Sunday, April 6, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: No "Sir" For You

Ah, respect, one of those lovely buzzwords bandied about in the lifestyle as one of the great virtues of the kinkster. You’ve seen all the net doms, and possibly even a few in real life, demand respect from all the submittives ‘cause they’s “Dominate.” You’ve read all the endless arguments about whether respect is given or earned, although, that mess is typically a semantics war in which each side is usually using a different definition of respect than the opposing side. 

There’s also this constant back and forth over the use of honorifics. Noobs will pop in and ask if they’re supposed to call all the doms sir or ma’am. Some say no. Others say yes. Some have been bullied in private interactions for not offering the “proper respect” by “addressing dominants properly.” I just love the d-types out there who bitch that a sub or a slave isn’t talking to a d-type appropriately. 

The pearl-clutchy expressions of horror when a person admonishes everyone else with a nice “my master would kill me if I ever dared speak to other masters in such a way!” 

No! What will the masters think of us lowly swabes?

Okay, I’ve already established I’m not a protocol person, but I’m not some ill-mannered slob either. The key point here for me is, aside from my owner, I see everyone else as an equal, as far as the lifestyle goes. I submit to him. Everyone else is a peer. Pet/slave/sub/whatever is not a social status for me. It’s what I am in relation to my partner. I do not adjust my speech for dominants or submissives. I’m going to say what I’m going to say the way I want to without regard for your position in your own dynamics. 

I’ve never liked the word “sir.” It feels awkward in my mouth. I’ve never liked using it with my own d-types. I’ve never been much for addressing people at all. It doesn’t feel natural linguistically. I don’t typically address people by name or honorific simply because it’s just not part of my natural speech pattern. 

Prior to starting my current job, I did not use sir or ma’am at all. Despite being from the South, it was not something I was raised to do. I was never forced to call any elder family member ma’am or sir. I don’t think I’ve ever done it with my own parents. I don’t think I ever hear my parents use them either. I am required to use these words as a part of my job, however, so it’s become a habitual part of my “fake telephone operator” voice. I also find myself saying it in response to the food service worker on the other end of the intercom at the drive-through. 

I'd call him sir. But he's adorable. 

I will say, now that I’ve adopted a context in which I use the words, I make a conscious effort not to use them in a lifestyle setting, say at a kink party. Kinksters attach all this baggage to the words. I don't believe dominants are deserving of some special respect above common courtesy given to everyone. I feel using it would imply that I see a social distinction between our roles as dominant or submissive, which I don’t. I also feel that with some people, it might seem like I’m acknowledging that they have some authority over me, or that I see them as dominant to me. 

So, I just find it easier to not even go there. If people see me as disrespectful, they can take it up with me. I will explain that I am firmly in the “respect is earned” camp, because respect and courtesy are not synonymous in my book. 

Respect is: 
  • esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.

Which I cannot have for someone I know nothing about beyond how they choose to participate in their relationships. 

Respect is also: 
  • deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges.

And I certainly don’t think dominants have special rights or privileges or enjoy a privileged position. At least, not in relation to me. 

Now, am I uncivil or rude to d-types? No. I treat them like I would anyone else. I try to be nice and not be a bitch, although I am often incredibly socially awkward. 

Every. Single. Time.

So, if honorifics are your thing? Cool. Just don’t expect me or others to use them. If you haven’t decided yet, don’t let others convince you they are required. Because they aren’t. Make your own choice. Or, if you have a d-type, I suppose they could make that choice for you.

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