What is a Safe Word? Learn the Basics of Kink Communication

What is a safe word - Illustration of an apple, pineapple, and banana with bondage harnesses sketched over

 

 

If you’re going to get into any sort of BDSM or general kink (anything from a simple blindfold to full-on leather, whips, and chains), it’s ESSENTIAL that you, and whoever you play with, have a safe word.

 

It can be anything that’s short easy to remember.

 

EXAMPLES: Red, Pineapple, Washington, Red Sox, Apple.

 

You’re probably thinking, “Duh! Why don’t you just say STOP or NO?”  In fact, you’ll find articles where the writer is against the idea of anything other than regular words to communicate the submissive wants/needs.

 

Well...

 

Close up of woman's torso, dressed in black and red latex, holding a keyDEFINITION: A safe word is a CLEAR signal for the Dominant or Top to alter, slow, or cease play.

 

In the essence of this definition, you can say Stop/No. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s a completely valid choice.

 

If you’re only playing with one person, (or a very small selection of people that you know quite well), and all parties agree and are comfortable with the idea, then go for it.

 

 

HOWEVER ...

 

 

  • What if part of your fantasy is saying “stop”, but having the person continue?

 

In this case, you NEED a word that communicates to your partner there is a problem or play must really cease.

 

 

  • What if a new play partner has their own safe word?

 

These signals aren’t just for the submissive, they are for the Dominant’s comfort as well. Respect and consideration go both ways. So, if someone wants an unusual word, go with it.

 

 

  • What if you go to a BDSM club?

 

These places will definitely make sure you have/use one. If someone went in and said, “F-you, I don’t think I need one.” They would never get an invite again … to anywhere probably. Groups are tight-knit, responsible players take the SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) rule very seriously, and word can travel fast.

 

 

MORE REASONS YOU NEED ONE


 

Safety is the key aspect of a Dominant’s responsibilities.

 

Woman in black lace blindfold, red lips, holding handcuffs in her mouthIf play gets intense (with body chemicals and subspace etc.), some submissives become incapable of stringing together a simple string of syllables an infant could master.

 

 

So yes, the safe word pterodactyl will do f-all, aside from leaving your Dominant wondering if you’ve developed a stutter or are having a stroke.

 

You might have to touch them, coax them out of their heightened state, talk to them, even stop play all together. But, in my opinion, if play is getting THAT deep, why not err on the side of caution and include a safe word JUST IN CASE.

 

I would have far more respect for a Dominant who chose to have one rather than not.

 

In fact, there would be nothing but alarms and red flags for any individual (Dom or sub) who said, “I don’t bother with them, because…”

 

It can also include body language...

 

If the bottom is wearing a mouth gag (or anything that restricts verbal communication), then a non-verbal signal is needed. 

 

EXAMPLE: Dropping something, tapping out

 

 

It’s like a Safety Toolbox for BDSM:

 

  1. An agreed-upon length of time to play
  2. A clear understating of the rules and risks
  3. An observant Dom who watched their sub closely
  4. Practice and control over whatever play-items will be used
  5. Corresponding precautions or tools for whatever your scene needs
  6. A verbal safe word
  7. A non-verbal safe signal

 

Another common example is the traffic light system.

 

  • Green = Give me more!
  • Yellow = I’m nearing my limits
  • Red = Stop everything, there is a problem

 

Other examples include different kinds of fruits, places, “mercy”, “safe”, and “halt” etc.

 

 

CONSENSUAL NON-CONSENT


 

 

You might hear the term “Consensual Non-consent” thrown around as well. It can be a bit confusing because there are two possible meanings...

 

1. Ravagement - A scene where you say "no" or "stop", but your partner doesn't stop (unless there is an actual safety word).

 

2. Total Power Exchange - A D/s relationship where the sub gives up ALL rights/control (including the use of a safe word).

 

My little pony illustration with bondage playIt basically means the submissive consensually gives up everything during play (or everyday life if it’s a 24/7 relationship) and allows the dominant to make ALL the calls (as opposed to the submissive having the ultimate power to stop things).

 

While "ravagement" is more common than you think, Total power exchange might raise some red flags to some players. Because, while this particular style of play might work for a VERY small, select group of people, it’s a very controversial idea within the BDSM community.

 

People are obviously free to do as they wish, but I recommend 99% of people to stay away from total power exchange.

 

It would take YEARS of living a BDSM lifestyle, plus the absolute certainty of knowing what you are and what you want, PLUS the most responsible, caring Dom on the face of the earth that you can trust to the end of the universe and back.

 

That combination is as rare as finding a unicorn slouched across your sofa, watching Sunday morning cartoons.

 

 

OTHER PLACES YOU SEE SAFE WORDS


 

There’s an interesting vanilla-version you can find in bars.

 

If a woman is having trouble with someone who is acting aggressive, can’t take no for an answer, or behaving in any way that makes her feel uncomfortable, she can go to a bar and order an “Angel” or sometimes ask for “Angela”.

 

There are other variations here and there, but it’s a clear signal to the bar worker that the woman needs help and (very often) needs to escape to a taxi.

 

When it comes down to it, better to be safe and feel silly than sorry.

 

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

There you go, all the basics you need to know about Safe Words. I hope it helped!

 

Also, if you liked this article, you might want to check out these:

 

 

Stay safe, and have a kinky day!

Robyn

 

 

What are some safe words you use? Share in the comments!

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Comments (1)

  1. Mimsy Borogoves says:

    Great post! My partner and I use the ever popular stoplight system. I really appreciate that you explained the two definitions of CNC and added that TPE only works for a very small percentage of people who participate in BDSM--it is the exception, not the rule.

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