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Consensual non-consent

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In one of my jobs, I've spent a lot of time interviewing intimacy coaches/directors and talking about boundaries and consent. While they weren't talking about spanking or what happens between people in the privacy of their homes, a lot of it transfers.

It's had me thinking about the term "consensual non-consent," which I used to really like. I liked that it described the idea that I could agree to give up consent in the context of a disciplinary or spanking relationship. I thought it was a good descriptor for those (like myself) who wanted to participate in certain power games in the bedroom.  However, the more I've learned about what consent really is, I don't think "consensual non-consent" is possible. Part of the problem is that for there to truly be consent, certain things have to be present. Consent is conditional, contextual and revocable. Permission given in one place is not permission given in another. So the minute there is no consent (non consent) it negates the consensual part.


I think what we are really going for is consensual non-choice. In other words, we aren't giving up our right to consent. We are giving up our right to have a choice in the situations we've previously agreed upon. So, I can say (probably in less formal terms): "I consent to not having a choice about when my spanking will start or end, how long it will last or how hard it will be." Yet, I still can say, "The consent does not extend to being spanked in public or with X implement." Or "I don't consent to having my skin broken or bloodied." Hell, we can even say, "I don't consent to having my left buttocks touched." Yes, that sounds crazy and makes it rather challenging for a spanker, but I do think in these relationships we absolutely have to respect each other's boundaries, whatever they may be. 

We also don't have to give reasons why. Intimacy directors often say, "No is a complete sentence." Now, I happen to prefer if I am in a relationship to be able to tell the person why, but that's me.  Sometimes people don't want to give a reason because they are tired of trying to be argued or shamed out of it. ("You're not a REAL spanko if you don't....")

At any rate, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about choice vs. consent and analyzing why the difference matters and I wanted to share--to open up a discussion.


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I used to (and still do) use the term implied consent - which predates CNC, I think. At any rate, implied consent was the term we used to use. I am married to a spanko Top and freely consent all the time - to whatever his devious dirty mind desires. My consent is implied in that he doesn't need to ask every time and every spanking doesn't require discussion. I can still withdraw my consent. It is up to me to do so. 

Same goes for him. If I want something he doesn't want to do or if he doesn't feel like spanking me, then his consent can be withdrawn. 

Communication is vital, of course - from the early days of learning boundaries and hard limits to exploring new desires. We still talk about things we would like to try and we reevaluate what we consent to. 

As with most things in the spanko realm, we seem to get caught up in semantics. Even common terms like Top and Dom, bottom and sub, have varied meanings. The definitions of implied consent and CNC might be vastly different from one spanko to the next. Communication and consent are paramount in all we do - in Spankoland and elsewhere. 

What it comes down to for me is that I always have a choice - do I consent to (insert kinkiness here) or do I not? Consent is a choice. 

I am rambling because the new kitten woke me up, so anyway... I still refer to it as implied consent. Now...more coffee.

Edited by rubyredd
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My "consent" had always been in the format of a contract which details expected behavior, tasks needed to be performed, and the consequences for breaking the contract.  We sit down each month to review and update the contract.


The "non-consent" or perhaps better defined as "non-choice" is when the contract is broken by me and I get the strap and/or cane.

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All consent/no consent is laid out "on the table" & "on the same page" before I ever even meet in public with anyone. And there is no rush to do so. Until then, everything is discussed whether it be exception or objection within a level of comfort on both sides thru negotiation. If that level of comfort is not reached on either side, which includes a sufficient level of "trust" also, then there's no point in going any further. Not every connect has panned out all the way but most have.

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I will ONLY spank people over 21. Before we start the spanking we chat and make sure what we each NEED. Same goes for when I am the one being spanked. Conversation is the most important part. That way neither leaves disappointed. When I get spanked I make it be understood I NEED to be spanked HARD and long with no mercy. When I beg for it to stop I need it harder. I have spanked people with the same need.

There is no way I will ever restrain a spankee. The option always remains for them to get off my knees and escape it they really need to. No one has ever done that and neither have I. Although I NEEDEd to end it a time or two I just remained in position and took what I was given. That is called consent


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I am SOOO guilty of over-analyzing things. Always.

And I very much get caught up in semantics. Granted, words are my trade and I have to spend a lot of time splitting hairs with exactly what a word means and which one might be slightly better than another. So it does transfer over to my spanking obsession. 

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I appreciate you guys sharing your wisdom and insight on this...but honestly...I am struggling to really understand the distinctions you are defining. I don't know...I guess I am kind of a simple, plain jane woman. All I know....is I agree to submit to my husband in all things, and I trust him. We do have some limits we discuss and he observes....there has never been an issue with that...but I have never changed them during a discipline or other activity of submission. I do acknowledge, though....that we are in this lifestyle very exclusively...not participating in "the scene"....so this trust can be reached far more assuredly....as I see it.

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19 minutes ago, nicoleS39 said:

I appreciate you guys sharing your wisdom and insight on this...but honestly...I am struggling to really understand the distinctions you are defining. I don't know...I guess I am kind of a simple, plain jane woman. All I know....is I agree to submit to my husband in all things, and I trust him. We do have some limits we discuss and he observes....there has never been an issue with that...but I have never changed them during a discipline or other activity of submission. I do acknowledge, though....that we are in this lifestyle very exclusively...not participating in "the scene"....so this trust can be reached far more assuredly....as I see it.

I think Nicole some seek definitions and I respect that but personally its a little more simple. I mentor and discipline when rules we have agreed to ahead of time are broken. With some I give maintenance, stress relief spankings.  It takes time to build trust for the spankee for sure and one has to take time but thru the years and still today it boils down to simple facts... Some want, need to be spanked for various reasons... and some are spankers. It always has to be consensual or course... 

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I think it is a wonderful thing that you are in a relationship where there is a lot of trust. Isn't trust a key factor? From everything you have posted, you have a healthy relationship and you are both getting what you want. 

I've spent a lot of time in the past 18 months exploring concepts of consent and boundaries. I have myself experienced abuse (including from my first therapist when I was still a teenager) and last year as I was working on a story I spent dozens of hours listening to the stories of people who had been abused--who were told that if they wanted to succeed in the career they loved, then they had to give up consent over their bodies in a myriad of ways. Yes, I'm being vague here, but that's because I don't really want to identify myself and what I'm talking about was eventually published and is out there. 

The stories were heartbreaking and I realized how often people let themselves be abused because they think they don't have any other choice. 

NOt that this thread is about abuse. It's just that those conversations led me to think more about consent and whether it is possible to have "consensual non-consent" and realizing that I don't think you can. 

Ruby mentioned implied consent, and I certainly think that most of the time in our relationships we don't have to verbalize consent, especially not after awhile. 

I do think language matters and that when we think about how we use terms, it's good for all involved--even if we never change the words we use. 

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Hi brigatta....thank you for your response and input. I am sad hear of your own personal abuse and the abuse experienced by others that you have dealt with so closely. All that makes your attention to definition regarding consent and not consent very viable. Yes....perhaps ruby's term "implied consent" is what we here actually live, or at least many of us. I am not critical of any of the comments in this thread...they all offer great insights....and where else can one find that...than here...right?  

I guess my take away in the samples of abuse victims you mentioned is this....the matter of "consent" is used to manipulate the victim into a form of helplessness and being entrapped....unable to "want" to escape or opt out.

I have mentioned my sordid adult beginnings as a prostitute and stripper. I now realize how often I was manipulated by mostly...ME. I was somehow able to avoid much entanglement with evil pimps or madames....but I thrived and actually "enjoyed" manipulating men with my body...was amazed I actually could and make real money...and told myself that it was ok because I really " liked" it. And...as I said, I did...but I ignored the benefits of relationship with someone who offered real love and intimacy.

Sorry...guess I am a rambler...lol. I do work with an organization that tries to help sex workers. They call me now and then for some prostitutes who I meet with and try to encourage to leave the life. But, I know it is hard...and I know it is really hard to reach the point where you realize your "implied consent" in the sex for money field...is really an ok to be abused.

Hope that makes sense...lol. And...I limit my volunteer work with that wonderful organization...because it easily triggers negative experiences I experienced some in that life.

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I have my own interpretation of the term. I'm not sure I've seen anything definitive about it. It's an oxymoron, but then paradox seems inherent in discipline for pleasure or fulfillment that is more complex than just straightforward punishment. For other kinds of spanking (not for discipline), the same could apply. The "consensual" part is the critical element. Everything is covered by an umbrella of consent. It can't be non-consensual non-consent. So the question — what is consented to? For me, this must be negotiated before the conditions go into effect and, at that time, the one giving up consent is not obligated to agree to anything. They choose the limits and boundaries, which could be as broad or narrow as desired. Once the agreement has been made, then it is an obligation that must be respected. The question then is, how is CNC implemented so as to provide a way out if needed?

That sounds risky or dangerous and, to some degree, it is. Much trust is required, and partners should know each other well. It's not for everyone. If I was involved in a relationship based on my interpretation of the term, the condition of non-consent would be a temporary trap. In the midst of an event involving a spanking, the ER is only bound by the upfront conditions agreed to, but until the incident is over, the EE has no say in what could be imposed upon them. This is where the desired non-consent is experienced. At any other time, either partner can opt out of the agreement or renegotiate. CNC remains in effect only as long as it's working for everyone. The risk is an experience of non-consent that is regretted. With a trustworthy and compatible partner, I think the upside potential far outweighs the downside risk.


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  • 4 weeks later...

I give consent in the context of trust. I consent as long as I feel respected and safe. I’m giving consent to punishment not to abuse. Children are protected by laws that prohibit their parents from turning punishment into abuse. As adults we have our own voice and don’t need CPS to intervene when a line is crossed, it’s as simple as that.

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