I have been doing a lot of thinking, lately, about protocols and how we use them. For those with any experience in the BDSM lifestyle, the term “Protocol” is almost ubiquitous. Amazon has eighteen books listed under the search “BDSM Protocol” four of which are written or edited by my friend Robert Rubel. My first Google search came up with about 3,010,000 results. Obviously, as we can see, there is one and only one set of protocols that we all should follow, yes? Everyone agrees on them, it is just that people want a lot of copies. It’s the typeface, I guess.
Protocols have been difficult for me. How to bow, how to greet, what do you say at parting, how to address someone you know, someone you don’t, how to hold a glass, how to serve a meal. It all seems, at times, a bit much. More importantly, who teaches you all of this? I mean, which one is the true and correct rule book? Jeffrey Payne has an inspired take on all of that.
So, if there is no real rule book, so set structure for which protocols are right and correct, and you actually can and should think up anything you want, what are they for? I mean, what is the difference? What do protocols actually DO for you? Well, let me paint a few pictures.
Finally coming home to his wife after each long day, Peter kisses her and asks, “So, how was your day?” Protocol
Standing by the door, three lunches in hand, Mom hands them out with a kiss as each child runs out the door to catch the bus. Protocol
John has an early meeting and has to leave before his wife gets up. She calls him later and says, “But you didn’t kiss me good bye.” Missed Protocol
I am sure there are many more that come to mind, and I would love to hear more from my readers. But the point here is that Protocols remind us. They remind us of our relationship and our position within it. There is a man I know who has a place in his home which is special. If there has been some blow to his relationship with his partner, a distancing, that place is where he goes. He goes and waits. His partner knows that THEIR position is on the floor, at his feet, in that place. That is where they join back together again. Protocols
I think, actually, that protocols have a beneficial place the every day relationships of all of us. They do not need Masters and slaves, leather and whips. They need concern and care for the persons with whom you live. Protocols created by and for the people using them. Created to remind them of the relationship they chose, the relationship that sustains them, supports them, affirms who they are and who they want to be. But the exact form? De gustibus non disputandum est.