So, I’ve never participated in Kink of the Week before. This is partially because I tend to think of myself as not having “a lot” of kinks, and partially because I was always running myself ragged trying to tell every single story that happened in my life. Now that I’ve stepped back from feeling responsible for keeping up with that, I feel able to do more posts like this, so I’m going to give this a go. 🙂
The KOTW topic this week is protocol.
My first D/s dynamic with was with Malignus, and it began two and a half years ago. When we first met, I was very uncertain of whether or not I was actually submissive or if I was just a bottom. A lot of this was my general discomfort with non-spanking BDSM. At the time, I felt very different from the people that I interacted with at Dungeons and munches in Los Angeles. I felt like they saw me as boring, or as “doing it wrong” because the things that I liked and wanted were so incredibly specific, and a lot of it seemed far more casual than what other people did. I began the journey of discovering what submission actually meant to me (a process that I think will always be continuing) and I found that it was something that I identified with strongly. I liked the feeling of trusting someone and sharing control over aspects of my life. I grew into the role very, very well, and was able to identify that this was actually a huge part of what I wanted from my kink. There were things that continued to make me uncomfortable, though. One of these was the idea of protocol.
During one of our original conversations, Malignus mentioned to me that it would be an option for him to “train me” in “high protocol.” He wasn’t pushing this, or anything, just putting it out there as an option. This idea made me tremendously (and irrationally) upset. I’ve always been very put off by the word and idea of “training.” I associate it with breaking down that which is naturally there and replacing it with something else, and this was something which I thought I saw in some D/s relationships and found very threatening. I was scared that being a submissive would make me lose myself. I didn’t want my normal preferences and behaviors to be broken down and replaced with “protocols.” Malignus did his best to reassure me that this wasn’t what he meant at all, but when I was not able to be calmed, we just ignored the topic in general.
I remained uncomfortable if he talked about his other submissives and their ways of practicing protocol, or if I interacted with people who prescribed to a standardized set of protocol. Eventually, I realized that this was because my kink is so, incredibly personal to me and I didn’t want to feel like I had to follow someone else’s set of rules. For a long time, “protocol” remained a dirty word, though, even though I was constantly being assured that no one was going to force me to follow any arbitrary and unnecessary rules, and that “they” couldn’t make me do ANYTHING without my consent.
Eventually, I grew up a bit, got over myself and became more confident in the scene. I got over my “spanko-angst” and began to relate well to people with other kinks. I stopped being so puritanical about “spanko purity” and explored other kinks a bit, discovering a variety of things that did and didn’t work for me. From here, I was able to look back at my original D/s relationship and realize that it was fairly strictly protocoled. It was just our own, personal protocol, and Malignus wasn’t calling it that to keep me from getting freaked out again. 😛
Now that I’m past my dislike of the word, I identify protocol as being something that exists in the space where the rules and rituals of a D/s relationship overlap (I realize that this is similar but different to the article which Jade referred to in the KOTW post). Observe my diagram:
|I made this in approximately 75 seconds, so I hope it doesn’t suck too much.|
Take my D/s dynamic with Paul, for example. There are certain things that are just rules and don’t fall under the heading of Protocol. It’s a rule that I can’t do irresponsible things that put myself in danger, but there isn’t any repetition there, and it isn’t part of the routine of our lives and interactions, really. One could argue that I’m in the routine of thinking before doing stupid things, but it’s not the same.
There are other rules that integrate into the habits of my daily life, and are therefore part of the ritual of our relationship: it’s a rule that I go to bed before 2:00 AM and a rule that I update my blog at least once a week. These things are also fairly procedural, so in my mind, they can be considered part of the protocol of our dynamic.
On the other side of the chart, there are things that are ritualistic or part of our habits that aren’t really rules. These behaviors are still very important to me, because they create stability. For example, I know that after any sort of scene, we’ll cuddle for however long I need to before we try to do anything else. It’s part of the ritual that we’ve created around playing, but it isn’t a rule, per se. I wear my shell necklace every day because it makes me feel close to Paul despite our current distance, and it is a visual symbol of our relationship. Having it there is part of my daily ritual, but it isn’t a protocol, because there’s no enforcement that I do this.
There isn’t any particular reason why the things that fall into the “protocol” space are more important, though. The distinction is purely semantic, but science knows that I love semantics. All three things (rules, protocol and ritual) create a sense of stability and make me feel both secure and loved. Certain aspects become very important to me when we’re apart from each other, especially things that I can do on my own to engage in the dynamic (like working on my blog or going to bed on time) if, for some reason, we can’t be in communication at a particular moment. Others, especially the protocol and ritual that we use within a scene, become very important when we’re together. They’re little things that make me feel very submissive, and it’s a wonderful feeling.
The creation of these practices over time has been very special to me. I still can imagine how distasteful what I thought protocol was meant to be would be. It would make D/s feel very cold and impersonal to simply try to apply a set of “right” or “one size fits all” behaviors to it. When I read about other people’s protocols, especially when looking through the KOTW posts, I sometimes think “That would never work for me,” or “that sounds really detached” or something like that. That’s the beauty of this thing. Other people’s protocols don’t HAVE to work for me. Only mine do. And they do.
When I started this blog, it was my intention to do a combination of writing about spanking, DD and D/s topics. I touch on the latter two every now and then, but they are rarely the primary focus on a post. I’m going to start trying to include a Submission Topic every week if I can. I always have a lot to say about it anyway. 🙂
So, here it goes!
For the entire time that I’ve been in my primary relationship, I’ve had submissive feelings and limited actual submissive behavior towards people besides my partner and Dominant. This has never been any kind of a problem. I’m mostly poly in all situations and Malignus is nearly perfectly poly. There are times when he’s more comfortable with the idea of me exploring things with other people than I am. Because it was always natural and accepted for me to explore and talk about submission with other people, it seemed to follow that I eventually would enter into a second D/s dynamic. At present, Malignus has five submissives, and he manages that with few problems. So when scotchgrove and I realized that we worked quite well together in terms of D/s, we began to take the steps towards making that happen.
A lot of people were very surprised by this. Apparently having a lot of submissives is fairly normal, but a submissive having multiple Dominants is not. Thinking about this brought up a few interesting points.
The most obvious reason why having multiple Dominants might not work out smoothly is that there might be conflicting rules or instructions. The question that my friends have asked me the most when finding out how things are working for me now is “What do you do when they want you to do different things?” So far, this situation has come up rarely, almost never. There’s usually a clear level of importance between two tasks: things with real world time limits have to come first, as do grossly more significant things. Unless something of those natures comes up, I take care of the things that I committed to first before committing to something else. If everything is equal, I tend to err on the side of Malignus’ wishes because he invests more in me. He’s there with me on the day to day and he’s been giving me time, energy, love, affection, violence, care, education and more for over a year now.
This is system is really no different than the way that we balance social commitments in any other situation and is mostly based on common sense: if I’m working on research for Malignus and scothgrove wants to chat, I finish my work first. That’s no different than what a responsible person would do if they were doing research for school and a friend from outside of a power exchange dynamic wanted to talk. If I’m hanging out with Malignus and scotchgrove needs to speak to me regarding something of importance, I talk to scotchgrove. The only difference is that I don’t just do these things: I seek permission to do these things. That’s also pretty easy and mostly just a way to be respectful. Because both Dominants are aware of these arrangements, they tend to be fine with things.
scotchgrove doesn’t usually make rules for me because he’s aware that those needs are already being met by my dynamic with Malignus. If he does, it’s for things that I don’t have rules about already. If both of them were to make a rule about the same thing, I’d talk to both of them to come up with something that worked for everyone involved. Basically, if everyone is on the same page, it works out really well.
There is, however, a reason why the idea of having multiple submissives makes more sense than the idea of having multiple Dominants does: that’s the flow of power. This is a concept that has been kind of hard for me to articulate, but which I’ve been bouncing around in my head for a while. I made the following really shitty diagram in Paint: