The New Face of Leather – On Protocols and Respect

So in the last few months, the subject of protocols has come up time and time again. Sometimes it is in an effort to understand what protocols are and how they are applied, sometimes it is from those who would like to find out how to incorporate new protocols, and other times it is from
those who have a negative opinion regarding protocols in the first place.
It can be rather interesting observing the way people act and react in regards to protocols. And it is troubling the way that people, on both sides of the protocol coin, can act with such blatant disrespect towards someone simply because they don’t share the same view as someone else.
Me, personally, I am a fan of most protocols. I find them not only interesting and fun, but I find them comforting. They make sense for me. Always have. But I don’t agree with ALL protocols. There are some protocols which I would never incorporate into my life/relationships, nor would I be involved with someone who did. Because they don’t work for me.
That doesn’t make them wrong, or bad, or “stupid” or “silly.” It simply means it’s not something I would adopt.
Conversely, someone who chooses not to adopt the protocols I have, or any protocols at all, except in extreme cases, that is perfectly acceptable as well. To call those individuals “stupid” or “silly” or suggest that they are not “real” is ridiculous. I will admit, I may not understand it, but that doesn’t mean those individuals are inherently “wrong.” Just means they look at things differently than I do.
Many will proclaim “YKINMK” (Your Kink Is Not My Kink) but that’s not really the case. Because these same people who will say these things publicly will privately try to chastise people who practice differently than themselves. If you truly uphold YKINMK, then questioning why someone is doing something (not in the way that is informational) runs counter to the spirit of that which you claim to support.
Nevertheless, even within the lifestyle, many different people have many different versions of protocols. Despite what some may claim, there is no universal protocols, aside from don’t kill someone. Even things like “no means no” or “don’t out people” are subject to interpretation.
Protocols for people involved in M/s, D/s, BDSM, spankers, Goreans, poly folks, etc., it’s all different. And it can all be confusing.
So it boils down something that seems to be difficult for some, but the reality is that it is very simple.
When in doubt, ask.
If you don’t like the answer you get, then maybe that isn’t for you. But just because we don’t like a certain set of protocols someone else adheres to gives us cause to be disrespectful, condescending or even rude to those that do.
Whether we like it or not, whatever dynamic we participate in, we are all a part of the same community. But within that community there are differences. For me, I think those differences should be celebrated. I may not like all of them and I sure as hell won’t participate in some of them, but if it works for someone, then great.
At the end of the day, protocols for me are akin to respect. And despite what some will say, people DO want to be treated with respect. But if you cannot offer respect, don’t expect to get any in return.
(Note — I originally posted this on my FetLife blog. To read some very interesting comments and responses, please go here —