Controversial Kink Series: Consensual Non-Consent

Consensual Non-Consent or “CNC” is one of the more controversial forms of interaction that exists in BDSM/kink lifestyles and circles. The basic definition is that a person gives explicit consent for another person or group to do whatever they wish to the consenting party. There are various levels to this sort of thing that range from play to full-on ‘ownership’ of one person to another.

Types of CNC:

CNC in Play – This is where two parties come together and engage in consensual non-consent for a set period of time. Once the play is over, the consent is also over. Safewords and signals are useful here, because in the realm of CNC, “no” does not necessarily mean “no”. Or rather, “no” may be absolutely meant by the party saying it, but may be ignored by the other. If it is in text, then your imaginations are about the limit.

CNC Play within Relationships – This is essentially the same as the former instance, where partners who are in a consenting relationship may engage in ‘scenes’ in which one party consents to non-consensual situations. Again, we recommend safewords or signals for this type of play. Once the play stops, the consent is also revoked until the next CNC play session.

CNC as a Relationship Parameter – This is the most risky, yet rewarding for those who have this element in their relationships. Consent is given once at some point during the forming of the relationship, and it is not revoked until the relationship is ended.

The Difference – CNC vs. Master/slave:

While Master/slave relationships work like this to an extent, many of those have negotiated sets of limits and expected behaviour. A relationship that is formed with CNC as one of the fundamental parameters of the relationship does not come along with these types of negotiations. The submissive should absolutely trust in their partner’s judgment, strength of character, and ability to differentiate between things that are ultimately safe and those that are not for the submissive’s overall health, both physical and mental. CNC is encompassed within a TPE [total power exchange] dynamic that exists all the time, and any rules that exist are at the decision of the dominant party.

CNC during play is different in that it is for a set period of time, regardless of whether it happens in the parameters of a committed relationship or between two partners simply engaging in play.


We tend to recommend that people who do not know one another or do not have some modicum of trust between them should probably avoid CNC altogether in any instance. In terms of staff involvement on Cuff-Link, we will look to see if the consenting party did give consent for the play or CNC elements of a relationship, and if they did, if a signal/word was set up prior to engaging for the play to stop or assured that a committed relationship has ended. This is useful in logs if we have to intervene on a user’s behalf.

Please observe network rules and be aware that certain language, including the use of the word “rape”, is perfectly acceptable within the realm of consensual non-consent. We prefer that this type of language be used only in private messages or in channels where it is clear that such a relationship exists as it could be incredibly confusing to people just showing up and witnessing it. It is also highly offensive to a lot of people for that particular word and other language, such as what might be used in the midst of race play, to be used in public. On the subject of rape, it is only permissible in private and within the parameters of a set TPE relationship. We do not support nor advocate this inclusion in CNC activities for anyone who is not in a committed relationship of this nature to engage in this type of exchange.

There are a few things which, if brought to the attention of the Network Administrators, will result in consequences. While we understand that CNC exists, and a couple of the staff are engaged in TPE relationships so are sympathetic and supportive of others who choose to engage with their partners at such an intimate level, the following are considered overall unhealthy and not sane, nor can they be stopped or remedied if a relationship ends:

  • Blackmail/detrimental coercion
  • Cannibalism/vore
  • Snuff [including crush fetish]
  • Abduction
  • Human trafficking

Again, we also understand that a good number of people who use Cuff-Link are keeping their activities to a textual basis, there are almost as many people who choose to move their play or relationships offline, so we treat everything as though it is offline as much as possible to avoid having to muddle through two sets of rules.

It is also advisable for those who are not in committed relationships to be extremely careful with their play partners, especially if they move their activities from the textual safety of the IRC network into offline areas. People need to be aware that the law in most countries will almost always not see this type of consent as a legally binding form of consent, so trust between partners is paramount — be sure that, as the party to whom consent was given for any activity at all, you are accepting consent from someone who is not prone to vindictive tendencies.

If you engage in CNC activities, please be sure to:

  • If you are the submissive: Express explicit consent for CNC, and if you wish for the CNC to end, explicitly state that you have revoked consent and/or the relationship whereby CNC as an integral part is over.
  • If you are the dominant: Respect the revocation of consent, whether it is for a set scene or if a relationship comes to an end.

For more information, please see our post about safety and consent.