Ordinarily, I would throw this question into the cylindrical file from whence it came. It – or some version thereof – had been answered many times before on kinkweekly. But with the year off due to Covid, and generally less play spaces to keep you at the top of your game, I thought it prudent to take another stab at a safety question. After all, in this new reality, you can never been too careful. I might add, from personal experience, that when I returned to play I forgot aftercare – something would never have done pre-pandemic. And so, the following question.
Reader: Recently, my online kink group has been discussing what to do if something goes wrong or a pre-condition manifests itself during a scene. This kind of safety concern is beyond the usual. So how can you prepare for every eventuality? (My adding: especially in this corona virus era.)
To start, a disclaimer: “It is impossible to prepare for every eventuality.” If I could do this, I would be working for the President eliminating Covid immediately. But seriously…regarding medical pre-conditions — there isn’t a list specifically geared to BDSM that you could read and sign before you entered a play space. Even if there were, who would want to feel like they were visiting a dentist and filling out the medical questionnaire? (Are you allergic to penicillin?) But I think an over-arching question – “you don’t have a heart condition or asthma?” – might open a productive dialogue between first-time players. Thus one should be aware of any pre-conditions that could be a threat. With Covid lurking around, one should at least take your partner’s temperature prior to play. Being vaccinated – no matter what your views on vaccines – is not enough when it comes to dungeon play with many people around. So buy a ten dollar thermometer and put it in your toy bag. We do not know how flogging – for example – affects the virus; just be vigilant and if you see the bottom breaking out in a cold sweat it is time to stop play and take his/her temperature again.
Now onto safe words. Although “safe words are not the end-all and be-all to safety,” they are definitely better than anything that comes in second. The trick to using safe words effectively (and this seemingly obvious bit of advice might be extremely valuable to you). Although the standard safe word is “red,” many people try to pick out their own personal safe word. The “New Guard” wants style. “Paga”” might be a cool safe word for Goreans, but when panic time sets in and the mind starts spinning, these words might not be at the tip of the tongue. “Red” works for stop signs. “Red” works for scenes. Forget using trendy new safe words. Use “red.”
I also advocate the use of a safe signal. When you use a ball gag in a scene, the bottom –unless he/she is a ventriloquist — cannot give a safe word. So agree on a safe signal based on what type of scene you are doing. A great one is a shaking of the head continuously left to right — like a “no” signal. This is unmistakable, and does not require the hands, which might be bound. Between safe words and safe signals, you have increased safety a hundred fold.
Most BDSM writers always talk about a “safe call.” In this case the old expression – “after all is said and done, more is said than done” — is applicable. Most people never use the safe call procedure. But if used properly, safe calls are really good tools – especially when you play for the first time with someone you hardly know. In this age of the cell phone, it is really easy to have someone waiting for your call to see if all is well – and to arrange for any contingency plans should help be required.
Another safety key is…not playing with unsafe players! Sometimes there are players who have gained a reputation for being unsafe; most times these reputations — if they are widespread and repeated by respected members of the community — have some basis in fact. Stay away. But there are other red flags. When playing for the first time, a big red flag is when the Top says, “I never allow a safe word.” They might rationalize it by saying something like, “I am into TPE and do not believe in safe words.” Well, many in TPE relationships do eschew the safe word. But this only happens after a relationship is established; eliminating the safe word is generally negotiated after playing for awhile. Anyone who says “no safe words” right out of the box really hasn’t got a clue.
As for the scene itself, the oft-repeated advice of planning a scene in advance will add to the safety of it. Some scenes are pretty safe in and of themselves — an interrogation scene, for example. Others — such as mummification or breath play — are much more dangerous. Make sure the skill level of the Dominant (as he/she is in control) matches the danger quotient (D.Q.) of the scene being attempted. And though much of what I outlined here has been discussed before, there is nothing wrong in stating the obvious if it can save you a trip to the hospital. Remember, “Safety isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.