I’m not who I was and I won’t always be who I am today
Relationships happen between fully-rounded people, not two-dimensional characters. There are as many types of Master and slave lifestyles as there are those living them. The stereotype is but a fantasy – I get it, it’s my fantasy too – but it needs a touch of reality to sustain a 24/7 Total Power Exchange (TPE).
Being a Master was so simple to me way back when. Find a slave, restrain, abuse its holes, beat into submission, let it whinge a little: simple. Shouting aggressively and waving my cock in the air got me everything I needed. Scene over, slaves silently left never to contact me again. How rude! They weren’t cut out for submission. They clearly couldn’t handle a true Master such as I. This was me 1.0. A bolshy upstart leaning so far into the archetype of Master that I was essentially a cartoon.
With age comes wisdom? I’m 55 now, I know better? No. It’s about learning. Learning how to be a better human being. There are plenty of Masters a lot younger than I who get this also.
Masters also need training. I’m not Old Guard, I know a lot of their ways have taken on mythical proportions, but they have also laid the groundwork beyond the stereotype – far more than we give them credit for. I like the idea that a lot of Old Guard Dominants/Masters/Leather Daddies started out as submissives. They earned their stripes. There is an element of slaves training us – if you can cut through the ego and let such a thing happen. While I was training my first owned slave, Dave, he taught me what a Master/slave relationship can mean.
What’s the most visible difference from those early days of me playing at being a Master? My slaves, training and owned stick around a lot longer. They serve at my feet and get the fulfilment they came for. Beyond the dark places we explore together, beyond fear, dehumanisation, they trust me. Their trust is born of my respect for them.
Staying in those dark places isn’t sustainable 24/7. There are times that with careful planning we can sustain an extreme scene for days, sometimes weeks of what might look like permanent bondage. However, a glow in the dark violet wand is still necessary to light the way on occasion. Balance is everything.
Maintaining power over slaves, keeping them as property for life requires a great deal of self-control. You can’t control others if you can’t control yourself.
A Reminder to Myself
A Master should always be receptive to listening and learning. And there are a few qualities one could pick up along the way to help themselves grow. That’s why I call myself The Ethical Dom. Not an original name, not one bestowed upon me, it was self-appointed the same way I took the title of Master John.
Only in the world of BDSM-D/s is the title “Master” self-anointed. A Master Electrician is one who is certified by a mobster-controlled union. A Master Auto Mechanic is one who is accredited by the ASE. (I said a Master Auto Mechanic, not an honest one!) To become a Karate Master you must win a black belt from a reputable Dojo (karate school). Only in BDSM can someone simply go online and instantly proclaim him or herself a Master!https://www.kinkweekly.com/article-baadmaster/what-is-a-master/
The Ethical Dom is a reminder to myself. To sustain a successful Master/slave dynamic I stick to a code of ethics, rules of domination that I have stolen, sculpted, scrapped and sorted, through a combination of study and practice. I’ve made some mahoosive mistakes along the way, and that’s okay. We make mistakes, we learn, we grow.
The Ethics of Domination
While there is definitely not one right way of doing things, there are certain qualities that any Master should consider. I’m not suggesting that everyone should have these traits built in, but they may help you to hold onto the power within your dynamic.
Rule 1: “Even suffering when wrapped in love, seems tolerable.” – Bangambiki Habyarimana
Western society sees kindness, compassion, and empathy as weak traits. They are often seen as feminine traits, therefore indicative of soft, effeminate personas. A few male Masters/Doms (and I’m sure some women also) see compassion as an alien concept to a true Master.
There is a complete lack of forethought in this argument. Being kind and using empathy in no way indicates that you are a pushover. Compassion takes emotional strength, which is a necessary skill if you wish to maintain control over your slave(s). You build the perfect slave through support and training. Compassion doesn’t mean you take a soft approach. My slaves don’t get an easy ride, being receptive to their needs during the early stages allows me to push them to their limits without causing any lasting emotional or physical damage. Tap into your sadistic side for sure, it’s one of the most liberating parts of this life, but remember that you are responsible for the masochist on the receiving end.
High protocol should always be countered with low protocol; balance maintained creates a sustainable dynamic that can stay the course beyond the bedroom.
Rule 2: “We need good role models, and they have to start at the top.” – Frank Serpico
Your behaviour dictates how your slave will behave. You both live by the same protocol, just at opposite ends.
Being rude and cruel 24/7 is not going to carry you through in the long term. And being courteous doesn’t soften you to the point where you can’t perform your duties as a Master. Be rude, be cruel, just keep it to scenes when it’s called for.
I run my House with a strong hand. I am unapologetic, I don’t ask for something to be done twice, I punish freely. I balance this with respect for my slaves and the life they provide me with.
Rule 3: “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” – William Shakespeare
With that respect comes integrity. I am an open book. I don’t lie or deceive my slaves. I train them to be completely open so why wouldn’t I practice what I preach? There are no secrets within our dynamic, there’s no need for them. Honesty and respect beget trust, which is the most important tenet of our lifestyle.
Taking slaves to their limits, sometimes consensually beyond can’t be done without that mutual trust. Be honest and worthy of their devotion.
Rule 4: “On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.” – Michel de Montaigne
Dominance usually comes with ego – mine does. Ego isn’t arrogance. Being confident in your abilities and taking pride in your success is crucial to your success as a Master. But remember where you begin and end. We all get wrapped up in the God complex while being served and worshipped by our slaves. You may be a successful Master, you may be everything your slave needs and desires, you’re not a God. You are a human being just like the rest of us.
There is no Doctrine of Dominant Infallibilityhttps://Www.kinkweekly.com/article-baadmaster/what-is-a-master/
I am fallible. I am not good at everything. No one is. If you believe you are, prove it. I can’t wait to see you stumble.
Rule 5: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”- Maya Angelou
A Master needs to be intelligent. Book smarts are great, but they won’t get you as far as practicing and honing your skills does. Adopting an attitude of continuous learning, you will naturally take your slave along with you, imparting knowledge and building slave up to be whatever you need it to be. Alongside your teaching, it’s important to allow time for your slave to learn about itself. Again, you are its Master, not its God.
There are practical skills to be learned as a Master, in and out of scenes. Within scenes, I believe a Master should at least display expertise in at least one area of BDSM. I am a fan of CBT and, in order to Master it I read a lot, watch a lot of demonstrations. Practice. And practice some more. The learning never stops. I am constantly seeking new ways of performing CBT in order to further refine and develop my skills.
Think of the equipment we use. Test the equipment, use it responsibly and safely, check to see if it’s fit for purpose. This can be as simple as a collar – is it too tight? You may want it tight, though is it going to restrict slave’s breathing? That storage container – did you buy it as is or build it yourself? Either is fine IF you have done some solid research. Did you check whether the seller was reputable? Have you ensured that the one you designed yourself is not going to suffocate your slave?
Psychological tools in a Master’s arsenal should never be approached with ignorance and naivety. Humiliation, degradation and dehumanisation, storage, and the like; without maturity and intelligence these tools can become abusive, running the risk of causing serious emotional and physical harm.
RESULT = congratulations, you’ve just fucked up your first human!
Accidents happen, but they don’t have to be major. We are all aware of the risk. The difference is in the response. A Master can mistakenly push a boundary that wasn’t meant to be pushed, worry (that’s natural), then move through it, grow through it while aiding slave in aftercare. There are some who would think ‘meh’ and move on. Don’t be an idiot, be a Master.
Try to maintain a system of continual study and practice, and don’t ever think you’re done. Learning takes a lifetime. Try at being a thinking Master rather than just grunt, shout, seed and move on. It’s okay now and again, I do it myself, but it should never be a permanent state of domination.
Rule 6: “A relationship without communication is just two people.” — Unknown
To allow yourself those periods where all you wish to do is grunt at, shout at and seed a slave, keep the lines of communication open everywhere else.
Communication is everything, nowhere more so than in training. A slave isn’t a mind reader. Masters all want slaves that can intuit needs, wants and whims. You have to talk to it, teach the human being behind the slave who you are, what you need, how to read you – it doesn’t just teach itself.
don’t blame the slave for your ambiguityhttps://bdsmcontracts.org/15-unwritten-rules-for-masters-when-dealing-with-slave/
Talk to your slave often and freely. Drop the protocol sparingly yet enough for the slave to communicate their emotional and physical needs. My slaves all get the occasional opportunity to express themselves. A: if they were mindless automatons they would soon bore me to tears, and B: I don’t seek to destroy the essence of what makes them who they are, because who they are is what makes them serve.
Talking to each other breeds trust. That trust is established through you demonstrating your responsibility. Note: this does not mean you are your slave’s therapist, but you can be its shoulder when it needs one. Providing that shoulder has never impacted my dominance over my slaves, it enhances it, they are dependant, which is where I want them to be.
Rule 7: “People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
There is an element of personal responsibility that a slave must consider when entering into a TPE. That’s not in question. But more than once I have come across a Master using that fact to absolve themselves of they own responsibility. They dangerously assume that if a slave gets hurt, they are not at fault. Slave knew what it was getting into in the first place. Blah, blah, blah.
Mutual responsibility is where it’s at, but remember who holds the power, who controls. With the power comes the burden of holding the bulk of that. Don’t like it? Then think twice about being a Master, because how can you be in control if you’re not accepting your role as a leader?
Control is everything. It’s exactly why we Master’s do what we do; we crave it, to dominate another into complete submission is what drives us. And with this comes the responsibility of rationality.
Rule 8: “The best fighter is never angry.”― Lao Tzu
Be measured in everything you do, every emotion you display, control yourself. You should be good at it. If you’re in the right role it should come naturally.
I never enter into an intense scene when angry. I’m not an angry person, though on occasion, just like everyone else, I will come home from a bad day at work. I’ll be honest here – the thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion that I could grab a slave by its collar, drag it down to the dungeon and beat it until I relax a little. A slave can be your stress relief in many ways. The only time it is your punching bag is within a scene that has either been negotiated with blanket consent or consent just before. Having a shit day at work and just taking it out on your slave isn’t kink, it’s domestic abuse.
Rationality is also important because of headspace. With the rushes of oxytocin and all the other science-y bits messing with our brain chemistry, subspace and Domspace change our entire states of being. Domspace is like visiting the beast within. Keep a leash on that beast and don’t get too carried away. Subspace can alter one’s reaction to pain, it can cloud judgement and temporarily sever those lines of communication. It’s a Master’s responsibility to remain aware of the situation. Control yourself and your slave.
Being irrational will not serve you well as a Master. Without rationality you lack control. Irrationality with the delusion of control personified is Trump. Be less Trump. I think we can all agree on that.
Where do these qualities come from?
Like the tyrant, the God complex can be a great exploration for you and your slave. I personally find the cool and collected sadist a lot more fun to inhabit. Just remember that self-aggrandising is not built for a 24/7 TPE. Play that card too much of the time, you’re either going to lose slaves, or perhaps accidentally form what could be construed as a cult. Are you an abuser or a Master?
BDSMers feel the harm that constant pathologising of our lifestyles has caused. Part of the path that leads to deeper self-awareness can look at a like it. You have to pathologise yourself to de-pathologise. Who are you? Why are you? Question everything you do.
It amuses me that we Dominants as an orientation don’t seem to analyse as much as our submissives do. My slaves are pretty good at coming up with nuanced answers as to why they might be masochists, why they might engage in rape fantasies, why they might enjoy the physical remnants of an intense impact play session. Over the years, this self-reflection has rubbed off on me.
The answer to a question such as ‘why do we get off on fantasies of being an abuser?’ is a seemingly terrible thing to confront. But it doesn’t have to be. For one you’re not alone. It’s one of the most common kinks. Don’t believe me? Google ‘psychology of rape fantasies’ – your kink is nothing new.
Don’t be afraid to look into every nook and cranny of what makes you tick. You can only control others by controlling your self, and for that you need some modicum of self-awareness.
With this comes a justified pride. Be proud of your Dominant self. Whip that slave into submission, store it when it ‘bores’ you, but remember that you’re not an abuser, you are a Master. And a good Master knows that they are there to fulfil a slave’s needs as much their own. You want that mutual fulfilment to last a lifetime? Mix it up a bit, don’t rely on an ultimately dull narrative born out of porn and no forethought. Because who the fuck wants to be a 2D character in their own story?
A sadist who doesn’t think to at least consider these qualities may work in a casual relationship, but for a 24/7 TPE, for it to last years without any serious damage to either party would be somewhat miraculous. Things get dark very fast and to explore that darkness we all need a glow in the dark e-stim wand to ride it out safely, sanely and consensually. Be the self-aware Dominant you know you can be. Control with intelligence, show those slaves what power looks like with compassion. It won’t spoil your fun, it will enhance it.
I can still be kind while waving my metaphorical (even literal) dick in the air; I can be compassionate while shouting aggressively at perv slave while he’s tied to the St. Andrew’s Cross. If I’m not utilising empathy while whipping ten tonnes of consensual shit out of my boi slave then I’m doing it wrong. Empathy and consent? ‘What’s that’ you say? It’s what separates a CNC Master from a non-consensual abuser.
Cause your slave all the pain it needs to remind it of it’s lowly place on the food chain, but do it with your brain. Restrain it in ever expanding periods of bondage, but do it gradually and know when you have reached the peak amount of days and weeks (which can be wildly different for many Master/slaves).
Be open to learning every single day of your life. This applies to all walks of life, not just the Master/slave dynamic. We all fall into the same trap: we become adults and consider ourselves learned and wise. For me, wisdom isn’t ever mastered, that would take more than a lifetime, but it can be strengthened. Be prepared to change your mind and your ways, don’t be surprised when an alternative point of view conquers one you held for a long time. People change, we are constantly evolving. And that’s okay.
It’s got nothing to do with your age. I’ve met Masters in their thirties who have their shit together far better than I do. It’s about a wisdom that comes from practice and experience, owning one’s failures and being receptive to those around them. It’s about having the self-awareness to keep one’s ego firmly in check, every Masterful act committed with forethought and intention. Even whims should contain a little intentionality on our part. Yes, spontaneity is fun! But figure out how to be spontaneous without being a dick; I did, and my control is much healthier for it.
That sums up where I am right now. I may be constantly growing and changing as a Master, improving my Domination, but since I found my core stance, my rules of Domination, my slaves have been more productive, better submissives, growing and learning alongside me.
Let me know what you think the qualities of a good Master are. Do you struggle with the nuances of maintaining a TPE when confronted with the realities of day to day life? Have you found any interesting states of being that work for both you and your TPE partner or group? Have I missed anything? Probably. I am constantly learning and eager to hear what you think?