Red. Purple. Stop. やめて. Dead puppies.
Whatever your kink, if it extends beyond ‘tie me up with silk scarves and tickle me with a feather duster’ chances are someone’s suggested a safe word at some point. I think safe words suck, and here’s why:
They encourage you to push yourself further than you might like.
There’s a challenge implicit in a safe word. A safe word says ‘this is the absolute limit, as much as I can take. If you do anything more I will die/call the police/punch you into the sun.’ And so when you know that there’s a word you can use at any time to make it stop, all you’re trying to do is prevent yourself from using that word.
A safe word implies that you’re playing just to see how hard you can take it, so you want to prove that you can take it as hard as possible. You are superwoman – undefeated in all 12 rounds of this sex. He’ s beating/fucking/electrocuting you so badly that you’ve never been in so much pain – you’re gritting your teeth and biting your tongue and hating every miserable minute of it. Boy, you have never won at sex so hard as you’re winning now.
The challenge is not the fun bit – the fun is the fun bit. If you have a safe word that encourages you to push yourself to the point where you don’t like it, you might as well call ‘red’ right at the beginning and sneak off for a wank – you’re more likely to have a good time.
They curb your imagination
Hurting someone is a challenge, and one of the most difficult things to get right. You have to know roughly what they like, what they hate, and wobble uncomfortably on the high-wire that runs between those two things. You also, if you want me to really love you, have to do some stuff that’s just for you. I might hate being caned (stupid stingy unsexy ouch fuck fuck ouch) but if you love it then it’s awesome, and I’ll grin and bear as much as possible, and even sneak in some brattiness between strikes if that’s what gets you off.
So yes, there’s a lot to balance. But sadly with a safe word there’s less incentive to work at that balance. If you give a girl a safeword, that’s a free pass for you to do whatever you like until she yells ‘stop’, which means that she and you miss out on the joy that can be had from playing around in that grey area – pushing things she doesn’t want to be pushed, into places she might not be keen on you pushing them.
They require negotiation
Anything that delays the sexual act, or requires chatter and discussion of a practical nature, will kill my drive pretty quickly. I love the pre-sex preamble where you chat about things you have done and talk about stuff you both find hot. It means that when you do get into bed you can experiment with the new knowledge you’ve acquired. But if you chat around sex in order to tick things off a bizarre safety list, it’s no fun at all.
“So, you like to be spanked? OK. I’m going to spank you, and I’m going to start really gently, so let me know on a scale of 1-10 how much that hurts. And if I do anything too hard just say ‘red’ and I’ll immediately stop and give you a nice cuddle and a hot chocolate.
”See? It’s just not sexy. There’s no uncontrolled passion in that. As soon as you have to codify it and lay down rules, the spontaneity is ripped out of it and you end up fucking like you’re following an IKEA furniture construction leaflet. I don’t want to know that you’ll stop when I ask, I don’t want to know exactly how many strokes you’ll give me before we have a rest and a chat about my boundaries. I want you to do things you like, things I like, things you think we might both like, and see at what point I start tearing the walls down.
“So what turns you on?”
“This one time a guy bent me over and paddled me till I cried, then fucked me in the ass while he called me a ‘good girl.’
”“Take your fucking pants off.”