Circumstance had me listening to these words as sung by Mick Jagger, Sir Mick now, and thinking just the opposite. What is a horse? Perhaps a horse is a skittish, in need of affectionate care, but nonetheless, deeply loyal, loving, and colossally spiritual animal. How do I know? I am one.
A slave, too, is a beast of burden. But the burden is light, for the carrying of it is what puts the spring in our steps. Slave. I chew the word in my mouth. Savour it. “Slave” is a clumsy word. A heavy word, sounding a bit like what it might feel like to be spread, thick and viscous like peanut butter across a piece of hot toast. Slathered. Warming to the feeling. Slaves belong on floors with underfloor heating. It sure makes life a lot more comfy. And after all, who would want to be cruel to a slave?
When my children were evaluating boarding schools, I wondered the same. I judged the Heads of House by how they treated their pets, cat or dog, invariably it was one or the other. You cannot be a Head of House without a pet. If for nothing else, it creates the right image. But watch carefully how they treat their animals. A healthy mix of discipline and affection or is there a hint of bullying. It is remarkable how people reveal themselves in this way. If you happen to encounter a Head of House with just such a mean streak, walk away.
Okay, the boarding school analogy is far afield. But the parallels surround us. Entitled people are not okay. The “kick down, kiss up,” mindset is so not on.
When I look at a Domina, it has been a part of what informs me. Will she pet me even if she is beating me? Will she never degrade me, because a bigger me has more to serve her with than a beaten down me?
I spoke once to a wonderfully well-known Domina about the parallels between life as a dog and life as a human dog, and she was dismissive of the parallels. I think she said, “but he’s a dog.” The topic was devotion. After, I commiserated with other slaves and submissives. We despaired. “But isn’t that kind of selfless devotion the whole point?” lamented one.
Is selfless service even possible?
Probably not. If it is, it is gained at the cost of our humanity. At least in relation to a fellow human. But selfless service to the self is possible—and such service can be deeply healthy. What does that mean? If service to another fulfils you on a deep and untouchable level, then this is also service to the self.
I think of Buddhist monks, but in truth, I could think of anyone who gives up everything in service to God. Socially, we admire this, we regard it as a higher force, and accept God’s dominion because God is an essence that is above us all. But what of the atheist? It hardly makes sense to replace God with another supreme being of some kind, or even to invest another human with divine properties. Some religions don’t have a God, per se, but rather a sense of the collective, which is an embodied, if diffuse, form of the divine. Others have saints or spirits who are revered for the good works they made in life.
I happen to be a believer and have an active spiritual life. I am not “religious” in the sense that I ascribe to a particular religious doctrine—though raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, having attended a church school—I do not “observe”. Too much evil has been committed in the name of the Church over time, it remains a powerful instrument of the patriarchy and continues to arbitrate female virtue…I cannot in good conscience attend.
But I do believe that we are surrounded by God as Energy, that there is God in all of us and in all things, and that we can hear and feel God if we simply stop and listen.
Ex-Mistress abjured me to not put the Domina on a pedestal. I don’t. At least at the individual level. We are all humans. We are all equal. No matter who we are, where we come from. Some of us have the good fortune of getting to sit on thrones of various sizes, thrones of achievement, but they are no better than toilets, for we are all made of the same stuff, and our effluent is always just as bad.
Yes, many (mostly) men seek out dominatrices to be degraded. That is a common trope. It is easy to go from there to “she is superior”. Whether this is true is not a point I wish to argue. We are all equal…and not a case of “some are more equal than others”. The two parties are willing participants and are playing out something that needs to be played out. I do not judge.
But just as with God, sometimes a concept inspires you. Sometimes a person inspires you, a human embodiment of the concept. Isn’t that enough? And because concepts arise within ourselves, what matter if the trigger is another person. Why be upset if that person spoke to you through the language of the erotic?
A number of people have remarked to me recently that I am very focussed on the journey. Part of me felt judged. Another person post judgement/comment remarked on her own inability to live in the present. The people we both know, she demurred, all suffer from this. Suffer. A focus on the future is suffering?! I guess it is.
Having your cake and eating it tomorrow does nothing for the homeless person sleeping rough when the night is so cold s/he might expire. Ditto for the spiritual self. There is no tomorrow. There is only how we conduct ourselves today. How we are. Nothing else matters than the present.
“Live for the moment,” has been derided as some kind of self-indulgent holdout from the hippie days…a period and way of being that was besmirched but seems to be coming back now in a new form.
I have been coming to terms with the idea that I am a slave who is not inherently submissive. I would rebel instantly against unenlightened or unthoughtful, unfeeling, uncaring domination. Who needs it. Not everyone “deserves” to be on the left of the slash. My existence on the right of the slash doesn’t mean that anyone on the left automatically trigger these feelings.
But anyone who I like, anyone who is a friend, or is a loved one, anyone with whom I have a shared bond of intimacy…those people are all possibly recipients of a slave’s devotion. When I think of Sir Mick’s lyrics, I think just the opposite. I was born to be your beast of burden. I can carry an awful lot. I would rather start that way with my fellow humans than its opposite. It gives me pleasure to carry the load. To be there for someone, to be there for people. If that is how I “get off” or feel my own humanity, should it matter?