Recently I was in a discussion about safewords, but it wasn't the usual definitions and whether they are truly useful so I thought I'd work though my thoughts on it here and share it with you. The question that was presented was whether safewords should be allowed during punishment and if they weren't was that considered abuse. A lot of good came out of the discussion, but I also noticed some confusion and misunderstanding as far as what punishment was and what safewords are supposed to do. I want to help you understand these important matters so let's get to it, shall we?

Punishment or Funishment?

The word punishment gets mixed up more often than I care to count. Many people use it synonymous with play, as in the stuff you do during play to earn a spanking, such as, "Oh punish me Sir, I've been a naughty girl!" Many spanking aficionados prefer the term punishment as well for the play they get into. There is nothing wrong with using punishment as your term for play or sessions or a scene, but if you go into a forums you should probably know that your term will get confused around those that take part in a D/s dynamic with punishment as a form of behavior correction.

I prefer to use the term funishment for situations like above. The simple fact that you are having fun negates the real term of punishment for breaking rules or disappointing your Dominant. That is punishment and is not fun at all. It's not meant to be fun. It's mean to atone for making a mistake, for behavior correction or displeasure. Punishment is meant to teach ourselves, to learn and grow in the dynamic and to be humble. Not all D/s dynamics have punishment as a part but those that do often don't use safewords.

So watching the forum argue over safewords when they haven't clearly defined if what they meant was play or disciplinary punishment was quite interesting. Of course the people who meant funishment sided with needing and adhering to safewords and the people who understood punishment to be discipline said they should be negated. Then it became a shouting match about BDSM vs abuse and how not adhering to safewords during punishment was abuse. So you can see the myriad of confusion I hope.

 What Safewords Do

Safewords are used as an emergency button during play to call an end or a pause to playtime when things get to difficult physically, emotionally or mentally. They alert the Top to a problem or a limit and can be remembered when our play may include common stop words like "no" or "don't" or "stop".  Safewords work best when they are respected and adhered to, and that comes from trust of your partner.

Why Safewords Don't Work for Punishment

When you are being punished for breaking a known rule, say staying up past your bedtime, then you have to atone for it. If a spanking is how you atone, then you Dominant will make the decision of how many strikes or how the punishment will work. You are learning a lesson, not getting ready for play. So, while your Dominant will not cross your limits during punishment if you safeword to try to get out of being punished then you aren't learning anything and showing, sometimes, a disrespect of your partner's trust. So the safeword is suspended in these situations. It has nothing to do with abuse and you consented to be punished by entering the relationship and negotiating a punishment and discipline aspect of it (I hope).

Why Safewords Do Work for Punishment

On the other side of the coin, safewords work for punishment when the discipline is a new experience, the relationship may be new or the activity/tool chosen is brand new. I advocate for not trying something brand new for punishment, but some people do. In this case, it might be imperative to be able to stop the punishment if you discover that the activity or tool doesn't work for your discipline.

For over a year, KnyghtMare used a particular tool on me for punishment only. Then one day as I was being corrected for something I can't now recall I started to enjoy the tool. I stopped him with my words, safewords are suspended for me, and told him that the tool wasn't working anymore and I was enjoying it. Sure I could have kept my mouth shut and just enjoyed my punishment, but I am not one to gloss over a lesson. It would be distrustful and disrespectful of me if I didn't tell him that the tool had changed meaning. In this case, a safeword worked for punishment.

Yay or Nay?

It is my opinion that a safeword should not be used for punishment unless the tool isn't doing the job it once did. It should not feel good! It should remind you of your infraction and you should be learning your lesson.  When the punishment is over and you apologize a Dominant will often consider the issue dealt with and you are forgiven. How we deal with the guilt is another thing altogether.

tequilarose has also covered this topic and you can read her opinion on Safewords and Punishment.

If you liked this post, check out the other posts on punishment dynamics!