Recently I read a really excellent post on Fetlife called No is not a safeword – Fuck That that I wanted to expand on. I highly recommend reading that post, but this one should still make sense without it.
People may like to joke around and say that “no” is not a safeword, but it goddamn well is. Unless and until you have specifically negotiated that in a particular scene or a particular relationship that “no” means “this is intense but I’m enjoying it” and some other word means “stop and check in”, then no always means no.
Particularly if you’re new to bottoming, you should be aware that no, stop, give me a minute, wait, that really fucking hurts, and any serious expression of distress are safewords. And as I hope you already know, anyone who ignores your safeword is not safe to play with. Using a safeword like ‘wait’ or ‘that really fucking hurts’ doesn’t have to bring the scene to a screeching halt, but if your top doesn’t even make sure you’re okay and that you want to continue, well, I’d certainly think twice about playing with them again.
Some people do enjoy getting to say no without the scene actually stopping, just like some people enjoy struggling even when they don’t really want to get away. For some people “no” is just what comes out when they’re taking pain, and doesn’t mean that they want to stop. However, neither of those things make no magically stop being a safeword. Just like some people enjoying being caned doesn’t mean you can assume any particular person does, some people saying no when they don’t want the scene to stop absolutely does not mean you can assume any particular person doesn’t mean no when they say it.
As much as nerds and kinky people (often one and the same) seem to enjoy complicating things, I strongly advise keeping things simple at first. There’s no need to ask a new bottom to remember a safeword when plain English is just fine for communication. You can always add more complications when they’ve gotten some experience and when you know each other better, but until then why add more opportunities for things to go wrong?
The one time I do think it’s appropriate to say “no is not a safeword” is during a scene where you have negotiated that no does not mean stop and want to remind your bottom that while no isn’t a safeword for this scene, they can safeword at any time if they really do need to stop.
If you don’t want using or hearing the word no to stop the scene, by all means negotiate that. But if you want to decide for everyone that no is not a safeword, you can fuck right off.