One of the models I tend towards with regards to Power and Authority Exchange is based on Taoism and the interplay between yin and yang. For a quick primer on how this may play out in the context of authority in D/s relationships, you can read a piece I wrote on Intent v. Rules. You will note that one of the most salient aspects to any Taoist exploration of anything is the awareness and consideration of Context. Nothing is ever only one way or another – no person, no situation.
With that in mind, I’d like to take some time here to consider the Dominance and Submission as expressions of the archetypes of Masculine (Yang) and Feminine (Yin). Please note – this is not about identity; it is about qualities. Logical thinking is a masculine quality, while creative thinking is a feminine quality. Clearly we all have the capacity to do both at any given time. That said, if you are thinking logically (say, mapping a timeline for a project), I would suggest you are ‘in your masculine’, whereas if you are in a moment of creativity (say, brainstorming), I would suggest you are ‘in your feminine’.
One of the ways I experience my submission is as an expression of my femininity. Not everyone would (or needs) to share this experience, of course. When I feel submissive towards someone, I am surrendered (yin/feminine) to their will (yang/masculine). I follow where they lead. I am in a state of receptivity.
I should note here that my personal experience of being an S-identified person is not wholly feminine, and that warrants another article.
Recently, I was talking with someone towards whom I feel submissive, because I was starting to refer to him as Sir without prompting. It’s highly unusual for me to refer to someone as Sir without prompting. For me, this is an extremely significant indicator of where I’m sitting in relationship to them; it is an expression of deep surrender. I had asked for a conversation about this, because I believe that submission at this level is something to which the dominant towards whom I feel these feelings needs to consent.
Put another way: I’m happy to have the feelings I have, and as soon as the expression of those feelings has the potential to impact another especially where power and authority are concerned, I need that to be overt.
During the conversation, he asked what Sir means to me when I say it from that place. I expressed that Sir is a way for me to acknowledge my feelings of submission – to acknowledge that there is a part of me that seeks direction and guidance from him – a way of showing Respect.
He consented to me addressing him in that way (yeah!) – and followed up with a question that went something like “what words communicate respect for you as a submissive?”
I had a very simple answer “I don’t wish to be respected in my submission. I wish to be cherished”.
Here’s why. To respect someone is to hold in them in high regard/esteem. To cherish someone is to hold them as dear – it implies holding someone as an object of affection. Do I wish to be cherished in all contexts? Certainly not – and as a pairing with holding someone in high regard (respect), cherish works for me. Remember – Taoist inquiries are all about context, and the context we are in at this moment is the one where I started calling this person Sir from a place of deep respect and high regard in me.
To be cherished helps me to stay in my feminine, and since I experience submission as an expression of my femininity… get it?
The Respect/Cherish coin can also be considered as respect for thought (masculine/yang) and cherish for feelings (feminine/yin), and in the context of D/s – where the S-identified individual experiences submission through his/her feminine, cherishing that person will help to cultivate more expression and expansion in his/her feminine and will make the ‘job’ of the dominant all the more easier in my opinion – at least any Dominant who is interacting with me with intent.
There are many ways to express dominance and submission, and Taoism isn’t the only way, or the best way – and it isn’t something I’m prescribing to you, and if this speaks to you, consider seeking respect in dominance and being cherished in submission.