Both sides of a protocol
Recently on FetLife, a friend posted about her scene protocol, and how much it annoys and baffles her when people disregard it or complain about it. She is part of a couple, and while she can play with anyone she chooses, she has one request: If anyone contacts her for play, she’d like them to drop a brief note to her dominant as well. It doesn’t have to be a multi-page epic; it doesn’t have to be a massive form providing his blood type and his mother’s maiden name. Just a little note of introduction, out of respect for her top, to acknowledge his existence.
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? And yet, according to her writing earlier, people give her grief about this. They don’t want to bother with that step; it’s too much of a hassle. And then they have the nerve to get bent out of shape when she says she’s sorry, but if they aren’t willing to do this little thing, then she isn’t willing to play with them.
You know, this thing we do is (or should be) about consent and respect. Everyone has limits. Everyone has personal rules. And it doesn’t matter a damn if their protocols aren’t your protocols. You don’t have to agree with them, or subscribe to them. You simply have to respect them, per the individual. If they aren’t to your liking, then you don’t have to play with that person.
Why is that so @#$%ing hard for some people to comprehend? Especially a request like this, which is so very common in the D/s world. Subs/bottoms often have potential play partners contact their doms/tops. Or ask them first at a party, before asking the bottom to play. Why would anyone resent that or bitch about it?
Today, I posted a comment on this lovely woman’s writing: “I’m not sure what the debate is about. My ass, my rules. Does that make it simpler?” She appreciated that; she commented after me: “So. Much. That.” 🙂
Me? I deal with the flip side of that protocol, and for me, it’s equally as frustrating and annoying.
See, I do not require anyone to check in with John before I play with them. That is simply not my dynamic. So it kind of tweaks me when some tops assume I do have that sort of dynamic, because, well, don’t all bottoms?? (sigh) Or the ones who assume that John speaks for me, because he does not. Just because I identify as a bottom does not mean I identify as a submissive or a slave. Stop putting us all in the same box.
Frequently at parties, John has had men approach him and ask if it’s OK if they play with me. John will smile, shrug and reply, “I dunno… ask her?” OK, so they’re being cautious. I get that. But my rebellious and sassy spirit kind of resents the assumption nonetheless. I do not need John’s permission for anything. Still, when it comes to a simple matter of play, I guess it’s innocuous.
But here’s an example of protocol assumption that really pissed me off. Many years ago, a gentleman who is quite well known in the BDSM world came to his first Shadow Lane party. At spanking party weekends, there’s a sort of unspoken etiquette about Friday nights, the first of three or four days of play: Don’t play too hard with a bottom that night. She has a lot more spanking ahead of her, so it’s better to err on the side of caution, go a little lighter, save the heavier stuff for later in the weekend. In other words, don’t trash a bottom’s backside all to hell right out of the gate.
This guy clearly wasn’t aware of this… and he whaled the hell out of me with a wooden hairbrush, on Friday night at the vendor fair. I had immediate white spots, which morphed into purple splotches. Not good. People around us watching looked shocked. John immediately ran to get an ice pack and was following me around the ballroom, pressing it to my butt. By the next day, I had bruises.
I guess the guy must have heard from others that what he had done was a bit of a faux pas. Because the next day, he offered a sincere and contrite apology.
That’s right. He sought John out specifically, and said, “I’m sorry I marked your sub so early in a spanking party weekend. I didn’t realize that wasn’t OK, and I didn’t mean to.” Um, what? He hit me. He bruised me. And he apologizes to my boyfriend?? WTF?
Yeah, I know. D/s protocol. But use a little common sense, for God’s sake. Give a direct apology to the wounded party! John, bless his heart, calmly told him, “I appreciate that, man, but don’t tell me. Tell her.”
To his credit, he came to me next and apologized. Multiple times. And again after the party weekend in an email. I did appreciate it, and I never revealed who he was or what had happened in any blog or party report. (And I still won’t.) But I still think about it and shake my head. What kind of weird-ass protocol is it that you injure a bottom and you apologize to her top by proxy? It’s not his butt! (sigh again)
So, I guess it comes down to this once again: Everyone is different; all players aren’t formed from the same cookie cutter. We all have different protocols, preferences, priorities. Different parties have different rules. When negotiating the playing field (which can often be a minefield), get a feel for who you’re dealing with, and what kind of gathering you’re attending. Ask questions, pay attention, and Be. Respectful.
Oh, and despite the fact that it seems to be so damned uncommon these days, do try that common sense thing. 😉