I’ve already covered the character traits of a “good” Dominant which can be applied to SL-based D/s as much as real-life D/s. In what is likely to be the second of three interlinked articles, I’d like to take time to discuss the nature of domination itself.
Domination as an activity stands apart from the character traits of the Dominant. We all have it in us to carry those traits that go towards being a “good” Dominant; however, to truly understand Domination requires an understanding and interpretation of the word that not all can grasp or translate easily or correctly.
Protection and Respect
The nature of Domination is not simply about giving random orders, or handing down punishment. It is the Dominant’s responsibility to care for, train and nurture their submissive(s), encouraging within the submissive a desire to serve; thus, the nature of Domination encompasses protection and respect. Both of these are intertwined because the submissive is willingly surrendering to the Dominant – surrendering control and ego; allowing the Dominant to take control of their life. This requires the Dominant to respond with the proper respect for the submissive’s choice of position and status and to give the proper protection to ensure that the submissive’s relinquishing of control is not in any way abused, either directly by the Dominant, or by any third-party with whom the submissive comes into contact with within the context of their D/s lifestyle. It is the nature of Domination for the Dominant to be the submissive’s emotional protector, teacher and lover.
The nature of Domination is one of understanding. Through open and direct communication the Dominant seeks to gain insight into the submissive’s desires, hopes, needs and wants. Through this insight, the Dominant can take care of the submissive, always giving the submissive what they need – which is not necessarily what they presume they need, nor necessarily what they think they “want.” Thus the nature of Domination is to build upon the trust the submissive gives to the Dominant and to strengthen the submissive’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.
The nature of Domination is not capricious. It is not about exercising power and control over another either for the sake of the power itself, or at the cost of the submissive’s self-esteem. Those that repeatedly exercise this kind of negative control are not Dominant but domineering – and any submissive facing such acts has every right to take their leave of the individual concerned. Domination is not a licence for one to do as they please without thought or care for the impact, physical and / or emotional they may be having on those placed in their care.
Similarly, Domination is not about taking away a submissive’s identity (although the “loss” or “surrender” of identity may well play a valid part in specific role play within the relationship). Nor is it purely about punishment (although the proper application of punishment, delivered clearly and fairly, be it physical or psychological, does have a role to play & “punishment” can be utilised within BDSM role play).
No, Domination is about growth, love and encouragement. Rather than subsuming the submissive’s identity, Domination should allow it to grow, allowing the submissive to further recognise their own nature and desires with regards to the Dominant, and accept them. Through love and encouragement, the submissive is nurtured and allowed to flourish in their desire to surrender and to serve. As FRR Mallory so eloquently put it: “the submissive radiates from the Dominant’s love and devotion, becoming a rose; a beautiful being that knows they are loved and cared for.”
Where punishment – in its truest sense – is required, then it should always be meted out fairly and with just cause and reason both sides of the relationship understand. It should never be arbitrary. Nor should anger ever be a part of punishment – Domination does not encompass harshness or hostility – rather, it encompasses love and forgiveness.
And it should never be forgotten that reward for good behaviour is as at least as important as punishment is for transgressions.
Thus, Domination is not about trying to shape or mold a submissive into whatever the Dominant believes the submissive should be. To echo FRR Mallory’s analogy: roses do not grow and blossom because we bully them into doing so; they become a thing of beauty because we nurture them and help them to grow, giving them love, attention and protection. Yes there may be traits or attitudes within a submissive that need softening, worries that need to be allayed or addressed or desires that require nurturing which may in themselves encourage the submissive to grow and change; but the key to bringing about such changes lay in the one word: nurture. It is the nature of domination to tend and care not to bully and cajole.
All of the above apply as much to SL as they do to rl. The Loving Dominant within SL carries the same responsibilities as any Dominant involved in a rl D/s relationship – perhaps more so, in some respects.
SL tends to encourage us to seek to sate our own wants and needs, regardless of the feelings of others. Where this is clearly understood between the parties involved, it is not necessarily a problem – one of the attractions of SL is that it can form a “safe” environment for casual play for all concerned. But there is always a risk that one side is seeking something more – and if this is not understood from the outset, then there is a good chance someone is going to get hurt. While the onus is always on both sides of the equation to clearly express their wants and hopes, there is something of an extra burden on the Dominant to ensure these have been properly understood if there is the slightest suspicion desires between people may not entirely meet up.
SL is also unique in that it is very common for Dominants to have multiple submissives; families of three or four or even six or eight are not uncommon. Again, this isn’t a problem as long as any submissive coming into such a family understands the nature of the environment they are entering and the Dominant takes the time to understand the unique hopes and desires of the submissive entering the family. We are not all homogenous, and while it may appear that “fun” and “bondage” and “play” are what is sought – it is entirely possible that someone entering a family environment is seeking something more – and make no mistake, it is the Dominant’s responsibility to recognise this, and act accordingly in order to prevent the real feelings and emotions that lie behind the computer monitor from being hurt.
To summarise this post alongside that of the “good” Dominant:
- The profile of a “good” Dominant could be summed up as someone who is mentally strong, able, confident in and of themselves, loving, empathic and gentle;
- While the nature of Domination is one of protection, respect, responsibility, encouragement and care.
Those who understand the latter and embrace the former are “true” Dominants, so to speak, whether in Second Life or in real life.
Note: first published on 8th October, 2008, revised April 29th 2011.