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The title is mildly misleading, safewords aren’t my kink per se but I am a big, big fan of safewords in kink and I previously wrote about them in my post What’s Your Safeword? That post covers much of what I think and feel about safewords in a balanced manner and with regards to my own personal choices. I wondered whether or not I should write another post about them for Tell Me About and I decided I would because to my mind they are one of the most important parts of engaging in kinky play.
The safeword system I use is the traffic light system, which is as follows:
Red = Stop.
Yellow = Slow down/Something needs addressing.
Green = Go/Everything’s Awesome.
I don’t care who I am playing with, what their experience level is or how well I know them those are my safewords and my right to use them is not up for negotiation and I am not willing to change my safeword for anyone. I use this system because it works for me and while I believe this to be a good system, for a variety of reasons, my main advice on safewords is using what works for you. What I would highly recommend everyone doing is not letting anyone bully or coerce you into playing without a safeword if you do not feel comfortable or safe doing so.
I have been in the kink scene long enough to see some wonderful approaches to safewords, which unfortunately means I’ve seen the flipside too. To my mind, there is absolutely no reason for a Dominant to feel threatened or offended by their bottom or submissive wanting to have a safeword in place. Yet I have seen situations where fuelled by ego and their own self-importance so-called ‘Dominants’ have refused to recognise safewords and merrily thought this makes them the best thing since sliced bread because their submissive ‘doesn’t have a safeword’.
Personal experience tells me that in established dynamics safewords are often used so infrequently that it may feel like you never use them, but what is the harm in having them in place? Even if your dynamic is the most extreme version of BDSM any of us have ever seen, and you feel like you have no limits (FYI everyone has limits) and no matter what your Dominant says you’d never safeword, how do you know that one day you won’t suddenly be overcome by illness mid-scene or freak out in a way you never have before and dearly wish you could shout ‘red’ at the top of your voice to alert them to your plight.
One of the big issues I have with conversation around safewords is when we refer to them only in terms of feeling like we are going beyond our limits or potentially heading towards or diving straight into a triggering moment. Bodies and minds are beautiful, but also unpredictable things. One of the main reasons I will never remove safewords form play is because you just never know what might happen. Submissive or not I don’t think many of us what to have a sudden case of explosive diarrhoea mid-scene all because we couldn’t or wouldn’t safeword.
More often than not I try to offer a balanced approach on this blog. I try to be mindful that we are all different and I try not to sound like I am declaring facts when I am stating an opinion. If I’ve lost my way with that with regards to safewords then so be it. If I had to pick a BDSM hill to die on there is a chance it might be this; Safewords in BDSM are for everyone, regardless of experience level, kink identity or the dynamic at play.
Safewords for me also include non-verbal signals, not only for folks like me who like to remove all manner of communication methods when playing with their partner but also for folks who go non-verbal during play or folks who have limited speech abilities for medical reasons. Hand signals, asking a partner to squeeze your hand for confirmation, dropping something, repetitive humming are all things I’ve seen cited as things people have used to communicate issues instead of a safeword. Again doing what works for you is, of course, the most important thing. Many suggestions I’ve received for non-verbal safewords wouldn’t work for me, but that does not invalidate them as a tool for other folks to use.
I haven’t read the other posts linked to this Tell Me About prompt yet, purely because I didn’t want to talk myself out of writing my no holds barred post if someone I’m fond of writes a ‘I have no safeword’ post. I can fully imagine that there are awesome couples out there who have safely and happily practised BDSM for many, many years without knowing or caring that safewords are a thing. To be honest it isn’t them I was thinking of when I sat down to unleash this ramble upon my keyboard.
As a blogger and a podcaster, a vast amount of the people who consume my content are fledgeling kinksters, in terms of exploring both their kinks in the privacy of their own home as well as venturing out into a wider kink community to find like-minded friends and partners. Which means a lot of what I write and say is with them in mind.
Occasionally a seasoned kinkster will come along and tell me ‘I don’t relate to that and I’ve been doing this for 30 years’ the implication being that I should, therefore, alter my viewpoint because to align with their wisened ways. The fact is though that what new kinksters need to hear isn’t always what seasoned kinksters have to say. Not if they refuse to acknowledge that sometimes people are new to kink and need to learn things in their own way, in their own time and formulate their own opinions.
I have even had similar conversations to this with Bakji, both on and off the podcast, where one of us will make a point, or use a term and the other will interject to clarify. With the person making the initial point saying words to the effect of ‘everyone knows that, it’s obvious’ etc. We will then remind the other person that it is obvious to us, it works that way for us, but we are in an established dynamic with 5 years community kinking under our pervy belts, nothing is obvious or goes without saying for fledgeling kinksters.
It’s with that in mind that I am so fierce about certain topics, safewords being one of them. If I offend 10 kinksters with my ‘don’t be douche, use safewords’ rant, but one new kinkster takes it to heart and weeds out some trash Dominants by refusing to play without their safeword then I am okay with that.
As I’ve already mentioned I have seen many awesome displays of human nature since joining the kink scene. Overall the community is amazing and I have met some of my most favourite people through kink and fetish events. However, as with all the things with the good comes the bad, and I have seen the bad play out. There are unfortunately D-types out there who are less than genuine when it comes to why they want to play with submissive folk, I have met them, I have seen them play and I have learned a lot from them, in terms of how to not be a dick. It is the existence of people like this in our community that makes me say; Find your safeword, learn to use your safeword and for the love of God do not play with someone who ‘doesn’t do safewords’. If they admit this to you during negotiations run for the hills and do not look back.
There is part of me itching to talk about the ways in which I monitor Bakji during a scene, picking up on subtle hints that direct the way I play so that he is not in a position of having to safeword. I fear thought that is falling into the trap I am urging people to avoid, yes safe play is more than about having a safeword, but having a safeword is very often a key part of safe play especially for new and nervous kinksters and we should be encouraging them to hold on tight to the tools that give their journey into kink the best possible start.
If you would like to hear more of my thoughts on safewords, because trust me there is definitely more, then you can listen episode 57 of ProudToBeKinky.