On Potato Peeling and Shakespearean Sonnets (Or “Is It More Submissive to Enjoy Everything You’re Ordered to Do, or to Dislike Those Tasks but Do Them Anyway?”)

It’s amazing how much time I spend peeling potatoes, I message my mom, because her first message of the day, always around the time she settles in at home after work and the time I am beginning to prepare dinner, again has found me peeling potatoes, perhaps the third time in a bit over a week “peeling potatoes” has been my answer to “whatcha doing”.

I don’t mind the cooking of (and certainly not the eating of) the potatoes.  They’re easy enough to wash and peel and cut and then turn into garlic mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes infused with chicken stock, hearty sides.

I like cooking, and baking, and doing things like that in the kitchen.  It hits something in the service slave (or Jewish mother) in me that would rather peel potatoes than use a powdered mashed potato mix, rather cut in butter than buy biscuit dough in a tube, rather set a table than eat on the couch (if I were allowed to sit on the couch).

It takes up a lot of my time and energy: there’s the cooking itself, the increased cleanup after (compared to delivery or something frozen), the meal planning, list making, couponing, shopping, the organization to even get to the part where I’m peeling potatoes.

And much as it’s true that it can be time-consuming and energy-draining, and the “healthy homemade dinner on the table at six every night” rule (and associated rules) is beyond my control…

I do not consider it to be a particularly submissive act of service.

Technically, it is.

I consider it a service, yes.  And I believe that for some, it would be a submissive act of service.  But I don’t think it is for me.

I started with the fact that I enjoy cooking and baking and doing things in the kitchen.  If all of those rules went away tomorrow, I would still enjoy those things, and unless banned from doing so for some reason, would continue to do them to some extent.

Because of that, I don’t view it as particularly submissive.

I have often seen basically the question, “Is it more submissive to enjoy everything you’re ordered to do, or to dislike those tasks but do them anyway?”  I heavily believe in the latter.

The first sounds very nice in theory.  If you were so submissive, surely you’d just be thrilled to receive an order, and love acting on it.  On the one hand, well, yes.  If there is no part of you that finds satisfaction in doing something simply because your M-type wishes it, even if every other part of you hates that task deeply, I think many M/s dynamics might turn bad for you quickly.  On the other hand, in a 24/7 [Part 1] [Part 2] dynamic where you cannot say no, I think assuming every part of you will be thrilled at every order is likely unrealistic; there are going to be times you are exhausted or ill or in an emotional place.  

I don’t like to dismiss things as simply “unrealistic”, though, and I have seen many posts on M/s write off as “unrealistic” what for me are daily realities, so let me address it beyond the initial “perhaps unrealistic”.

My other issue with it is this: if you love to do something, is doing it an act of submission, or is it simply doing it?  Are you truly submitting to the order, or following it because you have no motive not to, and enjoy doing the task anyway?  If you’re told to do something you would do anyway, is it submission, or a convenient line-up of intentions? 

What about the things you don’t love to do?  Things you might even hate.  Or perhaps even like or simply don’t mind in general, but you’re tired or stressed or under the weather?

When ordered to do those things, what motivates you?  You no longer have the “well I was going to do that anyway” or the “well it’s no trouble” or the “well I enjoy doing it” as motives also present.

At that point, the only motive is submission, and thus, those are the things I view as truly submissive.  Exactly what those things are will change on a person to person basis.

Recently I was discussing the “love languages” (the ways we show love, and the ways we want it shown to us) and brought up the concept of “novelty”.

If you have a friend who is super touchy, always hugging hello and goodbye and generally cuddly, but who rarely says “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” or compliments you, what means more when they do it?  If you have another friend who keeps two feet of distance at almost all times, but says “I love you” and compliments you on three things every time you see them, what means more when they do it?

The answers are likely different for each of those people.  It is the deviation from their personal norm that is noteworthy and meaningful, not the act itself.  A hug from a physically distant friend means a lot, and a hug from a friend who hugs you three times a day might not feel like that anymore unless it has been absent.

I apply the same concept to services and submission.  My cooking isn’t particularly submissive because I would do it anyhow.  Someone else’s cooking might be extremely submissive because they hate being in the kitchen.

I saw a joke about Shakespeare, something like, “If he writes her one sonnet, he loves her.  If he writes her three hundred sonnets, he loves sonnets.” 

You get the idea.

I do think the act of doing something you don’t want to do is only particularly submissive if done without protest or complaint or caviling.  Otherwise, it is probably just grudgingly tolerating being told what to do.

Such arguments can be a symptom of the “have to” (versus “get to”) mindset.

If you want to submit, the task presented is how you get to do it.  You might also have to do it, but if you treat it as a “have to”, you might not get to.  Sometimes listening to complaints is not worth delegating a task.  Consider how you would feel if you didn’t get to do the task.  From a submissive mindset, that will be worse than the feeling of having to do the task.  It can be a motivating thought experiment and change how you feel about it and how you present those feelings rather quickly.

If your motivation is that you get to follow an order, be pleasing, be useful, submit, do as you’re told—I think that is much more important as an indicator of submission than if you enjoy the task for the task itself.

I’ve Always Been “Like This”

I have a currently 550-word-long-ish document that is dedicated solely to instructions around Mistress’ coffee.  The acceptable type of coffee, the backup type of coffee.  How long a bag of beans in the standard size we buy lasts (“at least a week”).  How to prepare a pot.  How to prepare a cup (iced and hot).  How long a pot is good for (“at most eight hours”).  How to clean the coffee maker.  How to clean the coffee grinder. What other products get used (cups, straws, filters, lids, machines…).  How to fetch coffee at the hotel we stay at regularly.

There’s nothing particularly kinky about any of it, but saying “I have a 550-word-long-ish document about making coffee” would definitely raise an eyebrow in vanilla company, especially considering the fact that I do not drink coffee.  I was not asked to make it look fancy (or make it at all) and so it looks like nothing special, a black and white bullet point list in Arial 12, not some ominous, beautiful quill-inked cursive on an elegant parchment scroll.  The currently 600-word-long-ish document solely for instructions around laundry (not including schedule) looks the same.

But… both would be presumed part of a dynamic in kinky company, and presumed very strange in vanilla.

Yet the truth is, I’ve always been like this.

I used to live with grandmother. She’d almost first thing in the morning take her medications with Minute Maid Pulp Free orange juice in a nine-ounce disposable plastic cup.  I took to decorating the cup each day with a doodle or a Good morning! or an I love you!.  Leaving the state for a while, I left her a supply of decorated cups while I was gone, and mailed her more in the meantime.  

After her meds and orange juice, she would seek out breakfast.  Breakfast often was had with a hot cup of Salada green tea (decaf) sweetened with two packets of Sweet n Low, or sometimes Folgers instant coffee (decaf), with the same amount of Sweet n Low and a splash of milk.  Either was made in The Mug of the time.  (I keep these beverage and sweetener options in stock at my own house now, just in case.  I stuck a few of the tea bags in her Christmas stocking.  Some others are also kept in stock.) 

Throughout the day she mostly drank cold water, in reused plastic bottles kept in a fabric sleeve and filled from water gallons kept on the larger, mostly unused dining table.  At dinner she had either chilled AW Rootbeer (usually in a bottle, though cans were acceptable, and if she got it in a glass at a restaurant, she would frequently order it with two straws because she had a tradition of sharing it with one of her friends) or chilled Kroger Seltzer, from the can.  With dessert, perhaps another coffee or tea.  On certain occasions, chilled Manischewitz Cream White Concord (hi, fellow Jewish readers), or a thick chocolate milkshake.

That’s an easy 250-plus words off the top of my head on the beverage habits of a vanilla person I used to live with that I noted at the time.  Most of the practicalities of that information lives in my butler’s book entry for her.  

So… I’ve always been “like this”, in and very much out of BDSM.

That’s just one example.

But in general, I knew, entering the local BDSM scene, what things I brought to the table, and what I wanted: a place to offer those things, and all of myself, completely, use them to please and be of service.  

And when I found everything I wanted at a munch on a fateful, freezing November night… well, eight weeks later we were in a 24/7 live-in power dynamic.

I don’t think I’ve “changed”.  I’ve grown, I’ve learned, I’ve had certain pieces of me brought out, I’ve learned better words to describe myself with, I’ve shifted in what identity aspects are important to me, I’ve changed how I express some of those traits.  But I don’t think my core traits truly changed.

I’ve always been “like this”.  Not as a slave, not as part of a vanilla identity.  Just “like this”.

On Finding Time for Yourself as a Slave

Firstly, the perhaps obvious: what finding time for yourself looks like (including the need to do it yourself) does depend on the people, the dynamic, if you got to negotiate, etc.

Some issues you might run into include a) just having the time at all for your own things, b) managing that time (and the temptation to rest and relax when you catch a break, not engage in a high-energy hobby of your own), c) finding unbroken chunks of time where you’re not passing by a reminder of something you should do and doing it, or having a timer go off for the laundry or starting dinner, or having, “Slave!” yelled across the house or whatnot.  (There’s a reason I’m required to notify her on the usually rare occasions when I take/make vanilla calls.)

There’s also, generally, that your time isn’t yours.  If your M-type wants to make you late somewhere, or wants to make you wait in position to be unleashed from the bed for half an hour (or forgets you’re there)—that’s their choice, and you (probably) don’t get to complain about it much.  You learn to work with it.

I maintain pretty much one good friend I see independently of Mistress, and there are plenty of times I have to see them in person at our house, so I can keep an eye on a slow-simmer dinner or talk while I do chores, and I might get called away to go do something like fetch coffee.  And one household of vanilla family.  You might find a lack of time for huge circles of independent friends, but many people are happy without that in general.  

When I had a family emergency last year, I was officially put on (and later taken off) “light slave duty” to allow time to see to that.  That might be a possibility in emergencies for many others.

Honestly, it’s mostly the routine service stuff that adds up more than projects.  My morning routine (which I’d need permission to really modify) can take up to two hours, including exercise, throwing on my uniform, making the bed, little stuff like that.  Not to mention evening routine.  Dinner usually takes my attention for about an hour and fifteen minutes for cooking (either fairly active or at least having to keep an eye on it), half hour for eating at the time it’s required to be on the table, more assorted time for cleanup after.  I’d count on the fact that if all a day entails is your daily list, it doesn’t mean it’s a super light work day.

And of course, that gets easily thrown off by getting sick or needing some extra sleep.  Even if you get/have permission to not do them that day, it still means (likely) that they’re not getting done, and then it becomes a problem for Tomorrow You.  This will end up on your mind when it’s at all questionable if you should ask for the rest, and you’ll have to know your own needs there.

I often say, “It comes out to very easily about/more than a full time job, and the fact you’re permanently on call, and no weekends/holidays/etc.”  That is, of course, for me and the way my dynamic works, with the note that it would look very different for, say, someone who’s working/pursuing education/etc.

In the end, you’ll learn to prioritize what’s important to you in the free time you have, and how to work that in, whether it’s friends who come to you, or giving up some more mindless R&R time activities to make sure you get in real hobby time.

Why I Live M/s

Sometimes in M/s you take the parts of you that you don’t want to unleash other places and give them a place to flourish.

It is taking things that are not okay elsewhere and making them be okay.

For example, I’m a people pleaser.  And in a normal relationship—be it friends, family, whatnot—for that to be healthy, there have to be boundaries, and compromise.  In M/s, I don’t have to worry about, “Should I have said no?” or, “Should I have asked for this in return?” or any of that.  And I don’t want to have to worry about that.  It’s a relief to know that no isn’t an option, and it’s not a negotiation.

On the other side, Mistress likes control.  And plenty of people she encounters don’t want to be controlled.  There are again boundaries and compromise to keep it healthy.  But she doesn’t have to worry about those lines with me, and she doesn’t want to have to worry.

This is true in other areas of BDSM too—informed consent is what separates sadomasochism from assault just as much as it separates healthy M/s from toxic relationship patterns.

M/s gives me a place with clear answers on how to let those traits out which might not serve me well in the vanilla world, aided by openly M/s terminology and mindset.

Those traits…

There’s a minimalism quote out there that speaks of keeping only things that are useful or beautiful.

I think that useful and beautiful (I think pleasing would be a better word, going beyond aesthetics, but same concept) are things I strive to be.

In slavery, it can go like this.

The mostly useful side: practical service—the cleaning, cooking, house maintenance, pet care, hosting, secretarial tasks, etc.

The mostly pleasing side: rules/protocols/guidelines/details—the uniform, the leashing, the kneeling, the honorifics, the permission-asking, etc.

Slavery gives me instructions on how to be useful and pleasing; it does not leave things up to chance or interpretation or assumption.

It lets me have un-filtered, concrete answers to, “What can I do to be useful?” and, “What can I do to be pleasing?”

And sometimes I suggest answers that Mistress may not have realized she wanted, sometimes her answers change, sometimes life happens.

The lines of consent can look blurrier than some are comfortable with; there’s a limitless range of control across time, spheres of life, and other categories, and some, though not all, areas are controlled so actively it comes down to very precise details.  In M/s,  I don’t have to get caught up in if what I want, or am willing to submit to, is too extreme for a more vanilla label.

What M/s gives me is a healthy place to act on that urge to please and be of service, know how to do so without ambiguity, and take off the limits I would need other places to keep it acceptable.

I don’t have to wonder what would be useful, or when, or how often, or how I should be doing it—I get answers to those things.  And I’m allowed to suggest ideas, or ask questions, and not worry about getting indecisive feedback or answers, or ones that necessarily stay within the normal boundaries of what you can ask someone to do.  Lists for daily, weekly, monthly tasks, ones on other intervals, or by the day of the month or the week.  AM and PM routines.

I don’t have to deduce what outfit is cutest, or best suited, or have a, “You always look nice!” beating-around-the-bush conversation.  Or decide if I should wear makeup or not, or how to style my hair.  Uniform makes it simple.  Same clothes, every morning.  No makeup.  Hair down.  Other rules.  Straightforward answers.

No self-consciously adjusting my posture (or at least far less of it).  Set positions—for leashing/unleashing, for post-shower inspections, for general kneeling, etc.  No debating what to do with my hands, or about how many inches apart my knees should be while kneeling.

M/s for us is… deliberate, it’s systematic, and it does not know the usual bounds.

And I love living it.

Service Slave Tendency Identification with Limited Kink Experience

In the vanilla world, you often hear a conundrum like this.  “No one will hire me because I have no experience.  I have no experience because no one will hire me.”

I see many s-types take this perspective to the world of kink as well.  Whether or not those new to the scene have an advantage or disadvantage, some people make this conundrum inside their head in slightly different words.

“I can’t become a service slave because I don’t know if I’m a service slave.  I don’t know if I’m a service slave because I’ve never been a service slave.”

I will admit that I am lucky in the sense that I have never had reason to doubt my side of the slash.  It all adds up neatly from my earliest memories forwards.  Some do have real doubts.  Some I think might benefit from learning to translate their vanilla experiences into a kink mindset, realizing that the underlying ideals might not be so different after all.  Doing this is what allows me to say, “From my earliest memories forward,” not, “From when I entered the scene,” or, “From when I entered an M/s dynamic.”

On the more slave side of service slave, it helps to think of how you have generally reacted to authority figures.  The younger crowd might think mostly of their teachers or parents.  Some might have more extensive work experience to draw on.  What happened if they made a rule you didn’t like, or set an expectation slightly hard to meet?  What does that tell you about you coping with it in M/s?

Some think of their favorite teacher from their school days as the one who let the class largely run free, was ultra understanding and gave a reasonable workload, perhaps a creative type, perhaps willing to improvise when authority wasn’t looking, themselves, someone who curved the tests and gave you two redos. 

Some think of their favorite teacher as the one who ran a fairly tight ship, a kind nature but a desire to push their students, who gave two times more homework than anyone else but you learned four times as much, who earned respect with the example they set and while less forgiving with their deadlines, more prone to give praise that really meant something.

There’s no archetype your favorite schoolteacher has to fit into for you to fit into any role in BDSM.  But, it’s an interesting exercise for many, and perhaps telling about what you respond to in an authority figure, what you don’t—and if you do respond well at all, or if it’s something to work on or a start of reconsidering.

As a general note, thinking of your interests in the media you consume or have consumed can also be telling.  Not just what you overall choose, but which parts, characters, and more draw you to it—and I’m not talking about erotica here (though that also says something), but even the vanilla-surface dynamics you have liked seeing in any books, television, movies, so on, throughout your life.

Service-oriented tendencies can also be spotted in vanilla situations.  A tendency to go above and beyond when able to help is a good sign of a service-oriented personality, as is a desire to be useful to family, friends, perhaps acquaintances.  Are you always volunteering to help with the dishes after dinner at friends’ homes, or hoping no one will ask?  Do you complain extensively to yourself or say something to them if they do ask—how would you overcome that?  Were you one of those kids who liked to do miscellaneous tasks for the teacher when you finished your work early in school? Circumstances allowing, have you been drawn to things like volunteer work or taking on responsibility in hobby-based groups?  And what drew you to them?  A feeling of helpfulness being a draw is one good sign, though certainly not the only.

Look through your memories for notable incidents, but for those looking for 24/7, especially, look for something else, too: consistency.

Do your tendencies change when you’re tired, somewhat emotional, a little under the weather, not fond of the task itself?  How will you overcome those things if they do? 

I feel like I’ve posed a lot of thought experiments or questions here, so let me address some of them for myself.

My submissive tendencies, in hindsight from the scene, are extremely hard to overlook.  I was always overly eager to please if anything, as in perhaps to a fault.  The man who I consider to be the best teacher I ever had provided an insane workload, was relentless in critiques, brilliant in his craft, and taught me more about the subject in half a semester than some people would get out of a Bachelor’s in it.

Some of my earliest memories are of watching and re-watching the late 90’s made-for-television adaptation of Little Orphan Annie.  I was always suspiciously fond of A Little Princess as well.  Not the parts of the movie most kids would get excited about, but a fascination with the bits of servitude the movies would show.

Volunteering has always been something that sates my desire to feel helpful and of use.  Hospital, school, food bank, transitional program for the homeless, my current position in a library, etc.  Most had some kind of draw that got me there in particular—like knowing people involved, or having a love of books—but the general concept was always something I liked, too.

As far as consistency, I’m not a saint, but I’m pretty decent at keeping up my better tendencies even when half-asleep, and can usually find something to get out of a task that might not generally be my idea of a good time.  Scrubbing down the hardscapes of the backyard with dish soap and water, say, is exhausting and leads to dripping sweat rather quickly—but damn, that before and after is satisfying, and pushing water around with a long brush has something fun in it, too.

I’m apparently consistent enough that, as a funny aside anecdote, Mistress once had a dream in which several things were askew—like an added story to our house, having friends she didn’t know in real life, etc.  When she encountered me in the dream, she told me to do something, and my response was sticking my tongue out at her.  Apparently that broke the reality line and she quickly realized it was a dream, and it briefly became a lucid one before she woke up.

Breaking back away from me and into a conclusion—nothing above is meant to be universal, but perhaps a starting point for some who are questioning.  Kink experience is unquantifiably valuable, but is not the only source for some answers.

Letting Your M-Type Have It All

I’m not going to get into the “all humans are good/bad/changeable” thing, but I will say this: pretty sure that almost everyone has some selfish desires, which they act on to varying extents.  Picking the night’s activity.  Getting out of chores.  Eating the last slice of pizza.  Whatever it may be.

Now, in most healthy egalitarian relationships, people try to balance giving in to their own selfish desires and their partner’s.  Switch off on who picks if they stay in for binge watching or if they go out on the town.  One person cleans and one person cooks.  You cut the last slice in half.  50/50, give or take.

Now, as a slave, I want it to look as close to 100/0 as you can get.  That’s not to say that I don’t have selfish desires of my own.  It’s more that not acting on them gives me more than acting on them, in a different way.  

And there are a decent amount of times where Mistress is in a generous mood or doesn’t care much about a choice and lets me pick, and I’m okay with that.  I admit that if it happened terribly frequently, I might start to question myself, and if I don’t have a strong opinion, I might confirm one more time that she truly doesn’t have one either.

What I don’t want is for her to offer me a choice or compromise out of a sense of obligation.  It is my goal, and job, to give her everything she wants, and I try to behave in a way where she feels comfortable taking everything she wants.  Giving someone all of the last slice of pizza but making them feel guilty for it can be even more negative than taking the last slice of pizza.  So I try not to whine or otherwise try to change her mind.

While some of it is on the one on the left side of the slash to be willing and able and wanting to do—say, if they’re not willing to act “selfishly” or tell someone no or order them to do something that they don’t want to do—there’s not much their partner can do on their own about it.  

But if they are willing, a partner responding negatively can still put a huge damper on it.  
In my opinion, if you want your partner to take whatever they want from you, you have to make it easy to take.  If you say, “It’s okay if I don’t like it, and it’s okay to tell me no!” but throw a fit every time you don’t like something or get told no, your partner will develop real doubts.  If you want someone to tell you what to do, you have to be willing to do what they tell you.  Otherwise, they’ll feel like they’re playing a game they get nothing out of.

I want her to prioritize herself as close to 100% of the time as possible, so I have to act accordingly.

To act accordingly, I have to be more hardy than fragile.  The image of a delicate, sensitive s-type is one found often in fiction around the subject, but in the end it is rarely good for anyone involved.  If a bit of discomfort consistently affects someone strongly, it seems unlikely they will deal well with day in and day out prioritizing someone else.

Both parties should be capable on their own, first and foremost.

If my goal is to make Mistress’ life easier, I have to aim to not add new problems, like my desires, to her plate.

Of course, life happens, no one’s perfect, and everyone has their days.

But in the end, I wouldn’t view myself as much of a slave in a dynamic where things revolved around me or my wants, comfort, convenience.

M/s vs. D/s

D/s is a power dynamic where one partner (the Dominant) consensually maintains some level of power in certain areas over the other (the submissive).

M/s is a power dynamic where one partner (the Master/Mistress) consensually maintains a very high level of power in many or all areas over the other (the slave). It has a higher connotation with 24/7.

Neither of these relationship dynamics inherently connects to romance, sex, or kinky play.

A commonly heard idea in discussions about D/s vs. M/s comes down to when the choice to obey is made. Obedience in M/s is often seen as a one-time decision; the slave decides to obey when they become the slave of their M-type, and that decision is never really made again, because it’s already been decided. Obedience in D/s is often seen as more of an active decision each time the submissive follows their Dominant’s will, with each act of obedience seen as accompanied by a bit more of a thought process. Relatedly—internal enslavement is something I see referred to almost exclusively in M/s language.

D/s tends towards more negotiating than M/s, so a submissive might think about the implications of following an order more than a slave. If they do it now, does that set the expectation that they’re always okay with it, or that they’re okay with an escalation path going forth from it? A slave who gives up more control might not think of those things because they might not matter as much.

In those negotiations, it is more often seen in M/s that the slave does not have safewords, hard or soft limits, or the full ability to leave the relationship. It is rarer in D/s for the submissive to not have those things.

D/s is kind of a “headspace enforced” situation. If the submissive is not feeling like obeying at that moment, I see a lot of “then the headspace needs to be fixed” (often by the Dominant). M/s is more of a “headspace expected” situation, where the slave obeys whether they want to or not, and if they don’t want to in that moment, it’s not viewed as a problem; there’s just the expectation that they still want to obey overall, and their headspace will reflect that better later, in a likely fairly natural way.

Often, in fact, I think that these expectations are good for the desired headspaces in themselves, and the expectations for a submissive might be actively detrimental for a slave, and vice versa. A slave would feel discouraged if their M-type wanted to fix their headspace every time they internally didn’t want to do something; a submissive would feel discouraged if they didn’t get help with their headspace at the same moments. Same for how they feel they should address it within themselves.

The positives of being a submissive are often described as “the joy of the feeling of surrender”. It is associated with something you actively feel. The positives of being a slave are often described as “the joy of serving and pleasing another”. It is associated more with how you make your M-type feel.

With this difference in mindset, D/s often has the submissive’s headspace kept in mind when coming up with specific ways for the submissive to submit, with the submissive’s wanting to do those things being important. M/s more often has the Master/Mistress’ wants being kept in mind when coming up with specific ways for the slave to submit, and their desire to submit overall being the important factor.

I am frequently asked about my thoughts on this subject, and I wanted to create one reference on it; so, here it is.