I’m going to be really technical today and discuss risk.
Risk is something important in many parts of life. Every day we take risks, but, there’s a lot of things we’re programmed to mitigate this.
For example – every time we cross the road there is a risk, but our entire lives we’ve had the green cross code drilled into our heads.
So, when a road is busy we look for a crossing.
If one isn’t available perhaps we cross in groups.
Lest of all we stop look and listen.
There’s also assorted road laws that tie in with the risk. So for example in the UK the speed limit in a residential area is 30mph – so if something does happen and someone is hit then the consequences are often less serious.
There’s loads of other things we do; checking the temperature of the bath before diving in, using a chopping board to chop veg, or not eating food that looks or smells ‘off’.
But these are risks we know because they’ve been drilled into us our whole life.
Even vanilla dating, there’s assorted information to look out for around assorted risks.
Of course, in all of the above – with the best risk management in the world, there’s always things can go wrong.
A car driving too fast, veg being tough and slipping with the knife, food that looks and tastes fine can still be contaminated with food poisoning bacteria – and – that person you’re on the date with can still spend the night buying you double vodkas instead of singles to get you drunk in the hope it loosens your inhibitions.
We may have heard of SSC and RACK when it comes to kink.
SSC is Safe Sane and Consensual – three core roles any type of play should be (although someone points out that all play carries some risk – and that ‘sane’ can be prejudice against those wiht mental health)
RACK is Risk Aware Consensual Kink, which is usually where play is riskier or edgier but you’re aware of the dangers. People have different ideas of what goes way (especially if trying to make themselves sound more hardcore) but certainly things like breath play, any form of play without safe word, knife play, etc. would certainly be RACK.
An acquaintance of mine describes his preferred play as RASH.
Risk Aware, Shit Happens : which represents his preferred play – which is often a lot more intense, edgier and arguably dangerous – but, he’s aware of the risks.
There’s a common theme here of being AWARE of risks – and also from there there’ll be assorted forms of mitigation.
Some people love rope. Some people LOVE rope. But, it comes with risks – it can damage nerve endings – it can slip and cut off circulation or, worse, oxygen.
Trying to untie if shit goes wrong is too time consuming – so – you can mitigate the risk with a pair of safety scissors on hand and, y’know, cut the rope.
For the sake of this post I can’t document every single possible activity and every single risk.
Especially as the risks may differ from person to person, for example if there’s a medical issue. But, also, if you play football on a Tuesday and it’s a communal changing area you don’t want marks on your body.
I once took significant accidental damage to my lower back and could barely walk for 10 days, not helped that I already have a weak back.
But, there are ways to mitigate this.
Now, also, when people speak about risks in kink – it’s important that many of these are not about the play.
High Level Risks
Here are some high level risks. Not all applicable to everyone.
– Being involved in play that results in an injury
– Being marked and this means someone could find out
– Having your consent violated (intentionally or otherwise)
– Violating the consent of someone else.(intentionally or otherwise)
– Having friends/family/colleagues find out about your activity in kink and this affecting your relationship(s)
– Being pictured in the newspaper because of something you attended
– Or arrested as part of an event you were at being raided by the police
– Being questioned by the police because of something you were involved with
– Being questioned by the police because of someone you were associated with
– Legislation changing making something you have done retrospectively illegal (this has happened! But is unlikely.)
These are non exhaustive.
Now some of these sound pretty dark. But, the thing is – they’re not.
They just seem dark.
From being a small child you’ve had “don’t talk to strangers” and “look before you cross the road” drilled into your skull – and that’s no less dark.
Now. Lots of people talk about personal responsibility – and I don’t entirely agree, but this is very contextual. It’s important this doesn’t stir into ‘victim blaming’ territory should something go wrong.
But then, sometimes – everyone seems afraid to actually speak or talk about what responsibilities people have!
I mean, I might danger sliding away from my point here, but, often speaking up against some practice you see as being wrong/negative often results in many trying to silence or deflect from this rather than acknowledging concerns.
Positions of Responsibility
Now. I will touch a little bit more on this shortly. But, as well as your own risks – if you place yourself in any form of position of responsibility, you are in charge of managing risks and being responsible for others.
Positions of responsibility include, but are not limited to.
– Munch Organiser
– Event Organiser
– Forum Moderator
– Dungeon Monitor
– Event Staff
– Premise Owner
– Professional Dominant
– Profession submissive
– Workshop Host
– Other Industry Professional
All of the above are self appointed roles.
If you are any of the above, no matter how good you are, or think you are, you didn’t qualify for this position through Kink School. You didn’t win an Election. You didn’t pass a job interview.
You have a responsibility towards the welfare of all of your clients.
This can be direct (I dunno, if you’re hitting them with something that you know what you’re doing), or it can include laying and enforcing rules, or it can include making sure information/training/whatever you share or pass on is done so in good faith.
This means, for example, if you have a newcomer and are mentoring them, you wait until they are making progress with the basics before lunging them into edge play.
This means, for example, you respect limits, you seek to meet the needs of those coming to you.
Tips to Mitigate Risk
Of our person looking at risks and how to manage them – here are some tips to help mitigate risks.
– Research any form of play before partaking in it.
Either giving or receiving.
This can include, but not limited to, reading writings, watching YouTube blogs and tutorials, joining groups on that subject and reading questions/answers and adding your own if not answered, attending workshops, being mentored.
Sometimes flexibility can apply. If you are engaging in an activity with someone you trust then it might not be so important to already have the knowledge – but – I dunno, if someone is doing something with you and it doesn’t feel ‘right’ it’s important to have an idea what is right, or how to communicate this is off.
Understanding the basics of ‘play’ is important
– Research the person before playing
Where applicable – can be difficult if it’s someone you’ve just met in a club – but of course approaching with the associated caution is good. Perhaps it’s a little safer in a public/club atmosphere but remember the DM doesn’t know if you’ve just met, or known each other years.
– Agree/Understand Safewords
If in doubt – ‘red’ and ‘mercy’ are traditionally the universal safewords. So, if you haven’t agreed one and someone calls it, stop. Even if it’s just to check they did mean ‘stop’ and not something for effect. (Incidentally, I disagree with the notion of safewords for ‘effect’. I can appreciate an ignored ‘no’ in the right context. But, if someone calls red or mercy – then it should stop, because to onlookers it now looks like you’re ignoring their safeword should you continue.) but having an agreed safeword to help communicate with each other that it’s enough/too much is important. When people have a good understanding they can read each other – and that’s a beautiful thing. Also remember : Dominants are also allowed safewords!
– Being clear with communication
On either side of play, being open to what is OK and what is not OK and knowing how to say stop and that this will be respected.
Having conversations afterwards about what did and didn’t work.
– Having a hint of caution on where you go
An event which seems to be a little bit reckless regarding play and rules and who is allowed to attend – perhaps doesn’t seem to deal with problems smoothly : these are the ones more likely to attract police.
– Being cautious on which personal information you divulge and to who
This doesn’t mean to be too cloak and dagger, but you don’t need to tell the person you just met your full name, street where you live and where you work.
– Being cautious on who you associate with
Turning a blind eye to known wrong-doing well never come back to you in a positive light.
It is important to know those you are close to.
– Being cautious on drama and politics
Nobody likes drama, nobody likes politics.
However, they are inevitable to some degree. There’s lots of things that fuel these, be it jealousy, entitlement, status, outdated opinions, money, so forth.
It doesn’t actually matter who is right or wrong, just that information presented may be skewed on an agenda.
– Get your information from more than one source
This is important for many reasons. Both different perceptions, one person might miss something, no advice is universal.
The more knowledge you have, the more enriched you are and the more chances you are to make better decisions.
– Remember, someone can do everything ‘right’ and shit still happens
If something does go wrong, either for yourself or someone else – learn from it in order to mitigate further risks.
– Don’t take this post as exhaustive
It’s actually unlikely something serious will happen, but, it’s always important to have your wits about you.
Always look at what can go wrong – and how to stop it going wrong.