A consensual non-consent BDSM scene might sound like an oxymoron to some, but it's a safe and fulfilling way to experience kink with your partner. It can also be intensely erotic and incredibly intimate if you do it right—but as with all BDSM activities, some rules need to be followed, and safety measures need to be taken to ensure everyone involved comes out of the experience safe and satisfied.
Rape play is essentially role-playing the act of rape between consenting adults, with one party taking on the role of the rapist and the other party playing the role of victim. I used to believe that consensual nonconsent was immoral, but after many conversations with people involved in this sort of play, I’ve come to understand that it’s entirely consensual, even if it can be hard to wrap your head around at first glance.
What Is Consensual Non-consent?
Of course, you don't want your BDSM play to be non-consensual (i.e., real), but consensual non-consent is different. It's about letting go of your control for an agreed-upon period of time and sharing in an intense experience that gets you all worked up. In other words, it's as if you agreed in advance that they'd be allowed to say no without either of you feeling upset or angry afterward. Of course, deciding on everything beforehand isn't always easy—especially if one person wants limits beyond what their partner is comfortable with—but it is essential for consensual non-consent because it keeps everyone safe and happy.
Within the BDSM community, consensual non-consent (CNC) is commonly known as "rape play." I will use both terms here to make sure you understand what I'm talking about here: While CNC can certainly involve physically overpowering someone against their will (known as rough sex), it doesn't—and isn't that better? After all, rape play sounds pretty scary; consensual non-consent sounds like something you want to try! A little explanation of how CNC actually works might help make things more transparent: CNC is role-playing where two or more consenting adults agree to act out simulated rape scenes for sexual gratification.
In a consensual non-consent scene, everyone involved agrees to behave in a manner that mimics non-consensual behavior. Role reversal is an essential aspect of consensual non-consent; even though one partner may be on top and sexually active during these scenes, they can still respect boundaries and give genuine reactions without being aggressive toward one another. The point here is: If you're thinking about trying consensual non-consent but aren't quite sure if it's your thing yet, do your research before jumping into anything physical with another person. Trust me, that time invested will save your relationship from some unnecessary strain later on!
How Does It Work?
Consent isn't just about saying yes when you want to have sex; it's also about establishing boundaries so that everyone involved knows what they can and can't do in various situations. In these role-playing scenarios, it's not as simple as no means no. There are shades of gray when it comes to consensual non-consent in BDSM— someone who is unable to say no for health reasons or is impaired from drink or drugs won't be able to give informed consent, or may not be able to walk away from an encounter if it goes too far. So don't attempt CNC role-play by any means. But, again, have an honest conversation with your partner. If you don't know how your partner feels on these matters ahead of time, consensual non-consent scenarios are considered off-limits.
When both partners agree to abide by specific rules before acting out sexual fantasies, consensual non-consent encounters are safe and fun! Plus, there are definite advantages to verbalizing expectations beforehand: Doing so allows couples (or individuals) to discuss exactly how much pain or force they're comfortable with; negotiating soft limits beforehand helps avoid power struggles during BDSM sex and ensures that nobody experiences more physical pain than intended. Finally, creating safe words makes sure things don't get out of hand in real life either: Both people should pick out unique words that could never be used in regular everyday conversations—the classic safe word used amongst dominants in S&M encounters--red because it doesn't pop up outside those realms.
Is This What You Really Want?
Before getting involved in any consensual non-consent activity, you should make sure you and your partner are on board with what will happen. If you feel unsure how far to go with something, stop and talk it out. Perhaps you'll decide that more extreme things aren't right for you now. Alternatively, your partner may be willing to try something new or different with clear boundaries. Whatever happens between consenting adults is their business — as long as they both agree! But if either person feels even slightly uncomfortable or unhappy during playtime, it's time to stop what's going on immediately.
Just because you can do something to someone else doesn't mean you have to (or should). Even if no really means yes in an intense fantasy scene, no always means no when it comes to real life. You don't have to force yourself or anyone else into doing anything outside their comfort zone; everyone involved must give full and verbal consent at all times throughout a consensual non-consent encounter. Establishing safe words beforehand can help keep everyone on track: A prearranged word or phrase (such as red) can signal an immediate halt to action until everyone is ready again; such a word can also be used by anyone who becomes scared or upset, so they don't need to say no out loud.
Stick To What You Agreed Upon
In consensual non-consent (CNC), both partners must agree on what they're going to do. Talk through different scenarios before engaging in play. Remember that consent can be withdrawn at any time. Do not force your partner into anything they do not want to do. Agree beforehand if one person will take a dominant role or if you will swap parts during playtime. If your partner agrees to let you be in charge for an hour, don't extend it beyond that—or risk losing trust in your relationship and ruining everything you've worked so hard for together!
Although consensual non-consent sounds like something only experienced kinksters would enjoy, anyone can try it if they follow these simple rules:
- Have a safe word set up ahead of time.
- Make sure all participants are down to participate.
- Never leave someone who doesn't give you verbal permission.
- Stick to what you agreed upon once things get hot and heavy.
It's super essential that everyone sticks to their words and sticks with each other during CNC scenes!
Practice Makes Perfect
Before you attempt any BDSM practice, have an honest conversation with your partner and check out some resources on how consent is negotiated between partners. Find out what each other's hard limits are and always respect them. In addition, only do something that you know will be safe—no matter how into role play you get. And remember: not everyone has a penchant for playing with non-consent, so be sure it's something both of you genuinely want.
If there's hesitation or uncertainty even after researching, talking about it, and trying to make informed decisions about what makes both parties comfortable, then you might want to skip it. When in doubt, go back to basics; no harm, no foul as they say. But if you're up for exploring consensual non-consent within kink/BDSM, then keep reading! This could be one of your most fun adventures yet.
Side note: If you want additional advice or support around consensual non-consent, FetLife offers one of many options available online. The site welcomes all kinds of kinky people – from novices to experienced practitioners – and provides an easy place to communicate with other like-minded folks. As well as practical resources such as safe words, guidelines, checklists, and links to valuable books and articles on BDSM practice. There are also many discussion groups where people can meet up locally or travel further afield for kinky fun together.
As always, play safe my friends.
FetLife is the social network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community. FetLife. (2022). Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://fetlife.com/
Johnson, D. J., Stewart, C. M., & Farrow, B. (2019). Female rape fantasy: Conceptualizing theoretical and clinical perspectives to inform practice. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 19(2), 175–187. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332691.2019.1687383