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The O&P website and blog, forums, and wiki are where most of my new writing on M/s appears. The IE website will stay online indefinitely to host the IE Essays and lili's writings. lili and I pursued our M/s relationship from 2000 to 2008, and lili has kindly given her permission for these essays and posts to remain here, in the hope that submissives and slaves will continue to be helped and inspired by them.

How safe is a "safe-word"

Posted by lili on Sun 8 Oct 00, 8:23 PM

Within the context of a stable, ongoing ownership based relationship how safe is a "safe-word"?

Ask yourself, when you say 'safe-word' in what context do you mean to use this 'word'? Does it mean you have a word which, when spoken by you, has the power to stop whatever your Master is doing immediately? Do you use it to draw his attention to something you need to tell him? Does he retain the authority to continue once he has heard you and reviewed the situation? Most importantly, have you ever used your safeword?

Your answers may be crucial in establishing how 'safe' and useful your 'safe-word' actually is.

Many people claim to hold "safe-words" for use in "scenes" but not for use in punishment. Others will defend the use of "safe-words" by saying: "We have a safe-word because of the unpredictability of reactions to the things which are going on during a "scene". What is done may trigger an unpredicted response in the slave, one which neither Master nor slave can forsee".

On the surface this would seem quite sane and sensible, but to those people I would ask this question: What makes you think these reactions are any more predictable or controllable during punishment rather than "scenes"?

If you were in a situation when you started experiencing a bad reaction or indeed were in some degree of sub-space, do you think that you would always be capable of even remembering what your safe-word was, let alone use it?

Consider this scenario:

You are engaged in some form of S/M play with your Master. You have become a little 'floaty' as you begin to enter sub-space, but you are not totally there. It occurs to you that Master is striking a little harder than usual. It is hurting, but it is not unbearable. In true submissive style, you grit your teeth and bear it.

Now he seems to be hitting a little harder than you are used to. What do you think? You may think "Ok, maybe he is pushing my limits, he knows me, he understands me, I trust him, he must think I can take it". So you take it. (Safe-word?)

Meanwhile he is thinking, "well I am hitting a little harder than usual but she seems to be ok, I am watching carefully but she is not complaining and no safe-word".

Now this goes on, you continue to take it, he continues to give it, you have become trapped in the circle of (what is commonly known as) "submissive pride".

Eventually either he stops or you safe-word, either way, you loose. Either the trust is damaged because he did not know you were in trouble (and you will feel that he should have known) or you feel really bad because you used your safe-word and took back some power.

I know I have over simplified this scenario. It should have been mixed with all the complexities of sub-space, masochistic and sadistic urges (as well as the common- all-garden sexual ones). Plus the overwhelming urge most submissives experience in wanting to "please" the Master.

I guess the most important question to ask yourself is: Do you honestly think you would consistantly use your safe-word at those times you would need to, even in circumstances similar to those I have highlighted above?

Please note that I am NOT saying a slave should be able to take whatever the Master chooses to give, nor am I saying that she should not be given the means to communicate any distress she is feeling.

What I am saying is that, in my opinion, relying on _one word_, a word which has the power to stop the Master, carries with it more negative implications than positive ones.

Edited Fri 6 Jul 01, 9:50 PM by lili

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