consent and the everyday submissive

As anyone who’s ever thought for more than a few seconds about BDSM should know, the magic word is consent. Safe, sane, consensual, risk-aware consensual, safewords and so on. If it isn’t consensual, it isn’t kink. We all know that much.

So where does the so-called 24/7 relationship fit into this? Is consent no longer an issue for people in such relationships? Is it given once and than assumed to be given constantly–the submissive agrees to the 24/7 relationship, and the dominant does whatever they want from then on out? More broadly, are those “24/7” people real or are they making it all up to sound More Kinkier Than Thou? What’s the deal?

Well, I have no idea what other people do, I only know what they write online. I can explain, however, what K and I do in our relationship–call it what you will; I don’t call it anything in particular. All I can say is that kink permeates nearly every aspect of our domestic lives, and this is how we interpret consent, for us:

1. In terms of the literal definition of “24/7,” no, we do not actually practice kink every second of every day for every week all year round. That would be exhausting and nearly impossible under the normal requirements of real life–we are real people with real housework, jobs, social lives and so on. But we do integrate our kink into most facets of our relationships, well outside the realm of bedroom activities. Sometimes I wash dishes because they need washing, and sometimes I wash dishes because I’m ordered to. Sometimes K puts on her shoes because she needs to leave the house for work, and sometimes I put them on for her because she needs to leave the house for work. Sometimes she says “please” and “thank you” and sometimes she doesn’t–and the absence of such isn’t rude, it’s an expression of dominance. In a word, we have house rules.

2. We operate under a general framework of consent. Put another way, the probability of my not consenting to an activity is extremely, extremely low. So K works under the assumption that most things she does will be okay with me, and needs not ascertain consent for each and every activity.

This is somewhat akin to the way that vanilla people in established relationships assume certain liberties with each others’ bodies. When you are first dating, you might feel anxious or require permission to put your hands under her shirt, or to put your arm around his waist without asking. Once the relationship has been established, you can do these things nearly subconsciously without requiring permission to enter your partner’s personal space. K doesn’t need to ask if she can do hurtful things to me, it’s assumed. I don’t like each and every thing she does to me, but generally, I like that she does them and I’m okay with it.

3. But this doesn’t mean that consent can’t be revoked. I don’t mean entirely, as in the dissolution of the D/s relationship, but rather on a case-by-case basis. This most often happens when K will ask my permission to do something that, technically, she doesn’t need to ask for. E.g., I don’t particularly enjoy having my nipples played with, but most times K won’t ask before torturing them–my dislike is really not a factor. Other times, such as when I’m having a bad day, she might give me the possibility to refuse. That’s a courtesy, and a gift to me, to return my consent temporarily…

I think it’s also understood that I could voluntarily revoke it, temporarily or for a specific activity–maybe, I’m not sure. Perhaps it would require some negotiation; I’ve yet to do this. If we ever found ourselves in a situation where I needed to, it would probably mean something was seriously out of whack.

Ultimately, I rely heavily on K’s intuitive understanding of my needs and abilities. Our system works because she knows what I can take, and what I want–and doesn’t push me beyond my boundaries or at inappropriate times. When it comes down it, that’s what makes our relationship not that different from any other kind of relationship and differentiates our dynamic from one of abuse. We are also exceptionally well matched in terms of interests, which means that she very rarely asks me to do submit to things that I don’t enjoy. Except sometimes she does…but that’s the subject of another post.