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  • Writer's pictureKelley Johnson

Safe Words in Kink

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Kinks and fetishes are exciting to explore! It can provide a niche release for those under stress, or just a fun hobby. One of the biggest tenets of the Kink community however is SSC- Safe, Sane, and Consensual. I could ramble on all day about how important consent is; but I'll assume you know and move on. One of the easiest ways to embody SSC and make sure both parties are still enjoying the scene is to use a safe word.

Safe words are used to determine the mental status of participants in a scene. Whether they need a minute to breathe and reorient or want to stop completely, it's necessary to discuss with your partner beforehand in case someone changes their mind halfway through or gets overwhelmed.

You can make a safe word out of anything; but it's generally something that wouldn't come up in conversations inside the bedroom. It can be anything as short as "pineapple" to the entire Gettysburg Address; but generally the shorter the better and the sooner your partner can pause for you.

If you're participating in more hardcore play (think bondage, roleplay, sensory play, etc) it may be better to have a tiered list of safe words to scale back the intensity. I personally prefer to use a stoplight system, here's how it works:

Green- Resume play, all good, keep going

Yellow- Slow down, maybe check in

Red- Take a break, something is uncomfortable or a limit is reached

Black- Everything needs to stop immediately and aftercare/check in is mandatory

I've never had to use black before; but it's always useful to have on deck in case your partner begins to panic, passes a limit, hurts themselves, or changes their mind. It's the big emergency stop button, and once hit everything is immediately done. Some people participating in scenes who have endured trauma may become triggered mid-scene and need to be taken out; and there's no shame in wanting to be safe (remember, SSC). It's always best to prioritize your partner if such a situation arises.

You'll often see people who participate in shibari (rope bondage) with a pair of trauma shears on their hip. Those are to cut someone down if they call a black or need help. The ropes and toys don't matter at that point; it's all about checking on your play partner.

Now if you're a fan of gags you may have a harder time saying a whole safe word while tied up; and my solution is simple- sign language!

Before a scene I make sure to go over the safe words we've chosen as well as the hand signs for them. In ASL, color words are easiest. If whoever needs to say a safe word is gagged but can still move one hand a bit, they can curl their fingers into a G/Y/R/B respectively for the different words. At that point, it's on whoever is domming or in charge of the scene to notice their partner's signal and respond accordingly.

Safe words are an integral foundation of kink, and play should not take place without them. Always remember that while it may be annoying to pause a scene; your partner's comfort and safety is paramount as well as yours.

For more information on SSC practices and how kink words, Bound Together and Sex Geek have excellent resources. You can also take The BDSM Test if you'd like to find out your own kinks and branch off from there. Feel free to tag me in your results on Twitter (@MissKelleyJ) if you're feeling bold!

Keep it Safe, Sane, and Consensual, ya animals.

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