Sometimes, it's just a cigar

This is our truth, tell us yours

The Sunday Sermon; Safe words, and sexual separatists.

Last night I was reminded of why I cut of virtually all contact with the kink community. A while back someone who had followed me for years on twitter wrote a post about sex work that was so offensive that it could have been hosted on the pages of the New Statesman. The post wondered what a sex worker did if there were consent violations, we couldn’t say no if we had been paid after all. It postulated about having sex with men you didn’t fancy, and generally treated sex workers as the usual hybrid of victim hookers and tarts with hearts but no brains.

I was forced to admit that despite writing about sex work, kink and almost every aspect of my life, and sharing the work of others, this person had only been interested in the kink. They saw one dimension of me, the submissive, regularly praised my writing but ignored anything else. They could ignore my writings on sex work because the only identity they were interested in was that of being kinky.

This goes to the heart of my issues with the kink community, and safe words. It seems to me that for far too many people their kink becomes a defining feature, and they assume it separates them from non kinky people. I would say its the only interesting thing about them, except how another person has sex is rarely interesting.

Carter wrote brilliantly about safe words here, summing it up by asking why he would need one? I think a lot of kink folk would answer that they need one because its a sign of their difference. They can’t use no, or stop because that is what vanilla folk do. The fuss and furore that comes up every time safe words are mentioned online is actually around people saying look at me, I am special, I even have a word that means stop. Its not about making people safe from consent violations, but about reinforcing the fact they are not vanilla.

Usually at this point the safe word lobby throw some what ifs at you. So here are some back. What if the sub dissociates and so cannot speak never mind say purple trumpet trousers?  What if the sub forgets her safe word, and the Dom carries on anyway?  What if the sub is too distressed to carry on, does play continue until they are calm enough to say their safe word? That last point reminds me of a recent meeting with Carter. Sometimes I have flashbacks during our time together, flashbacks to what happened to me as a child. It’s almost impossible to describe, far beyond edge play, a cathartic, mind altering experience. At which point, I wonder, am I meant to safe word to protect myself from the pain?

“Ah but you know each other well and are in a long-term relationship” I hear you mutter. We never had a safe word, I never wanted to build my identity around being just one thing, particularly if that one thing was how I like to get off. I could not see why people needed a magic word for one kind of sexual relationship but not another. If I did not have a safeword for sex with my life partner why did I need one for sex with Carter? It just seemed another way of falsely dividing “vanilla” from “kink”. Another false binary. They like Grey, seem to believe their desires are unconventional, and that this somehow defines them as a person. For some it might I suppose, and those people are probably as dull as Christian Grey, or as my gran used to say, net curtains at the window but nowt but jam on the table. *

We, as human beings, like to be tribal. It however causes wars, pain and suffering. Someone disagreeing with me about safe words is a minor issue, the desire to say that group there is different to me, and therefore lesser is at the root of most of mans inhumanity to man. While we still try to claim something as trivial as how we get our rocks off as an identity what hope is there for building bridges about the stuff that really matters?

* a less polite version of this is  fur coat and no knickers.



4 comments on “The Sunday Sermon; Safe words, and sexual separatists.

  1. ValeryNorth
    February 15, 2015

    I think part of it is that whole thing of each new generation wanting to think they invented sex. I recognise a lot of the whole “we are different from them” as being a part of my self-discovery with regards to kink. Eventually, I grew out of it and realised that kink-vanilla is a continuum, not a binary, I realised that safewords are a tool and some find them useful and others don’t need them, and all the rest.

    I think there are ways in which kink does set folks apart, but it is more of language than of kind. There’s also things like the ways the law, and social perception , are still not inclusive of kink and that, too, creates a divide.

    But at the same time, humans are human regardless of these differences, and experience has taught me that kink community has just as many arseholes in it as non-kink spaces, with the same types of arseholes on display. We are not different in kind from others.


  2. Jane
    February 19, 2015

    Not only a need to be tribal but also to insist that your tribe is superior to all others. And the trouble is that to hold that feeling of superiority also involves needing everyone else to fit into a box/tribe which can be looked down upon.
    You must be female/male, straight/bi/gay, conservative/socialist, kink/non kink, again and again from every angle comes the “do it/think it/be my way or you are wrong” rhetoric.

    I don’t get it. As Valery says kink-vanilla is a continuum and what is kink to me is more than likely vanilla to you, but, in your case I don’t get the feeling that you would judge me about that. So why do so many others get off on judging? Judging everyone – the whole time.

    Isn’t everything a continuum? Why does sex work always have to be wrong or always have to be right? Why aren’t we mature enough to see that while some workers may be victims, others are not? Why does my trans friend have to be out & proud, why can’t his very different experience of life entitle him to a completely different approach?

    Maybe it’s because I’ve had the privilege of living in different cultures and having my corners rubbed off, but I don’t see how anyone can tell me that I have to have a safe word any more than they can tell me that celebrating Christmas on December 25th is right and celebrating on the 24th is wrong. And in my turn, I promise not to judge you badly for using gags even if they scare the hell out of me. (It’s a suffocating thing, so no, I don’t get that either 😉 )

    Wouldn’t it just be nice if we could burn all the bigoted hobbyhorses, cut out the judgmental and move right on to supportive.


    • jemima2013
      February 20, 2015

      Thank you for your excellent comment, and yes, maybe travelling, meeting different people is a way of roughing of those edges, but i think there also needs to be a desire to change, to listen to and accept others.

      I love your last line, and indeed I think thats the world both I and Carter want to see, where we move from the judgemental and into the supportive


  3. Pingback: Needles and Pins. | Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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This entry was posted on February 15, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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