To Sir or Not To Sir

That Is The Question

Author: Bob Harris ©

used with permission. This article was originally written for the section of Gloria Brame's website called "Perspectives Of A Male Submissive".


As submissives, we are expected to be courteous and respectful when in the presence of a dominant. This is considered the basic, proper submissive behavior no matter what protocol you follow. It's even considered basic, at least during play sessions, by those who do not follow any other rules or protocols of SM.

Generally, always addressing every dominant as Sir or Ma'am, is considered a basic part of being courteous and respectful. But is it really? Some doms, especially those who are not educated in any particular protocol style (the polite and courteous way of saying they haven't taken the time to learn), or who don t even know that other protocols exist (the courteous and polite way of saying dom wannabe's), will tell you they expect to be addressed that way all the time. They expect, and sometimes demand, every submissive to address them as such from the very onset of being introduced. Doesn't matter if they deserve it or not. Doesn't matter that they have no idea what it stands for: they still expect it.

Deserve it? Isn't a dominant supposed to actually have to earn the right to be treated respectfully? Actually, yes. Even in the supposedly stoic, protocol-laden Old Guard," a submissive was not expected to automatically refer to every dominant as Sir. Only those who had proven themselves to the Community as a whole, over time, to be honorable, trustworthy, skilled practitioners of the SM arts, were awarded the honor.

Not that it is particularly wrong to always use the terms. For some of us, it is just a natural extension of what is considered to be good manners in any situation, lifestyle-related or not. Consistent use of the terms, especially in public settings, along with proper appearance and general attitude, can be a useful tool for an unattached sub trying to catch the eye of a skilled dom.

However, there are certain precautions you need to keep in mind. As we are all too well aware, in public forums, especially leather bars, the numbers of those who know nothing about our lifestyle except what they have seen or read in some porno flick or erotic story, far outweighs those of us who have chosen this as part of our lives. Referring to one of these dress-ups as Sir/Ma am, feeds into their fantasy image. Sometimes, they can respond in a way that makes them appear to be that ideal Leather Master/Mistress of our own fantasies. They appear to be-- that is, until a situation finally comes along and we find out it was all just a game. Hopefully that happens before they get you into some dangerous situation, or worse, cause physical injury. Luckily, most of us catch on long before this happens.

But what about a new sub who isn't quite so street-wise? What if they are aware of you, know that you are an actual participant in the lifestyle, and even though you are completely unaware of their existence, are watching you in hopes of learning how to be a proper submissive? What if they hear you refer to someone you don't know as "Sir" or "Ma'am"--someone you can't say for sure knows anything at all about being a leather top, much less being a dominant?

What if they then assume--from your use of those terms -- that this person is trustworthy? How will you feel if you find out that a new sub went with that person--based on the assumption that they must be okay since you called them Sir/Ma'am -- and then wound up getting seriously injured?

Worse yet, what if you know that person is unsafe but still call them Sir/Ma'am? By your doing so you give them credibility as dominants and put a lot of others at risk of being injured by them.

Be careful. You never know who is watching you. You never know who is looking to you to help them learn how a submissive is expected to behave by a real dominant. And most of all, you never know who is watching you and relying on how you interact with a dominant to determine if they should trust them or not.






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