Protectors – Are they a good thing?

First things first: this is not about your kink. Your kink is OK (as long as it’s not inflicted on anyone who doesn’t want to participate), whatever it might be. If your kink involves you as either the fragile, special treasure in need of guardianship, or the noble warrior shielding your delicate beloved from all harm, then that’s fine: find a compatible playmate and enjoy.

The idea currently gaining too much traction: that newcomers to the scene need a ‘protector’, though – that’s stupid, harmful bullshit. Here’s everything that’s wrong with the concept.

Protector – or predator?

A lot of self-titled protectors are the sort of people you want protecting FROM, not BY. Probably the least-worst scenario is that they are losers who no one else takes seriously, and they want to boost their own egos by convincing the inexperienced that they are all-wise-and all-powerful. They may straightforwardly want to get into your pants and think the way to do this is to deter you from copping off with anyone else while pretending to be your impartial friend. Or they may be genuinely dangerous, abusive people whose intention is to isolate you from others so they can take advantage of you.

Gender issues

It’s a very sexist, heteronormative thing. Generations of feminists did not spend years fighting so that their successors could be convinced they are incapable of interacting with the wider world without a male owner. You don’t get many (let’s make that ‘absolutely fuck all’) incidents of people rushing to ‘protect’ the elderly submissive male newbie, no matter how shy and nervous he might be. Many women find – and hugely resent – that men will back off from pestering them with unwanted attention only if they claim to be the property of another man, and this isn’t a concept anyone should want to encourage. Your ‘no’ should be enough.

Perverts are just people

Online dating and socialising are no more inherently dangerous if you are kinky than if you are vanilla. The list of reasonable precautions to take are quite widely known and anyone who tries to overrule them is waving a big red flag you would have to be pretty short-sighted to miss. (For clarity, here they are: always meet in a public place, the first time, and make your own way there, with enough money to get home again. If you don’t feel comfortable and safe with the other person while you are in public and fully dressed, do NOT go somewhere more private with this person.)

Choose for yourself

You have the right to choose who you date, play with, talk to or begin a relationship with. It’s no one else’s business. It’s not good for you to expect – or allow – someone else to have power of veto over your friendships and social interactions, once you are a functional adult. You may well make a few mistakes in your early days but, unless you are very unlucky, they will be survivable and will help you calibrate your own asshat detector.

There’s no kinky escalator

The whole idea of protectors feeds into the incorrect and tiresome idea that exploring BDSM means you aspire towards a D/s relationship and must progress towards it by completing set stages. Kinky sex is not a fucking video game, and it’s fine to take the things you want and ignore the things you don’t. Always remember that it’s supposed to be fun: it’s not a magical quest, nor a religious cult.

Help is out there

If you are subjected to unwanted attentions at a kinky social event, there are staff there to help you out and enforce house rules, which will always include a requirement that people do not pester one another. Unwanted attentions online can either be blocked or, if persistent or exceptionally nasty, reported to the owners/moderators of the site in question.

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If you are shy, nervous, young and a newcomer, you still don’t need a ‘protector’: you need friends. Just as you would if you moved to a new town or took up a new job. To an extent, you can make a few friends online before you go to your first event, although it’s worth bearing in mind that ‘on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog’ and people may not be what they seem.

Also, do remember that there was a fetish scene before there was an internet, and if those of us who remember those days consider ourselves tougher and smarter than the youngsters, because we had to be tough and smart, we may not be entirely wrong. What we did was go out, take a few deep breaths, and do our best to make a range friends among the people we met, even when we were on the pull. Some of the people we made friends with were amusing but would never have one’s back in a ruck, some were deeply loyal, some gave good advice; most were at least interesting.

Pick friends you like and feel comfortable with, but do try to make sure that those friends are a mixture of tops, bottoms and switches, of all genders. Get to know people who are nice but who you don’t particularly want to play with, and maybe a few that you do. If you are, or identify as, female/submissive, it’s a really good and important idea to include some other female submissives among your new friends.

There are lots of different ways of doing kink, even for submissive/masochistic types, and the more varied the information you acquire, the better equipped you are to work out what suits you and reject the stuff you don’t fancy at all. Most people are more than willing to welcome new friends into their lives, after all.

Unless it actually forms a huge part of your kinky fantasies, being ‘protected’ is probably going to shut you off from all kinds of potentially interesting experiences. And, if you are particularly unlucky, a self-appointed protector may expect all kinds of displays of gratitude that you may not be remotely willing to give.

Written by Zak Jane Keir

I write pretty much everything as Zak Jane Keir, my website is www.dirtysexywords.com or find me on twitter at @decadentmadamez.