You have to talk about what you intend to do to someone—and that person has to agree that they think that what you’re planning on doing to them is a good idea. This is called negotiation. It is considered highly unethical for a Top to do something to a bottom in a play scene that has not been pre-negotiated. Reputations can be lost in a moment if a Top does something to a bottom that hadn’t been negotiated—even if they’ve been partners for years.
Consent is an agreement to participate in any BDSM activity. Before being sexual or doing BDSM with someone, you need to know if they want to be involved with you too. It’s also important to be honest with your partner about what you want and don’t want. Consenting and asking for consent are all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner — and checking in if things aren’t clear. Both people must agree to it, every single time for it to be consensual.
- Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Reversible. Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both in the middle of a play scene.
- Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent.
- Enthusiastic. When it comes to any type of play, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.
- Specific. Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others.
The age of sexual consent is how old a person needs to be in order to be considered legally capable of consenting. This is why all BDSM is for adults.