At a party I attended a while ago, I listened in on a conversation among some dominants where they smugly attested to their prowess as “true dominants” by talking about “unacceptable behaviors” from people they’d met at parties: folks who had merely declared themselves submissives or masochists, perhaps seeking a dominant or sadist to play with. These particular dominants were not new to the scene, but still they were forwarding an agenda amongst each other that was on the wrong track. They felt that all who were not dominants should behave in a subservient manner towards any and all dominants out of respect. These dominants clearly do not show respect to those who are not dominants.
There is a personality type that doesn’t take all of this so darn seriously all the time (whom I consider to be the saner kinds of humans) who are certainly masochists in need of a sadist, but aren’t necessarily in need of a dominant. These masochists are not necessarily submissives, or are only submissive to a special person or persons with whom they have conversed extensively. (It should be noted that many of those playing in the role of ‘sadist’ also often like to play in the role of ‘dominant.’)
These lighthearted masochists are often called “Smart Ass Masochists.” They are generally fun people to be around. One statement I heard was, “If they are being smart and cute and silly, then who is in control?” This was stated in a damning manner eliciting worldly-seeming nods of agreement from the other dominants as if the individual in question, as a matter of protocol, owed control to the person who wanted to be a dominant. Well, they owe nothing of the sort. They are sovereign, independent, spiritual beings who grant control ONLY as part of an agreed-upon power exchange. The mere fact that they are not dominants themselves does not mean they have granted de facto submission to anyone who wishes to consider themselves a dominant. They should be sociable, gracious and polite as in any social situation, but that is as far as it needs to go unless it has been agreed upon to accept a role of submissive to that particular dominant.
I am purposely breaking from the lifestyle tradition of capitalizing the “d” in the word dominant to emphasize a point. Nobody is a capital-D Dominant unless they are given permission to be in that role. Both parties are in control of their own lives, choices, personalities, and their silly jokes if they like to be lighthearted. If it is agreed upon that no jokes or silliness will prevail as part of two people’s way of having a relationship, then joking would be a transgression from an agreed-upon condition. The point is the parameters had been discussed and agreed upon.
In the scene – in person and on-line – dominants often expect others to act as if they already had accepted them as their dominants. It has become a standard practice, totally blown out of proportion as a result of being part and parcel of fantasy BDSM relationships established via Internet-based chats and instant messaging.
However, it is a wrong practice in real-world conditions that evades the responsibility of the two parties to actually communicate their preferences, desires, needs and limits first. Something is wrong when you have submissives – or even mere masochists, who are not necessarily submissives at all, not even enjoying playing in that role – having to kowtow to these social mores in order to be considered for conversation. These dominants are demanding submission before the parameters of that submission have been established between the two individuals. It would be fine if these dominants were then leading the conversation directly to the subjects of preferences, desires, needs and limits, but they often are not and often do not.
This allows all sorts of misunderstandings to crop up, since no actual communication has taken place. Many dominants actually prefer things to remain nebulous and undefined. It is so easy to merely assume that the person whom you have caused to posture and beg in order to be paid any attention at all by you has the very same interests and needs as you have. That takes no work at all. But this is a very sensitive business where making assumptions about anything is a very dangerous thing to do. Fine for on-line fantasy play. Not fine for real-life relationships, not even temporary ones just for the length of a party.
Submissives and masochists are just as worthy of respect as are dominants and sadists. Those considering themselves merely tops or bottoms would never dream of placing expectations on others in advance of conversation and communication. Why is this accepted behavior in the D/s world? Well, it was easy and offered quick gratification. Everyone else was doing it. To which I say: Harumph! Submissives and dominants – let’s stop this nonsense now, immediately – in fact – today.