Dec 102012
 

For your amusement (and for your information), I present the twenty-third installment in Dumb Domme’s BDSM Lexicon, “BDSM capitalization.”

View all past entries here.


BDSM capitalization, n., [bee-dee-es-em kap-i-tl-uhzeyshuhn] (spelled) /bi-diː-ɛs-ɛm ˌkæpɪtləˈzeɪʃən/ (IPA)


Definition:

BDSM capitalization, n.: The annoying practice of fucking with standard rules of pronoun capitalization in order to indicate role or status. (because you, your role, and your dynamic are WAY too important to adhere to convention…)


Usage:

“Whenever my boy feels bad about something he’s done wrong, he tends to slip back into using BDSM capitalization. It’s a classic demonstration of stage 4, using unwanted or unnecessary protocol to show remorse. For more information, see D. Domme, (2012) “Stages of ‘Sorry’: A Case Study in Understanding Male Submissive Behaviors.”

“BDSM capitalization is a way of showing respect to a dominant by taking a metaphorical dump on the rules of standard English grammar.”


Explanation:

BDSM capitalization is the use of non-standard capitalization rules for pronouns and proper nouns in order to indicate a person’s role as submissive or dominant (or any of the variations such as sub, little, boy, girl, bottom, slave or dom, domme, domina, master, mistress, top, etc).

In writing, people capitalize pronouns that refer to dominants and use lower case for pronouns that refer to submissives. Pronouns can be first, second, or third person, and singular or plural.

For the purposes of not confusing the fuck out of this, the examples below apply to a female dominant and a male submissive.

as written by a dominant female as written by a submissive male
first person singular I, Me, My, Mine, Myself i, me, my, mine, myself
second person singular you, your, yours, yourself You, Your, Yours, Yourself
third person singular he, him, his, himself She, Her, Hers, Herself

Of course, there are plurals too, but I’m not going to get into the Ours and Wes and Theirs and Theys.

 

Examples:

[dominant writing to her submissive]: Dear submissive sam, I’m leaving My pet turtle with you while I’m out of town. I trust you’ll take care of what’s Mine until I return. you know what to do — give Fluffy one pinch of turtle food and fresh water daily.

[submissive writing to his dominant]: Yes, Goddess Terrapin, i will care for Your beloved Fluffy while You are away.

[submissive a writing about his dominant]: i agreed to watch my Goddess’ pet turtle when She went out of town. The first night She was away, i reheated some leftover pizza for myself, gave Fluffy his food and fresh water, and we ate dinner together watching Animal Planet (i thought She would appreciate that I gave Her turtle some extra TLC in Her absence.) When i woke up the next morning, Fluffy was dead! It was then i realized i mixed up the containers — i accidentally fed Fluffy red pepper flakes and sprinkled turtle food flakes on my pizza! i can’t believe this happened! i know She will be heartbroken to learn Her beloved pet is dead and She will be angry with me for not taking care of what’s Hers.

[dominant writing to her submissive]: submissive sam, where is Fluffy? When I returned home, instead of finding My turtle, the aquarium was empty! Also, why does Fluffy’s aquarium smell like pizza?

[submissive writing to his dominant]: Goddess Terrapin, i offer You my condolences on the death of Your turtle. i’m not sure what happened…

 

Rationale:

d/s capitalization shows respectUse of D/s capitalization is supposed to show respect or some such shit. Because, really, nothing says respect like hitting the shift key while typing ‘y.’ No, really. doMInAnT bitches love the shift key. Nothing makes a DOmInANt feel loved, appreciated, and respected like the fucking shift key.

Besides a show of respect, using D/s capitalization is supposed to help people reinforce their roles and their partner’s roles. Because… you know, the SHIFT KEY!

 

History:

Some sources suggest the BDSM capitalization came into practice with Old Guard Leather protocols that demanded submissives and slaves refer to themselves in the third person. In writing, subs/slaves had to use all lowercase for their names. For example, if a slave wanted a glass of water, instead of saying/writing “Can I go get a glass of water?” a slave would say/write, “Would it please you if slave alex went to get a glass of water?”

Also, a couple of sources suggest the funky capitalization was a practical convention used in online chatrooms to convey one’s role and identify the roles of others.

 

Does Dumb Domme?:

Fuck no.

I am submissive to grammar — I adhere to its rules and conventions. I’m grammar’s bitch.

I’m not important enough to want to subvert the whole fucking system in order to make myself feel more dominant or make my sub feel more submissive. If my submissive and I are relying on non-normative application of the shift key to reinforce our roles, we’ve got a much bigger problem.

Besides that, the fact that you might identify as submissive doesn’t mean you’re submissive to me.  Don’t try to indicate otherwise with your fucked up capitalization. In the same regard, just because I’m dominant, it doesn’t mean I’m dominant to you. Don’t place me in that position without my permission.

For the record, your capitalization errors don’t indicate respect — they indicate that you haven’t read my blog and don’t know that d/S and bDsM cAPiTAlizATioN are on my list of hard limits

 


works consulted: Morningbird, Sarah. “Historical Use of Capitalization,” Subs Helping Subs  •  Domino. “BDSM Theory 101Iris Says  •  “Copy Editor VS. BDSM Capitalization” PantrySlut  •  Rinella, Jack. “Slavese and Other Crap,”Leather and Roses
 

  36 Responses to “BDSM Lexicon Entry #23: BDSM capitalization”

  1. Ha. Couldn’t agree more. It drives me nuts whenever I see it. I’ve had dommes do it in introductory emails to me, which instantly makes me not want to talk further with them.

    I’ve ranted on it in the past, although not so amusingly as this:
    http://www.femdom-resource.com/2010/12/29/capitalization-bullshit/

    -paltego

    • @paltego: Perhaps because I identify as dominant, it irks me WAY more when it comes from dominants than from subs, especially in introductory emails and forums where there’s no established relationship between the parties. Even if I did endorse strange capitalization as a way to indicate role, I’m not in that role with everyone in a forum or with people I have no prior relationship with, so it just seems particularly presumptuous and egotistical.

      Plus, I imagine that submissives get chastised for not using BDSM capitalization far more often than dominants do, so I understand s-types doing it to play it safe (and/or to avoid being reprimanded about something so trivial).

      Great post, BTW. I started including something about slash-speak and something else about readability, but I realized the post would be far too long to read! Plus, I’m working on a different anti-BDSM-capitalization argument (from a readability standpoint) for a follow-up post. :)

      • it irks me WAY more when it comes from dominants than from subs, … I’m not in that role with everyone in a forum or with people I have no prior relationship with, so it just seems particularly presumptuous and egotistical.

        This, and yes. I’m always thinking: I did not agree to engage in this dynamic with you, so stop it already!

        PS “I adhere to it’s rules and conventions.” = its ;)

        • @DomDomme: “PS “I adhere to it’s rules and conventions.” = its ;)”

          I have no idea what you’re talking about.

          ;)

  2. Nice rant. You’re delightfully funny and of course you’re right. It’s a bit silly.

    On the other hand, um, you know, i do it. Um, i just did it. And again. And i’m a big fan of grammar and punctuation too. But this is different for me.

    So i started to do a whole long comment about why i do it, and why i’ll continue to do it {even though it annoys you ~ and i am sorry about that} but then i realized it’s a blog post waiting to happen. So i’m going home to write it.

    Thank you for starting the discussion! :-)

    aisha

    • @aisha: Thank you. :) Yes, it’s a bit silly, but lots of what we do is silly… and particularly lots of what I do is silly! It sorta falls under the umbrella of “your kink is not my kink.”

      And for the record, it doesn’t bother me so much when people do it on their own blogs or in forums where that sort of thing is an established rule (although it does make things difficult to read, but I have another post in draft for that!). When you’re writing on your blog, about your relationship, you make the rules and you do what makes you comfortable and happy. Heck, it doesn’t even bother me so much when submissive identifying people (like you) use “i” over here when they’re referring to themselves. You’re entitled to refer to yourself however you choose.

      What irks me beyond annoyance is when s-types refer to me as “You,” even after I’ve (politely) said I don’t like it. It’s either 1) putting me in a position “over” the s-type without my consent (making me a participant in a dynamic that doesn’t exist–one they imagine), 2) ignoring my preferences in favor of their own, or 3) adhering to a convention for no damn-good reason.

      If you’re going to do it, you’re doing it right — you can refer to yourself however you choose, but you didn’t refer to me as “You,” so thank you for that!

      I look forward to reading your post! You’ll have to come back here and link to it. :)

      I’m enjoying your blog, BTW, and look forward to reading more!

  3. It is funny, to me, how you’re even grammar dominant. As a person who loves English, appreciate the Lexicon lesson.

    • @Cammies: Grammar Dominant! Ha! I wish. I hesitate to say as much because I’m sure I have more than a few unintentional errors here and there (and intentional ones — I’m liberal with my em dashes!).

      I prefer to be submissive to grammar (at least to the best of my ability!)

  4. Thank you! Thank you!

    Finally someone else from the “top end” of the spectrum, who finds this practice the non-plus-ultra in silliness. The only more maddening than blogging subs minding their P’s & Q’s capitalization rules, are slaves who are no longer allowed to use the first person singular or plural forms.

    It’s like reading dialogue out of Jule Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”, in which Pierre Aronnax’s servant Conseil stubbornly refuses to address anyone in any other form other than the third person singular/plural.

    One would think all dom/mes are like Dr. Frankenstein, who have a pet Igor running around saying things like “Does Master wish Igor to go up on the roof, and switch the electricty on?”

    • @PhareDuFour:

      “…slaves who are no longer allowed to use the first person singular or plural forms.”

      I have to wonder whether those individuals aren’t allow to use first person forms in all aspects of their life? Like, if they’re at the grocery store shopping all by themselves, do they have to say: “Excuse slave sam, but can you help slave sam get the toilet paper down from the high shelf?”

      “One would think all dom/mes are like Dr. Frankenstein, who have a pet Igor running around saying things like ‘Does Master wish Igor to go up on the roof, and switch the electricty on?'”

      Yes. Yes we are. Besides that, we always speak in the first person… ‘Master Dumb Domme does wish her slave would go to the roof to switch the electricity on.” Also, we all turn our electricity on via the roof… that too. :)

  5. Wonderfully put and very funny.

    BTW, I have just discovered your blog (courtesy of paltego’s page) and I’m really enjoying it.

  6. Bravo! What a great bit of writing. Thank you.

  7. You are hilarious commenter/satirist about life. Very amusing post. You made me smile…(Hmmmm was that capitalization normal grammar or was it BDSM-grammar??)

    Warm regards always and thanks for sharing.

    • @DC: Thank you! I’ll accept being a commenter, but I’m not quite at satire yet (at least not good satire). Honestly, I think I have it in me, but it would take me at least a month to write a post.

      “You made me smile…(Hmmmm was that capitalization normal grammar or was it BDSM-grammar??)”

      Also, I’m going to assume it was standard capitalization, but only because you respect Me and My wishes, right? ;)

  8. Ah, I am so glad that aisha mentioned your rant. It cracked me up.

    I write a lot of stories, and some of them have D/s relationships, but I have never used the I/i thing. I understand the reasons, yet don’t care for it. I have enough issues with grammar because I speak other languages. I write in dialog too.

    Thank you again for your lovely rant.

    • @Wordwytch: So glad you found me!

      I hear you. I get why people do it, but I don’t care for it either. Writing in dialogue — that’s something I’ve struggled with. I never knew how difficult it was until I tried it!

      (And now I have to sneak on over to Aisha’s to read her take! I didn’t know it was up already!)

      • I look forward to reading your blog.

        I have to admit that writing the way that someone speaks is much harder than you’d think. I have a series of werewolf stories where the one character is Metis. So, I wouldn’t have him saying…”Yes, that is very difficult.” Instead, he says… “Aye, it ver’ hard. You make that work eh?”

        It kills the grammar engine.

        • @Wordwytch: Ha! I never thought of how frustrating it might be to deal with grammar check when you’re purposefully writing non-standard English! Auto-correct must be even worse!

  9. I am submissive to grammar — I adhere to its rules and conventions. I’m grammar’s bitch.

    Yes to this! I wish I’d been half so clever years ago in IRC. (Instead I just left. Communities can have their own rules, but I won’t stick around if those rules are bizarre and really uncomfortable.) Though perhaps it would be fun to be a persnickety switch and demand to be addressed as Y/you in order to encompass both. That’s an appropriate request to make of people with whom one has no relationship, but may consider having one in the future, yes?

    • @GingerNic: “fun to be a persnickety switch and demand to be addressed as Y/you in order to encompass both. That’s an appropriate request to make of people with whom one has no relationship, but may consider having one in the future, yes?”

      Ha! I like it. In the future, I may ask that potential subs address me as Madam-Ma’am-Master-Domme-Goddess, just in case I decide one of those honorifics is appropriate at a later date! Love it!

  10. Yes, I m wasting time, reading FetLife instead of beating my head against the wall or doing other stuff I m not supposed to do. Your blog entry is what I needed, nay, just what the Doctor ordered. LOL I can still see that poor turtle, I know I shouldn t laugh, but your writing description just nailed it, thank you again.

    • @TFDrifterJJRX: Yay! I love being a time-waster! I’m excellent at finding ways to waste my own time, so I’m probably an expert at wasting other people’s time.

      I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks for the comment!

  11. Ah poor Fluffy. Death by spicing. I wonder if Mistress Terrapin will stuff him. Or maybe make soup?

    You made me laugh out loud for which I am oh-so-grateful! Thanks!!

  12. Must be something in the water round this time of year.

    http://www.bondageblog.com/2012/12/12/submissives-without-capitalization/

  13. I absolutely love your definition of BDSM capitalization. It’s one of my big pet peeves too. Not only is it hard to read, but it’s just weird to act like there’s a power dynamic between strangers on the internet.

    • Thanks, Stabbity!

      Yeah, it is weird when people pretend there’s some dynamic when they’ve never conversed before.

      And on being hard to read, yes! I actually started a post on my argument against BDSM capitalization from a readability standpoint before I did this post. I’m still working on the visual aids for that one, but it’s coming up soon. :)

  14. Getting stalky but just can’t help myself. Fuck, yes.


    Besides that, the fact that you might identify as
    submissive doesn’t mean you’re submissive to
    me . Don’t try to indicate otherwise with your
    fucked up capitalization. In the same regard,
    just because I’m dominant, it doesn’t mean I’m
    dominant to you. Don’t place me in that
    position without my permission.”

    aka: I’m not your Miss.

    ….don’t you think that part of it is a wank fodder? As in getting off on having a somewhat onesided and incredibly presumptous “interaction with a dominant” ?

    On the other side, I come from a culture where pronouns are capitalized in written comms, and there are (personal, individual, special and agreed) exchanges in which I like being You/Your-ed. But I think I’d just die laughing if I Myself tried to talk about My stuff in that manner… wait…

    • Getting stalky but just can’t help myself. Fuck, yes.

      I’m enjoying your stalkery!

      ….don’t you think that part of it is a wank fodder? As in getting off on having a somewhat onesided and incredibly presumptous “interaction with a dominant” ?

      Abso-fucking-lutely. While sometimes it seems like a terribly misguided attempt at ‘following rules’ or being ‘respectful,’ most of the time, I think it’s just some guy typing with one hand, imaginging (wanting) some porn-o-fied ice queen on the other end of the interweb connection. I mean, that’s fine and all, but does the wanker really even need me for that?

      I mean, he could just imagine I’m such an ice queen that I’m completely ignoring him… that oughta help him finish. :D

  15. How refreshing! I’ve met other self-proclaimed dominants who’ve said they couldn’t care less about capitalization protocols but you’re the first I’ve even heard of who straight up slags it as the pathetic sham is generally comes across as. Besides the reasons you outlined for why it feels weak, phony, and even insulting, I think the practice screams insecurity on the part of any so-called dominant who requires it — which just makes it harder to take them seriously. I mean just think about it: how fragile would your social confidence have to be before you actually start requring reassurances every few seconds that others (still) regard you as a dominant and are willing to prove it — not necessarily by being sincere or an interested listener, but by addressing you with a silly-sounding title or screwing with upper & lower case conventions in written pronouns just for you. It’s like artificially pumping up a timid child’s ego to avert tears at some minor disaster like whiffing on a softball pitch. You only it do it for the ones who (as is obvious to everyone) need it the most desperately. You do it to prevent them from falling to pieces in front of you. You do it to help, to bring them up to a functional level so they can interact with the rest of us and (at least sort of) pass for the role we’re straining to cast them in.

    >Sigh<

    • I think the practice screams insecurity on the part of any so-called dominant who requires it

      I don’t know that it’s always insecurity. There are many instances where I think dominants just do it because they’re copying what others have done; they’re adhering to the conventions of the “community” and don’t give it a second thought.

      Anyway, regardless of why people do it, I think it’s ridiculous. I can’t read writing with bDSm cAPiTaLs without rolling my eyes so hard that it makes me dizzy.

  16. For this, I say thank you, as an author(even if I’m just a wannabe who has yet to publish anything) reading this actually spells disrespect to me, like calling me Sir.

  17. Ok I’m new to this whole “scene” (even though there isn’t a scene where I live, BDSM is frowned upon by because of social norms and some guy named “god”) but I digress. Anyway, almost all the females I do know who could be labeled as “dominant” are really fussy about grammar, I think this could be an interesting correlation. (maybe intelligence and independence/ lack of regards for social norms, but irregular respect for “grammatical” norms)

    and as for your post, I like it, but I (submissive man using I) disagree. I use (would use) it, it is like the “du” and “Sie” system of German grammar. I also think that if someone decides to use this capitalization practice, they should either always use it, or not use it. Pick one and stick with it.

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