The Word on Safewords

What safewords can and can’t do.

The one time playing as a sub I had to safeword out of a scene, I was not capable of saying the safeword. I wasn’t gagged (in which case it would have been tapping out anyway), but I’d gotten into a psychological space where it was not emotionally possible for me to speak. To get out of it, I had to struggle out of submission and onto solid ground from which I could explain that I was not OK. So instead of gasping, “Red,” I said, clearly and quietly, “We’re going to have to stop now.” My Dom listened, and we worked through the difficulty.

Because the safeword was emotionally linked to submission, saying it would have thrown me right back into that quicksand. Being unable to speak the safeword isn’t unique to me; over the past couple of decades, I’ve seen it happen a number of times. Only once or twice with my own submissives, since I generally don’t rely on safewords. Which isn’t to say I don’t use them at all. I just don’t expect that they will work, and I certainly don’t imagine that my responsibility as a Domme starts with hearing the safeword.

8 comments for “The Word on Safewords

  1. June 19, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve been operating on the hypothesis that safewords are for people/scenes where someone wants to be able to say things like “No” and “Please stop” as part of the play. A calm “We’re going to have to stop now” feels different enough that I would expect any competent top to understand that it’s real, not part of the play.

  2. June 19, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    Do you mind if I post a link to this on either my Journalfen account and/or a community at Journalfen? If you’re concerned, drop me a note and I’ll show you where I’m thinking of putting the link. *hugs tight*

  3. June 19, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    I agree that safewords are unreliable. I will, of course, honor YELLOW, RED, SAFEWORD, AARDVARK, etc., but I don’t prenegotiate such words. Once in scene, the nonverbal channels are far more reliable. While topping I only push my bottom as far as is clearly safe emotionally and physically, according to how well I know them (being rather conservative, I’m probably not the one to pick for a deeply emotional torture scene anyway). And I just won’t bottom to someone without a proven ability to tune in to cues on several levels, as well as the utmost respect for me.

  4. June 19, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    At the beginning of a scene, I’ll let a bottom know (or we will decide together) if we are working with “reality words” (like stop, no, wait, etc) or safewords. Usually, it’s reality words, in my case. I am also not afraid to stop a scene on my own because of safety or comfort issues that I tune into.

    Is that your post on Alt? I have an account there, too, but it’s under an assumed name. *chuckle*

  5. June 20, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    Because I know that has really limited net access just now, I’ll say that that’s not her post on Alt. Damn good post, though.

  6. June 20, 2005 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you so very much for replying to this comment of mine. xxoo I agree, and thought that Alt post was damned good, too.

  7. June 20, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    xxoo you too. Turns out the original LJ link is not friendslocked; if you don’t read , you probably should. She wrote the great safeword post.

  8. June 20, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    ::nods:: I have difficulty with even using the concept of Yellow. There were time this weekend I should have, logically, called yellow – things were getting difficult to handle. But I did want to call yellow because that means things would have gotten toned down, and I would not have gotten the experience handling the sensations I was getting and the major breakthrough I got in the way I was processing pain (I think it was when I thought to myself “If I’m not going to be calling yellow, then why the heck and I just not accepting what’s going on?”). Nor would I have the wonderful bruises that have actually lasted me a few days.

    I told Daddy and Mystress before that I don’t know how far I can push myself. And because of that I might not call red when I should. At the same time I’m apprehensive about calling yellow too early. I want to find out how far I can go, and sometimes I think being expected to be ready to call a safe word hinders that.

    Fortunately my Daddy did not solely on waiting for a safeword either. He watched and paid attention to what was going on. He asked the right questions, and I was able to tell him if something was hard to handle. He changed things up from time to time and then revisited prior implements as my pain processing seem to kick in.

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