So, what do you like doing to your subs?

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.

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Submission Is Not Weakness

I’ve recently had an conversation with a submissive who is just beginning to explore the lifestyle, which went something like this:

‘Honestly, one of the issues I had was that being a sub would affect my confidence, and you have made me feel much better.’

‘What do you mean, the effect it would have on your confidence?

‘Just it would make me feel bad about myself.’

‘Why would being a sub make you feel bad about yourself?’

‘Because you’re inferior.’

‘Being a sub makes you inferior?’

‘I think so. That’s the general perception.’

‘Degradation and humiliation as part of a scene is one thing, but that’s not representative. I would never seriously say my subs are inferior to me.’

‘Don’t you look down on your subs?’

‘No, definitely not.’

‘It’s amazing you think that.’

It is should not be ‘amazing’ that I think that – in fact, I would argue that that is the attitude all Dominants ought to have, and most indeed do. It is however not surprising that many people, especially looking in through the frosted glass of vanilla relationships, will take it as read that the submissive side of the dynamic is inherently inferior. On the surface, this perception seems fairly self-explanatory. After all, in many dynamics, the submissive is frequently degraded and humiliated, beaten, punished, and subject to daily rules and restrictions, and not solely sexually – many Dominants will frequently monitor the minutiae of their submissive’s lives: what they eat, how much water they drink throughout the day, how they dress, whether they get enough exercise… Without any understanding of power exchange, and the hours of conversation which go along with it, it is easy to see how that could add up to the idea that the submissive is inferior to the Dominant and, consequently, that anyone who chooses that position is weak and spineless (or being coerced as part of an abusive relationship, but that is a view of D/s that deserves separate discussion).

In my opinion, however, the roots of this idea lie in broader modern societal expectations and trends, rather than the specifics of the lifestyle. The concept of submission is and always has, by dictionary definition, linked with weakness or inferiority – it is a passive state, arising from unfortunate necessity, as a consequence of being in an unfavourable position in one way or another. However, the modern world is increasingly enamoured with individualism and ultimate personal autonomy. The perceived value of social conformity has drastically fallen to the new generation, with a number of studies showing that older individuals are more likely to conform than younger individuals, 1 as the decline of collectivism has become increasingly apparent over the last forty years or so. 2 Where once submission to higher authorities – the Church, the government, the local community – was once a highly desirable characteristic, in the age of the internet, ‘conformity’ has been bandied around like an insult. Personal identity, self-determination and a stress on ‘uniqueness’ have become, quite paradoxically, the status quo. Both on the left and the right of the political spectrum across Europe, there has been an almost obsession with the right of self-expression; from demanding various legal impossibilities to protecting the right of free speech, no matter the view point, the entire political spectrum can essentially agree that what they want is to have the right to do whatever it is that they want. It is no longer fashionable to respect anyone’s authority but your own. We live in an age where everyone is trying to grasp at as much personal autonomy as they can, so it is hardly surprising that most people cannot justify someone willingly and actively giving up so much of it. So, then, submission, to the minds of the majority, must be a character flaw – the mark of someone with no back bone, someone who cannot think for themselves, who looks to others because they are not strong enough to stand on their own and decide for themselves. 3 There is no more scathing criticism than that in the modern day and age.

In truth, however, submission is neither a product of oppression or weakness. 4 In fact, it takes a very strong person to embrace that part of their nature, despite the societal pressures to the contrary. Moreover, just because a submissive defers to their Dominant does not mean that translates to other areas of life – as Persephone Bell said, 5 just you try and give someone else’s submissive an order, and see what happens. I assure you, what you won’t get is meek compliance. My pet, for one, might be a sweet little creature with me, but that sweet little thing also has sharp claws and sharp teeth, which the rest of the world sees on regular occasion. Submissives are very often formidable people and, just because they trust and respect me enough to submit to me, isn’t a reason for me to think any less of them. On the contrary, their submission frequently leads me to look to how I can be a better Domme, and make the best use of that trust and respect.
Footnotes

1. Robert L. Klein, ‘Age, Sex, and Task Difficulty as Predictors of Social Conformity‘ [1972] 27(2) Journal of Gerontology pp. 229-236.

2. Henri Santos, Michael Varnum, Igor Grossoman, Global Increases in Individualism’ (Sage Journals, Psychological Science, 13 July 2017), [Accessed 21 December 2018].

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3. This is probably a more commonly a criticism of submissive men, but I will write about that in a separate post.

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4. Of course, there are submissives of whom the stereotype is true, just as there are abusive Dominants, of whom that stereotype is true, as indeed there are weak or abusive people in all walks of life. They are however not representative of subs and Doms in general.

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5. Persephone Bell, ‘Submissive Does Not Equal Weak… Or Inferior’ (Mileage Does Vary, 20 June 2014), [Accessed 22 December 2018]. src=

Due Deference: ‘Masculinity’ and Approaching a Domme

Having just written about how male submissives frequently sabotage any chance of successfully developing a dynamic with a Domme through ‘pedestalising’ them – approaching them with platitudes about ‘service’, ‘worship’, and whatever else they expect a Domme would want to hear, instead of an actual conversation – I am prompted to somewhat elaborate on the subject by this commentary by dave94015 on my original post. In particular, the following paragraph:

When you first communicate with a woman in a dating situation, she is doing more than listening to your words. She is reading your non-verbal body language, your attitude, your attraction to her and much more. A submissive guy has to be a guy first and then engage in submission when she initiates dominant play. He has to get her aroused by masculine dominance, non-hesitant advancement towards her through a free expression of masculinity and display of independence. Establishing a relationship begins by triggering the BDSM dynamic from creating tension. You create tension by being the initiator, leader of interaction and maintaining a position of high value.

I would like to clarify that, whilst I think submissives should approach Dommes as individuals, rather than throwing generic submissive buzz words and hoping some stick, there is categorically nothing wrong with a submissive approaching a Domme as a submissive. In my opinion, it is categorically untrue that a male submissive has to arouse a Domme ‘by masculine dominance’, or ‘display independence’. Now, here I should say there is nothing wrong with men who are submissive, but otherwise display typical ‘masculine’ traits. However, I have also seen how the societal expectations of masculinity can make male submissives twist themselves into pretzels, trying to reconcile what they are ‘supposed to be’ and what comes naturally to them. In fact, this particular pressure once led an otherwise perfectly sweet sub of mine to, out of the blue, choke me to the point of unconsciousness, with no warning, whilst we were watching a film one evening. Afterwards, he was something of a wreck because, as far as I can tell, there wasn’t a dominant bone in his body. Now, this obviously is an extreme illustration of this particular struggle, and I am not saying he could not have handled it differently (and less… violently) but nonetheless it does show my point – the pressure to be ‘masculine’ can really get to a sub.

From the other side of the slash, I (and quite a few Dommes I know) have absolutely no interest in any sort of display of ‘masculine dominance’. A potential submissive, in avoiding the pitfalls of idealising a Domme, should equally not go too far in the opposite direction, and completely lose all manner of deference. Whilst a Domme does not want to be idealised, she is is looking to dominate. Being approached by a submissive who tries to be the ‘initiator’ and ‘leader’ in the interaction will lead to tension, yes, but of a wholly unpleasant sort.

In all honesty, making the distinction between Dom and Domme in this case rather confuses the issue, because male or female, Dominants want control.* We want to be the leaders, the initiators, the decision-makers. Whilst ‘submissive’ doesn’t (necessarily) mean ‘grovelling slave’, it also most certainly doesn’t mean someone who will try to impose their will and ‘leadership’ upon me. Whilst this and the article from one of those ‘women whisperer types’, Chase Amante, which features in Dave’s post, might be at least somewhat true in vanilla dating, I hate to state the obvious, but Dommes are dominant. Let our subs be submissive.


* (There are, of course, differences in how dynamics develop between a Domme and male submissive, and a Dom and a female submissive, which I am not dismissing. They are however not relevant to this point).


As a side note, I would just like to commend two excellent points that are raised in Dave’s post; (i) that a male submissive shouldn’t be terrified of saying anything that might even slightly offend a Domme, and therefore appear permanently ‘nervous and supplicating’ and (ii) that a submissive should not submit to a Domme simply because she is a Domme. In terms of the latter, (ii) by submitting, a sub is placing themselves in an inherently vulnerable position, and they should only ever do this with someone they trust completely. As for the former, (i) it leads to subs hiding their preferences, interests, and just sometimes their entire personalities, which again really makes developing a dynamic difficult.


Update: Dave has since pointed out to me that he was writing about a male submissive approaching a woman, who he interested in potentially dominating him, but where the BDSM is a vague background interest, and vanilla dating is in the foreground. Whilst my points stand where that comment is applied to a kink setting, (and therefore I will keep the post as is) I would just like to point out that Dave was writing in a different context, in which light his points make a lot of sense.

The Distance from the Pedestal

‘You’re not like other Dommes’ is something I have heard many times, a sentiment which usually has been prompted by my having completely normal, polite conversation with a prospective submissive. This is not a surprise, given the pervasive and ‘classic’ image of a Domme is that of the strict, crop-wielding, leather-clad dominatrix. She is beautiful, perfectly composed, organised, and with her demands and steely will in perfect clarity. By the very nature of the pedestal she stands on, she’s cooly distant, tantalisingly out of the reach of the submissive, only to be worshipped and revered. Unfortunately, or perhaps very fortunately, she exists at best only momentarily. This, however, isn’t a widely acknowledged fact, even by subs who have been in ‘the scene’ for quite some time. There has been some debate as to why this is – blame has been placed on pro-Dommes and their marketing. As ‘wardens of fantasy’ (1), they precisely embody the above image, because their appearance in their clients’ lives is momentary. For a few hours at most, they can really embody a client’s fantasy. But, as Lindeman’s book rather perfectly shows, to achieve this takes extensive preparation and staging, which is just not possible when this is your lifestyle, rather than a fantasy you pay a visit to. Personally, I have the utmost respect for (legitimate) pro-Dommes. It is not an easy business, and they face discrimination even within the kink community (2).  placing the blame on their marketing is unfair. Male fantasy tends towards idealising women (3), in any context, and as any business, pro-Dommes merely use what is appealing. That aside, it really is not diffcult as a novice submissive to have a rummage online, and get an idea of what lifestyle Dommes are looking for. Quite unfortunately, that fantasy is frequently all that many submissives have as a sole reference point. This, from what I have seen, tends to lead them to try to only say things they think a Domme would want to hear. I have countless messages filled with the same sort of essentially meaningless sentiments about ‘worship’, ‘devotion’, ‘service’, which are almost formulaic. Not only does this entirely obscure their personality, and invariably hurts their chances of a Domme taking an interest, but hurts their chances of successfully developing a dynamic, as it means they are not looking for what they should be; an actual connection, which can develop over time, in any number of ways.  This would be the extent of my comments on the subject, were in not for the fact I keep hearing ‘you’re not like other Dommes’ precisely from the type of sub I refer to above. That comment is usually followed by one (or all) of a now familiar criticisms of these ‘other Dommes’ – namely, that they’re distant, brusque, cold.

Given the height of the pedestal we’re put on, it’s no wonder we get a little cold. 

After being pushed up onto that pedestal, bombarded with platitudes and hollow, formulaic messages, all under the weight of that rather significant expectation that we behave like the perfect goddesses we supposedly are, it’s no wonder we lose our patience and good will.  I don’t think I can sum it up any better than furcissy in this post:

All of the Dommes I have helped in the past year are passionate and intelligent people with an abundance of compassion and empathy and the desire for a deep romantic connection with a sub that will lead to a serious long-term relationship.  Many of them began this journey with hearts wide open and bright hopes of finding that special partner that together, would create a life filled with love, joy, and kink.Unfortunately this search is rarely easy.  The process has many bumps and hiccups along the way.  Each disappointment leads to a mounting sense of frustration.  It usually only takes a couple of months for the excited optimism to fade and be replaced by jaded skepticism.  Watching this process is rather painful.  While it’s not quite like watching a child open a Christmas present only to find the box contains socks, it is more like seeing a child who has come to accept that every box from now on will contain socks.  The magic is gone.

Now, maybe the reason I still retain a good portion of my patience is because I am still young, or because I am a patient person, or because I just like socks. I don’t actually know. I like to think it’s because I try to give people a fair chance, and not judge right off the bat, given their apparent blandness might just come from anxiety, inexperience or just not knowing how to approach me. I have found some particular gems that way and I hope this is an attitude I can retain.But I will say this the submissives I refer to above; you can’t put Dommes on a pedestal, and then complain we are distant.  If you want warmth and conversation, approach as you would a person, not your fantasy goddess. 

References

  1. Lindemann, D.J. “Dominatrix: Gender, Eroticism, and Control in the Dungeon”, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, (2012).Master Bear, “Leather Bear Tails: The Invisible Woman: In Defense of Pro Dommes”, [Accessed 15th December 2018].
  2. Bader, M. “Male Sexuality: Why Women Don’t Understand it — and Men Don’t Either”, Rowan&Littlefield Publishing, (2009).

Biting

I love biting, so hard that I leave teeth marks all over his body. Mine. But not by force. I want him to offer, to ask me to sink my teeth into his perfect body. I want to hear him make those adorable little pain noises, whilst he begs me to bite harder, because he’s desperate to be a good boy. Just for me.

Fifty Shades: My Addition to the Eternal Controversy

Hectolitres of electronic ink have been poured out by various bloggers in the BDSM community on the subject of the ‘Fifty Shades‘ trilogy and, in many respects, the matter has been written into its grave. I think pretty much everyone has read the resounding criticisms of Christian Grey as a Dom by now: he is emotionally distant, uncommunicative with his submissive, stalks her and otherwise exerts unwanted control over her life, punishes her in anger, without prior communication… The list of things which no sane Dominant would ever do goes on and on. The relationship between Grey and Ana is abusive, dark, and above all lacking in the sort of extensive and clear communication which forms the backbone of any healthy dynamic. It’s wholly unrepresentative, and naturally, not the ideal way for the BDSM lifestyle to have entered the public psyche.

So far, so done to death.

However, in all of the criticism that has been levelled at the literary atrocity otherwise known as the ‘Fifty Shades‘ trilogy, not once have I come upon any critical view of Ana. Aside from being something of a Mary Sue character, (which, given E. L. James’ multitude of literary sins, should have rather been expected) she repeatedly makes clear to Grey that his D/s desires and needs are, in of themselves, wrong and shameful. She embodies the idea that the D/s lifestyle is somehow twisted and perverted by its nature, a choice no normal, healthy person could reasonably make.

Now, I’m not talking about those bondage and impact play scenes which drove scores of vanillas to purchase those useless pink, fluffy handcuffs. I’m talking about the formal way in which Grey takes on subs before Ana, (which he initially tries with her) – the contract, at which the reader is supposed to be outraged along with Ana, which is fairly ordinary in quite a lot of dynamics. Although obviously having no legal standing, such contracts are generally a helpful vehicle for setting out both parties’ needs and expectations – precisely the sort of clear communication essential for ‘safe, sane, and consenual’. What is more, that contract actually shows Grey trying to do what a lot of good Dominants would: trying to care for his sub’s physical well being.

Not only does Ana turn her pretty little nose up at the entire idea, she apparently accepts, and then uses the feelings Grey has for her to steer him towards the ‘good’ vanilla side of things. Not only is this disingenuous and manipulative, but she also makes it clear how disturbing and unacceptable such a manner of arrangement is to her.

That, I think, is my biggest issue with ‘Fifty Shades’, because it’s one thing for Grey to be a bad Dom. After all, he is supposed to be the poor rich darling, a damaged man, himself abused as a child. But Ana is supposedly the good and bright protagonist, and her attitude seems to creep by, unnoticed. I have met plenty of people, on both sides of the slash, whose shame at their desires led them to make decisions which made them profoundly miserable. There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with D/s, and ‘Fifty Shades‘ sends precisely that message.

  1. “What did you mean by ‘too far in the opposite direction’?” I didn’t mean only this post,it’s a common…

Domestic Service: Scene versus Reality

Many a time when I have mentioned to someone (that someone usually being a potential sub) that I live in a 24/7 dynamic, the conversation has invariably gone something like this:

‘Oh, you have a live-in? What does he do?’
‘Well, he doesn’t do anything else but serve me.’
‘So, he stays at home all day?’
‘Yes.’
‘Like, in bondage?’
‘No, that would be highly impractical, given he does all the household jobs.’
‘Oh, I’m so jealous, that sounds so hot.’

What they have in mind when they say that, in my experience, is a usually vague fantasy about some permanently leather-clad dominatrix type following them around with a crop whilst they are ordered to do some dusting or something equally inconsequential, before being ‘forced’ to give oral sex. Unfortunately for them, the reality of ‘true’ domestic service is absolutely nothing like that.

The reality, to put it plainly, is rather tedious and mundane. It’s getting up in the morning to be awake before me, and bring me my coffee. It’s spending a good hour every other day getting the foundation out of my make-up brushes. It’s going out with my dogs when it’s freezing, windy and pouring down with rain. But no matter how tedious and mundane it all is, my pet does these things no matter what because, above all, he wants to please me. He has no expectation of any reward, except for my petting his hair and telling him what a good boy he’s been, because in doing all of those things, his purpose is to make my life better.

And for me, therein lies the value of domestic service because, as nice as it is to have a clean floor and clean dishes, let’s be frank – I could very well do them myself. But the thing is, what my pet does for me on a daily basis goes beyond the practical convenience of it – it’s about the genuine intention to serve me in all he does, and the fact that he puts his service to me ahead of his own wants every single day.

So, when someone tells me ‘that’s so hot’, I tend to just roll my eyes, because to me, their fantasy version of it is so beside the point, I wouldn’t even know where to begin explaining why ‘hot’ is so entirely the wrong word. 


  1. “What did you mean by ‘too far in the opposite direction’?” I didn’t mean only this post,it’s a common…

Without Permission

Of course, there is a certain satisfaction to when my pet is trying oh so hard to be a good boy. Hearing him beg, so desperate, so aroused, makes me want to give permission, and just let him collapse into my arms, tell him what a good boy he is, my pretty little slut.

But that’s something so delicious about those moments when he just can’t control himself. Last week, after I had teased him for so long, and he was begging so much, so close, he asked, his voice breathy and husky, ‘will you punish me for cumming without permission, Mistress?’

‘Of course,’ I said.

He gritted his teeth. ‘Then make it hurt.’

And that sent delicious shivers down my spine, as he collapsed into my arms.

Small Rebellions

My pet has a penchant for sassy remarks…

…and, on occasion, struggles with the concept of doing exactly as he is told.

These never amount to actual disobedience; they are more like little tugs of the figurative leash. Usually, I just tug right back – maybe pin him against the wall, maybe bite his lip a little, and give him that look which immediately drags his eyes to the floor. A little reminder that he’s mine.

He inevitably knows this will happen, whether we’re alone, or in public, at home, or in a cafe. Except… He’s recently found the exception – when we are with my family.

It didn’t take him long to recognise what I was feeling and, more significantly, to realise that there was nothing I could do about it. He bit his lip, smiling, with that mischievous look he gets just before one of his small rebellions. He knelt up on the couch, lip still lightly caught between his teeth, and oh so subtly ran his fingers across the day collar he was wearing. Then, as if it was nothing but an innocent stretch, he put his hands behind him, and lowered his head, apparently to look at his phone, which lay between his legs.

I was standing across the room from him, holding a bowl of salad, with the general chaos of my family around. He was watching me, from beneath his mass of curls, all the while biting his lip, reminding me that I couldn’t. The look in his eyes just said ‘make me’.

And by goodness, did I want to. To grab him, and to kiss and bite, and bruise and leave little reminders all over his body that he is my property. To pin him down, and tie him up, and make him moan and beg. But I couldn’t. I was holding a bowl of salad. And I could see him enjoying my frustration.

Apparently, subs can tease too.