The Joy of Protocol:
Protocol is one of my favorite things about being a boy. The structure of protocol allows me the luxury of not worrying about what I’m supposed to do. I already know. For any given situation, I have a full list of actions and reactions. Depending on the level of protocol, I know whether or not I can talk to another individual, or whether I should direct them to Sir for approval first. Protocol gives me all the answers, so I don’t have any distractions to keep me from being attentive to my Sir and the situation in general. I have spent hours on protocol just listening to Sir interact with other leather folk. And that is the true joy of protocol. I don’t have to worry about interactions. I don’t have to worry about my behavior. I don’t have to worry about anything, because on high protocol, I know I’m behaving as well as anyone else in the room. I know my behavior reflects well upon the house and upon my Sir.
On Fetlife and other places where leather folk gather, there are always discussions and debate about protocol.. particularly what the “right” protocols are. Protocols are different for everyone and every situation. They vary from family to family, house to house, and there’s no right way to do protocol. For example, my Sir has a set of protocols that vary from low to high, depending on the situation. But, there have been events we’ve been at where other boys have had very different protocols, or no protocols at all. The key to protocol is determining what makes you (or your boys/submissives/etc.) most comfortable. I like my protocols because they make me feel safe. They protect me from uncomfortable interactions and are concrete in a way that makes me feel like I don’t have to worry. So long as I’ve got my protocols memorized, I always know what to do.
But protocols aren’t just for safety and comfort. They also work well as teaching aids. For example, some boys can be talkative when nervous. Thus, sometimes, it’s best to put them on a restricted speaking protocol. Or only allow them to speak in certain contexts. Others are shy, and in that case, protocols can be changed to force them to speak in situations where they may not be completely comfortable, but where they would still be safe, such as introductions or leavings. This allows them to stretch their limits and expand their skill sets without being in any actual social danger.
And protocols aren’t only for Leather people. Protocols can be fun ways to implement D/s dynamics into more vanilla relationships. I know of several relationships where restrictions are put on all different aspects of life: speech, masturbation, physical contact, etc. I want to point out that some may feel like protocols and restrictions are abusive, as I’ve had my own relationship questioned on several fronts in that regard. However, as with all things kinky, consent must come first, and after consent, anything and everything you want. Just because you haven’t seen consent in another person’s relationship first hand, doesn’t mean that they didn’t give it. I would stress that if you’re seriously concerned, that you talk to the people involved. Many of us are used to such questions and are more than willing to discuss our own consent practices.
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Adisson is alpha of House V, along with his duties as the Wearer of Many Hats at As You Like It.