Hey there.

So, I facilitated a discussion at Harvest this year on the topic of “cultivating entitlement”: Specifically, how do you develop the chuzpa you need to be a confident domme – the kind who puts her servant(s) to good use, gives them good limits/boundaries, and directs them in ways that will be fulfilling for everyone involved – if you balk at the thought of acting like you can just expect people to do what you want?

It’s a situation that I haven’t seen discussed in much of the (small amount of) literature I’ve read on the subject of BDSM. And, granted, a big part of why that’s the case is because most literature that talks about leather, kink, bdsm, and even D/s in specific, is talking about scene-based dynamics rather than 24/7 dynamics — and it’s much easier to take on the role of entitled autocrat for an hour, or even a weekend, than it is to Be In Charge for the foreseeable future. As such, there’s not a whole lot (that I know of – if you’ve got suggestions, do please throw me a link) out there that addresses the learning curve involved in holding power. Thence: my discussion group (I figure, there’s got to be more than just me struggling with this, right?)

See, a lot of the stumbling blocks I’ve personally encountered when it comes to entitlement are tied up with my understanding of “entitlement” as a Bad Thing. Something that makes me either a Bad Woman or a Bad Activist.

I think I’m going to go the route of “bad activist” on this one, for the moment. Entitlement, according the the thesaurus function on my word processor, is all about power and privilege.
And that’s pretty accurate.
However. If you’re an activist, particularly if you’re a social-justice activist right now, you know that “power” and “privilege” are things that oppressors have, unearned, over everyone else (none of whom volunteered to be oppressed).

So, while my sweetheart/servant effectively volunteered (very enthusiastically) to allow me to oppress her… I’m still dealing with the bit where, in my world, “power” and (even more-so) “privilege” are kind of dirty words.

So, what do I do about that?
The answer, more or less, is to remember that “bad activist” power and privilege are typically both unearned and unacknowledged. The trick, then, is to acknowledge that you have power and privilege in someone’s life – by putting that power and privilege to use; and to also recognize that said power and privilege are earned things.

Enter: Consc(ient)ious Entitlement.

This is a no-brainer from the submissive side of the dynamic – or so I gather. But, for me at least, I frequently wind up trapped in a cycle of circular logic that says I have to be worthy of Picking It Up before I can do so, BUT I won’t Be Worthy unless I’ve already done the picking-up in the first place.

Completely unhelpful, I know. So how do you get out of such a circular brain-trap and get on with holding power?

In another post, I referred to this as “fake it ’til you make it”. What I mean is: You prove yourself worthy of holding power (to yourself, and to the person who judged you as being capable of this in the first place) by picking it up and holding it.

Every time you pick up a little bit of power in someone’s life and act in ways that take that power into account (making sure they stick to a given task, expecting a particular kind of treatment from your Person, making a decision in a particular area of your Person’s life where you have the power to do so, and then following through…) it confirms, for your Person, that they can trust you with that power. Over time, both you and your Person will develop a self-reenforcing cycle of deepening trust and confidence in yourselves and each other within the context of your dynamic.

That trust and confidence are what let you know that you are earning your power and privilege, that you’re being a conscientious owner, rather than a douche.

At least that’s where I’m at right now.

Ms Syren.