March/April 2003

by Justin Medlin

Safe Words, some swear by them, some never use them and claim that they are dangerous.

I fall somewhere in between.

I think that any person that is new and starting out, or is playing with someone for the first time should have a safe word. I make my slave maintain one, even though she has never used it. I believe that safe words are one way to help protect people, but they in and of themselves DO NOT insure safety. Safety between play partners is left up to the people engaging in the session.

Have you negotiated clearly and carefully? Have limits from both people been established. Doms have limits too. What degree of trust has been established? If you don't really trust the person why are you playing with them? Was the negation done before the "hot to trots" set in? Safe words do not make up for lack of any of these, never have and never will. Most public play spaces operate on the Traffic Light means STOP NOW yellow means SLOW DOWN and green means MORE MORE. It is a communication tool as well as last resort. A top that has never played with a bottom before cannot be expected to read their body language in the same fashion that people who have played together for years can. People that have played together for years, where the top can read the body language under "normal" play for them, may want a safe word when they are trying something new, or more intense than they have done before. The reactions may not be the same as they have been in the past. This is the category that I personally fall into.

I know of and have several well-known friends that have never used a safe word and do not ever plan to. They play hard. They have never had anything go wrong and the people that they play with prefer to not have a safe word. God bless em. We agree to disagree on this point. For me personally to not allow a safe word with someone I play with, including my slave means that I have reached the point of being an omnipotent god. If I reach that point I will let you know.

However, what scares me even more, is people who seem to believe that because they have a safe word and have established what that safe word is, that they are now bullet proof and completely safe. I beg to differ and I don't beg for anything often. So you have just met the cross between Brad Pit and Marquee De Sade. You have known him 15 minutes, you have been in the lifestyle long enough to know when to trust your gut. You go home with him, or into the play space area. He straps you to a cross. You now no longer have use of your hands and feet. He puts a gag in your mouth. You no longer can scream. He takes out and snaps a single tail. It hits you that you have not established a safe signal, and worse you hate single tails, which you did establish. Guess what? You're fucked.

Same scenario as above, except you're in a private place with no one else around. You safe word, He does not respect it. *SNAP* you safe word again *SNAP* Still feel safe? A safe word is just like a lock, locks keep honest people honest. Safe words keep safe people safe when they have done all the things that they need to do and are playing with someone who they know to be safe.

I recommend safe words as a tool. Safe words are not a guarantee. Tops, you should also be aware that you should know who you're playing with as well. There have been more than few instances when you think that the scene has gone very well, the bottom said they were happy, but underneath they felt that you went beyond their limits, even though you may not have known it, or you fell short of giving them all that they wanted. They then go start telling people you're a "bad top" or that you're not "safe". Your reputation is all that you have in this lifestyle. Do You deserve to get it trashed when you are relying on them using a safe word to let you know how things are going and don't?

Safe words are a tool.

Safe words are not a guarantee.

Each of you in the end is your only guarantee. Make sure you give yourself the best guarantee that you can.

Now that I have your attention feel free to email me. I may or may not respond to the emails, but I promise to read all of them.
Copyright Justin Medlin © April 29. 2001
Reproduced by permission of Justin.
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