Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gender Bender: Whats Sex Got To Do With It?

Humans are a funny creature. We like to have things sorted into boxes with neatly typed labels on them. Then when we see more than one item that looks similar, we can toss them both in the same box. Another item that's different for some reason? Toss it in its own box with its own little label. Everything is sorted, we know what is in each box (relatively speaking), and our desktop is clean.
But we keep trying to do this even when speaking about other people. For instance most of us were born one gender or another (yes there are some medical exceptions but for the most part either you were born with a penis or your were not). And every one of us, whether we knew it or not, was tossed into somebody else's "boy" or "girl" box. And once you were in that box you were expected to have certain generic tendencies. Let me explain what that little box looks like on the inside!
If you were born a girl, you were expected to "act like a girl" or a "young lady". It is the only way a girl could fit in the girl box. She has to sit quietly, never yell or be rude, never curse, never pass gas, never use the toilet, never get dirty, always be neatly get the idea. Girls are also supposed to be catty, jealous, and conniving. Stab you in the back if you get too close to her territory....But...what if you are none of those things? I don't think i get catty with people, nor jealous. I certainly am not in the habit of causing drama or backstabbing. I also use the toilet, pass gass from time to time, cuss when i need to and give my opinion whether it is asked for or not at times. far as i know i still have female parts. And even when i am opinionated and strong...i am still a submissive.
How about males? Guys are expected to "Gentlemen" and "A man's man" (whatever THAT means). They are to be strong like bull, never show emotion, be polite but make sure the woman knows her place, and habits like scratching, spitting and missing the toilet are expected. Guys are also expected to be one track minded (with that track in a tunnel), possessing of selective hearing,and leave their mates to become "football or baseball widows". But what of the men that are not these things? What of the men who are not ashamed to show emotion? What of the men that prefer to put the woman in their life before themselves? They don't have tunnel vision because they are not focused on only themselves. Is it possible to be a man and be a strong submissive? Is it possible for a Dominant male to care for another human with deep emotion? I cant speak for males but i can say that i have seen VERY Dominant males who did not need to punch holes in walls to prove they were strong. They did nothing but say one word. It was enough. And i have seen submissive males with more masculinity than the five top male athletes combined. They hold their Domme above them and will weather any pain or storm for that Domme (or DOM for that matter!).
So apparently humans are not so easy to compartmentalize. Just because you were born male or female does not mean you will fit into a "boy" or "girl" mold. The thing about people is that we live lives. We have experiences as we go through life. We have emotions that are wholly our own. And anyone who has ever burst out laughing or crying can tell you, you don't always control the emotion. Because of this basic fact alone, who are we to judge the role someone chooses for them self?
Is it OK that i am submissive just because i am girl? If you looked at me and said that i would punch you in the mouth for being a sexist piglet. When it comes to the Dominant moves, i have them down pat. I can out Dom half the Doms that come in the room. Why? Because i have sat through all the classes (hell i was there when those classes and concepts were outlined), understand all of the concepts, and know how to handle the job. But does that make me Dominant? Of course not. What makes me a submissive is what is in my heart. It is in my heart to please Master, to give Him the control of the relationship and the decisions, to feel the safety and security of being owned by Him. You cant teach that. Its either there or it isn't. I cant teach someone to BE submissive. They are or they are not. No one can teach me to BE Dominant. I simply am not. Its kind of like religion. Either you believe and have faith in something or you don't. You can go through the motions and say all the words. But that doesn't make you a believer.
So why do i bring this all up? Because it occurs to me from time to time in tidbits of conversations and attitudes, that we as a community are still judging things we have no right to judge. Who am i to look at someone and say "you're a girl so you're submissive and also catty and a drama queen"?. Or "you're a boy so you're a self centered pig headed he-man that's only good as a Dominant". By that same token, who would i be to look at a woman and say she does not have the right or ability to feel Dominant and BE Dominant? The same for male submissive. How do i know how they feel? How do i know what they have been through, what brings them satisfaction, or even what kind of person they are based on sex? ...Or race, sexual preference, or anything else. The fact is i know a lot of VERY good, strong female Dominants. And equally good, strong male submissives. They are being true to themselves and looking for the partner that makes them feel fulfilled. Anyone who has attended my classes knows..this is one of the most base components of finding a relationship that works. Honesty with yourself and who you really are before you can be honest with anyone else. And the only person who knows how you YOU.
My final Sub-Stance; its not our business to judge or compartmentalize others based on the exterior. Its not fair to stuff humans into "boy" and "girl" boxes then cover their mouths with tape when they complain. If you judge someone...make it on their actions and words. On the person they ARE. Not on how neatly they fit into your boxes.

Internal Enslavement 3 - "The Natural Slave"

This is the third essay of my series about "Internal Enslavement". This time I picked the subject "The Natural Slave". Most of what i am going to present here was inspired by the website that provides many interesting essays, a huge part of them was written by the RL Master Tanos who runs a poly D/s household in the UK.

The concept of "Internal Enslavement" deals with the question if a radical consensual slavery is possible in an M/s context that is based on the pillars of safety, sanity, consensual and mutual trust, respect and commitment, in the physical, emotional and mental area of relationship. When we speak of a "Natural Slave" we mean someone who is a slave by nature ... someone who has an innate or inborn character trait which predisposes them to slavery in some way. This means that while some people are predisposed to feeling comfortable under conditions of consentual slavery in D/s context, others are not. So not every submissive is going to feel comfortable and "at home" in a Master-slave-relationship.

Let's read what Aristotle said about these predispositions in the 4th century BC::

"The same holds good of animals in relation to men; for tame animals have a better nature than wild, and all tame animals are better off when they are ruled by man; for then they are preserved. Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all mankind. Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals, the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and therefore is, another's and he who participates in rational principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature."

Quote taken from Aristotle, Politics, 1.V (translation by Benjamin Jowett)

So for Aristotle a slave was not competent to run their own lives. The reason he gave for it was inferior intellect - put on same level as animals even. It is important to know that many domestic servants in ancient times were not given the chance to develop the competency to run their own lives. We could say "They were kept at dull state". However, we know that other ancient societies, such as Imperial Rome or the Ottoman Empire, were largely administered by slaves and freed slaves.

And yes, we all definitely know that slaves in D/s context are definitely no dull brains. Tanos wrote in an essay on the IE website:

"In our modern experience of IE and TPE infact, submissive women appear, as a group, to be disproportionately intelligent and drawn from demanding professions such as teaching and healthcare."

I guess most of us would agree on this. Tanos suggests that we, as modern people and ambassadors of a healthy D/s lifestyle step back from Aristotle's position, and just start from "it is better for them ... that they should be under the rule of a master" (Aristotles words).
There are people in our modern society as well as in historic societies that are predespositioned to enjoy and live more happily and better under the rule of a master.

Why is it better for some submissives to be under the rule of a Master and become His property as an owned slave?
Here I am thinking about the human need for self actualization. Each one is more or less striving to become the person that he/she really is and to act one's self out in life. For some submissives it is an aspect of their nature that they need to be under control for fulfillment. When they are under control of a Dominant they trust in and accept as Master over themselves and their lives, they feel bliss when their personal freedom is restricted. They don't feel reactance that other people would feel when their personal freedom was in danger or taken away, and they don't rebel and fight in order to regain their personal freedom. I think the utterly important conditions for such are
* deep trust in the Dominant
* feeling of emotional safety in the M/s relationship
* consent to the nature of relationship as Master & slave and all its implications and
* positive experiences with the Master who hopefully won't abuse the right to take control over his possession for a negative outcome for the slave.

Which people are suited to slavery due to their nature in a way that is relevant for D/s or M/s?
*They feel secure when someone is giving them direction & guidance.
*They need certainty and security in their relationships.
*Their level of reactance when their personal freedom is put in danger or being restricted is different than it is for other people.
*To be happy and feel fulfilled, resting in their own identity, they need to feel control loss, someone taking control over them and caring for them well.

As mentioned above, a huge aspect of determining what constitutes the being of a "natural slave" is that they seem to show a lover level of every-day "Reactance" (psychological concept first described by Brehm in 1966). Reactance is an emotional reaction to mentally or really experienced restriction of personal freedom. A "natural slave" is experiencing and showing less of this "reactance" if freedom is restricted. A slave's level of reactance is "below average", so to speak.
Reactance normally leads to actions in order to reestablish the state of freedom that is being threatened or that was taken away, such could be acts of rebelllion, aggression and fight. In case the freedom cannot be restored there is a typical turning point that is described as "reaching the peak of reactance": giving in, trying to settle with the situation that seems unescapable ... when it is dramatic it can lead to depression or other negative psychical consequences.

But does this happen with submissives in D/s relationships, when the Dominant they trust in restricts their freedom?
It doesn't. Most submissives who consentually (!) are confronted with restriction of their freedom in D/s context experience less reactance than another being would. For some submissives, this "reactance peak" is not negative, they even seem to strive for it and find comfort by it ... as if they need their personal freedom to be restricted and as if they need to go beyond the peakpoint of reactance and have nothing left but the option to settle with the situation. This is what we call the need to be controlled. For some subs it more than fulfillment of a need, it is enjoyment, it is bliss. It is them who are called "natural slaves" in the concept of Internal Enslavement that we are dealing with.

On we can read:

"Submissives may experience lower levels of total Reactance (roughly stress), when their freedom is restricted, compared to when they are free; and that they also don't experience the depression and low performance which psychologists observe with "normal" people in psychologically defined helplessness."

One could say that a "natural slave" is someone who responds well to a lack of freedom or can't even handle freedom. He/she needs a strong sense of boundaries externally defined to have emotional comfort, and it might be connected to a sense of self worth that a "natural slave" also needs externally defined. (Many thanks to the persons behind the SL avatars Yvana Zadark and Tergen Sadofsky for these thoughts!).

We find a description of this on as well:

"We can go further and use Reactance to define a type of slave: a Natural Slave is a slave for whom slavery can be better than freedom, since they have the capacity to experience less Reactance when living in that condition, without the depression normally associated with Helplessness. Thus they are suited to slavery by their nature - by some inherent quality of their psychological makeup."
"Even though Natural Slaves in this IE sense may experience slavery as a positive experience, other factors in their environment may prevent this. Notably, if the Master behaves in a destructive way, ignoring fundamental needs, then the Helplessness may become negative rather than positive for the slave."

As a summary, "natural slaves" are characterized by a predesposition that lets them seek and even crave and need slavery and control loss, restriction of personal freedom deliberately. They need to be controlled and guided, and have a hard time when they are not. This also stresses the importance of a steady solid bond with their Owner in D/s context that is characterized by consent, deep trust, feeling of safety, consistency, radical openness and honesty, responsible reliable care for the slave's needs and guidance and control in many if not all areas of the slave's life.

If You want to read about "Reactance" in greater detail, I advise you these two resources:

The conclusion drawn by Tanos on is this:

"This would suggest that Internal Enslavement may only be possible with Natural Slaves, since the trust and intimacy (in the Transactional Analysis sense) that forms the emotional bondage would be inhibited if the helpless state were destructive rather than positive for the subject."

I hope this is an inspiring hypothesis for all of You and that it may stimulate Your mental processing about the dynamics of Master-slave-relationships and the conditions that their longterm success requires. Nothing can be commanded and forced onto a person when it is against his/her being, his/her natural condition. Thanks for reading this essay and I am looking forward to presenting You more about "Internal Enslavement" in the next articles.

written by Mirjam Munro, October 2011