Saturday, January 24, 2015

ABCDEFG...This is what it means to me.

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?

16 comments:

  1. I don't believe we can always meet someone's expectations of us one hundred per cent all the time. As humans, we are all to individualistic which is why labels don't work. We don't all fit into the same mold and thank theheavens for that.

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    1. Although I agree that we can never meet someone's expectations of us one hundred percent, I'm not sure that's exactly what I'm aiming for with obedience. That said, I agree, we are individuals and our lifestyle choices should reflect that.

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  2. Definitely the latter approach. While we each may have some characteristics with a certain "type", probably every one of us has some differences from that type, and we certainly have uniquenesses from couple to couple, because we are all wired slightly differently.

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    1. I agree. Even those of us who relate well still have distinct differences!

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  3. I tend to think that the labels are an *attempt* to define and highlight the fact that there there is no such thing as "one size fits all" and that what we do is an individual thing. However, because everyone tends to place the line between them in a different place and what belongs in one area to one person doesn't belong there in the eyes of another, they aren't very effective at achieving this and can be a source of conflict.

    I don't know whether is it possible to do away with labels altogether because, for convenience, we do need some of sort a name that makes us identifiable to those who need support but might otherwise not be able to find us. If you like, something that distinguishes us as a subset of people from those who don't do any of it. I personally tend to favour TTWD (This Thing We Do) because that is more open to individuality and doesn't attempt to compartmentalise within the subset..

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    1. I think that's a good point. It seems not altogether feasilbe to completely do away with labels. There are so many characterstics that overlap, and the individual approach means that what may be "hardcore" to one may be "routine" for another, etc.

      I do agree that TTWD is an apt term.

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  4. I never like labels, they really can keep a lid on things, even for yourself. Like you were saying about having a prejudice against a certain term. I have stopped calling what we do anything really and just call it what WE do.Because obviously its working, whatever it is...:D

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    1. That's a good point, Julia. All that matters is it's working! LOL

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  5. Quote-"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. "

    Ann onymous-
    I think that is the best way to be...You got me thinking about dynamics. I know what I am looking for in my D/s relationship, but I don't know how to find my ideal Dom...

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    1. I'm glad I got you thinking about different dynamics. So many choices, so many distinctions...so individual.

      I honestly don't know how to go about finding the ideal Dom either. I tend to think a wise approach is to foster a solid monogamous relationship without the D/S...then learn how the couple as an individual unit approaches their respective roles. I think if I were single, seeking a D/S relationship, I would likely look for a partner who was comfortable enough to be a leader, but kind and understanding as well. I dont' know if I would look for a "Dom," per se, but rather encourage a natural progression of respective roles.

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  6. Having re-read your post, there is one aspect that I would like you to clarify. Since it concerns labels and attributes that people tend to attach to those with which they don't have any personal experience or familiarity, so it does seen relevant to the topic.

    I see that, in comparing TPE with M/s, you appear to distinguish between the two and reject "M/s" as a label on the grounds that you and Jason have no "interest in any acts of humiliation". Since, in my experience, "acts of humiliation" aren't a particular feature of most M/s relationships and don't have much to do with what they are about, I am puzzled as to why you make this particular comparison.

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    1. I'm glad we were able to discuss this at length privately, but I feel badly I don't have it all recorded here for anyone who has a similar question to yours! I think you're explanation that acts of "humiliation" aren't necessarily part of an m/s dynamic was very helpful to me, and perhaps an indication that my own perception is off. I am, admittedly, not very experienced with how m/s dynamics typically play out; however, the only dynamics I've encountered that did find acts of humiliation helpful or welcome were always m/s. hence my comment.

      That said, I don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes at all, so I apologize if I did.

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  7. For example I am dyslexic, I can read, and I don't invert letters, but some do. Many do. Yet changing my 'label' to "a person with a learning disability' is way worse for understanding at large in the long run. Misinterpretation is bad, but at least it leaves room for questions and discussions for those who wish to broaden their minds. So I think labels are not a bad thing. The issue is maybe that we call them labels? Perhaps we should say categories, that way we leave room for sub categories.
    willie

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    1. You know, after my discussion with Ros, I think that the problem isn't necessarily with labels -- as you say, they can be very useful -- but with *stereotypes*. It's stereotyping that I'd rather avoid personally.

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  8. Odd...more than half my comment is missing....Here was the original comment

    "You know I think the issue with labels is not that it causes problems community wise, it causes problems based on the individual. People assume that they are one way or not based on what they know or what little they know. I mean do I consider our relationship bordering on the realm of M/s ? Nope not at all, yet I have many of the same restrictions you do. Do I believe that those around me who practice M/s are different primarily because of a collar or humiliation? Absolutely not. Why? because to many what happens in our home would be humiliating. Humiliation is very individual in perception.

    I think in our own community we do a disservice trying to define others by labels and OUR interpretation of them, yet I do believe they are a necessary 'jumping off point'. For example I am dyslexic, I can read, and I don't invert letters, but some do. Many do. Yet changing my 'label' to "a person with a learning disability' is way worse for understanding at large in the long run. Misinterpretation is bad, but at least it leaves room for questions and discussions for those who wish to broaden their minds. So I think labels are not a bad thing. The issue is maybe that we call them labels? Perhaps we should say categories, that way we leave room for sub categories.
    willie"

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  9. Your comment makes more sense to me now that the rest is there! I was a bit confused when it began with "for example.

    You make a very good point regarding boxing both ourselves and one another in with labels. Categories, and a starting point, are useful. I wonder if labels are also more useful to those looking in as well. Once you live it, it becomes very clear very fast that categories are muddled.

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