Anytime I refer to when I was first learning kink, I get this terrible image in my head that I am surrounded by a group of newbies, droning on about how “back in my day,” we did this or that. I can even hear the horrid imitation grannie voice. But the reality is, kink has changed and evolved since I dove headfirst into it, all those years ago.
The most consistent philosophy, in my opinion, would be SSC (Safe, Sane, and Consensual). Though, this too has evolved to include RACK (Risk Aware, Consensual Kink) and PRICK (Personal Risk, Informed Consensual Kink). While each of these has the same idea that consent is paramount to kink, they are more involved and have developed to include personal risk and responsibility.
However, the most fluid idea would be that of a safeword.
Safeword: A word, phrase, or physical symbol that indicates a BDSM scene must end.
Until recently, I accepted this definition. I believed, and taught individuals, that a safeword is used when someone in a scene reaches their limits. While I do believe that a safeword can be used in a relationship, just as much as a scene, especially with mental health issues, I accepted that it primarily referred to end a BDSM scene.
But I am having a crisis of definition.
Let me start at the beginning. We are going to take a moment and explore that horrid “back in my day” story.
When I first delved into the community, I was taught that a safeword was a single word. It was a word that was given to me by a D-type (blasphemy, I know) and it was to only be used if I was in physical danger.
Back then, no one talked about mental issues. No one discussed sub drop. No one discussed that having a scene in a bad headspace could fuck you up. No one talked about it. The community I learned from, demanded that submissives were seen and not heard. Their entire purpose was to always be available to their Dom. The needs and wants of a submissive were unimportant. A submissive had no say in how they were played with nor who they played with. I was taught that safewords were only needed until you were trained, because “real” submissives did not need safewords. “Real” submissives did not need a safeword because that was tantamount to Topping from the bottom. It meant that the submissive did not trust their Dominant. It meant that you were weak willed and weak minded. Above all, it was discussed as a disappointment when a submissive needed to save out. For the most part, scenes stopped when one was uttered, but the silent oppression in the aftermath made that an extremely uncomfortable experience.
And in all my time in the community, I never quite realized how many red flags are in that story until I wrote it out for you to read. It was simply accepted as the way of things. I honestly did not think about it too much.
Maybe that is why I am so adamant about consent and communication now. Because I see myself in all the newbies and I want them to know they have a choice. A chance to be heard. A chance to have a voice.
What was once the definition of a submissive, is now the epitome of a slave. Where once you would be passed around, with simple acceptance, now requires consent and negotiation. We discuss these concepts like they have always been part of the community. Maybe, somewhere, they have. But I was not lucky enough to be surrounded by that type of support.
The first Dominant, who was interested in me, was 32 years my senior. He had been involved in kink, privately, for a couple of decades. He knew what he liked and from the first time we talked, he groomed me. There was no negotiation. And I believed that was normal. He groomed me, at 18, and he required Honorifics. Naive as I was, his interest in me sparked me to break my own rule and refer to him as Sir. I had extremely low self-esteem and his attention was addicting. Until, one weekend, he texted me to let me know he would be out of cell range for a couple of days and he would text when he got home. Fourteen years later, I still have not received that call.
The second Dominant who was interested, was a Mistress twice my age, who wanted me to move to her and become a house girl. I would not be allowed to contact my family (whom I was close with), would be required to be rail thin, and would not be allowed to pursue my college degree. My wants, and needs, had no consideration. She too required honorifics from the very beginning, and she too ghosted me when I refused to comply.
I want to specify that I was not disrespectful. I just wanted to be treated like a human being.
After those experiences, I became very reserved. I was surrounded by submissives, and through a matter of circumstance, I fought my nature and became a switch. Once I took control, I refused to ever let it go again. Being groomed and ghosted and having no sense of self, left me with a bitter taste of BDSM. I let it become relegated to a bedroom only activity. I lost the beauty and drive of my submission.
And it culminated in the best and worst thing I ever said to Master (before I was even under consideration): “I bow to no Man. Do your worst.” But that’s a story in another article.
I wanted to give you background on where my definition of a safeword started. Had either of those individuals become my Dominant, I would not be talking to you about safewords at all. Because, back then, safewords were a handicap. They were a disappointment. They were the sign of a submissive’s failure.
Over time, my definition changed. When I met Master, he introduced me to the Stoplight system. Green for Go (although I find that part redundant), Yellow for Check-In, and Red for Stop Immediately. Not only was it more universally recognized in public dungeons, but it was also a good system for him and me to find our happy mediums.
I rarely use any of the safewords. Yellow is reserved for health issues. For example, if the cane misses my ass and hits my thigh. I will say, “Yellow, that got my hip.” It does not stop our play. We do not stop to check in. He readjusts his swing, and we continue. He trusts that I will tell him if we need to stop.
Red has never been used. I struggle deeply with even contemplating the use of it. The indoctrination (and most likely because I started as a teenager) makes it hard to hold to my limits. Master has commented more than once that when I say red (because it will happen eventually), He is figuring it will require medical intervention.
We play hard and rough and my body can take quite a beating. If I am saying red, something will be very wrong.
I tried to explain it to Master at one point. When something happens in a scene that I am unsure of, my head starts arguing. Its several voices talking over each other. One argues to safeword. One argues that I can take more. One says to push my limits. One says to back off. One sobs with my pain and one laughs at my suffering. It goes back and forth between being at my limit and wanting to push more. By the time I settle on a decision, I have already endured more than I thought I could. Then it starts over.
It is only in sub space that I escape the chaos in my head. I become catatonic. I can function and follow orders, but I lose the ability to safeword. I stop recognizing my own name. I lose the ability to speak and understand English. I am gone.
Due to my struggles to safeword, and my tendency to become catatonic, Master has learned to read my body first and listen to my answers second. Over time, He has come to trust that I am not lying to him when I say that I am fine or that we can continue whatever we are doing. In my head, I am ready to serve and accept what he offers me. In my head, I can take anything he can dream up. In my head, I am still that teenager who was taught that safewording means I am a failure.
I have encountered many viewpoints on the use of a safeword. There are the individuals who play without them. People like those who taught me. There are those who use a single safeword and only apply it to BDSM scenes. You have those who use a single safeword but apply it to all aspects of the relationship. You have those who use a color system (like the stoplight system) that are more universal in the lifestyle.
Throughout the years, the consensus has moved from submissives being property to submissives being an autonomous individual with rights. There is much more emphasis on consent and negotiation than there was years ago. We, as a community, make sure that submissives know that they are valued and should get to know a potential D-type as a person first and dynamic second.
I will never speak against those who prefer to play without a safeword. Just as I will never speak against those who prefer to be property. I am one of those submissives who handed all decisions over to Master. I do not negotiate, He has blanket consent, and I hold out on my safeword far further than most. I am his to do with as he pleases. I am there for his pleasure and in service to him. That is how I view my submission. Whether by choice or conditioning, I will probably always struggle with using my safeword. I will always struggle with the feelings of failure and disappointment, even though I know Master would never feel either of those feelings if I use it.
The culture surrounding the use of safewords has come an exceptionally long way. But I am positive that it still has a long way to go.
*On a side note, the color system has grown exponentially over the years. What started as a three color system has become almost comical in the alternative colors available for use.
Green – Go
Yellow/Orange/Tan/Amber- Slow down
Red- Stop your current activity/ End scene
Black- End everything immediately
Blue- I need water/I need comfort
My name is Joji. I am 29 years old currently and I have been in and around the kink community about 15 years.I am a collared submissive to Magick42. I am also a Daddy to a wonderful babygirl, and have been for more than three years now and I find it very fulfilling. I am being mentored in and being taught electroplay. I am a masochist at heart and thoroughly love impact play, especially caning. I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on and am a die hard Harry Potter and Doctor Who fan. I am also the secretary for a group in Idaho called Moscow S.P.A.R.K.E (Simply Providing Another Route to Kink Education). It is our mission to teach safe practices to those new to the community and give them a safe haven to ask questions and learn without judgement. We accept all kinks and all we ask in return is respect between all our members.