Apparently I'm feeling a bit wordy today.
I was reading a post over on Fetlife about rituals and 'an average day in a D/s household' and things, and I had a few thoughts.
First of all, a lot of people say "well it's like any household" and I know where they're coming from, because I feel like that too, but we're not really. I remember this when I have vanilla folks come to stay, and they look a little awkward when I tell the boy to do something. Tell, not ask. People do pick up on little things like that.
But anyway, that got me thinking about something else. Politeness.
I think it's interesting to watch tops/doms interacting with their bottoms/subs with a view to politeness. Some people are rough and harsh, some people are polite but firm. I think it's interesting that everyone has a different style (and good too, how boring would it be if we were all the same).
I tend to be quite polite towards my submissives. I don't feel like I am much of the time, but when I compare my behaviour to other people it's clear that I am.
Even the order-giving protocol between the boy and I show this. When I want the boy to do something and it's a direct order, I precede it with the words "would you kindly...". This is partially because I am an enormous nerd (it's a BioShock reference), but it also serves a couple of other purposes. For example, it's something I can say when in vanilla company and it comes across as a polite request rather than an order, and I do believe in being somewhat discreet in certain types of company. Secondly, it's polite and kind and gentle, and these are things that I like to consider myself, as a dominant and as a person.
When I am in D/s atmospheres (that is, ones where there is an unspoken atmosphere of all dominants having a slightly higher standing that all submissives... it's very hard to explain, but it's Advanced D/s(tm) so I think it's more of a "you know it when you see it" thing rather than something that can be shown specifically), it's in my nature to be extremely polite to submissives. Probably even more polite than I am to other dominants.
I'm not sure exactly why this is, though I have a few theories.
One theory is that in these types of contexts, submissives often *are* performing service, whether it be specifically towards me or more towards everyone - and even if they're not, it often still has an atmosphere of being *prepared* to serve. I think that service is a valuable thing and I want to show my gratitude towards submissives who serve.
Another is that if there is a palatable power imbalance, I want the submissives to know that I respect them and their personhood, regardless of power imbalances. One way I do this is with politeness.
And I think really that's what politeness is about. It's about respecting people's personhood. That's one of the biggest reasons that I believe in politeness - not just in a D/s context, but in general.
An interesting experience I had was when a submissive that belonged to a friend of mine was at dinner with my family. Their dominant was not present, and they were helping out with setting the table and things. I handed them something and asked them to put it on the table, and after they did so they came back and asked what I had said after I had asked that, because they didn't quite hear me. I shrugged and said that I had simply said "please". They were a little surprised and we had a joke together about the fact they're not accustomed to hearing "please" aimed at them.
It's something I have learned about my natural dominating style. I like to say "please" and "thank you". It doesn't make me less in control and it doesn't make my orders not orders. It's just something that I enjoy. It's a way that I can show my gratitude towards submissives who serve me.
As my Leather family and household will grow, I can see that this will become something that I will continue to do. Even should I own a slave/pet/etc, I will still say "please" and "thank you" to them, even when it accompanies orders. It's something I enjoy. It's my little way of saying "thank you for serving me" every time I give an order.