Safeword Defense and Consent Violations-S03E42 

Recorded: 5/2/2021 / Published: 1/20/2022
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  • – In this week’s episode of The Krypt, we are talking about the safeword defense and content violations.
  • – Rules to Love By: ( )
    1. Safe, sane, consensual, and informed
    2. KNKI: Knowledge, No Intolerance, Kindness, Integrity
    3. “Submission is not about authority and it’s not about obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect.” -Wm. Paul Young
  • –  “Safeword Defense and Consent Violations-S03E42”
    1. Written by and permission given by Soup on Fetlife.
    2.  Let’s say that Daniel and Craig decided to do a scene together. Daniel lays down a hard limit: don’t put a pineapple up my ass. An hour later, during the scene, when Daniel is vulnerable and things are getting pretty steamy, Craig slowly shoves that pineapple right up into Daniel’s butt.

Now let’s pause for a second here. In an ideal case, Daniel would safeword. The scene is immediately over, then comes the conversation: “Hey Craig, why did you just violate my hard limit?” But of course, there’s quite a few reasons why someone might not safeword. Let’s come back to this later.

So Daniel says nothing, and Craig continues on his way. Scene over, done, everybody go home. Later that week, Daniel texts Craig. “Hey, can we talk about that scene we did? I feel like my consent was violated, given I put down a hard limit on pineapples and you didn’t respect that.”

Here comes what I call the Safeword Defense.

Craig responds: “Uh, well, you didn’t safeword. You don’t really get to complain later if you didn’t safeword.”

Now there are two things wrong with this.

First, basic attitude issue. Craig’s immediate reaction to a concern brought up by a bottom is to jump to a defense. Perhaps feedback does need to be given back to the bottom, and that’s alright, but hear them out first. Open conversation and feedback not going to happen in a situation where both sides are throwing up defenses in the first place. Everyone needs to feel safe and heard. If the bottom was truly shaken by their experience and wants to hash it out, listen.

Second, this is a false method of dismissing someone’s concerns.

What Daniel and Craig have here is a pretty clear-cut consent violation. The ass pineapple was inarguable. But there’s a contingent of people in the kink community that feel that if you don’t safeword in the scene immediately after your consent was violated, you don’t really have a leg to stand on later.

This isn’t true though. The bottom’s reaction to a consent violation doesn’t change whether or not it happened. It happened. Definitively.

If I steal some jewels from the store, but I don’t set off the alarm, I don’t get to argue later that I didn’t actually steal anything because the alarms didn’t go off fast enough. I still stole some jewels, which is a crime, and the cops will put me in jail. The alarms are irrelevant.

Now in the case of a consent violation, it may not have been intentional, and it may be forgivable. In my view, the problem really boils down to how the top reacts. A good reaction: “I’m concerned to hear I made you feel this way. Tell me your side of the story. I may have made a mistake and I’d like to correct it for the future.” And then after discussing the issue, apologize directly for the consent violation action. “I’m sorry I did not respect your hard limit. In the future, I will listen to bottoms more carefully.”

Now one may object, but why didn’t Daniel safeword?! Bottoms need to take care of themselves! Consent violations occur when bottoms don’t protect themselves!

Again, let me make two points in response.

Firstly, Daniel could have used the safeword, but notice that it’s not a preventative measure. The consent violation already happened – the pineapple is up his ass. Using the safeword in response to a consent violation can only prevent more from occurring, but it cannot stop the one that already happened.

Secondly, there are some cases where a bottom may not use their safewords. In a more general context, we have subspace and other non-verbal states, which bottoms should disclose to a potential partner if that happens to them. But in the context of a consent violation, a bottom may have been triggered by a specific action. Trauma resurfaces. They no longer feel safe to safeword. Or it’s overwhelming pain and agony, like having a pineapple in your ass, that causes them to be non-verbal or too shocked to speak. Or they’re loathed to stop a fun time, even if they’ve been trampled on and they will need to address it later. Or they’re inexperienced and don’t know their own limits quite yet.

I do think it’s important for bottoms to safeword when they feel things have gone wrong. This is how communication starts, and how further harm is prevented. Communication is a two-way street.

But top who start to fall back on various defenses like the Safeword Defense are – whether intentionally or not – shutting down further communication. What this does is effectively break off any opportunity to learn and grow and do better next time, on both sides. Nobody wins.

And I will say that the Safeword Defense is probably used maliciously too, to explicitly silence people and disable communication entirely. I have no doubt the Safeword Defense works on new or naive kinksters. It’s probably an easy way for predators to convince their victims to doubt their own narratives, at least for long enough that the pain starts to fade from memory or until the consent violation is too long ago to act upon. There are many methods of utilizing victim-blaming to gain this upper hand, and to do so repeatedly.

Thus, it’s important that we do our best to listen to each other. It’s important to decry fallacious silencing techniques and any other form of victim-blaming rhetoric. It’s equally important to champion open and honest communicators who want to do better and encourage us all to do better. That’s the only way we will all be safe.

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