When a novice submissive first learn about BDSM or D/s power exchange it can be a scary place. The first thing I like to help these novices learn is about safety mantras, particularly the widely accepted Safe, Sane and Consensual or SSC.

What is SSC? It's a credo that people in the BDSM community use to express the safety tenets of play. For those who use SSC as a foundation, it can provide comfort and rules around what is acceptable play and what play is too risky to entertain. It is also the most common safety mantra in BDSM munch groups worldwide.

Historically, David Stein is the person who first coined the phrase in 1983 for the Gay Male SM Activists Group that he co-founded. It was then used as the slogan in the SM Rights contingent of the Gay Rights march to the capital in 1987. That's right, the phrase is not that old. He has since expressed a disappointment that the phrase has become what it is, a credo pressed upon novices and relegated to lighter forms of BDSM than what was originally the purpose.

I suggest that novices choose this mantra before considering any others (and yes there are others) since it is so widely used and understood. Once you know more about yourself and the play you wish to enjoy you may find that SSC does not fit well. So let's get into the basic definitions, shall we?


means maintaining a level of safety in the level of play that you engage in. It also means that all parties are aware of the possible risks and have been well-informed with what that level of play means and using protective barriers when necessary.


means you know which fantasies can be enacted and which ones need to remain a fantasy. It also means you will not play under the influence of alcohol or drugs and you will make sure your partner doesn't either.


is probably the most important basis for any safety mantra and is used in all the ones that I'm familiar with. Consent means that both parties agree to what is going on and that they will honor the agreement beyond the play space.

Negotiating play should be well thought out, especially if you are new to the particular play activity or person. Utilizing a safety mantra to help prepare and protect yourself is a great way to cover some bases.

Remember though, it isn't the only way to play safe, so make sure you talk to your potential partner and see if they will agree to play under SSC guidelines and not another safety mantra that you may not be familiar with.

Make sure you check out the other articles on this site about SSC: