On 8/9/2015, the MinKY Moderators unanimously voted to formally adopt this policy for the club, effective immediately.
As stated below in “Follow-Through and Education” we are committed to supporting this policy with the required tools and expertise. We are still evaluating training options as we would like multiple moderators to assist with consent-related reports. In the interim (and potentially as long-term advisors), we are reaching out to qualified community members for assistance. As we continue with the training and implementation process, we will update this policy as necessary.
Cultural Considerations For Our Policy
Consent Policy and Internal Procedures
Our consent policy and procedures are based upon the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s (NCSF) “Guide for Groups” located here.
In addition to policy statements, the NCSF guidance includes recommended internal practices for group leaders and moderators responding to consent violations. We are evaluating these and revising them to fit our needs – see “Follow-Through and Education” below.
Follow-Through and Education
We believe that enacting a consent policy without the ability to follow-through on supporting and enforcing it is an empty gesture and a would be a disservice to the community. We are developing a plan for long-term structural support and follow-through. Moderators with Sexual Assault Prevention/Advocacy training should be the point people for consent issues brought to the club. As a result, the Min-KY moderators are seeking additional training and expertise. We aim to have at least one (and ideally more) Victim’s Advocate trained moderators as soon as possible.
Our goal is to be well equipped to listen to, understand, and act upon consent allegations within a survivors’ rights model. We are using the NCSF’s “Guide for Groups” as the foundation of our response and adding additional training to help us change the culture of complicity we have operated under up until this point. We believe that additional education and training will allow us to further refine this process. The policy will be re-evaluated after training and will continue to be updated and re-published as we improve.
Member Consent Training
We are committing to offer periodic (tentatively quarterly) workshops on consent for our members. We have a responsibility to provide potential victims with tools to protect themselves and access appropriate support as well as to provide everyone with the skills to prevent these violations from happening.
Topics will include identifying predatory behavior (as both a partner and a community member), tools to watch for/avoid red flags, acceptable models of consent in our community (explicit, verbal, enthusiastic, informed), modes of moving forward from and resolving missteps, miscommunications, and violations, and other topics to help members avoid crossing consent boundaries. Too often, such education can look like a primer on “How Not To Be Assaulted.” This unfairly and ineffectively places the full burden of prevention on the potential recipient of unwanted touch, attention, etc. as opposed to the potential agent of those violations. We are committed not to default to this model.
We will promote, advertise, and encourage members to attend these sessions. We have additionally spoken with local, kink-friendly sex therapists who have offered to facilitate future community sessions to specifically address BDSM-related consent issues (for example, negotiation and consent related to subspace).
Culturally, we default to an “innocent until proven guilty” approach. While this is a crucial component of an equitable justice system, our group is a private community, not a public tribunal (though private actions within the group can have public consequences). Under this “innocent until proven guilty” approach, if the moderators don’t see enough proof, we run the risk of letting someone re-offend because we weren’t willing to trust and listen to a survivor in the first place. We can tell that many people are uncomfortable with adopting a survivor-focused paradigm in place of this earlier approach, but we feel that with the proper skills to listen to and understand consent reports, we can determine appropriate action without needing to fully uncover or pass judgment on “the truth.” This necessarily fosters a safer space. Ultimately, our role will not be to pass judgment or hold informal court; our only aim will be to create and preserve a safe space within our private events.
Our goal is to develop the skills to understand the situation in a respectful, careful, and empathetic way that will not re-traumatize or blame a victim. Nobody goes through this process lightly and most avoid it due to a history of mistrust and community backlash. It is our responsibility to create a community that does not perpetuate that often traumatic mistrust.
We recognize that false reporting is of concern to a number of members of our online discussion on this subject. In any system, there is the possibility of policies being taken advantage of for malicious individual gain – this is how predatory behavior goes unchecked in the first place. We would much prefer that our policies be taken advantage of than our members. It is important to note that false reporting happens only a very small percentage of the time (estimates from reliable research indicate 2%-10%) and that good-faith reports are something that we cannot responsibly discount. We invite everyone to read the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s literature on the subject here.
Disciplinary Actions and Determination of Guilt
We are putting together a list of possible outcomes and responses to consent violations. We don’t want uninformed mistakes to immediately result in a permanent ban and we hope that a majority of consent violations will be inadvertent and teachable; however, this will not always be the case and we reserve the right to exclude anyone from our events. Ours is, after all, a private group. Often, reporters seek amends and understanding (sometimes through a mediated discussion) rather than an outright ban. We are building a policy addressing that circumstance as well. We will work with survivors, prioritizing their input to determine the course of action that will protect them individually and preserve the safety of our community. As moderators, one of our training goals will be to respectfully understand survivors’ accounts and determine action without minimizing or ignoring their report or experience.
It is not our intention — nor are we equipped — to determine/assign guilt. We believe that any member who is willing to report a consent violation deserves our trust, time, and attention to address their concerns. Our foremost goal is the physical and emotional safety of our members and our community.
This policy is adapted from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s (NCSF) “Guide for Groups” guidelines for consent policies. The original document is located here.
As is the case in any private club, attending Min-KY events is a privilege, not a right, and we reserve the right to limit access as necessary. Violation of the consent policy may result in expulsion from the event or group. No one is exempt from the following rules.
1. Never touch people or personal property without explicit permission.
2. Approach everyone as an equal; only engage in verbal role-play if you have express permission. For example, don’t address someone as “Mistress” or “slave” or by any other role-play word unless you’ve asked permission.
3. Negotiate the scope of your scene prior to play. Before the scene begins, it must be clear to everyone participating in the scene that the bottom has given consent to all proposed acts.
4. Each participant is responsible for ensuring that everyone involved has the mental and emotional ability to give informed and voluntary consent during their negotiation for the scene. Min-KY does not allow alcohol or non-prescription drug use at our events.
5. Participants can withdraw consent, make a nonverbal safe-sign, or use the universal safe-word “Red” at any time. Once consent is withdrawn, the activity must stop immediately. Dungeon Monitors will be enforcing immediate cessation of play at “Red” or another safe-word that has been previously shared with the event’s Monitors. Partners are responsible for sharing which safe-words or safe-signs are being used.
6. The top is legally responsible for stopping the activities at any suggestion that the bottom has withdrawn consent. The bottom is ethically responsible for being clear and unequivocal when withdrawing consent. It is this balance and counterbalance that will allow us to create a culture of consent.
7. Depending on all participants’ state of mind, we advise against renegotiating at any point during a scene. When a person is in subspace or otherwise not in a clear state of mind, informed consent can be compromised. Such renegotiation takes place at risk of a consent violation. Trespassing a partner’s boundaries in such a way will be considered a consent violation if said partner reports to the organization and will be handled accordingly.
8. If your consent is violated at an event, we invite you to tell a dungeon monitor or a delegate of the event organizer as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Swift action can be taken at the behest of the reporter. Violation of the consent policy may result in immediate expulsion from the event group. No one is exempt from the rules.
9. If your consent is violated by a member:
- a) At an event: Verbally tell a play monitor or clearly marked delegate of the event organizer. Depending on the situation, we may request a written follow-up report.
- b) Outside of one of our events: Please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with pertinent information. We will confirm we received your email. We may have follow up questions for you in order to determine your and our community’s safety and to determine our best course of action.
- c) There is no time limit on how long you can wait to reach out to Min-KY leadership. It is our intention to take every claim seriously and respond in a timely manner. We will make a decision on our course of action based on the information we receive, up to and including expulsion from the group. We commit to interfacing with all involved parties regarding the appropriate response.
10. Harassment or bullying of any kind is not permitted. If you harass a member or moderator in person, on our forums, or on FetLife, the situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
11. Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort will be made to enforce this policy, but this organization makes no representations or guarantees about its ability to do so, and all participants/attendees retain full, sole responsibility for their safety and the safety of others with whom they interact.
It is our full and earnest intention to move towards a culture of consent; we ask that as we work to improve the safe space that we strive for, our members commit to supporting that same culture.