As mentioned on twitter I attended a workshop a few weeks ago on the kinky wheel of consent. A tool used to help BDSM people to understand what they want, and how they can communicate that in an easy to understand way, and to allow both sides to clearly consent to a play.

Special thanks
Special thanks for this article goes too Dragan, who ran the workshop I attended teaching this topic. 

What is the wheel?

The Kinky Wheel of consent

The wheel splits into four quarters:

  • Giving, and opposite: Receiving
  • Taking and opposite: Allowing

So for each segment there is an opposite. So if one person is giving, then the other is receives what is given. For example, a slave could give pleasure to a Master. More specifically a slave could give pleasure by giving Him a massage, or sucking His cock. 

And if someone is going to take something – according to consent – the other person must allow it to be taken. So in Master/slave this will be some form of control. Perhaps the slave allows the Master to control his body. Or the slave allows the Master to do certain things too Him – perhaps to be whipped but not tit torture. The Master can also use to specify what He wants to take from the slave so the slave can consent.

Very simply the Master and slave can use the wheel to clearly communicate what will be given, received, taken and allowed. But of course, it can be little more complex.

Shifting from one quarter to another

A simple way to look at the wheel is that the Master receives and takes, and the slave gives and allows.

But in reality both parties can move to different parts of the wheel. The Master can give the slave what he wants. For example if the slave really likes a certain thing, the Master may decide to give it to him.

So the Master can move to giving as well.

Sometimes this can happen unconsciously. So a Master might move to giving without realising. This can happen because the Master starts to worry about what the slave needs, and starts to adapt the session to give that – rather than what the slave and Master had agreed could be taken.

When a Master finds himself frustrated at the end of a session it might be that He has moved without conscious thought to giving when He wanted to be in taking.

When I talk about this, I am not saying it is bad for a Master to give. But when someone has moved without realising, this might be a reason why they are frustrated and do not know why.

So by holding this model a Master or Top can consciously move from one quarter to another. Or allow Himself to stay in the taking as both sides have agreed that He can take.

New Masters and dominates can also sometimes be unsure whether it is OK to take – so this model can also help give them certainty it is OK – as it has been discussed and agreed. And knowing this has been clearly can help remind them it is OK to be taking control and dominating and they can focus on their pleasure and their need to take.

Questions

You will notice in the wheel there are two questions from giving:

  • Who is doing?
  • Who is it for?

These are questions that you can ask to help you understand who will be giving what, and who is it directed at.

Gift 

One thing I like about this model is that it clearly defines that the person giving and/or allowing is providing a gift to the other person.

To allow someone to take something from you is a gift. And to give someone your service is a gift.

Too often you can come across people on the scene that do not see this as a gift of the slave, and treat it as if it is not. And the slave can often feel something is different and wrong.

Beginners

Many people – including myself – can forget that it can be scary for many people to first give up control. Or perhaps you were like me and jumped straight into the deep end of the pool.

When I took part in the workshop – there were a number of beginners and curious people. And when we came to explore the taking and allowing – there was a lot of nerves and fear about giving up control – because there is a risk and danger in doing so.

The wheel can help people to communicate clearly what each other wants and what has been consented. This sets expectations and allows everyone to feel safe.

It also means a beginner can experiment and try news things out as they can use the wheel the express this. And by exploring they can build up confidence. And as time goes on to consent and try new things.

And of course a Top can also use the wheel to clearly express what they need and want. And if the needs do not match, both sides can then see it is probably best not to play with each other.

Old guard and 24/7

With the Old Guard and 24/7 it can simpler, as the Master will take control and it is expected that the slave with allow everything – unless there are specific limits agreed.

And the wheel can be used to agree what those limits are.

There are some issues in the next section with means the circle can be incredibly powerful.

Going to far

The circle also talks about going too far and leaving the circle. At first I found this confusing as when you leave the circle it uses some of the same terms as in the circle. For example slave and slave-owner. What it uses these terms it means – like a slave owner of a plantation in a negative context.

So for me I think it is best to not use these terms and look at going out of the circle in a different way.

Going to far and not taking the needs into account

One way I managed to understand this better was to think about it as needs.

We all have needs, and when we go out of the circle we are starting to ignore our needs which is very unhealthy.

This is true for a play session, and more regular interaction and a full blown relationship.

24/7 can be extreme. In some relationship the slave is allowing the Master to take everything, and to give everything to the Master, for all time.

So how could you go out of the circle at this point?

I think it is when the needs are not being met. 

A common phrase from some 24/7 Masters is the slave has no needs, but I believe that is not actually true. There are needs that a slave has and must be filled by a Master. This is little unconventional, but when I have explained to some Master what the needs are they have actually agreed. A slave has these needs at the very least:

  • to serve
  • to give
  • to help
  • control
  • structure
  • goals
  • direction
  • a Man to focus on
  • Good health

Other ones could be

  •  Humiliation
  •  Depravation
  •  Submission

I am afraid you can have a Master/slave relationship where these needs are not met. I know this for a fact as it has happened to me.

Another illustration is about health and care. I once had a partner (it had changed from a Master/slave relationship to a vanilla one). I remember in the final year of our relationship I caught a very bad flu. My partner was at work and I asked him to go to the shops to get some meditation for me as I was feeling very ill and in a lot of pain.

Rather than coming back after work my partner decided to go out drinking all night and came back at 11pm (when the pub/bar had closed) shouting at me how about inconvenient and annoying it was to find a shop open that sold medication. I had been waiting hours for him to come home in agony.

A few days later when I saw the doctor and she asked me if I had anyone to care for me, my answer was no.

So you can have any relationship – be it as a 24/7 or vanilla where you needs are not met. And perhaps it is when this happens you are leaving the circle of consent for something far uglier and nastier.

So when playing or exploring in the more extreme end of the spectrum make sure your needs are being met.