Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Essential Rights for a Submissive Partner

I once came across a post on a BDSM discussion forum where a dominant man asserted that his "slave" had a single "right" within their relationship: she could leave. I have no idea whether this was true, or if the writer even had a partner. Online forums are a kind of stage where actors issue proclamations. But the statement got me thinking about what rights, or perhaps promises of protection, are essential to give the submissive partner in a D/s context, no matter how radically the partners inhabit their dominant & submissive roles. Initially, I came up with three:

The Right to Health. The sub must not come to lasting, much less permanent, harm, in a physical or psychological or social sense. By "social harm" I mean damaging the person's reputation with family, friends, or colleagues. Health in all these senses is subjective, so this right confers a great deal of protection. It may seem worrisome to have to discuss a right to health at all, but honestly BDSM relationships commonly involve pursuits which, if taken far enough, or done often enough, can be injurious. But then, vanilla relationships frequently compromise these same areas!

The Right to Language. The sub must regularly have the chance to be heard and understood by her dom. It needn't be a license to speak whenever and however the mood strikes her. This confers broad protection as well, as it allows the sub to convey needs. Needs which go chronically unmet would eventually force the sub to resort to...

The Right to Leave. The sub must, indeed, be allowed to leave the relationship, and without notice if she feels threatened. This could also be called The Right to Choose a Dom. One threat to this right is financial dependence, where the sub has relinquished control over finances. In such cases the dom must create a trust or other emergency account to assure her financial security in the event he is incapacitated or unable to fulfill his duty to her.

Those are the protections which I feel are must-haves for a healthy, sustainable D/s relationship. Any given couple may identify further rights which they deem necessary. A dom also has obligations to his sub, e.g. making his preferences clear, or testing her submission constructively. Such obligations approach the necessity of rights. Finally, a dom typically extends to his sub numerous privileges. However, privileges can be revoked or amended, either as punishment, or at bends in the relationship.

Many couples document with a "contract" the rights, obligations, and privileges of both partners. While not legally binding, a contract nonetheless imparts a sense of formality and specific intention to the relationship which vanilla pairings typically lack—even among marriage partners, who are in fact bound by a legal contract.

Since most partnerships eventually dissolve, it's worth emphasizing that a sub's rights are just as essential when a pair is coming apart. This is so even if the partners are no longer willing to fulfill their obligations to each other. A sub's loss of a beloved dom can be shattering and disorienting, even if the couple hadn't been together for years. A wise dom will do what he can to make the separation more bearable for her, even if he is bitterly disappointed himself.

Sanity check: No person can waive the rights granted her by the laws of the land. She can merely decide not to exercise them. However, deciding so doesn't mean she can't later claim that she was deprived of rights against her will. So when undertaking activities where your partner has agreed to forgo legal rights, you'd better be sure she'll be OK with having done so far into the future!

What about connections to others? Certainly friends and family outside the D/s partnership are essential for most people. But how much contact any individual needs with others is a subjective thing; some hermits are quite content. Note that requiring a sub to permanently cut healthy ties to family or close friends generally constitutes a violation of the right to social health.

What about love? What about pleasure, companionship, happiness, fulfillment? These are the original purpose of romance, after all. But love, while indispensable, is undefinable. Or rather, it is defined uniquely for each couple. And where does love occur? It stems from a feeling in your soul, but is shown to your lover in a thousand changing ways. Love rarely shown, or shown in ways your lover cannot see, amounts to none at all. I know only too well that your lover has to be able and eager to interpret all the ways in which you show love. In the relationships which taught me that, love was neither absent nor present.

I encourage you to comment here, or email, or tweet, with your own beliefs and experiences on the subject of rights in D/s...

Labels:

14 Comments:

At March 06, 2014 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings Will...

Firstly, I must tell you how much I appreciate you allowing yourself to be vulnerable and transparent with your own personal experiences in the BDSM world. Particularly as a Dominant. It is wonderful. Very thoughtfully composed with such candor.

Reading this part of your blog made me question something:the different terminology or definitions of the power exchanges. I'm new to this world and finally embracing this aspect of myself as a submissive. However, I am unsure how to refer to myself when asked by others if I identify as 'sub' or 'slave'. What is the real difference? The extent of how much you want/able to relinquish control?

I know labels really shouldn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but I am curious. It is part of the identity/role and I suppose, underlies the whole dynamic to begin with. What are your thoughts or experiences?
~Ophelia

 
At March 11, 2014 4:51 PM, Blogger Will said...

Ophelia, the terminology of identity is rather like clothing; people claim terms that they feel fit them. At times those terms confuse or offend others, but such is language. Even so, I've tried to cover the basics in BDSM Relationship Variations — hope that helps!

 
At March 13, 2014 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes! Thank you, Will. It does. I realized after about 5 minutes posting my comment that you elaborate on it more in that article. I am enjoying exploring your blog and reading your articles when time allows. Seems like many male Doms lack your wisdom and sensitivity. Many just act like tactless predators. Highly, ahem, ANNOYING to say the least! Such is life.. sighs...

 
At May 21, 2014 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone via kik asked me to be a sub. I jokimgly agreed. I want out.. I feel threatened. He wont let me

 
At May 21, 2014 4:00 PM, Blogger Will said...

If your connection with him is purely online, just block him. If you know him in real life, send a polite "please do not contact me again" and give no further responses.

 
At May 21, 2014 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks will. I've done that. Let's pray it works. He threatened to tell my hubby and kids. ?.

One more thing. He States that he is rerouting this to a dom society. ?.

 
At May 21, 2014 9:31 PM, Blogger Will said...

Idle threats. Re "dom society" -- I suppose he might moan to his single drinking buds that he struck out again :-p

 
At May 22, 2014 3:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again.. thank you. It made me sick yesterday thinking on all this.

 
At August 21, 2014 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a sub. few months ago a had lived few vanilla nights with a man, neither of us knowing the "real" about the other. After, he entered into a vanilla relation and we remain just friends. few months ago we confesed to each other that we are kink, he as a dom, I as sub. Since then he is teasing me, ignoring for a weeks ore writing me about "his plan" with me. we never meet in privat since then ( only one line), and he constantly refuses to meet with me, but also he is addmiting he doesn't want me "to let go". he is writing me about his protection over me, or about the importance of me in his life, but when is about to meet f2f he says that has no time, or is just disapearing. I feel he is the dom I want, but I don't know if I will ever get a chance with him. As a dom, do you have any ideea why he acting like that? do I have any chances to ever be his?

 
At October 02, 2014 3:40 PM, Blogger Will said...

My apologies for the slow response; my work has been very busy for a couple months... This "dom" doesn't seem very available and/or serious. From what you've written, it's hard to guess why. Although you are attracted to him, you don't really want a partner who won't meet with you! I'd encourage you to move on; seek someone who will show up.

 
At October 11, 2014 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully explained, Sir. Genuine Doms are indeed rare. It's lovely to read such sincerity in explaining the responsibility of control with such a clear understanding of a sub's need to submit and what a generous gift of vulnerability and trust she offers. Thank you, Sir.

 
At January 02, 2015 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May i speak to You privately?

 
At January 03, 2015 2:22 AM, Blogger Will said...

I'm happy to address reader questions privately. Feel free to email thejourneyofwill on gmail or message journeyofwill on Fetlife.

 
At June 29, 2016 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been told that I am a committed sub....exactly what does this terminology mean?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home