The importance of a safe word: Why you need one and how to use it

Using a safe word is essential for safe, consensual fun.

Love + Sex Great Sex Brian Webb

This article was published on January 23rd, 2017

The importance of a safe word: Why you need one and how to use it50 Shades of Grey brought kink and BDSM into mainstream consciousness. Now loosing their status as being taboo fetishes, talking about and experimenting in these sexual areas is more open, comfortable, and common place. While kinks, fetishes, role-play, and BDSM are fun to explore and push you and your partner to the limit, expanding boundaries, using a safe word isn’t just important, it’s essential.

Using a safe word is important in situations and scenarios where roles are undertaken, particularly when consent is required. A safe work needs to be used that both parties understand the meaning and that when it is used, that the scene needs to stop, immediately.

A safe word is a signal to stop, quickly and immediately. This could be because of something as simple as need to re-adjust or as serious as requiring medical attention. Sometimes it could be that one partner feels uncomfortable with the way the scene is progressing or a signal that the boundaries have been passed.

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Whatever the reason for its use, the safe word needs to be something that will snap you and your partner out of your BDSM role and play, effective immediately. When selecting a safe word, make sure it isn’t part of common role-play speech, like the words ‘stop’ and ‘no’. While these words may be shouted, the partner may actually want the scene to continue, all as part of the act, play, or challenge.

The importance of a safe word: Why you need one and how to use it

A common system is using traffic light colours. Red meaning stop, yellow to slow down or ease off, and green to continue. This allows the level of comfort and discomfort to be conveyed quickly and doesn’t interrupt or end the scene unless needed. Other common safe words are totally random, like ‘unicorn’, ‘dragon’, and ‘barbeque’.

In situations where verbal communication isn’t possible a signal system can be used. For the more advanced, there are buzzer systems specifically designed for BDSM play. This allows the players to remain safe and in control, while simultaneously being able to experiment with gagging, sound, or other voice-limiting scenes.

The importance of a safe word when consent is being challenged cannot be underestimated. In order to have healthy, happy, consensual sex you have to be able to communicate with your partner. The reason why words like ‘no’ and ‘stop’ don’t work is because in many BDSM scenarios, part of the scene is the pushing of these boundaries and part of the thrill is the (consensual!) play with consent. However, because of the core purpose of this kind of play it is so vital to have a way to communicate a serious desire to end, or take a break from, the scene.

In order for all participating members to fully get the most out of any BDSM scene, there has to be a level of trust and safety, safe words are a vital component of this and should never be underestimated. Before your next role play, kink, or BDSM scene, to your partner and make sure you have a safe word in place.

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