I hope you have been enjoying Rika’s Lair, my monthly column dedicated to thoughts and experiences regarding power dynamics in Service-Oriented D/s relationships. Look up “Ms. Rika” in the search box for links to all of my articles in KinkWeekly!
This morning, I was participating in a discussion regarding the observations by some dominant women that submissives do not show attraction well. The reasons for why this was the case isn’t as important as that the dominants in the discussion were lamenting about how they enjoy being the target of attraction and how they feel limited to the submissive’s submissive acts as the means for recognizing that attraction. They felt pressure to accept acts of submission as the only indicator of desire. There were many comments that started with, “I’m not insecure, but…”. In general, when you start a sentence with “I’m not xxxx, but…” – it means you know you ARE xxxx, and you don’t want to be. I know some of these people well …These really aren’t insecure people, but they are PEOPLE – and people have insecurities.
One dominant said, “This is a real struggle for me. I understand that I am the Dom and it is down to me to make all the moves and be the lead. Which is obviously something I enjoy. But then the human in me wants to feel wanted. Needed. I need to feel attractive for some reason other than my whip.”
There’s a poison at work here; a recurring theme that drags us down. There is an insidious belief that dominance can only be defined by a consistent standard to which we all aspire: Dominants are “All powerful” … “Impenetrable” … “Demanding” … “Untouchable”.
I began to think of my Barbie doll.
We are fed this imagery of dominance from the very beginning. It is either something that we read, or something that our partners told us: “Dominants are like Gods”. They are “Worthy of worship”. “They have an impenetrable shield of confidence”. Bullshit. Newsflash: We’re not Gods; we’re mere mortals.
This imagery is designed by submissives to serve the submissive mind. They want to feel subjugated to a more powerful authority. They want to feel irresistibly compelled to submit. They want to be helpless – and to have that helplessness leveraged by an uncaring, unyielding, task master. The imagery is very clear – and it spells out a standard you must support to be “A Dominant”.
I repeat, it’s poison. The analogy to Barbie is strong: Barbie represents an image of female perfection that can never be achieved – and yet, was held as a standard to which all women should strive. The pressure to achieve the unachievable is established in the very core of the image. Worse, it’s an image that mothers passed to their daughters. It’s a destructive process.
For dominants, we’re facing a similar dilemma; male and female dominants alike; to appear and act like an archetype…to present the complement personality to what the submissive wants to see themselves as. The submissive is defining what dominance looks like – in order to provide a framework that supports the imagery of themselves that they prefer. The result is a lot of pressure on the dominant – the one supposedly being served. Worse, like mothers passing Barbie to their daughters, dominants often pass that requirement to new dominants just entering dynamics. They transmit that which they themselves were unable to attain; perhaps in an effort to avoid admitting their own inability to do so.
I won’t buy in to that imagery. I choose to define dominance by my own terms. I’m a dominant…which means, I’m a person who has allowed people who want to serve me, to serve me. I didn’t force them to serve me, I don’t expect them to fall to their knees because I’m some irresistible deity…I’m just a person; with needs, desires, and yes, insecurities.
This notion that a dominant must lead and make all the decisions: I don’t agree. Rather, the dominant is the partner whose preferences set the direction of a power dynamic – whatever those preferences are. We don’t have to make all the decisions – UNLESS it serves us to do so. We don’t have to lead, unless we want to. Our sub’s job is to serve us in whatever way we want to be served. Believing that it all falls on you is a tremendous amount of pressure to put on yourself – unless you enjoy being in that situation all the time. Most of us enjoy leading most of the time – but there are times when we just want to follow, or be held, or be vulnerable…and that doesn’t make us any less dominant.
What makes us dominant is that, when we feel like following – and having someone else “make the moves”, or be hugged, or understood…they do it dutifully, with our best interests in their minds, motivated by their desire to do things FOR us, as our submissives.
My advice: Don’t get hung up with that “dominant=perfection” stigma…it’s analogous to the pressure of the perfect figure, the perfect skin, the perfect hair…Remember: Barbie is a killer. Don’t let those pressures force you to be someone you’re not. Be yourself, teach your submissive who you are and what you prefer, and let your submissive serve the unique YOU that you are.
Ms. Rika is a lifestyle dominant, educator, and author; living in the suburbs of NYC with her husband/slave. She has written several popular books on her approach to adding Dominant-Centric, Service-Oriented D/s to relationships. You can find her books (in both print and eBook formats) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/msrika), or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Books-A Million, Kobo.com, or anywhere books are sold. Search for “Ms. Rika”.
All dominants and submissives should read this! Great stuff!
Mira O'Hart says
Lovely article. I fully agree with the premise, that when we strive to meet an impossible ideal, it ruins things. One thought I had was that, as a dominant who wants their submissive to express desire and attraction, could we not teach and reward this behavior like any other we want to encourage? We all want to feel wanted. Maybe that looks a little different for each of us, but the core is the same. Maybe some of the issue stems from the submissive feeling that if they express a want for affection that they are not being ‘submissive’ enough? Maybe establishing a certain ritual or preferred method for them seeking affection/intimacy might work for both parties. Again, lovely article that touches on an important relationship aspect we all face.
“Reward” is probably the wrong word.
Clearly define what you want, present it to your submissive an assure that they understand it, then expect it from them. Accept no less. If they’re having trouble delivering (in your assessment), explain your assessment, seek out why the sub is having difficulty, and help and enable the sub to improve. Continue to monitor, feedback, and improve.
No need for “rewards”. In fact, rewards provide a motivation that’s different than the motivation of serving (which is that of the dominant’s satisfaction and pleasure in the service), and therefore, actually work AGAINST establishing effective submission.
Remember, we’re not trying to compel behavior, we’re trying to adjust INTENT — and then allow intent to drive behavior. It’s not what a sub does that’s important, it’s WHY they do it, that defines the quality of the submission.