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The Master’s Voice #31: Public Submission

We’ve looked previously at some of the different ways for a sub to express their submission. One important aspect of  this is how to behave when you are both out in public. Since this is an area which my Aapha slave excels in and we do spend a lot of time out together, I have asked him to contribute the bulk of this post.

On one hand, this is obviously something that will vary from person to person, and what works for you may not work for someone else. In general, however, I think it’s possible to divide submissives into two groups: those for whom submission is a mental state that they enter into for a fixed period of time (usually during a BDSM session of some kind) and those for whom the submissive state is constant – or, at the very least, permanent whenever they are around their Master.

The latter scenario presents one obvious problem: how do you express your submission in public? In the privacy of your or your Master’s home it’s easy to do things like wear a collar, but it isn’t socially acceptable to do such things in public. (Unfortunately!)

Thankfully, all is not lost. There are a myriad ways to subtly express your submission, things that will have meaning for you but will not draw any undue attention from those not in the know. And I think the ‘for you’ is a key point here. There’s no list of submissive expressions approved by the High Council of BDSM. You don’t need to justify your own private code of conduct to anyone else. If it has meaning for you and your Master, then go for it, even if others in the community might scoff at it.

Below I’ll describe some of the ways that I express my submission towards Master Tim when we’re out in public, along with my rationale for each. These might be something you want to emulate, or they might not resonate with you at all. And that’s fine! At the very least, I hope they’ll inspire you to think about public submission and what it means for you.

1) Always walk slightly behind your Master

This is a pretty simple one, but it’s also very easy to observe. Whenever I’m out in public with Master Tim I always try to stay one or two paces behind him and walk to his left. What I like about this is that it’s very subtle, but at the same time is something that you really have to constantly pay attention to if you want to observe it continuously. Because of this, it’s a good way to stay constantly mindful of the submissive dynamic in your relationship.

Obviously, this isn’t something you can do absolutely all the time. (Attempting to keep this up in a busy London train station can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, let me tell you.) How strictly you’re expected to adhere to it (or any of these suggestions) will be something for you to decide with your Master.

Master T. This is something which he does automatically but when in a crowded situation I love watching him self-correct as we keep moving. Also, my husband likes to walk on my left. When the three of us are out together, I sometimes have to stifle a giggle when, out of the corner of my eye, I observe them both good naturedly jostling for that position!

2) Opening doors first

A good exception to the above rule, if you’re following it, would be to step forward to open doors for your Master. Again, it’s something that’s very easy to do, but if you try to do it all the time you’ll realise that it takes quite a bit of vigilance to get right.

3) Carrying things for your Master

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. If you’re out in public with your slave, why should you carry something yourself when they can do it for you? If I’m out with Master Tim and he has something to carry (shopping, a coffee cup at a cafe, a jacket) I’ll always offer to carry it for him.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should grab something out of your Master’s hands as soon as he takes hold of it! Always offer your services to your Master rather than assuming that he wants them. Sometimes he might prefer to carry it himself, or simply not want to load you down with too many things at once. Don’t be pushy!

4) Wear a ‘public’ collar

This one requires a bit more forethought, but has the advantage of being something you can do even if you’re not with your Master. As I said above, wearing a collar in public tends to attract unwanted attention (at the very least, people will think you’re some kind of hipster who’s trying way too hard to be ‘different’), but you can wear something else that stands in for a collar. Traditionally people have used a chain kept in place with a small padlock, but that’s also a bit conspicuous if not worn under your clothing (and could be a bit uncomfortable as well).

Really, you can use anything here – a necklace, a bracelet, even your wedding ring on a chain if your Master also happens to be your husband (or your Mistress your wife, as the case may be). Anything that holds significance for you will work. The main point is that it’s something you should be able to wear all the time. When you put it on in the morning, reflect on what it means to you as a submissive. You’ll know it’s ‘working’ if it helps you do that.

Master Tim’s Footnote.

As alpha has mentioned there are so many ways to discretely show your subservience and with a little ingenuity it is easy to find little ways to respect your Master. A couple which he did not mention but which he still does include waiting until I sit down before he sits or not getting into the car before I do. Also, what I call the Coffee Shop scenario is when we go for a coffee etc. it is his place to do the ordering/collecting even if I am paying. It is important to point out that in just the same way as he takes great pride in these little things, I never take them for granted. If for example we emerge from a crowd or get off a train etc. I am always aware of him moving as quickly as he can to take up his habitual position and that makes me very proud of him too.

The Master’s Voice #23: Anticipating Your Master’s Needs.

For this post I am still looking at some of the background to what makes a good slave. I have asked my alpha slave to give his point of view on something which we both think important. This is however an area of the Dom/sub dynamic which many practitioners fail to develop and which many BDSM authors ignore. Let’s see what he has to say:

I think it’s easy to mistake the Master/slave relationship as one rooted in an action/reaction framework – the Master gives an order, the slave responds. Isn’t that what comes to most people’s minds when they consider, fundamentally, what any kind of Dom or sub do that differentiates them from an ordinary couple?

To a certain extent, that is accurate. In a Master/slave relationship, the balance of power rests with the Master, and the easiest way for him to exercise that power is to give orders to the slave. But there comes a point where, ideally, the Master shouldn’t have to give explicit orders to his slave. In fact, the slave should consider it his duty to anticipate what the order would be if given, and react accordingly.

To give a simple example from my own experience, I’ve learned to tell when Master Tim would like me to make him coffee and serve it to him. I would say that I’m right about 90% of the time, to the extent that I could just go and make it without asking him if he’d like it, although I still ask before I do it just to be sure (more on that in a minute).

Considering it from his point of view, isn’t it better to have a slave who can tell intuitively when he wants something like this done for him, rather than having to specifically ask for it each time? It’s both more convenient for him, and is also evidence of a certain level of devotion; it takes time and dedicated effort to get to that stage of accurately predicting what he’ll need before he asks for it.

Of course, it’s also possible to become presumptuous, which is something a slave should never be. That’s why, in the example above, I said that I always ask before making coffee. What if he wants something else instead? Or, as happens occasionally, what if I misjudged what he might want at a particular moment in time? I would consider it a personal failing on my part if I presented him with a fresh mug of coffee, only to be told that he would prefer tea!

I have said in a previous post, that a slave should strive to improve his Master’s life in any way possible. Anticipating your Master’s needs and reacting to them pre-emptively is a great way to do that, and might be another major differentiator between a Dom/sub and Master/slave relationship, but it’s something that takes a lot of time and effort to get right. This is, once again, why it’s so important that a Master and slave are compatible on a personal level before they attempt to jump into an involved relationship. If you find yourself constantly unable to predict what someone wants or needs because you can’t work out how they think, then it’s going to be very difficult for you to be a good slave for them.

I often see fictitious depictions of Master/slave relationships in which the slave gets a thrill out of following his Master’s orders. That’s true to life as well, obviously, but don’t neglect the quiet satisfaction that comes with effectively obeying an unspoken order as well. It might not be quite as exciting to depict as a heavy-handed Master ordering his slave to kneel at his feet, but it will add an extra dimension to the relationship which writers often overlook.

The Master’s Voice: #19 Some Thoughts on BDSM in Fiction

I have previously touched on a point that many readers of my stories have made; that, for obvious reasons, my characters and scenarios tend to depict a more accurate representation of the BDSM lifestyle than you generally see in works of fiction. (Actually, before I go any further I should say that this isn’t a knock against people who write about BDSM without having ‘lived’ it; only that someone with decades of experience is obvious going to be able to write about it more truthfully than someone with none.) My Alpha slave and I have discussed this at some length and so I asked him to write about it here:

I think it’s safe to say that most examples of BDSM in novels, TV shows and films come from an outsiders perspective. I’m sure you’ve seen a scenario like this a dozen times in crime dramas: the detective digs into a victim’s past, only to discover that – gasp – they were into being tied up on Friday nights. Cue a scene in which the bewildered main characters, the audience surrogates, nervously entered a darkened BDSM club – or, if the writers are feeling particularly titillating, a ‘sex dungeon’. (What exactly is the difference between a ‘BDSM dungeon’ and a ‘sex dungeon’, anyway? Discuss in the comments!)

Clearly the intent here is to shock, although real-life BDSM gatherings are probably a bit too explicit to feature on daytime TV. The writers of these shows assume that the mere fact of some kind of kinky sex will be enough to surprise their audiences. They’re not writing a documentary, so why bother doing any research?

But unfamiliarity with real-life BDSM practices can create other problems than just shallow representation. I’ve noticed a trend in fiction about BDSM for Dom/sub relationships to evolve in one of three scenarios, none of which are entirely accurate. Because I’m mildly obsessed with over-analyzing creative works, I thought I’d briefly go through each of them on this blog. This is not meant to the definitive guide to fictional BDSM, but rather some random thoughts that I’ve been wanting to put some structure on for a while now. Feel free to suggest additions if you have any.

1. The Surprise Fetish

This one comes up a lot in BDSM erotica. Character A is coasting through life having decent-but-unsatisfying vanilla sex, when suddenly they run into Character B, a Dom of some description. One things leads to another, and pretty soon Character A is incapable of having an orgasm without being tied upside-down and blindfolded.

You might argue that this kind of thing can happen in real life, and you’d be right! I’m sure lots of people only discover that they have a particular fetish after stumbling across it (or someone who’s into it) an realizing that it turns them on. Where this scenario loses me, however, is when Character A goes from having no interest in BDSM whatsoever (or, in many cases, even knowing it exists) to enthusiastically engaging in a full-blown, 24×7 Master/slave relationship with Character B.

The reason why I’m always incredulous when this comes up is that people who desire that kind of relationship have almost always known it for a long time. It’s not at all uncommon to hear people say that they had fantasized about submitting to a Master (or Mastering a slave) since they were far too young to know that there was necessarily anything sexual about it. It was a strong interest, that’s all, and over time it grew into something more.

Is it possible that someone could desire a Master/slave relationship without realizing it? Certainly, but I suspect that most people who write stories this way do it out of expediency or because they don’t know anyone who has done it in real life.

2. “That’s okay, I’ll turn you into a sub!”

This one is closely related to the previous trope, except instead of realizing that they’re into BDSM, Character A is more-or-less coerced into engaging in it by Character B. Common methods used to skirt the obvious consent red flags this raises usually involve giving Character B psychic powers, of the ‘I can tell you’re really into this even though you’re not’ variety.

There’s a scene in Fifty Shades of Grey (you didn’t think we’d get through this series without mentioning it at least once, did you?) where Mr. Grey tells the main character that he wants to show her his ‘play room’. She naively assumes that he’s talking about a room where he plays his XBox. Instead of telling her that he’s doing to bring her into his BDSM dungeon (or sex dungeon, I forget which), he just leads her downstairs and more-or-less orders her to walk into a mysterious room whose function he won’t elaborate upon.

Even if you don’t think it’s a bit skeevy to bring someone into a playroom even though they have no idea what a playroom is, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is his way of starting what’s-her-name down the path of becoming his full-time submissive. Does he ask her outright if she’s ever been interested in BDSM? Does he say ‘I’m super into bondage, want to see?’ Of course not, because he can divine the inner workings of her mind, which means that he knows exactly how she’ll react to seeing his leather bed and whips and whatever else E.L. James found on Google Image Search when she typed in ‘BDSM toys’.

(You may have gathered by now that I’m not a huge fan of that book.)

The point I’m making here is that you can’t turn someone into a submissive against their will, and attempting to do so in real life would count as sexual harassment at the very least. By all means, write about character awakening to their previously-unknown interest in BDSM; just try to do so in a way that doesn’t make Character B look ten different kinds of creepy.

3. Glorious BDSM Utopia

In real life the chances of a mysterious billionaire funding the creation of a private society built around Master/slave relationships is vanishingly small, but that doesn’t stop writers from using it as a setting.

All right, so this one clearly isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and the appeal is obvious: since it isn’t possible to live out a Master/slave relationship ‘full time’ in the real world, why not create a separate, isolated society where everyone is in on the secret? I think this speaks to the fact that everyone who lives the BDSM lifestyle has to hide it to a certain extent. Fiction is a place to depict your idealised world, so why not go all-out with it?

Master Tim writes: That final paragraph made me chuckle since Alpha and I are currently co-writing a novel in which some very rich and powerful men do indeed fund a private global organisation based on D/s members. Watch out for ‘Trust and Devotion’ coming soon!