Consent Counts

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Consent is the new buzzword in the lifestyle

The swinging community has not spent a lot of time talking about consent. There is a real need to educate people that go to clubs and events about the importance of consent in swinging, polyamory and other non monogamous cultures.

For years, other communities like BDSM and the kink community have spent a lot of time talking about consent. If you are going to be tieing someone up and using a flogger or other instruments of pain and pleasure, it is important to discuss things in advance.

These communities even negotiate play “contracts” with clearly set boundaries and safe words that someone can say in order to signal that it’s time to cut off the play, no questions asked.

We, in the swinger community, can learn a lot from these communities. We need to be better at talking about consent, educating people that attend clubs, conventions, cruises and events.

In the past, I have been to seminars for beginners and ones that discussed etiquette and I heard leaders and experienced couples suggest that the best way to initiate play in a club or at an event was simply to touch someone and wait for their reaction. That was yesterday, this doesn’t cut it in today’s world.

I even heard (and at one time thought it was O.K.) to touch someone in a place that wasn’t sexual (like their ankle) to see if they moved towards you or away from you. What if they don’t do anything? Is that a sign that they are O.K. with you touching more? Or is this a sign that they did not notice your touch or that they simply do not know what to do. In today’s world we need to verbalize consent. Even in a group situation,, the acceptable bar should be to ask if someone else is O.K. with being touched, with being kissed, with any form of sexual play.

I know plenty of people that have been in a playroom or a group scene so they can watch others or be watched only to have someone grab their butt, their boobs or worse yet, their genitals without permission.

This isn’t cool. Not today. Not in the #metoo generation. We should know better and we should have a plan for obtaining consent. It’s no longer just sexy to have consent, it is required.

Many couples find it hard to come right out and ask “Do you want to play”, but there are things that can help you get to this point and past any nervousness and awkwardness. It’s better to find out ahead of time than to find out after spending a lot of time and effort only to find out that you are not on the same page.

Another important thing to consider in a couples centric lifestyle, is that you need both parties to consent. It’s hard enough for someone to find a partner that has the same boundaries but when you add in another two (or more) people to the mix, it makes verbal consent that much more important and necessary.

Add in alcohol, drugs, and lack of sleep and you add a whole new problem to getting verifiable consent.There are plenty of legal cases where people have been convicted of crimes because the sexual activity was not concluded as consensual because the person was too intoxicated to give informed consent.

Great, so now what do I do? Have a breathalyzer with me in the playrooms. That could make for a fun game.

I’m just pointing out the pitfalls and the concerns we must all share when having sexual encounters with others. If you are aware that verbal consent counts, then you’ll know that touching someone to see how they react is no longer an acceptable solution.  If we are aware that intoxicated people cannot legally consent, it will help you choose your potential partners better.

With all of these things in mind, you will be able to have a more productive, safer and more fulfilling sex with others.

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) has created a sample consent policy for clubs and events that promote open sexual activity between adults. We took these samples and tweaked them to better relate to our event.

I will share these guidelines here to give you some great options and things to consider when thinking about consent and how it applies to you and your potential partners this weekend... and beyond.

The following Consent policy will be posted on our playfloors and in our dungeon spaces. Please tell our staff members if you see anyone violating this policy:

Naughty in N’awlin’s Consent Policy

1. No touching people or personal property without permission.

2. Treat everyone as an equal and only engage in verbal role-play if you have permission. For example, don’t call someone a “Mistress” or “slave” or any other role-play or derogatory words like “bitch”, “slut” and “whore” unless you’ve asked for permission.

3. Negotiate the scope of your play prior to the activities, including whether there will be any contact with areas like the breasts, butts and genitals. Each person must give verbal consent to the proposed acts before any playing or scenes begins.

4. Each participant is responsible to make sure everyone involved has the mental and emotional ability to give informed and voluntary consent for the scene.If someone is obviously intoxicated, they cannot consent. Please report them to our staff members.

5. Depending on all participants’ state of mind, we recommend that you don’t renegotiate in the middle of playing or in the middle of your scene. When a person is in subspace or otherwise not in a clear state of mind, you may not have informed consent even though they agree in the heat of the moment.

6. Anyone can withdraw consent, make a nonverbal safe sign or use the universal safeword “Red” at any time. Once consent is withdrawn, the activity must stop immediately. Partners need to share the safewords or safe signs that are being used.

7. In BDSM play, the top is legally responsible for stopping the activities at any suggestion that the bottom has withdrawn consent. The bottom is ethically responsible for being clear and unequivocal when withdrawing consent.

8. If you experience or witness a consent incident, tell a playroom monitor or clearly marked staff member (look for the yellow shirts) immediately. Violation of this consent policy may result in expulsion from the event or group. No one is exempt from the rules.

Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort will be made to enforce this policy, but Naughty in N’awlins makes no representations or guarantees about its ability to do so, and all participants/attendees retain full, sole responsibility for their safety and the safety of others with whom they interact.