Protocol vs. No Protocol

Preface:

This post is the first in a series of six posts regarding protocol. Put together, they are really, really long. If you have the reading attention span of a gnat on methamphetamines, then the TL;DR version is this: Protocol exists in nearly every BDSM/Kink partnership, whether occasional play partners to full-fledged TPE relationships. It’s not a question of whether to protocol but whether to add degrees of protocol. There’s also a discussion on why protocol != High-Protocol. If you intend to read all of them in one sitting once published, get some water to hydrate and a snack or two — you’ll need both. Feel free to leave us some comments!

~ angi, g, and mynx.

Protocol: What is it?

Most have heard of protocol, and even if you don’t know what it is [yet], you’ve probably seen it. Protocol is a set of guidelines by which individuals are held accountable for acceptable behaviour and how it is displayed and accounted for. It is, within the context of the BDSM/kink lifestyle, a set of established parameters which dominants and submissives (and derivatives thereof) use to navigate groups and personal relationships.

Note that protocol is not simply greeting a dominant with a title or a submissive behaving in a supplicant manner. Protocol is a set of established guidelines, and part of this may include titles and deference, but that is not the whole of it.

Examples of protocol are:

  • Groups with defined names [ie: Leather Groups, Goreans, Old Guard, Poly Groups].
  • Titles such as “Sir” or “Mistress”.
  • Submissives engaging in certain ‘poses’. One such example of standing with hands behind the back with one’s head bowed.
  • “Earned Statuses” e.g in Leather Lifestyle – Major Domo, Trainer, Head of Household
  • Counting during impact play or forced orgasms.

Some reasons for using protocol [not a comprehensive list]:

  • Individuals wishing to learn service
  • Couples using protocol as a means to establish and learn D/s parameters.
  • Bringing kink out of the bedroom and into everyday interactions.
  • Titles or terms of endearment to denote respect in private and public.
  • A cut off from “everyday life” with a switch to D/s time.
  • As a tool to define roles between individuals.
  • Establishing rules.

Next in the series: Is Protocol Necessary?

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