Protecting and Mentoring Our Own

In the past decade, a thing has blossomed up in a variety of kink communities called “protecting.” Scanning internet profiles there are notes that say “protected by NastyMaster844” or “protecting NastySlave844,” that indicate to me as the viewer some sort, of well, protecting.

What are these individuals being protected from? Are there flying bullets that a bodyguard can step in front of, or swords swung that an errant knight can somehow save you? In some cases, the answer is that the individual being protected is being saved from themselves – well-intentioned beginners or passionate perverts who have a habit of jumping into everything head-first without testing the waters in advance. When those incidences are in play, all hail the protectors. All hail those who say “be warned, I might seem like I am getting up in their business, but we’re all going to be better off for it.” Praise them both from the standpoint of the individual who does not have to wake up in the morning having made yet another bad decision, and from the voice of those who have to get painted as the bad guy for having “made” someone do something they had not thought through. Or, as the community leader who has to pick through all the rubble, debating if that head-first guest is a good fit for our events due to the trail they leave behind them.

Are they being protected from a specific past partner or other community member? Perhaps there is some sort of bullying happening. In which case there is a bigger issue at play within that community that needs addressed… but in some cases, having a “bigger” dog standing in front of the “littler” dog can make a difference. “Bigger” has nothing to do with dominant or submissive, master or slave, leftie or rightie, fish or fowl. Bigger, in this case, is about some sort of known quantity that has a character trait that communicate the status which will matter in the specific situation. If a person who is being “protected” is new, having an experienced community member as that protector may state “I may be new, but I am in good hands.” If the person has not been welcome in some segment of the population, having an entire group/family/house say they are protecting them says “whatever y’all think, we stand by them and think they are awesome.”

If it is something romantic, sexy or connecting between two, three or a group of people to say they are protecting each other, that is a beautiful thing. If it is a way to describe a specific relationship construct, such as a “guard dog”, awesome. But otherwise, let’s pause and consider how much danger we experience in our life, in our communities, from our peers. For new voices, there can be a fear that if you go to a party, you might be kidnapped, forced into sexual slavery, and be stored under a bed in a box. Or… that might be your fantasy. Either way, having someone who can watch out for you to make sure you come out alive can be incredibly comforting. Wonderful. But who do you have protecting us?

There are many cases when a new submissive/slave/bottom/etc pops up online, and some dominant individual privately contacts them, and encourages them to list the dominant as their protector. Don’t worry, I will be the one who holds your hand as you figure it all out. It will be okay. I can hold the flashlight for you in the darkness, and keep away the monsters. The problem with this situation is that when someone holds the flashlight, you only get to see what they shine the light on.

Just because Midori and I have talked over the years and she tied me up a decade ago... it does not mean she "mentored" me. I adore her, but... watch the use of this word.

Just because Midori and I have talked over the years and she tied me up a decade ago… it does not mean she “mentored” me. I adore her, but… watch the use of this word.

Some of this dominant population is consciously or unconsciously “grooming” the person they are protecting. The words out of their mouth may be “I’m protecting you until you get your bearings.” But you are planting a flag in the soil of the “protected,” marking them as theirs in some way, and in the meanwhile, shining the flashlight on what they want to be seen. This is especially true with submissive newbies being “mentored” by experienced dominant individuals. That in being trained into be a good submissive, they actually are getting trained in how to be a good submissive to that specific dominant who is training you. In some cases it may be well-intentioned, but in other cases, this system has created opportunities for coercion, manipulation, and abusive situations.

Are there good eggs who this is not the case for? Absolutely, quite a number of them. But when the ratio of rotten eggs to fresh ones has gotten too high, it’s time to look at each egg in the carton.

Are there good eggs who this is not the case for? Absolutely. Many folks giving “protection” are good eggs. But when the ratio of rotten eggs to fresh ones has gotten too high, it’s worthwhile to look at each egg in the carton.

Let’s work on “protecting” our own. Slaves, make a safe space to “protect” new slaves to the community. Mistresses, make a safe space to “protect” new mistresses to the community. Puppies, masters, property, submissives, bottoms, tops, dominants, switches, trainers, velocipedes – protect and mentor your own. We can and should reach out for training and mentoring cross-population, and I would urge you to. But I would encourage fewer Masters and Mistresses to plant their flag in soil that has yet to find its own. Help it find its own.

But be aware – wherever you pick up protecting, training, or mentoring… you are being protected, trained or mentored from the experience of that person. You pick up not only their skills and knowledge, but their style, habits, and mis-information as well. We get to hear their thoughts about a specific group of individuals, and it is your job, should you so choose, to make your own opinions based on first-hand experience or additional opinions.  Are you learning from anyone beyond them and their closest peers? Just because that “something is just done that way” does not mean it is done that way everywhere, or by everyone. What is safe practice for health reasons (“because Hepatitis C can live on a surface for days after exposure, that is why we don’t let folks cum all over the seats”) and what is personal preference (“because it is not pleasing to have a slave look a master in the eye”). This applies whether you are a slave learning from a master, or a slave is learning from other slaves. After all, our peers come with their own stories as well.

Who are you learning from? Who have you learned from?  Who are you passing knowledge to? What are you passing down? Who else are they learning from?

Who are you protecting? What are you protecting them from? Who is protecting you? What are they protecting you from?

We all deserve excellence.  Let’s work on building a world where that excellence is fostered.


Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

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