There’s discussion going on about safe words. It started in Salon and has spilled across various people’s blogs.
Most of the safe word issue seems fairly simple, because safe words don’t go away just because a dom says so. All the stuff about not having safe words is just rhetoric.
I’ve used that rhetoric myself, sometimes. “I’m going to punish you/I’m going to use you, and you don’t have a safe word. I just took it off you. You have no rights at all. I decide where we go and when we stop. Not you.”
And then we proceed, and I hope it feels hotter for letting her feel we’re trapezing without a net.
But there’s always a safe word, no matter what you say. “Red” is still a safeword, no matter what. “Ok that’s it. Stop right now and undo me, or I’m calling the cops”, and all variations on that, are safewords. Any dom who carries on past that point is a rapist, an attacker, or both.
I think I’ve been safeworded maybe twice in my entire bdsm career. A dom should be watching the submissive’s reactions closely, which is part of the pleasure anyway, and bring the submissive out to territory where she feels out of control, and she’s excited or comfortably lost in subspace. When I got safeworded, both times it was because I judged the submissive’s reactions wrong. It wasn’t a huge issue, and we resumed after words and cuddles and it was clear that she wanted to go on, so long as we avoided certain areas. But I’d certainly fucked up.
Submissive women have told me about experiences with doms who think they have to prove their true domminess by pushing the submissive past the point they can stand. They feel they’ve lost a struggle of wills if they don’t get her to safeword. That seems to me to be more like sports than sex. Sports are boring.
A woman once told me she was having root canal work done, and at a really bad moment she screamed out, “Rumpelstiltskin”.
The dentist just said, “oh, you’re one of those girls, are you?” Then he carried on.
Apparently dentists get safe-worded quite a lot. Words to stop pain don’t always work outside bdsm.
It’s also worth remembering that many ssmuisbives lose the power to safeword when in sub-space or just when overwhelmed. Lots of people lose the ability to judge for themselves where their limits are in that situation or are not able to form clear words (for those who regress during play). As a top I am aware that it’s more important for me to stick to limits previously set (and to obtain these limits from sometimes reluctant ssmuisbives beforehand) and to observe the person I’m playing with very closely and check in verbally and to stop sooner rather than later because there is always another time, if they say afterwards they wanted to go further, but you can’t take back going too far.I would encourage all ssmuisbives to have self-awareness particularly in where limits or soft spots might be and to be aware that they need to know the person they are playing with will stick to them, rather than assuming they can just use a safeword.