new perspectives on dominance (or, lots of questions and a few answers)

“There is no such thing as a dominant or un-dominant activity. It’s all about the attitude.”

- Raven Kaldera in his workshop “Real Service” with Joshua Tenpenny, Fetish Fair Flea, Providence, RI, January 12, 2008, Westin Hotel, Narragansett Ballroom B

***

To continue with the theme of exploring dominance and submission via picking apart some of the ideas I encountered over this past weekend at the FFF, this next piece is about styles of dominance.

For starters, I wanted to take a look at Raven’s concept of styles of receiving service. He sees them as existing along a continuum of “parental” to “celebrity” and the attendant ideas of proactive vs. reactive service styles. Interestingly, a commenter brought this exact reference up just earlier today – prescient folks you are!

Raven illustrated his continuum with two examples on the extreme ends of it. He talked about two D/s couples going to a restaurant. A “parental” dominant would order the food for him/herself and the submissive, feed the submissive from his/her hand, decide when dinner was over and pay the tab. A “celebrity” dominant would have the submissive go in and get the best table while he/she smoked a cigarette outside; the submissive would order the food because he/she would already know exactly what the dominant’s preferences were; they would eat together, and when the dominant was finished, she/he would expect the submissive to take care of the bill while he/she went to the bathroom, and then wait for the submissive to get the car and drive them home.

It’s an interesting model. You might use the words “control” versus “expectation” to describe the same thing, or perhaps “active” versus “passive.” I feel like I’m trying to find other ways to frame this not because I disagree that there are differing styles of receiving service, but because I feel like neither end of that spectrum Raven described is particularly appealing. I know that Raven was in no way intending to paint dominants as either parent stand-ins or royalty wanna-bes, but I can’t help but find the two images pretty distasteful. I don’t want to be anyone’s parent. Mr. Man, the awful overstepping “master” of a couple posts back, talked about the submissives in the room as “beautiful children” over and over again, and it creeped me out every time – daddy role-play might be cool in some ways, don’t get me wrong, and if that’s the flavour of a given relationship I take no issue with it whatsoever, but from there to genuinely seeing your submissive as though they were a child and not a fully functioning adult? Icky! (Not to mention seeing all submissives as children whether they’re yours or not… even more icky.) I also don’t see much appeal in being a celebrity, at least not the way Raven described it. The implied arrogance and the idea that the dominant is actually pretty clueless about what the submissive does – “just make things happen for me” – just rubs me the wrong way.

Is this my desire for balance rearing its head again? Perhaps. Is this indicative of my own discomfort with a lot of what seems to come with the idea of dominance? Probably. Sure I’m a dominant, but I’m not a control freak and I don’t want to be a substitute parent, nor do I want to have slaves rolling out the red carpet and blaring trumpets for me and running around catering to my every silly whim. Maybe that’s because the picture this paints of the submissives is so unflattering – the counterpart to a parent is a dependent child, whereas I want to deal with intelligent, sexy, strong, competent, independent grown-ups; the counterpart to a celebrity is an adoring and probably undervalued hanger-on, and I want to deal with people who perceive me realistically (not fan-bois) and who also perceive their own value, not people who like being ignored and trod upon.

Don’t get me wrong. I know Raven wasn’t attaching all these negative ideas to his framework. I’m the one doing that, and to be honest, if I enter into the subtext of what he’s saying rather than engaging solely with the imagery and what it brings up for me, it makes a lot of sense.

On the “parental” end of things, well, part of the thrill of taking on dominance with someone is that they place their trust in me to make certain decisions. Sometimes that may well extend to what or how much someone eats, how they dress, the particulars of their manners and behaviour, when they get to go to the bathroom or be excused from serving me, and any number of other things that could (if you chose to see it that way) be reminiscent of parental control. That’s not how I see it and it’s not how my bois see it, but in the realm of objective comparisons, it’s not entirely inaccurate either.

On the “celebrity” end of things, there’s definitely a distinct appeal in having my submissives know my preferences and cater to them, whether it’s how I like my grapefruit served (in a bowl, halved but not pre-sliced, with a sprinkling of cane sugar and a serrated spoon), how hard I like my back massaged (very) or the precise folding and organizational system I use for my clothes (complex and picky). I suppose if you chose to look at that as though I were a celebrity wanna-be, you could see the resonance – but for me, the joy I take here is in shaping someone’s attentiveness and usefulness, not in sitting back and allowing myself to be pampered with blinders on as to how it happens. And I certainly don’t want my bois to see me as though I were up on my high horse expecting the entire world to bend to my whims with no thought as to the kind of work it requires to please me or how much it costs the submissive to provide their service. That kind of attitude just grosses me right out and I want no part in it.

Another workshop over the weekend gave me a further new perspective on the concept of receiving service and on what a dominant’s actual role can be. It was entitled “Dominant As Muse” and it was given by Mistress Max Rulz. She’s a down-to-earth, warm and no-nonsense sort of woman from what I can tell, and while our styles are pretty different in many ways, a lot of what she said really resonated for me. She defined a master as “someone who inspires and/or enables someone to grow emotionally, spiritually and intellectually in their own right.” She then went on to say that “a master is someone who has done just that themselves, who has self-confidence and self-esteem.” Fair enough. If D/s is no more than an erotic game, then it can happen between anyone, but if someone’s going to take on a role involving real-life decision-making and control in someone’s life that extends outside the bedroom, they’d better have their shit together.

She went on to say, “A master carries at least two leashes. One to put on their slave, and a very short one to keep on their ego. Master is no more synonymous with divine than submissive is with weak or stupid.”

Thank you, Max Rulz. As soon as someone speaks about humility within dominance, they’ve got my vote, and both Raven and she did so on numerous occasions – which brings the total number of dominant presenters I’ve heard mention this up to four, the other two being Midori and a Toronto-based dominant known as Goddess Lakshmi. I think there is no coincidence that three out of four are women (all three women of colour, no less) and the fourth is an intersex trans guy. Living on the margins, it would appear, is an excellent way to get a realistic perspective on your own humble humanity even if you choose a dominant role.

Max Rulz also said, “A muse is one who inspires another to do what they might otherwise do for themselves.” Her idea was that a dominant should be a muse for their submissive. Okay. When I think of a muse, I think of some semi-mythical creature with enormous emotional pull who provides something for an artist or other creative person to strive for. I don’t think that’s something a person can choose to be. I’m happy to hear it if I’ve inspired someone in whatever way, but I think that in order to take on the role of a muse in someone’s life, that person needs to put you there and it needs to be a fairly organic process; you can’t step in and decide to become that, and they can’t decide to put you there by an act of choice or will. Besides, being a muse is rather passive. The muse is an image in an artist’s head, a lustful or creative fantasy, not a person who takes up real decision-making power in their world. So. Inspiration as the role of the dominant? Okay, fair enough, but I see that as being a partial or optional role, not so much the be-all and end-all of it.

Or perhaps I just need to frame the idea of inspiration with a figure other than a muse – inspiration on its own is not the issue. As she said, “We don’t always realize what we do that inspires others. Imagine the effect we can have on someone we’re deliberately working on. We’re doing this on purpose!” Very true. Inspiration in its broader sense – in the sense of setting an example, providing encouragement and positive reinforcement, providing discipline and having high expectations of someone as a recognition of their potential – all these things are totally valid in a D/s dynamic.

But one particular piece of her presentation really stood out for me, and that was a question she threw out to all the dominants in the room. “As a top, what is it that you think you deserve? We often think of self-esteem as being a submissive or bottom issue, but not necessarily. How good do you want it? Let’s face it, we are creating our reality. (…) This person who is your charge is hanging on your every word. They are here to serve you. They volunteered for this!” (Yes, she really does speak with sufficient emphasis to merit that much italicizing.)

For some reason this concept of “deserving” really struck me. It made me think back to a workshop that Laura Antoniou gave on D/s a couple of years ago in Toronto, in which she tossed dozens of questions out to the audience to help the dominants frame the specifics of what they wanted. I remember frantically scribbling down notes because until that very moment when she started asking the questions, I had no idea how to frame who I was as a dominant or how to even begin explaining what my preferences were – as a firm believer in independence, individual choice and self-determination, I was still figuring out that it was okay to have preferences about another person’s behaviour or service to me, as opposed to simply accepting it as a kindness or favour. Holding power in a scene was easy for me, but taking it up in an ongoing fashion left me feeling completely baffled. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what made it okay and why anyone would want a relationship like that, and yet at the same time, people had started to serve me whether I asked for it or not, and the experience was enormously compelling; I couldn’t deny that it called out a response from somewhere deep inside me, but I had no idea what to do with it. So Laura’s questions really helped me come up with ideas about the nitty-gritty everyday shape of service. However, she wasn’t able to answer the larger question which loomed for me: what’s the purpose of all this? What’s the point? What does a submissive get out of this, and how am I supposed to find the language to explain what I get out of it?

Raven expressed it really well in the “Real Service” workshop. He said, “As tops, we suffer from a lack of role models. We don’t know what we want, don’t know what to ask for, don’t know what it’s possible to ask for, and don’t know what’s appropriate to ask for.” And when speaking about his parent/celebrity continuum, he pointed out that depending on the gender demographics of a person’s specific corner of the leather community, that style can be very prescribed, to the point where an entire group of people may see it as wrong to do D/s in any way other than theirs. In his words, “Sometimes you need to fight outside society’s messages and your leather community’s messages and your sub’s messages about where you should be on that continuum.” Put that lack of fitting role models (clearly still a problem for me) together with strong messages from various outside forces (and inner ones), add my unanswered question about the larger purpose of ongoing D/s, and no wonder I couldn’t figure out what the heck to tell someone who asked me “What can I do for you, Ma’am?”

And Max Rulz says I need to answer the question “What do you think you deserve?” Wow, would I ever not have been ready to even consider that two years ago. Me? Deserve? I could barely bring myself to tell someone how I liked to have my socks folded when she asked explicitly and impatiently for the seventh time. What could it possibly mean to deserve that sort of service? To expect it and feel entitled to it? To shape it and guide it as though it were my right to do so? Good lord. Talk about cringe-inducing. I don’t think I have any particular issues with self-esteem, as Max Rulz framed it, but I do think my comfort level with anything that might smack of self-indulgence or ego-stroking is pretty minimal.

I’ve come to a few conclusions in the last couple of years that have really helped me gain a great deal more comfort. I think sitting in this weekend’s workshops really showed me how far I’ve come in my journey to figure out this part of myself. It was extremely satisfying to hear Raven express the big answer I came up with – he does it better than I do, so I’ll quote:

“Half of my job is to give this person a path that’s good for them. The other half is knowing that there is a chain of command here and I’m not at the top of it. As I treat him, so the Universe will treat me. What am I doing with the time he has freed up for me by serving me? I need to take it up and go out and make a difference. Doing D/s at home is not enough. Use that energy and time to go out and do your activist work, follow your calling. Whatever it is, have an impact outside your apartment. Have their service further whatever task you’ve been given. Ask yourself, now that I have the privilege of this service, what can I do with the time freed up by it? How am I becoming a better person rather than simply becoming more lazy?”

Now all of a sudden, if you take that concept of D/s – of the submissive as providing service (quite possibly as part of their own spiritual discipline, whether explicitly acknowledged as such or not) to make it possible for the dominant to further his or her work of making the world a better place – then it’s not so hard to see how there might be a question of deserving on the part of the dominant. I’m in a place, today, where I might be able to start taking up Max Rulz’s question and entertaining the notion that perhaps I do deserve what’s being given to me, rather than simply being lucky to have it.

If I’m taking up power in someone’s world to shape them, to balance them, to care for them, as far as I am able to do so and within my own limits as a human being, and that submissive is devoting their time and energy to making my life easier, then I’d better do something worthwhile with that service and the ease it creates in my world. And if I’m devoting my time and energy to making the world a better place – in my case through teaching and writing and volunteerism and activist work – then sure, I deserve that service. It has a larger purpose outside turning us both on. Yes, it means we provide really wonderful and intimate forms of care and love to one another – service on their part, caring authority on mine – but further than that, it’s contributing directly to goals we both feel are worthwhile.

Of course there is pleasure to be taken in the power exchange. I don’t kid myself that having my boi sit at my feet and feed me grapes is furthering the queer rights movement or saving small children from exploitative labour practices. But shaping a relationship that’s mutually satisfying and pleasurable, and that’s framed explicitly and always in terms of power exchange, means that when there is “real” work to be done it will get done quickly and well, and with mutually valued goals in mind.

Does this mean I think that D/s done purely and exclusively for pleasure is a bad thing? No. If it works for the people doing it, they’ve got my blessing. But for me, I don’t think I could even begin to believe myself to be deserving of the kinds of service I’ve been receiving these past few years if I didn’t feel I was doing something worthwhile in the world that was furthered by the energy and effort of the people who have been or are devoted to me in one way or another.

Does “deserving” mean that if my bois disappeared tomorrow, I would stamp my foot and whine about how I no longer had anyone to prepare my grapefruit and rub my back? Hardly. I’d take it as the Universe’s message that I needed to be doing those things for myself again for a while, and try to figure out what I needed to learn in the process.

Does it mean I feel so entitled to service that I’ll start demanding it from everyone I meet in inappropriate ways? Hardly. Service is a privilege. I might be able, now, to argue that it’s one I deserve, but it’s certainly not one I expect to always have at my disposal. My semi-Buddhist notions of universal impermanence dictate that nothing lasts forever; so while I have it, I’ll keep doing my best to receive service well, and to make my life’s work an attempt to be worthy of it.

18 Responses

  1. This was a fantastic read.

    Last July, I went to our local (Denver) bdsm conference, Thunder in the Mountains. I had only started being the dom in my relationship two months earlier, and I was perhaps like you were a few years ago – completely confused, basically. I took away some important ideas, and some other ideas that seemed important but that I ultimately discarded.

    I wish I had more specific comments about what you’ve said here, but I either don’t, or it would take a book. I just wanted to say it was a great read, though.

  2. Many thanks! And do feel free to come back and leave another note if you think of specifics. Wow, Denver… I’ve heard of TitM, and it sounds really cool. One of these days… :)

  3. I want to disagree with you slightly, about the celebrity stereotype, because isn’t the perfect counterpart to a celebrity something like a really competent assistant, or butler, rather than an obsequious hanger-on? Although I agree that those two styles can look very polarised, there’s also something really wonderful in being capable of providing a ‘smooth’ experience for someone, in making it easy for another to glide through time and space without having to deal with the everyday. I don’t think that role is exclusive to submission, either. In fact, when dominants take that role of smoothing everything out for a submissive or a bottom, it really emphasises how dominance is actually a form of service, in itself.

    I really enjoy your posts on BDSM culture and D/s, and as someone who’s too far away to enjoy Raven and Josh’s workshops, it’s very satisfying to hear about them vicariously! Thank you.

  4. Interesting that you’d mention the butler idea. You’re absolutely right, in fact one of the models to which I’ve often compared a 24/7 D/s service relationship is that between Batman/Bruce Wayne and the ever-reliable butler Alfred. So, yes, definitely, there are other ways of seeing the role of the celebrity counterpart. I would argue, in that case, that Batman is serving a larger purpose (saving the world from crime) and that Alfred serves him to make that possible, so my squick around the lazy and arrogant celebrity + fawning hanger-on does not apply. I’d much rather be like the Batman model than like the other model – so the celebrity metaphor isn’t necessarily a bad one, just one that has multiple possibilities, some of which aren’t very appealing.

    Thanks for your comment, it’s nice to meet you! :)

  5. Can’t put my finger on it, but something makes me feel very uncomfortable when you write things like “if you take that concept of D/s – of the submissive as providing service (…) to make it possible for the dominant to further his or her work of making the world a better place” and “And if I’m devoting my time and energy to making the world a better place – in my case through teaching and writing and volunteerism and activist work – then sure, I deserve that service. It has a larger purpose outside turning us both on”.

    I’m wondering why you feel such a need to justify what you do when you clearly want it and your submissive clearly wants it too. Do you spend so much effort trying to justify other hedonistic things you do? Do you need a justification to be in this world? I don’t think so.

    Of course I can understand asking oneself why one does a particular thing, it’s just that you come across to me as almost apologetic, which is not how you usually come across to me in your writings (or that one time in real life).

    Whether what I’m doing is in my own terms acceptable/ethical behaviour, is a question that I may sometimes need to pose myself, but justifying a D/s-dynamic in terms of “doing something worthwhile in the world” or as having a “larger purpose”? God, Andrea, It sounds almost religious!!! And the first quotation above reminds me of politicians who say they could not have achieved what they have without their supportive wife at their side (and this in spite of the fact that I realise that such cases differ from yours in that there it is not clear, indeed highly unlikely, that the roles were ever negotiated and consensual).

    In fact, I’m not sure whether I like this concept of “getting what I deserve” at all. I don’t like the idea of considering when someone does something nice (English understatement) to me whether or not I “deserve” it. Do I consider whether the other person “deserves” what I want to give them before I give it? “Deserving” conjures up pictures in my mind of keeping a (mental) book on giving and taking. Take this to the extreme and it could be “No sex/service for me tonight, I haven’t done anything worthwhile in the world for a while”.

    May be I’ve missed the point with the “deserving” aspect, in particular with regard to the D/s context. It’s certainly got me thinking though.

  6. I totally get why, taken from that viewpoint, the idea of “deserving” would make you uncomfortable. And you’re right, I’m not the sort of person to apologize for or justify my hedonistic pleasures. I don’t feel apologetic in this case either. At the same time, for me, a lot of this goes way beyond hedonism.

    I think that for me, if someone wants to give over their service or submission during a scene, there need be no larger purpose than pleasure. But if someone’s going to devote a significant chunk of their life to me, and specifically to doing a lot of menial stuff for my benefit, I wouldn’t feel good accepting that if it were purely for pleasure. Some people might, and that’s okay, but for me I feel like if a person’s going to give that much, if I am going to enjoy the privilege of deep and constant devotion, it has to be about more than satisfying me and my happy little ego.

    In a sense I feel like that about a lot of other privileges too – if I’m healthy, I should donate blood; if I’m articulate, I should be an activist; if I have enough money, I should buy organic even if it’s more expensive; and so forth. And while that’s not religious because I’m not religious, there is definitely a certain spirituality to the desire to give back to the world when the world showers me with riches, whether of the material or intangible sort. I’ve been doing volunteer work since age 12 as a way of thanking the world for giving me so much good stuff; it’s just the way I live, and anyone who’s attracted to me as a dominant (in the ongoing-relationship sense at least) surely sees and values that part of me.

    So I guess I’m coming at the idea of “deserving” from the reverse side – not so much “I better be a good person and give back to the world so that I earn service from my bois” but rather, “I’m getting service from my bois and that’s inspiring me to be a better person and give back to the world.”

    And while I definitely have no interest in keeping a tally sheet, and don’t wish to engage in ongoing D/s in a transactional model, I think to some extent a submissive should consider whether a dominant deserves everything they give. Again, within the confines of a scene when everyone’s going to fly or have an orgasm and that’s the purpose of it, this is less of a consideration, or not a consideration at all. But if a person’s going to pour their heart and soul into making someone’s life easier, and devote hours of time and enormous energy to that, is it really satisfying to the giver if all the recipient does with it is park on their ass and watch that much more television? Maybe that would work for some people, but not for me, and I’m sure that means the people I tend to pair with have a similar philosophy, whether fully articulated or not.

    Like with anything else, your mileage may vary. There are definitely dominants out there who would look at all this and think it’s a waste of time, and that D/s need serve no larger purpose than mutual enjoyment. I take no issue with them, as long as it works for all concerned. In a sense I feel the same way, except that part of my own enjoyment is feeling like I’m contributing to the world, and I don’t think that part of me is going anywhere anytime soon. :)

    (The day I start rationing my orgasms to match how many hours of volunteer work I’ve done, please come and set me straight though, OK?)

  7. I’m basically kind of a selfish layabout, so I don’t personally sympathize very much with the concept of service being justified by how it frees up your time to do more things. Where I do see some sense in that general idea, though, is kind of in a personal development way. If getting service just makes you lazier, well, would you really want to just let yourself become lazier over time?

    I sometimes feel like I struggle not to let my d/s relationshp make me into a worse person. In some ways, it’s making me better, but I see potential for it to go the other direction. And I don’t like that.

  8. I have stuff to say but I’m ruminatiing. For now, I just wanted to make sure you knew that the Jacky who posted above is not me, Jacky aka NancyBoy. Just in case : ) Not that there’s anything wrong with what s/he wrote, just that it’s not the tone I ever use so I want to make sure you know it’s not me.

  9. All you wonderful Jacky folk out there… :) Yep, you are indeed two very different people with very different tones, and you both have consistently intelligent things to say. Jacky V, anytime you want to share your ruminations, by all means go ahead!

  10. Hey Jacky V,

    I’ll use Jacky M in future so there’s no danger of confusion! Jackys of all genders, colour and tone unite :-)

    Hey Andrea,

    “consistently intelligent”. hmmm, nice, but do I “deserve” that compliment??? As you can see, I’m still chewing over what you wrote (and already discussed it with two of my sweeties who were less critical than me). Thanks muchly for consistently stimulating my brain.

  11. OK. Well it’s still a little half-baked in my brain but I’m seeing a parrallel between your idea of using the time freed up by receiving service to do something good for the world and what I wrote a few days ago in my own blog. In a nutshell, in my post on the socio-politics of being out, I argued that queer people in prior generations had to spend a lot of time fighting to establish their rights. Because of them, much of our time is now freed up. Although we still have some fights on our plates to either establish new rights or maintain some older ones, we don’t have to devote our lives to fighting. Personally, I feel that I need to do something with that freed up time that continues the cycle of giving. For example, I do devote some of my time to queer issues but I also want to devote time to helping to fight for the rights of Native Canadians and people with mental disabilities. I feel that I can do that *because* I don’t have to spend so much time fighting for my right to be trans and bi without suffering from heaps of discrimination. People before me made sure that I would have those rights.

    Bleh. A big hungover. Not writing straight. But you probably get the gist of it and my explanation of it in the blog post was clearer. All that to say that, yes, I agree that there can be some kind of greater social meaning superimposed on a D/s dynamic that includes domestic service. As some comments above indicate, the relationship doesn’t need this kind of justification if both parties are fulfilled but if you, as a person, feel a need to attach that meaning, then that’s great too. And it sure makes me happy whenever I know of someone else out there doing things to improve conditions for others. We can’t have too much of that.

  12. Hey Jacky M.

    Well, I noticed you have no avatar so that can tell us apart too. It also appears that our sex geek already knows you and can pretty much tell us apart anyway : )

    If you forget the M, it probably won’t be a big deal. Jacky V. is my WordPress user name so I don’t even sign, I’m just automatically logged in.

  13. I definitely consider the worthiness of a dominant to receive my service and submission. I only tend to offer those things to people I find to be truly exceptional, who steward it well, not just in the Scene or scene but also in life. Admiration an emulation play a large role in my motivations and so does gratitude.

    I am by nature a solidly dominant person. I do a lot of leading in different areas of life and work in service professions (special ed & counselling), yet I have often found it so much easier to be second in command, to be someone’s right hand but not be where the buck stops with all the administrative details.

    When I have such luxury, I feel like I am directly contributing to the things that are important to me by serving those who carry them out *and* I get to benefit from relationship in what can otherwise be very lonely places for me.

    I have also noticed that people who earn my admiration and devotion are often folks who give. Lots. And they deserve, and perhaps even sometimes need the service I offer because they have a tendency to neglect themselves otherwise.

    Service *is* spiritual for me and I doubt I’d be moved to serve someone who was not also at least in some way service-oriented with their power and their lifestyle in the community and the world in general.

    I’m definitely not interested in serving or kneeling to anyone who thinks that they are at the top of the totem pole.

    Anika

  14. There’s stuff in this post that really bothers me. I wonder if I can express it properly.

    To start off with, I think this:
    If …[a] submissive is devoting their time and energy to making my life easier, then I’d better do something worthwhile with that service and the ease it creates in my world.

    and this:
    if I’m devoting my time and energy to making the world a better place – in my case through teaching and writing and volunteerism and activist work – then sure, I deserve that service.

    are not at all equivalent statements. I don’t know if you intended them to be, but to me they represent strikingly different attitudes, and I have a hard time seeing how someone could hold them simultaneously.

    While the first statement is something I can get behind 100% (like you, I think that we should all use what privilege we have to better the world), the second statement bothers me a whole lot.

    There are two reasons that I can put my finger on. I’ll give you the less important (but more complicated) one first: I have huge problems with the concept of deserving. To me, you can’t disentangle deserving from entitlement. So, in a very broad and general sense, I don’t think that anyone deserves anything: the universe doesn’t owe us fairness or joy or even life. The universe exists and we exist within it (until we don’t) et c’est tout. In a narrower sense, I can accept a definition of deserve that allows for people to deserve things that we consider human rights, so everyone deserves food and shelter and adequate health care and equitable treatment under the law and so on. But once we get into the idea of some individuals deserving things that others don’t, I get very uncomfortable. I think this is because deserving carries not only connotations of entitlement, like I said, but also is tied, for me, to the notion of inherent worth.

    This is not to say that different situations don’t warrant different treatment, it’s the *why* that bugs me. So if, for example, we have two researchers and one is more highly skilled than the other, then certainly that one should get more funding and support, but not because she “deserves it” by having more worth as a human being, but rather because society as a whole is better served that way.

    I also think that people have this idea that in order to not feel bad about accepting something they like, they have to convince themselves that they deserve it, and I call bullshit on that idea. Just because you don’t actively deserve something doesn’t mean you actively don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve a gym membership, but my having one harms no one and makes me a happier, healthier and better person. If one’s romantic relationships (whatever form they may take) are like that for all involved, then IMO there’s no need to justify them beyond that. Couching it in terms of deserving really gets my hackles up.

    The reason I say that the issue of deserving is the less important one is that, while it bugged me enough that I wanted to mention it, I think it’s probably just a question of you and I having different definitions of deserve, and probably doesn’t represent any actual disagreement between us.

    No, the real reason that the second statement I quoted above, and indeed much of the stuff about “deserving” in the post, bugs me is because it seems to only work on the assumption that any activisty-type work *you* do will obviously — OBVIOUSLY — be of more value to society than any activisty-type work your subs could be doing if they weren’t spending that time serving you.

    I don’t need you to assure me that you don’t actually believe that; I’m quite certain you don’t. But the implication hit me so strongly when reading this post… I dunno. I felt the need to mention it.

  15. Greetings and thank you very much. I appreciate your words and appreciate even more if just a few touched your heart.
    Be safe and well
    Mistress Max Rulz

  16. Thanks so much for reading! I’m happy to have met you, and all the more that you found me here. :) All the best to you!

  17. hi there Me again, I trust You are well Ma’am. May I quote you on my new website. I will of course give appropriate credit and a link if you wish.
    Thanks much

    Max Rulz

  18. By all means, go ahead, and thanks kindly for your courtesy and consideration. I’m flattered! Feel free to post your link here too, I’ll come visit your site!

    Cheers,

    A.

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