Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook (6 page)

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The Gift of Submission

Much has been said in D/s circles about the
so-called
“Gift of Submission”
that is believed by many to be bestowed
upon a Dominant by his submissive.  For many, especially those who may be
new to the D/s lifestyle, it can be a concept with a great deal of
utility.  After all, it sometimes needs to be said that one’s submission
is not something that can be taken from you by force.  It is something
that you
give willingly
to someone who deserves it.  So, in the
sense that it is willingly
given
, submission is most definitely a
gift. 

There are also some people who may not fully
appreciate the very real and intrinsic
value
of one’s submission to her
Dominant.  If a submissive is plagued with serious self-esteem issues, she
may view
herself
as worthless and, therefore, her
submission
as
equally worthless.  In such a case, it becomes necessary and appropriate
to teach her that not only does
she
have value, but her
submission
is a gift of great value which should not be wasted on the unworthy.  In
such a case, the metaphor of submission as a
gift
can be very useful.

One occasionally hears discussion of the
gift of
submission
as something which must be
earned.
 I, for one, am
not entirely comfortable with that notion, but am certainly willing to take a
closer look at it.  Can you think of any other situation or scenario in
our society where
gifts
must be
earned?
 We have words for
the things we
earn
in our culture; words like
wages, paychecks, tips
and bonuses.
  I will certainly admit that a Dominant
should
earn a submissive’s trust, respect and love as their relationship evolves but,
at the beginning of any relationship, there is often going to be a significant
leap of faith
involved.  At that point, a Dominant may have
demonstrated certain traits that make him attractive and potentially
worthy
of such a
leap of faith
, but it is doubtful he has
earned
much.

A gift,
by definition
, is something that is
given with no strings attached and no expectation of getting anything in
return.  When something is bestowed upon another with the expectation of
getting something else in return, that is what the
legal beagles
like to
call
quid pro quo
, which is Latin for trading
“this for that.”
 
This begs the question, is a person’s submission to her Dominant a
gift
,
or is it
quid pro quo? 
Most people would respond that
every
submissive expects
something in return
for her submission.  That
something
may include love, respect, guidance, leadership, mentoring or affection, to
name just a few of the infinite possibilities.  So, yes,
there usually
are
strings attached.
  But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

By the way, one rarely -
if ever
- hears
mention of a
“gift of domination.”
  And no, I’m
not
just
looking for a crass opportunity to toot my own
Dommy horn
.  If a
person’s submission has intrinsic value then doesn’t a person’s
domination?  Since we’ve already firmly established the
quid pro quo
nature of most D/s relationships, then perhaps the most
useful
and
descriptive metaphor would be the notion of a
gift exchange. 
The
only explanation I have been able to come up with for this apparent lack of any
mention of the
gift of domination
is the fact that Dominants  –
with
their big honkin’ egos
- rarely have to be convinced of the value of their
contribution to a relationship.

Total Power Exchange

Domination/submission relationships are often
referred to as a form of
power exchange
or sometimes,
total power
exchange (TPE)
.  As we’ve mentioned previously, there is obviously
something
being mutually exchanged in these relationships, but what is it,
exactly

For many, it’s difficult to understand the notion that
power
is somehow
being exchanged in
both
directions between a submissive and a
Dominant.  One of the reasons it can be unclear is the fact that quite
often, we are talking about
two completely different relationship dynamics

On one hand, the
D/s dynamic
governs the emotions and interactions in a
long-term, committed, and loving D/s relationship.  On the other hand, the
BDSM dynamic
governs play activity and physical interactions with our
mates
and
play partners. 

Another reason for the general lack of clarity on
this issue may be that there are many different ways we can define
power. 
There is even some controversy over the question of whether something can
be considered
real
power if it isn’t
exercised or exploited

Some people believe that it isn’t so much
power
that is exchanged in
TPE, as it is
authority
.  The intrinsic difference between power
and authority can best be explained thusly:  If we were talking about a
car
,
then
power
would be what was under the hood. 
Exercising
that
power would mean taking the car out for a spin.  Having the
authority
to do so might involve a driver’s license, possessing the keys, or having the
title and registration.

In a long-term, committed D/s relationship,
both
power and authority are exchanged to an exponentially greater degree than in
any short-term, uncommitted BDSM
play scenario
.  The reasons for
this should be fairly obvious but, to the casual observer, the true nature of
the two way exchange may not be.  It may be easy to see the
authority
that a submissive grants to her Dominant to
exercise power
over her
life.  It’s also easy to see that, even though her Dominant may be
exercising
that power, the submissive always retains the power and authority to
revoke
it at will, at any time.  Additionally, she typically retains the power or
ability
to do for herself what she has granted her Dominant the
authority
to do; she simply chooses not to
exercise
that power. 

Consider the submissive who may be perfectly
capable
of managing her own household budget, but has ceded the
authority
to do
so to her Dominant.  Another example is the submissive who may be required
to get
permission
from her Dominant to have an orgasm –
any orgasm
– even though the
power
to bring herself to orgasm has always been
there, and always will be.  In these two examples, the
power is
retained
even as the
authority is given
.

Let’s take a look at the kinds of power and
authority a Dominant in a long-term committed D/s relationship might give to
his submissive.  Any power that is derived from
consent
, such as
the power to choose or reject a Dominant or to leave a dysfunctional D/s
relationship, isn’t something that is granted to the submissive by the
Dominant.  Those powers are considered by many to be
god-given,
cultural,
and legal
in nature, and universal to
everyone
.  So, if the
power to say
no
to a Dominant shouldn’t be considered part of this
so-called power exchange, then
what should?
 

I believe the answer lies in asking the question in
a different way.  Every Dominant should make it a point to ask his
submissive some variation of the following:
“Have I empowered you?  If
so, how?”
  The responses you get just might surprise you.  Here
are just a few of the real responses that I have received when I have posed
that question to a submissive:

·
        
You empowered me by forcing me to be
independent at times, even when I wanted nothing more than for you to handle
certain things for me.  By directing me to carry out tasks that I would
normally have avoided, you taught me that I am smarter, stronger and far more
resourceful than I ever thought possible. 

·
        
You empowered me with the power to
let go.  Before, I would worry myself sick over certain things, but
now
,
I know that if I’ve put a problem into your hands, I can just let go of it, and
trust that you will do what is right.

·
        
You empowered me with self-confidence
and the sure knowledge that I am loved and cherished.  Knowing that you
treasure my submission gives me strength and a real sense of worth.

·
        
You empowered me by
trusting
me with your flaws, weaknesses, and secrets.  I know you don’t share these
things with just anyone, and the fact that you share them with
me
makes
me feel very special.  This knowledge could hurt you, even destroy you,
and yet you trust me with it.

·
        
You empowered me with the authority
to act and speak for you in certain situations.  When I am weak or
indecisive, I am able to draw on your judgment and guidance and say, “My Master
would not be pleased if I were to do what you’ve asked of me.”

·
        
You empowered me with the ability to learn
and grow, and to reach my full potential – whether it is in my education,
career, personal goals, or as a submissive.  You make me want to be a
better person, not just a better submissive, because I want you to be proud of
me.

·
        
You empowered me to be a synergist
and gave me the ability to be a catalyst in your life.  You gave me a
chance to work side-by-side with you to inspire you, motivate you, nudge you,
or challenge your assumptions. 

·
        
You empowered me by showing me those
little things that make a difference in your life and bring you joy. 
Others may
think
they know you, but they don’t know you like I do. 

It would be difficult for anyone to hear or read
these responses and not know for a fact that the phenomenon of
power exchang
e
is a very
real
one.  There is no question that
both
a
Dominant and his submissive can be
empowered
by their relationship
dynamic.  The degree to which that empowerment is fulfilling, significant,
meaningful, or symmetrical is
entirely up to you.

Types of Submissives

If you are in the BDSM lifestyle or involved in a
D/s relationship, you
may
know some of the following categories of
submissives by different names. You may even know of additional categories or
traits that are not fully represented here, and that’s
okay
.  No
book on this subject is going to be able to capture every aspect of the
lifestyle or its many subcultures.  Even so, I’m sure you’ll recognize
many of the character traits and behaviors we’re about to explore, and perhaps
even learn a little about yourself and others you may know.

As we go through these categories, you may find
yourself wondering why there is no category designated for the
“sex slave.”
 
The reason is simply that, in my humble opinion,
there is no such category
of submissive.  A submissive in
any
of the following categories
could accurately be referred to as a
sex slave,
particularly by those
with a limited understanding of the D/s or BDSM lifestyles.  I believe
that sex is something that a person
does
; it is
not
a very good
description of
who someone is
.  Frankly,
anyone
can have sex
or role-play the part of a sex slave.  That doesn’t really tell us
anything useful about who they are, how they love, or how we can love them.
 

The Acolyte

The Acolyte is a submissive who is usually in a D/s
relationship with a Lesser God Dom.  There is a very real distinction
between
being in a relationship
with the Lesser God Dom, versus
being
attracted to
a Lesser God Dom.  The reason for this distinction is
actually quite simple.  The Acolyte is a member of an intense D/s
personality cult.  She rarely enters into any relationship with a Dominant
as an Acolyte; she is invariably
converted
to it. 

The Acolyte may be referred to as a
disciple,
follower, worshipper or priestess
, and considers herself not only her
Dominant’s
number one fan
, but also as a holder of
sacred knowledge
,
a gatekeeper with the keys to her Dominant’s inner sanctum, and a part of a
relationship that will endure through eternity, transcending even death. 
The reason for that belief is rooted in the quasi-religious foundations of this
sort of D/s relationship.  The Lesser God and his Acolytes are part of
their own private
religion
, where sin and redemption are redefined and
the Dominant sits at the center of his worshippers’ universe as a god or
prophet.  They don’t expect or need the rest of us to understand, as long
as it continues to work
for them
.

Of all the submissive types, the Acolyte usually is
in the greatest danger of
potential
abuse, even more so than the Novice
(see
below). 
A Lesser God Dom considers himself unbound by any rules other
than those me makes for himself, and the Acolyte typically exists in a
detached, isolated and sometimes
amoral
reality in the presence of her
own personal god.  When things are going
well
in this kind of
relationship, they tend to go
very
well.  But when things begin to
go
badly
– and they
often
do - it can be a disaster of
biblical
proportions.  Within their quasi-religious paradigm,
death
is
often viewed as a mere
illusion
or as a
graduation
from one level
of awareness to the next.  This can become problematic when the Lesser God
Dom is revealed to his Acolytes to be a mere mortal, or when the group feels
threatened by outsiders. 

The relationship between the Acolyte and her Dominant
always reminds me of the movie
Ghostbusters.
  In that movie, an
immense and horrifying demon peers at the diminutive Dr. Ray Stantz
(brilliantly
played by Bill Murray)
and asks in a booming voice,
“Are you a
God?” 
Dr. Stantz tentatively replies, “No.”  His response
triggers an incredible, demonic display of lightning, destruction, and chaos
from the demon.  In the midst of it all, fellow ghostbuster Winston
Zeddemore grabs Stantz by the collar and screams, “
Ray,
when someone
asks you if you're a god,
you say yes!”

The Brat

No category of submissive has been more
misunderstood, mischaracterized, nor been made the brunt of as many jokes, as
the
Brat
submissive.  A Brat is a submissive who is
generally
well-behaved, but has made misbehavior, teasing, and limited kinds of defiance
or disobedience an
integral
part of her Dominant-submissive
dynamic.  Preferably, this occurs with the full awareness and at least the
implied approval
of her Dominant.  When such is
not
the
case, problems will invariably arise.  There is term for submissives who
conduct themselves as Brats without the approval of their Dominants.  We
call them
phony submissives.

There is a widespread misconception in the D/s
lifestyle that Brats are always well-behaved with their Dominants, and that it
is only with
other
Dominants and submissives that they exhibit their
inner brat.  This ridiculous notion completely ignores the fact that it is
the dynamic between the submissive and her Dominant that defines her.  No
submissive (nor Dominant, for that matter) is defined by
how they treat
everyone outside her relationship. 
If such
were
the case,
categorizations would not only be impossible, but meaningless.  This silly
notion also requires us to believe that we can truly see what happens behind
closed doors in
someone else’s
relationship dynamic, in order to say,
“She
behaves perfectly with her Dom, it is only with others that she is a brat.”
 
Frankly, it defies credibility to believe that anyone could be challenging,
rude, or disrespectful to everyone in the world
except
her
Dominant.  It is
far
more likely that the submissive’s bratty
behavior is
universal
and
whitewashed
by a Dominant is complicit
in it because prefers to keep his own inability to deal with it a secret. 
The internet abounds with web site tutorials for frustrated Dominants on
“How
to Train Your Bratty Submissive.”
  Unfortunately, most of them miss
the point entirely and should, instead, be tutorials on
“How to Spot and
Avoid a Phony Submissive.”

On the other hand, if a Brat’s behavior is an
integral
and approved
part of the relationship dynamic, then it becomes
a delicate balancing act that must continually be tweaked and reevaluated by
both the submissive and her Dominant.  The very serious question of
how
much
disobedience or disrespect is
too much
can only be answered by
the individuals in that relationship, and will almost always raise questions
about whether or not the submissive is
“topping from the bottom.” 
Topping
from the bottom is a technique used by
some
submissives to manipulate,
control, or influence a Dominant’s decision-making process.  It is quite
often accomplished without the Dominant even being aware of it and,
sometimes,
without the
submissive
being conscious of it,
either.
  It is
my humble opinion that any submissive who routinely tops from the bottom should
not be considered a true submissive.  That isn’t to say she isn’t a
good
person
.  It just means she isn’t a
submissive

The Cow/Pig
 

The Cow or Pig submissive is one who enjoys being treated
like a domesticated farm animal.  Unlike the Pet submissive
(see
below),
the Cow/Pig submissive thrives on humiliation, degradation, and
abuse from her Dominant.  For this reason, the Cow/Pig is usually most
compatible with a Sadistic Dom.  Often, the relationship dynamic between
the two focuses on the
real or imagined
unattractiveness of the
submissive, and frequent or extreme body modifications such as
branding or
scarification
are fairly common for the Cow/Pig submissive.  Cages,
crates or pens are typically where the Cow/Pig submissive feels most
comfortable.  She may spend time in these enclosures for play-time only,
or during select portions of the day, or even to sleep in.  Cow/Pig
submissives are rarely allowed to sit or lie on household furniture, and they
are sometimes expected to eat table scraps or slop from a bowl or trough placed
on the floor.  Curiously enough, in spite of all the hoopla about the
Cow/Pig submissive being
unworthy, subhuman and ugly
, her Dominant
almost
always
somehow finds the intestinal fortitude to
have sex with
her.
  Go figure.    

The Domestic

The Domestic submissive, sometimes referred to as a
service
submissive,
is one who is expected to perform domestic duties in the
Dominant’s household such as cooking, cleaning, childcare, chauffeuring, and
yard work.  More often than not, the Domestic sub is expected to be
available sexually to the Dominant, his other submissives, or guests.  In
some relationships,
humiliation
role play is quite often a significant
part of the dynamic.  It is entirely possible, but relatively rare, for a
Domestic submissive to be in a completely
nonsexual
D/s
relationship.  The Domestic sub may be involved with virtually
any
kind of Dominant; however, the most
likely
scenario is a relationship with
a Sadistic Dom, FemDom, or Lesser God Dom. 

The Kajira

A female
Gorean slave
is referred to as a
kajira
(plural: kajirae)
which, in the fictional language of John Norman’s
novels about the planet
Gor
, means “slave-girl.”  While the great
majority of Gorean slaves are female, there are some males who consider
themselves to be Gorean slaves, and they are called
kajirus (plural:
kajiri).
  Another term that is sometimes used synonymously for
kajira
is
sa-fora
, which is said to mean
“daughter of the chain.”
 
(For an more in-depth examination of Gorean traditions, see Chapter 7:
The
Gorean Way.
)
 

Kajirae, almost
by definition
, are typically
involved in relationships with Gorean Masters, however it is fairly common to
find submissives who consider themselves kajirae
(or at the very least,
trained as one)
involved with
other types
of Dominants.  The
reason for this is actually quite simple.  The Gorean D/s lifestyle is
based on a work of science fiction, and can be difficult to implement in any
practical
way in a
real-life
setting.  Consequently, there are many
submissives who are initially attracted to the Gorean traditions because of the
rich back-story, the many opportunities for fascinating role play, and its
highly-stylized and erotic customs, only to find themselves seeking other
facets of the D/s lifestyle once it becomes apparent that a
real-life
Gorean relationship can be hard –
really hard.

Theoretically, kajirae do not have any rights, nor
are they allowed to own any property.  They are expected to render
absolute obedience to their Masters, whether or not they harbor any affection
or love for him.  The penalties for disobedience are quite harsh and, at
least in the
novels
, include the penalty of
death
.  Kajirae
may be sold, given away, or loaned out to others for sexual favors, and they
may not refuse nor even voice disapproval of it.  Kajirae are often
expected to wear highly-stylized silks, bells and jewelry, and to learn a
variety of dances, serving rituals, poses, and sexual positions.  It is
relatively common for kajirae to speak of themselves in the third person and to
avoid direct eye contact with free persons, though there is some controversy
regarding whether this is prescribed in the fiction or simply a custom that has
become attached to the subculture. 

Gorean philosophy teaches that there is a
natural
order
of things, and that natural order includes the subordination of women
by men.  The role and status of women in the Gorean tradition can best be
summed up by this proverb from John Norman’s writings: 
“There are only
two sorts of women – slaves, and slaves.”
  If feminism and the
empowerment of women are among your primary guiding principles, it’s a pretty
fair bet that
kajira training
is just going to
piss you off

The Little

The Little,
sometimes
referred to as a
Baby, Babygirl, Babyboy, Lolita, Loli, Lolly, Little Girl,
Little One, or Tot
, is a submissive who finds great joy in embracing her
inner child.  This sort of
age play
often involves behaving, speaking,
dressing in a child-like manner, or engaging in typical child-appropriate
activities, and
may or may
not involve sex or other adult-appropriate
themes.  While
most
Littles and their Daddy Doms find age play to
be sexually stimulating, there are also many who simply find comfort in the
simulated adult-child dynamic and do
not
associate it in
any way
with sex.  As we stated in the previous chapter and reiterate here, anyone
who associates the Daddy Dom/Little relationship dynamic with pedophilia in any
form is buying into an erroneous and potentially harmful stereotype.

BOOK: Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook
10.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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