A few months ago, a reader asked me if I would ever write a story about someone becoming a dominant. She was a submissive and really enjoyed reading about Melissa’s journey. Melissa’s doubts and uncertainty, coupled with the times when she simply throws herself headlong into potentially overwhelming situations, resonated deeply with this young reader’s personal experiences in exploring her own submissive nature. She naturally wondered about what a young dominant’s journey might be like.
Sadly, I have to admit that I ducked her question by giving her a silly response about how I'd get thrown out of the dominants guild if I ever spilled those secrets. To her credit, she called me out on avoiding an honest answer – I do love smart subs who are not afraid to speak the truth, even when I'm the one who is being called to account.
I can sometimes be blind to what an ass I’m being. The sooner someone points out my stupidity to me, the less damage I do and the easier it is to dig myself out of whatever stupid hole I've managed to dig. In the moment, I may not always be wonderfully grateful, but I do treasure the people in my life who confront me when I whig out. I absolutely believe that confrontation is an act of caring.
In this case, the young reader’s confrontation sent me off on an interesting journey. I realized that there are probably thousands of books like Summer Hire, which tell the story of a protagonist learning to be a submissive, but I’m not aware of any books that detail a dominant’s learning process. When I talk with other dominants, we seem to avoid discussing the fears and uncertainties we had to face in our early stages.
I suppose part of the mystique of dominants is maintaining the image that we have no fears or uncertainties, which is, of course, total nonsense.
There is a wonderful graphic novel, Sunstone, which touches on these issues, but mostly in passing. (I paid homage to this graphic novel in the name of the company that Erik saves.)
My own reality was that I was terrified by the urges I felt toward dominance. The idea that I enjoyed spanking, whipping, or tying up women seemed horribly abusive and wrong. For goodness sake, I was an early supporter of the National Organization of Women (NOW). I’m still deeply committed to the equality of men and women. So how could I possibly find it sexually arousing to beat women? I was convinced that I must be a horrible monster somewhere inside.
The reality was that I had no desire at all to actually hurt someone. Like Erik, I am not a sadist. As Amy so wonderfully points out in Chapter 40, “Sadist”, Erik has a fetish for spanking and whipping women. It is the visual imagery, the sound, and the sense of dominance – the whole scene that arouses him. But if the woman he was with did not actively enjoy what was happening, he would be completely turned off and immediately stop.
That distinction between fetish and sadism was very difficult for me to understand. It took many years for me to really trust that I was not some horrible predator. Every once in awhile, I still feel nagging tendrils of being a perpetrator, usually after a particularly intense scene is over. These fears come from my own lingering shame issues – not reality. My partner didn’t feel that I was being abusive.
Perhaps other dominants don’t wrestle with these feelings, or maybe they have other issues. I certainly have to believe that someone who is a sadist, such as Amy, must struggle in coming to terms with enjoying – in a healthy way – that their sexual arousal is at least partly based on causing someone else pain. Clearly, a wiling masochist would seem to be a necessary play partner, or else someone who is amazingly understanding and generous. I suspect I’m being selfish, but I'm very glad not to struggle with being a sadist. As difficult as it was for me to come to terms with being a dominant, I would have really freaked out about being a sadist.