S/slashy speak

The promised rant about S/stupid P/people W/who W/write L/like T/this.

To be clear, I’m perfectly fine with any way people want to communicate with each other *in private*. If capitalizing pronouns only when referring to dominant people is a satisfying way to make your submissive mindful of exactly how he or she writes, go nuts! But when you smear your private protocols all over a public forum, I think it’s fair for people to complain.

There are three main reasons why S/slashy speak and capitalization only of dominant people’s names bother me so much.

1. It’s difficult to read. S/slashy speak is especially bad, but capitalization abuse also ruins the flow of a sentence. Blogs, forums, and chat rooms are written mediums. If you want people to read what you’ve written, you have a responsibility to write clearly and concisely. If you insist on using txt speak (u instead of you, r instead of are, and so on) when you have a qwerty keyboard at your disposal, or ramble on and on, you have no right to complain about not being taken seriously.

Seriously, what did the English language ever do to you? There’s no need to torture it like that. I’m perfectly willing to give a pass to people who aren’t native English speakers or who just have trouble spelling (I know a few perfectly clever people who simply can’t spell very well no matter how hard they try), but if your English is otherwise fine I have to assume you’re more interested in showing off how high protocol you are than in communicating.

2. It puts all all dominant identified people above all submissive identified people, which I’m really uncomfortable with. Dominant people as a group are absolutely not better, more worthy of respect, than submissive people as a group. Outside of silly capitalization rules, pronouns in English are only capitalized when referring to God. Equating dominant people to a supreme being like that is ridiculous.

Personally, I capitalize people’s names the way that they do – I look at the usernames attached to their blog posts or their twitter feeds. If someone were to point out that I spelled or capitalized their name wrong, obviously I’d correct it. I don’t get to decide how someone else’s name should be capitalized just because I declared myself dominant, and no one else gets to decide how my name should be capitalized just because they declared themselves high protocol.

3. It drags me into someone else’s scene without my consent. If capitalizing your dominant’s name and lower casing yours turns your crank, great! Just don’t drag me into it. The same way it’s inappropriate to call someone Mistress or Master when they’re not your mistress or master, it’s also inappropriate to capitalize/lowercase someone’s name and/or pronouns when they innocently wandered into a forum and tried to have a discussion. Protocol may be very important to you, but that doesn’t give you the right to apply your personal protocol willy nilly to everyone who crosses your path. Also, no matter how mcch you want to believe in a uniform protocol that all real, true, kinksters follow, there is NO universal protocol beyond basic politeness – don’t touch without permission, say please and thank you, etc. Believing otherwise is a clear inability to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.

11 thoughts on “S/slashy speak

  1. It drags me into someone else’s scene without my consent.

    Yes! Well said. The first argument–difficulty of reading a sentence with random capitals in the middle of it–is the most common reason this phenomenon bothers me, but the last one should be the most convincing to any responsible BDSMer. Even if you are a domist prick, you still don’t drag bystanders into your scene.

  2. I (personally) agree with all three points. Nevertheless, I’d have probably flipped these three reasons on their head since, IMHO, item 3 is more important than item 2 and both are more important than item 1. 🙂

    Also, a question:

    Outside of silly capitalization rules, pronouns in English are only capitalized when referring to God.

    I thought “God” was capitalized because it’s essentially a name? Or am I wrong and in fact it’s just out of some religious tradition?

    And while I’m on the subject, I always liked how both “I” and “God” are capitalized but somehow “I,” to the religiously-indoctrinated mind, is treated as an inferior to “God.” That makes no sense to me. But neither did the language in the Ten Commandments, so whatevs.

  3. Amen. I’ll uppercase a title with people I’m in a relationship with who prefer it. I sometimes use lowercase in reference to my bottom side (sandy). But that’s just a shorthand and it’s not necessary. Slash speak is hard to R/read and it’s anything but standard across the S&M universe.


  4. Yep, God gets capitalized because it’s essentially a name, and I believe ‘He’ and ‘His’ do as well when referring to God. Good point about ‘I’ being capitalized but somehow still inferior. That makes no sense to me either.

    Point 3 is definitely the most important one to me too, and I’m planning on using it to lead into another post about the trouble I’ve seen people have keeping fantasy and reality separate.

    Quite possibly my post would be more effective with the most important point at the beginning. I was trying to show a progression from the superficial irritation down to my core problem with capitalization rules, but I’m not sure that part came across very clearly. Oh well, I’ll just edit my next post more 🙂

  5. Ok, let me preface by saying I am a total grammar nazi, but I loved that you put your first point where you did
    The first way we encounter people online is their language use so to me, that may not be the most overarchingly important point but it is the objection that occurs to me first when I encounter S/slashy speak.

    The way you presented these points mirrors the way I find myself feeling when I see this C/crap (with all apologizes for those to whom S/slashy speak is the one true communication form).
    My visual language sensors go off first, then my rights-of-all-mankind sensors go off, then I get squicked out if I feel I am being dragged into someone’s scene against my will (which doesn’t always happen but it can).
    I think the second point might actually be the one that is the most important to me, but be that as it may…

    Building to your main point is a time honored writing approach.
    Maybe reverse the number order, like you are doing a count down?

    In any case, I’m so glad you wrote this!

  6. In defense of the practice, it can be useful in certain situations. In a random blog post from a stranger, you can say “W/we disagree! blah blah blah” — and that little slash contains a lot of information about your relationship, perhaps your position in such a relationship, and so forth. It stands in stead of a formal biography.

    But that is a fairly limited useful context, and for most circumstances it is a painful and annoying tradition that is rarely (if ever?) utilized well.

    Just to be clear though: as a more submissive type, I’ve only employed the language at the request of others, and I’d hate to be judged on it personally. I already do my judging internally on the relationship side of things. If you have qualms with the practice, be sure to bring it up with other /dominants/ you meet – and hopefully we can end it together!

    But blaming submissives for it’s use – and dominants blaming their submissives for not using it in response – is using little peons to fight your wars without ever transmitting information to the enemy side. Not saying that Stabbity here is saying that, just putting it out there for reference. 😀

  7. That’s true, saying people shouldn’t use silly capitalization rules when they’ve been told to by their dominants puts those submissive people in an awkward position through no fault of their own. If I were submissive, I’d have serious trouble respecting someone who wanted me to abuse the English language and make my forum posts hard to read, though. …Maybe that’s one more reason I’m not submissive – I’m just not willing to budge on an issue if I’m convinced I’m right 🙂

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