I'd say about half my characters approve of safe words and half of them don't. Now, that doesn't mean what a lot of people would assume. The half that don't agree with the use of safewords play out scenes where no still means no.
Okay. What is a safe word to start with - it's a word that means no. In it's basic form it's a simple withdrawal of consent. It means stop.
There are variations. Some people play with more than one safe word. For example, for those people who like traffic lights, RED means stop. If they say GREEN when their dom checks in with them, it means go. If they say AMBER it means could mean slow down, or back off a little bit or, I need a break - it's not a full out no, just a request for the play to change a little.
And what some people don't realise is that dom's can use safewords too. They are human too. Sometimes they need a way to exit a scene, just like subs. It's not easy for someone who likes to be in control to admit that they've gone too far or there's something that's freaked them on. A dom using a safeword can tell their submissive that they aren't stopping because they are angry with them, it's something else.
Lets have a look at the characters now - those who do and don't use a safe word. I think the easiest way to do that is to put them in a situation where they want to say no. There are a few different reasons why people say the word.
Big one first. The character wants what's happening to stop - they are withdrawing consent.
The character who uses a safeword say their safe word. The character who doesn't use a safeword says no. In each case their dominant stops what's happening. All nice and simple.
Let's look at another example. The submissive is trying something new, they are nervous, they panic a little, they say no.
For the character who uses a safe word, saying no doesn't mean they are withdrawing consent. Their dominant might stop, or they might back off a little, or they might change tack a little, or they could pause to discuss the problem without breaking out of the scene. Depending on how the sub reacts once that moment of panic passes, the scene may continue as if the word was never said.
For the character who doesn't use a safeword, no stops play. The dominant displays a different reaction. They can't keep going.
There are advantages to both. For example, in the second way the sub has to completely accept and commit to what they are doing on every level. If an instinctive protest stops play, they have to deal with that instinct before they can move on.
Another situation. There are times when the sub may gain something from pushing through the bit they don't enjoy as much. For example, they might get the best orgasm of their life after being teased for several hours without being allowed to come. Knowing that really doesn't help those hours pass any more quickly.
A sub without a safe word could say no they didn't want to be teased any more and their dom could keep on teasing them until they said their safe word. They are free to express any emotion and say any word bar their safe word without worrying the dom will actually stop too soon.
A sub without a safe word might say no - but that could result in the dom actually not teasing them any more. In that way, you could say their dom was pushing them to exert more control over their own reaction - forcing them to face what they really wanted before they could have it.
As I said at the start there's no right way or wrong way to use a safe word - as long as everyone involved in the scene knows what's going on and everyone has a way to exit the scene if they really want to, it's all good as far as I'm concerned.
One last thing I want to address before I cut off and try to stop this post growing into a novella in it's own right - using a safe word doesn't mean someone failed. Having a safe word someone doesn't feel safe using is no use at all. It exists for a reason.
And that's it for me for tonight.
Sleep well everyone :)