Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The selflessness inherent in dominance

I’ve talked before about the selflessness required and inherent in submission, but I’ve been thinking lately about the selflessness required in dominance…and I’ve finally organised my thoughts into at least slight organisation ;) Of the many lessons I’ve learned thus far in life, one of them is that to an extent, neither party is truly selfless, but both partners do act selflessly in many ways.

And without a doubt, a man who leads a woman is acting selflessly. He has accepted the responsibility of his lady's welfare, a responsibility that may mean difficult decisions. In return, he has a lady who will do everything she can to please him and he has the rewarding knowledge of knowing that his decisions benefit another person.

As a somewhat goofy example, on the show “Friends,” there was an episode where Phoebe sets out on a quest to do something “completely selfless.” By her definition, this means she has to do something that benefits someone else, but it has to be something that doesn’t benefit her at all. Throughout the episode, she tries various things, but continually feels defeated because eventually, she realises that she did benefit from each act. At one point, she even decides that feeling good about her good deed makes it a selfish act. Basically, in Phoebe’s mind, selflessness and selfishness cannot exist at the same time…but I think they can and usually do. I honestly forget how she finally resolved her quest, but it’s a silly, (but still relevant) analogy of how there must be a certain level of selflessness in a Taken in Hand relationship, but that at the end of the day, there’s still an inherent and perfectly reasonable level of selfishness too. We are drawn to selflessness because it makes us feel good about ourselves, because we enjoy making others happy…but we’re also drawn to it because we want the object of our selflessness to reciprocate and because we want to feel wanted and needed.

Whilst I can’t speak for anyone else, I know that for me, much of the appeal in submission is twofold: I absolutely love to do nice things for my man, to act and behave in manners that make him happy and boost his ego. But I also love that I’m important enough to him that he makes the effort to set and carry out rules for me, and I love that he not only wants my contributions, but that to some extent he needs them.

On the surface, the man’s job might look easy. He gets everything “his way,” his wife is at his beck and call and he can do as he pleases. But with a truly dominant man, a head of a household, that is anything but true.

Whilst the woman has given up her independence in order to submit to a man, she gains far more in return. She gains the security and stability of entrusting herself and her well-being to her man, knowing that he will always strive to do what is best for her – even if that means extra difficulty for himself. And she gains the happiness that he values her…that he would miss her selflessness greatly if it ceased.

So, following that, a truly dominant man makes his decisions based on what is best for both of them…often times sacrificing his own wants for her needs. He must take into account her well-being, her needs and perhaps most importantly, her feminine nature and her feelings. A dominant man has the responsibility of acting maturely and doing what is right, rather than doing what feels good or what might be easier. In essence, one of the marks of a naturally dominant and mature man is his ability to make difficult and sound decisions. And there is an enormous amount of selflessness in that.

Someone I know who agrees with traditional gender roles recently told me that he wanted and expected obedience and compliance from the women he knows…even those who are just friends (only those who are submissively-minded, of course). I was merely surprised by the statement at the time, but as time goes on, I find myself a bit bothered by it. In that scenario, the woman is expected to act selflessly, full stop…it requires work and emotional commitment on her part, but no commitment on his part. I’m having a hard time understanding what the woman gets from the scenario. She does get the immediate gratification of having pleased him, but if there is no work or commitment on his part, then her joy is short-lived. Because he doesn’t need her, and that dynamic requires absolutely no commitment from him…he enjoys the submissive companionship for as long as it suits him and then that’s it, services no longer needed. His rationale for this scenario was that since the power distribution is unbalanced, then the benefit is as well. But I think that’s where I disagree…the man holds the authority in the relationship, of course, but both partners benefit equally from it. Otherwise, isn’t it just dysfunctional? It brings me back to my feeling that much of the joy of submission for me is the knowledge that he needs me as much as I need him…that I’m valued, wanted and needed.

And conversely, I want to know that I am the only one who obeys my goes back to feeling valued, wanted and needed. If another woman is obeying him, then am I really providing anything to him?

In all honesty, I myself am not a radically selfless person…but I know from experience that when I feel wanted, needed and valued by a man, I am compelled and drawn to obey him, to please him…to act selflessly. It isn’t something I have to remind myself to do or something that feels like a chore, it feels like perfection. I want to please him as much as he is pleasing me. But, I don’t feel compelled to obey every man who requests it of me…I need to receive something back in return.

I do think that women should defer, in very small ways, to men in general. I think that women shouldn’t use foul language, but I’m ok with men doing so. I think that men should always open doors for women, offer to carry their bags, etc. But, I don’t think that all women should obey all men. I think that a woman should only obey the rules of a man who has made a commitment to her…her obedience should come not only from wanting to please him, but also from the knowledge and security that he will value that obedience and that he will take care of her.

The general public criticises traditional gender roles largely because they claim that women suffer from it, from being unvalued…and I find that mentality frustrating because in my mind, I would be valued more for my submission…I become more ingrained in his life as a result, not less so.

I was having dinner with someone else a couple of weeks ago, another man who shares my views on traditional gender roles, and I surprised myself by stating “I don’t even want to date right now. I know I’ll regret it later, but I just don’t.” And it wasn’t until later that I realised that it’s not that I don’t want to find the right man…I do, very much. It’s that dating is so frustrating and tiring and feels so useless, because those selfless men seem so rare. I go on so many dates, only to meet men who are too scared, too unwilling or too unable to stand up and be selfless, dominant men. They talk the talk magically…but the walk just isn’t there.

As strong as I may be at this point in my life, perfectly capable of taking care of myself and enjoying single life, I miss the selflessness of submission…I miss having someone to please, I miss the motivation of knowing that I’m obeying someone, that my actions are making that person feel wanted and needed. I miss making a man feel important. I miss the accountability…but mostly, I miss knowing that a man cares enough about me to act selflessly toward me.

I’ve realised that it hampers my own motivation if I don’t feel confident that he himself is acting selflessly…I need to know that the rules and structure he’s set up are making both of us better people, that those rules and structure are bringing us closer together. I need to know that he cares about the relationship as much as I do.

It all goes back to the fairytale…I want the fairytale :)


Egghead said...

So, does submission carry a reward in itself? I am asking because you write the following:

> Someone I know who agrees
> with traditional gender
> roles recently told me
> that he wanted and
> expected obedience and
> compliance from the
> women he knows…even
> those who are just
> friends (only those
> who are submissively-
> minded, of course).
> I was merely surprised
> by the statement at
> the time, but as time
> goes on, I find myself
> a bit bothered by it.
> In that scenario, the
> woman is expected to act
> selflessly, full stop…
> it requires work and
> emotional commitment
> on her part, but no
> commitment on his part.

> I’m having a hard time
> understanding what
> the woman gets from
> the scenario.

I usually tell people who think that my marriage is controversial that we have merely divided the tasks between us and that management happens to be one of my tasks. So my wife derives the benefit of being well managed. But doesn't the submission carry a reward in itself? Isn't it satisfying to be required to obey for no particular reason at all? A wife I once knew used to tell me that she sometimes disagreed with or disliked something her husband asked her to do. But when she was ordered to do it and complied, she got that very pleasurable feeling of having obeyed. What do you think?

David Brady said...

Very interesting blog you have here. I look forward to reading more.

Sven B. said...

Hi Cindarella

I just found your blog, thanks to Egghead. I'm looking forward to investigate it furthermore.

You're a remarkable woman. So feminine and yet so strong. I admire that you know what you want and go for it.

I believe you're right that selfishness and selflessness must go hand in hand. Both parties must accept responsibility for the other. The responsibility is different for the man and the woman, but they must both be responsible. And both must want and gain from the relationship, that's the selfishness part.

Like Egghead, I'm a believer in this kind of traditional marriage. Unfortunately, I do not live in one.

Thanks and good luck. I'll go on reading.

Sven B.

Anonymous said...

A real man isn't always spying and evaluating every move his wife makes. He is loving and generous and hard working and has a right to trust that his wife is loving and generous and trustworthy also. The wife of such an honorable man willingly submits to him because he is so honorable and she trusts that he will be loving and fair with her. A woman who chooses to be in a taken in hand relationship feels a need for this security and she will be happy because her needs are being met. The rewards are happiness, security, love,and commitment. There is no fear when you love and trust your husband.

Stephen said...

Miss Cinderella,

The reason I believe that you feel a tad uncomfortable with the version where submission is demanded even of casual relationships is because you rightly sense it is not based upon a proper model. The reason it feels right for you to sub-mit to the man who will hopefully be your husband is because he is co-mitted to you! Without your complete trust in his willingness to sacrifice himself in order to guide you for your benefit and your deep security that he is irrevocably committed to you, it is hard to give that complete and total surrender of your will (not your personality) that gives you that sense of freedom.

Without that commitment and the taking on that responsibility on his side, it is simply power gratification on his part. Some people are happy with that but it is a one way relationship really and I dont think it engenders a healthy emotional reservoir.