Safe, Sane, Consensual [Edit]

In the BDSM community, safe, sane and consensual (SSC) are common principles guiding relationships and activities.

The principles are that BDSM activities should be:

  • Safe: attempts should be made to identify and prevent risks to health
  • Sane: activities should be undertaken in a sane and sensible frame of mind
  • Consensual: all activities should involve the full consent of all parties involved. Note, though, that legal consent may not create a defense to criminal liability for any injuries caused; furthermore, this is not necessarily limited to physical injury.

Most attribute the term safe, sane and consensual and the acronym SSC to David Stein, who first used them in August 1983 for Gay Male SM Activists (GMSMA). In his essay entitled “Safe Sane Consensual: The Evolution of a Shibboleth”, Stein states the term was created “to distinguish the kind of S/M I wanted to do from the criminally abusive or neurotically self-destructive behavior popularly associated with the term ‘sadomasochism’.” (SM, S/M and sadomasochism all mean sadism and masochism.)