I’ve seen quite a bit lately in discussion forums, blogs and the like about abuse within the bdsm community. That is an entire issue in and of itself, and one that I’m noodling on how to write about. I know a I’ve alluded to the fact that I experienced abuse in a relationship. It was, however, not necessarily tied to bdsm in the ways that are being talked about. I’ve not had the experience of being taken advantage of in a scene, having a safeword ignored, or anything of that ilk.

I did want to talk about something I read that I found disturbing though, and the gist of it was that if you are unable to fluidly change your negotiations and limits mid-scene, you are not fit to be doing bdsm to begin with. It further went on that those “victims” were actually victimizing the poor innocent Tops. I seriously take issue with that remark, and I’ll tell you why.

First, I am not saying that every single detail of a scene must be carefully negotiated ahead of time. For some, maybe it does, for others maybe they want things less structured. Neither is inherently more “right” than the other. However, I will say that when you are in the midst of a scene, it’s NOT the time for either party to bring some big-bad to the table. If in discussions beforehand something is put forth as a hard limit, the top would be wrong to wait mid-scene in altered headspace and try to obtain consent. While I have read that some in the community are tired of “victim culture”, that cuts both ways and I guess I get tired of top “victim culture” as well.

I understand that there are lots of people who like to play on the edge, and I am absolutely not saying that is wrong. But, for example, say there is something you find deep, dark, scary and compelling. You are hesitant to negotiate doing it, because you know you need to be in a certain headspace to even consider it. How about in your negotiation while you are clear-headed, you say “so, my entire body and psyche freak out (in a good way) at the thought of “x”, but I’m not sure I can do it. If the scene is going amazingly for both of us, please bring up “big scary x”, and I’ll consent to it then, OR NOT.”

If you really can’t even stand this much pre-altered-headspace negotation, it’s probably best to avoid edgeplay. If you’re a top and you can’t get that much conversation going on, and you take a massive risk and gain consent from someone who is in altered mind space, that is NOT OK and if there are repercussions, well – play with fire, get burned.

The idea that it’s fine to negotiate and reset limits within a scene and anyone who has trouble with that is flawed really bothers me. Subspace, or whatever other term you want to use, is as much (or more) an altered state as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and I don’t think the people making this argument would also argue that it’s ok to gain consent from someone intoxicated. In fact, a former acquaintance of mine once likened his own headspace (as a top) to a heroin high while in edgy scenes. Is that where you want to be making decisions from, when you’re playing that close to the abyss? I would think not.

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