Recently my dear friend SherynB wrote a post on FetLife titled "Assent Matters". Go read it.
The Consent Counts campaign from the NCSF is ACTUALLY about decriminalizing BDSM practices, but it has led to a lot of discussion about consent and abuse issues in kinky communities and relationships.
Discussing consent is a good thing, a necessary thing. Facing the VERY REAL issues of rape and abuse in a BDSM context is not happening in a constructive way in many places, and that is a problem. Too many people (with a wide range of kink interests and orientations) are being pressured into doing things they don't want to do, being outright forced, and being belittled for having limits. This MUST stop. And furthermore, the community must stop defending the perpetrators of these crimes.
At the same time, the idea that it is acceptable to consent/assent to an act and then change your mind LATER and claim it was non-consensual when there was no attempt to make this clear at the time is ALSO not acceptable. Every person in a scene, relationship, or play space has a responsibility for their own limits. They MUST voice them when appropriate. It is never okay to assume that anyone but ourselves can know what those limits are without being told.
I argue this: For both consent to count and assent to matter, respect must be at the core of all kinky and sexual interactions. We MUST respect our play partners and sexual partners enough to ask for clear consent. We MUST respect them enough that when we GIVE our consent we stick to it. We must respect those around us enough to communicate with open honesty, and to play within the bounds of that which has been communicated. To do otherwise is to treat those play partners as things, not as people.
We also must respect ourselves. I believe that a lot of the miss-communications about these issues come from deep shame about the things we do, the things we like, and the things that get us off. Respect for self means learning to be comfortable with our own desires.
Those who are not mature enough to respect fully those they play with and fuck are not adult enough to swim in the deep end. Get back in the kiddie pool.