Dear Ms. Marwood – Safe Words

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Dear Ms. Marwood:

Do you use safewords with your clients? I have encountered several professional disciplinarians who either will not use them or are very reluctant to use them.  Many of them take this position (in particular) with “disciplinary” or “punishment” spankings on the theory that it is not true punishment if the recipient can decide when it ends.  Despite the logic of that, it suggests that the disciplinarians consider consent to a spanking to be irrevocable once given, which is surprising.  I would think that a client might want to stop a session because he decided it’s not what he wants and should have a means to do so.


Dear James,

Any so-called professional disciplinarian who refuses to consider a client’s strong wishes is not someone you want to be visiting.  The “spankatorium” needs to be a safe space where clients can leave the “real world” at the door and step into another dimension where they can totally relax and let go. That’s impossible to do so if a part of one’s attention is worrying about one’s own comfort or safety.  EVERYTHING in a session must be MUTUALLY consensual.

Having said that, yes, philosophically the “naughty brat” should have no say over his punishment.  But, especially, if you are meeting with a disciplinarian for the very first time, there is no way either of you can know each other’s styles, needs, tendencies, reactions.  A pro disciplinarian is by definition providing a SERVICE.  She has a responsibility to the client to do everything she can to create a wonderful experience for him. I don’t mean to imply that the people you have described are not attempting to do that (although some care more than others). But if they don’t take the client’s expressed needs into consideration they’re not serving him.

Personally, it’s rare that I use a safe word in my sessions. My instincts and observational skills are so honed at this point that I can usually tell when and how to escalate (or not) but I tell anyone who brings it up that, if they feel the need for it, I’m not going to ever refuse them. Most decide to trust my judgment, which has proven pretty accurate. People report having a more exciting time when they don’t know what’s coming or how far things will escalate. But then, I do ask a ton of questions before I meet someone for the first time and I come in to a first time spanking armed with a lot of information. How else can you make sure that you go far enough without going too far? The only other way is to leave that up to the client and let him have a safe word. Yes, that does put him in control (which isn’t as much fun for the spanker! And possible even for the client, he may later find out.) but that is choice the client should be allowed to make for himself. 

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2 Responses to Dear Ms. Marwood – Safe Words

  1. franzcoughka says:

    It would not be real discipline to me if there was a safe word. I never had one growing up. I think Ms. Marwood’s answer is the right one. I want a disciplinarian who doesn’t feel the need for a safe word and wants to truly be in control of punishment. She is also worthy of the trust involved in totally submitting to her discipline. It must still all be consensual, so if the client asks for a safe word, then a safe word must be permitted. In that case, the client is in control of the punishment, and I think it’s really self-punishment with the help of a disciplinarian.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This was my question, and I appreciate the thoughtful reply. Given Ms. Marwood’s experience and reputation, I was not thinking of her specifically when I wrote my post.

    We’re not kids. We’re adults. Yes, no one has a safeword growing up. The law, often to the child’s detriment, gives parents a wide berth to hit their kids and inflict whatever physical or emotional distress they feel like inflicting.

    As adults, spanking is a prima facie assault. Consent — in some states — is a defense. It is not a defense in all of them, in particular in some states if certain implements are used.

    Even where consent is a defense, you cannot make the consent to an assault irrevocable. A safeword provides a mutually agreed-upon means to communicate the withdrawal of consent. Without it, the client is left with something like saying “I withdraw my consent, stop now” or physically resisting if that directive is ignored.

    If I’m having a session with someone for the first time, I have NO IDEA if she even cares about “going too far”. I’ve had some where I know she didn’t. For all I know, she goes until SHE thinks “I’ve had enough”. Moreover, it seems extremely difficult even with a series of questions to know how to read someone you’ve just met for the first time and determine if they are in any sort of distress beyond what they would have wanted.

    For example: If I go very quiet and non-reactive, am I shutting down or are you going too light? I’ve had 2 pros who couldn’t tell. If I’m crying and begging for you to stop, am I in real trouble or is it just a case of “it’s a spanking it’s supposed to hurt”? How about if my breathing is labored or I’m gasping?

    Given that I’m paying somewhere between $200-400, I really don’t care if it’s “as much fun for the spanker.” She’s getting paid. That’s her quid pro quo, not being able to lay into me and giving me no way of withdrawing consent.

    Personally, if I were a professional disciplinarian, I would insist on a safeword because I would want to be able to say that there was an agreed-upon way to withdraw consent. Otherwise, if you have a disgruntled client or if a serious injury occurs, it could be argued that you refused to allow the withdrawal of consent, which negates your defense to an assault charge or civil suit. It’s true, the overwhelming majority of guys would be too embarrassed to raise it as a legal issue, but why risk it.

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