Several years ago I was at a play party in a dungeon with someone who was really new to the scene. As we sat there observing everyone around us, our attention was turned to a young woman who walked in to the room. She was wearing a high collared, full length latex dress. Her hair was wrapped in a tight bun which accentuated her sharp facial features. She was carrying a toy bag and placed it in one of the play stations with a serious look on her face.
My companion leaned over and whispered, “Is she the Domme?” Her assumption, of course, was based on how this woman was dressed and her overall look. I, however, not knowing this woman at the time – pulled my assumption that she was actually a submissive based on the fact that she was carrying the toy bag. Sure enough when her scene began with her Mistress it was she that removed her latex dress and was attached to the cross. My friend was surprised that I was correct. How did I come to the conclusion she was, in fact, the submissive? Because I had that bit of knowledge regarding traditional protocol that the sub carries the toy bag and sets the play space to his/her Dominant’s specifications.
It was nice to be able to take a cue like that and interpret it correctly. There are many traditions and protocol cues that have faded over the years. Things you could look for on a collar that indicated a submissive’s availability, for example. A Dominant staying clothed while the submissive strips down to what their Dom’s preference is. Of course, the flip side to this is that traditional protocols also become expectations. While I like traditions and wish many of them would come back into the general kink community, I also appreciate the Dominants desire to not have expectations set on them.
I admire and respect the Dominant who does what they please, or what makes them comfortable, because they’re the Dom and it’s their prerogative! This kind of “quiet confidence” is something I appreciate. Not having anything to prove. If they want to get naked for a scene then they will and don’t expect to be judged for it, yet even if others judge them they don’t care. This is at least one core trait of a Dom, no? Yet, even if there’s no judgement, I may assume that Dom is a sub or perhaps a service Top just based on my knowledge of the tradition that Doms stay clothed.
There is value in both tradition and this “next gen” way of thinking. There is a comfort rooted in the “old way”, being able to take cues and actually make assumptions based on them that are correct. Yet it is also important not to get stuck. To allow for growth and for traditions to change as the times change and we get new generations of kinksters that are paving the way for the future of this community.
Yet, I gotta say, I enjoy the old traditions and hate to see them fade out. So where is the balance? Can there be a balance or do we slowly move from old tradition to new?
Tell me what you think!
Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.