Facts & Info

Everything You Need to Know about Safewords

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Even though they can sometimes be made light of, even appearing now and again in mainstream entertainment as a kind of joke, safewords are in many ways at the core of BDSM. What is occurring in a scene involves safety (emotional and physical), sanity (meaning everyone has their heads screwed on straight), and consent (everyone agrees to what’s happening).

The logic goes like this: by having a nonjudgmental and no-repercussions way of communicating that the scene should slow down, be paused, or even totally called off, those involved have a built-in reassurance that things will be safe, sane, and consensual.

So safewords aren’t just important, but they are crucial to everything involving BDSM. But how do you set up a safeword, and put together a way for the calling of it to be acknowledged and respected?

Kink Lovers Guide to Safewords

They Mean more than “Stop” and “Go”

The idea behind safewords is that both parties need a way of communicating to the other, or sometimes even to other people within earshot, that things in a BDSM scene need to be re-evaluated.

The words themselves aren’t really important, just as long as the choosing of them doesn’t cause confusion. So don’t, for example, choose “stop,” but rather something you normally wouldn’t say in the throes of passion. And don’t just pick one word—select as many as you need to get across not just that things should stop, but that you perhaps need to slow things down, take a break, or whatever else you feel might be necessary.

They’re for both Tops and Bottoms

One of many myths in the BDSM community is that safewords are only for bottoms (those on the receiving end of play). The fact is, tops (dominants) might also feel that they need to slow down, renegotiate, or even end a scene for any reason. So when you set them up together, make sure everyone involved is familiar with them.

You shouldn’t have to explain why a word might be needed, just set parameters that you both understand to get across to the other that things in the play session need to be paused or stopped completely.

ALWAYS Use Them

Safewords, even in the scene itself, are far too often dismissed as something only newbies need. To this I say: BULLSHIT. Everyone, even the most experienced of BDSM players should have a safeword at the ready. To do otherwise is taking a huge, and totally unnecessary, risk of physical or emotional injury.

I’d even go so far as to say that if you begin a scene with someone who doesn’t bring up safewords, from either the top or the bottom, it’s a sign that they don’t take the core precepts of BDSM seriously enough.

Respect, Respect, Respect

If anyone uses a safeword and the scene doesn’t immediately pause or stop, that’s another sign that the play shouldn’t come to a total end. Safewords are there for a reason and they are not something that can be put aside—for any reason.

Sometimes they might have to be repeated (if someone couldn’t be heard), but once they are said and heard then things stop—period!

By the way, if you’re playing in a busy or noisy space where vocal communication might be challenging, then have the submissive or bottom hold something in one hand—if they want to communicate, all they have to do is drop it.

Safewords Have No Repurcussions

If a safeword or safewords are used and subsequently anyone gives the user a hard time, even lightly, that is yet another sign that this person does not respect the core values of BDSM and, in my opinion, should never be played with again.

All you need to do is stop, instantly, find out what’s happening, and then communicate. Most of all, listen to what the person who used the safeword has to say. Don’t argue, don’t dismiss, don’t belittle, don’t do anything but pay total attention—then do what that person needs. I can’t make it much clearer than that.

Remember, safewords are not just something folks new to the scene should use, but are what BDSM is about.

What is your experience with using safewords? Share in the comments!

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