Safe word

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There has been much discussion about safe words, both pro and con. There have also been many discussions about safeword origins. This page is not about their origins merely their usage.

The safe word is some word or action that allows the submissive to inform the dominant they are in trouble and is used to modify session content. The most common words that I'm aware of are Red, Yellow and Green

  • The word ‘Red’ would indicate to the dominant that all activity should stop and that the session should stop. If everyone agrees, the session can re-start with new rules.
  • The word ‘Yellow’ would indicate that the submissive does not necessarily wish to stop the session but that they would prefer that their partner stop whatever action is in progress.
  • The word ‘Green’ is a jocular, “Faster, Master, faster!”

In some circles, the word ‘Blue’ would indicate that they prefer a specific toy not be used at this time. It should also be noted that anyone involved in the session may use safe words at their discretion, and have exactly the same meanings.

The safe word does not have to be a spoken word. During pre-session negotiations, everyone involved in the session should agree to what safe words are to be used, their context and meaning.

In a session where the submissive is going to be bound and gagged, some other non-verbal signal might be agreed upon in advance. Perhaps a hand signal, the dropping of keys, or some other gesture or movement, would be used to replace the spoken safe word. It would be a near disaster for someone to be yelling, "Uncle" at the top of their lungs when the safe word for that group was really "Aardvark!" Also see - Safe Calls

A Personal Note from Robin

This note is meant to be declarative but it is not meant to be the final word.

On a news list I subscribe to, the topic of "who developed the idea of safewords" began a very heated discussion.

I categorically deny that I am the inventor of safewords. Also, I did not invent the internet. Conversely, I will state that I have been very instrumental in the propagation of both.

The exact date I began using safewords is unknown, but I do know that while I was in the Navy (1958 to 1966) we used safewords in dive training (circa 1962). I began using them in my personal SM sessions about that time. While working with several professional models in the very early 60s, we used safewords during photoshoots.

When I formed Menlo Park School of Bondage in 1966, I began teaching the use of keywords / safe words for use during professional sessions.

In 1974, Marvin Lincoln from "Fetish Times" wrote an article ("Three Days With A Master") about BackDrop in Hayward. The use of safewords is specifically referenced in that article. I am quite sure that safewords were being taught to Staff members for quite some time prior to that article, but this article confirms BackDrop was using them prior to 1974.

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