Titles and Honorifics

It’s one of those topics that comes up every once in awhile. What is the appropriate use of titles and honorifics, if there is one? Generally speaking, titles and honorifics are used to address Dominants as “Ma’am, Sir, Master, Mistress, etc.” While this is something that is wide spread online and in various e-lists and forums, in some circles – this carries over into real time at times too.

When we look at the WHY and WHEN we use titles, I believe it’s one of those things that we generally don’t give a lot of thought. The number one reason I hear people don’t use titles or honorifics always is until the dominant shows they deserve the respect then the submissive will show it too them through a title or honorific. But that is not the reason for why I don’t address every dominant by a title or honorifics. So when I read the various threads dealing with the topic, it made me examine my own thoughts and feelings about the subject. I then saw other reasons — matter of general courtesy, a degree of hierarchal element (being subordinate to a dominant), and basically be at a state of protocol to help remind the submissive/slave of their place.

It’s important to note that there are a wide variety of opinions on the subject ranging from an “absolute no way in hell” all the way to “it’s a slave’s way and therefore it’s what a slave is supposed to do.” Another note of mention is how there are varied grayed layers and levels that are employed in the lifestyle. So regardless of your personal feelings on the subject, you’re likely to find agreement with someone.


One of the most basic arguments discussed was the concept of courtesy and how it’s already being utilized in everyday life. We say “Sir” or “Ma’am” when we talk to a police officer or to a judge. The argument is that we’re courteous to them because they are authority figures and thus dominants are also so just use a title or honorific with dominants too. While this may be true, I believe it ultimately comes down to how you were raised. I was raised to call authority figures by their titles and I still do so to this day but that is not Sir or Ma`am for me. A judge would be referred to as Judge Last-name. The officer would be addressed the same way: “Thank you Officer Smith.” A teacher when I was a young girl in school was Mr. or Mrs. and not Sir or Ma`am. Also whether or not a dominant rises up to the level of an authoritarian type figure is ultimately up to the individual.

I don’t use honorifics as a form of courtesy with dominants. In a public setting I generally use first names. Even those that I am not particularly fond of, or those that I don’t respect, I still treat them politely and use their name. It was how I was raised and something that has stayed with me throughout the years. I’m not using titles or honorifics, but I’m still courteous and polite to them. A person can be polite and courteous without having to use an honorific and so the argument of it being courtesy to use a title or honorific does not work for me.


If a person can be polite and courteous without using Sir or Ma`am, then what about the argument dealing with the hierarchical structure of the lifestyle: dominants are higher, further up and overall above the level of the submissive? This argument makes the implication that all dominants should be considered in this plane of existence when in realistic terms that is not true.

Furthermore, this type of argument applies to every dominant, to everysubmissive because the hierarchy would be absolute. Now I have a problem with this because I don’t feel subordinate to all dominants. In fact, I feel subordinate to very few dominants. I could “play along” and utter “Sir” whenever a dominant graces me with their presence, but it wouldn’t be genuine. It wouldn’t be real.

My initial views on this subject came about because of my past. There is a dominant insisted that all submissives called him Master or at least Sir. At first, I had no issue with calling him by his title because I felt “it.” “It” is that level of dominance that just pours off of them and wraps around you, making you giddy and weak in the knees. It’s that level, that presence that could be felt in a crowd of people. But I was inexperience and naive at the time so as time went on, I realized that it was a façade and then my “it” feeling waned and eventually went away.

I saw that he was insisting that those around him address him by the titles because it made him feel good, empowering him and that gave him his “domly glow.” So it basically turned into a rather large ego trip, he became much more of a novelty than someone of substance. So the argument can be made that the hierarchy was being held in place due to a façade, a ploy to feed his ego and would make it feel fake deep down.

After this experience, I find more and more dominants that carried the same façade traits within them. It’s a discernible pattern that otherwise diminishes the hierarchy of those dominants that really do have “it.” I have found that it’s those that carry a “natural” dominance about them – that invoke a honorific and title because it is genuinely felt and held deeply. Typically, these dominants don’t make such an imposition because of how they carry themselves, naturally, with assured composure that resonates as someone who is genuine and is not trying to impress the world by pumping their ego. Master asked me if I called him Sir right away, as he could not remember; I did because it came out naturally. There was a natural hierarchy with him. Being real, being genuine compelled a natural response from me….his title.

Reminder of place:

So what if someone uses honorifics and titles as an inner re-enforcement of their place in the lifestyle. While this may be a considered a viable option for some, I’m reminded that there are so many other ways to remind someone of their place that does not require someone to use honorifics and titles in such a manner. This is especially true in our case because we try to live our lives through the use of protocols and rituals that are seemingly invisible when used in front of vanilla people. I am a firm believer in making your lifestyle and life flow seamlessly into a natural ebb and flow so that no matter if you are in the grocery store, a PTA meeting or at home you’re always living your life – your lifestyle. If I’m using honorifics and titles to be a reminder of my place in the lifestyle, then I think I have to seriously question how much of the lifestyle is apart of my life if I have to section it off so much because a person often does not use them around those not in the lifestyle. So is it really reminding the submissive or slave of their place. I think there are other ways that could be a reminder of place that would have a more consistent place in the submissive/slave’s life.

We have a tendency to throw such words out there without contemplating what they mean to us personally and collectively. It’s not a cataclysmic, lifestyle-ending process if we throw “Ma’am” and “Sir” around like sock puppets, but we’re also diminishing the true meaning and heart felt passion wrapped around those titles and honorifics.

As a submissive, you may or may not use a title or honorifics but I pose to you to examine why and when you use them or not. In that end all that matters is if you use them because it is what you want to do it and so that they don’t lose their true intention behind them.

© within reality: danae 2005 – all rights reserved