Hey readers. I had a discussion a little while ago with a Dominant on the use and misuse of High Protocol in the scene (both online and off) and wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.
First, there are a few definitions of High Protocol I want to address before I explain my stance.
High protocol is a formalized way of doing things in a D/s or M/s relationship that can dictate everything from how a submissive sits, stands or walks to what he/she says to whom and how they act in public or private. Some view High Protocol as a very strict standard of BDSM relationships (not to say that this is a bad thing at all). There are other, probably better, definitions available on the fabulous interwebs and I encourage you to look into them for more detail.
Within Reality gives a great example of protocol in her article here
and of High Protocol, she says,
“In high, using the bath example, I would present my Master a towel by kneeling before him, head bowed, eyes lowered and demurely offer to dry him off. This level is serious and formal. My Master has taken the words/thoughts from the Estate - 'Complete obedience, without delay, or hesitation is required. All nonessential movement, speech, and thought are unacceptable. There has to be the awareness that every move, answer and behavior is being carefully examined and judged.'
Some other examples of the different levels of protocol are I am allowed to sit on furniture during low. In medium I have to ask permission. In high I am not allowed on furniture.
In low - I must say yes Sir or even my Master's given name in some cases. It is yes Master always - unless with people who are not aware of our lifestyle, in medium. And in high protocol it is ALWAYS yes Master.”
I do have some experience with High Protocol with a past, online Dominant. This has colored my judgment on it a little but I feel I’m now better able to look at other High Protocol relationships more clearly now that time has passed.
With my Past Dom, who I will call TEM for now, practiced a formalized standard of BDSM offline with other submissives and slaves and saw no issue with training and treating me in the same manner online and over the phone. This might not have been a problem if we’d had a deeper relationship beforehand, as another Dominant recently pointed out, but, because we did not, I developed some issues in the relationship in being able to adhere to his standards.
TEM did teach me a lot of things however, such as basic definitions and structures of BDSM, he began my training in orgasm control, and taught me that no one wanted a door mat for a submissive and that being a strong woman was very important in general.
That all being said…
Some Pros and Cons (or better said the use and misuse) of High Protocol
I wanted to address an issue that a lot of people I’ve spoken to have had with High Protocol – Dominants who insist on being addressed as Sir/Ma’am or Master/Mistress either by other Dominants or by subs/slaves that are not their own.
This is a MISUSE of High Protocol. Just like anything else in the scene, even Titles must be at the consent of those giving the Title to a Dominant. I personally have an issue giving the title Sir/Ma’am to anyone who has not yet earned my respect as a Dominant. At first I thought it was just the Switch in me but then I realized, no, it’s a respect issue. Just because someone says they’re a Dominant of the highest caliber doesn’t mean they are and I might just want a little proof of that statement.
Also, calling another Dominant Master or Mistress is an outright No. I only have one Master, and that is Sir Phryxus, and I have one Mistress and that is Mistress Fenreya. Period. No one else has earned my trust to earn these titles and, besides, Daddy would be awfully pissed off is he ever heard me refer to another Dom as Master.
In the same way, I get a little miffed when someone, not my Daddy’s sub, calls him Master. They haven’t earned the right to call him that just as he hasn’t earned their trust to call him that either. It’s like a little calling every male they see in the scene Daddy or crawling in their lap (I’ve had issues with this before and it wasn’t pretty).
Oh, if you do see me refer to someone who is not my Master or Mistress as Master so-and-so or Mistress whatever, it is usually due to the fact that it’s a screen name online. Sorry if that’s confusing.
-climbs off my soapbox for a minute-
One of the great things about the proper use of High Protocol is the lifestyle it creates for the participating D/s couple. I was told of a couple that the Master literally has a manual for every task he demands of his slave from how to lay out his clothes in the morning to proper coffee service.
Being able to perform these tasks in a way laid out by my Dom would be very enriching and even empowering. It not only lets the sub please their Dom but also allows them to stay within their boundaries that are clearly laid out – no guess work involved.
Another form of High Protocol is ritualizing some tasks. Tea service can be quite beautiful and some Masters like for their slaves to learn formal tea service as a way to improve themselves not only in knowledge but manners and grace.
One could even say a collaring ceremony is a ritual of High Protocol in that it can be formalized and the Master can hold a high standard for the slave in actions, vows and contract.
Ahem –back on soapbox-
Another misuse of High Protocol is when Dominants or even other submissives expect slaves/subs to automatically know how to act in a High Protocol situation.
I’ve yet to see this in life but I see it online a lot. Going into a room that demonstrates High Protocol actions and expecting a new person just entering to know these things is a little immature. I’ve been chewed out and seen others reprimanded harshly for simply being ignorant of the rules of conduct in that room towards other Dominants or even other subs.
An issue that isn’t necessarily High Protocol but just an issue I see a lot in the scene is Dominants who feel they are King/Queen of the hill and that all subs are lowly and should automatically show respect.
This also falls into consent.
I’ve been overlooked, told that my opinion doesn’t matter, even booted form chatroom or ignored in real play parties because I have a collar or identified as a submissive at the time.
I’ve spoken about this before…and probably will again because it’s a big issue with me.
Just because we are subs doesn’t mean we are nothing. I don’t give anyone permission, not even my own Daddy, to treat me like I am worthless because I identify as someone who is submissive to 1 or 2 people.
I’m still a person and so is every other submissive on the planet and as a person I still require at least a small form of respect.
Just as not all Dominants are wonderful, Kingly, majestic, always right, and perfect. Sometimes they too are in the wrong and both the Dominant and the Submissive should be heard in any issue in the community.
-sits on my soapbox thinking-
I’m sure there are other issues to address here but I can’t think of any right now.
I do want to direct you, my dear reader, to read a greatarticle about Gor lifestyle. I used to be prejudice against Goreans because of the few I’d met online were a little…well…mean. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this article though and am more than willing to give Gor a second chance. You should too if you’ve had the same prejudices or experiences as I have had.