The West Wing Perspective on Training vs. Romance
Essential Estate Structure: Merit
First, let’s clarify our terms for the purposes of this discussion.
- S/M: Sado-Masochism. The inflicting and/or receiving of physical and/or emotional pain for the Fulfillment of (presumably both) partners.
B/D: Bondage and Discipline. Usually sexualized play. Often, but not by definition, an expression of D/S.
- D/S: Dominance and Submission. This will be the focus of the discourse. D/S does not necessarily involve the above definitions of S/M or B/D. It is a power dynamic, and the absolute foundation of Estate training.
S/M and B/D are expressions of D/S for Estate purposes. D/S is the foundation, the structure on which training is built. It is not an excuse for B/D play, or S/M exchange. B/D and S/M may be entirely missing from a servant’s training, if the Trainer feels it is appropriate. BD/SM are tools with which to reinforce, reward, punish or correct trainee behavior not an end unto itself.
Merit vs. Charity
To follow this line of reasoning, I am going to use a phrase coined by Soulhuntre “Merit over Charity”. This idea suggests the somewhat radical concept that what a submissive does actually matters.
There is a fallacy at work, a double standard. This somewhat confusing situation comes from fear and insecurity. Conventional wisdom suggests that the only proper and acceptable place for disapproval is play in that actual disapproval could cause such damaging emotional consequences, that, like liquid oxygen, it should never be handled by laymen. Somehow, submissives have become such fragile creatures that any hint of genuine disapproval or displeasure is as dangerous as a sledgehammer. Expectations are possibly lethal.
If there can be no disapproval, there can be no evaluation. If I cannot evaluate the performance of a trainee, than what she does doesn’t actually matter. Pass or fail, good or bad, she gets a pat on the head, praise and attention. Which means that the praise is empty, and therefore worthless as is any reward garnered for said “performance”. Which renders both Trainer and trainee empty, worthless playacting at best, bitterly compromised and frustrated at worst.
As a trainee, a submissive, a slave would you really want your efforts to mean nothing? Would you want your Master’s praise and approval to mean nothing? Would an empty compliment for a half hearted job be enough? For most, the answer seems to be “Yes.” Not here. Not ever. But to strive for praise which means something, a risk has to be taken. The risk of failure. The specter of failure looms so high and dark in the minds and hearts of some applicants that they shut their eyes and settle for mediocre existence’s. No real authority, no real service, no real achievement. An Estate trainee has to risk disapproval, disappointment, and shame… because what she does matters.
Service vs. Play
There is nothing wrong with play. The Estate, however, is not weekend entertainment for bored subs. This is simply the wrong environment for the applicant looking for a “good time.” The Estate invests considerable time and effort into applicants and trainees. The servant who wishes to be more desirable to a prospective Dominant, the slave who has been sent to be trained up to his Mistress’ specifications, the submissive who simply wants to be as sharp and effective as she can for herself. These are appropriate motivations. Not to say there is no room for BD/SM- far from it. But the attention of a trainer, even negative attention, is a reward. It means you have earned enough time and respect for an Estate trainer to try to help you improve, or that you have merited attention for some positive reason.
The advantage that trainees to the Estate have is simple. We don’t love you.
Training vs. Romance
I know it sounds harsh and it was meant to. But it’s an important idea to address up front.
At the Estate, we have hopes and respect for trainees. If we did not think an applicant could succeed, we would not accept him. Simple. We come to care for our friends, the extended family which our trainees can become. Your health, your welfare, even your happiness are our concern.
But we are not doing this because we love you. Many people cannot understand submission without love. That’s fine, The Estate is not for everyone. Neither is the Army. But both the Estate and the Army have certain ideas in common. Standards are not compromised by affection. It is hard to express dissatisfaction with someone with whom you are in love. The temptation to compromise is a hard one to resist. And when you love someone, you are tempted to bend over backwards in order to keep them, in order to get them not to leave. This puts the power in their hands to some degree, and creates the situation of a dominant losing his authority in order to keep a submissive and everything falls apart.
So we are looking back to Merit vs. Charity again. Would a trainee rather be told she is worthy of a collar because love happens to be smiling on her and her Mistress? Or would she rather know that she has it because she earned it, and renews that privilege every day? Which is worth more? Love is fickle. Respect is earned.
As Sir C once said: “This is what we are about”.
And we are not for everyone.