Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Problem with Words

I google image'd "Dom husband" and got this.

You think it's funny that I bitched about your lack of dominance in bed but that I also still bitch that you dominated our relationship. 

I think I misspoke when I said the latter part of that.

Maybe I should have chosen my words more carefully. Maybe you think that my desire for dominance in the bedroom means I, naturally, also actually want dominance in my romantic relationships outside the bedroom. I can understand how someone who's never felt the desire to dominate or be dominated sexually, much less who's been involved in the lifestyle as it's typically practiced, could feel that way. Even if that was true, the way I use the word in the first context is not the way I use it in the last. Even so, I feel the need to clear things up, though I will not be using that word in the second context again.

Dominants do not actually set the limits in a relationship. Ze might have things ze will not do, which ze are upfront about during open vocal negotiations, but ultimately, no matter how far out zir limits are, ze cannot go past the hard limits of the submissive. Dominants test a submissive's capabilities while respecting limits, while paying close attention to a submissive's state of mind in the moment. Dominants express their expectations and swiftly voice when a submissive has transgressed, as well as set up ways for that transgression to be made right again. Dominants enthusiastically take on the responsibility for the safety and well-being of zir submissives. 

Though I might have once used the word this way, dominance is not deciding the parameters of a relationship without the input of one's partner and without telling even telling that partner. Dominance does not expect something that has not been expressed. Dominance leads gently, but firmly. Dominance does not lie. A Dominant is not ashamed of zir submissive or ashamed of what others think of them being together. A Dominant does not all the relationship to devolve into chaos or equivocate about the relationship. Like all humans and like zir submissive, a Dominant is fallable and will make mistakes, but, just as ze quickly corrects zir submissive, ze takes responsibility for zir own transgressions and corrects them.  

Through therapy, I currently know quite a few straight Christian women who believe the Biblical command that a woman should submit to her husband in all things just as people should submit to God in all things. Whenever someone mentions that, my mind fills up with all the shitty, unethical, immoral abusive things that people do to each other and wonders how one person could submit to another in the context of husband and wife. In those moments, I usually forget that the other side of that is that the husbands also have an ideal that they are supposed to live up to, which includes not doing those shitty, unethical, immoral, and/or abusive things. These husbands are supposed to lead, love, cherish, and pull their weight in the relationship, just as the wives are supposed to submit, love, cherish, and pull their weight in the relationship. (In Biblical times, the division of labor was different from now, but I think it's safe to say that both spouses had to work hard and the phrase "breadwinner" would have been pretty meaningless.) In fact, there actually is a Christian-based Dominance/submission movement.

In the end, I think there are probably several other words I should have used instead of the second usage of a variation of dominance. All of which I'm not feeling mean enough to write, but are probably quite apparent at this point. 

Oh, and I also got this pic from that search.

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