Who is responsible for what?
A D/s or BDSM relationship can be very dangerous. Some so called "Dominants" may be attracted to abusive and cruel behavior or be mentally ill and have little concern for his counterpart's safety.
There are documented cases where a dominant was on drugs or abused alcohol and while in a state of diminished capacity, failed to use caution or reason and permanently injured his counterpart. I know of one case where such behavior resulted in the death of a submissive woman.
The BDSM and D/s communities have made many efforts to clarify the idea of consent. These concepts are carefully thought out, since we are frequently viewed by our "vanilla" culture as being involved in physically or emotionally abusive relationships.
The phrase SAFE, SANE, & CONSENSUAL is often cited as a guideline to all who enjoy and engage in BDSM and D/s. Regardless of either party's intention, simple consent is not enough.
Power tends to corrupt even the best intentioned Master so every submissive should be alert to changes in her Dominant counterpart's behavior. Even the most "vanilla" relationship may have aspects of D/s as many men believe themselves to be dominant. In fact very few are truly predisposed to accept the responsibility for being Dominant and ignorance of proper techniques or naivety in understanding the inherent risks, cannot be considered a reasonable excuse.
I understand that some may hold the fantasy or have the desire to be completely owned and used without reservation, but this is an option that cannot truly be experienced as reality. A submissive may harbor an intense desire to be controlled and find herself emotionally incapable of speaking a "safe" word or unable to say NO, but the unvarnished truth is: Obedience is always optional and the discipline to obey comes from within. Coersion, ignorance, or naivety can allow or even encourage a submissive to abandon her own best interests but this action is clearly NOT consent.
While it is quite common for a submissive to wish for and encourage her Master to take 100% responsibility for their actions, she has chosen to place herself in a position where great harm may come to her and her decision challenges the very fundamental idea of safe and sane. Despite the appearance of willing, even eager, acceptance of her Master's will, no Master can truly OWN the submissive's body, mind, and spirit. Obedience cannot be imposed upon a submissive, but must be won through a cooperative effort of Both Master and servant. When a submissive surrenders her own ego to comply with her Dominant counterpart's will, she has truly won an inner struggle with herself.
It is self evident that a submissive MUST remain functionally competent, that is, she must have all the information and skills she needs, and be able to CHOOSE, in order to meet any of the three ideals of SAFE, SANE, & CONSENSUAL
Some Dominants say that any submissive who engages in a scene has tacitly agreed to endure whatever the Dom may wish to do, and is "aware" of the risks, and thus has accepted responsibility for the consequences. This attitude is BALONEY… The simple truth is, two people are involved in any D/s or BDSM relationship, both have consented, both are responsible for any negative outcome which may occur. I have been called upon to testify in court as an "Expert Witness" and I assure you that a Dominant can expect severe legal consequences if errors of judgment occur.
Every person in any relationship, whether D/s or vanilla has responsibilities to them self and to their counterpart. A relationship, requires attention, patience, communication, discipline, good intentions and some luck to be functional over a long term. People who choose to live in a relationship 24/7 have even greater challenges as conflicts are inevitable. D/s isn't a way to escape the responsibility for these things and presenting yourself as a servant or slave simply changes the content of your interaction. Submission isn't the same as passivity and a D/s partnership requires energy and effort from BOTH partners. Any submissive who believes her life will be simple and worry free if can only find that "PERFECT ONE" is living in a fantasy world.
In the final analysis, your mental and physical well being are your personal responsibility. This fact doesn't change because you have become involved in a D/s BDSM relationship. Erotic Power Exchange can seem to blur the lines of responsibility but Safe, Sane, and Consensual are words that explicitly confer RESPONSIBILITY upon both partners and upon the D/s BDSM community as well. These words enable us to say NO to abusive persons and abusive relationships masquerading as D/s or BDSM. When someone becomes incompetent or is unable to recognize destructive, health threatening or mentally damaging behavior, they lose the ability to adequately protect themselves from persons or situations which can damage or destroy them. If conditions prevent someone from offering reasoned consent, then any consent given in such a situation is derived from ignorance, naivety, duress, or coercion, and is a way to disguise an assault.
AS an Anthropologist, I know that the basic urges of D/s are clearly based upon biological adaptations, The dynamic attachments and bonds between people make relationships and interactions with others a vital and enjoyable part of life, but relationships, by their very nature are in state of constant evolution and change. Circumstances and even culture itself is always in a flux. RULES, Ritual, Ceremony, Conventions, and the "trappings" of D/s and BDSM are no different. Many novice submissives enjoy strict rules, but too many rules and restrictions upon behavior will limit a relationship and eventually lead to it's failure. Rules established today may seem silly tomorrow and contracts that lock a relationship into a permanent, static, and unchanging situation will eventually be abridged or broken.
My intention is to be a Master who is flexible, dynamic and open, and I hope that My counterpart sees our bond as an invitation to explore, grow, and change within the safety of a loving relationship.
There are certainly many "Alternate Life Styles." There are Swingers, and Swappers, D/s, BDSM, Goreans, Leather Fetishists, S&M, 24/7, EPE Clubbers, Sceners, and of course the so called "vanilla" lifestyle of our neighbors (Has anyone really checked on them lately, to see what they are actually DOING in their bedrooms?) BUT... It seems to Me that many people limit their experience when they become trapped in some "dogma" and cannot see beyond the restrictions of their particular "style."
Obviously a D/s relationship will involve Dominance and submission.. Permission and Rules.. Pleasure and Play.. Bondage, Blindfolds, perhaps even Punishment... but, if any agreement or rule stands in her way, I hope she will try to negotiate better conditions for herself. I expect My sernant to understand that any written contract is meant to help us and is merely a definition of our ideas and intentions, NOT a document to restrict her growth as a person or to inhibit the dynamic nature of our relationship.
I urge My servant to apply the THREE I's to our relationship. That is: Intelligence, Imagination, and Initiative...AND most Vitally, ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for her behavior and personal safety.