The West Wing Perspective on Protocols:
Intent and Practice
To clarify my terms:
There may be some confusion as to what a Protocol is- I would
first like to point out what a protocol is not. Protocol is not
ritual, although it may contain ritual elements.
Ritual is a behavior, repeated by situation or on demand. The
purpose of ritual is the ritual itself, and the feelings it
creates in the submissive and/or the dominant. It typically does
not vary normally the perfection of the ritual is its own goal.
Protocol is not etiquette, although it may overlap in
its teaching and intent.
Etiquette is proper self expression, a refined and
specialized form of communication – the ability to communicate
to others in a fashion which the Dominant finds pleasing and
appropriate. The scope of the absolute importance of proper
etiquette and good manners is beyond the scope of this article,
but I’m sure to address the West Wing perspective on that in
time. (Actually, its inevitable.)
Protocol is not merely the following of orders, or the
anticipation of desire. Although it reinforces such things.
Protocol rules are the guidelines which the strong willed and
intelligent submissive uses to make decisions in the best
interests of her Dominant. It is a structure outlining
appropriate behavior and action. It is a set of rules which
illustrate the Dominants desires, needs and priorities. A
well-structured Protocol allows confidence on the part of the
submissive and the Dominant, and helps take D/S outside the
bedroom and into everyday life.
The first and toughest question of designing a Protocol is
"What do you want?"
Tougher than it looks. (At least, it was for me.) Took some
My concept of dominance is a 24/7 structure. However, I have
little interest in moment to moment micro-managing, repeating
myself, or servants without initiative, drive or backbone. A
proper structure is part of the answer. I applied the Old Guard
concept of three degrees of Protocol: Low (3rd), Middle (2nd)
and High (1st). Low and Middle have a Formal and Informal form,
to increase its versatility
For day to day life, I wish servants in my service to be able
to interact normally with the rest of the world, and to some
extent, with me. There are too many real world uses for a
competent representative to cripple their social effectiveness
with burdensome rituals. This does not change the status of
their service to me, nor does it strip them of the reminders of
their service that are often so important to them but it does
demand that such rituals are subtle, and often invisible to the
world at large.
So, when designing that structure, I had to decide what I
wanted it to teach:
- A continuous reminder of service and its
- Permitted casual behavior, yet with specific
- Recognition of station, orders, demands and requests
in an invisible and unobtrusive fashion.
- Behavior which reflects my intentions and desired
interaction on a personal and professional level
- Awareness of accountability, despite the temptations
offered by casual behavior and independence.
Low Protocol is often the most difficult to master for the
trainee, because it offers many of the illusions, comforts and
distractions of freedom, yet accountability and responsibility
does not end during these times. It has the least moment to
moment guidance, and often the greatest margin for error.
Most often used in public scene clubs and play situations, I
need to change the degree of focus and priorities of the servant
in question. It is perhaps the most classical of my Protocols,
one that people would most easily identify as BDSM. Considered a
"Performance" Protocol, I needed it to teach the servant how to:
- Prioritize decisions in the appropriate context
- The time and place for degrees of casual behavior
- Consistent ground rules of action and responsibility
- Awareness and anticipation of my needs, wants, and
desires- and those of other respected Dominants in my
company as a priority
- Focus on BDSM priorities, no matter how long or
strenuous the time spent in Middle Protocol
Most BDSM activities are executed in this form but it is
merely another facet of the structure. Service, authority and
accountability do not diminish when someone is eased down from
Middle to Low Only the expression of it. There is no "Off Time"
The expectations and requirements of High Protocol are most
- Complete attention and focus, no matter what the
- Absolute and instantaneous obedience, without delay,
hesitation or question.
- Decision-making and priorities are NOT part of High
Protocol; the servants wants, needs and desires are
- All extraneous movement, speech, and thought are
unacceptable. If First Protocol is in effect, concentration
- Awareness that every move, answer and behavior is
being carefully scrutinized and judged.
Normally, my High Protocol is used for short periods for
instruction or amusement, or longer periods for punishment
Each of the Protocols has its own codex of speech, posture,
and behavior, but I am not going to list them here. I do not
wish to distract from the purpose of Protocol with the
details of my particular preferences and fetishes.
These guidelines are in effect even when I am not present. In
fact, that is very much the purpose of them. If one of my
servants is out shopping, she is naturally in Low Protocol. If
she runs into a respected dominant of my acquaintance, her
Protocol becomes Low Formal. If that dominant takes her home to
work or serve, she will step up to Middle because she knows that
is appropriate behavior. If that Dominant becomes angry or
requires absolute attention, she will step up to High Protocol
until released down to a lower one.
With further education, I can (And have) send that same
servant to that same dominant with instructions, which quickly
and simply dictate my expectations of her behavior:
"Middle Informal, speech in Low Formal, and if he makes
sexual use of you, up to High so he does not have to concern
himself with your opinions or preferences. If he chooses to, he
can take you down from there."
The West Wing has five guidelines which carry through ALL the
protocols, ideas that I expect a servant to keep constantly in
mind at all times. No matter what the situation, these rules
- Good Manners are always appropriate
- Gratitude is always appropriate
- Acknowledge a request, order or mistake
- When in doubt, Ask. When in need, Request.
- Maximum amount of information, minimum amount of
words. (Ken’s Law)
Understanding of these guidelines, combined with a working
knowledge of the protocols allows me great confidence in my
servant, for I know that I will be represented well. Protocol
can be changed by order or by situation, and allows a servant to
never be without guidance and never be lost as to what her
priorities and responsibilities are.
Be Very Polite