6/07/2010

To Safeword or Not To Safeword?

In the BDSM lifestyle, most beginner-level how-tos tell you that you should always play with a safeword. This is for everyone's safety (yes, I've heard stories of tops safewording out of scenes, too!) to make sure that no one gets injured or too freaked out or have lasting psychological harm done to them. It's a way of saying, "Okay, this is too much, and I need to stop."

But once you get more into the BDSM lifestyle, you discover there are several Doms and subs who do not use safewords. Ever. Subs and slaves claim they trust their Master with their lives and would never want to usurp his (or her) authority that way. Doms and Masters say they can't really be 100% in control if the sub can stop them with just one word. I don't know who first said it or started it, but floating around the internet is this saying to support these people's choices:

A sub with a safeword is just a Domme on her knees.

Catchy, no?

For these people, that works. If you know someone well enough and trust them enough, maybe the no-safeword type of relationship works for you.

But for my Dom and me, we never play without a safeword. I was emotionally and physically abused by my mother when I was younger until I went to college. She's a wonderful woman, but she has some mental instabilities and she went through a rough time in her life where she tried to take her children and family down with her. She's sorry now, and I forgive her, but it still screw with my head and dictates how I relate (often dysfunctionally) in my relationship with my husband. (Sex=bad, love=control, emotional abuse=I feel loved, that kind of crazy crap.)

So we always, always play with safewords. I can't safeword out of punishments, or I'd never get punished and my Dom would have no real authority. But punishments, like the occasional spanking, are not intended to be emotionally or physically traumatizing, so I've never really needed to safeword out of them. However, some of our scenes can get crazy. Sometimes my Dom loses his temper (or, more likely, he loses control and I feel like he's lost his temper) or he starts slapping me too hard and I lose it. I start sobbing uncontrollably because slapping was what my mother did when she was mad beyond belief and screaming at me. Slapping, to me, represents a lack of control over my body. It makes me feel helpless and powerless, not in a sexy way, but in a terrifying way. It makes me think the person doing it hates me and is furious with me. In no way is it a good, sexy, or cleansing feeling.

So we always play with safewords. And sometimes, my Dom will even push me. It's a strange fact that often the children of abusive parents can and will take a ridiculous amount of emotional and physical abuse without "giving in." I simply disconnect. I go into myself and let the other person rail against my body, but I won't give them the satisfaction of touching me. In these moods, I can be a bit self-destructive. I play the Ice Queen and won't make eye contact or talk. My Dom can pick me up and move me, but I stay limp and unresponsive. It's like I'm in a coma, but awake. He can slap me and I won't tell him to stop. He can squeeze my neck in an attempt to make me safeword, but I'll calmly sit there and let myself go unconscious first before I'll "give in" by safewording.

This is because in my childhood, there was no safeword. I couldn't stop the abuse or control what was happening to me. So I learned to rise above it, and defeat the abuser by simply not being present. Obviously, this is dangerous in a BDSM scene. I'm playing with my husband who loves me, not my abusive mother. I'm playing with someone who never wants to harm me or frighten me past the point that I like it. Yet sometimes I turn into a machine and treat him like the enemy.

So he is practicing with me to get me to safeword. Sometimes he pushes me, just to get me in the habit of "giving in" and using my safeword. Sometimes he wants to make sure I'm not too into subspace or "abused sub" mentality to talk, which actually happens from time to time. If I can't talk, I can't safeword, and I'm no longer capable of telling him if I'm safe. Then he stops play until we can resume safely. Once, he even tried to force me into doing something I'd already told him was a "hard limit" (that means NO!). I stalled and squirmed but finally safeworded. Immediately he hugged me and murmured, "Good job, little girl. I'd have been PISSED if you had let me do that."

So whatever you read on the net, it doesn't make you a worse sub or a less domly Dom if you play with safewords. It means you respect your partner and you understand that the Unknown can factor into your scenes and sometimes you'll need to slow down or stop. Especially if one of you suffered abuse or trauma as a child or adult, I'd recommend always playing with a safeword. It's there to keep you safe.

4 comments:

Steve Finnell said...

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MrJ said...

I guess safe play and safewords presuppose each other, rather than make each other superfluous.

Kai said...

I think entries like this one are really important. I've known a couple of people who don't use safewords, and the idea has always tweaked me. It's important to be able to tell your partner if things have gone too far... no matter what side of the scene you're on.

Kitty said...

I almost cried when I read the part about your Dom pushing your hard limit to get you to safeword and then his reaction...got me right in the feels.