Sunday, October 17, 2004

A License to Dom?

A thought occurred to me recently about dominants (and yes, you smartasses, I know that thoughts are a rare thing for me), and I wanted to get the thought into an essay. It occurred to me that there's no license to be a dominant, and that we're really mostly self-proclaimed tinpot dictators. Some of us have a subbie or slave to be the citizenry of our little banana republics, and some don't. I'm not saying that every dom just woke one morning and said "I'm a dom!," but that it's not quite like being a stockbroker or an insurance agent where we must formally prove our knowledge of this chosen vocation. "Safe, Sane and Consensual" (a topic addressed in another one of my rants to come) is what makes a wall of fire between, say, Fidel Castro and the average dominant. At least we're elected to be the dictators of our banana republics by our submissives, and most of us are pleased to be benevolent despots, however forceful in our applications of law and justice.

The problem is that many doms don't know doodly-squat about being dominants, or about properly caring for the ones who've given us the ultimate trust to be in our charges. I've seen too many submissives with shattered hearts and spirits inflicted by selfish or stupid dominants. That's a big part of the reason that I like places where those of us in the lifestyle can go and communicate, such as chat rooms or BDSM clubs out in the real world. Of course, the downside is that these places are where submissives tend to meet dominants, so it becomes a double-edged sword if others of us (dominants and submissives both) don't keep our eyes open to protect the newbies who arrive in our midst from time to time.

I've seen before both online and in the real world situations where a new submissive arrives and there are any number of trolling dominants who act like these people are calves to be roped at branding time. This seems to happen more with male doms and female subs in my observations, but such conduct can run in all directions, and rarely, almost never, to the benefit of the submissives, who are often regarded no more highly than meat in the supermarket by these people. I think the problem is complicated by the arrogance that too many wannabe dominants tend to manifest. There is all too often a belief by these people that they know it all, or can figure it all out on their own and that questions are a sign of weakness, stupidity, or insecurity. Way too late in the game for way too many people, we learn that there are no stupid questions, because in the most extreme cases, those are the unanswered ones that can get people killed. I've met in my life dominants and submissives who I thought were very intelligent and knowledgeable and a number who weren't. But I've NEVER, and that certainly includes myself and Grace, met a dominant or a submissive whose knowledge was boundless or had nothing left to learn.

I would warn any submissive to avoid like the plague any dominant who acts as though he knows it all and has nothing left to learn, for that is a stupid and dangerous person who is very likely to seriously harm or perhaps even kill you. That same warning goes out to dominants, although we're rarely harmed physically by our submissives. I frequently encounter submissives who are deeply steeped in protocol and insist on calling every dominant "Sir," and so forth. I'm not big on protocol, but if that pleases the submissive in question, then I've no problem with it. But I have told several submissives that this isn't the military, where every dominant is like an officer who has the inborn right to give orders and control the submissive in question. Unlike a dominant in BDSM, the officer has been to OCS or a service academy (such as West Point) to prove his or her worthiness to act in such a manner.

As a hypothetical, let's say you're a new submissive and have just met me, and wish to be in protocol and say "sir" to me like you're using it for a comma. Just because you choose to do so does not give me the automatic right to give you commands as though I suddenly became your master. Such is not the case, and shouldn't be the case. My being a dominant does not in any way mean I'm automatically YOUR dominant. Your submission to me is a gift that you give to me, if it ever happens, and one that I should prove that I am worthy of receiving. Likewise, dominance is a gift to the submissive (a dismayingly often-overlooked fact) and should be earned by the submissive who has proven worthiness to receive it. Submission does not automatically mean you're without rights or the responsibility to yourself to exercise good judgement.

Anyone in this lifestyle of ours is privileged to be here, and with privilege always comes responsibility, both to ourselves and to our partners. This is not a lifestyle of political correctitude or one for secrecy and lies, for instance. As an illustration, a friend of mine (a domme) had taken the first steps to bringing on a submissive male. She asked him (as is her responsibility) if he had any medical problems, and he lied to her and said no. A day or two later it came to her attention that he had a very serious medical problem about which he knew and lied in denial, and she dropped him like a hot potato. Was she right to do so? Grace and I discussed that very question at length last night, in fact. It can't be rightly called a debate since we both agreed that the domme did the right thing in dropping the guy. Our lifestyle is about great honesty, and dishonesty such as this man manifested could have (in the worst-case scenario, to be fair) have gotten him killed and her jailed as his murderess. She exercised her responsibilities in this privilege, and he did not. Sad, really, because I'm thinking she could've made him very happy. She would not have dropped him over the medical issue itself -- it wasn't insurmountable -- but because he lied and could no longer be trusted. This wasn't a little white lie, either, but one of perhaps life-and-death importance. Perhaps he'll learn from this and not tell lies to his next domme. Perhaps not. It seems that some people never learn, and that's a crying shame, but those people are to be shunned here, in my opinion, for the safety and well-being of all, including themselves.

I'm not sure why it was that I felt the need to write this essay, but now that it's on paper I'm glad that I did. Our community needs by its very nature to have the highest of standards in our regard for our safety and for our public image. We've seen too many times where people cannot wait to combine our lifestyle with any side issue to make us all look bad. I commented recently that Americans are awfully judgemental, and anyone who has sex other than missionary and/or more than 1.6 times weekly is to be viewed with suspicion and derision as some sort of a pervert. Being people of sexual liberation, we are damned suspicious to the vanillas, who are happy to be good Germans and think us capable therefore of any abomination from child molestation to bestiality as a category of people.

Well, there it is. I don't know if you think I'm full of that which makes the grass grow greener, or if you think I wrote a good essay about we in the lifestyle. Perhaps I never will. We all react differently by our own experiences and attitudes, but here it is anyway. I hope you at least were interested enough to read the entire missive.

--13 November 2001, A.D.--