Protocol can be a wonderful thing that really enhances our experience in different areas of life. While it can be called many things, the term that is most often used is "traditions". Many organization and individuals adhere to different traditions. It is a way to remain in touch with the past, promote ritual, and foster an atmosphere of comfort. However, I see a downside to protocol especially in the BDSM world.
Protocol is a form of Dogma
Personally, I am one who detests dogma, especially when it is blindly swallowed as fact. Individuals and institutions have used this single mechanism as a means to control and enslave people throughout the centuries. The powerful manipulate it as a means of instilling their beliefs upon others. One only needs to look down through the ages to see how this was accomplished.
The main problem with dogma is that it suppresses individual thought. People who blindly adhere do not take the time to inquire as to the validity of the beliefs they hold to be true. Obedience is the main virtue and those who stray from the norm are ostracized. Being a free thinker leads on to living as an outcast. Fortunately, for the powerful, these people are few in numbers. Most blindly follow the dogma being delivered without question.
Protocol in the BDSM World
Obedience and control are words that are often used in the BDSM world and it would make sense that including something that fosters this is helpful. However, my feeling is that before one is obedient and controlled, he or she needs to be aware of what is going on. Dogma does not offer this option. When one is "forced" to adhere to what is presented without any thought as to its practicality or benefit, that is when one is in a dangerous position. Safety is something we are always concerned about and few realize the peril that goes along with turning beliefs over to another.
Therefore, it is beneficial to be mindful of what protocols we have and how we adhere to them. Are they a bad thing? Not necessarily as long as those who are partaking keep them in the proper perspective.
For example, there are all kinds of protocols as to how a sub should address a dominant. Many people take this very seriously and are highly offended if someone does not show them the proper respect. To me, this shows an extreme insecurity on the part of the dominant. Why would someone get offended if someone did not show the proper respect, especially online? My only conclusion is that individual has tied a lot of his/her esteem into the title or position that was created in the mind. The truth is people behave in many different ways and if one ties his/her worth to how others interact, it is going to be a depressing existence.
Another point that I want to make is in the area of laziness. Protocol is helpful in that it offers a structure of how to proceed. We see this in the BDSM world with the Gorean philosophy. There are many protocols which were written that can be helpful as an outline of how to interact with others. However, I feel the danger lies in focusing too much upon the protocol to the point where one, namely the dominant, becomes lazy and indecisive. There are many instances in life where the works of John Norman simply do not offer answers. Each relationship is different and based upon the individuals involved. To claim there is a certain way to do things in all instances is harmful and dangerous. A dominant is responsible for determining the direction of the relationship at all time. Good decisions making skills are crucial. In my opinion, those who rely completely upon pre-written protocol are weakened. They lose the ability to be creative, decisive, and confident.
And this is where protocol can become a weakness.
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