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!
I wanted to expand on a thought from a prior article, wherein I stated, “I don’t want obedience to be their goal, I want it to be the byproduct of their goal.” The topic relates to the use of fear as a motivator and is also applicable to the use of punishment to change behavior in a submissive. For this article, I wanted to delve into this a bit more.
Recently in a FetLife.com discussion group, someone posted the question, “What is the most powerful thing A submissive Can do to impress you?” By far, the most popular answer from the group was, “Obedience”. Some wanted “Unquestioning, immediate Obedience”, others just said, “Obey me”.
I thought about this for a while.
It is true that my life is easier when my sub obeys me. I’m less aggravated, expend less energy, and am generally happier than if they don’t obey me. I’m not a person who wants to punish my submissives, nor do I feel the need to reward them for good service (see my articles on punishment and rewards or read my books for a lot more detail on that logic), so I have less complexity when a sub does what I want them to do.
But I don’t have any rules – spoken or otherwise – that say, “Obey Me”. In fact, I don’t even want a sub to think about obedience as a form of submission. Rather, I want obedience to be a logical outcome of their submission.
Many subs believe that obedience is submission. The trope goes: “I promise to do whatever you say, immediately, without question. I will obey your every command”. But I argue that being obedient, in and of itself, is not a submissive act. I cannot consider it to be submissive unless I fully understand the INTENT of that obedience. That’s what matters
In that discussion group, I responded that, what pleases me is less about my submissive’s “obedience” and more about their striving to be the best submissive they can — and that it’s important to them to continually improve their service to me, by seeking to understand and internalize my preferences and expectations. That they measure their abilities as a submissive by my feedback (think CERAF).
It is further my contention that, if a sub is focused on striving to be the best submissive they can be, they will, by consequence, obey me – when it pleases me for them to do so.
You might ask, “when would a dominant NOT want a sub to be obedient?” The most obvious situation that comes to mind is a “Funishment” scenario – or a brat scenario – wherein, the dominant WANTS the sub to misbehave, so that they can “punish” them – or “overpower” them to force them to behave.
Another situation might be if a dominant didn’t think a request through fully before making it, and the sub, in their quest to be unquestioningly obedient, follows the request to the letter, even though they know that the dominant didn’t intend the outcome or action.
Or maybe the request is simply not in the dominant’s best interests. A sub who cares about their dominant may confirm a request, or determine if a carefully framed challenge is in order, as long as they make their motivation clear and are able to get back from such a stand without angering the dominant.
I’m sure it would be easier for a sub to “Just Obey”. They don’t have to think why they’re doing what they’re doing – they’re simply doing what they were told to, and that’s all that matters. Being blindly obedient is easier than understanding why you’re doing something, but is it as good service? Does it bring as much value to the table?
Either way, whatever is desired is going to get done by the submissive – but if the submissive is internalizing the preference of the dominant and executing with motivations intended to directly improve the happiness and satisfaction of the dominant, it has got to be more valuable to the dominant than just “following orders.”
If I ask my submissive why they obeyed me, I would expect them to say something along the lines of, “Because it was something you wanted and I knew that by doing what you wanted, I would be pleasing you and making your life easier. And to challenge you, or delay action, would cause you a distraction you don’t need and delays you don’t want. Certainly, disobeying you wouldn’t please you”. Which is such a better answer than, “Because I obey everything you say.”
Not all dominants want their subs to be thinking so much. Some want immediate obedience. For those folks, I point out that, if a dominant prefers to have blind obedience from their submissive, the submissive would still be motivated by the dominant’s preferences if they blindly obey in an attempt (motivated by the intent) to meet the preferences of the dominant. Same result, different mindset.
When the intent of a submissive is to meet the expectations and preferences of their dominant, obedience naturally occurs whenever it is desirable – and is a natural byproduct of the underlying intent to submit.
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”. Write to me at Ms_Rika@hotmail.com