Thoughts on the custom of using uppercase/lowercase writing
to indicate Dominant vs. Submissive.
by Old Tom and His pet.


One of my correspondents asked:

Do you actually care about the caps/lowercase thing? If not, i'd just as soon drop it on the grounds that (in my case) it's affected and silly. i do it in some contexts to avoid riling those who regard it as a question of etiquette.

And I answered:

Not in the least. I was simply mirroring what appeared to be your preference. I do not care to refer to myself as Me. In my opinion, those others deserved to be riled. Let me explain.

The upper/lowercase custom, particularly when carried to extreme when speaking of U/us in the plural, becomes cumbersome - but so what. It, like standing in the corner, becomes a tool for placing you in the proper headspace. Thus, I endorse the custom when people prefer to use it. However. I do not demand it or any other measure of respect because I call myself a Dom or Master. Your submission (speaking generically here - I mean anyone's submission) is a gift, in my opinion, offered to a specific individual. That does not obligate you to submit to everything wearing pants, or calling himself a Dom. No more than it obligates you to spread your legs for every person you pass on the street. I do see this as an analogy. Submission does have much to do with your sexuality.

Consider the exercise of placing you in the corner for ten minutes. If I tell you to do that, you have a choice. You can comply (bad idea), or you can tell me where to get off (not tactful, but within your rights), or simply decline (entirely proper). Why? Because we never negotiated or otherwise discussed it.

If I presume I can order you around simply because I call myself a Dom, and you consider yourself a submissive, you want to be heading for the nearest exit, and that quickly. You are a submissive, but you are not my submissive.

On the other hand, if we were to negotiate a specific understanding, and that understanding included the right to place you in the corner for ten minutes, we're fine. We remain safe, sane, consentual. Outside the ten-minute scene (to continue the example), you are my peer. I would not presume rights over you, and I would treat you with the common courtesy I would anyone else, and I would expect the Golden Rule to apply. The fact that we both have a similar BDSM understanding would not be particularly relevant. No more relevant than the fact that I have seen people unclothed before.

So... write normally. As an expression of "Do unto others..." I try to address people in the context they prefer. If people demand you go through the motions, in a specific context, and you're willing to comply... fine. In effect, you have a negotiated scene.

For the record, I do require Upper/lowercase when my pet writes me. She may write to anyone else however she pleases. But the requirement is for her benefit... it provides her a means of expressing our relationship, to me.

If she is playing with someone else, she is welcome to address him as Sir during the scene, if that seems appropriate. If he wants to be called Master Jeff, for example, that is fine... but calling him Master is not. That title is reserved to myself. Being tied up is fine, but she may not allow anything in the nature of a collar to be placed on her neck. The rules are for her protection, and she is glad of them.

In the same way, when I play with others there will likely be a significant D/s component to the play. Again, that's fine... so long as when the scene is over, so is the D/s component. These are important things to discuss beforehand.

My pet tosses in her opinion:

Since the majority of our time together is spent online writing letters back and forth, refering to Master in upper case letters and myself in lower case just seems like one small way that i can show my respect to my Master. i enjoy writing to him in this manner. To me it is as much a part of showing my submission to him as kneeling next to him is when we are together.

Before i met Master, i never used upper/lower case writing. my nick online was always with a capital letter. It was not something that was important to me. i wouldn't before, and still won't refer to myself in lower case when writing private mail to anyone other than Master. When Master sent the letter that told me we had progressed far enough that He wanted me to address Him in this manner, i will never forget how i felt reading those words. It was one more step on the way to feeling very protected and special and owned. It just seemed natural and right. i *am* His pet, and this is one more reminder of that.

It seems right now that it is popular to criticize or make fun of people who refer to themselves this way, especially in the newsgroups. All i can say is this is part of our ritual, this is what we do, this is just one way that i can continue to show my submission to my Master. i think that people who make fun of others rituals, or kinks, need to seriously look inside themselves to see why they think it is alright to put forth their opinions or way of being submissive as the *one true way*...

We all do this differently, we all do what is right for each one of us. No way of expressing yourself is any better or worse than another, if it is what works for you.

 

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