This is our truth, tell us yours
Jem got into a twitterspat tonight with someone who believes in the magical properties of safe words. For some BDSM people, safe words are magically retrospective; you may have harmed someone and hurt them, but it’s OK, because they can use their safe word to prevent you from doing any further damage.
In the week that Fifty Shades of Shite comes out, it’s important to understand the conundrums at the heart of the idea of safe words.
The first is the conundrum of why we need safe words at all. Safe words have existed for thousands of years; stop, don’t, no – they’re all words that have the effect of making a situation safe, provided everyone accepts them at face value.
So if you say that safe words are necessary, you’re saying that ordinary language will not work.Why not? Why would no, or stop, not work? I can only hazard a guess, that safe words are essential if you’re doing role play where the consent violations implied by no or stop will be ignored, but that can only be the reason.
Not all BDSM involves that kind of role play.
The second conundrum of safe words is that they may not come in time to prevent the thing the sub wishes to prevent. Safe words assume that either the sub will anticipate the harm the safe word is intended to prevent , or absolve the dom from responsibility for the thing that led the sub to use the safe word.The difficulties of this are transparent. In a long career I never encountered a boxer who threw in the towel before they were battered; the towel comes in because they cannot take any more.
However, the whole concept of the safe word creates a new conundrum. The sub, by having and using the safe word, entirely controls the parameters and progress of play. Now, that may seem like a good thing to you, dear reader, and I respect that. However, my way of being dominant means I am not only in charge, but accountable for everything that happens. If Jem ever has to say stop, it is my error, not her weakness. If she ever said I had abused her, or breached her consent, I would be guilty, no matter what had been said or done by her. It has to be like that when you have a gag in the toy box. I am controlled, as much as any dom who says he will respect safe words, but I am controlled by an absolute moral core in me that says I will have failed my own rules if I breach consent or cause harm beyond that which Jem can cope with. That means I am responsible for not just listening to what she says, but for monitoring all her condition and behaviours, so that we never reach the point where she will accuse me of breaching consent or abusing her.
So why would I need Jem to have a safe word?