In a blog about the difference between BDSM and abuse, establishing matters such as the need for the dominant to live up to his own standards and to make sure he keeps in mind that he is dealing with a human being and not a crash test dummy is critical
Reposted with permission:
The Nature of Dominance
By Rick Umbaugh
Dominance is a state of mind, like honor it is a gift one gives oneself. It is a particular way of viewing the world. To begin with it is a matter of accepting responsibility not only for your own actions but also anyone under your discipline as submissives. In the not to distant past this responsibility was expressed in the Code Duello, in which a gentleman was held responsible for not only the honor of his behavior but also for the behavior of his household. This responsibility is the source from which all Dominants, from the Old Guard to today, receive their right to dominate. Until a Dominant understands this basic principle he or she is, to my mind, not worthy of the submission of anyone. This is a very dogmatic stand, I understand, but one need not spend a lot of time in the scene to see how important this concept is.
So, how does one live with this lofty ideal? To begin with a Dom must live up to his own standards. As anyone whose life has been touched by the military knows, one cannot expect to discipline anyone until one is disciplined oneself. Sobriety, moderation and rationality are the marks of the successful Doms, male or female, I’ve met over the years. While this might seem to be more the code of the vanilla Boy Scout, you have to understand it within the context of what we do. In the scene you can be all kinds of evil things and express all kinds of destructive emotions, but underneath it all you have to understand that there is a human being who has placed their well being under your care and trusts that you will be careful of it. This trust is the wellspring of his or her submission and to violate it, by destructive, inconsistent behavior is to risk losing that trust, which will lead, inevitably, to the loss of the sub, if not worse. How can you take responsibility for his or he behavior if your own behavior is erratic, dishonest or careless? How can he or she prop his or her accountability against a wall which is rotten?
The wall is your control, which must be consistent and strong. You must view the relationship, within the parameters you have set between or among yourselves, rather like the training of a child or perhaps even more cogently, an animal. The sub has placed his or her humanity at your disposal, his or her responsibility as a person, so that you can return them to the animalistic state from which subspace arises. You must make sure that no mistreatment is a part of that experience, the wall must hold firm.
Now, what do you, the Dominant, get out of the experience? To begin with, there is the obedience. This sounds so simple, but for all but the most exceptional contemporary woman this is extremely difficult. She has been taught to break the molds of the old society, which set up an antique model of womanhood, and, finding that she wants, however temporarily, to be placed back in that mold, is something of a shock. Many women who love the physical sensations of what we do have trouble realizing that obedience is the first requirement (at least for most Dom(me)s) for anyone I’m going to play with, for safety reasons if nothing else. If your partner is having trouble understanding this I would suggest that you view this as your first assignment in training. It is rather similar to gentling a horse. Take it slowly, expect and make sure not to reinforce resistance and never let the subject divert from your goal, to get her to obey. (Ancillary to this you have to make sure you do not ask unreasonable things. Expecting someone who declares him or herself submissive to suck your cock on the first date certainly falls into this category.)
Submission is the yin to the Dominant’s yang. It is the passive compliment to dominance and the fulfilling principle that propels the Dominance. They cannot exist without each other but their natures are not opposites. The nature of submission does not remove this responsibility; one does not become a victim. One becomes a receiver, both the sexual instrument and the audience that experiences the concert. For this reason a submissive is expected to obey, to follow the lead of the Dominant partner. Submissiveness is about giving up one’s control, one’s personhood for the time being in order to receive the reward of subspace.
This loss of control, however, goes deeper than domestic responsibilities. Describing the submissive experience within the scene of erotic torture is very difficult. One must begin in the right frame of mind, submissive, pliant, ready to accept anything, no matter how unpleasant. You must set yourself that you will not call your safe word, no matter how unpleasant what you are feeling. Then you have to let go of your intellect, let your mind feel all those sensations and the results are climaxes that take you beyond the mundane world of sight, sound and feeling and into the nether realm of pure sensation where no culture, no society, no words stand between you and the universe. This is the understanding that is the nature of submission. This is the paradox of S/m. While the submissive receives all the sensation, the Dominant does all the work. He or she receives that sense of power that comes from being able to control. He or she receives the homage due all that work, but in the end it is the submissive that gets to touch heaven.