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Originally published on January 18, 2012.

I'm into BDSM and my safe word is "safe word." It's short, memorable, and unmistakable in its intent. Someone recently told me that "any serious BDSM player" would laugh me out of the community if I used that. Is she right? Is she just being a dickhead? Should I have to say something silly like "grapefruit" in order to get my point across?

Grapefruits Aren't Good

I may not be the best person to adjudicate this dispute, GAG, as my safe word is "popcorn." (And, yes, I cross my arms over my chest when I use it, as demonstrated here.) But in my opinion, the woman who informed you that you would be laughed out of "the community" for your choice of safe word is being a huge dickhead. In fact, it sounds like she has a bad case of You're Doing It Wrong.

YDIW is a social-skills disorder that members of the BDSM community are at particular risk of acquiring. (Others at heightened risk: religious conservatives, sports fans, advice columnists.) BDSMers with YDIW feel they have a right to inform other BDSMers that they're doing it wrong—whatever it might be—even if the "it" being done wrong poses no risk to the YDIW sufferer or anyone else.

BDSM players should speak up, of course, when they witness other BDSMers doing something dangerously wrong. BDSMers who observe dangerous or nonconsensual play at public parties have a responsibility to speak the fuck up before someone is seriously injured. The secondary, tertiary, and quaternary goals of creating a BDSM community were the sharing of skills, the promotion of good play practices, and the holding of dangerous or malicious players to account, respectively. (The primary goal? Getting BDSMers laid.) But some BDSMers confuse a responsibility to speak up when they witness dangerous play for an invitation to critique other people's kinks, sexual interests, preferred fetish roles, safe words, etc.

YDIW in BDSMers—and social conservatives—can be treated with the application of "NO ONE GIVES A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK, ASSHOLE." It should be applied liberally whenever YDIW flares up.

Listen to my podcast, the Savage Lovecast, at www.savagelovecast.com.

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