The amazing, wonderful, and oh-so-kinky Molly Moore is talking about safewords this week on Kink of the Week. Molly was gracious enough to let me use an old post if I wanted to, but the best "conversation" I've had about it was on the podcast. Thankfully, I had a transcript for this one (it's episode 12 about staying safe in kink). The following, for listeners, will be familiar, but it's the part of the show where we specifically talked about safewords - and how they aren't always as safe as you think they will be...
From Loving BDSM podcast, episode 12: Staying Safe While Getting Kinky
...I mentioned giving a safeword a moment ago. I'm a huge believer in safewords and the color system - red, yellow, and green. I also think that it takes trust from both partners for those to work. Trust for a Dominant that, as a submissive, I will use it when I need to and trust that my Dominant will abide by it and stop everything when I use it.
I recently read a post that talked about a safeword not always being the best method. That while they should be in place and respected when used, what you need most is a Dominant who's watching everything and in-tune enough with his or her submissive to read body language and other cues to know when to stop.
Case in point, several days ago, Daddy and I were going at it hard and heavy, in missionary position - not our usual thing, but always nice. In a perfect storm that scared the hell out of me, I was unable to breathe just as he placed his full weight on my body while I arched in the exact right (or wrong) way. I gasped and struggled. I tried to say, “I can't breathe.” My reaction wasn't sexy or playful. I was terrified, y'all. As much as I enjoy breath play with his hand around my throat or over my nose and mouth, that moment made me panic. I never had the chance to say “red” or anything else.
Because he knows me well, watches me like a hawk, and understands a good moment from a bad one, he stopped immediately. He made sure I could breathe and then held me. Unfortunately, all sex stopped. Even as I hiccuped and cried a little, I felt bad. I didn't want him to have blue balls. Eventually, he growled at me to stop asking about his balls and go to sleep.
If he'd relied solely on my safeword, something awful could have happened. I might have just passed out and been fine, but I know me - I would have held onto the fear of not being able to breathe when we play rough. Thankfully, it ended the way it should have, and I'm not afraid - although he may be nervous, I don't know.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. I needed a reset, a spanking to trigger an emotional response, sometimes called a therapy spanking. I love them because all the noise in my head goes silent and I'm calm and centered when they're over. Spankings, in general, turn me on, but these kind almost never end in sex or even an orgasm.
We both knew I needed this one, and best of all, Daddy had just finished a new paddle he'd made and wanted to try it out.
The moment was beautiful. I managed to ride the waves of pain and float along - most of the time. Sometimes he hit me so hard I came up off the bed. Eventually, I floated along so well, he was able to spank me harder and faster. I loved it.
My brain sort of shut down. I could process feelings, and I could definitely hear him but when he asked the one question I needed to be able to answer - “Give me a color.” - I couldn't. It wasn't that I didn't know if I loved it (that's green) or if I needed him to slow down (yellow, y'all). It was that I couldn't think straight enough to process the question he was asking me. I kept saying, “I don't know.”
He stood back for a moment, watched me, and continued until he was able to illicit strong reactions again. Then he stopped.
Some will say he should have stopped the moment I couldn't give him an answer. Maybe, maybe not. I would have been disappointed if he had. But I trust him and he knows me well enough. Later, when I could form coherent speech again, we discussed it. I wasn't in distress. I wasn't bleeding. He hadn't hit me harder than I could usually take. He went on instinct, and he was right. But his instincts were right because we know each other so well.
If you don't have a lot of experience with each other, it's always better to be safe than sorry and stop if your partner can't respond to your questions. For us, in this specific moment, he didn't need to. In another situation, he might have stopped immediately, based on other cues I was giving off.
My point is that a safeword isn't a fail safe. Don't be fooled into thinking all you need is one word. A Dominant needs to watch body language, listen to sounds, and know their partner well enough to know if they've had enough - or, if that's not possible, start slow and stop the moment you think you might be about to go too far.
Either way, safety isn't just one word uttered by one person. It's the willingness to stop your own pleasure the moment you think or feel the other person may no longer be capable of using their safeword. Safety means having clear judgment - which means alcohol is a bad idea.
So, in parting, I leave you with this - safety in BDSM isn't just a safeword. It's knowing your partner, watching their body language, and listening to the sounds they make. It's stopping before things get out of hand. And, above all, it's playing when your mind is clear and you're able to make quick decisions.
Image via Pixabay