When I first started finding willing partners and doing bdsm I was worried about the apparent contradictions between being a dom, and having convictions about gender equality and strict rules against hitting women.
So I felt some shame about being a dom, and about my desires.
But these days I’m absolutely shameless, even proud. Here are some key reasons why.
1 Respecting “yes”.
There’s still a duty of care even when someone says “yes”. Consent isn’t the only consideration you take into account. But if a submissive says, “hurt me, rule me, and fuck me when I’m crushed,” and that’s something you both want, then you have to respect the submissive’s right to consent and get what she wants.
(“She” wants? I thought about using inclusive pronouns, but that makes it sound as though I’m laying down universal rules. These are only my personal conclusions.)
You can and should look out for your lovers, a duty that applies to submissives as much as to doms. Sometimes a submissive might beg for harder pain or tighter bonds because the moment is so good, and it may not always be safe and sensible to give her that. Still, unless you have a good safety concern, or it’s something that you personally don’t want to do (I won’t do scat or cut someone, for example, no matter how nicely the submissive might ask for it), you shouldn’t protect people from having their desires met.
Respecting the “yes” as well as respecting no, and hard limits, is respecting the submissive.
2 Respecting the power of sex
In my early bdsm career I was always troubled when I hurt a woman, even though she was a consenting submissive woman who loved the pain and wanted to be made to serve.
But I had the reassurance that came from the look on her face and the sounds she made when she came. I’d feel incredible pride in that.
And I knew the sexual joy (getting all William Blake-y here) that I’d just experienced.
It’s a good idea to trust sexual pleasure when it’s mutual and strong. You can work out the intellectual issues later.
3 Knowing yourself, and trusting yourself where you know you can
A lot of people think that bdsm must escalate, over time, as people supposedly get jaded and push out to further limits, so that one day, eventually, a spanker will be wanting to tear flesh with pincers, a la Sade.
Research has shown that this just isn’t true. People work up to the level of intensity that they’re comfortable with, and they stay there. That’s certainly been my experience.
Like everyone, I have a dark side.
For example, I’ve fantasised about throwing hand grenades into a Ku Klux Klan rally, leaving meat-spattered white sheets and groaning neo-Nazis crawling, blind with their own blood, on shattered, exposed bones across the dried-mud ground. Is that dark?
But my dark side doesn’t seem to have much to do with my dom side.
Submissives have requested me to do things that are beyond my own usual limits, like drawing blood with a birch. I’ve told that story on this blog: look for the Vampire Girl tags. Another woman wanted me to use a wooden rod on her buttocks and thighs with all my strength, not judging or pulling the strokes, just going as hard as I could.
Both times I found that my pleasure diminishes as I go further than I’m comfortable with. I can stretch a limit, but not far or for long.
So the monster in me isn’t hiding behind the dom. The dom loves giving pleasure through giving surrender. The monster seems to be hiding behind my politics, not my sexual desires.
4 Know the submissive, and watch her
Watching submissives closely is important to keeping them safe, and keeping them happy in that bdsm way that is mostly but not entirely sexual. Luckily, I’m turned on by submission, when a woman I desire submits to me, so I can watch a submissive being submissive, all day.
Close communion comes from close observation. Close observation also tells me, as a dom, whether I’m doing good and not harm. And when I know I’m doing well and doing good, I can feel proud of it.
5 Respecting dominance
I know that I put a lot of work into domming. Regardless of how people interpret the dynamics of what happens between dominant and submissive, I know that I do more, I make more judgment calls, and the chances are that she will come quite a lot more often than me.
(On a particular occasion I might, for example, come in her mouth and refuse her permission to come. But it tends to work out in her favour on average, over a period of time.)
She gets to go into subspace when she finds the way, and though I know there’s a dom equivalent, I can’t allow myself to go there in a session. I need to stay alert, observant and active. There’s a degree of illusion-making, of legerdemain, in domming, where we give the submissive the pleasure of feeling that she is powerless and she serves, and she is not served. Providing that illusion involves skill and work and art. I am, submissive madam, your most arrogant servant.
I find the level of trust and generosity involved in giving someone submission is, ahem, moving and beautiful.
At the same time, while a submissive gives a dominant one vast gift, a dominant gives a submissive many smaller gifts, which come down to forcing on her the things she most desires.
So dominants have our own form of generosity. It took me a while to learn that and respect it, but that’s because I’m slow.
Sing if you’re proud to be a dom, sing if you think it’s da bomb
So it took me a while to work it all through, but these days I’m rather proud to be a dom. I enjoy it, and I can make a girl cry (another absolute taboo when I started) with a song in my heart and a smile on my lips.
I don’t think I’ll ever want to take part in a Dom Pride march, though. Oh my dears, the swaggering.