Reality Check

Author: J. Mikael Togneri ©

Used With Author's Permission


Many of those who for some reason feel a need to criticise the absolute D/s minority apparently entertain the absurd notion that our approach to the lifestyle is “fantasy-based”. For reasons fathomable only to themselves, they contend that only the fantasy of a master/slave relationship can be truly real, whereas a real master/slave relationship can exist only in fantasy. This is but one example of the impressive semantic gymnastics to which they have to resort in the absence of worthier arguments. Refuting their assertions is a bit like stealing candy from a child, but I must admit to a total absence of remorse in that connection. I have heard this so often that I finally had to react. Consider this a mercy killing.

Of course, not all lifestyle practices that are real can be said to be absolute, but it is undeniable that all absolute approaches are perfectly real. Yet we are told that the reality of absolute D/s cannot truly exist, because slavery has no legal or social foundation today. Consequently, it is said, a slave isn't really property, isn't really bound to serve and obey beyond her own desire, and can leave a relationship any time, merely by walking out the door.

However, this is a facile argument that lacks imagination as much as it lacks merit. Just because society makes an option available to us, it does not necessarily follow that we must consider it an option for ourselves. This is not a matter of the law, but one of mindset. To point out that a slave can legally terminate a collared relationship unilaterally is one thing, but to suggest that she might actually do so is fantastically insulting. It would require that she break the most important commitment she has ever made, and wilfully disregard every principle she holds dear. It is every bit as disrespectful as to suggest that an orthodox Jew would eat pork if there was nothing else in the fridge.

No matter how legal and obtainable abortion may be, for example, many women would never consider it an option for them personally, based on their ethical or moral standpoints. By the same token, a slave's reasons for discounting some of the options that might be socially or legally available to her are equally compelling and valid. In the abortion debate it seems that the “pro-choice” faction often deliberately ignores that being genuinely pro-choice also means accommodating the right to not choose abortion. The same form of “pro-choice” tyranny in the guise of freedom is seen in our critics’ reaction to absolute slavery.

We are told that only “mindless doormats” would ever submit to that degree; that a submissive must be strong and independent, and not prone to “blind obedience”. However, there is no submission in being “forced” to do only what one wants to do, when one wants to do it. In discussions of monasticism or the military, no one seems to object to obedience, just as no one would call a monk, a nun or a soldier mindless, merely on account of their chosen walks of life. On the contrary, both the military and the Orders are highly respected institutions, and there is no reason for which absolute slavehood should be any less so. Although natural submission is in-born, it literally takes years of soul-searching and sheer hard work to become a slave. One must assume that the “doormat” argument is used mainly by those who begrudge us this admirable level of dedication and commitment, because it has no logical or objective basis.

At this point our reality-based friends usually start entertaining us with outrageously unrealistic “what if” scenarios such as, “supposing over dinner one night your owner suddenly decided he wanted you to murder your parents and eat your kids, then set fire to yourself and jump out of an aeroplane at 15,000 feet. Would you really obey then?” I assure the reader, I am not making this stuff up. The exaggeration in the above example lies only in that four separate scenarios have been combined into one, but all four actually come up in discussions at regular intervals. The imagination of those who claim that the absolute lifestyle is fantasy-based is indeed a fertile one.

Certainly we have all heard the horror-stories, and there is no denying the veracity of a few of them. However, they can be discounted here for two reasons: first of all because the vast majority of these incidents are related by people who have not actually witnessed them – nor anything remotely like them – and they are for the most part variations on a handful of tall tales that have circulated in the lifestyle since Adam first smacked Eve (which event took place approximately five minutes after Lilith first smacked Adam).

Second, because they invariably deal with alleged wannabe dominants, as opposed to the genuine article, and nearly all of them take place at public events where the end result always seems to be that someone more savvy and reasonable steps in and saves the situation in the nick of time. In other words, no harm is actually done, although we are assured that it was this close to happening, with general mayhem and catastrophe just around the corner. Chilling, huh?

All of these arguments are laughable for the very simple reason that they are so far beyond worst-case scenarios as to join the ranks of science fiction. Nobody becomes a galloping mental case at the drop of a hat. No wannabe was ever mistaken for a genuine dominant by any submissive who had just a modicum of experience in the lifestyle. In both cases all the signs are there to see for those who know what to look for – and who take the time to look for them! – and a natural submissive is nothing if not supremely observant.

The likelihood of ever being helpless in the presence of a maniac suddenly gone out of control without prior warning, is abysmally small. Should it happen nonetheless, however, there is every reason to believe that by far the most likely cause would be rank stupidity on the part of the submissive. She would have had to be so desperate for an “experience” as to forgo the usual (long) period of getting to know one’s future dominant, whether for a single evening or for life. Absolute D/s does not contain many guarantees, but one of them is that a submissive invariably gets the dominant she deserves.

This is not to say that nothing untoward ever happens, of course. On the contrary, accidents and near-misses take place all the time. Very little – if indeed anything at all – in the BDSM repertoire could possibly be construed as safe, and no amount of education, experience, safe-words or dungeon rules will ever alter that fact. However, most accidents happen between seasoned lifestylers and can more often than not be ascribed to unlucky circumstances. And by far most of them happen during practices or “scenes” well within the boundaries of mainstream BDSM. There is nothing at all to suggest that the absolute lifestyle is more accident prone than any other form of BDSM. If anything, given that the “absolutists” generally tend to “scene” less – indeed make much less use of the “tools of the trade” altogether – than anyone else, the odds for accidents happening are overwhelmingly in the court of the mainstream.

“So how would you explain the Goreans?” our critics demand, clearly beyond desperation by now. “Are they not fantasy-based, perhaps?”

In a word, no. Contrary to absolute D/s which has no universally defined philosophy or dogma, Gor is a philosophy, a school of thought, first and foremost. There are Goreans across the BDSM spectrum, from the “weekend warriors” to the absolute lifestyle. There are even Gorean purists who point out that Gor has nothing to do with BDSM whatsoever. What makes the Goreans special is that their approach to the lifestyle is founded upon a work of fiction, but in this they are inseparable from any religion you’d care to mention. Since the concepts of morality, higher obligations and honour all come from religion, and since our critics use these in abundance – and rather a lot more than we are wont to do – I consider that they cancel out one another, and the argument can therefore be dismissed. Besides, non-Goreans are often equally inspired by The Story of O, The Marketplace or other similar fiction, which essentially differs from the Gor books only in leaving out the element of science fiction, and in containing much more out-and-out pornography.

If the Goreans can be criticised for anything at all with reference to their literary inspiration, it would be that they chose a particularly badly written and perhaps somewhat puerile one. However, that some of them have managed to translate it into a workable absolute lifestyle, proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that they have both proverbial feet solidly planted in reality.

It is no secret that I personally have a couple of objections to “standard” Gorean practice. One is the idea advanced by the author of the Gor books that domination is an endemically male characteristic, while submission is endemically female. But many Goreans themselves acknowledge that this contention is demonstrably false, and it is hardly peculiar to Gor in any case. It flourishes in many mainstream BDSM fora, including Powerotics, and its equally ridiculous contrary notion of female supremacy is almost as widespread.

My other problem with Gor is the common practice by which slaves refer to themselves in the third person. This is a hindrance to submission of any kind, and most especially of course to the absolute variety. However, it is one of those odd bits of lore like the quotes, “play it again, Sam” or “beam me up, Scotty”, neither of which ever actually occur in the film/series to which they are attributed. Nowhere in any of the twenty-odd Gor books does a slave refer to herself in the third person anywhere near consistently.

Gor can indeed be fantasy-based, but unlike mainstream BDSM it isn’t intrinsically so. On the contrary, those in the absolute minority who are also Goreans, are typically among the most absolute of all. Many Gorean-trained slaves are very much for real, and in addition they tend to be graceful in movement and speech, honest in their perception of themselves and the world around them, and eminently suited to the absolute lifestyle. If more of the mainstream BDSMers would at least try to emulate Gorean elegance and dignity, if nothing else, then clubs and venues would be far more attractive than they are today.

It is rather strange to be called fantasy-based when we are in fact the only dominants and submissives whose master/mistress-slave relationships are truly real in every way and by every definition. It feels rather like I imagine a vampire would feel at a Goth gathering, where everybody wears plastic fangs and drinks tomato juice, and tells him that he can't possibly be for real because his fangs are too sharp and he actually drinks blood.

We obviously require no one’s permission or benediction to lead our lives according to our nature. However, at the time of writing there has been no attempt to respond directly in a public forum to these assertions by people who essentially know nothing at all about the absolute lifestyle. Hopefully this essay will have gone some way in setting the record straight.

Back to Essay 5: Seven Pillars Of Dominance

Forward to Essay 7: Sex Or Sickness?






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