As I noted in my last post, there is something magical about the power exchange between a Dominant and a submissive. Doms take the energy supplied by their subs and work with it to perform our “magic.” From Dungeons & Dragons to Harry Potter, magic systems rely on rules to govern the use and application of power. D/s does not really have or need a codified manual for how to be a Dominant or submissive — there is no “one twue way,” after all — but general guidelines never hurt.
In my last post, I took the first half of Terry Goodkind’s Wizard Rules from the Sword of Truth series and made application to power dynamics. This time, I am looking at the second half of the Rules and how they might apply as we go about structuring the kinky side of our individual lives.
This one needs a bit of tweaking to really apply. I would recast it as “Deserve Dominance” and “Deserve submission.” The Rule as written states, in part: “Earn what you want and need rather than waiting for others to give you what you desire.” The key word here is earn. Just because you are Dominant does not mean you somehow get to have everyone kneel before you. Anyone seeking submission from another has to earn it. Deserve it. Be honest about who you are and what you need and make sure you seek a submissive that matches. If you are new, learn. I cannot overstate the importance of your own education. Read trustworthy materials. Talk with others in the lifestyle on both sides of the slash. Get a mentor (more about that in a future post). The veterans among us are not exempt from this guideline. Examine yourself and what you do. Make sure you are in D/s for the right reasons — is it to benefit both you and your partner(s) or just fulfill your own desires? The longer one lives and acts as a D-type, the more self-confidence tends to grow, but never forget that a little humility goes a long way. We should never forget the magic of the trust placed in us.
Submissives also need to strive to earn and deserve someone’s Dominance. Perhaps this comes into play most in terms of choosing a Dominant. Frenzy happens and it is tempting to sometimes snap up the first one who shows an interest. Neither side of the slash is entirely comfortable without the other for long; the dynamic is part of who we are. Going without is like a washing machine out of balance — the longer it goes, the worse it gets. A submissive friend of mine described being without a Dominant as being like having to walk up a hill carrying a heavy rock. A Dominant lifts that burden, allows the sub to stand tall, but the hill will always be there. There are also some “doormat” submissives who feel they must submit to every whim thrown their way and never complain or raise a question. The best way to deserve to be Dominated is to first learn yourself and learn to be by yourself when necessary. Submissives are strong people. They have to be to surrender so completely to someone willingly. Mine is a feisty, strong-willed woman with a spine of adamantium — the type to be told that she “can’t be submissive” because of her attitude, much like the owner of Kinky in the Middle. The truth is, Mine is secure enough in herself to submit to the right person and not just whoever comes along. She told me recently that “my self-worth is not tied to my Dominant.” A submissive should not wait to find the right Dominant to become the person he or she wants to be. Become the person you wish to be with your Dominant, and then the right one will find you.
Contradictions Cannot Exist
Before anyone starts sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches, I am not saying that switches do not exist. I have known too many to make that kind of claim. The Rule states: “A contradiction cannot exist in reality. Not in part, nor in whole.” The idea is that reality is what it is, not what you wish it to be. If something seems to be both contradictory and true, then your understanding is faulty somewhere. This relates to the idea of cognitive dissonance, which Wikipedia defines as “the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.” You cannot hold two truths in your head that contradict each other. One of them has to give.
We live in a largely vanilla world. Many will simply ignore BDSM. Some will choose to tolerate even if they do not understand. But there will always be a sizeable group of those who lash out and strive to stifle the lifestyle. Yet often the greatest pressure or greatest resistance comes from inside ourselves, from our internalization of societal norms. I serve as mentor to a new Dom in a Domestic Discipline dynamic. We work well together because we share much the same background, having been raised to be a traditional “Southern gentleman” in a lot of ways. His struggles with being a Dominant mirror my own early formation. Dominating a woman, having her bow to your will, and even doing so roughly (such as spanking or hair pulling, whether in play or otherwise) simply is not how you treat a lady. And calling her a “good girl” smacks of insult. As he told me, “That’s how I talk to my dog.” The desire to treat another this way, and to have someone who wanted to be treated thus, clashes with what I was reared to see as correct. The truth, however, is that I can be Dominant and a decent person who treats his woman properly because that is what we both need and desire. The same often happens with submissives, who tend to be cast as weak or incapable. Many subs have a hard time accepting the fact that the decision to submit arises from a place of strength — being strong enough to make that choice and accept the benefits and consequences. In either case, there is no contradiction, merely a faulty understanding of reality.
Ignoring Truth Is Betraying Yourself/Truth Cannot Be Destroyed
The tenth Rule — “Willfully turning aside from the truth is treason to one’s self” — directly relates to the previous one. It speaks to the truth of yourself, which is important for anyone in any walk of life, particularly those in this lifestyle. As I said in an earlier post, it is important to know yourself. This rule reminds us of the importance of staying honest with yourself and following through. As Shakespeare put it: “This above all: to thine own self be true,/And it must follow, as the night the day,/Thou canst not then be false to any man” (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3). Even though Polonius is a bit of a blowhard, he speaks the simple truth: Know yourself and be true to that knowledge. This also means that you should not try to warp yourself to fit someone else’s expectations, or your view of those expectations. Be yourself first. The right Dominant or submissive will come along in time. The dynamic should allow the partners to be themselves, not distort them into caricatures of themselves simply to please someone else.
Remaining true to yourself is not always easy. One cannot always let one’s freak flag fly openly in our vanilla world, and the pressures from that side of life can sometimes lead someone to try to bury his or her true nature. My mentee’s wife tried to hang up her submissive hat when she got married, figuring it was a vanilla life from then on out. All that did was put the lid on the pressure cooker without a release valve — which nearly made her explode. She learned the truth of the Twelfth Rule: “You can destroy those who speak the truth, but you cannot destroy the truth itself.” To quote the Bard once more, “Truth will out” (Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 2). Yes, people can and do change. It is a part of life — that which does not grow, dies. But such a radical departure from who you are without a concerted effort to actively change will only mask the truth, not eradicate or alter it. Better to be honest and loyal to yourself, both for you and those around you.
Embrace Life; Seek Strength Without Hate
The Eleventh Rule is not directly quoted in the series; rather, it is implied. The idea in The Sword of Truth is that hatred is the antithesis of life, a force of destruction rather than creation. I do not necessarily advocate holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” with those who disagree with us — especially those who are hell-bent on causing us grief. But that does not mean we must respond in kind. One of the greatest truths in life is that we cannot control what others do to/for/about us; we can only control how we react. We can be true to ourselves and remain strong without resorting to hatred or mean-spiritedness. D/s actually provides a good model for how to conduct ourselves. Strong Dominants are not necessarily those full of bravado and bluster, and submissives are not weak simply because of their submission. Calm, strong, firm, fair. These are perhaps the best qualities to exhibit, especially any time a debate or discussion may arise with someone more vanilla. I know full well how easy it is to get into a mode of “I must win” and that becoming the overriding goal.
Remember the Third Rule: passion rules reason. Let reason prevail, not emotions. I would never suggest that one become emotionless, of course. In fact, I would go so far as to say that as damaging as hate can be, the true opposite of life is apathy. Hatred can be destructive, but it can also be an attractive force. People are often drawn to that which repels them. But to remain detached and uncaring? Therein lies nothing but entropy — slow dissolution and decay. In the movie Hook, Peter Pan says that living is “an awfully big adventure.” We cannot live that adventure without embracing life. Our passions are one way of doing that; we just need to be careful and not let them overrule our reason. We choose how to respond to the world around us. I am reminded of the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson: “Words can build you up/Words can break you down/Start a fire in your heart/Or put it out/Let my words be life.” The importance of words has rarely been more apparent, especially in this day and age where the greatest sin is to offend. People try to shout down opponents, not reason with them all too often. When that happens, keep in mind the truth of the Thirteenth Rule:
There Will Always Be Those Who Hate
In its entirety, the Rule says, “There have always been those who hate, and there always will be.” A wise person once said that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Classic literature has its detractors, but one of the things that it has to show us is that humans have pretty much always been the same. We are prideful (The Odyssey); we are hormonal and horny (Romeo and Juliet); we can be capable of great deeds and great acts of generosity (Beowulf); we love being entertained (The Canterbury Tales). And people can also be pretty crappy to each other (any of the above and just about any other story ever written). An unfortunate pair of truths is that the squeaky wheel does, indeed, get the grease, and those who hate the strongest tend to shout the loudest. That does nothing to change the guidelines espoused in the other rules, however. Those who hate do little to nothing to embrace or build upon life. All the shouting in the world does not change the truth or the need to follow it and remain committed to it. Contrary to what some seem to think, volume does not equal veracity. Make sure you understand what reality truly is, not what others wish it to be, and work to deserve what you seek from others.
One point worth noting: anger and hatred can be related, but usually are not. They should not be confused for one another. By the same token, discipline and sadism should not be confused with either anger or hatred. A Dominant disciplines a submissive as a means of caring correction to show there are limits and boundaries, which in turn provides a sense of security, even affection. In a similar fashion, sadists can seem cruel and angry — hateful, even — but in actuality, many are the kindest, happiest people one may ever meet. Sadomasochism is a mutual, sensual practice mingling pain and pleasure, not simply an excuse to be brutal and savage to another human being or make someone cry. Both discipline and sadism are best practiced from a place of calm, not anger — even if there will always be those who do not do so and abuse their positions.
Choose How You Wish to Live (At the End of the Day)
At first blush, the final Rule is a bit gloomy: “In this world, everyone must die. None of us has any choice in that. Our choice is how we wish to live.” But in that gloominess, I see something worth celebrating. Death is the ultimate reality, the great leveler from whom no one can escape. Does that mean we give up and cower with our heads in the sand? Of course not. Quite the opposite. Knowing that life will end, we should live it to the fullest. Carpe freakin’ diem! Be strong in the certainty you are embracing both life and truth. This Rule is the Kinky in the Middle motto in action, so until next time, remember: This is your life; live it your way!
Source: “Wizard’s Rules.” The Sword of Truth Wiki, sot.fandom.com/wiki/Wizard%27s_Rules