Saturday, March 12, 2011


Inspired by Lunargirl's post - What's Really in a Name? - I've been thinking about honorific titles (things like sir, ma'am, master, and so forth), both  in the scene and in my vanilla life.

I wasn't raised to say "sir" or "ma'am"; no such honorific was ever required of me. The difference between Miss/Ms./Mrs. was  forced upon me by an influential teacher. To this day, I'm amused by Miss (it makes me feel innocent and young), annoyed by Ms. (from anyone who knows my marital status), and tolerant of Mrs. In all cases, I'd rather the person used my first name anyway. Somewhat embarrassingly, I've even introduced myself by first name only in a professional context (an interview...and no, I didn't get that job).

I have a tendency, in my vanilla life, to use "sir" to deflect anger and disappointment. Perhaps because I live in the conservative midwest, where such curtesy is neither expected nor demanded...the occasional "sir" has always served me well. I was the sort of child who drove my teachers (primarily female) to annoyance, but could talk any principal (all male) down just as quickly. The simple addition of "sir" works just as well as an adult. As well as it works, I'm a little self-concious about it now as a result of the scene because I don't want anyone in my vanilla, professional life to think I'm submissive.

"Ma'am," on the other hand, is hard for me in a scene. I don't use it in my vanilla life...not ever. And being required to do so in a scene can heighten the impact of the power play for me; provided, of course, I have the sort of relationship with the Top which would support such a thing.

Oddly enough, I can get the same power-exchange response, if you will, from a male Top who hates being called "sir" as from a female Top who requires me to call her "ma'am". I suppose it is simply the internal effort of doing something that does not come naturally to me.

That said, so-called honorific titles like "master" or "mistress" rub me the wrong way. I not only won't use them, I'll write off anyone who insists upon them.


  1. Like I said, I never thought of using it to my own advantage, but given the chance well now, I just might... ;-)

  2. Like I said, I never thought of using it to my own advantage, but given the chance well now, I just might... ;-)

  3. In my experience, a well timed "No, sir" or "It won't happen again, sir" is far more effective in the vanilla context than in the scene...take that as you will (possibly because so many in the scene will expect it and discount it?). It does occasionally make me blush...but it still works!

  4. I completely agree about the relative efficacy of using honorifics in real life compared to the scene!

    I used both ma'am and sir in high school to avoid real trouble. It always amused me that it worked so well; it was almost as though were were performing an elaborate ritual in which the teacher didn't really care that I wasn't sincere. I now think it's a bit more complicated than that, as the honorific allowed me to show respect for the authority figure in question without really agreeing to the rule s/he was enforcing. As the teacher rarely wanted to make a big deal about it, that worked out just fine.

    Maybe that's why in scene play now I feel more submissive if I use the top's name-- as in, yes, Nick-- instead of "ma'am" or "sir." It's a much more sincere response.

  5. I don't like sir, as you pointed out, because I'm a top, not a dom. I don't go in for the whole D/s thing, at all, but that's just me. Needless to say, I can do very dommy things, but the sit-at-my-feet protocol, dog collar thing doesn't work. I've stopped scenes when I was called "sir" to remind the person I was playing with that I was "Craig" or "asshat" or whatever, but certainly not now or ever "sir."