A Dominant Heart

~Fall 1998

I had a conversation with siku and moonflower about the scarcity in published literature of the dominant viewpoint. Stories told by and about submissives are everywhere, while dominant voices seem to be limited. Dominants talk about the scene; we talk about our relationships; we talk about how we came to realize we are dominant and what responsibilities we have; we don’t talk about why we are, or as a male submissive friend puts it, what we “get out of it.”
During our conversation we talked about why dominants might not feel comfortable revealing our innermost feelings and desires in a direct manner. There is the mystery factor, of course. There is the social stigma attached to people who crave power over others. Most of us simply know we are dominant and don’t attempt to put that wordless knowledge into statements or poetry or stories. Siku got to the core of that matter: no one is going to make us do the work to put those feelings into words. Dominants are constantly asking submissives to find words to express their feelings of submission and their desires and dreams. It becomes part of the trust and surrender to open up their hearts to their dominant. I say a submissive pleases me or makes me happy. I don’t go deeper and no one is going to make me–very few submissives have ever even asked me. So I offer this as a gift to my girls: you do make me very happy and know just how to please me (or are learning to do so). I am incredibly lucky to have found you and to have earned your love and respect.

I spent most of my life feeling insecure and extremely competitive. While part of this is a result of family dynamics and abuse I endured from a very young age, there is also a drive in me that makes me instinctively want to control everything. I get easily frustrated and even angry when something happens that doesn’t make sense to me. I feel that if it was done the way I wanted, it would be better, more efficient, etc. I won’t go into a long, psychological history of my life, just know that I hated to be proven wrong. I hated seeing things done badly when I could have done them better. I hated surprises because they were something I couldn’t anticipate or control, and I had a love-hate relationship with success–both fearing and craving the responsibilities that accompany it.

As a result of the archaic messages perpetuated in this society, I went through stages where I fantasized about being “taken care of” by a strong, macho-type male. He could protect me and pamper me and I would adore him. While the dynamic itself was attractive, the fantasies never worked for me. Same with my fantasies of being “taken” sexually. I loved the elements of bondage and restraint, humiliation and control, but it took a very long time before I realized I could be the one taking instead of being taken. THAT was the revelation of my life.

There is a stigma attached to people who crave power, who seek it out and seem to thrive on it. Powerful women are especially mistrusted and discouraged. Even within the feminist movement, it is acceptable to be powerful in the workplace and to empower oneself, but to seek to gain power over others is a masculine, and therefore bad, thing. However, I NEED power in order to be happy. I NEED to be in control, to feel the surge of responsibility and energy and know that there is at least one person in the world who puts my desires and opinion above even her own. I love watching a submissive struggle to find the strength to complete a task I assigned her. I adore making a submissive squirm in pleasure and pain until she can’t tell the difference anymore and I become the only person in her world. The very control and power that I craved all my life is now given to me freely and repeatedly by a submissive who is trusting me with her innermost self. I could destroy her or send her flying. I have that much power.

There is a sexual thrill that comes with this power. That is undeniable. There is a heady emotional rush that isn’t sexual but feels oh so invigorating when I know that someone is under my power–that she looks to me for approval and protection and satisfaction. I hear submissives talk about the freedom they feel in surrendering all responsibility to a dominant. There is a corresponding freedom for dominants. For one part of my life I get to be fully myself. I don’t have to be ladylike or demure or polite or civil. I don’t have to curb my desire for power. I don’t have to pretend to be what my partner expects me to be. I can simply be. There is also a primitive pride that comes from collaring a submissive–showing to the community that I have won her and she is mine and would do anything I ask of her. Maybe it’s a survival instinct or a territorial drive, all I know is that I feel about 10 inches taller ever time I see my “mark” on someone, and it doesn’t matter whether that mark is a collar or a symbolic behavior pattern or a physical reminder of some activity we shared.

So, now I’ve revealed myself as the controlling, power-hungry, primitive, perverted woman I am. No wonder there is so much abuse in our community and so many in the vanilla world see us as brain washers and submissives as victims. If you think of the dominant as having three layers, we’ve only covered two. There is the outer self that consists of the behaviors and ideas, the personality and the reputation. This is what the world sees–the whips and paddles, handcuffs and spreader bars, boots and leather corsets, the title “Mistress” and the smile when a sub begs for mercy. The next layer is what I’ve just described–what it feels like to dominate. When outsiders get a glimpse of it, it terrifies them and they run out trying to warn everyone. When a submissive sees it, she thinks “someone who can give me what I want!” The third layer is what I’m going to call the Dominant Heart — the corresponding part to the submissive heart you see so often touted on websites.

I want to take a moment to point out that even though I’m about to start using words like “deeper” and “more” to describe this third layer, there is nothing wrong with people who operate out of the second layer of domination. They are not “shallow” or “less” than those who possess a dominant heart. If they are happy expressing this need for power and control and find partners who enjoy sharing their activities, more happiness, and power, to them. They don’t have to go to any level they don’t want to and they don’t have to have a “dominant heart” in order to act and live as a dominant. Perhaps their heart is fed by other dynamics and other relationships and they keep D/s as a part of their life without needing it to be what I am about to describe. Maybe they just haven’t met the submissive who makes them realize they can be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is, I think, the key to a dominant heart–to any heart. Anytime someone drops all their masks and exposes their innermost desires, faults, and self, they are vulnerable. As a dominant, that has been something very hard for me to admit. I want to be in control, but realizing the full realm of control means exposing myself to pain and rejection and everything else that is out of my control. With a few submissives, I have opened myself up beyond the behaviors and the scenes. I return the trust that I demand of them. I trust them to see my doubts and fears and faults and still respect me as a dominant. While that is not the same kind of trust asked of a submissive facing a dominant with a paddle in hand, I am just as vulnerable to pain and even permanent damage.

It is about trust…and honesty and truth and vulnerability. The dominant heart is open to and for the submissive. I feed on the power she is giving me out of trust and love and return it in the form of protection, guidance, and devotion. I don’t want her to idolize me, but to respect me. Not to fear me, but to respond to the power I wield over her. I want her to see my clay feet and still want to kiss them. Only when she sees the real, inner, imperfect me can she truly submit to me and not some image in her mind of what a dominant should be. That requires an incredible amount of honesty and willingness to make myself vulnerable to my submissive.

I can dominate someone without this level of exposure. I can train someone in behaviors or theories without showing her my inner self. I operate with complete honesty within whatever level I choose for a specific relationship or encounter. I do crave this other level, though. I am not going to get the same thrill of acceptance and respect if I don’t open myself as fully to the sub as I demand she opens herself to me. So I find myself seeking a person who is independent and intelligent and has enough integrity to be honest and open. I am not going to make myself vulnerable to someone who lacks these qualities because I won’t relish the submission to the same degree.

One important facet of domination is the fierce protectiveness most of us display. This takes two guises. The most obvious is the external protection of our charges, our property, from people or situations who threaten harm of any kind. The more subtle form is the desire to protect the submissive from herself, and even from myself. Having opened myself to her, I understand how vulnerable her submissiveness makes her. I want to protect her from being hurt. This translates into teaching her how to behave, encouraging her to learn and grow, and helping her make decisions in her life that will make her more confident and capable so that she is less vulnerable. I get the satisfaction of knowing she is becoming a better person as a direct result of my guidance and support. I get to be teacher, mentor, protector–a more subtle and long-term form of power and control, but one that has lovely rewards.

The best part of all is that there is another person who is having her deepest desires and needs satisfied by me being exactly what I am. How many people in the world can feel that way? Knowing that there is someone who sees the kinky, some would say sick & evil, fantasies and needs and who not only accepts that as part of you, but shares it because it is what she herself needs–this is an indescribable happiness. Many people want to be what their partner dreams, want to give him/her everything she wants. As a dominant I get to give my submissive exactly what she needs by simply being myself. To use a cliche: it’s the ultimate “win-win situation.”

I sometimes wonder that submissives can’t see we are two sides of the same coin: the same feeling of acceptance, freedom, and self-expression that they feel by submitting, we feel by dominating. They serve the dominant both because they want to make us happy and because they enjoy service itself. We dominate because we know the submissive enjoys it and because we get pleasure from the act in itself (whether it is watching a sub squirm in humiliation, orgasm, or pain inflicted by some sadist toy). The flavor may be a bit different, but the joy, ecstasy and feeling of liberation is the same.