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First let Me say that in My perception of what umbrella the BDSM community covers
there are several things to include when talking about Protocol or Codes of Conduct.
BDSM, to Me, represents the entire SM/leather/fetish communities. Leather protocol
and codes of conduct can be very different than what you are actually looking for.
Leather protocols, in My opinion, refer mostly to the way the old motorcycle club,
gay leathermen, Old Guard, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) folk and
others handle protocol's.
Fetish Protocol refers to a just as varied group, which includes spanko's, rubber
enthusiasts, foot fetishists, etc...
SM protocol is what most people mean when they ask for BDSM or Leather protocols
and codes of conduct.
That is not to say that if you are interested in one of those other things that I am
against it. Rather, what I'm trying to say is that if you are interested in "Leather
Protocol" or "Leather Codes of Conduct", you won't find it here. Nor will you find
fetish protocols here. I live by SM protocols. So that is what I know and that is what I
will try to briefly touch on.
Sometimes people get into a belief that they are learning proper SM protocols because
they went to a Leather Protocol educational class. Then they come out feeling
alienated or confused, because I know I have, having been to many BDSM parties
over many years that were high protocol parties and yet I have never experienced a lot
of the things that I heard at a Leather Protocol educational course.
Now, please try and remember that this is not to be considered as all encompassing, or
even as gospel. It is meant as a general guide to making sure that when you attend a
BDSM play party or interact at a BDSM munch or with others that do WIITWD
(What it is that we do), you will at least have a little background and knowledge so
you don't feel like a fool, out of place or that you're going to embarrass yourself.
I have always considered WIITWD as BDSM and My involvement has been in the
BDSM scene, not just SM or Leather or Fetish, so that is the way I will relate this
page. I will also write from the Dominant's point of view, because that's what I am. I
won't try to explain every point of view from every politically correct angle, but this
can work for either male or female, Top or bottom. And although there is a difference,
I will use Top, Dominant and Master almost interchangeably, as well as submissive,
bottom and slave, for purposes of this article. I will also use the male form for the Top
and the female form for the bottom. Again, this is strictly for the sake of the article
and simplicity and is not to be mistaken for anyone thinking that I do not believe in or
agree with any other types of situations. And all of this information is My opinion and
should not be mistaken for legal, religious or medical advice.
Part of this material comes from other pages on this site, so you know it's not just deja
What's first?

When you first walk in to a BDSM gathering or get off the Internet and go to R/T
pursuits of your interest, things may seem a bit overwhelming for you, whether you're
a Top or a bottom. And the first question is, "How should I behave?"
Well, like in most real life situations, try honesty, sincerity and courtesy as a good
place to start. And be polite.
Is there more?
BDSM is, by definition, about procedures and protocol. Although there are no written
"SOP's" (because as varied as the population is, is as varied as the protocols may be),
there are several behaviors that are standards for the community.
Read and be familiar with the rules of the party You attend.
All play should be consensual.
Normal scene etiquette is a must (i.e., Do not interfere with a scene, do not invade
scene space, etc).
Do not touch another individual without first getting permission.
Do not touch another's toys or toy bags without first getting permission.
Even if you have permission to touch it, ask again before swinging, cracking or
popping it.
NEVER touch a collared person's collar!
Before talking to anyone wearing a collar, try to find their Dominant first, and ask His
Keep conversation, laughter and comments to a minimum in the play areas.
Do not monopolize the equipment.
Do NOT join a scene unless specifically asked to do so!
Clean up after your scene.
Honest, open and respectful negotiation is acceptable.
You are expected to know that other people might ask you to play. There is a wide
variety of play that is possible.
The person who asks is expected to be polite, and to respect the collar of anyone who
is collared, or to respect the relationships of other couples or leather families.
If you want to play with the person who asks, you are welcome to say, "Yes."
If you do not want to play with the other person, you are expected to say, "No."
If you do not want to play with the other person, but say, "Yes," or do not "safeword"
(if that is what is necessary to prevent unwanted play), then you have violated their
trust. If you ask someone to play, and they say, "No," you are expected to respect their
Safewords are considered part of normal scene etiquette.
Not all participants are open with their families and employers about their BDSM
involvement, sexual orientation or personal fetishes, so information about other
participants is not to be shared without the direct consent of the person in question.
Never take pictures without the consent of all parties involved.
Do not mention proper names or describe a person in such a way that their identity
may be determined, without consent of that person.
Never give out addresses of play parties except to your sponsored guests (with the
permission of the host)..
Never give out e-mail addresses without consent of that person.

Do not discuss ("out") the alternative activities or preferences of participants to any

person, organization or business not directly involved with the participant.
Is that all?
Who are you kidding! Besides for the above, there are many other rules of conduct or
normal scene etiquette and behavior that will enhance your chances of being accepted.
People that are usually held in the highest regard are not self-seeking. They are very
approachable and will usually welcome questions, so long as they are not in "High
Protocol" (specific rules used between consenting couples that tend to exclude them
from the crowd for a variety of reasons). Do not be embarrassed to ask questions, but
avoid asking them immediately preceding or following a scene or when they are
engaged in other conversation.
Consider that any BDSM gathering may be a chance for people who may or may not
practice protocols during "business hours" as a place where they can, so always be on
your best behavior, regardless of your perception of the mood and atmosphere.
Can I go now?
Almost. Sometimes you might find that there are quirks or intricacies that you don't
understand. Sometimes, people use varied protocols in dealing with their significant
other. Best friends might use different protocols with their respective submissive's and
still go out together.
Some of these variables include:
Being the driver verses having a chauffeur.
Chivalry verses chauvinism.
Polite verses demanding.
Micromanaging verses allowing plenty of leeway.
Controlling her diet verses putting her in charge of Yours.
Hand signals verses verbal commands.
Walking with her to your right and slightly behind you verses making her clear the
path by walking out in front.
Honorifics - The choice of what You want her to call You and other Dominants. From
the online "Master" and those that have no business using the term to the person who
has earned the title, "Master" for a skill or ability they have proved through the years,
to "Sir" or whatever else You want to be called.
As many people as there are is as many different protocols that you may find. What's
good for you and what you want to incorporate into your relationship is how You
decide Your personal protocols.
No one has ever gotten mad at another person for being polite. If you say, "Sir" or
"Ma'am" when you talk to other's, you're heading in the right direction. If you follow
normal scene etiquette for SM when in an SM atmosphere, you will do just fine. If
you are in a Leather atmosphere, find out what leather protocols are. If you are in a
special interest or fetish environment, use their protocols. If it is inappropriate,
someone will certainly tell you what protocol is being practiced. But if you stick to

SM events and use SM protocols, codes of conduct, rules of behavior or normal scene
etiquette, you will do just fine.
And don't mistake "Leather Protocol" with "SM Protocol". It can be confusing!