Skip navigation

Asking for it: BDSM sexual practice and the trouble of consent

Asking for it: BDSM sexual practice and the trouble of consent

Fanghanel, Alexandra ORCID: 0000-0002-4041-561X (2019) Asking for it: BDSM sexual practice and the trouble of consent. Sexualities, 23 (3). pp. 269-286. ISSN 1363-4607 (Print), 1461-7382 (Online) (doi:

[img] PDF (Publisher's PDF)
23098 FANGHANEL_Asking_For_It_BDSM_Sexual_Practice_and_the_Trouble_of_Consent_2019.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (319kB) | Request a copy


This article explores issues of consent in the context of BDSM. I argue that consent is a complex expression which must be thought beyond the ‘yes means yes, no means no’ that proliferates mainstream debates around consent education. This article draws on qualitative interview data to examine how BDSM practitioners talk about consent and consent violations. It examines how these discussions about consent within a BDSM context interact with non-BDSM discussions and how they do, or do not, inform each other. Though consent is centralized in BDSM as a practice of community-building, sometimes consent violations are ignored or dismissed because this community-building also relies on neoliberal constructions of the autonomous self and heteronormative accounts of desire to explain them. These findings have serious implications for better understanding not only of consent within this subcultural practice, but how heteronormative values saturate contexts where unequal power relations or hierarchies manifest themselves outside of this. By insisting on this nuanced understanding of sexual consent, this article transforms existing debates about consensual sexual practice by exploring consent as a grey area, and where violations are experienced as abusive and where they are not. It also offers pertinent insights into how mobilizing an ethical consent praxis might better attend to questions of consent.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: BDSM, consent, sexual practice, sexual ethics, sexuality
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Crime, Law & (In)Security Research Group (CLS)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2020 09:29

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics