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Discipline: rules & punishment

By Yaldahtovh <>

The writings below were originally two posts to the newsgroup and are reproduced here, in the Essays section of Enslavement.

Posted to on 11 Jul 1999

Standard disclaimer: These are opinions, not gospel. Take what's useful, and leave the rest behind.

The first step in thinking through whether and how to punish starts with the command. What is being controlled, and why?

Let's contrast two different "commands". Let's say a slave has the habit of not putting seat belt on while driving. Master, concerned for her safety, commands her to wear her seatbelt. (should be easy enough, but heck, habits can be hard to break). Let's say submissive doesn't wear her seatbelt. Master has lengthy discussion with submissive and tries to learn what got in the way of obedience? Was she distracted, and just didn't think? Is the relationship new, and the submissive trying to find out how consistent Master is? Is the submissive looking to yank Master's chain? Does the submissive not understand the dangers of driving without a seatbelt? The Master desires compliance because he cares for sub's well being. Perhaps the sub needs education about the dangers of driving without a seatbelt, so she can appreciate why Master is making this order. (Ok, I know it's ridiculous, but it's the principle here that's important). Perhaps the sub really needs to be punished in order to feel lovingly "held". Perhaps the submissive has been feeling too far adrift in the relationship, and needs the leash pulled in. Perhaps the submissive is so friggin overwhelmed by a million new "orders" that she couldn't focus enough to remember this one!

The Master's response to disobedience should be first to understand why it ocurred, and then to figure out what response is necessary in order that the disobedience not be repeated. In the above example, he might find a local ER doc to talk to submissive about unbelted passenger injuries. Perhaps he might punish her with a whipping, or have her sleep on the floor, or stand in the corner, or scrub the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. Perhaps he might cancel the million other orders he just issued so she might be able to actually comply with a reasonable chance of success.

Now this example, of forbidden touching ... the first question is ... why is touching forbidden? Is the Master seeking to create the psychological mindset in the slave that "this body no longer belongs to you, but to me?" If that's the case, then any intervention that further leads to that goal, is a good one. Perhaps Master will "punish" ... (ie teach) ... by having an extended session in which slave is stimulated near, but not to, climax repeatedly. And then left frustrated overnight. Perhaps slave needs to wear a chastity belt for a while.

I could go on with this analysis, but I won't. The point I want to make is that punishment shouldn't be retribution, nor should it be the automatic response to disobedience. The point is ... if your command had any meaning, then you wanted your slave's obedience for some purpose. And there are many ways to help your submissive achieve that purpose besides punishing. After all, if your partner is a submissive, she already wants to please you and obey you.

Posted on 12 Jul 1999

For me ... it is the power exchange made manifest. Knowing my Master can and will punish me makes his authority over me concrete. The punishment itself is not at all pleasant; but it is gratifying in that it maintains the "frame" within we operate. Since I believe that the "frame" of a D/s relationship is made up of the Master's control and responsibility, and my obedience and service, punishment for disobedience serves to restore and maintain the frame within which we both live and breathe.

I use the word "frame" as therapists do to describe the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. The frame is made up of tangibles like consistent appointment times, set fees and clear fee agreements, the beginning and ending of a therapeutic hour on time, and the like. The intangibles of the frame are related to the (ideally) perfectly consistent and fiduciary behavior and therapeutic stance of the therapist. Both parties in a therapeutic relationship have rights and obligations; though by far the greater obligation falls to the therapist. The relationship cannot exist as a therapeutic one if either party significantly damages the frame. The way this is similar to a D/s relationship, it strikes me, is that it is the therapist's duty to monitor, maintain, and repair the frame. Similarly, I believe it is the Dominant's responsiblity to monitor, maintain and repair the "power frame". Just as in therapy, the parties understand explicitly and implicitly their respective roles, rights and obligations, so do the Dominant and submissive.

Punishment can be understood as an intervention that maintains the frame.

I know it's not a perfect analogy, but it's a part of how I see it.

Last updated 5 February 2001.

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