Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Safeword games.

A little ways back, a guy at a BDSM party (not Benny) wanted to play with me. Specifically, he said "I'm going to hit you until you safeword."

I kinda like the idea of playing say-Uncle, but using the actual safeword in a game weirds me out, and I'm curious if other people agree with this. To me, it's like saying "dinner is ready when the smoke alarm goes off"--it's at best inappropriate use of a safety device, at worst a guarantee that things will go too far.

I don't ever want to safeword. I shouldn't ever have to safeword; in a perfect world, tops would be perceptive enough to know when I was getting close to my limit and stop while I was still having fun. This isn't a perfect world and I don't hold it against anyone for having occasional lapses in their psychic abilities, so I'll safeword when I have to, but it's not part of the fun. In my view, safewording should be a big serious deal.

(Ultimately, I agreed to be hit until "yellow," but not "red." Just one of the geeky little delineations of this world.)

But I know people are all over the map on this issue, from nutballs who play without safewords because "I consented to not having consent any more" to people who use their safeword as a utilitarian control switch. Where do you stand?


  1. Well, it would really put me off if someone said that to me. I don't do a lot of bottoming these days; the thrill is working pretty well from topping instead, but when I did I recall getting into the kind of submissive space where safewording was hard to impossible as it was. If someone's topping you and doesn't realise that to ask someone to stop can be a big deal, when all you want to do is please them, that means they're not appreciating the headspace. And if they're not appreciating the emotions going on, why should they get to play with them? a mistake I made a long time ago, with someone that didn't deserve it.

  2. Mab - Yeah, good point--being asked to actively keep track of when I need to safeword definitely puts me in a more critical and detached frame of mind.

    I don't know if I've ever been in a headspace where I couldn't safeword, but I've often been in one that would've been ruined if I had to.

  3. I agree - using a "red"-type safeword, for me, means that we have to stop playing entirely, it's not fun anymore; go directly to aftercare. And yes, even thinking about whether I might need to say "yellow" takes me out of that yummy headspace a little bit.

    Then again, being *told* I'm going to be pushed to my utter limit might be fun, I just wouldn't actually enjoy it.

    When I put it that way, it seems almost tautological. Being pushed to the point where it isn't fun anymore would stop being fun.

  4. Hmmm. I think that there's a lot to be said for being able to give someone a fun, intense experience without taking them to or past the point where it's no longer enjoyable and needs to stop.

    For me, bottoming helped me be a better top. I found that when I was tied up and getting my ass beat, I didn't want to use a safeword, and I damn sure wanted them to respect my boundaries.

    Back to your orginal post, I would like to contrast two experiences that I had with my partner. In the first, she used the safeword. I immediately stopped, got her all untied, and apologized. In the second, I was much more aware of what her physical limits were, no safeword was used, and she had a great time, and said that it was extremely intense, without taking her too far. We both had a whole lot better of time by bringing her to an intense place, but one below where the safeword would have been needed.

    As an aside, after she had used the safeword, and I had untied her and apologized, and everything was ok, I offered to let her tie me up and let her hit me. She appreciated the offer, and we we later did it, it was hot.

  5. I read it as "a guarantee things will go too far". It's supposed to function as an emergency brake, which means you're either using it for non-emergency purposes and diminishing its serious, or you're deliberately creating an emergency, which is... possibly hot in concept but not in practice, much like a rape fantasy.

  6. I'm one of those people who cannot consistently access safewordable space, but even if I weren't, I'm with the "You don't use the emergency brake to stop for traffic lights" folks.

  7. I'm with the "You don't use the emergency brake to stop for traffic lights" folks.

    But you do occasionally use it for drifting a front wheel drive car down a dirt road switchback.

    Ok, I'm not sure what that analogy is supposed to mean, exactly, but it's what came to mind.

    On a more serious note... I don't think I'd ever intentionally try to get someone to safeword. For one thing, it'd be too easy, and therefore, pointless. For another... it just doesn't sound like fun. For whoever is on the bottom, or for me, either, as a, er, "service top".

    I know a lot of people use "yellow" and "red", but most of the people I play with are geeks, so my usual safeword is "escape sequence".

  8. I like what you said there, perlhaqr. "I'm going to make you safeword" sounds pretty scary to me. It's no accomplishment to push someone too far. That sentiment sounds lazy, jerky, and dangerous. I would venture that just about anyone could top another person to a safeword level. It's not a big trick to hurt someone too much, and not taking the time or energy to understand where the other person is and respecting their boundaries is massively inconsiderate and risks serious physical and emotional harm.

    I like the guns to kink analogy. Guns is the most fun I can have with my clothes on, and getting kinky is about the most fun I can have with my clothes off. But as you said, Holly, both situations absolutely require that someone be attentive, responsible, and safe, or otherwise there's a strong possibility of serious physical harm.

  9. I read that as "I'm going to spank you until it legitimately starts to hurt you."


  10. Anonymous: I think the line that's being crossed with the sentiment "I'm going to make you safeword" is "hurt" vs: "damage".

    My lover with whom I play roughest, we typically engage in what can only be described as full contact sparring as foreplay, and so we're both very careful to not cross that line. As she often says, "damage is not sexy." But we quite often hurt each other rather a lot. Our (fortunately?) rare interludes often leave the both of us smiling about the bruises we've left on one another.

    (Ironically, we don't actually use defined safewords. Since there's not a submissive mindset being aimed for, we usually just take "stop" or "halt" or "hold" or whatnot as actual commands.)

  11. Well, I could see going to "yellow". I agree "red" seems to imply there's such a fuck up that it isn't fun anymore.

    Now, I realize that my dark side has some people whom I'd like to take to the limit. To make them lose control completely, and I don't bloody care if they enjoy it. I also know that that behaviour is wrong, so I don't do it.

  12. I'm probably deranged for even thinking of it, but awhile ago I had an idea for a roleplaying scenario: BDSM scene gone wrong. It involves the use of a fake safeword which triggers part 2 - the dominant is an evil jerk who is pissed at you for not going far enough. Basically, a combination of play rape and mind screw.

    I suspect that most subs would either be too creeped out or consider it too potentially traumatic to try it.

  13. People who said it would be no fun - it was, some. Sometimes I like playing the tough girl holding out as long as I can--"that doesn't hurt, that doesn't hurt, that... aaauughhh *whimper* doesn't hurt," and this is the perfect game for that.

    William - Are these people you're attracted to, though, or just people you'd like to destroy in general? (Uh, you don't have to answer that.)

    Not Me - That scene sounds like the least fun thing ever. It's sort of the BDSM equivalent of yelling "NO BRAKES!" at your car passengers, swerving around like crazy, and then laughing at them.

  14. "Not Me - That scene sounds like the least fun thing ever. It's sort of the BDSM equivalent of yelling "NO BRAKES!" at your car passengers, swerving around like crazy, and then laughing at them."

    The infinitely recursive BDSM scene didn't sound great to me, but that's a lot of fun. Don't knock it 'till you try it.

  15. This makes me wonder a lot about the sex lives of other, non-sex bloggers I read.