He Ignores My Safe Word

In Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on February 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Dear Yenta,

If you really love your husband but he’s into S & M and it hurts (or you don’t enjoy it, especially since he doesn’t listen when you use your safe word) how to you address the issue sensitively?


S. Monarch, Newport, RI

An effort towards ending sexual violence, the kind that isn't fun.

Dear S,

Again, in the old adage of Take Back the Night marching chants, “Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go.” That “No” includes safe words.

For those unaware, lets define these terms. (Also, see “Doing it Rough, Safe”) defines S & M as:
“Sadomasochism. When sexual gratification is received by inflicting and/or enduring painful activities, this does not have to be exclusively during intercourse. Whips and chains are often considered S&M paraphernalia, as well as bondage collars, spiked jewelry, etc. May also stand for slave and master.”

In layman’s terms, S & M is rough CONSENSUAL sex that may involve role-playing, dominance, pain etc.

A “safe word” is another word for no. This is so that you can yell “No!” and be faux violated, whereas the safe word, agreed upon by both the dominant and the submissive, really means “desist.” The safe word is the emergency exit in a rough game, a way for the submissive party to assert their voice when the pain is no longer pleasurable.

For S & M to be healthy, this word must be respected. If your husband is ignoring you when you use a code word for no it means one of two things. A) You two did not carefully discuss and establish this word, its implications, and how and when and why it would be used before engaging in your sexual practice. Or B) Your husband is ignoring you when you say “no” and continuing to play rough, which at this point crosses the line from consensual BDSM to plain old abuse/rape.

Consent is the compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another. When intercourse is performed without consent, i.e., forcibly continuing to roughly screw your wife while ignoring her repeated attempt to say no, this is rape. So? So I only say this to name the beast and reiterate that it is not ok for anyone to physically push someone, especially when play violence is involved, beyond their stated verbal and/or physical limit. Assuming you set your safe word up together, you set a clear boundary for your husband and he actively violated it.

Where do we go from here? If you love dressing like a sea monkey and he enjoys dressing like a merman, so be it. But what if he loves whipping women and you love being softly caressed by the light of the moon? Here, we come to a sexual crossroads.

Again, the number one key to a healthy sex life is communication. Only you know if your husband is violently abusing you, or if you forgot somewhere along the lines to properly communicate the meaning of your safe word.

In general, S & M practices often require a contract, a conversation, a ground rules session before practice. Maybe go together to a BDSM introduction, like this one, to better understand how to play the game. Re-establish your Sadomasochist law and be sure your husband knows what pleasure does looks like to you. Or, try reading The Loving Dominant, which should help you find a way to make S & M safe and loving for you.

My inclination, though, is to say this man is bad news, whether you love him or not. I am not a fan of marital rape, no ma’am, not whatsoever. You might need to call into a hotline like RAINN 1-800-656-HOPE just to discuss this more, just to clarify what is happening in your bedroom. Also, sex therapy is a great option for a married couple with disparate sexual tastes.

Just be sure to look out for number one. If his pleasure implies your demise, and demolition is not your thing, than take a step back and be sure this is a bed you want to be lying in. As we said on our late night anti-rape marches, “No means no, it doesn’t mean maybe.”

  1. […] seen in “Doing it Rough, Safe” and “He Ignores My Safe Word,” there is a complex art of setting a sexual code so that rough behavior doesn’t do actual […]

  2. […] Aha.  Yes, communication and rules can be set up before the act so that freedom reigns.  For more read “When Is Rough Too Rough?.”   On setting safe rules for rough play in the bedroom read “Doing It Rough, Safe,” or “He Ignores My Safe Word.” […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: