Safety and Consent

Kink carries considerable potential for harm: physical injury, emotional damage, consent violation, legal exposure, and more. While no activity can be made completely risk-free, we believe that as responsible kinksters we have a moral obligation to protect ourselves and our partners from unreasonable and unneccessary risks.

As an organization, we are relentless about best practices for preventing harm. As individuals, we hold ourselves and each other to a high standard. We understand that humans are imperfect, but we have a low tolerance for carelessness.

Safety and consent issues are uniquely complicated, and we don’t think it’s possible or desirable to have a rigid formulaic approach to handling incidents. Instead, this policy will explain the way we think about these issues and how we make decisions about them.

Risk and care

While reasonable people may have different thresholds of acceptable risk, we believe that as responsible kinksters we have a responsibility to avoid unnecessary risk in what we do. In addition, we believe that interactions with novices carry a moral obligation to treat them with care and to avoid exposing them to risks which they are not capable of fully understanding or consenting to.

Consent specifically

Although consent injuries and violations are in many ways similar to other forms of harm, consent is a uniquely complicated topic. We therefore have some specific policies regarding consent:

  • We respect consent at all times—in our personal lives, as well as at SA events.
  • We seek affirmative, explicit consent for everything we do.
  • We negotiate carefully and strive to communicate our needs and limits clearly.
  • We define consent broadly and consider a broad range of inappropriate interactions to be consent violations.
  • We don’t tolerate even minor consent violations at any of our events.
  • We model excellent consent practices at all of our public events.
  • We do not non-consensually involve bystanders in our play, keeping in mind that different standards apply in different environments.
  • We have a consent contact ([email protected]) who you can approach if you have consent concerns that you aren't comfortable coming to us about. Shay will listen to you in confidence and work with you to find an appropriate path forward.

When things go wrong

We believe that accidents and mistakes happen, and that anyone who practices kink for any period of time will both experience and cause harm. When we evaluate an incident, we try to distinguish between inevitable minor mishaps, incidents caused by bad luck, and incidents that indicate a serious problem.

As we try to figure out what happened and what we should do about it, we consider the following questions:

  • Was malice involved? Recklessness? Negligence?
  • As best we can tell, are the people involved acting in good faith and being truthful about what happened?
  • Was this an isolated incident, or part of a pattern?
  • Did the responsible people accept responsibility for what they did and try to make things right?
  • Is there a high risk that the incident will be recur?
  • Were all relevant risks fully disclosed?
  • Were the people involved following commonly accepted best practices?
  • Was there coercion or deception of any kind?
  • What power dynamic existed between the involved individuals, and was that power dynamic handled responsibly or used exploitatively?
  • Do we feel that the people involved are taking adequate steps to prevent future incidents?

In handling incidents, we struggle to balance the privacy concerns of the people involved with the need to warn the greater community about potentially dangerous individuals. Depending on the situation, steps that we might take include:

  • Mediating between the individuals involved to find a mutually acceptable path forward.
  • Advising an individual about how to avoid similar incidents in future.
  • Putting an individual on a probation plan intended to address the problems that led up to the incident.
  • Terminating an individual's membership in SA.
  • Quietly communicating concerns about an individual to other organizations that might come in contact with them.
  • Writing a public letter expressing our concerns.