There is more to being a Dominant than wearing a title, carrying a crop, giving orders or dressing the part. While all of the former might have a role to play in the sterotypical imagery of the “Dominant” and can be a part of D/s role-play, they have little to do with what actually defines a Dominant. Similarly, within Second Life, it is doubly easy to slap on a title and swagger around a bondage or role-play sim barking orders, trying to subdue submissives and impress others – but even in the most uncomplicated of role-play scenarios, there is no substitute for understanding the nuances of domination and exhibiting the traits that define a “good” Dominant.
Domination is a skill which, much like any other skill, can be taught or learnt, and grown and nurtured through immersion in the D/s scene and by spending time with those well-versed in the lifestyle. But just like any other skill or ability, how well one succeeds comes down to how willing and receptive one is to learning or being taught – and how well one’s talent and temperament are suited to taking on a Dominant role. So what are the characteristics that make up a “good” Dominant? What should someone unfamiliar with the scene and who wishes to move beyond “simple” role-play look for in others or seek to aspire?
Simply put, a good Dominant is someone who possesses the very qualities we would ascribe to a “good person”: kindness, consideration, politeness, empathy, sympathy. A good Dominant, like a “good person” has a strong sense of ethics and honesty and is respectful of others regardless of their position in life.
It is these qualities, more than anything else, that define a person’s character and personality, and are the essential skills that determine how good a person is liable to be in anything – be it their career, their home life – or “being” a Dominant.
As I mentioned above, that art of domination is very much a skill, and as such “good” Dominants tend to show a willingness to learn, to grow and to understand; they are on a journey as much as any submissive can be said to be on a journey. In real life, they often take the time to attend seminars and workshops; they have sought out their peers and perhaps those far more experienced than themselves;. they have taken the time and effort to learn and grow.
There is no reason why SL should be any different. If one wants to gain the respect of peers and the approbation of submissives, then one should take the time to understand D/s and BDSM within Second Life, and apply the qualities mentioned above throughout their dealings within the D/s community and Second Life as a whole.
Domiant, Not Domineering
There is one things a good Dominant is not – and that is domineering. Sadly, as is often the case in real life, there are those who mistake a domineering mien as a key element of being seen as a “Dominant”. Their attitude is brash and rude, their tone frequently crass and their treatment of submissives is generally negative and oppressive. Where the Dominant will demonstrate respect, understanding and self-control the domineering individual will demand that they are given respect, will show a lack of understanding of basic D/s precepts and exhibit a lack of self-discipline, resorting to inappropriate actions and / or threats towards submissives.
A Dominant exercises control not by being overbearing or through the use of threats or by belittling another, but rather by working on a more subtle level, influencing thoughts, desires, needs and hopes – and through the simple expedient of showing they care. While a Dominant is both authoritarian and powerful, they are ever mindful of those around them, exercising care and consideration for their subs, as well as acting with respect for others regardless of whether they are Dominant or submissive.
As with rl, the good Dominant in SL takes responsibility for the submissive(s) in their life. Yes, the subs are controlled and dominated – but the Dominant remains at all times empathic towards them and sympathetic to their needs, in full understanding that for any submissive to give their best, they must be secure and confident in their submission. Indeed, it is fair to say that the good Dominant is guided by their empathy towards those in their care, being able to step back from their authority and become a loving dominant – providing the necessary care, love and confidence to their subs when such are needed as a result of external pressures in real life – or indeed, arising from pressures that can arise within Second Life itself.
Hailing Frequencies Open
D/s flows from the foundations of trust and communication – and a good Dominant is someone who can instil the former and actively encourages the latter. They will listen to their submissive(s) and learn about them and their needs / hopes / desires. How this knowledge is used, or returned to the relationships remains the prerogative of the Dominant; but if the communications are not there from start, then things are already starting to stray towards rocky ground. All relationships mature and change over time, and healthy D/s relationships are no different. Thus it is important that the channels of communication, once opened, are maintained and renewed throughout the relationship, so that any changes can be discussed and dealt with openly and without rancour or upset – and the responsibility for seeing this is the case lies with the Dominant.
In this, the Dominant should also be something of a diplomat, seeking to ensure such communications are open and honest – and also seeking to avoid unnecessary arguments and disagreements; instead working to arbitrate situations or prevent a disagreement from growing out-of-hand.
Certainly, the good Dominant will work to avoid emotional harm and/or seek to rectify matters where such may occur, however unintended – for it is to emotional harm that we are all most vulnerable within SL. What we see on our screens may be collections of energised pixels – but what is sitting behind them are real people with real feelings and emotional needs and vulnerabilities. Those who repeatedly strike at these vulnerabilities or who seek to exploit them are not good Dominants. They are abusers, pure and simple.
So given all of the above, can the “good” Dominant actually exist in SL? They not only can – they do. They have no need to trumpet their skills or abilities – these speak for themselves in terms of the popularity they enjoy among subs and other Dominants alike.
If you have not found your “good” Dominant yet, I hope the above will give you enough pointers to help you in your quest; and if you are a Dominant looking to improve your skills, then perhaps these notes may also help….or at least point you in the direction of those who can help by example. They’ll be easy enough to spot in-world, as they’ll be surrounded by loving subs.
- The nature of Domination
- Dominant typology
- Dominant roles
- The caring submissive
- Index of D/s Essays in this blog
Note: first published on: 9th September, 2008