Part 6: Navigating Negotiation

Effective communication is critical, especially when we’re talking about the D/s dynamic. Navigating the realm of leather, fetishes, and kink to find the things that do and don’t work for you is not always smooth sailing, but it is important that both Dom and sub feel empowered to speak up when something may cause fear or heightened anxiety outside the scope of any agreed-upon play parameters.


Let’s first delve into what I believe may be the single most important topic relating to anything in the domain of human communication: consent. This is really a pretty easy concept to grasp, so let’s do it with bullet points:

  • Consent is not up for negotiation or interpretation.
    If it’s not an enthusiastic “Yes!”, then it is a “No.”
  • Consent is clear, direct, and enthusiastic.
    If it does not meet all three of these criteria, further discussion is necessary before you continue.
  • Consent cannot happen by accident.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is a particular kink known as Consensual Non-Consent, or CNC. While it may show the appearance of something that is happening without consent, that is in fact not true. CNC kinksters give consent ahead of time for non-consensual roleplay. Even in the practice of CNC, safewords are strongly encouraged.


When you are involved in leather, fetish, and kink play – especially in the areas of BDSM (bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism) – and you are serious about the health and safety of the people you are playing with, Safewords are a must. A safeword is the equivalent of an emergency override switch. When someone uses their safeword during play, this is an indication that their limits have been breached. The only acceptable response to the use of a safeword is that everything stops without hesitation.

The person in the dominant role should immediately check in with the person in the submissive role and respond in whatever ways are necessary to ensure that the health, safety, and well being of the submissive is protected. Any other response is a breach of trust and may put someone in danger.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In the event that a participant may be rendered unable to speak during scene play (muzzled, gagged, etc.), a physical action can take the place of a safeword. The same rules apply when the action is used. Everything stops without hesitation.

Negotiating a Scene

Negotiating play becomes increasingly important depending on what the play will include. That’s why negotiation itself is so valuable, because this is where the scene is discussed and negotiated.

  • What will this scene include?
  • Who are the participants?
  • What are my limits and boundaries?
  • What is my safeword?
  • Do I give my enthusiastic consent?

As you can see, these questions go beyond consent and safewords. These questions should not be left unanswered unless the scene involves someone with whom you have a level of trust and rapport, and even then there should be a history of related discussion and negotiation.

Domination and Submission Series