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Even if you err on the vanilla side, having a safe word at the ready can be really important to ensure continual consent. Unless you're a member of the kink community, the term and even the concept of a "safe word," might be out of your jurisdiction. Of course, there's the possibility that you may have picked up the phrase and meaning in Fifty Shades of Grey — something my mother so kindly pointed out when she proudly told me she knew what a safe word is. Thanks, mom! In the simplest of terms, a safe word is a word that's used during sex to immediately stop what's happening. Keep reading for more on why you might want to establish a safe word even if you're not getting super kinky , how to use them correctly and safely , and some creative safe word ideas you won't feel weird using.
As Stubbs points out, there really is no reason why this word should come up in sex, unless of course, you're having sex outside and there's an aardvark approaching and you want your partner to know you should both get up and move to another spot— aka unlikely. As pop culture becomes more and more sex-positive whoop! Everyone has limits, and when you've reached that limit, it's important to let your partner know. When painful pleasure no longer has pleasure involved or you physically and mentally can't handle what's happening anymore, you'll know it. It's at this moment that you would use a safe word.
If you're with a partner who respects you and your boundaries and wants to make sure you feel safe, that safe word will result in a hard stop. If it doesn't, that's crossing over into non-consent territory — which is not a place anyone should be, ever. Related: What Is Consent Really? With a safe word, you communicate ending impact play, bondage, or any other type of play that may have become too intense for you to handle.
It's about safety. It's true that, yes, you absolutely should be able to use the word "stop" or "no" to immediately withdraw your consent in any sexual situation — but a history of those words being ignored is partially what encouraged the growth and use of safe words. This, as well as potential kinks, but more on that in a sec. For far too long, "no means yes," was something that men were made to believe was a green light to keep going. Even when I was in college, frats would chant "no means yes" when a woman walked by their houses, and my university groups weren't the only one with this mantra.
In , Yale frat pledges walked through the campus chanting, "No means yes! Yes means anal! While some year-old frat kid might think it's all just fun and games, what their chants translated to was rape, plain and simple, and moments like this stack up on top of many other somehow socially-acceptable aggressions that contribute directly to what's known as "rape culture," or the normalization of sexual violence. In turn, a "Yes Means Yes" movement followed, and in , California Governor Jerry Brown ed a bill of the same name into law, confirming that there is no grey area: Yes means yes and no means no — period.
It's not up for debate. But because that concept was still difficult for some people to wrap their brain around, the safe word , something that was a far cry from "stop" or "no," made its way into the mainstream. It became clear that it was necessary within many situations, even outside the kink community. Inside the kink community , however, safe words come into play especially when fantasies and kinks involve consensually using "no" or "stop" in situations where someone actually doesn't want whatever is happening to end or stop. For example, in consensual non-consent play, partners may engage in the illusion of suspended consent in order to facilitate erotic power play; i.
All that said, even if you consider yourself the most vanilla person in the world when it comes to sex, there's still a place for a safe word. Just because you and your partner prefer missionary and doggy style as opposed to being tied up and flogged doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a word to let each other know that it's time to stop. If you've agreed that saying "stop" is enough to immediately end what you're doing and you both promise to stick to it, then "stop" can work.
It's something that needs to be discussed beforehand because once that safe word is used, consent is automatically withdrawn. The safe word chat is one every sexually active person should have, whether it's a one-night stand or a conversation you have with a long-term partner. Whether or not you're actively cognizant of it, we all have boundaries when it comes to almost everything.
If someone was too close to you in line at the coffee shop pre-pandemic or otherwise and you could feel them breathing on your neck so much so that you were forced to move or say something, that's a boundary; that was as much as you were willing to take before you had to draw a line in the sand. These boundaries also come into play when it comes to safer sex practices.
For example, some people have boundaries about protection use or about whether or not they'd feel safe going to bed with someone who has an STD. Having boundaries is what keeps you feeling safe, and that's why it's important to be clear about where they lay — and, if you're interested in pushing those boundaries, being vocal when your limitations have been reached. Because this conversation is so paramount and an absolute must, Stubbs suggests having the conversation outside the bedroom, in a neutral zone, and especially! You don't want to be engaged in any type of sex play, throw out your safe word, and have your partner either ignore you because they think you like to yell out "California" during a sex act.
It's common for people to use the stoplight analogy for their safe words — with green meaning go, yellow meaning slow down and yield, and red meaning it's too much and you must stop now, says Stubbs. But you definitely don't have to use these words and, honestly, the sky's the limit.
Some guidelines: You want to keep it to one word, with as few syllables as possible, so you're not messing with a tongue twister while trying to end a sexual scenario. Also, stay away from foreign words, as they can be confusing. While you can change your safe word with every partner, most people have one safe word, and they stick to it.
You don't want to be racking your brain as to which safe word matches up with which person, points out Stubbs. For instance, "grandma" is an immediate kill-the-mood word. Unless, of course, there's a fetish there which, again, is why safe words should be covered in advance. If you find that you and your partner are at a loss for what word would be a good one, here are a few safe word ideas, in addition to Stubb's aardvark.
Whether you choose from this list of good safe word ideas or feel inspired by some of these words to come up with your own, just remember the second things get too hot to handle, you can use that safe word. The best sex is sex that's equally fun, consensual, and safe. By Amanda Chatel February 09, Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission. Save FB Tweet More. Something went wrong.
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Why Everyone Should Have a Safe Word In Bed