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 entry, I’d like to share some thoughts from a FetLife conversation that revolved around the notion that submissives “Enjoy” punishment, pain, and denial…and the question of how they deal with doing something they don’t really enjoy.
I brought up the point that I’ve shared here in previous columns in Kinkweekly: That feeling compelled to do (or endure) something you normally wouldn’t, forces the submissive to rationalize why they are allowing it (or going along with it) …and that the popular rationalization is that they are out of control and under the command of their partner – that they are “Forced” to accept the discomfort. This serves to build the façade of power that allows both partners to obfuscate the reality of consent and enjoy their dynamic despite the continued existence of free-will.
I’ve used this point to argue why punishment isn’t actually the most effective tool in changing behavior in submissives, since, although the submissive might dislike the punishment itself, they crave the concept that their partner has the authority to punish them. The more distasteful the punishment, the greater the perceived authority of the dominant, the more ‘enjoyment’ for the submissive. Obviously counter-productive to actual behavior modification.
During the conversation, one friend, who goes by the auspicious username of 000-298-237 (his friends call him ‘7’…jk ) posted an interesting point of view regarding the use of the word ‘enjoyment’. With his permission, I’m quoting him here:
“Enjoy” has become a difficult word over the years. There is a great deal that goes on, no matter the relationship or the context, that isn’t “enjoyable”. I still do things.
I have pursued the craft of blacksmithing for more than two decades now. There is a saying “Blacksmithing without burns is like expecting to swim without getting wet.” I’ve had my share of burns, thankfully, through care and luck I’ve not had any that required serious medical attention. I did reach the place where I let the burn sizzle so as to not spoil the weld. (It’s not masochism in such circumstances, trust me.) I haven’t stopped my smithing due to burns. I do not enjoy burns. Particularly the ones on the inside of the hand where there is no nursing them if the work needs to continue. I still don’t stop smithing.
About the same time, I came to hear “swimming without getting wet” I was in about my third year of chastity with a full belt. (A Goenthals for the curious.) That’s when “enjoy” started becoming an awkward word. “You must really enjoy chastity to be in that belt so much.” Most were surprised to hear me say “no”. And later, “‘Enjoy’ has nothing to do with it, but it’s not a hair shirt, either.” The side that gets little press about such things is the work of it. It wasn’t discomfort or denial. Even if it had become easy routine, the level of maintenance of belt and body requires dedication and effort. I’d explain this.
“But if you don’t enjoy it, why do you do it?” My reasons were several, and several were my own. It was not completely the whim and insistence of a Superior, and even when it was it wasn’t about what either of us “enjoyed”. Most of my specific reasons I don’t care to share here. Really, the specific reasons aren’t germaine.
“I appreciate it.”
Changing one word makes a world of difference, at least for me. My world has a lot of joy in it. My relationships have had a great deal of joy too. Sometimes the greatest joy has come when there was the least to be enjoyed. Maybe it’s age, but even younger I was little moved to do something simply because I might enjoy it. That’s for decisions like “I think I’ll pick up a candy bar when I stop for gas and milk. I’ll enjoy the ride home a little more with a candy bar to munch on.”
There’s much I don’t enjoy in service or submission. There’s much I don’t enjoy about being a father, or when I was a husband, or sub, or slave, or employee, or employer. I’ve appreciated and more than appreciated all of that. My love and appreciation has not diminished when dealing with dirty diapers or the considerably greater quantities of manure a horse can produce. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed the blood or vomitus or any of the several other less than pleasant substances and experiences of tending to people who are ill. I still do it. And I appreciate them, and the relationship, and the circumstances and environment and more. I’m profoundly grateful for them.
Joy does not mean enjoy.
I love this last phrase, “Joy does not mean enjoy”. In a nutshell, this is it. We can like the fact that we do things, even though we don’t like the things we’re doing. The price we pay for joy often comes at the cost of ‘enjoy’. Submissives derive pleasure from unpleasurable things…it’s not a paradox…it’s a fact of natural human life. We all have experienced this.
At the end of the day, power dynamics are just extensions of our other natural desires. There isn’t anything unique or puzzling about sacrifice for devotion and caring. We can find pleasure in enduring the unpleasurable. “Love hurts”.
I found this an interesting perspective and wanted to share it with you. I Hope you find it thought-provoking as well!
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”.