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!
As we all know, one of the composite phrases in the acronym, BDSM, is B&D: Bondage and Discipline. In this context, discipline is defined as actions that are applied to the submissive, while the submissive is bound and incapable to resist. Discipline could be impact play, humiliation, chores, etc. Urban Dictionary has a reasonable definition for B&D: “used in reference to practices involving physical restraint and punishment”
Of course, “Discipline” has other meanings, both within, and outside of the context of B&D. The Oxford definition has several, two of which are particularly pertinent to this discussion. The first is also often thought of in a BDSM context: “The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” The second interpretation offered by Oxford hits home for me in a big way: “Training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way”.
In a sense, the subtle differences between these two definitions harken back to my discussion on the different viewpoints people have on submission: That submission is either the passive or active role. There are those who feel that submission is about having things done TO you by a dominant, whereas others (like myself) prefer to think of submission as being dedicated to doing things FOR a dominant that the dominant feels is FOR them. In the first, submission is passive: Things are done to you. In the second, submission is active: You are doing things for the dominant.
In this same way, the first definition of discipline is about doing TO the submissive. The submissive is the recipient of training; the recipient of punishment and adjustment. The goal of this discipline is obedience, as defined by the dominant. The dominant is the one doing the discipline…the sub is accepting it. This is what many people think of as submission. The goal of the submissive is to ACCEPT the discipline and adjust their behavior.
The second definition is focused on the submissives themselves. The submissive is structuring their own behavior to act in a specific way. They are providing and generating the energy required to enforce their own desired traits. They are motivated by an “ideal behavior”.
For those who have talked to me, read my books, or read my articles here in KinkWeekly, you already know that my preference is for subs to be self-disciplined. Self-discipline, in a power dynamic as a submissive, implies that the ideal behavior to which you are aspiring, is known to serve the dominant the way the dominant prefers to be served. The dominant sets and communications the ideal, the submissive works to achieve it.
This is very different than having discipline thrust upon you. When you are “trained to obey”, your behavior is motivated by the consequences of not obeying. The discipline is manifested in the form of punishment and behavior modification. Contrast this to self-discipline, in which the dominant communicates desired behavior and the submissive chooses to structure themselves to deliver against that specification, motivated by their desire to serve the dominant in the best way they can.
To me, this is fundamentally the difference between “Submission” and “Acquiescence”. Read my article on this subject, or my books, for more information about this distinction.
So, when a sub boasts about how much they can accept, absorb, or endure…when they talk about punishment and the need for restriction in order to remain focused on serving – I quickly lose interest. I have no interest in manipulating submission. My interest is in defining submission clearly, so that my submissives can provide the self-discipline needed to fulfill their need to submit to me.
A sub who demonstrates discipline is far more valuable to me than one who accepts discipline. If you’re a dominant and feel the same way, communicate that to your submissives. Change the way they think of submission. If you’re a submissive, consider that your dominant may prefer you to be more self disciplined…and may not have even thought it “proper” to ask it. I strongly recommend that you use these definitions as a discussion-point to help you further define your power dynamic with your partners. It’s one of many steps on the road to mutual fulfillment!
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