SilverHubby and Silverdrop

The word ‘Sir’ is sexual

“Another sub called me ‘Sir’ on Twitter today,” SilverDom told me over breakfast. It made him feel uncomfortable, and we spent a long time talking about why.

Context matters.

One person swats another person’s bottom. In one case, the two people are sporting team-mates showing casual encouragement. In another, they are two people who are dating. In a third, it is a boss and employee. In a fourth, it is two strangers on a crowded subway. The same gesture, but four different meanings.

The title ‘Sir’ can be said by a soldier in boot camp or a hurried waiter with different meanings, and may mean nothing at all when addressing a letter “Dear Sirs or Madames”. But in the context of BDSM, the word is charged with sexuality and power, and to use it in that context is to invoke all of those meanings.

The word ‘Sir’ is a sexual word. It is a sexual act both to say it, and to hear it. Let’s not pretend otherwise. And just as any sexual act, it can be used consensually and nonconsensually.

As you would with any sexual act, ask before you do it. “May I call you Sir?” will do nicely.


SilverDom’s thoughts

As Silverdrop and myself became disabled – a process which happened slowly over a few years – we became somewhat reclusive. I work from home, and she is now bed/wheelchair-bound. We saw fewer and fewer people. This has only started to change, in ‘real’ life and cyber, in the last year or so.

I have been around so long that I was a sysop on a Compuserve forum that dealt with BDSM. In fact, I think witnessed the birth of the acronym. It comes from Bondage and Discipline/Dominance and Submission/Sadism and Masochism.

Suffice to say that I used to be much more active in the scene. Silverdrop was less so, as she came to it later and is somewhat younger than me. Anyway, I got quite used to coping with other subs calling me Sir. This would happen online and in 3D/’real’ life. The Old Guard Leather folks are quite formal and I think they typically require subs and bottoms to address all Doms and Tops as Sir. I have never been that formal, as it is just not my ‘style’.

I would smile, thank them for calling me Sir, then politely ask that they didn’t, as there was no need. I would go on to explain the agreement I had with my long term sub, and how that differed with short term play partners and finally kinksters with whom I had no connection at all. These basic rules have not changed, although my partners have. Here they are:

  1. “Master” is reserved for my primary partner – Silverdrop for 13 years and for ever and ever.  🙂
  2. “Sir” is what I ask temporary play partners to call me for the duration of play and aftercare. I would negotiate this with them and their primary partner if they have one.
  3. Anybody else calls me by my first name in 3D, or SilverDom/SD online.
  4. I would not ask my partner to address other Doms/Tops as “Sir” unless they were temporary playmate, for the reasons Silverdrop has said so eloquently already.

This morning, I handled it badly. In my (slight) defence, I was caught off-guard – it hasn’t happened for years. So I accept responsibility for it.

So, as Silverdrop says:

As you would with any sexual act, ask before you do it. “May I call you Sir?” will do nicely.

What are your thoughts?


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About silverdrop

Silverdrop and SilverHubby are a middle aged married opposite-sex couple living in the UK. Silverdrop is gender-queer and SilverHubby is pansexual. We use this blog to talk about our sex lives (especially our fanaticism about anal and pegging), share erotic photos, and offer sex toy reviews. Our [sex isn’t always great], mostly because of our health problems, but we always write honestly about it. Our kinks include BDSM, gender-play, pegging, roleplay, fantasy, and lots and lots of anal.

10 thoughts on “The word ‘Sir’ is sexual

  1. Heaven

    This would not be a issue for me because I raised to call everyone Sir or Ma’am. Even at times I hate to be called Ma’am by someone but if you were raised that way there is nothing you can do about it.

  2. sub-Bee

    I think it very much depends on the context. I have used the term Sir in a customer service position, especially if I was dealing with a complaint and only if I didn’t know their surname, it’s a term of respect and often diffused any potential aggression. I’ve also used it in a pseudo-military way when saluting someone in a teasing and playful way.

    However, as a D/s term I would never use it for anyone other than my partner, unless he asked me too. I certainly wouldn’t use it during any initial contact with someone, to me it’s a term of respect and that takes time to build. There has been a time in the past where someone we barely knew called him Sir, we both felt uncomfortable about it and said no. Even I hardly call him Sir, it’s usually only when I write about him that I actually use the term and as we don’t involve anyone else in our D/s dynamic it just doesn’t sit right that someone else would use it to address him.

  3. MrsJoJo (@Josephine_KK)

    OK, so I can see where the ‘sexual’ part of this comes into play but as an ex-member of the armed forces, the title ‘Sir’ was a sign of respect towards officers.
    For me, out of the bedroom, it is not a sexual term but in the bedroom, it is.
    I would assume people would use commonsense and ask if they can call you ‘Sir’ before doing so.

  4. Simina

    It is not a sexual word for me. I never liked it for my partners. It is what I called my play partners with which I had some D/s agreement but no romantic relationship. My first dom told me sir is what you call other people’s doms. It wasn’t something he required of me, but I wasn’t allowed to call him sir. With Daddy, when we were just playing around, it was sir, and when it became a relationship, it turned to master, and later, I requested daddy.

    I don’t call anyone in the scene sir or ma’am because of all the baggage attached to those words. Local vanilla culture has them as commonplace formal pleasantries. I call customers at work sir and ma’am because that’s what I’m required to do. There is no meaning behind it beyond not remembering their name and offering impersonal chipper customer service. In the scene, I do not subscribe to social differences between d-types and s-types, so I don’t acknowledge power preference with honorifics. If I used sir and ma’am, I would used them with all roles. But that’s not how I have ever naturally spoken.

  5. Malflic

    Hmmm this is tough one for me. First a little back story i grew up with a father who didn’t want to be “Mr. Malflic his line was that’s my father i’m just Ed.” So I adopted a similar approach in both vanilla and kink area’s of life. Titles have been a problem for me generically. There is a running joke with Alice calling me daddy teasingly (and we’ll assume it’s done with loving jest). Another former (occasional) play partner did the same thing but it came from a differnt place since there was an age gap. Now again it was usually meant as playful and was typically done to tease me (maybe in this case affectionately or to get me to threaten to spank her). We had a heavy verbal banter dynamic.

    Outside of that i really avoid titles in kink. I’m not a Sir and no one’s Master. Master is how mail was addressed to me by my grandparents. So right out of the gate most kink titles were taken up by completely vanilla over tones. So to your point on being called Sir.

    I hate it at work and it’s happening more often. Some is to do with my current “rank”, some with age but it’s an informal industry so i can tell folks just call me Mal and usually we’re all good. With the exception of one old timer everyone has listened. He’s 23 years my senior so i simply gave up and smile.

    In a general customer service situation it’s fine but if it will be and ongoing interaction again i simply ask them to call me by my first name, informal works best for me.

    Now for kink where words seems to have ao many loaded meanings. In a general introduction where a bottom (sub is equally a loaded term…for me. It is an identity but also can imply ownership, or other arrangements) calls me sir and is high protocol it usually is easy to correct much like in the work situation. “Very nice meet you please call me Mal”. If they are a known entity and introduced by a trusted friend i go one further and offer my birth first name to further imply the informality. If this is a dynamic they have as part of their relationship sometimes i just roll with it, others a simple “please i’m just Mal” statement is offered.

    I try to avoid the term in a scene but with a trusted few will allow it on a case by case negotiated basis. Tbis is my issue there is nothing wrong with it for people who like and agree to the use of the term.

    If it is done by friends mockingly with a sigh and an eye roll even in a kink setting I laugh along.

    Now for the tough one, the subbie type fishing for a top. Intent is everything, done in a generic “have a nice day sir” kind of way is easy to correct. For the bottoms who (i don’t know or have just met) that assume calling me Sir indicates some for of flirtation, intention to play, or dynamic and won’t respect this as a boundary of mine i take a hard line.

    They are not mine and i am not into simply feeling toppy with out an agreed arrangement. If it continues i excuse myself and walk as domly and politely as possible the other way. It’s a red flag.

    As for your situation today…you have the right to make the correction, obviously it has given you pause on how to handle it next time, and obviously had no malice intended. I wouldn’t give it another thought.

    Despite what some people believe Doms are people too. We have triggers good and bad which might be a topic for another day.

  6. domsigns

    To me the term “Sir” has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people and most of the use tends to fall into 2 categories. 1. Is in the vanilla world where it is a sign of deference or even just politeness by coworkers or colleagues where there is a perceived difference is power or sometimes just even in age.
    I have been called Sir by people who have worked for me and I have called people Sir who I have worked for. This is nothing more than a cultural observance and of course should be dealt with as such. This I think is a much more common occurrence at work in the US. While in the UK that seems to be something that is most often used in school (something that I have NEVER seen done in US schools) Being a old hippy myself I would tend to gently discourage people referring to me that way while myself still showing people of an older generation the politeness that they might expect.

    2. In D/s where there is no unified set of rules and every relationship is different this gets a great deal more complicated. I know that some subs are required by their Doms to show the respect of using Sir even if the person they are interacting with is not their Dom. This is certainly not a requirement that I have of my sub, because that is not what we have agreed on. Because a mind set and training are a very difficult thing to overcome sometimes I tend to be understanding to those who have difficulty making that exception to their norm while interacting with me.
    While this is all very easy to get wrong I don’t think you need to give yourself a hard time over this interaction.

  7. Alice King

    This is honestly a serious pet peeve of mine. Yes the term Sir is used in every day as a way of being poilite. That being said in any D/s context it is very sexual in nature. No different that calling someone Master/Mistress, Lord, Daddy, or whatever term a couple chooses.

    I get that some feel every sub/bottom should call every Dom/Top Sir however at the same time that does not make it appropriate outside of your group. I see this happen more often from Goreans. I also find it highly insulting as it has often times continued even after stating why it is not appreciated.

    The continued use of the term in my opinion shows a lack of respect for others D/s relationships.

    Guess I need to get off my soap box…..

  8. Stella

    In a BDSM context I would never call someone Sir who is not my Sir. Online and at social gatherings it itrritates me to no end hearing women who barely know the Doms calling them Sir, or a Dom who isn’t mine expecting me to refer to him as such. I’ve told more than a few off. Surprise, surprise.

    That being said though, I often use the term sir in everyday interactions. My son I even respond with “Yes sir?” when he is trying to get my attention. There is no reference to BDSM or D/s or any kind of sexual connotation to it whatsoever. It is just part of how I was raised.

  9. Marie Rebelle

    Thank you for this! There is one thing that irritates the shits (excuse my French) from me and that is that there are quite a number of subs out there who call men ‘Sir’ even though they are not their Doms/Masters. I refuse to do it. There is one who I call Sir and that is Master T and all other men are just… well men, whether they are dominant or not. I address them by their names. The title ‘Sir’ is not one I use lightly.
    I may sound harsh about this, but I feel quite passionate about it, as I have also recently blogged about this same subject.

    Rebel xox

  10. Tomio Black

    The thing about “Sir” or “Ma’am” is that those words are either filled with meaning or they are meaningless pleasantries. If they are meaningless; then there is no reason to use them other than to impress one’s self with one’s own manners. If they are meaningful; then there is no reason to use them unless one is intimately connected with the one being addressed.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is sexual, but it is a reflection of a sincere and somewhat unique relationship I have with Mistress Delila. It bothers me to hear others address her as “Mistress” because it either negates our relationship or it inserts someone where they are not wanted. Since it is clearly not meant to be nothing, it is overly familiar – like getting a tongue kiss when you expect a handshake.

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