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Mat Fights #1 Paperback – 2007
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This book is a guide prepared for a slave to enable her to express her love for her Master through her actions. In this case, her actions include ways of standing, sitting and speaking (ways of being) as well as ways of preparing things to please her Master in a consensual "Master/slave" relationship. The book covers formal Leather protocols as well as a range of personal rituals, such as formal dinner service. As much as anthing else, this is a book of etiquette and service within the Leather-BDSM culture.
Top customer reviews
What makes "Protocols" a valuable addition to the M/s literature has much less to do with its specific content than with its structure, its format, its simple existence. It's 150 pages of object lesson: there are plenty of books out there that talk about the concept of protocol, but here we see that concept made manifest. The purpose is not to tell the reader what his or her own system of protocols should be, but to give the reader a deep understanding of their meaning and purpose. Outside of those basic principles of etiquette which are more or less universal in the BDSM community, slave protocols are by their nature inherently idiosyncratic: it is the slave's duty to serve her Master according to his specific desires, not to be amorphously and generically pleasing. As with any other intimate interpersonal relationship, the concrete examples of others are at the same time brilliantly illuminating and nearly irrelevant.
The greatest virtue of "Protocols" is Rubel's seamless weaving together of theory and practice, allowing the abstract and the concrete to enhance each other from within. We appreciate the importance of protocols all the more when provided with examples of how they enhance the day-to-day existence of the author and his slave, and long lists of behavioral requirements that might otherwise seem dull and irrelevant suddenly seem quite special when we turn our attention to their purpose.
Masters looking to define or clarify their own system of protocol may well find this manual to be a valuable source of inspiration. Although it's probably too idiosyncratic to serve as a specific pattern or outline, its thoroughness will invite readers to consider their preferences in areas they might otherwise not have considered. Readers may well choose to borrow, or adapt to their own purposes, many of Rubel's protocols in the areas of communication and general behavior. Novice Masters and/or slaves interested in becoming involved with the larger BDSM community will find Rubel's chapter on "Social Issues" especially worthy of consideration as they prepare to present themselves to others in the context of their relationship, although they should be sure to familiarize themselves with the basics of general BDSM etiquette first. Although Rubel's commentary seems to be intended mostly for other Masters, this book should prove interesting and valuable reading to the novice would-be slave as well, helping her think clearly through the fantasies to understand what the calling to a life of consensual slavery really entails.
There's so much that's valuable in this book, but at times the thoroughness and detail that make it such an excellent object lesson make it painfully tedious to actually read. I couldn't help thinking it might have been more beneficial had Rubel trimmed down his own manual and published it either along with some other protocol manuals reflecting different approaches to M/s, or as part of a larger work dealing more with the practical realities of the M/s lifestyle. Rubel has a fancy-dining fetish, and one long chapter, comprising nearly a third of the book's content, details the elaborate dinners he likes to have in his home several times a week, dinners the author admits are "so stylized, I have prepared a handout that serves as a Guide to Guests." That's all perfectly well and good for him, but readers who don't share his fetish may find it hard to keep a straight face. This is a man who, without any sense of irony, uses the term "informal meal" to refer to a dinner at which the dessert fork and/or spoon are included in the place setting, everyone stays seated during the toast, and the slave brings two plates to the table at a time in her ungloved hands (in contrast to a "formal meal," at which the dessert fork and/or spoon would be brought in on the dessert plate, guests stand for the toast, and the slave wears gloves to bring out one plate at a time). Rubel has instructions, not only for his slave but for his guests, about the correct way to lay one's napkin in one's lap and the proper side from which to get into or out of one's chair. My point is not to ridicule Rubel's fetish - I've long been intrigued myself by the thought of attending a formal (if much less "stylized") M/s dinner - but to point out that there's a little too much in this book that's just a little TOO idiosyncratic.
Rubel identifies with the Leather subculture within the BDSM community, and he notes outright that his book is written from a Leather perspective and may not "resonate" with those readers to whom he refers, somewhat condescendingly, as "Non-Leather." There's a reason Rubel is respected and his books widely read among 24/7 lifestylers of all kinds; much of what he has to say both acknowledges and transcends differences. His "Master/Slave Relations: Handbook of Theory and Practice," though not without its own flaws, is so far the best book of its kind and deserves a place in every M/s household. In "Protocols," however, being the highly personal document that it is, Rubel's Leather identity is much more pronounced, much more inseparable from what he has to say. That's not to say that non-Leatherfolk won't benefit from reading it, but they should be aware that it's written from a *very* definite Leather perspective. Rubel claims that the Leather subculture is spiritual and holistically sensual in a way that non-Leather BDSM generally isn't, though to me personally it seems rather like a sort of elaborate game, at least the way Rubel goes about it. (By my way of thinking, a person is either free or not, either owned or not, and a free person isn't owned, and an owned person isn't free - yet Rubel speaks of having a Mistress as well as a slave, and of his slave having her own submissive. I guess this sort of thing works for them, but it's totally unthinkable to me.)
Rubel's relationship with his slave definitely tends toward the employer/employee model of M/s. Although he speaks of his love for his slave, and hers for him, what he describes comes across more as an amicable partnership than a passionate union of souls. That's fine - it certainly clears up some of the boundary issues that more romantically inclined M/s couples tend to struggle with - but it does make some aspects of this book less useful for those whose relationships are differently structured. (Take the subject of discreet protocols to be used out in vanilla public. As Rubel's "personal assistant," his slave can call him "Sir" without coming across as weird. As my Master's lawfully wedded wife, I can't.) I agree with Rubel that "the slave is NOT Master's 'girlfriend' . . . a person with the same rights and responsibilities as her partner; the slave is property and has only those rights given her by her Master." My problem in this area is not so much that what's in the book doesn't apply to me as that so many of the things that are important to me aren't in the book. Rubel discusses the protocols that relate to his slave in her capacities as his "valet, butler, chef, secretary, hostess, entertainer, research assistant, nurse, healer, maid, kinky play partner and sex partner extraordinaire," but there's nothing here that sheds any light on the question of how to integrate M/s protocols with my role as sweetheart, wife, and best friend. There's nothing wrong with this, per se - Rubel is writing, as he should, according to what he lives and believes - but it will make this book more appealing and useful to some prospective readers than to others.
There's one definite flaw I couldn't help noticing in this book, and it would be almost too minor to mention if it didn't speak indirectly to the author's credibility. Throughout the book, Rubel repeatedly emphasizes the importance he places on correct English and precise diction, with special attention to the connotations of words. Poor grammar and vocabulary, he writes, "[jar] the senses (like discordant music)." Later, he states, "I am sensitive to regional speech patterns my slave uses and have required that the slave eliminate them." (For example, she's not allowed to say "I'd like for you to help me"; she has to say "I'd like you to help me.") In Chapter 3, Rubel tells us that he and his slave "explore and discuss" over dinner "differences between such words as: decry/descry, pore/pour, and tortuous/torturous." Imagine my amusement, then, ten pages later, when Rubel informs us that "statements [that imply that the slave acted of her own will] are contrary to the core tenants of a Master/slave relationship." (Apparently they hadn't made it as far as "tenant/tenet" just yet.) In the same paragraph, Rubel speaks of "an accidental mishap." (As opposed to a deliberate mishap, I suppose.) In fact, the whole book is full of just such subtle errors: errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, agreement. There are some passages in which Rubel shifts inappropriately between second and third person ("Make sure the boots are clean: I do not want you to polish in any dirt. The slave will use saddle soap to clean the boots"). Perhaps most unforgivably as concerns shoddy editing, Rubel at one point refers the reader to Appendix C, when what he's talking about is really in Appendix D.
"Protocols" is a book that does contain much of value, but readers are more likely to find it generally inspiring than particularly useful. Those with a particular interest in formal high protocol in Leather settings will find it invaluable, but those whose approach to the M/s dynamic tends to be more casual will find it little more than an intriguing, intimate curiosity.
Although I do agree with some of the reviewers that the material is slightly askewed towards being myoptic on his own protocols, I believe his intention has come across greatly in that he is saying (and instructing the reader) that "hey, this is how I created my protocols, this is why i created my protocols and you can use this as an outline to get your protocols up and running." In this regard, I believe he has come across just fine.
This manual has helped me to identify areas that I had not considered before and create my own protocol manual for my relationship; I can state with fact that if I had not had this handbook as a guidance source, my protocol manual would not be as useful a tool as it has come to be.
My advice to anyone considering this handbook for purchase is to buy it at the same time as the companion book from the Power Exchange series titled "Protocols, a Variety of Views" by the same author. Between the two books, you will get a singular and well as a panormic idea of the purpose and implementation of protocols in a M/s or D/s lifestyle.