MEMBER OPINION: When to use Sir

MEMBER OPINION: When to use Sir

from Recon News

24 February 2021

By TankTop

RuffTankTop has been on the scene since 1991 when (true story) members of a California S&M sex-cult consensually tried to open up his ass and, to the surprise of everyone involved, uncovered he was a dominant top. He has fucked around in every cruise park, backroom, and kink party he's walked past in about a dozen countries, preferring to strip down to only boots and fur to get to business. His core values in kink are consent, grace, and fully committing to the scene.

When should I call someone Sir?

I only have a thousand words here, so bottom line: when you both feel like it.
No, but I mean, I don't want to fuck up when around kink and I notice some guys have Sir in their handle and I do not want to do this wrong.
You call them sir when you both feel like it and only then.

But I might be rude if I don't. And what about Master? When do I call someone Master? When will I be called Master?

Look, I am assuming a kink context here. And in a kink context, which is very much outside of our regular world we move in, what you call someone—be it sir, boy, hey bitch!, master, you piece of shit—is all as much a negotiation as who is going to get tied up, if at all, and who will be licking what. Thus, it is subject to the same rules: they require communication and consent, and you get to not consent.

So, titles are about sex?

It's about respect and power dynamics and flirting, and you can choose to set those up or tear them down as much as it works for you both, even when just hanging out. But be aware that using the right language is the price of admission to play for some people: some dominants like me will not want to play with you if you do not show verbal respect, some submissives may not ever get in the right mindspace if you don't continually demean them. We all get to define what we like and need in kink encounters, but what we don't get to do is impose it. It has to be a match.

And that's what I mean with "when you both feel like it." If it works for you and this person to call them 'lord emperor supreme', do it. If it doesn't, don't, but realise it may mean you don't get to play with them.

But I read about the Old Guard protocol in which—

Yeah, let me stop you right there. Whether Old Guard existed or is only a telling of a fictitious bygone culture in California, kink is now a global phenomenon that is both made universal by travel and the Internet and very local by the fact that us kinksters live and fuck in our local cultures. I can tell you Dutch has no good equivalent for sir so now some Dutch kinksters have imported that word directly, and meanwhile Spanish has to deal with negotiating to use formal or informal language between a dom and their sub. You are in the real world and have to navigate its ambiguities. There are no hard rules.

Any basics then? Anything?

Get consent. Before using respectful language for dominants or trashy language for submissives, make sure:

1. It's in a kink context. If the people around you, the bystanders, have not consented to power-exchange language, you do not subject them to it any more than we walk around with subs on leashes on the Saturday supermarket run. Like all kink symbolism, even this language alone can be intensely disturbing for some people who have histories of abuse, or are refugees of war and torture, or formerly incarcerated. Just make sure everyone who could overhear has consented by only using this language in private, in kink spaces that have implied consent, or soft and sexy enough to not be overheard but still give your dom a dripping boner in that Tesco.
2. You got permission from the people you are using this language with, especially subs. Just assuming you can berate and demean someone without feeling that out first is the quickest way to have a sub share the screenshots of your arrogant-ass DMs on their kink WhatsApp group.
Get consent from everyone individually? Who has the time?

Well, it doesn't always need to be an explicit conversation. There's a lot you can observe: what they write, how they behave, how others behave around them. If a person is explicit in their profile about what language they want, and it works for you, go for it. In person, ask, or watch how others interact with them. And if someone calls you sir, you probably can use boy in return, but you will want to sometimes verify that; for example, boy can be very loaded for people of colour because of how the word has been historically used to enforce white supremacy.

Context matters a lot: you are less likely to misfire on recon or in a leather bar than on Scruff or a coffee shop. In kink environments sir, boss, and boy are pretty much safe—if not outright flirty—except for the few people for which they really are not, so prepare to sometimes get pushback if you do not ask first.

But pushback is a great way to see whether a person has grace about this whole kink thing. If you call someone sir who absolutely hates that (military veterans can have complicated relationships with that word since they were forced to use it for every idiot with a few more stripes than them), it is a real eye-opener to see how they deal. Are they dicks about it? Are they nice about the fact that you wanted to show respect? Do they fly off the handle? And does their attitude work for you?

Is a submissive polite or friendly or forgiving if the language you use is too demeaning? Are they very quickly insulted? Does that work for you?

What about capitalisation?

Oh, that minefield. Again, check their profile, see how they spell it, copy that. You'll generally want to capitalise the first letter in Sir or Boss. I tell boys to write SIR when they write to me just so I can see if they can follow detailed orders they may not fully like, but that's just me. I'm an arrogant dick that way.

Thank you, SIR.

You're welcome, boy.

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