One thing I struggle with as a dominant person is that I feel I should not ask anything of anyone that I cannot do myself.
For example... my boy has a blog (which he has asked me not to link to, as he chooses to keep it anonymous for the time being at least) which I have told him to update at least once a week. He has missed a couple of weeks, so I have asked him to have two posts up before Monday. Even as I told him this, I knew that I too was going to write two posts before Monday. Because I do not want him thinking that I am asking something of him that I am not willing to do myself.
There's no real reason for this... much of D/s is built on the idea that one person is in charge and has the power, and so if that person chooses to task their submissive with things they themselves do not take part in, that shouldn't be a problem.
So why do I think that this has to apply to me?
Much of it comes down to my own problems with authority. I have trouble respecting someone who has authority over me if they ask or tell me to do things they themselves aren't willing to do, or I have any suspicions that they might not be willing to do.
Sensei put me through some terribly difficult things, but I never doubted that he either would do it, or in fact had done it in the past. My parents never expected anything from me that they couldn't deliver themselves. I had the utmost trust and respect in my surgeon years ago, because as a tracheotomy patient himself he knew what it was like under the knife as well as holding it.
What is this elusive quality? What is it that makes me wonder whether or not someone would or had gone through what they put me through?
Most of it comes down to trust and experience. I want to trust that the person who is asking much of me knows what they're getting me into, and what better way to know for certain than to have gone through it themselves, or at least be willing to do so?
When I think back to people who had technical authority over me, but to whom I did not defer, that was missing. The other thing that was missing was respect.
When someone commands something of me, I need to know they respect me. If they give me respect, I will return it tenfold, and most likely do as they wish.
I am reminded of a story from martial arts... (oh, prepare to hear that sentence a lot in this blog!)
Sensei would often get his higher graded students to teach the class for half a session, or even a full session. This in itself was a teaching exercise - he was teaching his students, in turn, to teach. He was also watching them and seeing if they were capable of it.
Now obviously, this meant that if Sensei was ever out of town or sick (although I don't think he ever got sick before he died), one of his high graded students would teach the class. (And poor me would go without my private, one-on-one lessons from him for that week or two.)
There was one particular Senpai (loosely translated to 'upperclassman', perhaps best translated as 'knowledgeable student and teacher's aid') who we shall call Bill for the sake of this entry.
Bill, despite being a third level blackbelt, had no respect for other students. He was also a terrible teacher, but that's beside the point at the moment. Bill certainly had no respect for me, as I was a very young student. He was also a very arrogant person, who believed that because he could punch very hard and kick very high, he was a magnificent karateka (someone who does karate). This, of course, is not how karate works... to be truly good at karate, you have to live it and feel it within your spirit.
One evening class that Bill was teaching, his arrogance and his lack of care for the students left to him by Sensei was driving me crazy, and I couldn't take it anymore. I held up my hand and told him that I had to leave the class.
He demanded in a snobbish tone, "Why? What do you need to leave for?"
This was completely unacceptable, and his lack of respect for me had finally reached boiling point. I am very ashamed to admit that I sneered, "What does it matter to you?"
This was not respectful of me, and perhaps I should have known better, but I was only fourteen, so I am going to give myself a little slack on the issue.
He yelled at me and I yelled back, and we had a little spat before he finally excused me from the class. I do regret losing my cool with him, but I am proud of myself for waiting for his formal dismissal before actually leaving.
I would NEVER have acted this way with Sensei. Never in a thousand years. It wasn't fear that stopped me acting like this with Sensei, it was respect. I respected him, and I looked up to him. So of course I wouldn't be rude to him.
But this man, this Bill... he was so rude, so arrogant, and did not care for the learning experience of those left in his care. He had no respect for the other students, and we could all sense that... thus, we did not respect him either.
I think of Bill when I think about D/s sometimes. How if he had granted me respect as a student, I would have granted him respect as a teacher. He was a very technically skilled karateka and I could have learned much from him, if only there had been an exchange of respect.
I want any submissive in my care to know I respect them. This is very important to me. I only ask for what I am able to give when it comes to respect, and that is one of the most important things about this dynamic, about this lifestyle, for me.
I think that is where much of my fear comes from, even when it comes to tangible tasks. I am afraid that asking a task of someone that I am either not willing or not able to do myself is taking and being self indulgent like Bill was. I know, intellectually, that this is not the case, but emotionally, it will take a lot of time to learn.
But I will never compromise this belief when it comes to respect. I will always grant an exchange of respect with any submissive in my care - and, for that matter, with all other human beings on the planet, as long as they grant me the same.
Even a slave who desires to be treated like trash, abused and used and kept in harsh conditions... they deserve respect as well, perhaps more than anyone. Choosing to live according to desires such as that takes an immense amount of personal strength, and that should be respected.
Then, too, we must respect ourselves. If we do not respect ourselves, then we are empty of respect, and have none to offer those around us.