If you are a believer in The One True Way™ doctrine of BDSM, now would be a good time to get off my cloud. I have zero interest in following the dogmatic tenets set forth by the bunch of zealots who comprise the Church Of Dominance And Submission. So if you are expecting me to adhere to the Ten Commandments Of Kinky Play, then I’m sorry (not sorry, not sorry AT ALL) to say, you will be vastly disappointed.
Because if that’s your frame of reference, I need to be very clear on one point: I don’t Domme right.
Offense #1: I don’t “munch” – I mean, I do if you’re referring to Cookie Monster type munching, but if you’re referring to social gatherings in which kinky people come together in vanilla spaces to discuss Jimmy Choo’s latest shoes or whatever the hell it is they do… NOPE. That’s a big nope.
Offense #2: Inflicting pain is NOT my primary pleasure in my relationships – But but but… True Dominants™ are supposed to wield whips and draw blood and punish and leave bruises and and and — !!! Sorry (not sorry), that’s not my thing.
Offenses #3 thru #99: I don’t __________. Whatever it is, I just don’t do it. I don’t wear a leather catsuit, I don’t use contracts, I don’t Fetlife or Collarspace, I don’t utilize bondage implements that my partners can’t get out of themselves (because, emergencies – DUH), I don’t ‘do’ humiliation, I don’t believe in funishments. The list is long; take your pick. The point is: I don’t, I don’t, I don’t. I just DON’T.
Now, in the grand scheme of things, some of these ‘offenses’ are pretty trivial. However, there is one thing that seems to get people up in arms when it comes to not following The One True Way™, and that is this:
Offense #100: I don’t safeword – Go ahead and get all puffed up with your righteous indignation. I don’t care. I don’t safeword. As far as I’m concerned, a safeword is not even a thing. Because there is nothing “safe” about a safeword.
I’ll wait a moment while you all collectively gasp. Oh, and to those of you who are clutching your copy of 50 Shades of Idiocy to your chests and moaning with horror: FUCK OFF.
To the rest of you (some of whom are probably scratching your heads, saying “Wha…?”), I will explain. But before I expound, perhaps I should define.
What is a safeword?
The basic premise is that if one partner wants to call a halt to an activity, they use a mutually-agreed-upon word that will do the trick. Typically, the partner given the safeword option is submissive; the partner expected to heed the safeword is Dominant. Reasons for “safewording” (using one’s safeword) include but are not limited to: physical or psychological distress, needing to use the bathroom, being pushed beyond one’s pain threshold, not/no-longer in the appropriate headspace for the activity, or perhaps, the alarm has just gone off, signaling that the children are due home in five minutes.
For a safeword to be effective, it typically must be jarring enough to throw the listening partner off their game. It is not – and cannot sound like – a word typically used during the activity. (Which, depending on How You Kink, can eliminate every option from “watermelon” to “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas!”)
And for a safeword to be useable, the following conditions must be met:
- You have to remember what it is.
- You have to speak it loud enough to be heard, which means
- SPEAK. You have to be able speak.
Let’s tackle these one at a time, shall we?
You have to remember what it is. You’d think this would be easy, because – ideally – the person using the safeword is the person who chose the safeword to begin with. Except, one of the primary reasons a person needs to use their safeword is because the activity is causing distress. And people in distress usually cannot think clearly. So they may be able to say, “Ouch” or “that hurts” or make grunting noises that indicate discomfort. But a lot of people – especially those who practice CNC (Consensual Non-Consent, otherwise known as “rape play” and I will save my thoughts on that for another day) – have already pre-negotiated that those sounds don’t mean “stop.” But if STOP is exactly what the person who can’t remember their safeword needs you to do… See? This gets really ugly, really fast.
You have to be able to speak. Nevermind the fact that safewords are discriminatory and ableist in this way (another rant for another day), the sheer fact that speaking is required for stopping play can be problematic. People can go non-communicative during vanilla (hate that word, but it’ll do til a better one comes along) sex. Of course they will go non-com during kinky play. Sometimes it’s a matter of endorphin rush or subspace soar, but it can just as easily be an issue of fight or flight freeze, flashback nightmares, or being pushed so far past their limits that they “leave” the space mentally.
If you are able to remember your safeword and speak it, YOU MUST SPEAK LOUD ENOUGH TO BE HEARD. Have you ever tried to speak intelligibly when you’re crying? Or had to shout to be heard above the ambient noise? Combine the difficulty of those two things and multiply by ten. Add in the fear of failure (it is very common for submissives to feel as though they’ve ‘failed’ their Dominant if they use their safeword), and double that. Oh, and if you’re playing in a public space? Multiply the level of difficulty by 50. It’s a ridiculous expectation.
So I don’t safeword.
To be clear: If my partner asks for a safeword, I’m happy to oblige. I don’t disallow them.
But if my partner believes “This word will keep me safe,” I disabuse them of that notion right away. There is nothing “safe” about a safeword.