Some of you may remember a show that used to be on t.v. called “Cheers.” I used to watch it years ago...(I won't say how young I was, but I was..young!). There was a character they all called “Coach,” and what I liked about his character was that he was a sweet guy. No pretenses. He called a spade a spade, and was also somewhat naive. He often didn't get things like dirty jokes, and I liked his innocence.
During one episode, one of the characters refers to a guy she's dating as “some PhD from M.I.T.!” and Coach says something to the effect, “Well for crying out loud, if you can't say it in front of me, don't say it!”
It made me laugh, and I remembered that show in a recent discussion I had about the various D/S labels.
DD? D/S? M/S? HOH? TiH? TPE? I sometimes find myself frustrated with the labeling.
In a recent e-mail conversation with a D/S writer, my own dynamic came up. She politely suggested that what Jason and I have is more along the lines of M/S than D/S. This had me mulling things over, as she wasn't the first one to suggest this.
So I thought it over, and I talked it out with Jason. The first time someone suggested I was not a submissive but a slave, I was pretty disturbed, honestly. It wasn't that I felt judged...but I wondered...do I really desire that level of servitude? What exactly is this that we're getting into? Never would Jason consider himself a Master. In fact, it was quite a while before he was even comfortable with the terms “Dom” and “Submissive.” I'll never forget that conversation I had with him about being a slave.
I was kneeling before him and he pulled me close. “You're not my slave,” he said. “Yes, you're mine. You belong to me. But I also belong to you.”
Belonging to each other...yes. I liked that. He went on to explain that to him, our dynamic is about mutual self-giving. He focuses his efforts on meeting my needs, and I focus my efforts on meeting his. And as I came to learn more about different dynamics, I started to gain a greater appreciate for what they are.
I've also come to understand that I was wrong about M/S. And I've done my best to do away with the prejudices I'd formed.
I explained, in the discussion with this D/S author that yes, Jason and I do some things that most would consider somewhere over in the M/S realm. I am collared. Jason has told me that what he's aiming for with me...his ultimate goal...is my immediate obedience in all areas, and at all times. I do have to ask for permission for many things. I'm not allowed to deviate from the daily plan we agree on in the morning without permission. I have rules regarding my dress, and my food.
But there are areas where we wouldn't fall into traditional M/S. We're still raising a family, and that is our primary focus. We are very serious about our D/S dynamic, and work hard at keeping it discreet but ever-present, but we simply cannot focus the time and energy a hardcore M/S dynamic would entail. And although we do very much enjoy Power Exchange, and our dynamic is indeed 24/7, neither of us has an interest in any acts of humiliation.
So I suggested to Jason...and to this author I was writing to...that instead of putting labels on things, for the purposes of discussion and exploration, we make a simple distinction between roles-based and rules-based.
“Yes,” Jason said, nodding his head. “Yes, that's exactly it. I completely agree.”
Does it really matter if someone is collared? Does it matter if I kneel, or the next Submissive I know has a bedtime, or that one Dom requires completely sexual submission at all times, or that one submissive may not be required to have safety rules, or even that some dynamics are more about bedroom submission than a real-life power exchange? I don't think it does. Does it matter that one couple has a contract, and another maybe just one expectation of a rule, that another may require a submissive's obedience but spanking isn't an agreed-upon punishment? Does it matter that one couple enjoys heavy bdsm?
What truly matters is that a couple finds what works for them. There is no one-size-fits all in this lifestyle. There are far too many variables, and each dynamic impacts two people. Everyone has hard limits. Different personalities, past experiences, comfort zones, and end goals all affect how a dynamic plays out. Even practical matters such as long-distance relationships, physical limitations, and time constraints impact a dynamic.
There are some who enjoy being spanked in the bedroom for fun, but have no desire to relinquish authority, and there are some who dislike the idea of being in authority. There are some who embrace a roles-based dynamic but choose to have the roles based on a matter of honor, not subject to enforcement with punishment. There are some who have no desire for a roles-based understanding, but work happily as a couple with authority granted to one partner, with an expectation of obedience and consequences. And there are some with an all-encompassing, 24/7, total power exchange agreement.
So with all this in mind... I propose that we do away with labels, and instead embrace individuality.
What do you think, readers? Is it better to draw distinctions between different levels of power exchange? Or is it better to lift the labels, as I'm proposing, in an effort to discourage a “one size fits all” mentality?