Mistress Devore shot by Danny Stygion
This article can be filed under “controversial” and “opinion” because it falls into both categories. You can also file it under “important,” because I think it is essential to objectively examine the practice of Dominants placing submissives “under their protection.” Although the “New Guard” has made the “protection racket” less ubiquitous, it still is around enough to be of concern, especially when used for less than idealistic purposes.
First, let’s define what “protection” (often called “mentoring”) means. In theory, it is where an experienced Dominant selflessly protects and guides a submissive. In practice, it ranges all the way from honorable, experienced Dom/mes showing newbies the ropes while protecting him/her from predators (best-case scenario), all the way to conniving Dom/mes using it as a way to quickly become the “de facto Dominant” without any of the responsibilities of a Master/Mistress (worst-case scenario.) Protection has no historical basis in BDSM; I cannot find reference to it in “Old Guard” lore or anywhere else. It appears to be an Internet-inspired phenomenon; many of our younger lifestylers have no idea what “protection” is and isn’t. Maybe this can help explain this practice when they encounter it.
In its ideal manifestation, protection has much to recommend it. An experienced Dominant is the perfect person to guide a newbie through the daunting maze that is BDSM. He/she can show the new submissive the ropes while also screening out potential predators who might seek to take advantage of the newbie’s newness. (That is either a neat phrase or totally lame!) But, life is rarely ideal. For example, let’s say the protector is tasked with screening potential Dom/mes for the submissive. The most experienced Dom/me is neither all-seeing nor all-knowing. I would be more comfortable if the job of the protector were to consult with the sub regarding potential Dom/mes rather than screen them unilaterally.
This practice is just begging to be abused. After all, who is protecting the submissive from the protector? Protection can turn out to be less a teacher/student relationship than a version of “Dom/sub light.” (Of course, if this is what the sub seeks, then this is fine.) And in this situation, the Dom/me is able to take a sub off the market quickly and become the sub’s sole support system. He/she quickly becomes the sub’s de-facto Dom/me – without any responsibilities.
As with any social system, there are bound to be abuses. So, let’s give newbies a few tips that can help them choose a protector/mentor, should they decide to pick one.
- Look for red flags. If the protector says, “Don’t go on the Internet…don’t talk to this Dom/me or that Dom/me…give me all your passwords…I will screen your friends…I will control all your money…I am your sole source of information, etc.” Any one of these, especially anything having to do with your money, is a big red flag. Even if you are into the new, faddish FinDom/me experience, be wary of anyone accessing your bank info – unless you literally want to chase down your Chase funds!
- Both of your agendas should match. See if your potential protector has a hidden agenda that is at odds with yours. Is his/her primary motivation your well-being or is there another aspect to it? Often married men, or Doms with alpha slaves, will use protection as a way of rapidly snapping up an exclusive play partner. If this is acceptable to you, this is fine; otherwise, be forewarned. Make sure both of your agendas match. This is probably the most important aspect when picking a protector.
- Check out the protector’s reputation. Ideally, you should have a “protector protector.” As this is not only silly but also impractical, don’t jump under someone’s protection until you check him/her out. If you meet your protector at a local dungeon, ask around (including other subs.) If you met online, find real time people who know him/her and ask! The keyword is “ask.”
- Use your “bullshit-detector.” Don’t simply rely on detective work and testimonials alone. Use your bullshit-detector. (If you don’t have one, they are on sale, this week only, at Wal-Mart!) Does your gut tell you the Dom/me is honorable or is he/she being deceptive? Honesty is everything if you plan to trust someone else with critical decisions. So, trust your instincts – your built-in “bullshit detector.”
- Don’t be desperate. Often the worst abuse comes when a submissive is at an emotional low point and seeks a “protector” to help sort things out. This is a very human need. However, if you are desperate, it might attract predator Dom/mes who can sense your situation. Search with purpose, not with desperation.
- Protector should not be making demands. Ideally, a protector should be there to help you learn or heal, and he/she should not be making demands or asking for control. Unless this is what you want, this should be a red flag.
- Don’t get bum-rushed. If your potential protector says, “Now,” this is another red flag. He/she can wait a week or two; the world won’t end. (Although when I watch the news, I am not so sure about that!) Use the time to check the protector out, find out about him/her and negotiate. Which brings us to…
- Negotiate. Just as you should negotiate a Dom/sub relationship, you should negotiate the rules of protection. Don’t leave it as a vague concept that basically gives the “protector” more influence in your life than even a Dom/me! Be specific – set hard limits and specify where the protector’s areas of control and/or protection begin and end. For example, many subs want a protector to be with them at BDSM events and parties, so they don’t attend alone. This could be where the protector’s duties begin and end. Or, there could be more. No matter what, the protector’s obligations and limits should be negotiated.
- Have fun. As I have stressed over and over again here on kinkweekly.com, BDSM should be fun. If your protector makes the whole process “un fun,” you are losing out. The last thing you need is to make BDSM a chore. (Unless, if course you enjoy not having fun. In which case, disregard this tip!)
Although the concept of protection is an admirable one, one should never forget that one must always be vigilant. Not paranoid, vigilant. I hope these tips will keep you on your toes and, should you seek out a protector, you will choose wisely!
About the Author
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.