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!
Today, I’d like to address a subject that’s been mentioned in passing in a few of my articles and books: The difference between being an enforcer and of being a leader.
The examples I’d like to use for this discussion, are the Warden of a prison versus the Queen of a land.
Both positions have “constituents” – those that reside in the area over which they have authority. Both have the authority to set rules and procedures for those constituents. Both have power to rule, somewhat unilaterally. Both have the right to enforce their will. Both are in positions of superiority.
Of course, there are a number of differences:
The Warden’s constituency is not present by choice. They are incarcerated and restricted. The warden is feared. There is no personal relationship with the warden; interaction is limited to compliance with strict and granular rules that impact every moment of every day. Compliance is not a choice, it is mandatory – and failure to comply has severe punitive consequence. They are counting the days until they can get out.
The Queen’s constituency are members by choice. They are voluntarily citizens unless they no longer want/need the protections / benefits of the land. The Queen is revered and honored. She is worshiped and adored. She is the leader of the land. Her rules are somewhat generic; providing an overarching framework of culture and order, under which the citizens adapt for their specific lives. For the most part, participation in the regulations provide a level of freedom within that framework. Of course, repeated failure to comply to the regulations may result in banishment from the land or being turned over to … the warden, but for the most part, the constituents are governed by their desire to provide for the queen in their deed and intent.
Much of the literature surrounding BDSM and D/s fantasies, and consequently, many of those who approach me for advice or contact, approach dominance as a position of enforcement. Of course, there is a bit of a façade that gets played: When referring to dominants, they use words like “reverence” and “worship” – vernacular that would have you believe the dominant is a queen, but when you actually look at the nature of the imagery and understand the demands of the fantasy, you see that the role being described most resembles that of the warden.
Many submissivess are looking to be made captive. The fantasy is to be trapped, as if against one’s will, under the authoritative and restrictive rule of the dominant. There is usually an elaborate storyline that creates servitude – blackmail, disclosure, loss of bets, indenture – so that compliance to a strict rule is assured. Every movement curtailed; every decision made for them. When to eat, when to sleep, where to go, what to do. Enforcement is immediate and punitively consequential. The dominant is an enforcer: The “doer”; the active role. Obedience is driven through fear of consequence. All of this is necessary to make the façade feel real.
For most of the dominants I know, playing the role of warden can be fun and enjoyable – as a role. However, being the warden day in and day out runs counter to what they’re looking for in their relationships – and can be a lot of work! Most enjoy the feeling of being revered, worshiped, and adored. They want to set generic rules and structure, and not have to threaten or beat their submissives into compliance. In my vernacular, they prefer “submission” to “acquiescence” …the difference being that submission is driven by a desire to serve, whereas acquiescence is compliance driven by a desire to avoid consequence.
The conflict this establishes can take a toll on relationships. A person who is looking to establish a power dynamic using words like “worship” and “reverence”, is setting up an expectation that isn’t met (for most) by the imagery of the warden. Sometimes that dichotomy is realized very late in the dynamic’s development and can lead to all sorts of issues. If someone wants a warden, they need to be up-front about it. This is not just a porn issue (although porn tends to present the imagery of the warden in the guise of a full-time relationship – and for someone whose only exposure to power dynamics is through porn, that can be damaging), this is a communications issue. Talk about what you want. Define submission. Define dominance. Agree on your terms before you dive into the dynamic.
For me, I am my submissive’s queen. They operate within the guidelines I present – my preferences and expectations…the things that make me happy. They live within the purview of my land for as long as they want to. They are neither forced to comply, nor are they trapped against their will. They opt to serve me, each and every day they stay here. They are the “doers”; actively working to fulfill their role within the structure. They are citizens of my land; knights; valued contributors to my domain.
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