N.B: This blog post was inspired an email from the Loving BDSM 30 Days of D/s. If you haven’t listened to their podcast yet please do so, you can also check out the website for great resources and links on how to listen or follow on social media.
I a big believer in safewords. For all kinds of reasons and situations. When you’re involved in a variety of kinky activities all kinds of things can crop up during a scene that you can’t always foresee.
The safewords I use are non-negotiable. I won’t play without them and I won’t change them. I am used to them and I am confident I can use them. The system I use will be familiar to many of you as it is the traffic light system.
Red = Stop.
Yellow = Slow down/Something needs addressing.
Green = Go/Everything’s Awesome.
Some people may explain each colour different, but I think we all agree on red being an instant ‘stop now’. The other reason I like the traffic light system is that even if it isn’t used by everyone it is widely recognised. If someone shouted Red in the middle of an event, people would pay attention, if that person needed immediate assistance that is a great way for them to signal that.
In a previous dalliance someone insisted on me using a totally random safeword and it never, ever felt safe to me. As soon as the traffic light system was explained to me it instantly resonated with me and I decided that the fanciful safewords would no longer be part of my kinky play. That said I think it is incredibly important to use a system that works for you and your partner.
I’ve never yet had to safeword with Bakji, or with anyone else I’ve played with since joining my local community. That said I have had to stop play, and I have had to alert someone to an issue. I have always been able to communicate these things with having to safeword though. Bakji especially knows me well enough to know what is a claim that can be overridden and what is a genuine concern.
For example, I’m one of those people who repeats ‘no, stop and I can’t’ during certain activities, especially when Bakji does the things he does that make me squirt. I can’t seem to handle it without saying I can’t take it. I can take it and I do. But I need to say I can’t and I need him to ignore that. If I ever had a serious issue during that kind of play I know I’d most likely need to say ‘Red’. However during a rope scene for example I never use that kind of language, so if I start to say I can’t handle something, then it’s because there’s a problem. I have had to tap out of a rope scene before, both with Bakji and with MasterMHatter, in all those times I’ve verbalised the problem and I’ve been untied as soon as humanly possible.
The only time I’ve ever used ‘Red’ was before my time in the kink community and I was restrained in heels and one of my ankles became incredibly painful. It became so distracting I could no longer continue. Just removing the heels didn’t feel like an option because I wanted to be able to sort it out for myself, and move around on it. So the scene had to end.
I know we all have different approaches to safewords and when we should do it and in what dynamics it’s appropriate, but for me, being able to safeword is something everything has a right to and should be able to do knowing that it will be adhered to. Even if you’ve haven’t used a safeword in ten years, and you suddenly shout ‘red’ in the middle of a scene, I think everything should stop. Even if you’ve agreed to no safeword play. Sometimes something unexpected might happen and it my not be safe to continue.
As well as talking with our partner/s about what safewords we should use, I also think it’s worth discussing what you would do in the aftermath of safewording. I think many of us naturally feel a bit disappointed when we need to safeword. So I think it’s really important to come together and make sure that no one leaves the scene feeling like they did anything wrong. No one should ever be made to feel like they made the wrong choice by using their safeword. Aftercare isn’t a treat for successfully making it through a scene, it’s absolutely crucial to reassure and comfort someone when they have used their safeword.
One of the reasons I’ve seen people cite for why safewords are ‘not safe’ is that some people go nonverbal. Which is true. Things like gags will also alter your ability to communicate verbally. Which is why lots of people work in nonverbal ‘safewords’ to indicate there is an issue. I’ve heard of people dropping a set of keys (although I always feeling like would be uncomfortable to hold), Clicking a dog training clicker, hand signals (if possible) and a set of clear rhythmic grunts.
If you are someone who goes nonverbal during play and you also think you would be unable to drop anything, click anything or hand signal then I urge you to be very, very careful with who you play with. When we play with someone over a long period of time we become attuned to their reactions, the smallest changes can be a signal that something isn’t right, with someone new or unknown you do not have that luxury.
When I am Topping Bakji I am very careful to observe his reactions, and I’ve spent all the time we’ve played together learning what is ‘normal’ for him during play, anything that deviated from this would cause me to slow down and check in on him, anything that really worried me would cause me to stop. Certain types of play cause Bakji to go headlong in subspace, the result of this amongst other things is his body going really heavy and his body becoming very floppy. A floppy and heavy sub can be quite a daunting thing to be presented with. I’m not confident that in those moments Bakji could safeword if he needed too, even in a nonverbal manner. So I make it my responsibility to be extra vigilant. If these situations had occurred in our early days of play I would have stopped immediately, it has taken time to understand that these are safe responses for him. For many other people they would be utterly alarming, knowing your partner’s specific reactions is so important.
For me safewords are like a safety net, they’re there just incase something takes an unexpected turn, what comes before them though and what I put a lot more faith in is trust in a partner. If you use different safewords, or have different thoughts on them I’d love to hear about them.