Ethical bratting is one of those phrases I’ve been using for so long, that I’m not sure if I made it up or just heard it somewhere. When I was new to the scene, I was a brat, like many new submissives.
And don’t get me wrong, I can still be bratty with certain people. We all have bratty moments, I think. But I no longer identify as a brat and haven’t for a very long time.
It’s the easiest transition to submitting because in a lot of ways it replicates what we experience in childhood. Someone in authority gives us rules. We break them. We get punished — rinse and repeat.Read more: Ethical Bratting 101
I’m a prankster and I have a wicked sense of humor, so bratting really wasn’t out of my line anyway. I noticed right away that a lot of people in the scene didn’t like brats, but they tended to like me. Even people who said they couldn’t stand brats, generally were fine with me. It didn’t take long to figure out why.
I tried very hard to be ethical about my bratting. That can mean a lot of things. A big one is not overstepping other people’s boundaries.
If someone clearly didn’t enjoy being around bratting, I avoided doing things like that to them, or when they were right there. I didn’t target them. It’s not fun if only one person is having a good time.
Brats are not everyone’s cup of tea. You have people who don’t feel brats count as submissives (untrue) and want them excluded because of that. You also have those who feel uncomfortable with the chaos that bratting creates.
And you will always have some Doms who take D/s very seriously. They have very little sense of humor when it comes to submissive behavior. They frown at any submissives who aren’t meek and absolutely respectful.
Which means they don’t like SAMs (Smart-Ass masochists) much either. They have their lane and that’s fine. They are allowed to feel that way.
But some brats are like cats. They can sense when someone in the room doesn’t like them, and they will go out of their way to give that person lots of attention. On top of that, many brats will target people to annoy, on purpose, knowing that they have rules about who they can play with.
If your Dom/Top/Caregiver doesn’t allow anyone to spank you aside from them, then you should not be bratting anyone but them. In the scene bratting is an attempt to get punishment. If you can’t be punished, then you are just aggressively annoying someone for your own amusement. At times, that goes right over the line into bullying.
Yes, Doms can be bullied. Acting up to get in trouble so the Top can vent their frustrations on your butt is one thing. Acting up only to smirk and say, “Sorry, I’m not allowed to play with anyone but my Dom,” is just obnoxious behavior.
I do want to clarify here, that I mean deliberately targeting someone with bratty behavior. I am definitely not saying that you have to act submissive and meek around all Doms. Being sassy isn’t bratting. You don’t owe every Dom who walks by submissive behavior.
If you’re naturally sarcastic and a smart ass, and you’re not just doing it specifically to annoy someone, then that doesn’t count as bratting. Sometimes Tops do misunderstand this, or make assumptions based on that, because some of them expect every person who identifies as a bottom to act submissive to them.
In the old days it was almost demanded at scene events, but that’s changed a lot as the concept of consent has become more nuanced. Doms/Tops please remember that you are not automatically owed an elevated level of respect because of your role in the scene.
And I do want to add that certain online affectations have added to this over the years. Chatrooms, groups, and boards where submissives aren’t allowed to cap their own name. Where you can be punished if you don’t cap a dominant person’s name in a conversation. Having to capitalize or lower-case your pronouns based on your scene role—all of these have helped give the impression that when you go out to a club submissives owe you a certain standard of respect that is beyond normal politeness.
That’s not the case. You deserve the same respect that they deserve, unless you know them well and have some kind of bond with them. I’m not going to get any deeper into this right now because I think it deserves its own article later, but I did want to clarify what I mean by bratting.
But Doms who take everything very seriously are only one group who don’t like brats. The reason the vast majority of players don’t like brats is simpler than that. Brats tend to get out of control pretty quickly.
When you get excited and you’re having a good time, it’s very easy to get too hyper and go over the line. That happens even when you aren’t a brat, but it does seem to happen a lot more with people who identify as brats in the scene.
Going over people’s boundaries, being loud and interrupting other scenes, drawing all the attention, accidentally, or on purpose, including people in your play who don’t want to be involved—those are all things that can happen when you aren’t ethical about your bratting.
When I was new to the scene, I was known for my pranks, but I also knew when to stop. If someone seemed annoyed by it, or said they didn’t like bratting, I would stay away from them, so they didn’t accidentally get included. Again, it’s only fun if everyone is having fun.
I didn’t target strangers because I had no idea if they would enjoy that play. And when we were at clubs, I tried to keep things contained because many times those places are one big packed room. What you do totally affects everyone around you, even when you don’t mean it to.
I accepted the consequences, and I cleaned up my messes. I’m not exactly sure how to explain this better but… I balanced the chaos I created by being helpful too. In other words I bratted a small percentage of the time so I didn’t drive everyone nuts, and then the rest of the time I participated in other ways.
This made room for other people to have fun, to be in the spotlight, to just chat without background mayhem. I got my share of the attention without insisting that everyone pay attention to me all the time, and I think that’s really important when it comes to ethical bratting.
If you want to make sure that people enjoy your play, ethical bratting is a good concept to embrace.
I’m going to wrap up with a list of things you should be doing if you want to take on the brat role in the BDSM scene. There will always be some people who don’t like you, for whatever reason, but if you are ethical in how you play, most people will accept you.
Here’s a quick list of ways to brat ethically:
- When playing pranks be careful not to cause real damage. I was always fond of paper confetti because it makes a mess, but it’s very easy to vacuum or sweep up. Watch out for squirt guns around electronics, etc.
- If you make a mess, clean it up. Don’t leave other people to clean it up.
- If a dominant person says they don’t want to be bratted… leave them out of it. Bratting them if they say no is non-consensual and inappropriate.
- Don’t brat anyone that you aren’t willing to play with. If you’re not allowed to play with anyone but your Dom, then you can’t brat anyone but your Dom.
- Accept the consequences that come from getting in trouble.
- Read the room. If people are looking upset or angry when you’re acting up, then this might not be a crowd that enjoys brats.
- Don’t interrupt other people’s scenes with your chaos.
- Don’t be exhausting. The point of punishment is to correct a behavior. Getting up from a spanking and doing the same thing (or something as bad) with the same person immediately gets exhausting. People won’t want to play with you if they feel like you’re using them as spanking robot set on infinite play.
- Don’t throw other subs under the bus, even if they are also brats. What does this mean? It means if you do something wrong, don’t blame someone else for it. This is important because if someone thinks they were the one bratting, they’ll try to spank them—something the other sub didn’t consent to initiate. It can end up with awkwardness all around.
And other subs will resent you doing that.
- Not all bratting behaviors are physical. While you can get away with being sassy or sarcastic as part of your natural personality, specifically targeting a particular Dom to tease or mock usually is considered to be bratting. There are too many nuances here to be more specific than that, but don’t think that it won’t be considered bratting just because it’s verbal.
- If you’re not looking for consequences, then you should be careful not to go over the line with how much you tease.
- It’s okay to get excited, we all do. But while you’re excited try to pay attention to what’s going on around you.
-Are people trying to relax, or have a serious scene nearby that you might be ruining?
-Are you so busy playing that you don’t notice people getting angry? (Not play angry but REAL angry.)
-Are you hogging all the Bossy people because you won’t behave, leaving nothing for other bottoms? We all like to be the center of attention, but you have to share the spotlight.
So, in conclusion…
Bratting can be tons of fun and if you do it right, the people around you will have fun too. Unfortunately, many brats don’t do this, which is why the role is often looked down on. But you have the option to be bratty without overwhelming everyone around you.
It’s your choice, but I really suggest ethical bratting, if this is a role you want to take on.
2 Replies to “Ethical Bratting 101”
Another excellent article, thank you. I particularly like your historical perspective and recognition that the concept of consent has become much more nuanced over time. That absolutely tallies with my experience and isn’t something I hear discussed often.
So weird. I replied to this last week but it doesn’t look like my comment showed up. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I know I’m a little wordy sometimes, but I really like to get into the details on things. And I aim for things people just don’t tend to talk about much whenever I notice a gap.