Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review: "Savannah's Surrender" by Lillyanna Rose

Book review: “Savannah's Surrender” By Lillyanna Rose

Available at Blushing Books and Amazon.

“Savannah's Surrender” is an excellent book with a strong “DD” emphasis and conflict. This is the first book featuring these characters, which I always enjoy, because once I get to know characters, it's nice to read their continuing stories in subsequent novels.

In general, I think the premise is one that many can relate to – Hilton and Savannah are a married couple with a rocky marriage, and as a “last ditch effort” they've decided that they are going to attempt a DD dynamic to try to save their marriage. I was intrigued by this premise, and discovered later that their story is based on a true story. One thing I dislike about some DD books or stories I've read is when there's an unrealistic portrayal of initiating DD with a couple. I think there needs to be a very good balance between what is entertaining, and what is realistic. I think Lillyanna Rose does this wonderfully.

The book reads a bit more like a dual journal than a story, which makes it fairly unique. It's somewhat informal, there is little dialogue, and aspects that are outside of the focus of this particular conflict (such as secondary characters) take a backseat in favor of simply telling this one couple's story. I enjoyed that, as it was quite different from the typical work of fiction, and it also gave plenty of room for discussing the main characters' thoughts and feelings. This is one thing lacking in many DD books, but again, it was done well here. I also enjoyed that it's told from both the perspective of the wife and husband. 

There is a decided Christian flavor, as the person who suggests the DD arrangement to them is the couple's pastor. Aspects such as a wife's duty to obey her husband and his headship in their marriage do come up, which I found interesting. That said, it is not a “CDD” book, and I wouldn't classify it as such. There are decided Christian elements, but I didn't find it preachy or "squeaky clean" (and, I must confess, I like neither preachy nor squeaky clean.). 

I found the story engaging enough that I wanted to keep reading, curious as to how things would play out. Often in DD books there is a fair amount of “gratuitous spanking” and the girl is getting tossed over the guy's knee in the opening chapter. While that's all well and good if you're looking for a good spanking scene, personally I prefer a real story with established trust. I loved how Lillyanna gives us a real story. Yes, spanking is mentioned, but the book is about the couple, not gratuitous spanking. That was very well done – a good balance for those who want a good story and a good spanking.

At first I had to struggle a bit with my own personal prejudices while reading. The form of DD this couple eventually follows is a “prescribed method,” complete with a handbook from the pastor, and I have a hard time distinguishing between my own personal feelings on "textbook DD" and the fact that this is merely a plot device in a work of fiction. As an experienced “taken in hand,” I find that prescriptive DD is often a recipe for disaster, and don't recommend that approach. However, in this particular story, it works, as how the couple explores the prescribed method of beginning DD did advance the central conflict. I haven't read the sequel, but it left me, as a reader, wondering how the prescribed method would develop over time. Would the couple find their own brand of DD works better for them? Do they have challenges as a result of trying to adhere to a “one size fits all” approach?

I liked the tension that was kept at an even keel, but not over-the-top and frustrating for the readers. The couple encountered and dealt with very real challenges, and as a reader, I was eager to see them resolve their differences and be reunited. 

I felt this book was very well done, especially for those who want a realistic, engaging, fast-paced DD story. 

Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Femininity, Masculinity, and the D/S Lifestyle

Dear blog readers, 
My apologies for having fallen off recently, here. I've been busy with some personal projects, we had a bit of a mini-vacation, and we've had some family issues come up that required my focus. I've set three blog post goals for the rest of the month, and do plan on getting those up. Thanks for all who replied to my last post. I've really enjoyed your contributions to our discussions in the D/S realm. 

Today, I want to address a concept that's come up in many different ways, and I almost cringe in opening this one up for discussion, because it seems inevitable that this particular topic will draw the lurking naysayers out of hiding. But I've decided I'm going to carry on and continue to welcome comments. I'd just like to please urge any commenters to please, play nice.

There are some misconceptions about submissives. Many think that it is a weak person who submits to another. Why would one willingly relinquish authority? Why on earth would I do what someone else tells me to?

Women fought long and hard to be considered equals, and still today, chauvinism and prejudice exists. It surprises me, at times, when I encounter blatant prejudice against females. Some still believe that women shouldn't be in the workforce, and that a woman's place is in the home. I respect that belief, but hold to the fact that each couple needs to decide what works best for them. 

The kids and I recently read a book of historical fiction together, and one of the male characters expressed shock and surprise that the female main character was educated. My kids were amused, because they thought he was joking. I had to explain to them that no, it wasn't a joke, that during certain time periods, men, such as the main character in the book we were reading, truly thought women were intellectually inferior. Today, still, there are those who still hold this prejudice. 

Even in blogland, I've come across some opinions regarding men and women at times that surprise me. Let's just say, misogyny is alive and well. I've been a bit insulated in my perception of the way people thought, and assumed that most now believe that women are of equal worth, intellect, and capability as men. But no, not everyone believes that way. 

So first, before I get into the main point of my post here, in my own corner of blogland here, I wanted to clarify my own beliefs.

It's my personal belief that men and women are not equals in all ways. We are simply wired differently. Biologically, there are differences, and I heartily embrace my own femininity, as Jason embraces his own masculinity. How one defines femininity and masculinity will vary greatly, and I won't attempt to do that here. But to me, there is a beauty in embracing my feminine nature, and I find Jason's masculine nature highly attractive. (In fact – quick aside – he has this aftershave he wears, and when I smell it, I find myself instantly feeling, “I'm in the presence of a man.” Isn't that funny? I feel attracted to it almost instinctively. Here's a list of old-fashioned aftershaves you may find interesting. Jason uses the “Pinaud.”). But I digress. 

There are some basic attributes to being both male and female, and I think those of us who embrace the d/s lifestyle naturally become aware of our feminine and masculine natures. Hoh's will often begin requiring their submissives to wear skirts; she may find she likes painting her nails or wearing lipstick; he's suddenly taking out the garbage or motivated to cut the lawn more regularly. I throw these examples out there not because any of those things are requirements for being dominant or submissive. They're not. Certainly there are submissives that cut lawns and wear jeans. We all have individual preferences, and we all likely have ways we don't “fit the mold.” I'm simply asserting my belief that there are distinct differences between being male and female, and often, embracing a D/S lifestyle helps us understand and appreciate those differences. 

I believe there is a great deal of truth in the title of the book that has now almost become an adage, “Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus.” Men cannot mother children. Women cannot father babies. We are by our very natures different, and dare I say, created to be complementary. I find while embracing my own feminine nature, who I am as a woman dovetails beautifully with who Jason is as a man. 

That said, there have been philosophies and schools of thought that maintained that some of the defining characteristics of female and male dealt in intellect, worth, and ability. I do believe we've now proven that women are not inferior intellectually (though at times, we were less educated because we weren't given the opportunity to be schooled). So who we are as people – if we define our ability to succeed, learn, achieve goals, make advances in science, write, paint, and the list goes on – is on equal footing. Most would agree that it's a misogynistic view to maintain that women are intellectually and artistically inferior. And it's simply ignorant to maintain that women haven't contributed to society in monumental ways. We have. 

A few months ago I wrote about equality and respect, and I explained my position that although Jason and I are not equals in authority, it's not because of our worth but because of our both agreeing to a distinct power exchange in our relationship. I relinquish authority to Jason. He willingly leads me. Thus, consent is the linchpin to our arrangement. 

So I have two main points I've explained thus far. Men and women are qualitatively different in our natures, yet equals in worth, intellect, and ability. 

How does that play out in the d/s world? Why would a strong, educated, independent woman submit to her husband? Why would I consent to be disciplined by him? I maintain that it is my very femininity, and Jason's masculinity, that makes a consensual d/s dynamic so very effective for us. 

Recently, I read this post about “ten traits men need to handle strong women. It resonated strongly with me and I saw so much of Jason in that article. When I was done, I said to Jason, “Do you believe that I'm strong and independent?” Without batting an eyelash he said, “Absolutely.” And I wondered to myself, how can we submissives be both strong and independent, yet submissive?  

I believe the answer is because submission takes great strength. 

Submission requires honesty, and at times, that honesty is mortifying. To humble oneself and admit to wrongdoing is something that many full-grown adults fail to do on a regular basis. Yet it's necessary for a submissive. 

Maintaining self-composure and grace is often necessary when one submits. It's usually not acceptable to raise one's voice, lose one's temper, or give way to snarky or rude comments. It takes great strength to maintain composure and act with grace. 

I've mentioned before that submitting to discipline, laying myself over his knee, is something I find so difficult to do that sometimes I pace the floor before I can muster up the courage. Sometimes I rail within myself at the thought of having to confess to him. Sometimes submitting dredges up feelings that I find difficult to deal with. 

It takes fortitude to relinquish control. It means we sometimes need to deny what we want, if we are to embrace the leadership of another. 

Submissives serve. We kneel. We prepare meals. We say, “Yes, sir.” We quell the desire to talk back, to commandeer a situation, or control things. We go to bed when we're told to. We force honesty when being honest hurts. We obey, even when we want to say no. 

But it is because submission is intrinsically woven into the nature of being feminine that it works so very well for those of us who desire it. And it is because dominance is intrinsically woven into the nature of being masculine that it works so very well for those who embrace it. 

And that, I believe, is why many of us find that a lifestyle of dominance and submission is so utterly fulfilling. I am able to maintain my strength as a woman – indeed, my very submission takes greater strength than I ever though possible – but I'm also free to be who I was created to be. Loved. Protected. Cared for. Cherished. And it is by embracing my inner submissive that I'm truly able to grow into who I've always wanted to be. 

What do you say, readers? Do you agree that it takes great strength to submit? Do you believe that d/s works for many of us because of our feminine and masculine natures? Have you, too, found that embracing d/s has fulfilled a part of who you've longed to be?

Monday, May 11, 2015

In Defense of Domestic Discipline part two: Dominance and Submission Can Foster Healthy Leadership

In continuation of my discussion with OSL, (see post number one here), I'd like to discuss her disagreeing to a post I wrote for the ADDS website a few years back ("Why Do I Want to Be Punished?"). She says “One of the major reasons I and many women want Domestic Discipline in our relationships is that we have a strong need to feel our husband’s authority. We want boundaries and security. “ 

And further, “Even the most independent, feminist woman out there recognizes that passivity in a man is profoundly unattractive.The longing for your husband to take authority over you, lead you, guide you and protect you is actually a beautiful and positive thing.”

Of course, I agree with everything she says here. 

It's only as she explores my post with her own opinions that I take issue, and ask that we explore these ideas a bit more. She maintains that you cannot foster healthy leadership and submission in a DD dynamic, for a variety of reasons, and specifically says, “if you try to take control of the relationship by convincing your husband to be involved in a discipline relationship with you, you will lead the two of you right off a cliff.” 

There is a crucial phrase here, folks. If you try to take control of the relationship. 

With this, I agree. 

If you desire to submit to your husband and grant him authority over you, then trying to commandeer that ship will run you right off a cliff. It is a strong temptation. Many of us know what we want and push hard for it. We get impatient. I know I struggled initially with being patient, trusting Jason to lead, and letting things develop the way they needed to. Many call it “topping from the bottom.” I've tried, in many ways, in post after post, to urge true submission. 

True submission isn't based on a faulty premise, meaning “I will submit to you when I agree with you.” No. True submission trusts, even when the answer isn't one we want. 

But it's foolish to say that we cannot communicate our needs and desires to our husbands. OSL personally is coming from the angle that practicing DD is sinful and disordered, so I get where she's going with this. Clearly, I disagree with her premise. But if you desire a DD dynamic, and your husband doesn't initially understand, then there's nothing wrong with trying to explain how you feel. Communicating effectively with one another is foundational to any solid relationship. If you desire a strong relationships with open and honest communication, then refusing to discuss your own needs is a mistake.

But please, don't push. This is where OSL and I agree. Trying to force your desires on your dominant partner is contrary to your ultimate purpose. I've written about this at length in posts such as "How do I tell my partner I want DD?""How Do I Encourage His Dominance?""How do I tell him what I need?"; and "Topping from the bottom. Who's in control?".

OSL concludes her thoughts with the following opinion: “The proper expression of a man’s authority over his wife is not disciplinary. Boundaries enforced by discipline is a parental expression of authority.” Clearly, I disagree (see post one linked above).

From OSL: “Of course the second example is more attractive. The first example is of a passive man who abandons his wife, is disconnected, isn’t in control of his emotions, and doesn’t communicate. The second example is of a man who is in full control of himself, stays even when it’s hard, holds his wife accountable, and gives her attention and affection. The little bit of the spanking. This wife needs boundaries and leadership, not discipline.”

Essentially, she says my example illustrates that male passivity in a relationship is harmful. I agree. We desire attention, leadership, love, yes, all of that, an active participation that says, “I love you, and you're important to me.” However, she says “the little bit of poison is the spanking.” I am not going to completely reject this opinion, that “spanking” can be “poison.” Certainly, for those who find that disciplinary spanking has a negative effect (such as OSL), it is wise to discontinue. Factors such as one's personal life experience, relationships, personality, and perception, are all going to affect how one views and reacts to DD. As I've said before, and I'll say again, one person's experience does not mean the same holds true for another. 

For this particular woman, clearly, Domestic Discipline is harmful. She has said in additional posts that she was humiliated when she was disciplined. This is not healthy. It can be very beneficial to be humbled, yes, and certainly, even those outside of a DD dynamic should be embarrassed when they engage in immature or childish behavior. (I may have used the terms humbled and humiliated interchangeably in my posts, but there is a qualitative difference between the two, and going forward I'll be more careful with my word choices.)

It's my personal opinion that engaging in a consensual DD dynamic should, in all facets, contribute to peace, harmony, and above all, respect the dignity of each person in the relationship. It takes great strength, humility, and love, to allow oneself to be disciplined. It takes great strength, humility, and love, to be a leader. So, before we continue, on this note I'd like to offer a word of caution. 

I urge you, if you are indeed engaged in a DD dynamic, ask yourself if it is growth and wholeness you are fostering. In the several years I've spent immersed in the DD community, I can say that the vast majority of those I've encountered have experienced what Jason and I have – increased intimacy, growth personally and as a couple, and peace. But not everyone does. Some, like OSL, find that DD is not a healthy choice. 

From a logical perspective, I propose the following litmus test. If something were poisonous, it would yield harmful fruit, if not initially, at least over time. If your DS relationship is yielding harmful fruit, then I urge you to stop. Take a breather. Ask yourself what is causing the harm. Some find, like OSL, that past experiences make it so that spanking in a disciplinary form make it unhealthy. I've also known of instances in which the husband understood his wife's desire but found that his own past experiences (such as a history of abuse) made it impossible for him to be able to mete out discipline. Some find that allowing for consensual discipline pushes them away from each other, not closer. The wife is humiliated. The husband feels too much pressure. It doesn't bring about intimacy and enhanced communication. It doesn't bring about growth. If this is your situation, I urge you to find out why.

But in the years I've spent in the D/S community, I've found these situations are not the norm. Couple after couple after couple – like me and Jason – have found that the dynamic is beneficial, not poisonous. Again, speaking from a purely logical perspective, if the fruit you're yielding is good, and healthy, then I maintain it is not poisonous. 

So again, the premise here that DD does not foster true leadership is simply not fact, but personal opinion. It's like someone saying, “If you do Tae Bo you will damage your hip.” That was the case for me (true story lol). For me, Tae Bo was not a healthy exercise option. My own body type and past experiences made it unhealthy for me, and I had to choose another option. But that isn't the case for everyone. Many have found  Tae Bo to be beneficial. Although exercise is radically different from DD, (keeping in mind that all analogy falls short), I'd like to offer this analogy because most people agree with the benefit of a healthy exercise regimen. Here, both OSL and I agree that a husband's leading his wife can be a very healthy and fruitful marital dynamic. OSL says the poison is spanking. I say past experience and personality types are where we find our poison. 

She says a wife needs boundaries and leadership. I agree. She says she doesn't need discipline. I say that she doesn't need discipline, but that I benefit tremendously from it. 

'What the wife actually needs is for her husband to give her boundaries as his equal, and correct her calmly and lovingly for being nasty and acting like a toddler. Maybe she needs to be encouraged to go to her room for a while until she can communicate with love and calmness. Maybe she needs to sit down with her journal and pour out to God about the awful day she had to get her head straight.”

And these are the forms that she is comfortable with. She draws the line at a spanking. I don't. And well...clearly, neither does Jason. ;)

Finally, she asserts: “If the assurance of his loving authority is a spanking, she will likely never grow out of the disrespectful behavior. She will need to return to acting out again and again so that she can be reassured with a spanking or some other form of discipline...This is foundational to understand why Domestic Discipline is a false solution. It locks you in to damaging behavior instead of freeing you from it so you can move on to other things. The point of discipline is supposedly to correct and guide towards healthy behavior, but if you are experiencing love and your husband’s authority through discipline and spankings, why would you ever move away from bad behavior towards maturity?”

This a heavy assertion, and one that I do not completely reject. I think it's worth exploring this a bit more, in the context of DD and leadership in marriage.

First of all, she says “if the assurance of his loving authority is a spanking, she will never grow out of her disrespectful behavior.” 

This absolutely can and does happen. We often feel a need to be reassured, and reminded of our places. I'll take this a step further. Not only does being disciplined make us feel loved, most of us readily acknowledge the fact that dominance is hot. It's deeply erotic being turned over the knee of the man you love. 

If we feel loved when we are disciplined, and we find ourselves sexually attracted to his dominance, then why would we choose not to misbehave? The simple answer is because the submissive longs to please her dominant. And further, if she has a mature, healthy approach to this dynamic, then she embraces the opportunity to grow. 

We're not just in it for the kink. We're not just in it for a cheap thrill. There's far more to it than meets the eye. We want to grow closer and become more intimate – and although it's tempting to push those boundaries, to draw out dominance, and to even perhaps attempt to earn a spanking, the mature approach chooses another route. 

In my personal opinion, this is why it's important to check in with one another. This is why many couples find maintenance and role affirmation vitally important. 

If you are an Hoh or Dominant reading this, I respectfully ask that you consider this point. It's a very important facet of what makes or breaks a D/S couple, and one topic I've been asked to address time and time again. Your submissive feels loved when you correct her. She is very attracted to your dominance. If those needs are neglected -- the need for her to feel your strength, to know you're in charge and that you are in charge because you love her, and to keep that erotic pulse in your relationship -- it will become challenging for her to behave. She may be tempted to push back. Most begin with some benign teasing, but if her needs are neglected for a long time, she may even feel the need to blatantly misbehave. 

For a couple that embraces dominance and submission, it's important to foster those roles and encourage one another in those roles. Most find that simply relying on spanking and outwardly acts of dominance during times of discipline is simply unsatisfactory. Consider a maintenance spanking. I need regular reminders of my place, and Jason gives me that. It's one reason I rarely misbehave and am never tempted to "brat out." If you'd like to explore this a bit more from our perspective, please see “The Power of Role Affirmation” and “The Spank Tank."

It's the next assertion that OSL makes that I reject. She says “Part of the draw of Domestic Discipline for the women who want it is that the husband does all the work. He makes the rules, he enforces them like the parent of a wayward teen, and he comes up with and administers punishments. It requires very little of the submissive partner.” 

 I will say this. If a submissive partner has no desire to grow or change, and depends entirely on her Dominant to “do all the work,” then she's right. This will not work. There will be no change. There will be no growth. If she continually pushes, refuses to change her own behavior, and depends on him to change her behavior, then yes, the dynamic is simply not sustainable. However, that immature approach is exceptionally rare, and certainly not the norm in the DD dynamics I'm familiar with. 

It doesn't have to be a self-perpetuating cycle. When the submissive partner is as engaged in the dynamic as her dominant, beautiful changes take place. If she desires to be submissive, she doesn't simply rely on him to draw that out in her. She cultivates submission in her own mind and heart. And as things progress – as he lovingly leads, and disciplines and she lovingly trusts and accepts his discipline – the erotic attraction amps up. Each desires deeper intimacy. She embraces not only his dominance and leadership, but her own submission. Her desire to please him dramatically increases. No longer is the relationship stagnant, but a living, breathing manifestation of passion and love. A couple often finds they make love more, they touch more, and they long to be with one another. 

The thought of displeasing him saddens her. The submissive grows by accepting his loving guidance in her life. The dominant grows as well, by learning to be in tune to the needs of his submissive. And so it goes, that when both partners are equally engaged, when both are in tune to and fostering mutual self-giving, when the ultimate goal is change from the inside out, the relationship flourishes. 

In conclusion, I would like to summarize my main points here. 

I agree that the initial draw to Domestic Discipline can often be the desire for active leadership, not passivity. We women want to be noticed, cherished, and understood. DD is one way we find those needs met. 

However, in a DD dynamic, the husband's needs are met as well. He wants respect, trust, and harmony. When his mature, capable wife shows him that she trusts and respects him, a beautiful interdependent relationship takes place. He wants to protect her; she wants to be protected. He quiets her mind; she makes him feel ten feet tall. And they both find they are more deeply attracted to one another. 

Honesty, open communication, respect for one another, and both being equally engaged in the purpose and goals of the realtionship, are essential elements found in any working D/S dynamic. 

What do you say, readers? Do you agree, or disagree, with the points I've made here? Do you have anything you'd like to contribute to this discussion?