The Nature of Dominance

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?

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What You Would Tell “Them” About “Us” – or What BDSM Is vs Abuse

by Rick Umbaugh, reposted with permission:


BDSM is only done between consenting adults. This is what deliniates it from criminal behavior. If there is no consent it is not BDSM. Consent can be withdrawn at any time by either the submissive partner (see below) or the dominant partner (also termed the Bottom or the Top).

BDSM is only done in as safe a manner as possible. The reason that it is only for adults is that adults are aware of the risks they are entering into, as small as those risks are. The people participating in a BDSM scene or relationship know what they are getting into, how they are going to bring the scene or relationship into being and how they can protect themselves if something goes wrong.

BDSM is aware of the difference between our fantasies and the reality of what we can do to bring those fantasies to life. Some fantasies are too dangerous, or too unhealthy to bring into reality but with a little work a simulation of this fantasy can be created which will make it safe.

BDSM is about turning our sexual fantasies into real experiences. This can extend from what happens in the bedroom, or other rooms in the house, to lifesyle changes which can make it feel like we are living those fantasies 24/7. This is not to say that BDSM brings these fantasies into real life, but only that we can make is seem like those fantasies have been extended into real life.

BDSM is also about a Power Exchange between two people. One cannot exchange power with powerless people so, while some members of the community call themselves submissive or even slaves, this doesn’t mean that they are powerless. Many very powerful people are submissive in the BDSM world and the fact that they can withdraw their consent at any given moment allows them to reclaim that power. While the Power Exchange would seem to flow from the submissive to the dominant, it also flows the other way, as the trial the submissive is living often gives them the power they need in their real life.

BDSM is not about violence. Violence is non-consensual. It is one person imposing his or her needs upon another person without that person’s consent. A victim of violence has had their power taken from them involuntarily. In a BDSM scene both participants should walk away from it feeling better about themselves than when they started the scene.

BDSM is the universal solvent of sexuality. It can encompass any kind of sexuality, from simple missionary fucking, where one would have to be aware of BDSM to see the power exchange going on, to all he various different fetishes, to determining the way one conducts one’s relationships.

BDSM is about sexuality. While some of the ways BDSM manifests itself are not explicitly sexual, the aim is always to enhance one’s sexual life. Simply living a 1950’s husband dominant, wife submissive lifestyle, without the sexual components of BDSM is not enough.

I suppose it is rather longer than you asked for, but there it is.

Rick Umbaugh
qui bene amat bene castigat