Recently I was asked to share my thoughts on “Servitude”. At first, I was a bit hesitant to broach this subject, because I have strong feelings about the topic and I didn’t want to come off as judgmental. On top of that, I was challenged to write this as a prose piece, over a poetic piece. Which, honestly, made me even more hesitant. However, I also realized that I was being pushed, that my requester had their reasons behind asking me to write my thoughts out in prose (rather than poetry). I respect that, and so…here you go:
What is “Servitude”?
Not that I didn’t know what the term meant. However, in preparation for this, I decided to look up the actual definition of “Servitude” and found multiple definitions. These are the two that chose to go with:
1. a condition in which an individual lacks liberty, especially to determine his or her course of action or way of life; specifically: the state of being a slave.
- the state of being a slave or completely subject to someone more powerful.
synonyms: slavery, enslavement, bondage, subjugation, subjection, domination
Hmmm…right out of the gates a negative tone has been set. Slavery, enslavement… those are two major trigger words to insight a riot, especially in today’s culture and climate. All I could see was the negative connotation behind the words. Slavery…as in the shackling of a person’s free will? That is unheard of and not a part of my vocabulary. At the same time, I began thinking about the concept of servitude, separate from the concept of slavery.
Now, please keep in mind… I am not a Master. I do not ascribe to the label of Master, nor the dynamic of Master/slave. Also, none of this is meant to attack anyone that does practice that lifestyle either. To each their own, and whatever suits their needs…well, is what suits their needs. I’m not here to judge or be judgmental. I say all that, to explain that I approach the idea of “servitude” differently.
The question at hand is… what is “servitude” in the BDSM lifestyle? I’ve seen it further defined as “performing personal tasks for their dominant partner, as part of their submissive role in a BDSM relationship.” Therefore, servitude isn’t limited to the M/s lifestyle. Instead, you will find it throughout the various lifestyles, regardless of whatever label you choose to claim (although, I believe we are each more than just a label, but that is a topic for another day).
Just as each submissive and each Dominant are different, so are their needs. Unless they are strictly bedroom submissives limiting their activities mainly to play, many (and perhaps most) submissives have the basic need to serve. That is one of the things that makes them submissive to begin with. They derive pleasure and satisfaction from serving their Dominant in some way, shape or form. Failure to please their dominant in whatever ‘personal task’ he/she is to complete, has an emotional impact on them (even beyond the punishment aspect of BDSM).
So, what does servitude look like to me?
To me, it flows both ways and is only achievable through communication of one’s needs. I believe that the best Doms should have a servant’s heart. I know what you’re thinking… “what are you talking about!? A Dom with a servant’s heart…” Follow along with me. The Dominant should always be aware of the submissive’s needs, and be working to meet their submissive’s needs. Just as the submissive should be working to meet the Dominant’s needs. This isn’t a one-way street. The Dominant isn’t the only one whose needs are to be met. If that is the case, the relationship will crumble and fall apart. That being said, the Dominant should always be serving (hence the servant’s heart) the submissive’s needs, by being aware of what those needs are and meeting them.
Meeting the submissive’s needs for servitude can be achieved in multiple different ways. For example, this can be done through giving “tasks”, or by setting expectations (for something more long-term arrangement). Let me just say, I don’t believe in giving tasks just for the purpose of giving tasks. Whatever is asked, should be done to benefit and build the sub, and/or to meet their needs. Anything else is just a waste of time and nothing more than rote punishment for doing nothing wrong.
Likewise, she should be working to meet my needs, whatever they may be at the time. Most of those kinds of things can be worked out, especially in a long-term, permanent arrangement. Whether it be ironing shirts, pouring a drink, rubbing of shoulders, cooking supper…you name it… every need is different. Here’s the thing though, I don’t want a submissive to do it just because I gave it to her as a task to complete…or else. I want them to do it because they want to do it for me, because they know in return I am working to take care of them and to meet their needs as well. If that makes any sense?
As for me, personally, I need a submissive that will push me, and challenge me. No, not in a bratty way. (Although, don’t get me wrong, that can be fun too.) I’m talking about intellectually. I’m talking about seeing what my needs are instinctively, and serving me, because she knows…that’s what I need.
Well, this has been a fun exercise, and while you may or may not agree with what I have said…I hope I have either enlightened you, or made you think, in some way.
AC Elliott, 11-Jul-18