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Ouch Is Not A Safe Word: Safe Words, Limits, and Scene Protocol

Author: Norische

Filed in: health and safety, play, safe words

Safe words, when you are new to the BDSM lifestyle you hear a lot of new terms, one term that always seems to cause a little confusion is the term "Safe word".

A safe word is any word or phrase that is agreed upon by both the Dominant and the sub/slave as being an acceptable means of altering or stopping a scene.

The word or phrase chosen may be anything what, it may be silly or serious, simple or complex. The most commonly used safe words are RED, YELLOW, and GREEN.

RED - Stop the scene immediately!! I cannot continue, I do not consent to continue.

YELLOW - Wait, pause, give me a minute, or change what you are doing.

GREEN - I am fine, continue.

These words are easy to remember; even if your sub/slave is floating of into space they can still remember to say them if necessary.

If a person is gagged or hooded using a safe word takes on a whole new meaning, due to the fact that your sub/slave wont be able to speak. Personally I keep two koosh balls around just for this purpose. I put one ball in each hand, if they drop one ball then it is a yellow, if they drop both balls then it is a red. This is simple to work with, and an easy way of getting around a rather inconvenient situation.

The most frequent discussion is not what should a safe word be, but whether or not they should exist at all. I have met several Dominants that believe their sub/slave is not allowed to use safe words, now I must say that this is primarily associated with slaves and rarely associated with submissives. Some Dominants believe that when an individual agrees to be a slave, they give up the right to use a safe word, and that by using a safe word they are quite literally changing what it means to be a slave. For the most part I have this same belief; however the slave I have currently is the exception to the rule. My slave takes several different medications each day, some of which effect the way she perceives pain, since her perception of pain is not a constant I cannot accurately judge where her pain threshold is. There are always exceptions to every rule, when a female is menstruating her pain threshold is different and her sensitivity to certain activities are altered, also if someone is on medication, or ill their perception of pain may differ, another exception is if the individual has been tanning or has other issues with skin such as a heat rash, their pain tolerance may be drastically effected.

One hint I will give everyone, if you are working with someone for the first time, always demand the use of safe words. Until you have sceened with someone four or five times you cannot know their reactions or their body enough to accurately judge when you may be going to far. If the new Dominant refuses to use safe words then DO NOT SCENE. It is only a fool or a very inexperienced person that would think that they were so good that they can tell immediately how someone will react and what their limits are.

Another word that is frequently discussed within the BDSM realm is LIMITS. First a definition, a limit is a boundary placed by an individuals based on personal preferences, fears, and moral or social beliefs. There are some people that say they have no limits, personally I feel that anyone that states this evidentially either has very little experience or is rather ignorant. No Limits means you are willing to do anything. Now there are a lot of people out there that have very few limits but I have never honestly met anyone that has no limits.

There are three limits that are considered common, No Children, No Animals, No Dead People. If a person does not have these limits then I would question if they understand the concept of consent. A child cannot give consent, an animal cannot give consent, and well it should be obvious … if a person is dead they cannot give consent. It may be that these are the only limits that an individual has, but they are still limits.

There are two types of limits, hard limits, and soft limits.

A hard limit is an action or activity that you will not do under any circumstance. This is normally based on fear, or moral issues. Anytime someone has a phobia it should be considered a hard limit, if someone has a phobia of fire then fire play, maybe even candles in wax play should be viewed as a hard limit. If someone is of a religious conviction that views homosexuality as immoral then this should be viewed as a hard limit. A Dominant should always respect a sub\'s/slave\'s hard limits, these are not to be tested or explored. Now if someone has fifty different hard limits then perhaps the Dom and sub/slave need to sit down and discuss what each person\'s definition of a hard limit is. Sometimes a person will decide that something is a hard limit even if they have never tried the activity, just because they don\'t think they would enjoy it, this is not why something becomes a hard limit. Hard limits are formed by experience not by ignorance.

A soft limit is an action or activity that you do not wish to do but are willing to explore under the right circumstances, with the right individual. This is where you place activities that you have yet to try but honestly don\'t sound interesting, or appealing to you. Like for example fisting, you may or may not have tried it but you don\'t think you would enjoy it, and you are afraid of the possibility of injury. This is a soft limit, with the right person, under the right circumstances, and of course if they had a small enough hand…you might be willing to try fisting. Soft limits are meant to be explored, tried and stretched. When the trust between a Dom and sub/slave has formed then soft limits are an area that can be used to expand the trust, and explore the boundaries. Exploration must be done slowly and with respect, at all times. A Dom must remember that the sub/slave has listed the activity as a limit for a reason, and work with the sub/slave to overcome fears, and expand knowledge.

Scene protocol, well that is a huge area of discussion, but I will focus on just the topics I have discussed in this article. First if a Dom allows a sub/slave to have safe words, they must be observed. When a person calls yellow a Dom must stop what they are doing and check the sub/slave to make sure of their well being. If a sub/slave calls red then the Dom must stop the scene, under no circumstances should the Dom say something like "WIMP!!" and continue on. If you are not going to observe the safe words, do not allow them in the scene. Second, it is the responsibility of the Dom to always observe his/her partner\'s limits. NEVER cross the boundaries that have been set, by breaking those limits you are breaking the trust your slave has in you. Always respect the choices of your partner, trust is a very hard thing to gain back and yet very easy to loose.

As will all my articles these are just my opinions, take what you want and discard the rest, if you have any questions or comments, my email address is

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