This topic rears its head more often lately, and I was specifically asked about it today on a Facebook post. I thought I would share my views here as well. To avoid TL;DR, I’ll state it here: I go back to a long held belief – 2+ adults consent to do something, as long as it doesn’t harm each other, I hold none in judgement of what they do with their limits. CNC for me is about someone giving consent/authority to another to go beyond their limits, without requiring permission or ongoing, active consent to continue. (From a relationship consent, not from a legal authority standpoint.)
The phrase consent-non-consent seems to have been around as long as I’ve been involved in the BDSM and kink communities – so set your clocks to 1995. When I first starting looking around the BBSs and then the strange thing called “the Internet”, there were discussions on ye-olde-Usenet that centered around the acronyms “TPE”, “IE” and “CNC.” Ah, JJ and his interpretations and pronouncements of what was and was not “TPE” back then. The discussion about all of that was good stuff, with a lot of very smart, bright and thoughtful people asking good questions. So, it feels very much like “back to the future” as folks new to kink as very similar questions as I was reading twenty years ago.
Consent-Non-Consent, in my mind, boils down to this – the idea that you consent to whatever is going to happen, trusting that the person you’ve given that consent to isn’t a psychopathic asshole who is going to end up harming/abusing you.
Now I use those words harm/abuse very deliberately, because I think that those activities of “harm” and “abuse” are ones that aren’t designed for consensual activities. I *also* believe that although activities may not be harmful or abusive from a legal standpoint, they could be harmful/abusive from a personal standpoint. This means that CNC becomes a personal, contextual definition, which brings in that whole messy “relativism” question. What is harmful/abusive to some might be a Saturday night foreplay session for me. And vice versa.
From a legal standpoint, abuse/harmful are also subjective, but we have a pretty good idea of what our local police and prosecutors are going to see as abuse/harm. That whole can of worms has been with us for a long time and will continue to be, but I believe the people I consider “safe” (in that they will not be harmful/abusive) pretty much know how to walk that edge.
So… if CNC is relative/contextual to the relationship and people within it, then how do we define it and have a discussion about it? Well, that’s the catch and that’s where an Internet debate is going to quickly boil down to “I do it this way and it works for me…” and rinse/relather/repeat.
So, that’s why all I can offer is my opinion, which is that I go back to a long held belief – 2+ adults consent to do something, as long as it doesn’t harm each other, I hold none in judgement of what they do with their limits. CNC for me is about someone giving consent/authority to another to go beyond their limits, without requiring permission or ongoing, active consent to continue. (From a relationship consent, not from a legal authority standpoint.)
Can someone “consent” to have their limits exceeded? Yes. Ask basejumpers if they are consenting to exceeding their limits. Almost every time, they ride the edge. Same for test pilots. Same for anyone doing possibly harmful things. They’re adults. They hopefully are tall enough to ride the ride and to understand that the edge cuts both ways and has a price. If not, they’re going to learn really damn quick.
As a Master, i work on mental CNC, to where I attempt to create a mental/emotional response in Angie so that she cannot do anything but submit. It’s that edge that we walk as practitioners of an authority based power dynamic. To be honest, in such a case, I can’t see how we’re not doing CNC. I’m OK with that… I know I’m not harming/abusing slave Angie and she quite readily would agree with that.
(Image from here: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=119175&picture=red-yield-road-sign )