Posture Protocols

One of the things that floats around the kinky internet are memes depicting a complex set of what I call Posture Protocols, special poses, each with its own name, that a sub is expected to learn and be able to quickly assume whenever the dom tells him to.

One of these floated through my BDSMLR feed today. Here it is, just so you have an idea what I’m talking about, although there’s a good chance you already do. This one is specifically for men, but there are ones for female subs too.

The idea of Posture Protocols is that once the slave learns them, they structure the way the slave’s body functions in the master’s presence. The slave is expected to maintain a specific position until he receives new orders from his master. The master might order a specific position because he is preparing to use the slave or to test the slave’s master of the position, or just because it amuses him. A skilled slave will be able to transition from one position to another gracefully and without calling a lot of attention to himself.

These memes create the impression that there is a sort of universal set of rules for how subs, especially slaves, are to be trained. They imply that all ‘real’ Doms train all ‘real’ subs to know these postures. That’s just untrue. There are no universal standards for how all subs and all doms act. Some doms like Posture Protocols and others don’t. The Wait pose is pretty common, but hardly universal, and some of the others I’ve never seen before, especially the Sex Doll one. So don’t let these sorts of memes intimidate you or feel like you’re doing it wrong if you don’t know these protocols. They represent a fantasy that some kinksters try to put into play, but they are most definitely not universal. Use them if you like the idea, or ignore them if you don’t.

As fas as I can tell, the whole idea of Posture Protocols was invented by John Norman, the author of a long series of science-fantasy novels set on Gor, a planet that orbits the sun exactly opposite the Earth. Gorean society is a male-supremacist society in which slavery is legal and bondage and power exchange are fully-integrated into society. The Gor novels straddle the line between men’s adventure, science fiction, and soft-core erotica. On Gor, slaves are taught a complex series of postures that have universal standard names (such as Nadu, which is on the meme above).

Norman published his novel, Tarnsman of Gor, in 1966 and continued releasing them conventionally until 1988, when his published DAW discontinued the series for poor sales and because the novels were perceived to be extremely misogynistic. Since then, he’s released them online.

The novels had considerable influence in heterosexual BDSM, sparking the emergence of the Gorean subculture. The primary influence of Norman and Gor on gay kink has been the idea of Posture Protocols, which played little role in gay kink in earlier years; there’s no trace of them, for example, in Mr. Benson, which is a fairly good snapshot of serious gay leather in the late 70s. To the extent that gay men employed Posture Protocols at all, they were mostly drawn from military experience, such as the Parade Rest posture (labeled Wait in the above meme), because in the middle of the 20th century, a higher percentage of the male population had some military training. If gay kinksters use Posture Protocols nowadays, such as this meme suggests, it’s mostly because they’ve been imported from Gorean practice.

Posture Protocols can be fun, but they’re a lot of work. If you’re going to take the time to train a slave to learn these postures, you have to use them regularly; otherwise, what’s the point? That means that the master is committing to a fairly strict set of protocols that are going to bind him as well as the slave, because he has to remember to give orders using them. So give some thought to whether you want to make these protocols a regular thing or not, because they will structure your interactions with your slave and that can be tiring as well as exciting. To my mind, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. But your mileage may vary.

So what you think? Do you like them or not? If you’re in a kinky relationship, do you use them? Why or why not?

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