R.A.C.K. vs. S.S.C.
Prior to a group discussion on this topic, I had never heard of the term R.A.C.K. (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). After the reading the discussion that was going back and forth on our list, I decided that I needed to do a little research into why the term was being used, and how it differed from the more commonly used SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual). In doing some digging and reading some very lively discussions on the topic from various Internet posting boards, I must say that RACK does seem to lend itself very well to the ideals that I believe are most important to all of us that have chosen to live this lifestyle.
Risk Aware - We all need to be aware that the bondage and S&M portions of our lifestyle contain risks. We cannot be ignorant of the concept that even the most experience and skilled players among us can inadvertently have a bad moment...a moment that though unintended, can cause unwanted marks, bruising or even broken skin during even the most innocent of scenes. We have to constantly remain aware and sufficiently educated enough to realize that accidents can, and do, happen. The element of risk is what makes what we do exciting. Using the term "risk aware" in assessing a potential play partner, is vital to clear communication in a scene, and shows that your partner is truly able to give "informed consent".
You must educate yourself not only about the activities that you desire to participate in, but in your partner as well. The skill level and experience of your partner can increase the risk of any BDSM activity. We, as CONSENTING ADULTS, have the responsibility to ourselves to be Risk Aware before we consent to a particular partner or a particular scene.
From what I have read, the term RACK does not negate the responsibility of the Dom/me or Top from staying within pre-negotiated limits, nor does it take away the safe words from the submissive or bottom. The person in control still has the responsibility to preserve the well-being of their partner...all RACK states is that both parties are fully aware that they are participating in a potentially dangerous activity, and that they are giving consent with full knowledge of the potential risks. To me, this is common sense. If a Dom/me or Top obtains consent from a sub or bottom that does not recognize the risks involved, is this really informed consent? The Internet has created a safe, comfy, fantasy realm for many newbies to acknowledge their kinky urges. They talk to each other about spankings, caning, etc., and many feel these chat rooms have educated them. When these people step out from behind their computers, and into real-time, can they be considered knowledgeable enough to consent to an activity that up until now has been painful only because of cramped fingers? In using the term "Risk Aware Consensual Kink" we are recognizing that our activities are NOT always safe, even with the best and most honorable intentions...those involved, knowing this, still consent to participate. Isn't this a more honest and realistic approach to what we are doing?
In many of the posts I read, SSC seemed to be considered a term that was advantageous in gaining mainstream support from the open-minded sector of the vanilla world. This allowed for the more vocal elements within the BDSM community to lobby for more understanding from lawmakers. As for a basis in reality for the lifestyle, it seems that it may create bias and division between the newbies and the more extreme players. Could the subjective terms of Safe and Sane cause judgmental feelings? What is safe to you? What is safe to me? Are my fantasies sane? Are yours?
I think there is an advantage to embracing both the RACK and SSC terms. Both have their place and their purpose, and both are terms that will ultimately benefit the BDSM lifestyle in their own way.