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Goodbye SSC

Author: Chuck and Donna Cosimano

Filed in: general knowledge, ssc

When SSC was promulgated as a doctrine back in 1980s it was never intended to become the monster it has grown to become. It was a publicity gimmic purely and simply, designed to make our little hobby sound more acceptable to the terrified nillers who were cowering in their basements for fear that nasty BDSMers would come breaking down their doors and start flogging them. (Actually the nillers could not have cared less, do not care now and probably never will care. This was a fantasy on the part of our BDSM brethren that they came up with to justify their paranoia.) Anyway, some of them got this silly idea into their heads that if they came up with something to make us sound nice and non-threatening the big, nasty government would not hassle us. Never mind that the only people in this that seem to get hassled are folks who don’t fill out the right license forms for their businesses or pro dommies (With the exception of the occasional corporate VP whose upper management is looking to get rid of and someone dumb enough to have kids).

Ok, so they had a big conference in Dallas in 1988 and with the applause of assembled multitude and to the singing of the castrati choirs, SSC was introduced with fanfare and fireworks.

If we had known what it would turn into those of us not there would have nuked the meeting hall!!!

Ok, I’ll be honest with you. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The phrase, “Safe, Sane and Consensual” sounded pretty non-threatening and as I was not much of an edge player at the time I was as much in favor of it as anyone else. Which just goes to show that even the greatest mind of the Western World can make a mistake on occasion. I mean, let’s be honest. Who does not want to have their partner safe, even if he is going over her with a blowtorch? Yeah, the sane thing is relative, but it sounded nice and none of us were just going to grab people off the street and start beating them. So it worked.

Or so we thought it did.

By about 1991 things started to look a little different. At Living In Leather that year someone did a program called “Safe, Sane, Consensual, Clean and Sober,” to which someone responded with, “Whatever happened to fun?” Clearly something was going on which did not bode well for the future. SSC, the advertising slogan, was beginning to be used as a club to beat people over the head with.

Which brings us to the situation we have today. SSC is now a mantra chanted at meetings right after “I’m X and I’m a perv and an alcoholic.” It has become a tribal idol to which all are expected to bow down. It is a banner to be waved in the face of the non-conformist in the hope of bringing him to repentance and kissing the holy relics of the winner of the 1971 Bootblack of the Year award. And as you can imagine that has set off the predictable reaction. In some BDSM circles now, the mere mention of it will ignite a firestorm of snarling and argument over what the words actually mean because you see by saying that you accept SSC even as a broad principle, you are giving every Tom, Dick and Harry the right to sit in judgement over your every action in the context of BDSM, your play, your relationships, how you deal with the nillers, everything.

But once you say you don’t follow SSC, you take that right away. You declare your indepence of those who use it to try to enforce conformity. Oh they will still sputter and be judgemental, but you don’t have to care because there is nothing they can do but sputter and stamp their impotent little feetsies.

So the time has come to simply get rid of it. I’m not proposing finding a replacement for it because I see no need for slogans. (The newest subsitute, Risk Aware Consensual Kink is just as bad.) They only influence the weak minded and spiritless anyway. Just dump it. Throw it in the garbage. Put it in the ashcan of history next to the ravings of Karl Marx and Old Guard Protocol.

Far better for us to say that we are here to have fun, and we don’t give a bloody damn about public image or whether the newbies will run home and have nightmares. We will all be far happier without it because in doing so we will not only have pulled the teeth of the controllers and the rulemakers we find among us, we will have stripped them of their rhetorical armament as well.

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