Having never been raised as a boy, I can only look at manhood from the outside. But I wonder if dominant guys struggle with similar things from different angles.

One of the things I struggle with, as a dominant, is holding my submissive to her responsibilities. This is kind of a massively big deal because, as her dominant, holding her – in her place, to her duties, and so on – is what I’m for. And yet I struggle with it all the time.

As a culture, we learn from an early age that women aren’t supposed to be demanding. We learn that women supposed to put others first, not have needs of their own, and be malleable. We get told over and over (and over and over…) that women’s wants are negotiable and our needs are negligible, that we’re supposed to be Pleasers rather than those who are pleased.

I don’t know how much of my own difficulties with Putting My Foot Down about things come from that all-pervading socialization versus how much of it comes from my own specific circumstances (lots of relationships – romantic and otherwise – where having definite opinions about anything, unless they lined up with those of the other person, was definitely frowned upon) but, to this day, I have a hell of a time being decisive due to a fear that, if I’m decisive and my decision turns out to be the (or at least a) wrong one, I won’t be able to change my mind, or our course of action.

This isn’t the case, of course. My servant keeps telling me to “make a few mistakes” – that is, risk going “too far” and see how far that actually is.

Let me give you an example. I make part of my living as a figure model, so I do a lot of work in art classes. I just spent a day (eight hours, zomg) working at the local college watching animation students practice their craft. Their instructor kept telling them to push the perspective and proportions of the drawings in order to make them look more “cartoony” – basically, the idea was to end up with drawings that looked like fun-house mirror reflections of my actual pose. By and large, what actually happened is that the students would draw me in ways that felt like they were pushing and pulling things way out of proportion but which, upon seeing the finished product, weren’t actually out of proportion at all. They were just drawn with a looser, more relaxed hand and had a little more life (as in less technical precision, more “spontaneity”) to them.

I think – or at least I HOPE – that this is what will (in theory) happen if I let myself go “too far”.

Of course the fear that’s keeping that in check is this: That I’ll go “too far” in the wrong direction, that I’ll be insistent at the wrong time, or about the wrong thing. That I’ll push, and the push-back will (a) come, and (b) topple me.

Every time I risk giving a direct order that’s outside of our regular [Routine], I’m waiting for the shoe to drop, the news to come that, no, sorry, that’s not okay. I’m afraid to order (as in “use the imperative tense”) her to pick up groceries, or pick up me, rather than ask her to do as much. As if “could you” makes it okay to say out loud but “you will” – or even “I want you to” – is beyond the pale, is completely unjustified entitlement.

But isn’t that what this is about? To make, with the help and work of my servant, a little bubble of a sanctuary where I can demand, and receive, whatever I damn well want?

You’ll notice I didn’t put any footnotes in that statement. No caveats or qualifiers, just a blanket statement of “whatever I damn well want”. That was hard. Just to write that down without back-pedaling or waffling or adding extra twiddly bits like “within reason” or whatever. That was hard. Imagine how much harder it is to put that blanket statement into everyday effect.

I wrote, yesterday, about the concept of “usefulness”, of both maintaining my property and making sure I actually do something with her. It’s so easy to fall into the “maintain the property” deep end – so easy to let the work pile up while telling myself that she clearly needs the rest when, possibly, what she needs more is for me to get on her case about mopping the floor.

Raven Kaldera wrote, in Dear Raven and Joshua, that Joshua has a tendency to focus on the negative and that, as such, one non-optimistic statement (for example) can outweigh/erase quite a few optimistic ones. I’m kind of similar in that regard. Specifically, I’m used to expecting disappointment, I’m used to expecting to be let down, put second, ignored, or otherwise to not being made a priority in anyone else’s life. Which, for me, sucks ass. It’s also been the status quo for… at least twenty-five of my thirty-two years[1]. Which – possibly for reasons that go being “it’s what I’m used to” – means that, if I allow something to slide (no matter how good the reasons) for even a day or two, it’s terribly, terribly easy, to slip back into the assumption that I’ll be let down, and that [Something] is never going to get done again.

What I want, is for those things to be picked up again, after the allotted time off, without my having to mention it. To mention it is to be a Nag – to harp constantly on a task that one wants done, but isn’t doing oneself – and nags, typically, only nag because they are powerless. If they weren’t powerless, they wouldn’t have to nag; things would just be done to their standards without their having to stand over their People and wield the metaphorical Crop of Retribution[2] in order to make them happen.
It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the possibility that I can Use My Words and it won’t mean that I automatically get shot down.

What a concept, eh?

So what can I do to be proactive about this situation? I mean, obviously, blogging about what I want to happen is… passive-aggressive at best. And, as a domme and as (I can dream) a well-functioning adult, passive-aggression does not become me[4]. So what can I do, what steps can I take, to get myself used to expecting obedience, to stop being afraid of retribution, rejection, and the downward, self-perpetuating spiral of “if I have to ask, I don’t deserve a yes”?

I think – and I’m sure I’ve said this numerous times before (because saying it is SO much easier than actually doing it) – the answer is to risk it. The answer is to make the demands in spite of the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach[5] when I make them. The more times I get a “sure, no problem” or a “yes, my Lady” and a follow-through, the more comfortable I’ll be with both (a) making the demands in the first place, and (b) actually expecting them to be obeyed. Which would be handy. 🙂

I have to remind myself that “[call me on it]” doesn’t mean a giant lecture or a big confrontation. It can be something as simple, and as gentle, as “I want you to stop that in ten minutes and go do the mopping”. Which is much less scary to think about (although still, I admit, scary to think about actually doing). Like anything else, it takes practice to get comfortable with something. I’ve been practicing for a while now, but I’m nowhere near proficient yet. More practice for me, then, right?

Some possible things to try:

A) Demand[7] something frivolously enjoyable but low-energy, and don’t take it off the evening’s “to do list”. Manage my (your?) Person’s time in a way that will allow there to be time for the Frivolously Enjoyable Thing to happen.

B) Make a point of assigning my (your?) Person on one unplanned task per week, and making sure they see it through.

C) Be a hard-ass about the “frilly stuff” because it’s low-risk and allows for a deeper drop, which will help towards getting the “higher-risk” stuff accepted and performed.

Those may or may not work, and gods know I’m quaking in my boots about some of them, but I figure they’re a place to start.

Those are my thoughts for the moment. Stick around for more thoughts on Power Exchange.

Ms Syren.

[1] Yes, thirty-two. My birthday is tomorrow. Stop by and say Hi! 🙂

[2] Even though the time between my discovering my kinky nature (2008) and my getting involved with Ghost (2010) wasn’t very long, I spent a great deal of it believing that Thing about service oriented submissives being something like unicorns – that there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of (male) submission-fetishists who could do with the services of a pro-domme who would dominate them with fries with that if they wanted it, who were big bottoms or who liked to cross-dress in Maid Outfits, or who really liked to eat pussy… but who weren’t actually interested in having their time put to use for another’s ends unless it included said Other following them around, flogger in hand and corset laced up in an appropriately titillating manner. I thought that non-sexually-motivated service-oriented submissives were a pretty dream, not something I was likely to find, let alone find and hit it off with[3].

[3] Thank goodness I was wrong, eh? 🙂

[4] Or, more to the point, I should not become passive-aggressive.

[5] Seriously. How messed up is it that I’m waiting to be hit or yelled at if I say “I want you to pick up X and Y specific groceries on the way home”??

[6] FYI, I’m using words like “order” and “demand” here because, unlike “ask”, they are imperative verbs that come with a built-in expectation of obedience and follow-through. If language shapes how we think (and it does), this may – in some tiny, incremental way – help me to change my thinking.