When I first got into the world of bdsm, I read a lot about how people stayed safe. There were tons of bulletin boards, manned primarily by the “safe, sane, consensual” crowd. I don’t mean that to sound disparaging – we all started there. But the further along I went, I (and the submissives I was with) began to move toward the edge. Our activities got edgier and edgier. Where those preaching “safe, sane, consensual” would constantly point out how there were risks and you should never do certain things, some of us were concluding that in their world, we wouldn’t do anything at all because it was risky, and we were deciding to take the risks knowingly.
So we ALL started with safe words. People devised elaborate levels of “yellow” and “red.” All very complicated. Meanwhile, I was noticing something: I realized that “no” didn’t always mean “no” and “please stop” didn’t always mean “please stop.” I cannot tell you how many times I stopped a scene, only to hear later in the wind down period, that the sub was just getting into it and wished I hadn’t stopped. So I began to pay more attention. I learned I needed to experiment and know how my sub was feeling, not from what she was saying necessarily. I learned that growth as a sub, and as a Dom for that matter, meant finding the limit and pushing beyond it, just a little at a time. In an earlier post, or comment on this blog, I said that one good test of where a sub is at the moment she is begging “please” is to tell her to say “please give me more.” Usually what happens is that she calms down, gets her submissive head in place, and asks for more, willingly. If it takes a really long time for that, then she is probably near the limit. But often, the very act of asking for more brings her back into control of the pain, and it turns out she really does want more.
In the early goings with a new sub, I never really tie her up. I will explain to her that I will take one twist of the rope around her wrist and then let her hold it. She can easily get herself out. It is the illusion, the feeling, of restraint, without the fear of being helpless. Then, when the level of trust is established, we go to real restraints. While not directly related to safe words, I offer this up only to show I am not crazy, ok not totally crazy, lol.
When my sub has had a safe word, I have made it clear that the word is not going to be used to “top from the bottom.” It is not going to be used to control the pace of the scene. It is only used to END a scene. If the safe word pops up, we stop, we untie, we get dressed, we pack up the toys, we sit down and talk. So there is a huge incentive to keep that word tucked away for only the most dire emergencies.
pixie and I have a system of our own. It is very simple. When she thinks she can’t take any more, she says “please.” I have explained to her (and I think I have said this before on this blog) that she will not know what effect her “please” will have. The example is this: if I have in mind 20 strokes, and she says “please” on 5, she probably won’t get 20 but she might get 10. If she says “please” on 17, she will probably get all 20. And in both cases, she got more after the “please” and had no idea what, if any, effect her words had on me. But she should say it when she feels she needs to, and I take it into account along with everything else that my senses have picked up. How long have we been at it? How intense has it been? Are we leaving marks or not? Is this a new experience or something we have done many times? Is her breathing normal? Is her body covered in sweat? What was her mood when we started? What other stresses are going on in her life at the time that might affect her emotional level? Does she seem close to tears? Has she said “Richard” which indicates a higher level of stress than just “please.” And on and on and on. I could fill a page with the things that govern when I decide she has had enough. And over time, she has come to trust my judgment in these matters. And some, with just the knowledge that pixie asked for a safe word and had never done that before, would conclude that my judgment was faulty. I think you should give me more credit than that. You should understand that in my head are so many factors that I can’t possibly list them all here that led me to conclude, as the person who has the responsibility to conclude, that I was not giving her one, that she didn’t need one, that her fears were both unfounded and good for her – yes, a little fear is good for her. Her vulnerability was the point of the entire weekend. I was intent on reducing her level of security and comfort, not adding to it. She was getting her head around being a slave! A safe word was totally inimical to that plan. There would have been “harm” in giving her one. This was my judgment and I will stand by it, and defend it, under ALL the circumstances known to me.
As we talked about this today, she noted that when she says “please” she does not herself always know what she is asking for. Sometimes it is please stop. Sometimes it is please fuck me. Sometimes it is please I need something and I don’t know what it is and thank God I have this Dom who knows me so well he will probably figure it out and give it to me. She said it seemed an unfair burden to put on the Dom to figure out what the “please” means. I think it is exactly the burden you pick up when you decide to tie a submissive up and hurt her, knowing that the words that will come out of her mouth cannot be and are not a dependable indicator of what she really needs. If you are playing at it, that’s one thing. But at the level that pixie and I are, it is beyond play – it is serious, not risk free, totally dependent on trust by the sub and good judgment on the part of the Dom. If I relied on pixie to decide when she has had enough, or when she was “ready” for some new experience, she would have missed out on some of the most fabulous experiences in her short time with me. Excuse me if I rant here, but ITS MY JOB!
I would also remind everyone that pixie in fact said, “I need a minute,” without one small thought that I would not give it to her. Was that the equivalent of a safe word? Not really, it didn’t end the scene. It allowed it to go on to a very meaningful conclusion. I just think that the Dom has to be fully attuned to the submissive’s needs, and there are so many ways to evaluate that.
In summary, I have had safe words, but usually very quickly the sub wishes to dispense with them as an unnecessary safety net. It is just more thrilling, and more conducive to growth in intensity, to give that up along with everything else you are giving up to your Dom. Let it go, just give it all to him without limit. Develop trust. Push your limits. I know that some of what I have said argues FOR safe words. All I am saying is that reasonable people can disagree on how much value they really have. If all it provides is some kind of comfort zone that will never be used, then let’s not bother. I’m not about comfort zones, no one grows when they are comfortable – I am about finding the limit, pushing through it a bit, growing the sub’s endurance and trust and ultimate devotion to her Master. And I think safe words can get in the way of that without adding any real value. Read that again: safe words can get in the way of the full development of trust and “letting go” that is required of a submissive. I do not expect to have persuaded everyone, nor should I. Not everyone is in the same place that pixie and I are. Sometimes I think pixie’s blog should start with a “Don’t try this at home” warning.