In a previous post, I talked about Safe, Sane and Consensual or SSC, a safety mantra that quite a bit of the BDSM community has picked up as a way to explain ourselves to non-lifestyle people. It's an easy way to explain what can't really be explained. I don't intend to make this a primer for RACK, just like I didn't have that intention for SSC. It's a viewpoint, plain and simple.
If you have ever tried to explain what we do to someone that doesn't have any familiarity you will probably use these very standards to stand up to your descriptions. An alternative, but one that is even hard for some BDSM practitioners to embrace is called RACK. It stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink. The only thing that the two safety standards have in common is the consensuality of it.
All of the activities that you can participate in have some level of risk to them. From something as basic as a spanking to verbal humiliation, edge play, or the even more intense forms of play. These risks can be physical, mental, emotional and psychological. Can you place a label of safe on something that carries risks such as burns, bruising, cuts, scrapes, mental anguish, stress, fatigue, headaches or other dangers?
Just like SSC, consensual means that both parties agree to the activities and negotiations that have occurred. This is probably the most important premise of both mantras. Without consensuality, then it is considered illegal. Illegal generally isn't the way I'd want to play.
Shift in Purpose
The purpose of RACK is awareness and education. You should endeavor to learn all there is about a play activity before engaging in it.
from Within Reality explains the differences with a scenario played by both versions.
The difference between the two terms is even more clear when the spirit of them is applied in the public scene.
When watching a scene that may involve some heavy risk you might hear the person next to you whisper to their partner "they shouldn't do that...its unsafe…that is a dangerous Dominant" - that is the spirit of SSC.
If you hear whispered "I wonder if he knows the risk involved in doing that....I wonder if he does "this" it could be made safer....I think I will tell him about it later after his scene" - that is the "spirit" of RACK.
I really like her viewpoint. Do you hear whispers of 'dangerous Dominant' at parties you frequent? Is it really true? Is the DM stopping the play for safety concerns?
For some other viewpoints on RACK please see these essays.