Hello everyone. I am Saer Woland, Rye’s dominant and owner.* I am part of that power which forever wills evil and forever works good. It is a pleasure to meet you.
When Rye asked me to do a guest post I was excited by the idea but befuddled as to a topic. Should I try to clarify things she has said about me in the past? Give my history as it pertains to BDSM? Discuss the nature of violence and power?
Seriously, I plotted out posts on all three of those topics…
In the end, I decided that it was important for me to weigh in on the question of labels, why we use them, and what they are good for.
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Before we begin, however, I just want to make a note about who I am and the title I have chosen for this post. I am, first and foremost, a fundamental nihilist. I do not accept that anything – anywhere – has inherent meaning. Words, actions, objects…these are just fluctuations in the fabric of our universe. It is my opinion that, by recognizing our emotional, instinctual, and learned responses to different stimuli, we disempower those responses and allow ourselves the opportunity to decide how we will feel about different things. For me, this is freeing. I do not feel compelled to have the response to something that I am “supposed” to. I can feel what I want. Honestly, it’s essential to enjoying BDSM in my opinion.
Now, one of the potential issues with this is the recognition of the fact that words can have different meanings to different people. Remember that words are just symbols, made of up smaller symbols. If I write “Bed,” you will think of a place where one sleeps, but you will not think of my bed, and you will not think of the innumerable emotions and ideas which my brain attaches to my bed. You WILL think of things that I cannot imagine and which I have no way of understanding, let alone attaching to the thing which I am referencing when I write the word “bed.” This idea – that words cannot communicate meaning – was called différence (“dee – FAY – raance”; not pronounced like “difference”) by Jacques Derrida in a paper called “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” in 1966 and forms the basis for many different schools of literary interpretation to this day. If you’re really into safe and sane self-harm, you can read the full essay HERE.
[tl;dr] Nothing means anything which means anything could mean something, but you can’t know what it means to someone else because it’s impossible for them to tell you because communication is restricted to symbols that are imperfect representations of unfathomably complicated ideas.
If you don’t understand, you’ve proven my point.
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A couple of days ago, Rye posted something on the nature of being a “true submissive” as defined in a book on female domination of willing men. In the book, the author describes a method of domination that will allow for the quality of a woman’s life to be substantially improved by the maintenance of a male submissive. The intent of that writing is to provide for a methodology by which a woman can measure the value of a D/s relationship in terms of what she is getting out of the exchange, rather than what the couple is experiencing together. In other words, a “true” submissive is one who foregoes any of their own satisfaction in order to provide maximum benefit to their master.
When Rye first read this, she was astounded by the idea. I know because she told me. She had gotten into BDSM after heavily reading texts that reinforced the idea that it is the submissive who has all of the power by setting the limits for the relationship and opening themselves to a dominant to use as desired. This new idea was unsettling for her, but also compelling for reasons that I will address below.
To me, I see these two schools of thought this way: In the former example (which I will call “deferential submission”), the dominant can be either active or passive and there is no substantial difference for the sub. The job is always the same, regardless of whether the dominant wants to play or wants to ignore: just make life easier. In the later example (which I will call “playground submission”**), the submissive sets boundaries and opens themselves up, and if the dominant is not fundamentally active, then those boundaries are hard to keep open. The submissive opens themself to certain activities, leaving others “out of bounds.” If a dominant does not come in and actively fill that space, it is very hard to keep the walls where they are. They constrict or falter or collapse in altogether. I have heard this called “submitting into a vacuum.”
Before we get any further, I just want to say that it is my opinion that these are both extremes and that most people do – and probably should – fall somewhere in between. Not living on the edge makes it more fun when you get to visit.
I think the difference between deferential submissives and playground submissives is not in what makes them happy, but in their motivation. A truly deferential submissive wants to experience a kind of living non-existence. I have read (almost-certainly fictional) accounts of a woman who lives in a cage in a windowless room that she does not leave. She has no hair, not even on her head. She is not allowed to talk. She spends all of her time in heavy chastity bondage. She is given “loaf” to eat and her intestines are cleaned out with a colonic every evening. She pees with a catheter three times a day at regular intervals. She is only ever fucked in the ass and then is required to clean her master with her mouth. The dominant in these recollections is present enough to shave her head and put a hose in her ass, but otherwise ignores her and does not talk to her. Obviously this was not written by the person experiencing this (when would they write?!?) but I do believe it was written by someone who was excited by the idea of experiencing that type of thing.
By comparison, a playground submissive wants to experience the things that she is giving up power over. If a submissive says that rope bondage is okay but chain bondage is out of bounds, you can bet that the submissive is really telling you that they want to be tied up with rope. If they don’t get to experience that, what are they getting? It’s a let-down.
What you have to understand about me is that I consider myself an “active dominant,” but I am not being very active right now. I am working the hardest job I have ever had and I have two screaming children shattering my brain with wails and demands. Rye knows this, and I know that she does not hold it against me. Lately I’ve just been spread a bit too thin all around and have not been able to give enough to anyone. Including her.
So, when Rye read about deferential submission for the first time, I believe she interpreted it this way: “If your dominant is passive, this is how you are supposed to behave to make them happy.” She knew I wasn’t happy, knew that she wasn’t getting what she wanted, and thought that the only way to make me happy was to give up everything she wanted, give up on being a playground submissive, and go full deferential.
When she presented the idea to me as “I just want to make your life easier and nothing else,” I’ll admit I thought, “FUCK YEAH!!” without really taking a minute to question the motivation behind her statement. Because of that, I allowed her continue with the idea far longer than I should have.
But we kept talking. I told her about my troubles. She told me about her unmet desires. We both said “that sucks,” and we agreed to keep going.
We are not going to move toward either fringe. We are just going to do what works for us. As soon as we figure out what that is.
Right now is a pretty good time in our lives, all things considered, but there is not a lot of time for the things that are desirable. Instead, we focus on what is important. We are planting the field of our lives, tending to that which is tender to ensure that it grows up healthy. In time – in our own time – we will reap what we have sown.
And when we lay the table for our harvest feast, it will be glorious.
I’m going to have the sirloin and sloppy blowjob.
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*Pronounced “Sáir βɑ́lənd” or “S-air VWooland” See this link if you don’t understand how to say “V” and “W” at the same time.
** I don’t mean to make it sound childish, I just really couldn’t think of a better word. Live with it.