Time to continue my discussion about Submission.
This is a tough subject for me because I hold respect to be one of the most important things to have and show in both the BDSM community and within a dynamic.
What does respect mean to me?
On one hand, it is what you earn. You behave in a way that engenders respect from other people. That may be those people listening to you and valuing your opinion. It may be that person seeking you out as a mentor/Dominant/submissive/etc. It may be receiving a title from your peers because of the knowledge and skill you show. What all of these things mean, however, is that you have lived in a way that brings that respect to you.
On the other, it is what we all show. We do not have to genuflect to people to respect them. We do, however, have to remember, even when we disagree with them, that they are human beings. It does not mean that we don’t call out people when we see something wrong, or bad. It does mean that we speak to them like we are both adults. We don’t get petty. We don’t get back-stabby.
We don’t go behind their backs, or do other things that would anger us if they were done to us.
In a way, do unto others is the ultimate lesson of respect.
When it comes to submission, respect is important.
Obviously, from the one submitting, whether slave or submissive, showing proper respect to his or her D-type is important. That is not really what I want to talk about, though.
I want to talk about how submissives are shown respect. Remember that as with all things, this is my opinion, my take on the Lifestyle and what it means to be a participant and part of it.
From the Dominant Perspective
You have this very beautiful young woman, or young man, switch pronouns as needed, who wishes to submit to you. This could be in a Dominance/submission dynamic or a Master/slave dynamic. The two of you negotiate limits, when and how sessions will begin and end, what things will be involved in sessions, and what happens after, aftercare, contact, and so on.
Once you have your slave or submissive, in what ways do you display respect to her?
And that is where things can get fuzzy and confusing. This is the point where predators see the Lifestyle as a place to come and hunt for potential victims. It is also where those who do not understand the Lifestyle can gain the misunderstandings to unintentionally harm someone. It is where a slave or submissive can fall victim to a predator or even an inexperienced D-type and not understand that her experience is not normal, or healthy, or that the actions of her D-type are not acceptable in BDSM.
Within the dynamic, a submissive or slave may want to be shown little or no respect. She may want respect, but to only be shown the kind of respect that a pet or property is shown. She may be into as much humiliation as her D-type is willing to dish out, verbally or physically.
There is, however, respect that a slave or submissive is always shown, no matter what she wants from session. Before the dynamic ever begins, limits are negotiated. Desires are discussed. All parties involved talk about what they want, what they enjoy, and what they want to experience in their dynamic. A D-type may, within a session, subject the s-type to all forms of humiliation and degradation. This is all done within those agreed limits, however. A D-type is never without respect for the s-type in her care. Limits should always be observed and no matter how much pain or humiliation the s-type wishes to receive the D-type should always be mindful that actual physical, mental, or emotional harm does not come to the s-type during a session.
Respect of limits. Respect of the Safe Word. Respect of the submissive or slave’s happiness, desires, sanity, safety, and the power (consent) that has been handed over to the D-type is always important.
From the Submission Perspective
So, you have decided that you are giving up some degree of power to another person. Are you entering into a Master/slave dynamic? Perhaps Dominance and submission is more your style. Whatever the case, you negotiate and set safe words.
Whatever your dynamic, it is important that you maintain respect for yourself. You have limits. You have needs. You have wants and desires. You have reasons that you entered the lifestyle. You have goals that you have set for yourself. You have a mind, a physical body, and very complex emotions.
Whether slave, submissive, masochist, bottom, baby, little, pet, property – whatever your role, you have more to do in a session and in the lifestyle than to just submit and obey. Have you found a new limit? Is something distasteful, to the point that even the idea that it pleases your Dominant/Master is not enough to bring you pleasure in doing it? Are you changing emotionally? Are you growing? Just because you hand power over to someone, just because they own you, dress you up, lead you around on a leash, does not mean that you give up your self respect to them. Even when your thing is to be humiliated to the point you should be in tears, you do that because you gain something from it. Maybe it is catharsis. Maybe you need that humility because you need someone to bring you down and remind you that you are no more important than anyone else in this world.
In seeking that out, you recognized a need within yourself and you respected that need.
Don’t forget that in your service and submission. Be as respectful as you need to be to your D-type, but remember that you must respect yourself as well.
Consider: If you lose your sense of self, if you have no respect that you show to you … what can you possibly hand over as control to someone else? By having that self respect and sense of self, you guarantee you always have something of you that the person you want dominating you and controlling you can have.
From the Outside
Respect is not something that is shown just within a dynamic. It is also what we as a larger community show to each other.
Since coming back to BDSM, I have seen something very interesting within the larger community. Questions are frequently asked that essentially cause respondents to have to decide whether or not to make a value judgment between Submissives and Slaves. Who is more devoted? Who understands obedience better? Which is preferred? Who is stronger?
These are value judgments and they are dangerous. Slaves and submissives are not the same thing. Can a D/s dynamic evolve into M/s? Sure. Why not. Lots of relationships evolve. That is like asking if friendship can evolve into romance. Of course.
That does not mean, however, that they are on the same spectrum. The kind of power exchange involved in a TPE dynamic is very different than even extreme D/s dynamics. Why? Because of the type of trust that is needed. Because often slaves do not use safe words and hand over all of their consent (within the agreed limits) to their Master.
When a new submissive, however, sees the question asked, she will ask it. It is worse for her when people respond that slaves are preferred, that they understand obedience and submission more than a submissive does. These are not true things. They are opinion from within an M/s dynamic only and have no meaning or application outside of it. Yes, a Master will prefer to have a slave over a submissive because a submissive is not a slave. Yes a slave will prefer to be a slave rather than a submissive. The slave craves that release of total power to someone else.
That is not the same thing, however, as slave being preferred, or better, or stronger, or more submissive, or more obedient, or any of the other things that I have seen in communities. Your girlfriend is not a better person than your friend merely because she gives you sex.
That this idea of the slave as a better submissive is being expressed in the BDSM … that is dangerous. To a new submissive who sees this, she will think that in order to be more pleasing as a submissive she has to give up more power, even if she does not want a TPE dynamic. Even if she has a hard limit, she will think that to be a good submissive, she has to consent to that limit being pushed, even though she does not want it. Why? Because she has been led to believe that the safe word does not equal complete submission, that there is a better submission than what she is offering.
What this means is that as a community we create an atmosphere where the very predators we rail against can prey upon new submissives who do not understand that not only is it okay for them to have limits, that a good Dominant will crave those limits just as much as the submissive needs them.
This is why as a community it is so important that we respect the slaves and submissives around us. That we ensure those entering the lifestyle to seek these roles understand why it is so important to respect themselves and each other. We do not put false comparisons because that leads to misunderstanding, low confidence, and low self-esteem. This in turn means that those who are victimized by predators do not seek help because they think what is happening to them is what they signed up for in BDSM. That is not true. As a community we have to be open to help those who are victimized by predators that hide in our midst. We also have to create an atmosphere that shows those victims BDSM means.
That when a “d-type” questions a submissive’s use of a safe word, or tells her that her level of submission is not good enough, that is a warning sign, not a lesson.
We cannot just do this in documents in groups and web pages.
We must do this actively in our communities as well.