Swedish politicians have taken the lead and confirmed their support for a sexual consent law that will enable more rape and sexual assault cases to be prosecuted.

Where Did the Sexual Consent Law Start?

Back in October 2017, the hashtag #metoo spread across social media like wildfire. The goal was to denounce sexual assault and harassment, triggered by sexual misconduct allegations against film producer and executive Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag has since been used by millions of people worldwide who have come forward to share their sexual assault and harassment experiences. Those millions of people came from all corners of the world, all industries, all walks of life – including parliament officials. And that prompted the #metoo movement to appear in session in European Parliament as a direct response.

Sweden is a country stereotyped for being one of the most liberal and open-minded, so perhaps it’s no wonder that they have taken the lead on backing this new forward-thinking law.

Under current Swedish law, the term for “rape” covers an array of sexual offenses that may or may not have occurred under threat or violent circumstances. Under the new sexual consent law, which is due to be legislated sometime during 2018, perpetrators may be prosecuted even without the presence of violence or the threat of violence. If there is not an active, explicit consent from both parties the sexual act will be considered assault or rape.

The new sexual consent law is one of several initiatives that aim to put the victim’s interests first. Sweden are quite clearly actively trying to change society’s attitude towards sexual abuse.

I do wonder how this law will be enforced in practice. How can we be sure that somebody really said “yes” to every sexual act that was done? How can we be sure that given consent isn’t reversed afterward? Should then consent be in writing? Will these laws make us enter an age where sexuality is a field in which the burden of proof is reversed?

I do applaud that this law will cause more talk about what kind of sex we want and how. But we have to expect some heated discussions in court as well.

Read: all the Swedish #Metoo campaign articles

What Does it Mean for the World of Kink?

In the world of BDSM, safety, and consent is a top priority. We do not compromise on explicit consent. Before and during play, you must communicate with your partners, you lay out limits and you define if sex is going to happen – or not.

Even in long-term BDSM relationships, often a dominant and a submissive talk about a scene and its general components upfront. Preferences change over time, or it might just be a bad day, or maybe we feel very courageous and adventurous today. The parameters in which we give consent in a kink context, change all the time. That is why kinksters are used to revisiting agreements and setting limits anew.

What Can Vanilla Folks Learn from BDSM?

No matter your sexual play preference, I believe there is a lesson we can all learn from the world of kink and that is the usage of safe words. Pause words and stop words that we can use when we are not quite sure if our partner is still okay with what we are doing, or if we are not quite sure we ourselves are okay what is being done to us. A safeword safeguards consent – NOT calling your safeword when implicit consent is assumed can be considered explicit consent. A safeword called is a lifeline, a clear border that marks the difference between healthy BDSM and abuse.

Although the new Swedish law is pretty groundbreaking, I do wonder if the law will really help prevent abuse in the short term. I think the dynamics of someone who is being abused are much more complex than that a law alone could solve it. The shame and fear that victims of abuse have to deal with are unfortunately often stronger than any ‘right’ could be, but I do think this new law is a step in the right direction.

We have often heard from submissives who did not use their safe word because they were afraid to show that they had human limits while living their hot fantasy. We suspect that people will give consent to things they don’t really consent to for similar reasons.

So, in my opinion, more important than a new paragraph is a book of law is that this legislation calls for changing a general mindset. Creating an awareness of consent and its ongoing necessity. It addresses the rights of sexual partners on a completely new level. And I do think that the vanilla world can learn a few things from us kinksters.

Way to go Sweden!

What’s your take? Would you welcome a sexual consent law in your country?

Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

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