SSC and RACK
By Mr. Michael
The practice of BDSM is often confused and indistinguishable by the non-BDSM, or vanilla, public with acts of violence or abuse. In an effort to describe in detail the differences between BDSM activities and abuse, practitioners of BDSM have created and relied upon two prominent mottos of their community and lifestyle choices, SSC and RACK.
SSC describes and differentiates BDSM from abuse in ways that are easy for the vanilla public to comprehend.
SSC is an acronym that is often credited to David Stein of the organization GMSMA (Gay Male S/M Activists) in New York which stands for safe, sane, and consensual. In his 1984 essay Safe Sane Consensual: The Evolution of a Shibboleth
, Mr. Stein explains in greater detail the choice of terms:
- Safe: attempts should be made to identify and prevent risks to health.
- Sane: activities should be undertaken in a sane and sensible cast of mind.
- Consensual: all activities should involve the full informed consent of all parties involved.
This motto of safe, sane, and consensual was adopted by large numbers of BDSM organizations and community members, as it describes and differentiates BDSM from abuse in ways that are easy for the vanilla public to comprehend.
In light of those risks, both or all partners have, of sound mind, offered preliminary consent to engage in said activity.
RACK, or risk-aware consensual kink, is an acronym often credited to Gary Switch from an article in 2003 that circulated widely in kink communities on Usenet internet news groups as a reaction to SSC and his dissatisfaction with its subjective terms and connotations. The components of this acronym are described as:
- Risk-aware: Both or all partners are well-informed of the risks involved in the proposed activity.
- Consensual: In light of those risks, both or all partners have, of sound mind, offered preliminary consent to engage in said activity.
- Kink: Said activity can be classified as alternative sex.
Mr. Switch believed that risk-aware consensual kink is a more accurate description of the values that responsible BDSM practitioners abide by. He contended that what our community deems as "safe" may not be consistent with the general public's concept of safe practice. The same may hold true of the term "sane" because of its very subjective process of definition. The activities within common practice of BDSM may be considered from an outsider as inherently risky, and perhaps even quite insane. The concept of consensual in a legal context is usually dependent on the participants being sane or of sound mind at the time of offering their consent.
The general non-BDSM public has views of our practices that are largely formed by the media
What do we gain as a community by creating any slogans at all? The general non-BDSM public has views of our practices that are largely formed by the media, and it has been the efforts of Mr. Stein and Mr. Switch to rally the BDSM community behind concepts that we may present to the vanilla public as being our general guidelines for ethical and enjoyable BDSM practice. While the two concepts are different in semantics, they are very similar in sentiment and in their intention of acceptance by the general public.
Some people subscribe to both mottos, using safe, sane and consensual as a description of our activities to any member of the general public, while using risk-aware consensual kink as a description of our activities within members of our community. Whether one chooses to subscribe to either, or how they choose to apply each concept is up to the individual.