As of late I’ve been seeing a lot of articles with beginner’s BDSM advice. After the release of That Film there has been a huge hike in interest in BDSM and kinky play, many sex toy sellers have reported a huge rise in sales from their BDSM sections as well as their vanilla wares. So if you’re just getting into kink now, welcome! I’m sure you’re learning a lot of new things, but there’s something I guarantee you’ve read by now that I’m going to disagree with:
“Make sure you establish a safeword!”
Just so we’re on the same page: a safeword is like a password used in BDSM to indicate to your partner that you want to stop the scene. Generally it’s advised that you never pick something you’d normally say during sex, something out of the box and quirky like a food (“Pineapple!”) or household object (“Febreeze!”) is pretty common place. Other people use a Red Light, Green Light system where a bottom can say “Red!” if they want the scene to stop, or “Yellow!” if they want their top to ease up a bit.
Safewords have become so synonymous with BDSM they’re often used as a shortcut for kink, a sexually adventurous character in a television show might jokingly reference their safeword and bam, instant playfully sexy humor ensues. In fact, it’s one of the things most vanilla people recognize from the BDSM scene. But here’s the thing, readers:
You absolutely do not need a safeword.
Safewords are useful for consensual non-consent, in any situation where the bottom will be saying “No!” without actually wanting the scene to stop. It’s often useful in roleplaying fantasies or when the bottom wants to put up a bit of a playful struggle and be punished for it or overcome by their dominant. This is fine, if that’s your thing. A safeword is absolutely essential in that case in order to make sure that boundaries are not crossed.
However, not everyone involved in kink is interested in non-consent play, not by a long shot.
As a bottom, you reserve the right to have your boundaries followed. This is a part of consent. That means if you want “No!” to mean “No!” and need your top to respect that, they absolutely should. To do otherwise could be a violation of your consent.
This also goes for tops. If hearing your partner say “No!” and continuing past that would feel uncomfortable to you, that’s fine. It absolutely doesn’t mean that you are “less” of a dominant than anyone else. Everyone can have limits, even tops.
What I suggest is talking it over with your partner. Do you want to engage in consensual non-consent? If yes, pick something buzzy that’s easy to remember. If not, agree to use Plain Old English. “That rope is starting to pinch, can we loosen it?” “This really hurts, try something else?” “I need to stop.” These are all valid ways to negotiate during a BDSM scene without yelling “Red!” or “Cockatrice!”
So there you have it. While everyone is hastily tossing out BDSM guides for newbies with the usual tips I wanted to share some support. It’s absolutely okay for “No” to mean “No” and for you to set your boundaries however you see fit.