Submissive Etiquette in Formal Training
(Original article from http://kinktoychest.com/index.php/castle-realm-archives/95)
There seems to be a great deal of interest in "formal training" as defined in the D/s lifestyle, and until recently many of the things taught were not openly discussed outside the "inner circle" of this ancient sect. The Oriental Society was always known for its traditions and secrecy, so only a privileged few ever received the benefits of this kind of training. It would take writing a book to cover all the subtleties and rules a submissive is taught during training, but I'll attempt to cover a few of the most basic things.
It is very important that you first understand the terms used in this article, so I would suggest reading Master, Mentor, Trainer, Protector by Master John, in the Castle Realm Library. So many of the terms you hear in current use are not used properly in the classic sense and this article does a very good job of explaining them. I will be using the terms "trainer" and "charge" in this text as accepted in the Oriental style of training. A trainer is just what it sounds like: one who trains. A trainer can be a dominant who has taken on the responsibility of teaching new submissives or it can be an older, experienced submissive who has been taught how to mold new charges into well-behaved members of the Society. In most cases, it will be a dominant filling this role. A charge is a submissive who is under the ownership, care or training of another. This term applies to everything from collared slaves to new submissives in training, but you hear it most often used to describe to a sub who is unowned but under the supervision of a more dominant member. This charge is part of a learning relationship, usually involving a contract. The contract should cover the rights of the charge and the expectations of the trainer as well as the length of time this relationship is to remain in force. For some, the training period may be brief with limited rights being surrendered. For others, it's a very intense period where all rights, other than sexual ones, are surrendered to the trainer by the submissive.
Guidelines for Trainer/Charge
I think it is very important for all of you to understand the guidelines that follow are based on a trainer/charge perspective. A submissive being trained by her/his Master/Mistress usually has a very different experience because of the degree of intimacy between Master/sub. A trainer is not training the charge for his/her own pleasures, but is preparing the submissive for the day when they will find the dominant to whom they will belong. It is their duty to give their charge proper guidelines of behavior and introduce them to the different aspects of life as a submissive.
Why Structured Training is Beneficial
A submissive must learn to follow instructions carefully and accept the control of another. This process is a learned one and begins in the mind. We keep hearing about physical training but the most important training is mental. I have to question any trainer who uses physical intimacy during training. This was forbidden in the circles I knew and for good reason. A new submissive is very vulnerable and easily misled. To take advantage of this delicate state was viewed in the same light as child molesting or rape. A trainer does not need to have sex with a charge any more than an Algebra teacher needs to have sex with one of his/her students. One of the things that aids submissives in learning to adjust to the idea of relinquishing some of her/his personal power is having a framework of expectations set up to follow. It's like having an owner's manual. "If this happens I'm supposed to do this or that." This eliminates one of the most common reasons a submissive fails to please her/his Master/Mistress: lack of knowledge about what they were expected to do in a given situation. I found it very comforting to know exactly what I was supposed to do and how to communicate my discomfort when I encountered something that I wasn't prepared to handle.A submissive must learn to change their way of thinking and alter their own reactions to what someone else has determined they should be. It's a gradual process and one that takes constant reinforcement. How far this reinforcement goes and to what degree the training reaches should always be worked out in the contract between trainer and charge. Following a set of guidelines, such as etiquette rules, provides the reinforcement needed in building these desired responses and new thinking patterns.Another reason that formalities are so desirable to many of us is the grace and beautify that evolves in this kind of training. The submissive becomes aware of the importance of every movement and gesture not only in themselves, but also in those of the one training them. This will become very important when the submissive forms a bond with the One who will become Master or Mistress. The Oriental style is also one of poise and elegance that gives a deep sense of peace to those who embrace its subtleties.
A Few Basics
Now that I've explained "why" formal etiquette is important from my viewpoint, I'd like to begin with some of the basics
When and how does a submissive speak during formal training and in formal situations?In training, a submissive is not permitted to speak unless given permission to do so by their trainer. There is NO chatter, giggling, questioning or small talk. Speaking is a privilege and you'll learn that very quickly. If asked a question, you will make a clear reply and keep a soft tone in the voice at all times. The tone of voice is very important and is always stressed. If the charge is asked a question and the answer is "yes," then it should be expressed as "Yes, Sir or Ma'am." If the answer is "no," then an explanation must be given. "No, Sir or Ma'am" is not acceptable when asked to do something. An explanation of why you are not able to do as requested is expected. An example would be "No, Sir. I cannot do that because , Sir."When asking permission for something the sentence must begin with "Sir" or "Ma'am" and end with it as well. Example would be "Sir, may I be excused to attend personal needs, Sir?" Any failure to express this properly usually ends in the request being ignored and the same request cannot be repeated. You'll only make that mistake once when asking to go to the bathroom.Only when the trainer "wants" you to speak should you verbalize. If you feel you need to express a concern, explanation, or ask questions then you must ask permission to speak freely. "Sir, I have a question, Sir. May I speak freely, Sir?" A gesture or facial expression should have been given to you in order to open this path of communication. In my training it was a puzzled look and a slight tilt of my head. This made my trainer aware that I needed to communicate something or was unsure of what to do next. A good trainer/dominant will provide and recognize such signals from their charge and give permission for them to speak. They will also provide a time for open discussion where the submissive is given an opportunity to express freely any concerns they might have. For me, this period came at the end of the day when we would discuss any problems or successes.
2. EYE CONTACT AND BODY LANGUAGE.
What, when and where things are proper.A charge does not make eye contact with any dominant other than the one in charge of them. Eyes are kept downward or directed away from any other dominant they've encountered. When entering the presence of your trainer the eyes are kept downward until you are spoken to. When kneeling to greet the trainer the head and eyes are kept lowered until recognition is given.Eye contact is reserved for questioning, showing discomfort, pleading, expressing a need for assistance or reassurance. It is also acceptable when the submissive needs to express their pleasure for a gesture given from the trainer.A submissive is not permitted to draw attention to themselves by excessive body movements such as tossing the head or hair, shifting positions while kneeling, moving hands or feet or, in general, doing anything that is distracting. Any movements are expected to be graceful and based on modesty and control. Anything that brings unwanted attention to the submissive is frowned upon. Pulling back the shoulders to draw attention to the breasts is one of these things. One thing I see online that just cracks me up is curtseying. This would not be permitted in a formal setting. In fact, I've never seen it done other than online.
BODY LANGUAGE. What is expected and why.
(a) Kneeling is done facing the trainer, never another dominant. Thighs are kept modestly together, head slightly bowed, eyes down. Parted thighs are done only for ones Master/Mistress.
(b) Arms are never allowed to be crossed over the body when in the presence of the dominant unless directed to do so. Arms closed or crossed over the body shows resistance and disrespect.
(c) Hands are to be kept open; closed fists are never permitted. Open hands are a sign of surrender and openness.
(d) The angle of the tilt of your head is never to exceed that of the trainer. A higher tilt would indicate you having a superior attitude.
(e) Lips are to be kept slightly parted and relaxed. They are never tightly closed because this doesn't not indicate openness.
(f) The head must be turned toward the trainer when speaking or listening. This shows attentiveness.
(g) The back is always kept straight because slouching or slumping is a sign of disrespect and lack of esteem for self and trainer.
(h) A laugh or smile must be given looking at the trainer and never while looking down. Looking at the floor and smiling would be view as mocking or having a secret joke at the trainer's expense. I was told that a smile was a gift from a submissive and should be offered to the dominant, not thrown on the floor.
3. SUBMISSIVE'S ATTENDANCE AT FORMAL SOCIAL GATHERINGS.
An unescorted submissive is not welcome in most formal social gatherings. If it is necessary for her/him to attend without trainer/dominant, then a protector will be appointed to oversee them during the function. A protector is one who looks after the charge in the absence of trainer or owner. A lone submissive showing up at a formal affair is pretty much like the neighbor's kids or dog showing up at your backyard cookout. It's not usually a welcome event.When a protector has been appointed, the submissive is to show them the same respect as trainer/dominant would receive. The protector is held responsible for the submissive's well-being and safety and also made accountable for any improper behavior from the submissive. It will be this protector that any other dominant must address concerning any wrong-doing on the submissive's part. They are also required to report to the trainer/dominant on the charge's failures/successes.A submissive is permitted to attend informal events without a protector if the trainer has granted this privilege. The standard usually expects the submissive to be in the company of other submissives rather than attend alone.
A complete guide to submissive etiquette would take hours to cover and there are many variations. Each trainer may have their own set of standards, depending on their own training background. These basics are the ones you're most likely to see in any formal D/s community. Again, this is only a guide, a foundation from which to start. Once in a committed relationship, your master/mistress will modify them according to their desires. When a relationship between Dominant/submissive takes place the rules do change somewhat. For the first time the training and etiquette guidelines will include physical intimacy. In the formal definition of "trainer" there is no intimate sexual contact with the submissive, in spite of what you hear on IRC.I hope this gave you some insight into what formal training consists of for many of us. It's a wonderful time of learning and growing and the benefits will last a lifetime. The things you learn can be carried into all areas of your life to give you grace and confidence. After all, many of the rules are common courtesy and simple good manners.