First, a definition: by a no-safeword scene or playing without a safeword I mean a scene or situation where the participants have agreed that the bottom will not have a safeword to stop the scene and will have to rely on the top knowing when they have really and truly had enough. This is very different from another kind of technically safewordless scene where the participants agree to use plain English, making special code words that really mean no unnecessary.
Lots of people, myself included, are really attracted to the idea of doing a no-safeword scene. I would never want to physically or emotionally damage someone, but having it be my choice when to stop would make me feel more powerful. My understanding of the s-type’s end (please comment and correct me if I’m wrong) is that giving up their safeword makes them feel even less in control in a way they enjoy, and that masochists who want to push their limits sometimes give up their safewords to see if they can go past their self-imposed boundaries.
Playing without a safeword certainly isn’t for everyone, but it can be awesome for the people it does work for. What I’m curious about, though, is whether it’s even possible to really play without a safeword. Using myself as an example, I’m not sure there is any amount of prior negotiation that would make me feel comfortable keeping a scene going while my bottom yelled ‘RED RED I NEED TO STOP RIGHT NOW’, or ‘STOP OR I’LL CALL THE POLICE’, or ‘THIS RELATIONSHIP IS OVER.’ It’s certainly possible that I might slowly and carefully work my way up to understanding that ‘RED OH FUCK IT HURTS’ doesn’t mean ‘stop right now or you’ll be paying for a lot of therapy’, but I can’t see that happening for ‘THIS RELATIONSHIP IS OVER.’ This may mean I’d be an extremely frustrating person to try to do a no-safeword scene with.
However, I don’t think it’s an unusual problem that a top would be more concerned about their ongoing relationship with their bottom than with continuing a scene the bottom might not want anymore. If that’s true, then I think it’s worth talking about how a no-safeword scene can make safewords harder to access but acting as if there really is no safeword is just an act. The same way I think it’s important to remember that a partner can leave you at any time no matter what kind of slave contract they’ve signed, I think it’s important to be realistic about the potential for even the most carefully negotiated no-safeword scene to be ended early by the equivalent of a safeword. Kidding yourself about that is just going to make you unhappy.
Readers, have any of you done no-safeword scenes? If you haven’t, would you? If you have, how did they work out?