This book is my personal Manual of Protocol for my slave. This book guides her behavior, whether or not she is in my presence. Top/bottom play is about the physical body, Dominant/submissive play is about the mental body and Master/slave relationships are about the spiritual body.
As obedience and service are at the core of the Master/slave dynamic, protocols become the means by which the slave aligns himself or herself with Master’s choices for personal service. In that light, each Master has to create protocols that enable his or her slave to express obedience through tailored service. Slave training is all about teaching the slave to perform that service. Now, there is a great deal of fantasy built up about Master/slave relations, particularly about slave training. Often, these fantasies have something to do with, “Do what I say, or I’ll punish you.” That line of thought is foreign to me. My slave is a person. A vibrant and intelligent person. With her slaveheart, my slave’s primary purpose is to serve me. My role, as Master, is to train her in ways of providing that service. It’s a long process, the result of which is that those who knew her before she entered the Lifestyle and still know her today find her vastly changed.
I have never punished her for a lapse in Protocol. When a glitch occurs, I point it out, and we discuss it. My method of training – true, long-term modification of her behavior – rests on reinforcing positive behaviors and downplaying the glitches. I approach training in this way because if I were to keep picking on the glitches, she would become hypercritical of her own actions and become anxious when around me.
There are many, many ways to approach Master/slave (M/s) relationships. Ultimately, a couple must develop protocols and rituals that support who they are. This book describes my protocols for my slave, and is not intended to be the final word for any other M/s relationship. Because I am somewhat intense and “driven” in my life, these protocols reflect that personality. The level of detail I specify for my slave would be incomprehensible to many other M/s couples; it would get in the way of their relationship. On the other hand, some other couples may prefer even more rigor and detail in their lives together than I’ve expressed in this book.
Every submissive has to answer for themselves the question, “Why do I choose to submit?” While I may be able to help them to that understanding, I cannot provide it. It is my wish that every girl who chooses to submit to me explore this for themselves, without being told by me how they should feel about it. There is no one answer, thus the only introduction is to state that these are my Protocols, and that they are a living work, growing and adapting as I grow and adapt.
Definitions: Etiquette, Protocol and Ritual
Etiquette represents a set of rules that guide us toward the polite way of interacting with others in the world. Etiquette is culture-bound and situation-bound. For example, you can imagine that “proper etiquette” among inmates in a U.S. Federal prison is a world apart from “proper etiquette” among students of a private British boarding school. At its core, etiquette represents a way of showing respect toward others while demonstrating your understanding of good manners.
Protocols represent a set of rules that govern specific actions or behavior in a particular situation. So, there is a “lockdown protocol” in prison and a “test-taking protocol” in the boarding school.
In terms of our BDSM lifestyle, “etiquette” can be said to be outward looking – it’s describing the way you interact with others within our culture. “Protocols,” however, are inward looking; they describe the way the Master wishes his/her slave to do specific things within the M/s structure. Protocols enhance our play and relationships with structure, ritual and symbols.
Rituals are like traditions – ways that we choose to do things that are repeated with some regularity, but without a set of rules that govern specific behavior. It’s not a protocol; it’s a ritual.
Why Use Protocols?
First, protocols turn routine actions into “defined, repeatable events,” to use business-speak. It’s like going to a chain restaurant. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or Boston, the food preparation and presentation will be virtually identical. Similarly, if I ask my slave to do something for me, I can be assured that she will do that action exactly according to our protocols, regardless of the circumstances surrounding my request. I can relax and not concern myself about how my slave will act/react. Because I’ve written out and taught my slave how to behave in most common situations, I need no longer concern myself with micromanaging her. This frees me and enables me to relax around her in ways that have seldom been possible in non-M/s relationships.
Second, protocols focus the mind and declare our mutual intention to be fully present – body, mind and spirit – for what is about to take place, and to clearly declare that intention through stylized action.
Third, protocols make a relationship special. “Protocols in action” communicate to the other person – and to anyone watching- just how valued this relationship is. One of the reasons this book presents such formal protocols is because it stresses this point: in my world, dinner is not just a time to eat food, it’s a time to celebrate the uniqueness of my relationship with my slave.
In Protocols: Handbook for the Female Slave author Dr. Robert J. Rubel suggests that protocols “turn routine actions into ‘defined, repeatable, events.’” He adds notes on Protocols as a guide to declaring mutual intent, and focuses on the concept that Protocols make a relationship special, by communicating “to the other person – and anyone watching – just how valued this relationship is.”
There is no classic form of training submissives. There exist a few historical knowns:
- The classic D/s training disciplines came out of the gay leather movement after the Second World War, and followed military training.
- There were probably various heterosexual training systems in place before then, in various places. Pauline Reage (Anne Desclos) relates a hypothetical one in “O” which was probably as much based on some pre-existing work as on any personal knowledge.
- There is no evidence that there is one ancestral training system that everything we know today descended from. Instead it seems the reverse is more likely true. Over the years, various individual trainers have traded ideas, and as communication improved, begun to develop some rough standards. The Apex/Butchmann Protocols likely deserve a nod in this regard.
Despite this, it is my hope to develop a set of protocols that offer a classical training routine, combining the better elements of various existing sources to arrive at something which is a balanced and rather classic-seeming training.
This is the place for a discussion of the concept of consensual power exchange. The backbone of this protocol is a consensual surrender of power and authority. There are many conceptual reasons for power exchange, however the backbone is a voluntary surrender of personal control to another.
SSC vs. RACK
“Safe, Sane, and Consensual” is a standard designator of Power Exchange. Unfortunately, there is no particular agreement on what “safe” and “sane” mean. Typically we can assume that “safe” means something which the Dominant and submissive both believe will not be unduly harmful to either of them. The problem comes when the submissive is in a state where she is not really able to make good, logical, determinations about her own safety. In a simple example, a blindfolded submissive cannot estimate the safety of an attachment point. So “safe” becomes something which the Dominant must evaluate.
“Sane” is more difficult to assess still. Gary Switch has said: The “sane” part of SSC is very subjective. Who’s making the call? Person A might think fisting is insane; persons B and C might enjoy it very much. “Sane” always reminds me of Pat Paulsen’s campaign slogan from the old Smothers Brothers show: “Vote for Paulsen; he’s not insane!” If you go around constantly reassuring folks that you’re not crazy, they’ll start to wonder… I’ve heard “sane” interpreted as “able to distinguish fantasy from reality” and “not intoxicated,” which are both perfectly valid, though the latter is similar to the above – you don’t go around constantly reassuring folks that you’re not drunk, either.
Switch proposes the term “RACK” or “Risk Aware Consensual Kink.” One very simplistic dissection of the terms suggests that “RACK is playing without a safeword,” but that is far from clear. There is no element of RACK which seems to preclude the use of safewords or any other safety precaution which is deemed to be reasonable, though it is worth noting that this is a not-uncommon generalization.
“The intent of RACK is education and awareness. You should try to know as much as you can about what you are doing and be aware of the risk. Do you consent or have consent? Do you also know the different forms it takes? If you are aware of your risk and you consent to it – go forward. That is the ‘spirit’ of RACK. There is no, ‘this is safe and this is not.’ There is only safer and less safe.”
I embrace the concept of RACK – that it is impossible to eliminate all risk, and that it is incumbent on the Dominant to know and understand at all times what the safety risks are, and what is and is not consensually acceptable with a particular submissive. I also accept the responsibility that there are times when the submissive cannot or will not be able to give explicit consent (see safewords) and that during those times, I am the responsible party.
That said, it is incumbent upon the submissive to know as much as possible about safety, and about her situation, and to assist in every way in making herself safe.
Slave vs. Sub
A very commonly cited definition, which I believe, but cannot establish was coined by Sadie, says:
“A submissive renews the choice to submit every time a demand is levied upon her. A slave makes a one-time choice to submit, up front, and thereafter it is incumbent upon her to obey.”
In Guy Baldwin’s Slavecraft, the essay author gives a far more expanded description, but it is one which leaves us with questions. He speaks of conditional slavery sometimes for as short a time as a night, and sometimes with many conditions which we would associate with submission. Ultimately he seems to consider slavery the “act” and submission the “state.” But he also seems to consider bottoms as “mere submissives.”
A meaningful suggestion is that submission involves “power exchange” – giving up control over limited direct areas, whereas slavery involves “authority exchange,” – giving up control of elements of one’s life and decision making capacity in a larger sense.
Robert Rubel writes about slavery, but conducts a daily “Coming Present” ceremony in which he asks his slave if they wish to continue in his service.
It is clear that there is no gold standard which separates “slavery” from “submission.” In general, it might be suggested that the difference is a complete submission without backing out, but it is equally clear that safewords may be used. The terms are widely and contradictorily used.
For purposes of these protocols, a submissive is a girl who is in limited service, bounded by sessions and some agreement to work outside the sessions. A slave is a girl who has undertaken for whatever reason to agree to a substantially wider commitment in terms of overall time and attention, even if within that commitment she is allowed significant pre-negotiated latitude. This is no part of any official definition, but merely constitutes a definition of usage for these purposes.
Scale of Surrender
|Top||Controls the Body||Bottom||Surrenders the Body|
|Dominant||Controls Body and Mind||Submissive||Surrenders Body and Mind|
|Master||Controls Body, Mind, and Soul||Slave||Surrenders Body, Mind, and Soul|
Involving Others In Our Scenes
In general, we do not involve those outside the BDSM Community in our scenes. Our standpoint is that this constitutes an invasion of their privacy – of forcing our sexual selves into their sphere of attention. There is no “hard and fast” rule on this, however. We are not doing anything criminal or morally wrong, and it is within our rights to expect a certain degree of tolerance.
Our behavior will be moderated based on the nature of the place that we are present, the demeanor of everyone else there, and the risk and/or consequences of coming to their attention, both in general and with regard to the special circumstances (career, family, etc.) of the submissive. Thus, doing sceneplay or sexplay in a bathroom in a downtown bar may be perfectly fine, while ordering a position drill in an art gallery would not be. We default to a “reasonable norm” in regards to public behavior.
At Will Submission
At will submission means that as a submissive you have rights and obligations in your relationship just like your Master does. You are neither helpless, nor free from responsibility for your own happiness, and the happiness of your partner(s). M/s is about creating an intentional and mutually fulfilling relationship. It is NOT about domestic abuse in the name of kink.
Force vs. Synergy
A good M/s dynamic is all about synergy. It’s about Dominant energy and submissive energy coming together to form a complete circle. It’s about needing each other, and completing each other. What I absolutely will not do is attempt to force her to participate in our dynamic if she is unwilling or unhappy to do so. That would be as much a waste of my time and energy as it would be abuse.
Do The Work
No matter how you identify, you have every bit as much responsibility for your relationship as does your Master. You can not be passive or refuse to participate and expect everything to work out. Creating a happy and functional M/s dynamic takes work and attention of both sides of the slash. Do the work and together you can create something truly beautiful. If you don’t do the work don’t be surprised when your Master becomes disheartened or loses interest.
The Submissive Bill Of Rights
- You have the right to be treated with respect. Not only do you have this right, you have the right to demand it. Being submissive does not make you a doormat or less of a person than anyone else. The word “submissive” describes your nature and in no way diminishes you as a human being.
- You have the right to be proud of what you are. Being a submissive is nothing that should ever bring you shame or feelings of reproach. Your submissive nature is a gift and should always be a source of pride and happiness.
- You have the right to feel safe. Being a submissive should not make you feel afraid, insecure or threatened. If you don’t feel safe you can not truly surrender.
- You have the right to your emotions and feelings. Your emotions and feelings come from you and they are just as valid as anyone else’s. You have a right to them. Those feelings, whether positive or negative, make you who you are and suppressing them will only bring unhappiness later.
- You have the right to express your negative feelings. Being submissive does not make you an object that no longer has negative thoughts or concerns. Your concerns are real and you have every right to express them. If something doesn’t feel right, bothers you, makes you feel bad or you just plain don’t like something, say so. Failing to express your negative feelings could give the mistaken impression that you are pleased or satisfied with something that is not pleasurable or agreeable.
- You have the right to say NO. Being submissive does not take away your right to have dislikes or negative feelings about things. If something is happening or about to happen that you feel strongly opposed to, it’s your job to speak up.
- You have the right to expect happiness in life. Your submission should bring you joy, peace and fulfillment. If it doesn’t, then something is wrong.
- You have the right to have input in a relationship. You are an active partner in any relationship you enter and have every right to contribute to it. You are submissive, not passive. A relationship that doesn’t include your needs, thoughts, hopes and desires is not going to be fulfilling to either you or your dominant.
- You have the right to be loved and to love. Anyone who tells you that love doesn’t fit into a D/s relationship has never experienced the fulfillment of all it can be. All human beings are by nature loving and needing of love and have every right to expect this to be a part of their lives. It takes love to bring your submission into full bloom, so don’t settle for less.
- You have the right to be healthy. Health involves your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Any relationship, D/s or otherwise, that causes you to suffer physically, mentally or emotionally, beyond your limits, is abuse. There is no place for abusive behavior in a D/s relationship.
- You have the right to practice safe sex. Not only is this a right, it’s a duty to yourself and others you may come into contact with at a later date. Sexually transmitted diseases have reached epidemic proportions and must be a concern to any sexually active person. Safe Sex is something you have the right to insist upon and protecting yourself should never be discouraged by anyone who really has your best interests at heart.
- You have the right to leave if you are unhappy.