Okay, so when it rains, it clearly pours.

I’m one of the organizers for a local queer chicks leather group and we’ll be having a discussion group in not that long. The discussion is going to be focused on the concept and execution of protocol. With that in mind, the organizers have written up a bunch of questions — our head honcho is going to stream-line the bunch of them and send them out to our members-list.

However, I thought I’d toss my own (short) list of questions up here and see what answers I can tease out of myself:




How do you define “protocol”?
I think of it as the icing on the cake, but someone else might look at it as an instruction manual. Protocol can include everything from “call me ma’am” to “this is how I like my socks folded”.


I actually ended up answering these questions backwards, so I actually tackled this question last.
For a literal working definition of “What Is A Protocol”, I ended up figuring that one out when I answered Question Two, so I’ll let you read on for that bit.
However… As for how I… how I relate to the concept of “protocol”… I’ve seen this term used to describe a means of narrowing down the variables when it comes to doing things in ways your domme will like. I’ve seen it describes as “how you make it special” (e.g.: how you go about doing actions X, Y, and Z so that the nature of your dynamic is kept in mind and in head-space, rather than rendering X,Y, or Z just another Thing That Couples Do). But I’ve also seen it portrayed as “I can make my Person do tricks! Watch!” (“Assume position #77, slave!” or what-have-you).

While I know that “protocol” is actually a huge amount of things, I have a tendency to think of it, first and foremost, as “icing on the cake”. I’m prone to thinking of “protocol” as: my girl helping me on with my coat or my boots. I often forget that, when she sits by my feet, rinses the soap suds off when she’s doing the dishes, journals at a set time of day, or scoots around me to open the door… that’s protocol, too.

Also, in spite of knowing better, I frequently catch myself thinking of “protocol” as “something submissives do”. As much as I sometimes want to change things up a bit, I’m actually quite grateful that in our dynamic, my submissive doesn’t wait for me to be seated, or to take my first bite of food, before sitting down herself or starting her own meal, she waits on my active granting of permission. And that action might be as quiet as a nod, or a vague “go ahead”, but it does require my *action*. As such, her waiting on me isn’t something that I can be passively accepting about. I have to be aware and engaged in order for it to happen. And, since I have to be aware and engaged anyway, this helps to hole me to my own responsibilities.



Can protocols be complicated? Or are they, by nature, simple and straightforward?
What are protocols for? (In general? In your own dynamic?) Can they be combined into larger structures?


This one… I’m still thinking about. I mean, on the one hand, “Laundry on Tuesdays” is a protocol. It’s routine. It’s “How Things Get Done”. But is that really the Protocol?
Or is the combination of “Always cold water wash,” and “Separate washes by colour and weight,” and “Use Brand W organic, unscented liquid detergent,” and “Tumble-dry sheets, towels, and socks, lay sweaters flat on a fresh towel, and hang-dry everything else,” and “Socks get folded Like So” and “All wovens must be steam-ironed, but knits can fend for themselves,” and “Trousers get hung by the ankles, in their pleats, at two to a hanger” and so on… Are all of those separate and individual protocols which, combined, add up to “Laundry on Tuesdays”?
… Personally, I think it’s the latter.
So, by that token… I guess I define “protocol” as “A complete and coherent instruction/action that can’t necessarily be broken down into further component parts”. Huh. Well, now I know…



What does it give you? As a submissive? As a dominant?
Does it confirm your dynamic/place? How? Why?
What does it do for you emotionally? Psychologically?


What does protocol give me? It gives me a means of structuring her life. It gives me an idea of what I need to be watching.
But what does it do for me?
I’m not, at this point, a domme who gets off on “control”. I don’t park myself in my submissive’s desk chair, just to watch her squirm about not having access to the only piece of furniture she doesn’t have to obtain permission to use. I don’t (typically) say No just because I can.
Consequently, I had to think about this a bit before I was really able to answer. What I get out of protocol is reassurance. Every time I walk into my cleaned kitchen or bathroom, I smile, knowing that I’m being taken care of. Every time she asks for use of the furniture, it lets me know that what I want is central to her life. Every time she curls up at me feet and rests her head against my knee, every time she calls me her Lady, it confirms my place/position in her world and reminds me that she wants me to occupy that role. It’s very reassuring and it makes me feel really good.
E.G.: Recently, it got just cool enough out for me to start wearing my leather boots – instead of my flip-flops – again. She held my boot for me and, when I stepped into it – her hands on my heel and my calf, her cheek against my thigh – I got this visceral, all-over body feeling of Home!!
So, yeah. That. That’s what it gives me. 🙂



Is “protocol” a strictly-24/7 thing? Does it only apply in on-going D/s dynamics?
If yes, why?
If no, how do temporary protocols differ from on-going protocols? How are they similar? In the case of on-going dynamics, how do you work them into every-day life? (Do you try to make them subtle while out in vanilla-world? Do you not?)


I think that, yes, temporary dynamics do have protocols. Like “For the duration of this scene, you’ll be Ma’am and I’ll be Bad Little Boi” or “While we’re attending this party, you aren’t allowed to talk — Here, this gag will help make sure your silence isn’t offensive to people outside our dynamic who, as your friends, might otherwise try to engage you in conversation”.
Or something.

While, regardless of duration, protocol tells you what the “dance steps” are… I think that on-going protocols are more intense (because they don’t stop) than temporary ones but, for the same reason, they are frequently more subtle as well. To pick an easy target: If you’re in dynamic only for an hour or a weekend or something, you actually can make a rule that says The Submissive Shall Be Naked 100% Of The Time. But if your dynamic is 24/7, the protocols have to be able to work with things like day-jobs, family visits, going to the grocery store, and so-on, at-which-point All Naked, All The Time just doesn’t work anymore.

As for making things work in vanilla-world… In my own dynamic, requests like “may I sit on the couch” or “may I start eating” can be asked with raised eyebrows as easily as with words, so those stay pretty subtle. However getting my coat and my door is a bit different (we’ve had random strangers ask if the car’s passenger-side door doesn’t work, for example), and there’s really no denying what’s going on when she gets down to help me on with my boots. Sometimes I feel really self-conscious about that, and sometimes I don’t. It really depends on the context (and, sometimes, just how I’m feeling that day).



Is protocol a one-way street?
Do dommes follow protocols? If yes, how are domme protocols different from sub protocols? How are they intertwined there-with? How does this relate to the concept of “the dance”?

Okay, yeah. For me this is basically rhetorical. Yes. I think dommes follow protocols. It’s just that our part of “the dance”, so to speak, is in managing things.
I have to admit, I’m not so great at this bit. I have flutters and insecurities and I end up thinking, somewhat pearl-clutchingly, “How can I make her do XYZ? Even if I drag her to the task by her hair, she still has to choose to do it!”
But of course there’s an answer to this.
In our case, the answer is “hold her to it” — specifically by noticing and commenting on it when she’s not doing XYZ, or not doing it fast enough, or doing it sloppily, or whatever and – the obvious flip-side – to also notice and comment on it when she’s doing XYZ to the standards that I want it done. Let her know that I’m paying attention. Let her know that XYZ – the task itself, the getting of it done, the standard to-which I hold the doer, and her being the person doing it – matters enough to me to watch and make sure it’s being done well.
In our case, all it takes is a comment.
In a different dynamic, you might be working with rewards (good doggie, here’s a biscuit) or punishments (Baby Girl is grounded!) that are more physical/concrete than verbal. YMMV.


On a related note: As the domme, if my girl’s protocol is “Walk on Ms Syren’s right,” then I have to make sure that there is space on my right for her to step into. If my girl’s protocol is “Carry the heavy stuff,” then if I’m the one packing up the groceries at the store, I need to remember to pass the bags to her before we leave.
Similarly, if your Pet’s protocol is “Bring mistress her morning paper,” then don’t be going and picking it up off the walk yourself. If Baby Girl’s protocol is “No TV until after dinner,” then Mommy needs to make sure that rule is obeyed, either through structuring the evening accordingly or through consequences for misbehaviour, or whatever.





So that was… fruitful. I think. 🙂


If anyone wants to weigh in on any of those questions, do please feel free to jump into the comments. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. 🙂


Ms Syren.