Your “Protector” Is Hurting You

Posted: December 28, 2015 by Isaac Cross in Uncategorized

Note: I shouldn’t have to say this, but this is obviously just one person’s opinion. The following is based on my observations of the community over the last decade. If it doesn’t match your opinion or your perspective, that is totally ok. I am happy to discuss and even debate in the comments, but non-constructive comments will absolutely be deleted without hesitation. This is a tricky subject and tends to bring out emotions in people. That’s fine, but if you make it personal, you’re gone.

X-Posted Here on Fetlife. I highly recommend checking out the fetlife post, as there is a long string of responses and conversation that I think is very valuable.

TL/DR: If you have a protector listed on your Fetlife profile, you should expect to be (rightfully) ignored by a large portion of the community, who wants nothing to do with you or your protector. You will find yourself struggling more than necessary to find a good partner, no matter how many personal ads you post or how nice you are at parties. In fact, many people will purposefully avoid you.

image20151228-2255-jcfgr7I am sorry if that sounds harsh or judgmental, but it is simply the truth as I have observed it. And I am FAR from being the only one who thinks so.

Check out this article by @MrAndrewLove from last year. The Myth of Protection

… you have now agreed to enter into a “protection” arrangement with somebody else. The very nature of entering into that arrangement means most people will not approach you. Sure the creepy ones won’t likely approach you, but neither will the ones that might be a really good fit for you. This results in a form of isolation.

@Stabbity of NotJustBitchy.com says:

Supposedly a protector looks out for a poor, vulnerable submissive, who is clearly too sweet and innocent (read, stupid and helpless) to a) figure out on her/his own who is safe to play with, and b) tell a top/dom/whatever who she/he doesn’t want to play with to back off.

The idea that submissive people need a dominant to look after them is stupid and insulting. Assuming that a submissive person is submissive to everyone and therefore can’t say no when they need to makes as much sense as assuming that because I’m a straight woman I’m attracted to all men and can’t say no to the ones who aren’t compatible with me.

“Protector” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

The thing is, you have an idea in your head of what a protector means. And you are, of course, free to define that relationship between you and your “protector” however you want. But you need to understand the implications of making the choice to list that person on your profile. Because many people who have been around the community for a while have a very clear idea of what a protector means, and it probably doesn’t match what you imagine. They are going to immediately feel hesitant, especially because it is very common for that person to have a statement similar to this on their profile:

If we have not met at an event or in public or talked online before, you will need to send me a message to my Protector PRIOR to contacting me requesting permission to speak to me and/or add me as a friend. Failure to do so will result in immediately being blocked and your message being deleted without further adieu.

The above statement was taken directly off of someone’s profile. I won’t name them or link to them because that’s not important. The fact is that statements like that are very common for people with “protectors”.

Isolation and Predators and Liars

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It is also not surprising that many people who are often listed as “Protector of” several people over the years are the same people who end up having a reputation as a predator or have no reputation at all because they aren’t actually part of the community, they just want you to believe they are so you will trust them.

Isolation is an important part of emotional manipulation. By establishing themselves as your “protector”, they are keeping you from being in contact with anyone who disagrees with them or who might tell you the truth about them. They are also able to prevent anyone who is “better than them” from contacting you, in the hopes that eventually you will conclude that there ISN’T anyone better than them out there. In the words of @MrAndrewLove:

This protector’s approach while it might have seemed full of good intentions at the start is devoid of integrity. You heard me, it has zero integrity. Your protector played a slow game of manipulating your trust and coercing you into a sexual dynamic.

You Are Being Robbed

But even if your “protector” does have all the best intentions, even if they are not a predator who is out to manipulate and take advantage of you, they are still hurting you.

The whole point of being a part of a community or being on a social network site like Fetlife is to communicate and interact with others. A “protector” will inhibit that, either by establishing rules for how you are allowed to interact with others (or how they interact with you), or simply by scaring people off, including decent, knowledgeable, experienced people.

Either way, you are being robbed of the experience of being a part of a community. You are being robbed of the opportunity to learn for yourself what kind of person is right for you. If there is always someone carrying you, you will never learn to walk.

You Don’t Need Protection

You need to learn how to navigate the community and how to find/keep partners. A mentor or friend may be able to help you with that. But you don’t need “protection”, you need hands-on experience and you aren’t going to get that with someone else screening your messages and potential partners. I repeat: You don’t need protection.

Or rather, you SHOULDN’T need protection.

If you are so undeveloped as an adult human being that you are incapable of the common sense and judgment necessary to be your own protector, then you also lack the emotional and mental maturity to be here at all. If you haven’t learned how to say “no” for yourself, then you should not be anywhere near BDSM. Because consent is everything here. And if you incapable of saying “no” to someone or something that you don’t want, then you are a liability to everyone you interact with. Because in any moment, in every interaction with you, we all risk the possibility of traumatizing you with something that you didn’t want, but were unwilling to say “no” to.

A “mentor” can, perhaps, help to teach you how to do that and how to be your own protector, but they should not be doing it for you. Because if they do, you are then dependent on them for your safety. What happens, then, when they get tired of you, or are too busy for you, or they die, or something else happens? Who will “protect” you then?

I want nothing to do with you, and neither does most anyone else

The risk of interacting with a “protected” person is to high.

On the one hand, you might have been tricked into this “protector” relationship by a manipulative predator, in which case, you are not going to hear anything I have to say to you about it anyway because your “protector” will filter that message and prevent you from getting it.

Note: On the original XCBDSM post, someone commented arguing that it was his job (Obligation was the actual word he used) to prevent those under his protection from being exposed to “harmful influences”, which is why everyone was required to get his permission to contact them. That is textbook isolation.

On the other hand, maybe your protector has the best of intentions. That opens up the possibility that you actually NEED a protector. And the only people who actually NEED a protector, in my opinion, are people who do not possess the basic skills, as a grown adult, to manage themselves and their interactions with other human-beings. So why, WHY, would I be interested in being in an adult relationship with someone like that? Why would I want to play with someone like that? Why would I even expend the energy to try?

If you have a protector listed, you are either in the process of being preyed upon by someone who will intercept my communications and possibly even lash out against me in some way for trying or you actually need a protector and therefor aren’t the type of person I would want to be with in the first place.

EDIT: I failed to acknowledge the possibility, here, that a person listed as someone’s protector is simply that person’s trusted friend and does not restrict them in anyway. The problem there is that no matter how YOU define that relationship or what it looks like for you, many (I would even say MOST) of the people who see that advertised dynamic of “protector” are going to interpret it at face value, they will interpret it as a mild form of power-exchange relationship that may or may not be safe to interact with at all, even in a friendly way. The best advice that I can offer here is to say somewhere on your profile what “protector” means to you so that people who get the wrong idea have the opportunity to correct the misconception without having to take the risk of contacting you inappropriately.

I have plenty of other options, and so does just about everyone else

Meanwhile, there are thousands of other available people in the community, more joining every day, and those people don’t have tests that I have to pass in order to initiate contact. Those people all have maintained their own agency and ability to decide their own fate.

EDIT: I am not actually seeking new relationships at the moment or for the foreseeable future. I was speaking figuratively.

So given the choice of who I am going to invest my time and energy into pursuing (even for nothing more than just friendship), I am going to choose the other people every time, and so will many others.

By listing a “protector” on your profile, you have communicated to many others, whether you intend to or not, that you are not worth the effort of a first contact.

Maybe you are really special and worth all of this trouble and risk, but I don’t know that and will never find out because the protector label tells me that I am not allowed to say hello to you without jumping through someone else’s hoops.

Ask Yourself This

If you were at a party with a bunch of friends and strangers and someone you didn’t know was walking around with a sign around their neck that said “Before talking to me, you must call 303-555-1467 and get permission from the person who answers”, would you do it? Most people wouldn’t. In fact, most people would go out of their way to avoid that person. Having a “protector” is the same thing.

Look for someone who wants to be your friend, not your “protector”.

A person who is interested in truly helping you and who also has the knowledge and experience to do so will (generally speaking) not ask to be your “protector” or agree to do so. Instead, they will simply be your friend. They will offer good advice and guidance. They will help you figure out how to be your own protector. They will answer questions. They will refer you to people who can teach you things they don’t know. They will refer you to people who disagree with them so you will get exposure to multiple viewpoints. Most importantly, they will never restrict you, isolate you, or take responsibility for you.

Because whether you acknowledge it or not, whether they will admit it or not, and whether either of you realize it:

Your “Protector” is hurting you.

Re-posts, sharing, or otherwise distributing this content is allowed, without explicit permission, provided that credit is given to “Isaac Cross” and a link to theoriginal article is included.

EDIT, Morning of 12/29: I have added some notes throughout and softened a bit of the language, but the statements and positions have not changed. I stand by my assertions in this post, but I do apologize for the aggressive tone of the message. My goal here was to get some people to consider something they may not have considered before, and that required some blunt language, but I never intended to be disrespectful.

Ultimately, every person has to make the choice for themselves about whether the risks of the “protector” relationship are worth the benefits. But the principles of informed consent require that those risks be acknowledged. And in my observation, many people fail to do so.

Comments
  1. Lord Unicron says:

    I cannot even begin to explain all the things that are wrong with this in My opinion and belief.

    While I cannot and will not argue that there are people of all genders who use this title inappropriately, let Me posit this instead:

    I have a submissive and a slave. They kneel to Me out of love and respect. I am, as their Dom and Master, respectively, their protector by default. That role, to Me, means that I have an obligation (not desire, not want, not need, but an OBLIGATION) to keep them safe from people and influences which I, in my sole judgment, deem harmful to them, to Me, to Our respective dynamics or any combination of the above. To serve this requisite of my position relative to them, I must therefore insist that those who want to speak with them speak with Me first, so I may judge their motives and intentions for myself.

    My girls are both perfectly capable women in their own rights, but as their Dom and Master, it is my job to shield them from anything or anyone that I deem harmful or not in their best interests. Frankly, anyone who thinks they are too special, too knowledgeable or too whatever they think they are to have to “jump through” My “hoops” to talk to the women who kneel before Me is someone who I judge is not very likely to want to jump through their hoops either. Like consent. Like respect. Like hard limits. Like anything that runs counter to what they want to hear. In My opinion, if a woman under My protection is contacted by someone who does not believe that My protection is a thing or has any relevance, that is precisely the kind of person My presence as a protector is intended to ward against.

    And as their protector, I say, if you don’t like My rules, find someone to talk to who doesn’t follow them. As you say, there are plenty of others out there who are perfectly willing. But don’t call it abuse or harm when you do not and cannot speak to the subtle nuances of every single relationship or motivation or complex of motivations from which the role of protector arises, rightly or wrongly.

    _Unicron_
    Lord of House Unicron

    • Isaac Cross says:

      Hello and thank you for the comment. Truly I appreciate it. Please don’t take anything below to be disrespectful, but I can only respond to what you have said and the information you have made available in your argument.

      I should specify that I was primarily speaking in the context of someone who is ONLY a protector, and is not also in an M/s or D/s dynamic. These are the individuals who message every new kinkster (well, every relatively attractive new female kinkster between 18-25, anyway) offering themselves as a protector to ward off all the bad men with less than honorable intentions.

      I am referring to the “protector” who isn’t in an explicit or negotiated relationship with the “protectee”, but uses their role to make decisions on that persons behalf, such as who they may speak with or associate with, especially when that person is just starting out and doesn’t know any better.

      An M/s dynamic is a special sort of thing. And has, I acknowledge, special considerations. That sort of relationship was not meant to be included in my admittedly broad statements.

      That said…

      While I fully support your right (and the right of your partners) to negotiate any sort of relationship you choose. I still believe that the requirement that a person contact you first is net negative.

      You seem to have a very narrow view of why a person might want to contact a partner of yours. Perhaps, as one example, it could be an abused female seeking the support and help of another female who identifies as a slave, and is unwilling (or emotionally unable) to first ask permission of a man. Is your view so narrow that you cannot accept the possibility of subtle nuances of every single motivation or complex motivation for a person to not wish to speak to you before speaking to your partner? Can you not imagine a scenario where that would not represent a threat to you? Are you so unimaginative that you could not figure out a way to exercise your power over your partner and their choices without imposing your will and preferences onto others who did not consent to that control?

      This question of filtered communication, you might have inferred, is a touchy subject for me. The fact is that I have seen up-close far too many times the way that filtered communication and isolation is used by abusers and predators. So often, in fact, that I am immediately suspicious of anyone who employs those tools. I simply do not buy the argument of necessity. I do not agree that it is “your job” to do so. It’s a choice you’ve made, nothing more. You get off on the power of it. That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with living out your preferred style of power-exchange. But don’t pretend that your partners need you to protect them while calling them “perfectly capable” at the same time. Either they are intelligent adult human beings who don’t need your protection or they are so feeble of mind or will that they legitimately need protection and therefore should probably not be involved with BDSM at all. From my view, it’s one or the other. I know that offends some people, but it’s what I believe.

      I feel that I also must point out that you have, it seems to me, an inflated sense of self-worth communicated by, among other things, the way you capitalize “Me” or “My” improperly in your response to me as a subtle show of superiority despite the fact that I have not negotiated a power dynamic with you. Keeping others “safe from harmful influences”, after all, is the same line used by tyrants, religious fanatics, cult leaders, and terrorist organizations to prevent exposure to different ideas or opinions, all at the direction of someone who claims to know what’s best for other people. What’s more, if you truly believe that it is your obligation to act this way, then you must also believe that any dominant/master who does not shield their partners from the dangers of “harmful influences” by screening their partners contact with the outside world is failing them on a fundamental level. In other words, people who don’t behave and think and act like you are inferior and dangerous. At least, that’s the message I got from what you wrote.

      With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why you object so strongly to what I have said. But since this is a post all about perception and the consequences of choices, perhaps that is something worth examining, as well.

      However, if you’re happy and your partners are happy, then more power to you. Have fun with it. I respect your choice, even if I think it’s the wrong one.

      +Cross

  2. Lord Unicron says:

    Allow Me to clarify a few points.

    1. My intent in capitalizing personal pronouns has nothing to with an attempt to demonstrate superiority. When I am speaking as Lord of My House, as I always do when discussing lifestyle matters, I use the capitals to demonstrate that I am speaking in that role. When I am speaking solely as Myself and not in the role of Lord of My House, I do not. You are correct that we have negotiated nothing, and it was not My intent to offer offense nor assert any level of control or command that does not exist. Yes, I do have a high sense of self-worth and My own personal value, but hopefully this will give some context for why I used the capitalization I did.

    2. As with you in your initial consideration of the question at hand, I made the error of giving only a broad-brush treatment of My rules as they relate to this. The rules of House Unicron are much more subtle and complex than I indicated previously, which was an error on My part. Also, I believe wholeheartedly that each person has the right and responsibility to choose and negotiate for themselves how they wish their own dynamic to function, and if another D-type doesn’t hold with the rules I enforce as part of My dynamic, that is fine, so long as they understand that these are the rules I and My girls adhere to. I don’t think less of them or what they do, don’t do, want to do or may or may not do, because it’s not My dynamic and MKINYK.

    3. There are of course exceptions to every rule, and the rules I have put into place concerning communication are no different. Case in point: A D-type approached one of My girls at an event we attended. My girl was watching Me topping another woman in a scene. This D-type asked her to play with him, and she refused unless he was willing to obtain My permission right then and there. He refused, and then tried to say, “What your Sir doesn’t know won’t hurt Him.” In this situation, the D-type demonstrated no respect for the dynamic we share, and the rules I have in place exist in part because of people like this. Therefore, in My opinion, the D-type was not deserving of any respect or consideration for his desire to play with My sub, and she dismissed him with the disdain his ham-handed approach merited. However, if one of My girls is approached by a person who genuinely needs help, support, comfort or aid, regardless of gender, I not only expect but demand that they offer all they can. In doing this, they serve the person, the kink community, House Unicron and Myself in a way that I cannot argue or gainsay. This does not mean that someone whose profile is a dick pic and who’s a 22-year-old “Daddy” can waltz in and say, “Hey, your Master said you help people out. I’ve got a hard-on. Serve me!” That won’t do anything but piss Me off and ensure that the offending party doesn’t contact any member of My House, ever. Someone who legitimately needs advice, assistance or aid for a problem more crucial than their twitching glands can and will always find it at My door.

    4. I acknowledge and respect that you think My rules are coming from illegitimate and even harmful places. Well and so. If you, as a D-type, don’t have those prohibitions or think they are appropriate, that is entirely your right. Be that as it may, I put it to you that a D-type who approaches Me first is likely to receive a far warmer welcome and a good deal more respect from the entire House than one who does not. Likewise, I do not impose a rule and then not follow it myself. If I wish to speak to someone else’s s-type, I contact their D-type first and ensure that’s okay, so I can assure them of My honorable intentions and that I have no desire or wish to poach their property. I see this as nothing more than basic respect and courtesy among D-types, and while I respect your right to disagree, I trust you also understand that I would not accept that as an excuse or explanation for ignoring the rules of House Unicron with regards to making contact with the members thereof because this is the dynamic we have agreed to and this is one of the rules that permits this dynamic to function smoothly.

    5. With regards to people whose ONLY visible role in the commmunity is “Protector,” I agree wholeheartedly that this is something that can and should be looked at askance. The line between protection and abuse can be a very fine and subtle distinction, but overtly predatory behavior looks pretty much the same, with the same patterns over time, if someone cares to look hard enough. However, as you say, there is a vast difference between this sort of behavior and the reasoned, negotiated dynamic in which one person agrees to allow the other person to fill this role.

    As you can see from what I have stated above, I am not an ogre, a martinet or a tyrant. (Generally speaking, and I’m sure each of My girls can think of five different occasions off the tops of their heads.) My rules stem from a desire to enforce and preserve My House and the dynamics which keep it functioning. What it looks like from the outside is really of very little concern to Me, until I am lumped in with the kind of predator you describe. This isn’t apples to apples, but apples to aircraft carriers. I honor your right to believe and practice what you wish in terms of your relationships, so long as you in your turn cede Me and My House the same.

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply, and the opportunity to debate this issue in a reasonable and reasoned manner.

    _Unicron_
    Lord of House Unicron

    • Isaac Cross says:

      Thank you for the clarifications. You said “I acknowledge and respect that you think My rules are coming from illegitimate and even harmful places.” Actually, I strongly suspected that there was more to it than your initial comment let on and I wanted to see if you would say so. The way that you described the nuances of such rules, with appropriate and reasonable exceptions, is what I had hoped for, and is actually a good model for how I think that sort of protocol should be set up. At the same time, I hoped to illustrate the the portrayal of your position was, perhaps, not the best representation of you or your house. To be fair, neither was my initial post the best representation of me. This post was not my best writing, and I didn’t take the time I usually do to refine and organize my thoughts. However, I got what I wanted from it, which was a spirited discussion of the issue on multiple platforms.

      My primary objection to the communication rule is simply that, on it’s face, it leaves no room for exception and puts a lot of burden on the third party, not in the negotiated relationship. If your girls have posted to their profile (I don’t know, because I don’t have your FL info) that everyone must contact you first before them, then maybe a person in need of help would pass them by not wanting to be disrespectful and not get the help they need. You and your partners may understand the nuances of that rule, but how is it being communicated to others? Is it being portrayed in the way that you did in your first comment or in your second? Would a person in genuine need of help know that they are an exception?

      I am glad that we seem to have moved on from our initial misconceptions of one another. I hope to continue the discussion.

      +Cross

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