What Is Domination and Submission?

Author: Zenwstick © 2002

Used With Author(s) Permission


This article is aimed at newcomers to the BDSM lifestyle – Dominants and submissives. It is meant to be one of many resources a person should read when considering becoming active in the lifestyle. It is offering based on my own experience and attitudes.

This article is copyrighted Zen 2002. Please do not copy it without permission of the author

A lot has been written on the subject, and I don't wish to be redundant here. If you are serious about D/s, read the literature and talk with other Dominants and submissives. You will find many different ideas and styles when doing so. No one is Dominant or submissive in the same way. Everyone is unique.

For my purposes here, however, I will mention that D/s is ultimately about a power exchange between two individuals. The submissive turns her power, control, and her body over to the Dominant who, in turn, takes on the responsibility of ensuring that the relationship is advancing, growing, developing. The submissive's role is to serve her Master according to His instructions and training, but within agreed upon limits and boundaries. Ultimately her satisfaction is bound in the pleasing of her Master. His pleasure is through the responsible exercise of the submissive's power in his hands.

In this exchange, the Dominant has the responsibility for, and the authority over, the submissive. The extent of this varies from couple to couple, and in my opinion, should be negotiated between the two. For example, some Dominants wish to control every aspect of the submissive's life, including career, contact with family, and so forth. A submissive might like to know about this before getting too involved with such a Dominant.

* * * * *

Domination/Submission -- A Subjective Experience

There is no "one right way" to be Dominant or submissive. Anyone who insists otherwise is likely inexperienced, extremely egotistical, and/or downright dangerous. Submissives should be wary of Dominants who think their style is the only right style, and especially wary of Dominants who do not think they have anything to learn from other Doms or submissives, for that matter.

Don't get me wrong, a submissive should obey her Master; however, before she takes a collar, she should be certain that the Dominant is committed to learning and open to change. D/s is a process, not an event, or a static existence.

That being said, I offer my perspective on a few of the dynamics of D/s. I am not concerned about you agreeing with everything I have to say, but I do hope you will do me the honor of considering my words and reflecting on them.

(1) Submissives Have A Voice, Their Own Identity

I know. This sounds obvious. But many new submissives think they have no say in what will happen to them. And, for some reason, they think they should be addressing anyone who calls himself a Dom as "Sir." Simply put, this is hogwash. Don't address any Dom as "Sir" unless you feel he deserves such protocol. An experienced Dom won't expect you to address Him as "Sir." Such Doms are too self-confident and respectful of submissives, in my opinion, to get all worked up about having every submissive they meet address them as "Sir." A true Dominant commands respect, never demands it.

(2) Submissives Are Special.

To my way of thinking, a submissive is a very special woman, worthy of utmost respect and admiration. After all, she is prepared -- or is preparing herself -- to one day serve a Master. Such an offering is unparalleled in the vanilla world. Any Dominant who does not approach a submissive with due respect should not be trusted. A submissive should expect to be treated well. If you act like a doormat, you will be found out by those who are looking for one.

(3) Trust Is Paramount

Both partners need to trust each other totally or a real time relationship will falter, eventually fail, and in time cause considerable pain, if not psychological injury. Trust is a process. It evolves through open communication, sharing, mutual exploration, and honesty about needs, worries, expectations, and limits.

(4) Limits and Boundaries

Think of boundaries as permanent restrictions and limits as more temporal in nature. Everyone has a few natural boundaries. For example, no sex with minors, no scat play, and no permanent injuries are common and sensible boundaries. These will likely never change. Any Dom who tries to change, or who disregards, boundaries is dangerous and is not worthy of anyone's submission.

Limits are tied more to the evolution of a relationship and to the growth of both the submissive and the Dominant. For example, a new submissive will have more limits than she will six months into the lifestyle, and so on. Limits should be respected, of course, but also tested and challenged by the Dom. In fact, I would suggest that a submissive who wishes to have her submission nurtured knows that she needs a responsible, trustworthy Dom to push her limits and often take her beyond them.

That being said, Dominants should not collar a submissive who has too many boundaries and limits for him. In such an instance, collaring her will only lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. Better to find a submissive who is more in sync with you. For example, if you are a sadist, seek out a submissive who either is a masochist or has masochistic leanings. Don't invest much time in a submissive who cannot tolerate much pain.

An experienced Dominant will always make sure his submissive has a safe word, which is a word the submissive can use during a scene if things are getting out of hand for her. Safe words mean stop. A Dominant who does not heed a safe call is dangerous. Most people I know in the lifestyle use color codes: red, yellow, and green. Red means stop what ever is going on immediately. Yellow means slow down or make a change to the current activity. Green means everything is still a go. In a heavy scene, an experienced Dom will often ask his submissive what color she is at. He checks in with her to make sure all is well.

(5) Good Masters Listen And Dialog

When getting to know one another, asking questions is paramount to setting a strong, trusting foundation. A good Dominant will not only allow questions, he will ask many as well. He should be asking the submissive about her needs, attributes, aspirations, skills, worries, fears, and so forth. Submissives should watch out for Doms who are quick to tell

them what they need and want. And Doms should be wary of submissives who cannot articulate their needs, goals, and so forth. Oh by the way, in this kind of exchange, be honest. If you are inexperienced, admit it. All of us were inexperienced at one point. No shame in that.

(6) One Master, One Submissive

Many of my Dominant friends will disagree with me, and I mean them no disrespect, but I do not believe a 24/7 relationship can work if the Master owns more than one submissive. I say this because I believe a successful 24/7 relationship must be built on love and adoration and clear, constant focus. I do not believe such focus can be equitably split between two submissives. Invariably, in my experience, one submissive is more important, or perceived to be more important, than the other submissive, and this is bound to cause problems, eventually.

You might very well disagree with me on this, but I would suggest that new submissives think hard before they become the property of a Dominant who is prone to owning multiple submissives. It is not about what is right or wrong. Just be careful with your heart.

(7) Fairness Is Crucial

A fair Dominant will never punish his submissive for something that is out of her control. On the other hand, when my slave requires discipline or punishment, it is important that she receive it. To do otherwise would constitute failure on my part as her Master.

(8) Training Takes Time

Training is a process. Any Dominant who expects his submissive to perform to all his expectations early on in the relationship is not realistic about how D/s works. Ownership is a living process, involving hard work, clear communication, and, at times, frustration. The proof of a strong relationship is how well the Dom guides the relationship and how focused the submissive remains during hard times.

Everything a Master's submissive does or does not do is ultimately a reflection on him. While punishment is necessary at times, the real challenge is to train the submissive so that punishment is a rare, if ever, occurrence.

(9) D/S Should Be Fun

Domination and submission should be fun. If you cannot laugh and do the happy dance now and again, why bother with this life-style? Nuff said.

(10) Warnings to Subs

a) First Meetings

When you are ready to move from an on-line relationship to your first real-time meeting, make sure that you know the Dominant's full name, telephone numbers, address, and place of work. You should also have a picture of him. If a Dominant wishes for you to serve Him in real time, then He expects you to trust him. He should not have a problem with divulging this information. I would also suggest you check out the information as well before meeting.

As well, when first meeting, have at least two people (friends of yours) who can act as a safe call. Make sure you have pre-arranged times to phone these people during your first visit with your Dominant. Have a code word to use on the phone, so that if the person on the other end hears it, she/he will know you are in trouble and will take necessary steps to

help you. I know this sounds a bit paranoid, but there have been numerous submissives (a couple who are friends of mine) who did not take these steps and were raped.

b) Substances, Alcohol

Never scene drunk or high. Be wary of a Dominant who has been drinking or who wants to smoke up or pill down prior to a session. Do not get involved with a Dominant who has a drinking problem. If he can't master alcohol, he shouldn't be mastering you. The same goes for any other substance addiction.

c) Violence, Threats

Never tolerate violence against you. If a Dominant ever threatens you with bodily harm, inform others of this, including the police. Do not give such a Dom a second chance.

There is of course much more to be said about the D/s lifestyle, too much for one article, but this modest overview is here for your consideration. Ultimately each one of us must make our decisions, set our own course, and manage our own risks. This lifestyle does have its risks, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. Be careful. Have fun. Become everything you can be.



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