[cw: consent talk, framed within kinky contexts but probably generally applicable; impact play (hitting); creepy doms]
So I tried googling “safeword games” as a keyword (in quotes), and one of the first things I found was this old post [cn: sanity-as-ideal language] on the Pervocracy.
It’s definitely not what I had in mind.
A little ways back, a guy at a BDSM party (not Benny) wanted to play with me. Specifically, he said “I’m going to hit you until you safeword.”
And also, you know what?
If I were the kind of person to even consider accepting receiving-end impact play in the first place, and if I were willing to play with creepy doms at all, and if I felt safe enough in the space, and if I could be reasonably certain I wouldn’t face danger if I made this guy mad (that’s a lot of “if”s), then, hypothetically, you know what I’d be inclined to do?
Start the scene. Let him hit me once. Safeword immediately.
He hems and haws about that not being the result he wanted (but, hypothetically, doesn’t fly into a rage and instead ends the scene with me as preemptively arranged) and after a brief talk we agree to a do-over.
Start a new scene. Let him hit me twice. Safeword.
Now he’s thinking it’ll just escalate one by one like that. Once more, we agree to play again.
Start a new scene. He hits me once and then I safeword again.
Technically, we’d be following his stated plan for the scene to the letter. Just like he said, right?
What do you want to bet that that plan would actually be safe? What do you want to bet I wouldn’t endanger my relationships with everyone else at the party? What do you want to bet I wouldn’t be treated as if I were acting unfair and transgressing some unspoken rule?
Actual safeword games aren’t all that socially acceptable, I figure.
But that’s actually what I think would be a really fun and useful idea (for me, anyway) (well, minus the creepy dom bit). I like the idea of practicing using a safeword liberally and getting that ideal result — immediate termination. That’s what a safeword is supposed to be “for” but it’s often treated as some distant hypothetical, break-glass-in-case-of-emergency. I’d rather my safewords be mundane. Because too often I’m in situations (in Life in general) where I don’t get to have a safeword. And if someone is going to hand me that option, I want to use it! I want to wave it around and trivialize it and draw comfort from seeing in respected again and again and naturalize it through repeated usage. I’d find that really, really satisfying.
Like being the controller in one of those games of Red Light/Green Light.
And arranging to play a “safeword game” with someone who’s on board with that? Sounds perfect.
I figure this has got to have occurred to someone before. It’s not all that creative of an idea.
But here’s the impression I’ve gotten from how the kink community (or its readily-accessible online writings, anyway) talks about safewords: they’re not meant to be used.
Or rather, they’re to be used as sparingly as possible, which has the same practical impact in my view.
The idea behind “I’m going to hit you until you safeword,” presumably, is “I’m going to hit you until you accept that you can’t take it anymore after resisting the conclusion as long as you can. I’m going to hit you until you verbally give up in a competition that taxes you more than it taxes me. I’m going to hit you until the pain conflicts with your internalized sense of ‘safewording is to be avoided’ and then hit you even more so that you will do what-is-to-be-avoided and feel like you’ve failed. I’m going to hit you until it psychologically damages you and you have to grapple with the social and internal condemnation of being ‘unable to take it’ so I can savor having brought you to that point. I’m going to hit you until it takes you further away from your ideal image of yourself.”
Because safewords aren’t meant to be used.
The original post expresses something in the vicinity of this view, as well, and while the author may have since changed their mind, I’m going to quote it as an example of what I’ve seen in several iterations:
I don’t ever want to safeword. I shouldn’t ever have to safeword; in a perfect world, tops would be perceptive enough to know when I was getting close to my limit and stop while I was still having fun. This isn’t a perfect world and I don’t hold it against anyone for having occasional lapses in their psychic abilities, so I’ll safeword when I have to, but it’s not part of the fun. In my view, safewording should be a big serious deal.
With all due respect, that’s terrible.
In my view, safewording should not be a big serious deal.
You know what it does to people, to tell them that withdrawing their consent is a big deal? You know what it does to people, to treat safewording as catastrophic? You know what it does to people, to teach them that safewords are something to be stingy with?
Nothing good, I can tell you that.
Ignoring a safeword should be a big serious deal. Safewording should not.
I say let everyone safeword to their heart’s content.
Dare I say — maybe even make safewording and respecting the safeword part of the fun?
At the very least, it shouldn’t be something to be dreaded. And I think playing deliberate “safeword games” could help to make it feel easier. And the only kinky people I’d want to play with are those who think the same way.