Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Safewords - An Addendum

After my posting on Saturday about safewords I received an email from a friend too shy to comment on the blog. In her email she said:

An older gentleman in his sixties, having spent many years within the lifestyle and was somewhat respected emerged out a backroom at the Lair with a younger lady following suit at his heels. His tone was stern, and loud, pointed directly at her, though he was taking heaving strides forward, almost like he was trying to get away from her (which I found out later, he was). The word he spoke, I knew, it was universally known. It was "Red".

She would not back off. His voice grew louder--- "I said RED!!!" She stopped. He left. She began to cry, and disappeared from view. First time I ever witnessed a dominant (personality) use that word to stop a submissive (personality) from specific actions. Seemed odd, at the time.

Now Craig, I know this is an unusual moment in time and not one I would ever see again but it had me thinking. When a bottom pushes limits (and they can, believe me) using emotionally fueled words (because pushing physical limits usually isn't the case) could then the Top call a safeword, warning the bottom to think twice regarding a specific behavior, or to even ultimately stop it?

Communication does work, but what if it goes too far? I mean far TOO far. What if the scene reached the end of your fuse. Would you use a safeword, like Yellow or Red? Or would that be totally ridiculous to you? Humor me here. What would cause YOU to blatantly, hands-down, games-over use the word Red as a Top?

This question really caused me to pause, because, believe it or not ladies and gentlemen, I've been in that situation. Here's what I replied:

I'll tell you a story about a scene I did in which I was not in the right headspace. Everything that night at the Lair was wrong. The lighting was wrong. I was using a piece of unfamiliar furniture. I was playing with an implement I didn't have a lot of experience with. The person I was playing with I'd quibbled with just prior to play. Someone I didn't like sat down and was literally STARING at our scene. Pretty much every that could be potential pitfalls to a good scene all came together in a convergence of confusion and frustration. It made me distracted. I kept missing my mark. Intent on getting that staring person out of my mind, I thought some good solid whacks to my bottom might "beat the issue out of my head." Instead, all I did was ruin the scene. The bottom told me she knew I wasn't in the right headspace. She said she could feel it through my hand. She called the scene early. Not safeworded, just said we needed to stop.

As you might imagine, I felt horrible. I knew better, but I went ahead anyway. It was stupid. I should have called the scene before it began, but in my desire to please my bottom and give her what she wanted/needed, I went ahead anyway.

That is NOT the same thing as what you've described, but it's along the same lines.

This exchange got me thinking more about her question. Would I "safeword" if a bottom "went too far"? It got me thinking about what was "too far" and coming up with those scenarios helped me solidify my opinion. So, what's too far? If a bottom got too emotional (i.e. over-the-top reaction, emotionally "unstable" or adverse reactions) that'd be too far. If a bottom really was going too far in terms of "topping from the bottom" I would seriously think of stopping (fortunately that hasn't happened yet!). If a bottom wanted me to do things that I found objectionable for any number of reasons (i.e. cruel, dangerous, something I'm uncomfortable with or just against what I think would be appropriate for the scene/bottom) I would call the scene.

I'm not above calling a scene, philosophically. I mean, what would be the reason not to? Sheer toppiness? Ego? Bravura? Machismo (and I use that term not in the Italian guy way but in the top way--I would see a femdom having an issue of machismo as it relates to this subject)? If you're a regular reader you know I want to please the bottom as much as possible, so doing this would cause a great deal of inner strife, but in the end, after the story I told my friend, I would not want to continue with another scene if I wasn't in the right frame of mind.

When we (my wife and I) first met Erica and J, before I ever played with her, J said, "Erica's a pretty heavy player. She'll make you use your safeword!" It was a hilarious joke, one that still makes me chuckle at today. No, I haven't had to safeword out of a scene with her, nor have I with anyone else, but I could imagine I might have to at some point. As for my friend's question, the answer is yes, I could see safewording out of a scene if I had to. Of course, I don't believe in safewords, so I guess, while she was blindfolded and tied to a St. Andrew's Cross, I'd just pack up and walk away...


  1. Oh, you would NOT. :-)

    This is so bizarre -- my first reaction to your friend's story was horror. I mean, I simply cannot imagine a top walking away from me like that, mid-scene. And so harshly. What the heck did that girl DO that was so awful? And really, if he was all that experienced, couldn't he have handled it a little more kindly/considerately? Just my gut-level reaction.

    Personally, I think the concept of a top using a safe word is kind of silly. He doesn't have to use a word to stop the scene -- he's the one doing the action, so all he has to do is just STOP! Makes sense, doesn't it?

  2. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate anyone's opinion as long as they share with conviction and a solid opinion.


  3. I had the same reaction to this story that you did, Erica -- maybe she did something really over the top, but to feel the need to drag an entire group of witnesses into their issue? On the other hand, if she was following him relentlessly, already making a public scene ... ?

    Very harsh example. As a top I have given up in frustration when a brat just won't stop bratting no matter what I do. Usually it doesn't get to the point where I'm asked to do something I don't have skill in, because that's worked out in pre-scene discussions. I can identify with that "machismo/a" feeling on either side, as well. I hate calling a scene. I've said this before -- I've done it when a top was boring the shit out of me. And I've done it when a top has simply gone on too long and is beginning to ignore my signals to that affect. ("I'm sorry! I'll never do it again! ... I promise! ... I'm really, really sorry! ... hint hint -- why are you still spanking me? ... "I said I was sorry" ... yawn ... spank spank spank ... "OK, we're done!")

  4. LOL! Calling a scene due to boredom. That's a new one!


  5. I also cannot imagine a top using a safeword. That's really not what it's for. The top is in control, right? The top can call a scene off, but there is simply no need for a safeword.

    LOL - just walk away from the bottom who is tied to the cross. I can picture it: 4 am, the Lair is closing, and there's this poor bottom, still fastened to it, wondering when the scene will resume.


  6. Hermione:

    You're right. A top is absolutely in control. Calling a scene, sure. But why would a top NEED to use a safeword unless the situation was completely out of hand and that was the only way to get through to the bottom for whatever reason?

    As for just walking away from a bottom on the cross and your scenario. The place is being locked up and the girl is there, blindfolded, "Hello? Is somebody going to get me down...?" Ha.