So lately I have been hearing about, reading about, and having people I play with suffer from safe word shaming. Briefly, for those of you newbies out there, safe BDSM play involves the incorporation of calling “yellow” or “red” when you have reached your threshold of pain, tolerance or discomfort or to check in with your Dom/Top.
I think safe word shaming is bull shit. Plain and simple.
A friend that I have never played with before said yellow in the middle of a scene recently. Like any good player, I stopped and checked in. She told me what was wrong and we fixed it. Done and done, no harm no foul. We continued to play and at the end during our aftercare she apologized for calling yellow during the scene and held me tighter. I was blown away by this and told her never to be sorry for that.
A safe word does not make you weak at all. It makes me know, as a Dom, that you are a safe player who is smart enough to not want to be broken. Safe words were invented so that players could let their partner know that something was wrong during a scene. I am not sure where this whole thing of shaming a safe word came from, but I think it’s foolish for people to succumb to such thinking.
A sub needs to be able to communicate that something is wrong during a scene. If the cuff is too tight and your hand is going numb, let me know. If your butt can’t take anymore punishment and I need to stop or move to another spot, let me know. If you feel like you can’t take any more and you’re done, LET ME KNOW.
On the other side of the coin a Dom should NEVER take a safe word away from you, especially if you are a newbie. There is a mentality in some circles of, “I have been doing this for years so I know what I am doing. We don’t need a safe word.” Bull shit and RED TO THAT! A Dom you just met will not know anything about playing with you. They will not know anything about emotional triggers or hard limits that you may not have thought about. Doms are not mind readers! No amount of negotiating will prepare you for everything that can happen during play.
Lastly if a Dom makes fun of you or holds it against you for calling a safe word during a scene…. RUN! THAT DOM IS A DICK! (and most likely an unsafe player). In closing to my public service announcement, I will say that safe words are a critical tool to play in any sort of scene. Don’t be afraid to use it because and smart Dom will respect you more for using it when needed. If anyone makes fun of you for using a safe word, they are not worth your time.
So now that my rant is done, what’s your safe word? The best one I have ever heard, because it made the ENTIRE dungeon stop, was “Peanut Butter Jelly Time!” Let us know if you have a better one in the comments.
Sir Gear has been an active member of the local Los Angeles BDSM scene since 2009. In that time he has become a member of House RavynBlood and the student of Master Gabriel. Sir Gear is the promoter of Club THIRST out of Sanctuary LAX and is best known as his character, The Reverend, that has been featured at the AVN Expo, DomCon and even the Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena.
Follow him on social media as JordanTheComic or here.
Dame TylerRose. says
My safe words are NO and STOP, because I only say them when I mean them. Hasn’t failed me a single time in 34 years.
Sir Gear says
In response to A/anyone who thought that this article is shaming people who play differently I apologize but that was certainly not the case.
I promote proper communication within scenes and open communication in general. However, a safeword is defined as a word or phrase that has been negotiated between the two parties to indicate a problem within the scene. “The cuff is too tight” would fall under that category to me.
This article is meant for newer players or even players who are going to play for the first time. You will not know exactly what the other player is going through during the “getting to know you” period.
Lastly if a safe word is negotiated and then not respected or shamed by the other party then that player is a danger to this community.
I hope that this clarifies my stance on the article.
I think you mean “No harm, no foul,” not “no harm no fowl,” unless you want to tell people they can’t have chicken.
While I don’t think anyone should be shamed for how they choose to play as long as everyone in the scene is in agreement, there are many perspectives on safe words and there are some very good reasons not to use them or at least not to rely on them for scene communication. Reading your partner is a skill that is far more important that using safe words for many people. In my own case, many of the scenes I do create a headspace where “safe wording” is not really possible. My partner relies on me to know where her limits are and respect them.
That said, she is also perfectly willing to say “the cuff is too tight and my hand is going numb” when a cuff is too tight, etc. Safe words can be an important part of play, but they should never replace good scene communication or reading your bottom’s reaction. The very time when you may need to stop, your partner may (for a host of reasons) not be able to use his or her safe word.
I am not saying that people shouldn’t have them as part of their toolset, only that it is as or even more dangerous to rely on them exclusively to indicate a problem as it is to not have them at all.
Safe words can be an important and valuable part of play, but please don’t shame those who choose to play differently either.
Thanks for pointing out the mistake.
I’m surprised you feel that way, that the article is shaming people who do play differently. I definitely did not see that point of view when I read this. Sir Gear even stated the exact same example you wrote, that he wants his partner to tell him when a cuff is too tight. He’s promoting good communication. I think these guidelines are great for people playing together for the first time and also a good gauge for predator behavior, as he states in the article. I agree with you that with some partners there is a built trust and understanding and the use of safewords is limited, if non existent. If that was not portrayed in this article to your satisfaction then fair enough.
A friend and I once came up with a funny safeword phrase that certainly got my attention as a Top. If she needed my attention she’d simply say, “Yo, motherfucker… I know where you live!”