S.S.C. and R.A.C.K. are both popular acronyms for guidelines on how to engage in BDSM practice that emphasize consent and the minimization of harm for all parties involved. In this article we will look at what each of the terms means and how they differ from each other.
Safe, Sane, Consensual The phrase itself is pretty self explanatory, though we are going to break it down further below:
SAFE: Being able to identify and prevent any risks to health (physically, emotionally, mentally).
SANE: To participate in activities with a healthy and responsible mind, with players exercising good judgement within the sphere of play.
CONSENSUAL: Ensuring all parties involved are fully consenting to the activities taking place The term was coined by David Stein in his 1983 essay of the same name, stating that he wanted to create a term “to distinguish the kind of S/M (he) wanted to do from the criminally abusive or neurotically self-destructive behavior popularly associated with the term ‘sadomasochism’”. While commonly accepted by BDSM practitioners, there is some debate as to whether S.S.C. is too vague or open to interpretation - as what is ‘safe’ or ‘sane’ is highly subjective.
Risk Aware Consensual Kink
RISK-AWARE: All participants in the activity should be well-informed of any risks involved CONSENSUAL: Participants in the activity fully consent to engage in the proposed play KINK: The activity is classified as a non-normative sexual practice
The term R.A.C.K was first developed in dissatisfaction of David Stein’s coinage of S.S.C. by the BDSM community. In 1999, Gary Switch proposed the term R.A.C.K, which aimed to give a more accurate portrayal of personal responsibility when choosing to engage in play.
It can be said that the intent of R.A.C.K. is to increase education and awareness about the types of play you will be engaging in and all of the risks involved, while also accepting that nothing is 100% safe.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
R.A.C.K. differs from S.S.C in that it acknowledges that nothing is fail-safe and proposes to make sure all parties are well-informed of all risks surrounding any type of play.
Both philosophies seek to minimize harm, though R.A.C.K seems to put more emphasis on the individual’s commitment to potential risk before engaging in play, while S.S.C seems to aim to minimize total harm over the long term.
WHICH IS BETTER?
Both terms seem to adequately address the need for consensual activity to take place and the uses of both terms, both separately and in conjunction with each other, seem to be widespread within the BDSM community. Some believe that S.S.C. is sufficient in consideration for play, while proponents of R.A.C.K believe that it is not.
Communication between all parties involved in play is of paramount importance, so it is worth asking before play which your play partner considers most suitable to them.
There are other terms, like Personal Responsibility, Informed Consensual Kink (P.R.I.C.K.) and Committed, Compassionate, Consensual (C.C.C.) that some people ascribe to, though S.S.C and R.A.C.K. are the more widely used acronyms by the BDSM community.