I've been thinking a lot about responsibility recently. It can be a bit of a dreaded "r" word, and one that I sometimes came into contact with when negotiating with prospective dominant partners. They worried about the "responsibility" of ownership, the perceived stresses and onuses of being the top in a D/s relationship, of whatever kind. I'm finding myself coming face to face with a turned table version of conversations I have in the past, as a submissive asking for particular things. This role reversal is one of the more wryly amusing and ironic parts of this current bump in my learning curve.
Responsibility a double-edged sword - it gives the thrill and excitement and rush that produces domspace, the feeling that I can do what I want, that every twitch, moan and groan is because of me. But it doesn't just happen automatically (sadly) I need to work at it - to make sure that the cruelty is intended and not just haphazard, to give "good" pain, to be able to read their body and interpret what they want, what they need. It's a funny position to be in, because whilst I'm not a service top I still need to pay attention to what submissives are interested in. To allow them to let go, to push them down into that subspace and make them helpless I must take responsibility for them. Even something as simple as putting on a blindfold means taking responsibility for being their eyes.
Responsibility makes domination work. It drives the power trip I feel when I take charge of someone else's physicality. It's about accepting that my duty, as a dominant is to "care" for those submissives under my control. Care can mean a lot of things. Loving and caring is a nice, soft phrase associated with family domesticity, caretaking is more impersonal, something done to an object or building, a care-giver works to support someone who has particular needs or perhaps is a child.
Caring means knowing and knowledge is power, which is the root of domination. See how neatly that works?
Giving good domination is about not being frightened about what you do or how much you care. Fear is the enemy of caring. It's the anxiety that is caused by this notion of responsibility: the worry that you've taken on too much of it, that you will fuck up, that it will eat all of your time and life and you will be nothing more than a husk. It's the sort of idea that is traditionally ascribed to men in relationships (and from this you can get the whiff of underlying gendered tension that crops up in a lot of BDSM interactions) that bottoms are "hard work" and that "hard work" is somehow bad, which I suppose it is, if you aren't interested or enjoying the process.
Which I am. As well as all the time also working out what I want, and how best to deliver it.