Feedists for Fat Liberation promotes the principles of risk aware consensual kink (RACK) within the feedist community. To that end, FFL held its first RACK workshop in September 2021. The goals for these workshops are:
- To increase awareness of the RACK framework within the feedist community;
- To empower feedists to identify and understand their boundaries and the boundaries of others;
- To encourage feedists to practice ongoing consent;
- To encourage feedists to assess their levels of acceptable risk, and to provide strategies for mitigating risk;
- Through the practice of RACK, decrease the frequency of exploitative behavior in the feedist community;
- Through the practice of RACK, empower feedists to fully enjoy kink play;
- Raise community standards around expected behavior; and
- To incorporate RACK into the broader framework of transformative justice.
There are a wide variety of kinks practiced by those in the feedist community. For the purposes of FFL’s workshop, we started by defining some of the most common kinks. You can find that glossry here: https://www.fatliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ffl_glossary.pdf
Next, we worked on defining risk awareness. The risks associated with kinky play or a kinky lifestyle vary, depending on the type of kink and the people involved. The risks of feedism can exist outside of the bedroom, and include physical harm, emotional harm, social harm, and harm associated with anti-fat bias.
The existence of risk is the reason why it’s important for practitioners to develop a risk profile. In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to give truly informed consent to activities you hadn’t previously considered. Creating a risk profile gives you the space to be clear-headed in evaluating the risks associated with a specific activity and deciding on your boundaries. You can develop a risk profile for any activity, but you can find an example here: https://www.fatliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ffl_example_risk_profile.pdf
Next, we discussed consent. Consent is agreeing to an activity, but it’s not a “one and done” proposition. It’s an ongoing process between you and your partner(s). Things to remember include:
- Consent must be explicit and enthusiastic;
- Consent must be given without coercion;
- Consent cannot come from a place of guilt or fear;
- The absence of “no” does not mean “yes”; “maybe” is not “yes”; and
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
Consent is all about boundaries. Some people may find it awkward or believe it may ruin the mood to lay down boundaries before or during a scene, but doing so will help make things safer and easier in the long run. Consent doesn’t have to be a clinical thing that ruins the mood, but is an easy tool that you can use conversationally either before or during a scene. You can find a consent example here: https://www.fatliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ffl_example_consent.pdf
We then talked about negotiation. Negotiation is how you get to consent. It’s a way to agree on acceptable risk and agree on the activities that are in bounds and out-of-bounds. Negotiation is hard at first, but gets easier with practice. It’s important to note that negotiation doesn’t equal obligation. Remember, consent can always be withdrawn. A negotiation that doesn’t lead to feedist activities is still a win because you’ve adhered to your boundaries. In addition, remember that boundaries aren’t meant to be tested or broken. It’s always better to do less and then negotiate for more next time. Unlike with some other kinks, there are long-term risks for feedists. For that reason, feedists in medium- to long-term relationships should plan to revisit negotiations regularly.
Similar to consent, negotiation doesn’t have to be awkward or clinical. You can talk about what you do and don’t want to do in a conversational tone. You can share what you would like to get out of this experience, as well as any boundaries or limits you might have. You can find a negotiation example here: https://www.fatliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ffl_example_negotiation.pdf
While many feedist relationships are incredibly rewarding, others are harmful. Most often, the harm occurs because of lack of consent, internalized anti-fat bias, or lack of ongoing negotiation over time. If you’ve been harmed in a feedist relationship, you can use these suggestions to take care of yourself:
- What are the details and facts of what is happening? Have I taken the time to pause, reflect, and focus on what happened?
- What feelings does this bring up for me? Can I name the emotions I am feeling? Can I identify where I physically feel these emotions in my body?
- What can I do to self-soothe at this time? How can I help regulate my emotions and sensations at this time?
- What are the stories and scripts I am telling myself about this situation?
- Who are the people in my networks I can go to for support, reflection, and accountability surrounding this situation?
- Determine what details you are comfortable sharing about the event and with whom
Remember that you do not need to forgive the person who caused you harm.
If you have harmed someone in a feedist relationship, it’s important to be accountable for your actions. Here are suggestions for steps you can take:
- Acknowledge that you have caused harm, regardless of your intent;
- Set aside feelings of shame and pride to make space for accountability;
- What do I think led to this harm? Were there any precipitating factors?;
- Accept that the person you have harmed may not be ready to speak with you or forgive you. It’s important to respect their boundaries and wishes;
- If the person you’ve harmed is willing to engage with you, be prepared to listen openly to their story;
- Ask what you can do to repair the harm you’ve caused, and then do that;
- Seek out resources and education that will help prevent you from repeating the harmful behavior;
- Reach out to trusted people in your network to discuss accountability and to get support;
- Check in with yourself regularly to ensure you aren’t repeating harmful behavior;
- Remind yourself that you’re human, and all humans make mistakes; and
- Forgive yourself.