But in light of the fact that I took my sexual freedom to be a right, and in light of the fact that I refuse to be shamed and intimidated away from my desires based on the fact that my history casts ugly shadows in my past, I permitted myself the ability to explore and delve into the darkness so that I could find the light inside.
It was a difficult path. It took me years to overcome my guilt as a feminist, as a descendant of chattel slaves who had NO choice, NO rights, NO hope for equality. It is specifically because of the battles fought, lost and won by those who came before me that I have the rarified privilege to explore my sexuality regardless of how it might look to others.
After a metric fuck-ton of introspection, soul-searching, research, processing my own shit and the shit I'd had dumped upon me by those who judge, my first steps into the Leather community were bold. Once I make a decision to do something, I bloody well do it. I became involved with the BDSM scene, met other kinky folks, and was excited to meet someone who, as my dominant, as my master, would help me to realize the full possibility of a power exchange relationship and find the satisfaction I knew…I just knew…I would find when I was in service to someone I loved.
My somewhat romanticized view on submission and slavery began to collapse under the weight of reality when I delved deeper in to my explorations and discovered that many, many people who were self-proclaimed masters and dominants seemed to focus a great deal on what I, as a submissive, would do for them, as a dominant, in terms of work. Did I do dishes? Was I adept at housecleaning? Was I turned on by domestic service?
When I talk to non-kink-identified people about being submissive, many of them will laugh and say “Wow, so you mean I can beat someone’s ass and they’ll clean my kitchen? I can smack someone around and they’ll scrub my toilet? Sign me up!” This oft repeated trope was funny until I realized that it had an eerie truth to it.
While there certainly are many people who view power exchange dynamics as something of a necessity in their lives, as an organic way to be, as an unassailable factor in their makeup, I suspect that there are just as many, if not more, who view this lifestyle as a way to get their toilet scrubbed, receive sexual service, retain control, and dominate the will of another at their own whim. If we were all up front and honest about this, I actually feel that wouldn’t be an issue! Because hey, who doesn’t want something for nothing, or for very little?
This emotional bargain basement, however, leaves the person scrubbing that toilet in an emotional lurch. While there are those who do eroticize service, for whom domestic slavery is bliss, most submissives and slaves of my acquaintance crave the emotional exchange, the control, the connection, not the mop and the bucket. While some people would feel entirely emotionally fulfilled kneeling before the imperious dominant, taking orders, submissively obeying their demands and then respectfully bowing backwards out of the room, many, many more of us need the feeling of connection, the sensation of control, the touch of a compassionate hand, the warm approving tones “Well done, I’m pleased with you.” As spoken by their compassionate dominant.
The expectation of drudgery kills the imagination. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy to do whatever it takes to facilitate ease and comfort to someone I serve. But facilitating ease and comfort goes far, far beyond that which you do with a scrub brush.
When I speak to kinksters, perverts and Leatherfolk about submission, I encourage them to make a “kink resume.” Treat it as you would your own resume for business. List your skills, your talents, your abilities. Talk about what brings you joy. What you don’t do so well, but would love to improve. What saps your confidence. What you absolutely loathe. And be honest! If you bloody hate housework and have ZERO desire to serve as a nekkid footstool, let potential partners know! Service is best rendered when it comes from a place of pride and joy. Sure, you can do what you’re ordered to do. But doing so with a gleam in your eye and a tingle in your toes makes the service all the sweeter.
Playing to your strengths means that your time in service is something that is more easily accessed. Just as it is vital to tell your lovers what your boundaries and your preferences are in bed, is vital to tell your partners what you need in order to be the best submissive or slave you can be. It can be easy to slip into the role you THINK you need to play in order to be pleasing. But while role-play can be fun for a scene, or for a weekend, hell, even for a week long camping retreat…your core relationships are best founded on brutal honesty and not imagined characters.
Dominants, owners and masters: I challenge you to challenge yourselves! Take in the wholeness of the person you wish to serve you. Think about their needs as well as yours. Yes, they have agreed to put your needs first, but consider this: the sustainable slavery is nurtured by compassion, satisfaction, and connection. Anyone can scrub your bathroom. But if your submissive has a background, for example, in law, might they be better used taking care of your legal paperwork? If your slave is also a caterer, mightn’t they be well in their element hosting lovely dinner parties for you with impeccable service? If your property is a personal trainer and yoga instructor, sure, you could order them to rake leaves and sort your mail. But I suggest both of you would be well served by using their existing talents to your own ends.
Laziness in thinking can lead to a lethargic, backlogged dynamic. A slave or submissive who feels their talents are underutilized can easily become resentful. They may well feel as though they aren’t being “seen” by their master, that their dominant doesn’t care enough to take the time to get to know who they are and exploit their talents wisely. It can be discouraging when someone with a rich life and full palate of talents is relegated to Cinderella pre-Fairy Godmother status just because the dominant lacked the imagination, focus and compassion to use their property wisely and well. Just because you can order your property to wash your dishes and sit in a corner, does not mean that this should necessarily be a cornerstone of your relationship.
If you do require domestic service, great! It is in your best interests to support the people providing you with this valuable service, giving them an incentive to perform. “Please” and “thank you, well done!” are often incentive enough. For lots of us, knowing we have pleased is enough to give us a heady rush. And there are many ways to incentivize.
When I was first in service, I did let my dominant know I had no love for washing dishes. Hated it, in fact. Something he acknowledged, and noted. The first time I was ordered to do his dishes, I did so, by my heart sank; this wasn’t really what I signed up for. Color me surprised, however, when I stood to the sink and felt him pressed up against me, pushing my hips into the edge of the sink. I paused, unsure of what I was supposed to be doing, exactly, since it was kind of tough to concentrate.
“Go ahead, wash my dishes.” Was whispered into my ear and even as I got that twisty feeling in my gut, I began to do the work. I was unbelievably turned on, as he stood there for the ten minutes or so it took for me to finish the dishes. At the end, he ordered me to my knees, thanked me for the service, and smiled. At that point, I’d wash ten more loads of dishes. Gladly. The next few times I was ordered to do dishes, or scrub the bathtub, or mop the floor, he’d be around, with a smile, a kiss, a quick and nimble finger stroking between my legs leaving me breathless and blushing. Over time, I came to appreciate the attention, was moved to motivation, and found chores I saw as mind-numbing and not bloody erotic blossom into a meditation on service. But this wasn’t achieved in a vacuum: it was a result of his care and attention.
Sure, order your slave to scrub your toilet. But as I’ve mentioned before, saying “please” and “thank you” needn’t be left by the wayside. Hopefully, as a dominant, master or owner, you desire to see your property be the best person they can be. Once we have been seduced to our knees, it is vital to keep that desire alive, to nurture that lust, to create a safe space where service is appreciated and rendered erotic.
Challenging, encouraging, motivating a submissive or slave to greater heights of passionate service is often as simple as focus. You’ll get out of us what you put into us. Use us to the best of our ability, nurture us, love and respect our submission and you’ll have a motivated, dedicated servant.