Punishment, the term CONTROL is widely used in the realm of
BDSM and D/s. It is, in fact, often seen as the basis or foundation
of the relationship and is frequently described as the Power
Exchange! This scroll is an Old Dom's attempt to sort out
varying meanings and applications of the term and see where
it fits in the D/s lifestyle!
its simplest, control can consist of physical restraint or
simple rules of behavior. Particularly in a BDSM setting,
this can mean bondage, a command, etc. of a temporary nature
(perhaps the duration of a scene or a portion thereof). When
occurring within a relationship, this exchange consists of
the granting (or perhaps taking) of power or decision making
from one to another. Physically, such control ranges widely...
from constraining clothing - the leash or similar devices
- to creating total constraint of movement. With extreme bondage
or physical restraint, the exchange becomes absolute, pending
use and honoring of a safeword. The Top or Dominant has total
ability to do as he wishes. The bottom or submissive is at
his whim! Concurrent with this, the Dominant assumes the ultimate
responsibility for the safety of the submissive, whether because
of the physical constraints or the elevation of the submissive
into subspace where she is incapable of monitoring her safety
effectively. In the case of command, the "controlling"
mechanisms for the submissive may be the threat of discipline,
punishment or simply the disapproval or disappointment of
the Dominant. Internal drives to please, the need to not disappoint
her Master are also extremely powerful factors in following
the directives of the Dominant.
the next level is the control of overall actions, behavior
or the bounds of the relationship. This covers a tremendous
array of potential, from a simple agreement for a complete
scene, the establishment of expectations and limits in a formal
contract, through the broad based understanding of needs,
desires, aspirations, fears, limitations, etc. created through
the establishment of long term commitments! Here, the mechanism
of "control" is not physical, but psychological
and emotional. For the submissive, it is the granting of her
gift... the relinquishing to the Dominant the right or power
to make decisions, to take actions... supported by the need
to please or serve... that establish the basis of "control'.
It is often the desire to serve, to please... or the need
to avoid disappointing the Dominant that are the most powerful
elements in following directives, fulfilling the agreements
or commitments. However, the Dominant also has the options
of imposing sanctions, discipline or punishments, in the event
directives are not followed.
return for this most precious of all gifts, the right to make
decisions, take actions, the Dominant assumes some awesome
responsibilities... to guide, nourish, and care for the well
being and growth of the submissive. As the submissive assumes
the commitment to serve... for following the guidance, directives
or fulfilling the needs of the Dominant, the Dominant takes
the responsibility of seeking to learn, understand and assure
that the needs of the submissive are met. In the simplest
sense, this may be the complimentary fulfillment of sensual
needs. When the gift is complete, the submissive grants all
without restriction beyond understood and agreed upon limits;
the Dominant's responsibilities are equally comprehensive.
The Dominant who fails to recognize and fulfill the responsibilities
that come with the exercise of this control, or power, will,
in time, doom the relationship to failure. In time, either
the gift will be withdrawn and the relationship dissolved,
or the quality will simply erode away.
the next level of control, the Dominant is able to assess
and control entire situations. At the sensual level, this
can include planning and setting the conditions, the stage
for a scene in order to assure that the desired results are
met. On a broader scale, it can include such things as managing
diet for health and fitness, getting the submissive involved
in community affairs, establishing a situation where fears
must be squarely faced and overcome or a myriad of other,
similar things that lead to the development of the submissive.
This requires the Dominant's looking beyond the submissive
to include the context in which they interact. Then taking
specific actions, making specific decisions to achieve the
desired results or outcomes. Here the Dominant must begin
to recognize, understand, and manage cause and effect relationships...
to do things at a considerably higher level than the simple
tying of knots or issuing of directives! The Dominant must
analyze, anticipate, plan and execute... and monitor progress
toward the predetermined goals! The Dominant must move well
beyond instinct or emotion or spontaneity... to THINK!
the highest level of control, the Dominant shapes the environment
to achieve desired goals. This may be best explained by comparing
to other parts of life.
his 1954 book, The Practice of Management, Peter Drucker (perhaps
the most influential management theorist of the 20th Century)
wrote "It is a manager's first responsibility to make
what is desirable first possible, then actual!" He went
on, throughout this outstanding volume, to explain how the
manager sets out, ultimately, to control the results, or objectives
to be achieved. Carefully and logically, he points out that
control of processes has true meaning and application only
when there is understanding of how the processes produce the
desired results. One of the many examples he gives is the
manager who believes he is "in control' when he represses
his subordinates, eliminating their desire or capability to
do anything but those very specific things he allows. The
implements of control are strict rules of behavior and threats
of imposing sanctions if the subordinate steps beyond the
bounds of allowed behavior... in a single word... FEAR. Fear
seldom leads to motivation to excel or to grow... it creates
instead an atmosphere of avoidance, cowering and cover-up.
Over the long term, managers who rely on these methods do
not achieve optimal goals or fulfill potential; instead they
create a "not my job, cover your ass against blame and
wait to get even" environment.
more competent manager creates an environment where the desired
results are communicated and understood by all... and seeks
to put process controls only on those things that he knows
impact these results... shaping the processes to assure that
not only will the goals be reached, but in a consistent and
most competent manager is able to do this with multiple goals
in a complex environment... establishing the desired results,
understanding the things needed to achieve those results...
including the capabilities of and factors that motivate those
who must work to achieve those goals. He furthermore monitors
the processes to assure that they are functioning as planned,
and keeps track of progress toward goals. He provides the
feedback and rewards to the workers and maintains the equipment
to assure that things will not only be achieved today, but
in the future as well!!! He anticipates things that can go
wrong, and put processes in place to ensure that they will
have minimal impact if they cannot be prevented completely.
Put simply, the manager is in control of his total environment...
not just the pieces.
need only substitute "Dominant" for "manager"
and "submissive" for "worker" to see how
this concept of control applies to the long term D/s relationship.
The repressed worker would be the doormat submissive, the
repressive Dominant little more than a bully. The potential
richness of D/s lies in the growth of both the Dominant and
the submissive... expanding capabilities, exploring new vistas...
motivated, driven to continue on a journey of new and exciting
things. In the view of this Old Dom, this is the true meaning
of life... the excitement in life... that can be so enhanced
when shared in an ongoing relationship which centers on the
granting of the submissive's gift and the Dominant's acceptance
of the responsibilities of structuring, then controlling the
environment to assure that both mutual and individual needs
my view, there can be no stronger, or better relationship!
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