What are BDSM Protocols and why are they so important? Is it a buzz word in the community, or does people understand what do they stand for and their importance? In this series of articles we will explore the basics in Verbal, Behavioral, Postural and Gear Protocol.

BDSM Protocols vary depending on the situation, and they are divided in three stages or level of Protocol. You can find out more in the article “Levels of Protocol in BDSM“.

What are the fundamental BDSM Protocols that every Leatherman should know?

 

 

Why are Protocols important?

Let’s start off with what are Protocols and the difference between Protocol and Etiquette.

Protocol Etiquette

Protocols are more situational and specific to action. They regulate the way to speak, to sit, to stand, to execute certain routine jobs, and so on.

Protocols are divided into a set of basic and ground Protocols that actually consist in the very fabric that Leather life is made of, in the actions, and then into a set of personal Protocols that a Master might have in His Household, as an example His own set of House Rules. His House Rules are unique to His own Leather Family.

An example of Protocol is “When the slave gets home, slave needs to fully undress, fold its clothing and store them properly, and then wait on Kneel Down Position for Master’s inspection or Orders”.

Etiquettes in Leather and BDSM are a set of rules that apply to everybody, and are especially important to interact in harmony amongst different Leather families, clubs, groups and individuals. They are affected and reflect cultures, backgrounds and situations.

Etiquettes are about “good manners” between Dom, between men, between Leathermen in general.

An example of Etiquette is the custom of calling each other “Sir” even amongst Masters and Sirs.

 

Now that we have a clearer understanding of the difference between BDSM Protocols and Etiquette, let’s spend a few words on the why of Protocols. If you’ve been reading frequently the articles on our website, you’ll know that we particularly care about the why of things.

Protocols create and guarantee a framework that doesn’t have to do with a reduction of freedom for kinksters; they are simply natural consequences of the power dynamics between Domination and submission, hardcoded through generations of BDSM relationships. Protocols and Etiquette give a physical form and expression to the mutual feelings of being part of a lifestyle which is regulated by actions, meanings and agreements that make our experience real and made out of connection.

Protocols will feel good and relieving for those who genuinely align to Leather lifestyle and serious BDSM, which means to people who need to feel that their feelings about Domination and submissions reflect in real life in every moment, not just necessarily in the playroom.

Protocols will feel like a nuisance or a threat to people who are less likely to be genuine about BDSM, or to those who have little to no experience in this lifestyle.

 

Verbal Protocol

At this point of your journey, you will have noticed that verbal expression (be it written or vocal) is pretty important in BDSM and Leather. Submissives tend to call Dominants “Sir“, and Dominants tend to call submissives “boy” (this happens much more lately, where there is an leveling and simplification of verbal protocols, due to leather and kink becoming popular and lived often as a social game).

But verbal expression Protocols vary much more than that, and they are fundamental to any serious and experienced BDSM person who wants quality connections. Verbal Protocols are extremely important, especially written ones, and here comes why. Good Form is Discipline, and Discipline requires commitment and effort; commitment and effort equal to Respect. It’s a form of Respect that as stated in the article “Should you call a stranger SIR?” doesn’t just have to do with your partner, it mainly has to do with the respect you have for yourself.

To make it short, you’re not just showing respect to your partner’s identity; you’re also honoring your own identity in the process. Regardless of the fact that you might know well or just want to get to know the person you’re talking to, you should always display a good form in the way you express yourself. This is paramount, as an example, if you are a submissive looking for a Master. That shows you honor your partner and first of all you honor your identity, which proves that you believe in it, which indicates that you might be a serious and experienced person to engage with.

The basic Verbal Protocols for submissives are:
  • Always address a Dominant with His title. Most often, this title is “SIR”.
    • Other Titles might be: Boss, Alpha, Master…
  • Always use capital letters when referring to the Dominant; this is not just limited to “Sir“, but also to “You, Yours“.
    • Some Dominants prefer ALL CAPS, so that would be “SIR, YOU, YOURS“.
  • As a slave, refer to yourself in third person, and always in lower caps. “it, its”
  • In High Protocol, every sentence should start and end with “SIR”.
  • Verbal Protocol, depending on the level of Protocol, regulate also when the submissive can or cannot talk and engage in conversation.
  • Technically, the Dominant should engage the submissive in conversation, not the other way around; this applies more to High Protocol than to low Protocol.
  • Don’t be light and make jokes when your Dominant is talking to you about serious or solemn matter.
The basic Verbal Protocols for dominants are:
  • You should enforce the stated Protocols and inspire the submissive to understand how important they are
  • You should not come to compromises with subs when they show resistance to Protocol. You might explain them why it’s important, but then it’s up to You to make it important.
  • You should maintain the Protocols yourselves. Don’t overlook them, notice when the sub is adhering well to them, and when he is frustrated, as if he will perceive that You don’t really matter about them, why should he feel like they have any meaning?

 

Behavioral Protocol

Just like speaking and writing in a specific way is part of a base set of widely recognized Protocols in Leather and BDSM, also the way you behave will say a lot about your self consciousness on your role, and how seriously you believe in who you are.

This list of behavioral Protocols apply both to Dominants and submissives, as technically a younger Dominant should honor and Respect hierarchy towards an older Dominant or Master (something of course you don’t get to see a lot these days, thanks of a younger generation who has completely lost the value of respect of elders). So lets start from this:

  • The fact that you are a Dominant doesn’t mean you are a spoiled king. Show respect for hierarchies, and manage to serve or show respect to an Older Dom in your group. Be open, learn from him, and be humble.
  • Serving drinks and food: a submissive or, in the lack of the presence of a sub, the younger Dominant will always ask the older Dominant if he/it can fetch or offer Him a drink, or what He would like to eat.
  • Taking places at the table: a submissive or, in the lack of the presence of a sub, the younger Dominant will always wait to sit, and let the older Dominant to sit before him/it.
  • DO NOT interrupt the Dominant when He is speaking; same goes if you are the youngest Dominant. Show respect and patience.
  • General courtesy here falls under Etiquette: let the oldest Dominant enter first the room, leave for Him the best seat, and things like this.
  • A sub should always have with him the following items: lighter (preferably cigar lighter), a cigar cutter and whatever his Dom usually wants to have around, in order to be of service at all times.
  • A sub should always be ready to light up Sir’s smoke.
  • Choose a day in the week in which you dedicate your time to Leather. Bootblack, care for your gear, improve your play space, connect with your brothers.
  • A sub should always clean the gear after use, and tidy up the Playroom / dungeon, with Sir’s approval.
  • A sub should always keep its fuckhole clean and ready for use, as much as possibile.
  • A sub should learn Bootblacking and Leather take Care and Cleaning, in order to be ready to provide these services when requested.
  • A slave shouldn’t piss standing, but sitting on the rim of the toilet.
  • A sub should not touch a Sir’s body, or initiate any sexual activity, without asking permission first, or making aware the Dominant of his wishes.
  • If a Sir wants to engaged with a collared sub, he must first engage with the Owner of said property, and acquire permission respectfully. If permission is not given, he should accept that.
  • A submissive cannot remove any gear that is put on by the Dominant; it will be the Dominant’s choice when to remove said items.
  • You DON’T EVER jump in somebody else’s scene to interact without permission, nor should YOU EVER disturb a Session with comments, laughters or any other bullshit. That will immediately qualify you as silly tourist, and is one of the most disrespectful things to do.
  • Aftercare equals Session time: don’t disturb a Master and his slave during this special and delicate moment.
  • This seems like Etiquette, but it’s actually part of Protocol, as it’s integrity and value driven in the life of a Leatherman: never lie. At all costs, be upfront, honest, and genuine.

 

Postural Protocol

Another very important aspect of behavioral Protocol in BDSM and Leather lifestyle is posture. The way you stand and position your body also speaks to the Dominants are you and qualifies not only your identity, but your adherence to your beliefs. Once again, this will immediately qualify you as a more reliable submissive than any gear you could buy.

  • When you’re not executing any order, stay in Point Position. Point Position can be achieved both while standing (Standing Point Position) and kneeling (Kneeling Point Position). It is achieved by having feet or knees spread apart, with hands on your back, the left grasping the right one, wrists about waist height, chest out and head lowered.
    • Whenever in doubt on how to stand, or if you don’t have orders, stay on Point Position.
  • As a sub, you should never be on higher ground than your Dominant, and never walk in front of him
    • When walking, stay half a step behind during conversation, behind his dominant hand shoulder (right or left in this case).
    • When Sir is sitting, the sub should be on the floor if in High Protocol
  • When kneeling, there are generally two ways of kneeling, divided in a formal way of presenting yourself, and an informal one. Generally, it’s sufficient to be kneeling with your back upright and holding point position unless ordered differently.
    • If you want to be a purist about it, you can kneel with one knee or both knees; that’s called
      • One knee: Half Present Kneel
      • Two knees: Full Present Kneel
    • Depending on the situation, the kneeling form can vary from formal to informal. The difference is that your ass should never touch your feet in formal present, while it can rest on your feet in informal present.
      • One knee, ass doesn’t touch the foot: Formal Half Present Kneel
      • One knee, ass can touch the foot: Informal Half Present Kneel
      • Two knees, ass can’t touch the foot, so you’re standing on your knees: Formal Full Present Kneel
      • Two knees, ass can touch the foot: Informal Full Present Kneel
  • “Kneel Down” is a command that prepares your body for service and inspection. From a Full present kneel position, you go to the ground with your arms and chest, spreading your knees as far apart as possible, and your ass up.

There are several other body positions commands and Protocols that apply to High Protocol, but they wont’ be discussed here as this is material for a different article.

Sir Lupus displaying a Full Informal Present kneel Position in BDSM Protcols

Sir Lupus displaying a Full Informal Present kneel Position

 

Gear Protocol

Protocols affect and reflect your identity also in the way you dress (and you don’t dress) in public, private and High Protocol Situations. Nowadays there is a widely spread idea that the gear we wear is simply a commercial item that you buy when you want to hope for a different cock to hunt in the next circuit event. Truly though, for people who care about it, gear has a a specific meaning and symbology, and determined Protocols apply to it.

  • Collars are never to be worn as a fashion statement. They have a very serious meaning. Breaking this Protocol shows who you really are and how much you really care.
  • Technically only Dominants were allowed to wear gloves. A submissive’s hands should always be naked. This is though a Protocol only followed by purists.
  • Only Dominants should wear Muir Caps. It’s supposed to be most sacred part of a Master’s Uniform.
    • Keep your hands away from the Brim or the Top of the Cap. Only touch the sides of it.
  • In Old Guard, hair is shaven clean or cropped in a military style.
  • Boots are core part of a Leatherman’s gear. Men wear Boots. Of course we all also wear sneakers and formal shoes for our business life and sports. But as a Leatherman, you wear Boots.
  • A good slave or submissive dress code for public setting (club, bar..) when not under the direction of a Dominant, is: Boots, jeans, white tank top or t-shirt. That’s all you need.
    • If you have knees weakness, always wear your own pair of kneepads under your pants / chaps and such.

 

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We typically send out a Newsletter a month, only when new content is out. No Spam, no bullshit.