08 July 2011

Subspace and consent

I've been browsing Fetlife today, and come up with some amusing threads. The one that is most interesting at the moment concerns subspace and consent.
Basically, the OP disagrees with the whole, "I was in subspace so I can't be held responsible for my actions and anything bad that happened is ALL YOUR FAULT."

So rather than dive into the transient and argumentative world of the forums, I'm going to articulate my thoughts here, relatively permanently stored, and let you argue with them if you want :)

Caveat the first- I refuse to define subspace for anyone other than myself.
Caveat the second- for me, when I bottom, I go into an altered state of consciousness.

Now, that altered state of consciousness, for me, is a lot like being drunk. I enter it mostly knowingly (every once in a while that 3rd drink hits harder than expected, or that really good term of, ahem- endearment- whispered just right in your ear sends you sliding under), I get really, really suggestible, and I am willing to do things I don't usually find enjoyable otherwise.

However, please note the distinctions:
I enter it knowingly, and therefore have the responsibility beforehand to choose a partner who knows what will happen and whom I can trust to be responsible for my welfare while I'm temporarily less capable of doing so.
Note my wording, by the way- less capable, not incapable.

I become suggestible, which does not mean "completely open to any influence," for those who are too lazy to look it up. The judge will not let you off for drunk driving just because someone else allowed you to have your keys, and I won't excuse you from being irresponsible simply because someone else was present and suggested it.

I am willing to do things I'd otherwise not. That doesn't mean I'll have sex with a complete stranger, let someone cut off parts of my body, or otherwise do something really stupid. It means that I will enjoy rougher sex than usual, accept a harder beating than usual, etc. It doesn't mean I'll let something completely out of character happen- it means that I'm willing to push my usual interests a little farther.

So, let's recap, shall we?
For me, subspace means that the person I already know and trust can suggest to me that we push my current interests a little farther.
It does not mean that anyone can convince me to do something I would then later classify as assault of any kind.

....don't get me wrong, Lucivar once debated digging my eye out with a knife and I'd probably have let him in the headspace I was in, but I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if he did he'd find a way to fix it.

And THAT, my friends, is the key difference.


  1. Yes!

    but I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if he did he'd find a way to fix it.

    I just don't understand why anyone would think it was a good idea to bottom to an intense scene without that kind of trust in place.

  2. Speaking as a guy, if I don't get/have fully informed consent while the person is in an unaltered state, then "it" doesn't happen.

    Consent can not be (legally or ethically) granted while someone is drunk or otherwise incapacitated. Even if they intentionally and knowingly consented to being incapacitated. (Legally, this can be rape, assault, etc.)

    Which is why I've got firm understandings with all of my lovers and play partners in advance and generally don't do "new stuff" when in altered states. (Which might or might not hold up in court, but makes me feel on solid footing ethically.)


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