On Saturdays I answer questions from my readers, or respond to frequent web searches. My longtime friend (and very fondly remembered lover) Cherry brought up this topic in response to a previous installment about respect for submissives.
How can a submissive have respect for their dominant lover?
A submissive may ask for what they get, but how can they still respect a dominant partner in the morning, especially after doing that? D/s sex play often brings lovers into some edgy places — when you ask a dom for consensual nonconsent (“rape play”), or age-based roleplaying, does this mean that your dom is really a rapist or a pedophile? Even for less extreme kinds of play, what does it imply when someone wants to hurt or control her playmates?
Unfortunately there are plenty of jerks and assholes among the kink scene just as there are in the vanilla world. There are people out there who don’t respect their submissive lovers, who don’t respect boundaries or listen to their subs needs. Worst of all there are those who confuse their kinky lifestyle with reality — who don’t realize there are limits to the BDSM relationship even for the heaviest 24/7 players. Such people deserve neither respect nor play partners, and their “domlier-than-thou” attitudes often give kinksters a bad name.
On the other hand, there is much to respect in an ethical dominant. One can respect his skills — the mastery gained over tools like floggers, paddles, ropes, and dominant minds through years of practice and training. The ability of a good dominant to listen to her submissive partners is also quite admirable — a skillful top pays attention not just to the words used during pre-scene negotiations, but to the sounds, body language, and other non-verbal cues during play itself. Finally, we should respect the vulnerability that dominants expose in themselves; just as it takes courage for a submissive to admit to such deep needs, it takes bravery for a dominant to show the fierce, powerful urge to dominate even when his actions might be misunderstood or even criminalized by our sex-negative society.
From rape play to age play, mature practitioners of BDSM realize that whatever the roleplay it is really a filter through which to see acts which are both intimate and compassionate; they are a framework through which the sub can give up control and let go of worries and anxieties for a time. Whether bruising a submissive’s ass with a paddle, lighting skin with firewands, making bodies twitch with electricity, or simply controlling actions, a dominant is responding to the needs of her lover while simultaneously meeting her own.
Though I get genuine pleasure out of all the domly things I do, I also get a thrill out of the way it fulfills a very strongly felt desire to nurture. What my partners do with me is liberating and they often find as much intense pleasure from the simple act of giving up control as they do from any of the sensations they receive. When I form healthy relationships with submissives, I have seen firsthand how the act of submitting on a regular basis makes them happier, more stable people — and it satisfies a corresponding craving in me to fulfill that need. The best scenes leave us both satisfied — sexually, yes, but also physically and emotionally in a way that is unique to BDSM.
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