There’s a question that has been doggedly pursuing me, in its assorted variants, throughout my interactions with potential submissives:
‘So, what do you like doing to your subs?’
It seems a fairly innocuous question – a casual question about my interests to see whether they align. How could I possibly object?
Well, the answer starts with the fact that what I want from D/s is not confined within the specifics of a particular act. If all I wanted was to do something, say cane someone, I wouldn’t have to spend all of this time and effort talking and writing about kink. Putting aside the fact that I have a live-in submissive, I am fairly sure that, being female in this great age of the Internet, all you need is a photo of your ass and 15 minutes, and you will find a very willing subject to cane or spank or peg or whatever else is your heart’s desire. But what I want from D/s is unfortunately far more nebulous than a ‘laundry list’ of my fetishes – it is bound up in the ever-elusive power exchange.
Now, of course, I am not saying that that ‘laundry list’ is not a relevant topic of discussion, even from the outset. At the end of the day, at least a few shared interests are a sort of foundation for a dynamic. However, when that question is asked, the person asking typically does not view it as a foundation – they want to play a game of ‘Snap’. Now, I am sure that quite a lot of human interactions are basically developed along the lines of ‘oh, me too’, and again there is nothing wrong with looking for common ground. But the problem is, once you get past the initial common ground of ‘kink’, there exist a million permutations and definitions of anything more specific – say, someone is interested in ‘bondage’. Great. Does that mean that they like complex shibari ropework, or that they own one of those useless pairs of pink fluffy handcuffs? Do they like bondage for its own sake, no sex of any kind involved, or do they mean that they want to have rough sex whilst restrained? Or any one of the myriad of possibilities?
Now, that is naturally a conversation to have, but the problem is all of that nuance is completely non-existent when you present someone with a list. That can be quite damaging to a developing dynamic, mostly on account of what I’ve called ‘pedestalising’ – the expectation of Dommes to be a certain kind of ‘perfect’ – a Domme is distant, cold, and very strict in her ways. It is an image which leads subs to often hide their preferences, because they expect that a Domme will forcefully impose her own requirements. There is no room for the idea that a dynamic allows for their own preferences to be explored, even as they adapt to that of their Dommes. This often can lead to submissives, again especially novices, to see the kinks and preferences of a Domme as rigidly set in stone, as if we have a ‘one size fits all’ protocol for all out subs – a routine which mechanically plays out once a potential sub passes the mysterious test we apparently have to qualify as our submissive. There is no room for exploration, development, individuality.
Of course, there are plenty of moments when a Domme will impose her preferences, which is inherently a part of whole idea of D/s. But to effectively ‘push’ a submissive to those depths of sub space, a Domme needs to know what they love and what they hate; what is erotically humiliating for one sub can be downright insulting for another; where one sub will happily slip into subspace during an intense caning, for another it will be about as erotic as repeatedly stepping on Lego; where for one sub demanding daily photographs will further the dynamic, for another it will be nothing more than a daily inconvenience. The problem is that many subs, once presented with such a list, will try to mould themselves to it, even if they have no interest in parts of it and, often not problematically, will hide their own interests if they haven’t been mentioned. At the point, if the dynamic develops, a lot of time will have to be wasted trying to unwind what is and isn’t true, and exactly where their interests lie, they will have to inevitably endure something that’s simply unpleasant for them, and I won’t have gotten what I want either.
All of this is very simply avoided through an open and honest conversation. As a Domme, I have no interest in making someone endure something that’s painful or uncomfortable if that’s the entirety of their experience. There’s absolutely no gratification in that. I want to have total control that comes with power exchange, and that means knowing how each thing impacts my sub, and what state it will put them in. I want to see where I can take a sub, mentally, to push them beyond their comfort zone, to see them in that exquisite combination of pleasure and pain. And, unfortunately, in my experience, answering that question just gets in the way of that.