If there’s one thing I’m grateful to Dear Raven and Joshua for, it’s that they gave me the concept of the Control-Service Spectrum as being something different from the Dominant-Submissive Spectrum.

It’s like… Okay, you know how we have gender (with “man” at one end of the spectrum and “woman” at the other and everybody else bopping along at various points in-between) and we have gender-presentation (with “butch/masculine” at one end and “fem(me)inine” at the other and everyone else bopping along at various points in-between)? This, by the looks of things, works more or less the same way.

One can be dominant or submissive or some combination there-of (D-s spectrum) and, on a parallel line, one can be control-oriented or service-oriented or some combination there-of (C-S spectrum). I’d kind of love to hear from folks who ID as Switches, or who can work both rolls depending on the dynamic, or what-have-you, with regard to this topic because I’m kind of wondering if people tend to be on the same end of the C-S spectrum regardless of which point on the D-s spectrum they happen to be occupying at any given time.

I hate – HATE – seeing “service top” or “service dominant” thrown around as terms that mean “not actually dominant (and – frequently that’s a bad, or at least laughable, thing)”… and that’s typically what’s being said when those terms get used. Using words like “prodom(me)” or “sadist” to describe situations where the person wielding the flogger (or whatever) is doing it because pain-play is fun and/or profitable and that it isn’t necessarily a D/s situation at all. There are lifestyle dommes who also happen to be professionals – professional sadists, professionals in humiliation-play, or whatever – who do made-to-order S/M or cosplay/fantasy sessions with their clients as their jobs and – like most people with jobs – aren’t necessarily working in a field that exactly and completely overlaps with what they would do for fun on their own time.

So there’s that.

Similarly, there are control-oriented submissives who get glared at or dismissed as “prone to topping from the bottom” but who, themselves, actually feel like Anticipatory Service means Making All The Decisions (topping from the bottom) and they just want their dominants to “alpha up” (as my friend, Miss Sugar, puts it) by putting some limits and rituals around what they can and can’t do and how they’re allowed to do it.

I find that there’s an assumption floating around the place that “Control-Oriented = Good/Real Dominant” and “Service-Oriented = Good/Real Submissive”. I suspect I’ll be poking at this a little more to see how it lines up (in theory at least — reality doesn’t tend to work out to be this uncomplicated) with what we expect of men vs what we expect of women, and how our assumptions about Dominant and Submissive “default genders” (see: That Awesome Post About Domism for details) work into that. But not right now.

Right now, I just want to say how incredibly heartening (and clarifying) it is to see someone state outright (and in print) that “dominants can be service-oriented (and still be dominants)”. Until then, I didn’t understand why all the dom(me)-oriented literature out there seemed to focus on stuff like “rewards” and “punishments” and “training” and “positions” and… stuff that, by and large, seemed like a lot of work and Doing Things Entirely for the Submissive’s Benefit (Aren’t I Supposed to be Getting Something from This?).

But now I can look at that stuff and go “Ahhh… So, if you’re a control-oriented domme, probably this stuff is (a) relevant to your interests, and (b) hella fun for you”. I can see how, for someone who is control-oriented, it could be fun, interesting, exciting (or whatever positive you want to throw in there) to develope, maintain and enforce a series of rules, consequences, limits and requirements just for the hell of it. But for me that doesn’t work — it just feels like I’d be coming up with a dozen seemingly arbitrary Must-Haves that I then have to remember to enforce. I’ve got enough on my plate, thank-you-very-much (where’s my tea, you know how I like it).

To put it another way: In our house, my Ghost is required to ask for furniture (with a couple of exceptions). Yes, this is a “control” thing. It’s a Limit or a Placing or whatever you want to call it. But I can count the times I’ve said “no” on one hand. And (I think) still have a finger or two left over. For me, it’s a control that’s focused on her making sure that her actions are in line with my likes and dislikes (and whims, for that matter). For someone else – maybe someone more control-oriented than I am (I’m guessing here) – the focus might be on the fact that the dominant can say No any time zi likes. More “you are subject to my whims! :-D” and less “Excellent, you’re checking in with me. :-)”
Or something.

Regardless, this still leaves me with something of a derth of service-oriented domme literature available to me (although the author of At Her Feet seems to be one such dominant – although, again, I’m not that far through her book – as does Raven Kaldera of Dear Raven and Joshua. So we’re not completely without resources. 😉

Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that my job is (continues to be) figuring out how to hit on the “relevant to my interests” and “hella fun for me” aspects of (service-oriented) dominance while still providing enough control (containment? limits?) that my service-oriented, but control-appreciative, submissive is getting her needs met, too.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
Drop me a note and let me know. 🙂

Ms Syren.