As in other facets
of life, there are those who rely on fear to gain the upper
hand, to control those in their environment. In some cultures
today, some governments, even in some business, those in power
rely on the knowledge or perception that swift and severe consequences
will follow if someone "crosses the line", disobeys
or fails to follow the rules or does not meet expectations.
Fear often has a legitimate place in BDSM and D/s. However,
the Dominant must carefully examine the methods he uses to establish
this fear.... and his motivation in doing so.
The two faces of
There are two distinct
forms of fear... each of which should be clearly understood.
The first is the
fear of the unknown or the knowledge of what could happen. It
is often associated with trying new and different things. It
is the anticipation of the unknown or untried... or simply something
one feels very uncomfortable doing. For example, may people
"fear" public speaking or venturing on their own into
new surroundings. Or it can be a "fear" of being taken
to the edge... such as with knife play or being bound for the
first time or asphyxiation. Like riding an exciting roller coaster
or seeing a horror movie, such situations can bring on the adrenaline,
create a tremendous rush... and enhance the pleasures of both
the Dominant and submissive.
Such fears are often
accompanied by great anticipation, anxiety, even dread. Many
times, these fears define limits to be explored, pushed by the
Dominant in order to help the submissive grow as a person, to
experience new things. In other cases, these fears offer opportunities
for reaching emotional highs or to experience extremes of sensual
For the competent Dominant, these represent opportunities to
push the limits, to drive the relationship to new highs or to
derive the maximum amount of pleasure, most often mutual pleasure,
from the sensual aspects of the chosen lifestyle of those involved.
The competent Dominant will measure the reactions, the progress,
in order to push the limits over the edge or beyond the previous
boundaries... WITHOUT going too far or fast. The goal is to
experience new things, or to conquer fears, to assist the submissive
in gaining new capabilities or experiencing new highs... without
having the fear become terror! And without breaking the spirit
of the submissive.
The second form of
fear is the fear of unjust, unfair, perhaps irrational actions
on the part of the Dominant. Some, only a few, feel the need
for others to know that they are "in control and powerful",
that in their position of Dominant, they can reach out and do
whatever they want to their submissive, and perhaps others as
well, simply because they are Dominant! Occasionally, we see
Dominants who work hard to establish this perception of "fear"
in others... promising swift and severe punishments to others
for even the most minor of infractions, or perhaps for no reason
at all... other than their own will. Some even attempt to intimidate
their peers through their actions.
When these actions
are effective, they do not result in the adrenaline rush or
the heights of pleasure. Most often they do not tear down barriers
to the submissive's willingness to do new things or overcome
anxieties of doing some things. Instead, they build walls, cause
others to simply avoid doing those things that will "set
the Dominant off". Like the actions of an abusive spouse
or schoolyard bully, these tactics may lead others to cower
or result in trepidation or terror instead of growing and prospering
in the relationship... certainly not a basis for a healthy relationship.
When these methods
are ineffective, the wielder not only loses the respect of others...
but also looks a fool!
Few things are more
pervasive in the realms of D/s and BDSM than the concept of
respect. While respect may easily be given for "position
or status", respect for the individual must be earned.
To be respected is to be held in a position of esteem or high
regard. Those who are respected in our community receive particular
attention, often their guidance is sought.
Respect is earned
in many ways... how the Dominant treats others, the soundness
or wisdom of what they do or say, the consistency of their actions,
the perceived quality of their experience or their ability to
assess and influence their environments. Respect also comes
from how they administer discipline or punishment or how they
push others, especially their submissves, to explore new things..
to move past some of their limits. (Recall the "wisdom"
of King Solomon!) Included is how the Dominant utilizes the
emotion of fear, if it is used at all!
THE LESSON OF
As a curious, ambitions,
adventuresome, headstrong and often mischievous boy and young
man, I spent a great deal of time with my father. He taught
me to think for myself, but equally important, beyond myself...
to the impact my actions and decisions would have on others.
Through him, I established my own values... strongly influenced
by his own, of course, yet they were my own. He taught me to
question things, to make sure that the important things in my
life fit together, supported each other instead of tearing me
in different directions. Through him, I established strong values
and beliefs like hard work, the importance of achievement and
contribution, independence and integrity. He guided me to be
a risk taker, to explore new things, to go where others would
not. Like him, I learned to stand firmly for those things I
believe in where others might falter.
Many times, I stood
before my father for discipline or punishment. (Chuckling as
I recall how very many times I incurred his disappointments...
but never his disapproval of me as a person.) On these occasions,
he was strict... and many times I thought, harsh. But I always
understood why I was standing before him. And always it was
my learning and growth that he sought. Never once did he seek
retribution or his own satisfaction of "securing a pound
of flesh" from me, although I am sure there were many times
he was sorely tempted!
As I look back on
those times, so long ago, they were never fun times for me...
nor, I suspect, for him either. But they are some of my clearest
and, in hindsight, fondest memories of the man who shaped me
to become a man myself. Now, more than three decades since his
passing, there is seldom a day goes by that I do not call on
him... his wisdom, his methods to live a life that would make
him proud that I am his son.
Never once did I
stand before him in fear. I never cowered in his presence. With
his guidance, what he taught me, I never stood in his shadow,
but was able to come from under the umbrella of his care to
be what I am today.
Whatever I did with my father, who was also my closest friend
in so many ways, whether standing beside him or before him....
it was always with the utmost admiration and RESPECT.
As I view the actions
of some in our community, seeing how they conduct themselves,
how they administer punishment or how they attempt to establish
themselves through the installation of fear, I am thankful for
this lesson from my father.
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