Dominance and submission: A Dom's Point of View
When I look around the web, and listen to people talk on IRC, I am amazed at the wealth of information that abounds on BDSM...in all of its flavors and varieties. Much of this information tends to be technique oriented..."how to flog" or "using clothes pins." There is nothing wrong with that...and I wish I had access to that information many, many years ago. But it seems that there is an element missing. I have met any number of new Doms who can follow the recipe for effective clothespin use..."attach clothespin to the nearest wobbly bit of skin you see...wait fifteen minutes, rotate 90 degrees, then pinch until red...." On one level, this is a rather yummy tidbit of information, and it reminds a new Dom that 15 minutes is about the limit for clothespins (YMMV).
What it doesn't do is address the purely D/S or Dominance and Submission elements of what it is that we do. Simply put, much of the information helps to build "Tops and Bottoms." Not Dominants and Submissives. Now before you begin to flame me for YKINOK (Your Kink is Not OK), I'm not criticizing Tops and Bottoms...been there, done that, had a great time, and will probably take that ride again, thank you. But on IRC especially, Topping doesn't go too far...Topping is all about sensation, the one thing you don't have much access to on IRC.
What you do have access to is the mind, the emotions, and even the soul and spirit of your partner. Yes, you can and will, as a Dom, access the mind of your submissive by showing effective "sensation play" skills. Assuming of course, the sensation your are building in her mind is the one that makes her monkey jump. If it is obvious you don't know how to use a clothespin, your chances of weaving a Dominance web on IRC is pretty slim.
But I get ahead of myself. Before I can talk about your submissive, I need to talk about you. That's right, I'm going to open up that little hatch on the side of your head, and peer inside. Or at least I'm going to open the side of my head, and let you see in there. Chances are good, you won't see many differences between us.
I was raised to be a man. And in my family, men did not hit women. We did not hurt women. Not in any way, shape or form. In fact, it was clearly expected that if we saw another man hurting a woman, that we would intercede and rescue her from the villian. This mind set goes back to chivalry, and is re-inforced in our society by people who are doing work trying to change the male mind set that allows sexual and physical abuse to take place. It is also re-inforced when someone you know is victimized.
I clearly did not see myself as that kind of man. Back in the depths of my mind, from an early age, I knew I liked to see women tied up, even tortured. I knew it gave me a hard on, and that it occupied much of my fantasy time. But in every event, I justified what was happening to myself. I became quite good at creating elaborate fantasies where I could do all of those "evil" things to her (whoever she happened to be in the fantasy de-jour), and yet it was the "right" thing to do. The problem with that whole approach was, in kept me from trying ANYTHING in real life, for many years. I repressed those desires. I turned away from the part of my nature that wanted a partner who enjoyed being sexually tormented, a partner who wanted to be sexually controlled.
The good news is, this approach did keep me from being a sociopath. The bad news is, there wasn't much chance I'd become one (and repression probably would push me MORE in that direction than being honest with myself about it). In the end, I had to turn 180 degrees and face my own inner demons. This is one of the reasons I chose the nick online of Ragnarok...the battle at the end of the world. Ragnarok is a time when men fall into depravity, and the gods and titans do battle, ending the world, only to have one man rise from the dead and create a new world. It's the classic death/re-birth story, only in Norse symbolism. And Ragnarok is the name of the battle...it does not stand for the end of the world. So I continue to battle those inner demons that tell me to be kind, to be gentle. Not to bite that nipple, but to gently caress it.
My first moment of understanding came when a submissive on IRC told me what she liked. I mean, here was a woman who wanted me to do things that would hurt. At first I had to console myself with administering punishments (back to the old "justify the pain" approach). And by golly, I learned to do B& D. But she had to do things to signal that she wanted some punishment, then it was ok to for me to give it to her. The more I got into this game, the more I found that I enjoyed the play. And she enjoyed it too...I could tell. The veil of punishment got thinner and thinner. At the same time, she was talking about wanting to be controlled.
Controlled? What the hell was that about? I wasn't sure, so I gave her a fierce spanking for it. Right about that time, I realized that I ENJOYED hurting her. I got into real life about the same time. And seeing her enjoying her pain...seeing her going deep into that submissive mind frame (sub space) because of the things I was doing took me to the next level.
I hurt her because it gave me pleasure. Every stroke of the crop, every clothespin, every drop of wax was there because it was what I wanted. Yes, I knew what she wanted. In some cases, she wanted it so very desperately...even more than I wanted to give it to her...and I wanted to give it to her badly. But I was able to be honest with myself about it. So while I was aware of what her needs were...I also became aware of what my needs were. I found that I truly enjoyed what we were doing. I also improved. I was no longer reluctant to play...I no longer needed her to "piss me off" or misbehave in order for me to take some sort of (fun)action. She picked up on this too. So instead of having to be bad in order to get some fun, she found that she could relax and be herself, and still get some fun. And, as a side benefit, she could now communicate openly and honestly about what she wanted, what she liked, and what she didn't, because she knew I was comfortable giving it to her...and because she could see and share my pleasure in giving it to her.
Suddenly, I'm getting good feedback, and my skills begin to improve. Those difficult moments are long gone...those moments of silence where you don't know what to say were gone. And we got to know each other. The relationship got stronger. That strength built more intimacy. With intimacy, I got to know better how to push her buttons...what really made her monkey jump. And making her monkey jump that way really made my monkey sit up and take notice.
Along with that, I gained confidence. Not bravado. Not arrogance. I have a lot to learn. I know I have a lot to learn, and I am willing to learn it from anyone who has something to teach. But I know what it is that we do. I know why my submissive partner enjoys what she enjoys. I've experienced it through her eyes...from a position of understanding...and it's an honest perspective. Because I'm honest with myself.
Not what you expected eh? Were you looking for more recipes for control? There are some standards. Yes, making her pee standing up is one technique. So is not letting her climax for a few days at a time. And so is requiring her to climax three times a day, at specified times. So is making her do self administered activities.
But those activities are not the point. The point is
1). You are having her do those things, because you like the thought of her doing them for you;
2) She is doing them for you, and because you take such an obvious pleasure in having her do them, even though they are difficult/messy/embarrassing etc.;
3) They are activities which make her focus on her being owned and controlled by you, and
4) They are linked to the sexual joy you both find in the activities you share.
The activities themselves don't matter....they are symbolic. In some cases, they are designed to teach a lesson...to help a submissive overcome her own internal issues, so that she can be free of her inner demons, in order to provide her Dom with more pleasure, as well as herself. An example of this is when the Dom controls her peeing. Is peeing standing up fun? Nope. Does he get a sexual rush from the activity itself? Not usually. After a while, it becomes a drag for her. She might be tempted to cheat. His enforcement (which she will usually test) and his reaction are a part of the control. She needs to know he is in control, and that there is nothing she can do about that (except safeword out of the the whole thing). While peeing standing up might get to be a drag, it's not in and of itself, difficult. So she is faced with a dillema of being honest and loyal and obedient, or doing what she wants to do. She becomes victorious in her obedience to Him, by overcoming her natural inclination. And at the same time, a small taboo is broken (girls pee sitting down). Her soul becomes tied to His.
Take this responsibility seriously. And it is clearly a responsibility. If you wish to dally with many a woman, play cybersex, top all you want. But don't go to D/S. You will damage her, emotionally, and spiritually, if you dally with a r/l sub in the D/S world. Not all relationships work out. Not every partner you start out with will be the one you end up with. But you have to treat each partner with the respect and care she deserves. Which brings us to issue number two.
Separate the relationship and the play. D/S is a difficult thing to maintain, over a long period of time, with any degree of intensity. Just like any form of BDSM play, communication is critical. We all say that...but what do we mean?
Communication has to be divided into two worlds..the world of play and domination, and the world of "me and you working out our problems." If there is an issue that impacts the relationship, the D/S couple has to be able to work it out. If she has a problem with something, and the Dom simply stays "in role" and commands her to deal with it, she may feel she is not being taken seriously, he only wants her for sex, etc.. In short, the relationship is going to run into problems. If he has a problem with something, and she stays in role, merely accepting what he says, then trust can falter. Again, problems in the relationship will only get worse.
So what needs to happen is for the two to be able to either maintain their roles but work together as equals, or to be able to drop the roles and do the same thing. From a Dom's perspective, we have to be very, very careful how we handle these issues. It is ok for a Dom to say "there seems to be some tension, I want to talk about it." Chances are, he is going to have to initiate that conversation, maybe even work with her to draw out her complaints, state his complaints very carefully, and fairly, and then take on the responsibility for seeing to it that everyone is satisfied with the results. That is how problems are resolved in a 24/7...but it requires the Dom to really step forward and take charge, take responsibility, and to be extremely sensitive. Dropping the roles for a period of time works pretty much the same way. The key issue is, the Dom must always be willing to accept that they have made mistakes, apologize for them, make any future changes that are needed, and go on from there. If you are a Dom who simply wants to be right all the time, and doesn't want to be bothered with the feelings of the other person, you can expect to go through a lot of partners and hollow relationships. Which brings us to Ragnarok's First Rule:
Ragnarok's Rule #1: Always maintain your submissive's self esteem.
This means don't question her dedication, loyalty, sexual skills, ability to satisfy you, appearance, ability to make you happy, etc. Especially not as a part of play. This is a common problem for new Doms. Don't criticize her value as your submissive. This cuts to the core, and is not part of being strong and strict. It undercuts her self value, and will not endear her to you in the slightest. Even women who crave humiliation play want to be good at it. Push her buttons by all means, but not that one. Which brings us to our second rule:
Ragnarok's Rule #2: Always keep your love present in her mind.
If you are plying your hold over her effectively, you will keep her thinking about you. Perhaps it is with some trinket you require her to wear. Or some article of clothing you don't allow. Or a ritual you require her to perform on a regular basis. Or a symbol that she wears or has nearby. There must be something. She is like a kite. You need to tag a tail onto her for stability, and you need to hang her from a string, which binds her to you. It's ok to let out more string at some times, or pull her in close to you at others. But she needs that stability...that is why she is there.
Ragnarok's Rule #3: Never reward bad behavior.
New Doms like to use punishments as a way of justifying what it is that we do. But as soon as she begins to feel that she must mis-behave (especially in channel, when he is not there) in order to get some of what she wants (a yummy spanking, for example)...the Dom is headed down a very difficult path. He will quickly loose any semblance of control over her. She's a slut puppy, after all. We all are. So she will mis-behave until she just can't stand any more fun. And it will be the type of fun that she wants, when she wants, and how she wants it. Sound like she's topping from the bottom? You got it. It's ok for her to have some fun, get into trouble, and be punished for fun. As an occasional side-line, it's a really fun role play. But the Dom needs to be in control. This type of behavior also tends to drive the more experienced submissives in the channel nuts. So:
Ragnarok's Rule #4: The punishment fits the crime, and Ragnarok's Rule #5: Never strike in anger.
If she is naughty, within the scope of having the Dom's permission to be naughty, she gets play punishment, which is what both want in the first place. It's an elaborate dance which both enjoy. But if she is naughty without having permission. Or if she has done something outside of their collar agreement (or understanding, if there is no collar agreement), then play is not the consequence. Dom's don't with hold sex to punish...if you do, you will quickly build a dis- functional relationship, with tremendous problems. Don't go there. But you also don't give sexual satisfaction as a reward for doing something you didn't want her to do.
The key here is...the bad behavior wasn't appropriate...so it's not part of D/S, and sex isn't a part of the solution. Talking about the problem, letting her know that you aren't pleased (without damaging her self esteem), and giving her the chance to gain forgiveness will resolve the immediate issue. It will also help her understand not to repeat that behavior in the future.
By the way...striking in anger is abuse. Doesn't matter if it is on IRC or real life. She will know, from your mannerisms and language what is going on. My advice to submissives who have experienced this is to run, and tell everyone they know. A Dom without self control is dangerous to his partners, and to our community, and need to be sanctioned until their behavior changes.
Another piece of this puzzle is that an appropriate punishment for a play offense (given the above rules about maintaining self esteem and having permission to be naughty) has to be found. Some that are NOT appropriate include: not letting her talk to her friends on line, anything r/l dangerous, anything r/l that may cause her to get into significant trouble if caught, anything that may "out" a person who wants to maintain privacy. Obviously judgement is required. Punishments that are appropriate: setting her to a variety of tasks, which can include something she doesn't like to do and puts off (cleaning the bathroom?), sending her on a hunt for something hard to find, inexpensive (unless she's filthy rich, in which case you really need to introduce me!) But that would give you some pleasure. Give her a task which makes a gesture. How about a wax impression of her belly button? If you've done your homework, and know what makes her monkey jump, the right task will be easy to find. Be careful that it isn't too easy...also be careful that it isn't too demanding or difficult (e.g. wake up every hour, on the hour, and send me an email...even more unrealistic if she is married, has kids, works, etc). Again, use your judgement.
Rule #6: Be honest.
This one goes without saying. But you see it violated all the time. Are you 5'2"? Don't tell her you are 6' 6". Heavy set? Be honest. Balding? Same thing. If your relationship goes well, you may well meet at some point...you never know. It's a bit hard to fake that extra 14 inches in real life. I know, some people think IRC is about fantasy...and it is...but first and foremost it's about people. Real people. Real trust. Real feelings. So tell the truth. Could this mean that the 23 year old playboy model won't drool all over you? Yep. It could mean that. And it could mean that you are exactly what she is looking for. But I'll guarantee you that what she isn't looking for is a liar. So, take the plunge, be honest. I've had people tell me they didn't want to play with me, for a whole variety of reasons. And I was disappointed. But I'm also honest, and I don't want a partner who doesn't really accept who I am, or what I am. And I don't want to have to live a lie here on IRC. It is the one place we all can be afforded the luxury of being brutally, totally honest, and still be accepted. Why mess with that?
Rule #7: Be ready to learn.
You will never know everything about BDSM. Or D/S. The world of it is simply too large. There are physical techniques to master, there are mental techniques to master. And every partner, every play party, brings you new opportunities to learn and for you and your partner(s) to enjoy.
Rule #8: Be ready to teach.
Teach, where you can. Share. I am greatly in the debt of those who have taught me, Dom, Domme, and submissive alike. Don't be arrogant. Be patient, be willing to share. And remember, that you learn as much by teaching as you do by studying.
Rule #9: Be ready to love.
Yep, the L word. It leads to committments, to caring, to exposing yourself emotionally, and to happiness. D/S can become your world. But you have to be open to it.
Rule #10: Give back to the community.
This is the rule where I wave the D/S flag and sing our anthem. The online community, the r/l community have created an environment where you can learn and enjoy what it is that your nature propels you to. In many ways, you could not be whole without it. Don't take it for granted. Participate, organize, contribute your talents, to the extent that you can. You'll find your efforts rewarded....what it is that we do is all about people...so be one. And remember...safe, sane, and consensual.