Friday, May 04, 2007

Spanking 101: Safewords

A loyal reader recently inquired about the subject of safewords. I was about to refer her to an appropriate tutorial when it occurred to me that I hadn't written one yet.

What is a Safeword?

A safeword is a word or phrase used during a spanking to signal the spankee's inability to continue. The safeword is negotiated by the couple in advance and they share a common understanding of its usage and meaning.

In general, when a safeword is invoked, it is an indication of serious trouble on the part of the spankee. In most cases, this is a relatively extreme situation where normal verbal communication might be difficult. The spanker's response should be an immediate halt to all spanking activities and focused attention upon her physical safety and emotional welfare (please substitute roles and genders as necessary for your situation).

Why a Safeword?

There are a variety of opinions about safewords. Many spankos believe they are absolutely indispensable and spanking without one is hazardous. On the opposite side, others claim that invoking a safeword constitutes "topping from the bottom." From this perspective, granting control to the spankee during a discipline session interferes with the lesson being delivered. Between these two divergent views, there are many shades of grey.

Randy and I believe in safewords. Ours is "Red." In twenty plus years, I’ve used it only a few times, but on those occasions, I was very grateful for this escape hatch. I recall once being suddenly overcome by what turned out to be a digestive virus. Another time, the position I was in caused my back to spasm.

Randy knows me very, very well. Most times, he can read my emotions during a spanking session at least as well as I can. Once in a great while, though, wires can get crossed. Were it not for our safeword, my health and safety could have been jeopardized. That’s why I recommend that every couple have a safeword, even if it’s never employed.

In the case of a punishment spanking, I would expect that the full measure of discipline would still be administered at a suitable later time. In any case, I feel that having, using, and respecting a safeword is an important element in protecting a vulnerable submissive.

Choosing an Appropriate Safeword

Should you determine that you want a safeword, the first task is to select one. An ideal safeword is short, unique, unambiguous, and easy to remember. It should be a term that wouldn't normally be used during a spanking. I once heard of a couple who claimed that "ouch" was their safeword. Were Randy and I to adopt that practice, I would miss out on a whole lot of good spanking! An unusual word is a better selection.

The safeword can be as obvious as "Uncle" or even "Safeword." Or it can be something obscure, so long as the spankee can always remember it and the spanker will always recognize it.

Using the Safeword

A good safeword is like insurance. It's valuable, even if it's never needed. Simply knowing the safeword is available spurs many a spankee to greater confidence and an increased willingness to experiment.

Yet, a safeword is worthless without trust to back it up. Obviously, the spankee must trust that her partner will honor her use of the safeword and believe that she truly is in distress. She must trust that he will aid and protect her.

But trust flows in the opposite direction as well. The spanker must trust that his partner is not invoking the safeword frivolously or with intent to manipulate. This sort of trust and mutual understanding takes time. It develops through shared experiences and open communication.

When a spankee speaks her safeword, spanking and all other play should come to an abrupt halt. At that moment, her safety and well-being become paramount. If necessary, first aid should be administered. For more serious situations, timely medical attention should be sought. It would be embarrassing to reveal the type of play you enjoy, but if the alternative is a serious injury, this must be endured. The chances are that no such issues will arise, but it's best to be prepared.

As beneficial as a safeword can be, it's no silver bullet. Nor is it a substitute for open communication. A spankee is often praised for accepting her strokes without resistance. When she is feeling submissive and in the zone, pain can become a secondary consideration. In many cases, this is a positive experience.

However, if she is unable to recognize the seriousness of her situation or express it verbally, this can be a problem. Again, trust is essential. If the spanker believes it is warranted, he has an obligation to ask his partner whether she wishes to use her safeword or simply bring the proceedings to a conclusion.

Summing Up

Most spanko couples don't engage in activities that are inherently hazardous. The likelihood of a serious injury is relatively small. However, even playful spankings can result in accidents. In my view, a safeword is a simple and worthwhile precaution.

Beyond the intrinsic value of having a pre-arranged signal, a discussion of safewords leads quite naturally into other valuable topics such as limits, expectations, and responsibilities. This type of dialogue and the understanding it fosters not only enhances play, but also benefits the relationship as a whole.

Have fun and be safe!

Keywords: , , , ,


Wintermute said...

Just a quick comment on safewords:
Yes, safewords are there to protect
the bottom. But they are also there
to protect the top. There is nothing
worse for a top than the realization
that they have gone too far. It's
only happened once to me and it
made me feel sick to my stomach.
I may be a sadist, but I don't ever
want to be cruel.


Becky C. said...

Hi, my spanking interest exists-but is a weak vanilla, but I ran into your blog on Blogcatalog and saw the article about novelty paddles. Just a few days ago I wrote about the same thing--because I saw an e-bay ad for one with the "Cute Little Dear With the Bear Behind" paddle--at the bottom of a parenting board discussion. It brought back my memory of the time when I was a kid around 10 or 11 when I got paddled with an identical one:)

So anyway--this is a fun blog so I joined your community.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for anohter great tutorial. Thanks to you and your wonderful blog that has been so hlepul to me and many others. You seem be able to help us find our own way down this spanko path, that I have been wanting to travel for many years. With much help (like this tutorial) from your blog I have been able to share my desires with my hubby of 20+ years and we are closer than ever. The aspects of communication you foster are turly there! We did follow your advice and discussed a safeword in the beginning and yes it did foster more communication. So far I have only used it once but it is nice to know it is there. We are new to all of this and it gives us both a sense of securtiy to know if things go awry we can easily communitcate a need to stop. THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom and experiences with us.


Reesa Roberts said...

Hi, Bonnie, great post!


Daddy's Little Deviant said...

Thank you for the well written post, Bonnie. As a natural bottom I know the importance of a safe word. Also, I've only been spanked a handful of time but I've used mine (purple) once. That was a mental issue, I wasn't quite ready to go as far as it was going.
My partner, being more experienced than I, hadn't picked up on that and had I not evoked the safe word It could have ended badly.
Love and Cooties,

Bonnie said...

Wintermute - That's a great point, and one I neglected to mention. Thanks!

Becky - Welcome! I just stopped by your blog for the first time. Spankings or no spankings, you clearly have a good thing going. Should decide you want a little more hanky panky with your spanky, you know where to find us!

Sally - Hi, and welcome to MBS. It's a pleasure to know you.

It's sounds as though you and your husband are on the right track. Have fun!

Reesa - Thanks.

Deviant - That's precisely how a safeword is supposed to work. Good for you!

TX Spankogirl said...

We have a safeword, but I've never felt the need to use it. I would however if it just went too far.

BTW, tag, you're it!!!


Kallisto said...

Great topic, Bonnie! We are back in blogland, by the way, although toned down a bit.

Bottomsup said...


I'm new here, but I've done a lot of looking around; and I must say that your blog is my absolute favorite. You are so lucky to have Randy.

There's a lot of controversy over safe words, but I agree with your thoughts on this. I think there should be one, but the spankee has a responsibility to take whatever the top dishes out unless they are sick or something.

After all, if the spankee can't trust the top not to go overboard, then she shouldn't consent to having him spank her.

On the other hand, if you are new to this, then your top has to learn your limits.

So far for me, I'm having trouble getting him to give me as much as I want and need--not the other way around. The fun for me is giving over to his authority. We can always discuss how much I can take later--but not in the middle of it.

Oh, and I've always been anonymous up till now. I've finally thought of a name I like. Just call me Bottomsup. :) It was either that or Rumproast. Which one do you like better?

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