. But there’s something that came before this decision. An ‘incident’ so to speak, that made me understand that there is often something missing from the way that we perceive and talk about sex.

And I guess as many other “ah ha” moments, this one began on Facebook. I’d just started connecting with the community of sex writers on social media, I was confident enough to add my 2 cents but not yet sure of my place. I’d managed to toe the party line for a few months, although I had already seen a number of things that confronted and confused me and some that really did offend me. But I’d let them go, choosing to maintain a polite silence rather than question or ask others to question their position.

This one post was on a woman’s page who is a feminist, has been writing for a number of years and has a few hundred followers. She contributes regularly to ‘sex positive’ online publications. She is articulate in her words, she not only writes about sex objectively but she candidly brings her sex life into her space with descriptions, antidotes and pictures. Nothing about her is, really noteworthy, and I’m not going to name her here. We have very different ways of using our own spaces but this is neither here nor there. It just is.

One morning she posted a meme, it was one of those artistically styled black and white ‘tumblr’ posts, with words over the top of the picture. From what I remember it was a typical male dominant, female submissive caricature. The words were simple ‘the difference between kink and abuse is consent’. There were a hundred or so comments all in gushing agreement with the statement and rephrasing it in various ways. Almost all of them were contextualising the statement in a male dominant female submissive relationship and were all assigning consent to her not him. She is the one who gives consent, this was a matter of fact statement. There was this constant theme (and it was/is not only on this one Facebook meme where this occurs, it seems to be quite typical way that consent is positioned in kink) that what she did justifies what he does.

I didn’t get it, I still don’t. How is it that what I do absolves the person I’m having sex with from their choices?

I asked just this. I asked about how intention fits into this, his intentions not mine. I asked what would happen if we began positioning intention rather than consent as the thing, well one of them because there are numerous factors that come together to distinguish my relationship from those where one half of the couple is the victim of domestic violence? I wondered what would happen if, when something goes wrong, we examine the intentions of those who do (allegedly do) harm to others. 

It’s something that I’d been thinking about for a while. And genuinely believed that this was the appropriate time and place to have asked what, for me was a pretty straight forward question.

Boy! Was I wrong!

I was shamed and ridiculed. Not one comment offered me a reason for why my question was wrong. In fact, no one actually directly answered my question or challenged my position that his intention should be more of a concern that my agreement or actions. What did happen were individuals dismissing someone who chose to cross a defined line. Consent is the all and everything. And while I am the first to position the importance of consent I am not prepared to use something that is of such legal and cultural significant to continually justify and defend the actions of those who intend to do harm.

That’s not to say that accidents don’t happen. They’ve happened here and will probably happen again. Nor am I talking about things that are directly asked for, negotiated and that are for the mutual benefit of both partners. But what does not happen here is him intending to hurt, coerce or manipulate me. His intention, going into everything that we do, is to create and facilitate mutually beneficial physical interactions.

 

His intentions matters. And while my consent matters, they are two very different elements of our relationship. His intention most certainly influences what I consent to and my consent frames what he intends to do. But what he ultimately does comes from his intentions not from my consent.

Positioning his actions as a direct consequence of my consent renders his decision making process and his accountability almost invisible. As if what comes after my agreement (consent) is void, inconsequential. When in fact he and he alone creates the decisions that manifest in his actions.

We can also bring this into efforts to dismantle rape culture. If, instead of centring the consent of the victim as the core element of distinguishing rape from sex, we then are able to actively interrogate the actions of the accused based solely on what they chose to do. What did they intend? What we the mental process that he went through in his mind to assess the entirety of the situation and judge his next action as being right? When he did whatever it is that he is accused of what was his aim? Did he intend to contribute to a mutually agreed upon sexual interaction, something that would create mutual satisfaction – however that plays out. Or did he intend to take what he thought was his, intestinally rejecting part or the entirely of what was agreed?

Does this give us an exceptionally objective measure enabling us to clearly differentiate between sex and rape or BDSM and abuse? No. the complexity of the crime is such that one element is not (or should not) be the crux of a prosecution. However, focusing on intention and examining the decision making process used by an accused to lead him to believe what he was doing was the right thing would dramatically shit the currency that victim blaming has in rape. If it is more about him than her blaming her can’t be so central to a defence can it?

Reflecting back on the way the idea was responded to in my social media interaction mentioned previously still doesn’t make any sense. Here I was being ‘blacklisted’ and blocked, prohibited from commenting all because I wanted to take the responsibility for someone else’s choices away from me and put it squarely on them. Because I want consent to reflect the ability for me to be able to form a sex life that works for me not as something that defends the actions of him.

So let me ask, why is it that my voluntary agreement is the only this that distinguished BDSM from intimate partner violence?

Negotiation; it doesn’t work when you don’t have informed consent.

I’m often perplexed by a lot of questions raised on Fetlife and more often than not frightened by some of the answers given. No more so than in the popular discussion group “Novices and Newbies”. It’s a mixed bag of know-it-all never have’s and know-it-all genuinely believe my experience is enough to tell others how it should be done. I couldn’t imagine being someone taking their fantasies into reality via Fetlife. You would think that a group created to bring in those with limited actual experience so that they can ask questions and pull apart ideas in order to make the best decisions for themselves would encourage actual engagement with the questioner and genuine empathy when offering up answers to questions and advice to situations. 

If I had to narrow down the frustration that I feel it would have to be with questions about negotiation. Here’s the context – submissive posts asking how to approach a first time interaction, they have no actual experience but are eager and absolutely certain in their decision to step into this experience.

More and more I am reading people describing their “style” of interaction with someone new. Granted, as with everything I read online I take it all with a grain of salt and try to read between the lines, but recently I saw this description given by someone I was sitting across the table from. So I sat back and listened to what he was explaining and then watching the feedback being given, by those with way more experience than me.

Essentially we are talking about the blueprint of what is going to happen, answers often fall into a few categories relating to their interpretation of what negotiation is for them. There seems to be a generalised and commonly accepted format that most see as essential to “successful” negotiation:

Check lists – downloadable spreadsheets created by a stranger which give you a list of words in which you distinguish between what you consent to and what you reject.

            Focus on the end goal “submitting” (as opposed to the means of getting there), what is it that needs to occur in order for the goal to be achieved?

            Limits and safe words

            Practicalities – toys, language, actions, the elements that create the kink.

While at a quick glance this seems to be an adequate representation of how someone wanting to engage in a successful and healthy interaction; I find it frightening. Simplistic and missing the core of what it is negotiation is trying to achieve – informed consent.

I am not trying to suggest that using a checklist or focusing on limits and practicalities is the wrong way of going about things. What I’m asking is for you to consider that informed and consent have to be core to any initial conversations that preceded the physical interaction involving kink. When you move your focus away from creating the starting platform from which decisions are made (information) in order to create (consent) mutually satisfying interaction you run the risk of causing harm not healthy kink!

 What makes me uncomfortable is that there is no consideration for the fact that one person had absolutely nothing to give their potential partner, in terms of relevant information, from which they could make informed decisions. 

When I took my first steps into kink I had no experience. I had desire and ideas but I had no knowledge about how exactly these things would feel in my body or how my body would react to particular stimuli or circumstance. This lack of experience left me in a position where I could not genuinely negotiate with my partner. I had no information to give him about me, my body, my reactions or areas of concern, so that he could make informed decisions. I had nothing but abstract ideas and desires. Not much to give a dominant who needs to make relevant decisions for himself for me and to react to issues when they arise. 

What I was able to give him was very explicit directions as to what exactly I wanted from him and our first few experiences together. I was very explicit in my intentions to him. I was not doing this for him, in anyway, I was doing this to gain the needed information in order to make future decisions. I’d had fantasies and I’d imagined how something might work, but I had nothing factual to test if those fantasies and thoughts would eventuate.

Essentially he was the facilitator in my experiment.

I needed to see everything, understand how it was going to be used, what things were made of, where they were going to be used and his intentions for using them I expressed my expectations and made it clear that it was my body and my reactions that would be guiding his actions.

Now, I understand that not everyone is able or willing to be so explicit in their experiences. I was very hesitant to take things any further and so was giving myself permission to explore but still retain all control. Not just the ability to say stop, but the ability to structure the directionality of what was happening to my body through to the point of stop. Each of us has to begin somewhere right? My way may not be the stock standard way nor would it work for everybody. But, as someone with a tad more experience and a passable and confident understanding of how some things work, I feel that the “informed” part of informed consent is being minimised. While it’s great to give a synopsis of how things worked, we really need to bring these conversations and answers back to some of the fundamental aspects of how safe, healthy relationships work – consent, informed consent.

It is only when we recognise the imbalance that exists when someone has no experience within which to provide genuine information from which the other person can make informed decisions; that we can create mutually satisfying interactions with genuine informed consent.

#What is – Limits

We all have wants, needs and desires, just as we all have boundaries, levels of comfort.  and what I like to call the fuck off zone.

Here I want to go through the concept of limits. There are dozens of ways to approach ones’ limits, just Goggle “BDSM limits” to check out how others have done it. Again, there is nothing in this that is a ‘you must do’. This isn’t a one size fits all solution & probably won’t make much sense to those who see sex and relationships differently to what I do. I’m coming into this as an individual who sees intimate relationships as an erotic space for meeting the needs of myself and my partner. It’s a mutually satisfying, healthy space. I also see limits in term of ours and not mine and his. It’s our relationship, our sex life and it’s our responsibility to come into this honestly and with the intention of creating a safe sex life that works for both of us.

 While we all do things in our own way, I think there are a few common truths that can be accepted as just being the way that things need to be in order for them to work. And if there was one thing, one question that I think needs to be at the centre of our sex lives it would be this:

 If you don’t know what is okay you cannot possibly know what isn’t. How can you have unwanted without wanted?

 

It might seem strange starting a post about limits looking at what is rather than what isn’t, but the process of recognising and setting out the limits of our relationships has to being with recognising and setting out what is needed from the relationship. Both of you have to know and understand not only what you need from your partner but what your partner needs from you.

I don’t think it’s possible to see limits outside of needs. How can you say no if there is no yes? This reframing enables us to bring consent into a positive model based on the ‘yes’ rather than something that is centred on just a ‘no’.

 What I’ve put here may seem simplistic, and in many ways it is. I had a job a few years back where I had to teach budgeting to teenagers. I had to come up with a really simplistic way to convey not only the importance of budgeting but the practical ways of how to budget I came up with a way that used different coloured envelopes in order to demonstrate a way to spend money based on importance and need. I’ve taken the idea of colours and turned them from envelopes into boxes – metaphorical boxes.

 I’m a very visual learner and need to see what I’m playing with (sorry about that bad pun), I have to be able to see the differences in ideas and where things fit in the big picture. Something like this allows me to see and separate wanted from unwanted. It gave me a way to bring in what he wanted and didn’t want so that I could see what lined up and  those things that I’m not quite sure about and need a little more thinking or talking about.

 And finally, it gives me something at the end that is easy to read at a glance. I can see the results of the conversations about what is and isn’t needed in our relationship.

Keep in mind that for this to work these boxes need to be realistic and fluid. They will change as the relationship evolves. What ends up in the green box can be moved into the red, and vice versa. New ideas and needs can be added at anytime.

 The reason I feel this way of contextualising and seeing limits is so important is this. Consent is free agreement. For something to go into the green box both people have to freely agree to it. Until that point of free agreement is reached it does not go into the green box – it is, a limit. It’s a way of seeing the needs, desires and boundaries of yourself and your partner clearly. It enables you both to acknowledge each other’s needs – including the ones you don’t like. It allows you to really understand what the words you are both using really mean. It’s all well and good to say “I want pain play” or to tick a box on a downloaded checklist but what does that really mean? Are you both on the same page when it comes to what exactly pain play is and how it will fit into your kink play? Words really are just letters that are ordered in a way that we are able to recognise until we add meaning to them.

 As always this is just one way of seeing the complexity of need in sexual relationships. I don’t want this to be seen as the only way or the must do way. Ignore it completely, laugh at it and stick with what you’ve done, take something but leave everything else. Use this however you need to in order to have to tools you need to create the safe, nurturing, healthy, functioning relationships and sex life you need to be you.

 

The place to start is with me. Call it the me box.

 In this box i want you to put all the things you know you can do, you have done, you want to do and that you like the idea of.

I want you to name it. Don’t just put a word that you’ve heard or read about. Name the action that you want to try or the need you have in a way that means something to you.

I want you to describe it. Describe exactly what this word is and how you see this working for you.

I want you to put a boundary about it. Where does this action/need begin and end? How do you know if it’s working or not? How are you going to know when to stop, rethink or remove it entirely?

 This could include things like

 Monogamy or polyamory

Language – will the submissive call their dominant sir? Is the words slut and bitch okay to use?

Physical needs – what is it that you need in order to become sexually aroused or orgasm?

Giving – what is it that you are prepared to give to the other person?

Love – do you need romantic love to be able to submit to another?

Control – do you need to feel control just in the bedroom? Are you looking to expand this into other areas of life?

 

The second box is the you box – it’s all about the other person.

 

In this box the other person puts all of the things that want to do, thinks they might like or has done. Same rules apply as for the purple box.

Name it

Describe it

Define the boundary

 

 The third box is the red box or what I call the fuck off box (seriously this is what it’s called here!)I often say “I’m putting that one in the fuck off box” when he decides to show me things that make me want to run away and hide).

In this box I want you to put all the things that are a no, the things that are no go areas.

 Again name it, describe it and define the boundary. But I also want you to be confident enough to be able to place something in here without justifying it. We can say no, just no, without feeling like we have to defend that decision. Some things are just not for us and that’s okay.

But please do not fill this with things like ‘taking off my limbs’ or murder. If you have to define the rape of children as a limit with a potential sex partner then you should stop now, turn around and walk away! Genuine communication is realistic and focused. It’s about two human coming together to create something that works for them. Leave the over the top romanticism and tall tales of worst case scenario for the fiction writers.

 This can also include things that could turn into a maybe but aren’t there right now. I don’t like using the idea of “soft” and “hard” limits. Something is either agreed to or it isn’t. Remember what is in here today can be put into the green box tomorrow.

 This could include things like:

Physical limitations – as obvious as they might be, it can help to still write them down. I can’t wear heels (one too many broken ankles) but he loves high heels especially ballet boots. So heels one of my limits.

 Monogamy or polyamory – is a non-monogamous relationship a no go for you?

Sex – Is anal sex something that you just won’t consider?

Pain threshold – do you know where that limit is? Where pain jumps from pleasure to distress? Do you know which implement just doesn’t work for you?

Language – is calling you a slut just off the table?

 The next box is the green box. It’s the us box. It’s also the tricky one.

 What I want you to do is sit down with your partner and go through both the me and you boxes. I want you to add into this green box all of the things out of the me and you box that you can both agree belong in your relationship. Nothing that is not agreed upon by the both of you is allowed in the green box.

 This is where negotiation comes into it.

 Negotiation is a process of communication that is goal orientated. In order to meet the goal (filling the green box with all the awesome kinky stuff that’s going to happen) you are going to have to talk about what is in the me and you boxes!

 Negotiation is complex and there are many ideas and theories as to what makes someone good at negotiation or what makes negotiation a success. Here are a few tips to help get things moving.

 Commonality – you both want the same thing. Remember that goal and let that be the common meeting point when things get a bit heated.

 Discussion – this is a conversation. It’s not a debate, you are not trying to persuade each other to see things your way. You are discussing the green box; what’s going in there, how it could work and what it is you need to do in order to get things in the green box.

 Acknowledge conflict (when it arises) – some things are going to get into the green box pretty fast. For you to even be at this point in a relationship there has to be common ground, something that brought you together. But there are often things that need a little bit more work. Conflict is going to come up and when it does you need to acknowledge that this (whatever this is) is causing a problem. Put it aside for now and come back to it later.

 Identify points of compromise – now I know some people see compromise as a no go (especially dominants for some reason).  Remember this is all about the green box; the thing that you want the most. Why else would you be doing this if you didn’t want what’s going to end up in the green box? See compromise as giving what you are prepared to in order to get what you want more. This doesn’t mean you give in or give up. It doesn’t mean that the other person can control or coerce. Every decision made has to come from a place of free will and end in free agreement.

 And finally, the maybe box

In this box you put in anything that is left over from the me and you box, the stuff that didn’t make it into the green and red. What is in this maybe box cannot be moved into the green box without both of you agreeing to it. If you find there is something which you just cannot come to agreement about, or there are things that need a bit more time to discuss, put it in here.

What is in here are just the things that need a bit more discussion. Maybe you need to rethink how it’s going to fit into your relationship. Maybe one person doesn’t quite understand what the other is trying to describe. Maybe this is something that one wants but the other isn’t quite ready to try it yet. Maybe there needs to be a little bit more talk about the boundaries.

The things in the maybe box are not limits; as in not going to happen, but they aren’t the things that are okay –yet. Sometimes it can take a bit for you to get your head around an idea, or work out how something is actually going to work. Sometimes the conflict is becoming the talking point and not the idea itself. And sometimes you just need to come back to something.

Like I said this seems really simple, and it is. It’s a way of taking something that can be quite overwhelming – like talking about your sexual desires and how an intimate relationship is going to work, and breaking it down into smaller pieces. Something like this allows both of you to have the space to figure out your own wants and do not wants and then to be able to come together set the start of what will hopefully a mutually satisfying intimate relationship. By taking mine and yours and making them ours the boundaries of a relationship fit and allow for a much safer erotic space

This is free agreement. This is consent. This just makes sense!

Abuse is not just a kink just as kink is not abuse.

There is a lot written about sex and sexuality that makes me angry and yet nothing induces the anger like the way too often used and very inaccurate line “consent is the difference between abuse and BDSM”.

I’d be so happy if people just stopped claiming this crap!

My understanding of this that the underlying premise of BDSM is “if she asks for it then it’s okay’ or another way that I read this is ‘if there is no safe word said then everything is okay’. This is in a way correct but it is also significantly Immature and a depressing representation of the sexual reality we exist within. To me this attitude and this oversimplification come about not from wanting to have “good” sex but from wanting to protect our own arses! Yeah I said it!

Consent isn’t the bare minimum of what constitutes a functioning, healthy, safe LEGAL sexual relationship it’s the go to catchphrase when afore mentioned arse needs defending/protecting.

We no longer have consensual relationships because that’s just what good people do. Nope. Can’t be had. We claim consent in relation to our relationships to defend what it is we do!

The reality is this; kinksters are just as bad at consent as the rest of the sexual world and we are all bad at it because we just don’t understand what it actually is.

Consent is all about ME – it is my free agreement. It’s my legal right to enter into and exit out of sexual encounters as I so choose. That’s it. It really is this simple and I cannot for the life of me understand why people get this so wrong.

Did I ask you to XYZ? Nope! Then I did not consent.

Section 61HA of the New South Wales (the State that I live in) crimes Act states very clearly that consent it a FREE AND VOLUTARY AGREEMENT. The wording may differ but there is an almost universal (especially in Australia) legal consensus that this is what consent is.

If consent is about me and my free will than how am I in any way responsible for the actions of another? How then can my consent; what I’ve agreed to, be justification for your actions?

Within the Act is a list of conditions that need to be meet in order for the prosecution to create a case– again these relate to the State I live in, the wording may be different but the essence of the conditions are the same.

Three of these conditions are:

(a) the person knows that the other person does not consent to the sexual intercourse, or

(b) the person is reckless as to whether the other person consents to the sexual intercourse, or

(c) the person has no reasonable grounds for believing that the other person consents to the sexual intercourse.

The first “the person” is the nominated accused – that is the person that the victim is accusing of sexual assault.

The second “person” is the victim.

If you read what is stated above (which is a direct copy and paste from the Act) you will see that what we are actually interested in when establishing the legitimacy of an accusation are the actions of the nominated accused. We are looking at what the accused KNEW, what the accused INTENDED and what the accused DID.

What they did not what I did.

What matters when establishing the legitimacy or the illegality of ones actions and if that constitutes a crime are not the actions (or inactions) of the victim but the actions of the accused!

How does my free agreement cause the actions of another?

Do we really have no ownership of our actions?

It is not consent that creates the difference between abuse and BDSM its intention.

I am not responsible for the actions of my sexual partner as they are not responsible for mine. To agree to be intimate with, fuck, or engage in something kinky is not some kind of blanket cover against abuse. If your intention is to act outside of the law and commit assault nothing I have agreed to matters! If your partner is assaulting you there is nothing, not your consent, not your inaction, nothing you do allows that to happen.

If we are serious about BDSM and all it entails being a legitimate form or sexual expression then we need to take a significant step away from the simplicity of what I’m calling consent washing and allow the reality to be had. A reality in which nothing I do creates the foundation for an abusive relationship. Nothing I’ve negotiated, consented to or done in the past allows abuse. Nothing about me creates another actions. This nothing goes both ways to the d and the s and includes all genders as the accused and the victim.

If kink is serious about fighting back against both the abuse within and the instance that it is all abuse from beyond then there needs to be an acceptance of the complexity of the humanness that creates those within these types of relationships and interaction. Dominants can be abusive and there is nothing a Submissive does that creates that. Submissives can be abusive and there is nothing a Dominant does to create that. A top can abuse their bottom regardless of anything the bottom has done.

Allowing ourselves the space to cast a critical gaze over what it is we do and to question is not a bad thing. Questions do not hurt people who have answers – even wrong answers can be enough to cause great change within communities and society as a whole.

Abuse is not just a kink just as kink is not abuse. Abuse is a deliberate act indented to harm. Kinks are deliberate acts intended to create mutually satisfying experiences.

That and that alone is the difference between abuse and kink – no consent needed!