Tuesday, July 26, 2011

INTERNAL ENSLAVEMENT part 1 - "What constitutes slavery in M/s context?"

So, I am starting a series of articles on the concept of "Internal Enslavement" (IE) that is described on the website http://www.enslavement.org.uk. I find the ideas presented in the essays on this website very thought provoking and inspiring, and as a submissive D/s lifestyler I can relate to a lot mentioned there.

Some background about the internet resource that I will be using for the series of articles: The IE website was initiated by the Fetlife user Tanos in 1997. He is an M/s lifestyler since many years, living in the UK with his long-term female slave mia. Tanos has written many essays on the dynamics of Master/slave and is still active with doing so. Until 2009 he published them on the www.enslavement.org.uk website together with his former long-term slave lili who also wrote many essays. So the website presents the Dominant's and the submissive's perspectives. They also present essays of other people who are active D/s lifestylers.

Tanos' "newer" writings since 2009 (after he and lili had split up) are published on the website http://www.ownership-possession.com. It is a highly interesting resource for D/s and M/s lifestylers as well. Background info you can find on http://www.tanos.org.uk/.
So you see this man is quite active with publically promoting M/s lifestyle and his ideas about it. I don't know Tanos in person, and the reason that I am doing some articles inspired by the Internal Enslavement website's essays is simply that I am fascinated by them. I am convinced that they can hold up with the reality of an M/s relationship in real life. They also have a quite scientific approach to it, not just because psychology plays a role. They say "We believe it is essential that theories of ownership are tested by comparison with the real lives of slaves and submissives". I specifically like this approach, because it is grounded in a healthy realism and not a "D/s bliss ideology" that might more of an illusion than grounded in the world of real relationships as they can be. A lot of the information given on the IE website deals with M/s and personality which in my opinion is very important to put focus on when you want to conduct a long-term successful M/s relationship.

So, first of all, what is "Internal Enslavement?" (IE)
Some keywords to "frame" the term would be "Master/slave" ... "Total Power Exchange" ... "Psychology" ... "Analysis" ... The concept of "Internal Enslavement" deals with the question if a radical consensual slavery is possible in an M/s context that is based on the pillars of safety, sanity, consensual and mutual trust, respect and commitment, in the physical, emotional and mental area of relationship. According to Tanos the answer is yes. Radical consensual slavery is possible (-> TPE = Total Power Exchange). It is a goal you can work towards to step by step, and you can make more and more achievements towards this goal. Tanos also believes that there are certain techniques derived from psychological knowledge that help with the "examination of a female slave's thoughts, emotions and past experiences to establish and maintain a solid and inescapable state of ownership".

In this article, I decided to focus on the question "What constitutes slavery in M/s context?".
In the IE concept, there is one plain simple answer to this: The submissive needs to be a "natural slave" in order to make an intimate M/s relationship work long-term for the sake of happiness and satisfaction of the Master and the slave. Before going into some details, I want to cite Tanos former slave lilli. She wrote about her relationship with her Master: "He changed my life in ways too numerous to mention and i owe much of my inner strength and happiness to him. For that he has my respect and undying loyalty." I think this puts in a nutshell what many submissives wish to achieve in their D/s relationship. Maybe some of you reading this article and can very much relate to this. A slave having this feeling about her Master must be truly happy and not need much else in her life.

We can read "To be a Natural Slave - to be a slave by nature - implies that the individual has some inherent, innate or inborn character trait which predisposes them to slavery in some way." Tanos believes that if a submissive is a "Natural Slave", there are certain techniques derived from psychological knowledge that help with the "examination of a female slave's thoughts, emotions and past experiences to establish and maintain a solid and inescapable state of ownership" (-> TPE = Total Power Exchange). So to speak, "enslavement" in M/s context is a process of purposely influencing and occupying/possessing more and more of the "inside" of a submissive (--> "internal" enslavement).

A huge aspect of determining what constitutes the being of a "natural slave" is that they seem to show a lover level of every-day "Reactance" (psychological concept first described by Brehm in 1966). Reactance is an emotional reaction to mentally or really experienced restriction of freedom. It is an emotional reaction that you could call "inner rebellion" in order to reestablish personal freedom; hence it leads to actions of resistance, struggle and fight until the restricted freedom is re-achieved again. In case the freedom cannot be restored there is a typical turning point that is described as "reaching the peak of reactance": giving in, trying to settle with the situation that seems inescapable ... when it is dramatic it can lead to depression etc. If You want to read about "Reactance" in greater detail, I advise you these two resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactance_%28psychology%29 and http://www.enslavement.org.uk/reactance

On http://www.enslavement.org.uk/natural we can read:

"Submissives may experience lower levels of total Reactance (roughly stress), when their freedom is restricted, compared to when they are free; and that they also don't experience the depression and low performance which psychologists observe with "normal" people in psychologically defined helplessness."

"We can go further and use Reactance to define a type of slave: a Natural Slave is a slave for whom slavery can be better than freedom, since they have the capacity to experience less Reactance when living in that condition, without the depression normally associated with Helplessness. Thus they are suited to slavery by their nature - by some inherent quality of their psychological makeup."

"Even though Natural Slaves in this IE sense may experience slavery as a positive experience, other factors in their environment may prevent this. Notably, if the Master behaves in a destructive way, ignoring fundamental needs, then the Helplessness may become negative rather than positive for the slave."

This is why I brought up the pillars safety, sanity, consensual and mutual trust, respect and commitment in the beginning.

We can also read an explanation of what mechanism could be at work in an M/s relationship that is based on informed consent (next to safety, sanity, mutual respect, trust and commitment). Keyword: "Paradoxical Gratitude / Stockholm Syndrome"

"Such phenomena can be seen as" survival strategies to cope with defeat. In particular, there may be a sexual dimension when the captor is male and the captive female, since the female's reproductive success may be best served by accepting the situation. The instinctive tendency to find captors sexually attractive if they provide for the captive's needs would facilitate this acceptance. This may be the root cause of the Enslavement process we observe in IE between Masters and female slaves."
(quote taken from http://www.enslavement.org.uk/natural)

The conclusion Tanos is drawing is this:
"This would suggest that Internal Enslavement may only be possible with Natural Slaves, since the trust and intimacy (in the Transactional Analysis sense) that forms the emotional bondage would be inhibited if the helpless state were destructive rather than positive for the subject." (quote taken from http://www.enslavement.org.uk/natural)

I hope that with this opening article of a series on Internal Enslavement i could help you to work yourself into the backgrounds of the concept and understand the basic approach to it.
In the next article I want to expand on one of the psychological techniques that can help with the "examination of a female slave's thoughts, emotions and past experiences to establish and maintain a solid and inescapable state of ownership" (Tanos): Transactional Analysis.

I would like to thank the IE website owner Tanos and the authors who published their essays on the website http://www.enslavement.org.uk/ for their awesome work and interesting thoughts on the dynamics of a Master/slave relationship.

Written by Mirjam Munro, July 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ego Tripping! A Bad SUMISSIVE Trait?

A note of apology for the double post on Common Unity...i grabbed the wrong one! That's what i get for blogging without having that second cup of coffee ;)

When we think of ego maniacs we think of the person who demands all eyes on them. They wouldn't dream of leaving the house in a pair of sweats because (of course) everyone would notice! Their opinion is the only "right" one and THEY are the center of the world (or should be!). So how is it that a submissive heart could have an ego problem? Submissives serve the Dominant. The Dominant's happiness is their joy. By nature a submissive is about the last person with an ego problem right?

Not long ago i discovered my own ego problem. How much i would love to say it was a lack of communication or understanding but the plain truth is i let my ego control my thoughts. You see, part of what i teach at Solace Academy is communication. When something is bothering you or you feel uncomfortable, the first step is to go your Dominant and TALK about it. Let them know how you are feeling so that a solution can be reached. But that a submissive must understand that a Dominant may not always share His or Her own issues with the submissive. And it was at exactly this point that my ego jumped up and bit me.

Master was having some things He needed to work out in His mind. Ever the "typical" submissive, i took His silence as personal. And isn't it something i tell other submissives not to do? Don't take it personal because chances are its not about you at all.
But i did. It is so easy to sit and think "what did i do wrong" and make it some kind of martyrdom badge. Take the blame before it is given. I credit my sis with all my heart for setting me strait because she, too, has the same brain function as Master. They withdraw and think on things that bother T/them. Not from just who or what is bothering T/them but from everything. T/they need that space. Once she had explained it, and once i finally took my own advice about communicating...i learned there were issues that did not involve me that were causing the trouble.

I have been thinking on this ever since and finally FINALLY am able to put into words why i felt so guilty afterward. I was tripping on my own ego. The fact is that not everything that Master deals with in a day is about me in any way. Yet when a submissive blames them self for a Dominant's distance, that is exactly what we are expecting. Dominants are people too. People have lives full of things to think or worry about. Car payments, kids, job, rent, parents etc. As much as we would love to spend every waking moment focused on the person we share our life with, it simply is not practical.

If you are a submissive or slave consider this: Do you have time through out your day to sit and think ONLY of your Dominant? Of course not. Yes They are always in our hearts and in the back of our minds. But we need to focus our minds on the issues of the moment too. If you are sitting in a board meeting about finances and all you can say at the meeting is "my Master is so great!" chances are you wont have a job very long. And what if YOU are the one under the gun because the financial picture of the company is bad? You will worry about it! It isn't that your Dominant is not important or part of your heart every moment. Just that your focus must be on the issue at hand. And for some people, (Dominant, submissive, male or female ) it is a natural reaction to internalize stress until we have solved it on our own terms. We may not be aware that while we are turning this around in our minds, that we are not giving our full attention to others around us.

A Dominant may notice this in the submissive or slave and call it to the floor. But we who serve are really not allowed to do that. We may approach Them and ask if there is some trouble we may help with, but the Dominant is not obligated to answer us. If the only answer They choose to give is that they "have things on Their mind", we must accept this answer. Unfortunately we sometimes take the view that "it has to be my fault. What have i done to displease Him/Her?" While this might seem like the tender heart of a longing servant, it is also an ego trip. In taking on responsibility for the Dominant withdrawing into Their mind to think, we assume that all they can possibly have to think about is US. And we run the great risk of taking that ego trip to the next level when we fully believe WE are the problem and withdraw from the Dominant. When we do this, we are taking our gift of submission and service away. Worse, they will notice our sullen behavior and now have TWO problems to deal with. The one they started with and our behavior (which they don't understand because we didn't talk to them about it).

When we engage in the thought that everything is our fault, we assume we are the center of everything. We send the message that all we expect the Dominant to have to focus on in a day is us. This is far from an endearing submissive trait. It is a "me me me" concept. And it follows through when the Dominant chooses to speak to others or have close relationship with others. Our jealousy causes us to ask "am i being replaced? Am i not doing enough?" Once again we expect all focus to belong to us and worry about OUR position with the Dominant. In a poly house this is the main reason we DON'T talk about our personal intimacies with our siblings. It brings about too much chance of selfish competition. The exception to this is when sibs have formed a very close and understanding bond.

Finally, when we engage in this idea that "its all my fault, its all about me", we shut down and stop listening. When our Dominant feels ready to speak and perhaps vent, we are no longer paying attention. We have already assumed it is all about us and are not being the attentive servant to what our Dominant needs from us; sometimes just an ear to vent to and trust. Instead we pull away when they need our service and attentiveness most. Sometimes just being there and listening is all They need to bring Them the peace and joy we so want Them to have.

My final Sub-Stance on this is that while taking the blame may seem like an almost "endearing" quality in a submissve/slave, if done too often it sends the message that we want to be the center at all times. Unfortunately we don't always see that side of the coin. It is not always obvious to us that we have lost our focus. I have since apologized to Master for my lack of attentiveness and you can bet the next time He withdraws or seems sullen...i will let HIM tell me what troubles Him if He chooses. Not assume i have the ability to read His mind or the right to judge His mood. i know from His lips that i am a very important part of His life. But not the only thing of importance either.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Common Unity

OK, i have already done a blog on judging people. Hopefully folks who read this will take a moment to understand it for what it is. This is my attempt to ALL in the lifestyle to recognize each other with respect and not judgement. Vanilla world does enough of this without us doing it to each other.

My introduction to the lifestyle was not pleasant. Twenty years ago i was not even given enough respect to even be TOLD i was a slave. I only knew i had a strict and jealous boyfriend who liked a few "kinky" things. Yes i was young and utterly nieve. I had no idea the "lifestyle" even existed. As a result, i was injured both emotionally and physically. It was not until i found SL that i learned about the lifestyle or even had a name for what i went through (other than abuse). And it was not until i started getting to know people in the lifestyle that i learned what i went through was NOT a part of the lifestyle at all.

Gradually i started to reconnect with my submissive nature. True to most who have been down the ugly side, i took on the form of Dominant out of self protection. No one was going to hurt me again. But i still wanted to learn more about this lifestyle because something about it resonated with my soul. It took a man like Master, and a lot of time for me to let that wall down. I needed to build trust with a Dominant in order to fully reconnect with my submissive heart. A heart i wore on my sleeve for the abuser and one i wear now for Master. The fact was, for all the friends i had met in the lifestyle, none of them made me feel as safe and sure of my self as He did. None of them made me feel so sure that i could comfortably kneel. I spent too long rebuilding my self confidence and was not able to tear that down by kneeling. Through Him i learned i did not have to. He never ordered or expected me to kneel. He waited till i did it from the heart and on my own terms.
And it took His lifestyle choice too. I have learned over the time that Solace has been open so much about the M/s lifestyle from those whom i hold in the highest regard. Because of these people, i learn more every day and hold the M/s relationship in great esteem. But i could not live in the M/s lifestyle. Too many old hurts and wounds will not let me live fully under that tenant. I do not consider myself above them nor they above me. I simply can not live a life in M/s. Nor do i have to. THAT is the joy of this lifestyle. At least it SHOULD be. That we all understand there are different strokes for different folks and ALLOW each other RESPECTFULLY to be who we are. I may not agree with some aspects of the lifestyle. i may not even like some areas of it. But, as Master says, will give my life for the RIGHT of others to make that decision for themselves.

Vanilla does not do this. Vanilla dictates that there is only one right way and we all have to fall in line. Anything else is unacceptable. Is not this one of the reasons we joined this lifestyle? Not just for the kink or thrill. But because we could be ourselves, be accepted, and not be made to feel "less"? THIS is what i take issue with. There should never be a line between M/s, D/s, Extreme, etc?

 I don't agree with all of them. And i wont teach some of them. I wont teach what i don't personally live. But i respect their right to exist. And the right of others to choose for themselves. In the end we are all under the same flag. All part of the same team. The Lifestyle. We need to stop arguing about whether "company B" is better, stronger, etc than "company C" and focus on the main goal. To rebuild this lifestyle with the grace and honor it deserves. We cant do that with back biting and forced superiority. Vanilla already does that to us enough as it is.

Certainly i fully believe that people also have the right to choose vanilla lifestyle too without being judged. It is the fact that they judge us so quickly that bothers me. And we as a lifestyle seem to have carried some of that judgmental behavior over into our own. If you wear the collar, then we are brothers and sisters in SERVICE regardless of what part of the lifestyle we live in. If you own one who has submitted, then You are connected as brothers and sisters in Dominance, no matter what title You prefer to be called or have earned. It is this bigger family that Sos is working so very hard for. This sense of US as a community.

My final Sub-Stance: Let us not prove the vanilla pudding people right about the kind of people we are or the kind of community we are. Let us be a COMMUNITY  (Common Unity) that proves honor, respect and dignity are not just words we throw around but part of what we all SHARE regardless of personal taste. Let us stand not toe to toe, but form a bridge that all who come to the lifestyle can walk on and feel safe and welcomed on both sides.