D/s and M/s Relationships and Protocol: An Annotated Reading List
If you know of a book, essay, film or other work you think I should add to this list, please let me know! I’m always on the lookout for more interesting reading on these topics, and unfortunately the pickings are pretty slim. So do drop me a line! veryqueer3 at yahoo dot ca.
- 10 Principles for Healthy 24/7 D/s and M/s (okay, I’m biased, I wrote this)
- Projects, Structure and Protocol: Three Mechanisms for 24/7 D/s (this one too)
- Dear Raven and Joshua: Questions and Answers about Master/Slave Relationships by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny – The single most down-to-earth tome on full-time M/s relationships that I have ever had the pleasure of devouring. Answers the questions you didn’t know how to ask and in so doing provides an excellent jumping-off point for many a rich discussion.
- Master/slave Relations: Handbook of Theory and Practice by Robert J. Rubel. This is a great book to get you thinking about how to structure your D/s relationship. He’s quirky and some of his personal values may not resonate with you, but he’s extremely clear and logical in his thinking and writing.
- Protocol Handbook for the Leather Slave: Theory and Practice by Robert J. Rubel. An excellent practical follow-up to the Relations handbook. It was originally written with female submissives in mind, and even though he has taken pains to alter it to suit any gender combination, the female-sub focus still shows. Still, well worth a read.
- The essay “Ritual, Ceremony and Protocol in SM” in Midori’s book Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink. It provides some helpful concepts to frame your approach to protocol. Also, the rest of the book has gobs of intelligent stuff about kink in general, some with a focus on power exchange, so it’s definitely a worthwhile read. Ignore the bad copy editing and read it anyway.
- “Passionate Bonds” – This is a weekend-long intensive course held by Midori and Marketplace author Laura Antoniou. The description: “A special weekend intensive designed for people who enjoy authentic power dynamics and D/s, who want to consciously create quality relationships that suit their personal hungers and needs in the context of the real world. Through the unique curriculum and its innovative tools, each individual or relationship unit will create their own customized manual of effective protocol, rules, etiquettes and codes of conduct.” More info here.
- Any protocol workshop offered by Laura Antoniou. She doesn’t give classes often, so grab one when you can get it! Most specifically I recommend “The Way of It: Establishing and Maintaining Protocol Within Relationships,” but she has several other D/s and protocol workshops too. Details here.
- Lee Harrington also offers a weekend intensive, called Delving Into Power. Details here.
D/s and non-monogamy
- Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic, edited by Raven Kaldera. Buy it here. I’m biased here too because I have an essay in here, but even if I didn’t, I’d recommend checking it out. The book is the only one out there to address this topic in any depth, even though it is hugely relevant to a very large percentage of the people who do D/s and M/s relationships.
Focus on submission
- Slavecraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude – Principles, Skills and Tools by a grateful slave with Guy Baldwin. This book is written from the perspective of a gay male slave who occasionally says things in a way that betrays a certain amount of misogyny, and the copy editing is enough to make me gnash my teeth (same publisher as Midori’s book). Nonetheless I strongly recommend it. It’s extremely insightful when it comes to mindset and emotional dimensions of submission, and presents a number of very useful concepts.
Non-fiction – M/s and D/s biography
It’s unfortunate that two of the three books I’ve read that provide personal accounts of slavery/full-time submission are both highly problematic. The following two are valuable reads if you’re looking for what NOT to do (and also for a sense of history):
- Endless Knot: A Spiritual Odyssey through Sadomasochism by Mathew Styranka. This guy stayed in an abusive relationship for years because he was convinced it was slavery and that’s what he wanted. Worse yet, he still doesn’t seem to see it as abusive, and seems to think he’s now “cured” of his SM desires. Oy. Read my review here.
- To Love, to Obey, to Serve: Diary of an Old Guard Slave by V.L. Johnson. Vi Johnson is still an active and vocal member of the American leather community and from what I understand she’s pretty cool. Her diary comes to a positive conclusion, but you’ll cringe at some of what she went through in her early days as a self-identified slave. Still, very thought-provoking and a great discussion starter.
… But this one is great!
- Ask the Man Who Owns Him: the real lives of gay Masters and slaves by david stein with David Schachter. This book features interview-based profiles of over a dozen long-term M/s couples and triads, providing by far the highest number of experiences and opinions on M/s I’ve ever seen gathered in one place. It’s exclusively focused on men, but it’s not hard to extrapolate from there when considering the principles each interviewee discusses. Despite the narrow demographic, there’s quite a diversity of approaches outlined here. The format can get a bit repetitive, but if you’re looking for vocabulary, ideas, and a sense of what’s out there, this is definitely worth a solid read.
Focus on heterosexual female dominance
- Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual and Training with Miss Abernathy: a Workbook for Erotic Slaves and Their Owners, by Christina Abernathy – These two books are now available condensed into a single volume, as well. Abernathy’s flavour is very Victorian and proper. She writes very clearly and presents many intriguing ideas and tons of practical suggestions. Her breakdown of “types” may or may not suit you; I would suggest taking the parts you like of her instructions rather than trying to follow them like a rigid program.
- The Mistress Manual: The Good Girl’s Guide to Female Dominance by Mistress Lorelei. I disagree with the book’s idea that female dominance is something essentially and classically feminine, and I dislike the archetypes she creates as they seem constructed with men’s pleasure in mind rather than aiming to help women find their own inner sense of self within dominance. Still, Lorelei writes well and some of her points are very insightful. The book might give you some interesting ideas, just take it with a grain of salt!
- How to Capture a Mistress by Karen Martin. Sage (and sorely needed) advice for gentlemen who are looking for a mistress, and while it’s fairly gender-specific in its target audience, it could be quite useful for any gender combination. A very enjoyable glimpse into the mind of a mistress, minus all the posing and preening one sometimes finds in such manuals. Practical, down-to-earth, and funny, if not hugely groundbreaking – definitely worth a read.
- The Marketplace Series (The Marketplace, The Slave, The Trainer, The Academy, The Reunion and a forthcoming title we’re all waiting for with bated breath) by Laura Antoniou. She writes fictional works but she lives the real thing, so while the premise and setting of the books may be out there in fantasy-land, the flavour and essence of the relationships she presents rings very true. Inspiring to read, it’ll really get into your head!
- The Leather Daddy and the Femme by Carol Queen. It’s not heavily protocol-focused, but you will certainly get a strong sense of what a submissive mindset looks like and how D/s-flavoured relationships play out.
- Etiquette:17th Edition - The Definitive Guide to Manners, Completely Revised and Updated by Emily Post/Peggy Post. This is a huge tome, and its approach to etiquette is both open-minded and highly conservative. It presumes a class situation that may or may not be true for you. Nonetheless, some elements of it are extremely useful, if only for getting into a somewhat formal mindset.
- The Bride Wore Black Leather… And He Looked Fabulous! An Etiquette Guide for the Rest of Us by Drew Campbell. This fills in all the bits that are missing from your standard etiquette guide when it comes to dealing respectfully with people who live in unusual relationships, including non-monogamous and D/s ones.
- Butlers & Household Managers: 21st Century Professionals by Steven Ferry. This book is intended for professional butlers, but is very useful in establishing the “butler mindset” in an everyday way for people who wish to serve as part of a D/s relationship.
- Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter and Lessons in Wine Service from Charlie Trotter by Edmund Lawler. Two great books on the art of service based on the renowned service of restaurantier Charlie Trotter. They take a business-oriented tack on things but the lessons are valuable for personal relationships too.
- This awesome article about service on kinki_wiki, complete with embedded video clips from various TV shows featuring service dynamics – really fun.
- Two of my own posts about service: Service Beneath the Surface, which explores a range of ideas about service, and The Many Facets of Thanks, about how to acknowledge and receive service.
- Fetlife.com is home to a large number of discussion groups for people living in D/s and M/s relationships. Your mileage may vary, as with any online group, but there are valuable discussions to read and join, as well as lots of friendly support for people who live or play with D/s.