Keyholder 101: Beyond Safewords

stop sign

Understanding your male’s reactions are critical to safe play.

Safewords are used to give the bottom (caged male) an emergency switch to immediately stop what is happening. For example, if during a spanking the bottom suddenly gets a chest pain, he can use the safeword to immediately stop the spanking, get released from bondage, and get help. The intention is recognition that the bottom must have some control to prevent injury; physical or psychological. Safewords also give the top some comfort in knowing that the bottom can scream, shout “No!” and make other protests without causing the top to have to analyze whether these complaints are real or part of the bottom’s enjoyment of the experience. Obviously, if the bottom uses the safeword, the top must immediately stop the action and aid the bottom.

Unfortunately, safewords aren’t enough. In three decades of topping and dungeon monitoring I have never had a bottom use a safeword. In that same time I have stopped many scenes because the bottom was clearly in distress. Why didn’t the bottom safeword? There are several reasons why the safeword isn’t reliable.

The main problem is what some people call “sub space”. This is a condition that bottoms, runners, athletes, and others who endure physical stress experience. As part of the “fight or flight” reflexes all humans have, endorphins, a brain harmone, is released when the body feels this stress. Endorphins mask pain and create a pleasant kind of euphoria. This is sub space. For some it’s addictive. If during play the stimulation is slowly increased, endorphin production will keep pace and the bottom will enjoy the stimulation. That’s why “warm up” is generally practiced; gently spanking or otherwise stimulating the bottom to build endorphins that will allow the bottom to take more later.

As a keyholder top, you need to be aware of this endorphin process. Since your caged male will be unable to accurately report any possible injury or stress, you need to understand the signs so you can control your stimulation and know when you might need to stop. Here is a list of things to do and observe that will help you keep your play safe:

  • If you use bondage, every few minutes feel the bottom’s hands and feet. If they are cold, circulation may be cut off. Also note the color. If the hands or feet look a bit blue, that also can signal circulation problems. This can happen even with loose bondage. Thrashing and pulling on the bonds can cut off circulation. Feel the hands and feet immediately after you restrain them. That will give you a baseline. If later they feel colder, it’s time to stop for a bit and assure that circulation is ok.
  • Sweating is often a sign of stress. Assuming the room isn’t too hot, if your bottom starts to sweat, it may mean that he is feeling physical stress. Frequently the sweat will appear on the back and under the arms. Sometimes it will have an unpleasant smell. If this happens, you may not need to stop, but you should be much more sensitive to other signs. Reducing the level of stimulation for a bit can help too.
  • Heavy breathing is also a sign of stress. Panting is frequently a sign of stress. Ask the male if he is ok. If he can answer in a way that indicates he is aware of what is going on, you can trust his reply. If he sounds sleepy or incoherent, it means that he is on an endorphin trip and his answers can not be trusted.

Many bottoms consider an endorphin high as the main reason they like a top to stimulate them painfully. People do not react the same way to endorphins. I had a friend who would fall asleep almost immediately after getting spanked or flogged. He was unresponsive for a half hour or so and just needed to be covered and allowed to sleep it off. I don’t slip very far into sub space. I can actually enjoy spanking or flogging. What hurt horribly in the beginning starts to feel good. At that point I would never use a safeword. I am having fun.

As a top, you need to decide what you want your caged male to experience. If you want to spank him and make him feel every swat, then start hard and fast and increase stimulation before his endorphins can catch up. He will hate that. Of course, that is the objective of punishment. If you are playing, then start softly and build slowly. It takes me about ten or fifteen minutes before my endorphin level is high enough for me to enjoy hard swats. Also, if you use a paddle, the sensation is more sting. Sting isn’t well masked by endorphins. A flogger or a heavy strap is more “thud” and stimulates endorphin production more quickly. Ever wonder why some people like to be punctured with needles? For some, just one needle stick will induce an endorphin high.

What about bruises? Most males will bruise at one time or another. They are not a danger sign in and of themselves. In fact, well placed bruises on the lower half of the butt will provide a lasting reminder of your spanking every time he sits. One important rule is never hit a bruise. Even if you have to stop your activities, you must avoid re injuring a bruised spot. Another no-no is to hit an area that doesn’t have good padding; muscle or fat. Spanking the penis also has a few rules too. The erectile tissue (the shaft) should never be hit when he is hard. That tissue is very easy to damage. However, the penis head is fair game at any time. It also has the benefit of being very sensitive so it won’t take much effort to get a big reaction. Balls may be spanked too. Avoid heavy hitting objects. You need to protect the testes (balls) from deep injury. They are tough but need care when stimulated. His reaction will be a good sign. If he gets nauseous that is a sign you may be hitting too hard. Take your time and learn how he reacts. By the way, most males react much more to penis spanking than butt swats. It is an area no man expects to be spanked.

Most important is to start gently and observe your caged male’s reactions to stimulation. Take your time. Safe play depends on understanding your male and the way he reacts to various stimuli If you can, see if there are workshops in your area conducted by local leather organizations on spanking and other topping and bottoming topics. Seeing a demo and talking with experienced people is a great way to learn. Most important, have fun!.

Caged male half of a happy couple practicing enforced male chastity and domestic discipline. Locked since 1/2014. Domestic discipline 3/2015. Lion’s first mouth soaping was 7/17.

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