“It’s not service unless the master wants it.”

“It’s not service unless the master wants it.” – Joshua Tenpenny, Real Service

It’s such a simple concept, but you’d be amazed how many people can’t grasp it. Hand washing your partner’s underwear may make you feel submissive, but if what she actually needed was her car taken to the shop then all you’ve done is waste your time. It really should be obvious, but doing what you want instead of what your master wants is in fact the opposite of submission.

That is, you’d think it would be obvious, but according to far too many discussions I’ve seen, including these two comments in a thread about kinky people with vanilla partners, the idea that you should try things your partner actually likes if you want to have some kink in your relationship is apparently a mind blowing revelation. In related news I have a theory about why so many men complain that their female partners have no interest in kink.

I understand that it can be hard to let go of the vision of your ideal relationship, but come on guys. Either you give a shit about the actual living breathing human being you’re in a relationship with or you don’t. If you care more about the fantasy than the person, don’t go acting all surprised when she doesn’t seem to care that much about what you want either. After all, you started it.

Even doms can fall into this trap. Credit where it’s due, Lily Lloyd talked about this either on her (sadly now defunct) blog or in her excellent book Discipline (no longer available). It’s terribly easy to get the idea that being a dom means you’re supposed to give your submissive all sorts of rules, particularly if your submissive happens to like rules. You can end up desperately trying to remember and enforce a set of rules you don’t care about until your whole d/s relationship feels like a chore. No matter how much the submissive enjoys it, it’s not service unless the master wants it. No amount of telling yourself you’re supposed to want something or beating yourself up for not wanting it is going to change your feelings about it.

I used to think I wasn’t actually dominant at all because I had precisely zero fucks to give about slave positions or making my partner ask permission to sit on the furniture. Given that being a dom is an important part of my identity now, you can safely assume I was pretty motivated to want what I thought I was supposed to want. It didn’t work. I still don’t care about slave positions even a little bit, and unless someone can magically making learning them stop feeling like a chore, I’m never going to care.

This, of course, makes me a terrible dom for a sub who loves high protocol. Neither one of us is wrong, we’re just a bad match. Honestly, if I found a high protocol sub I got along with and tried to convince him to stop loving rules and structure and doing things just so, I would be the asshole in that situation. I rag on submissive men more because I can’t understand how you can call yourself submissive while trying to mold your partner into someone they’re not, but self-centeredness is definitely not exclusive to men.

Finally, I would say that it is service if the dominant wants it, no matter how much the submissive enjoys it. A really excellent footrub, for example, given to a woman when she wants one doesn’t magically stop being service just because the submissive giving it happens to be a foot fetishist. Now, it certainly does stop being service if said foot fetishist makes things weird and sexual when she just wants to relax, but a submissive person especially enjoying something doesn’t make it not helpful or pleasing to the person they’re serving.

Service, like so many other things, is in the eye of the beholder. The person being served is the only one who gets to decide whether x or y is in fact service. You can wish they liked other things, you can look for someone who likes other things, but trying to make your partner like the form of service you like providing is blatant assholery. If you’re going to pull that shit, at least admit that you don’t care what your partner wants.

14 thoughts on ““It’s not service unless the master wants it.”

  1. I see just what you mean here. It makes a lot of sense to me. When I think about service as submission, I don’t equate it with kink but rather with being the wind beneath her wings. Service that doesn’t help a Domme fulfill her needs and improve her life is not service at all.

    The key to compatibility is understanding what her goals and priorities are and being able to agree that the attaining of those things will be mutually beneficial and worth putting effort in to.

  2. I was astonished at the fetlife stories you pointed to. “So, we turned to a dominant-centric approach to submission.” And that was a huge turnaround for them, it sounds like. So it’s reallly not my imagination that a lot of male subs want their kinks to be the center of the relationship dynamic and can’t quite imagine moving their desires from that spot.

  3. Haha, wonderful! I really like this piece. There are so many people that need to hear this (dominants and submissives alike). There seems to be an idea floating around that any Top can be matched with a bottom without taking any other qualities into account. And its not enev funny anymore. It destroys relationships and it hurts people. Im glad you said this.
    –Miss Ari ^_^

  4. LOL! I see you are being nice enough not to frame this as a critique of my “I love protocol” post. But I do realise it is a very selfish want on my part, and I can completely see why someone else wouldn’t want to do it. Heck, I’d hate to be the one enforcing protocol myself!

    I think I only realised that because I had tried to convert a vanilla partner. That makes one very grateful for compatibility wherever one finds it thereafter. So I’m glad your post is here for everyone else so they don’t have to learn the hard way.

    • Haha, my timing is a little awkward, isn’t it 🙂 I was actually pissed off at guys who seem convinced that labeling their kink ‘service’ magically makes it useful and desirable to their partners, who are then expected to like it because it’s service, it says so on the tin! We (I) decided you’re the dom, and doms like service, so you like this now! You, on the other hand, actually seem to give a shit about what your partner wants 🙂

      I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been to try to convert a vanilla partner. As a dom I can sort of get my kicks persuading someone to do what I want even if they don’t really get it, but if what you need is a spontaneous expression of dominance, well, that’s tough place to be.

  5. Wow this hits the nail on the head….i am a sub but my wife is naturally bossy / alpha / bitchy but not into the dom bit. Hence for me to get this to work is like hitting a wall all the time. 10 years of marriage. As the post says its not a service if the wifey dont want it. i have a lot of kinks in my head – talk to her about it but its like i’m weird.

    So i read this last week – and on the weekend i cleaned up the house – hovered, sweeped & moped – was she pleased or what. Now she’s asked me why don’t i do this every weekend. Not the house is really nice – can you do the cleaning again please (vanilla wife speak) but why don’t you do this every weekend???. No thanks either or comments on how good it was- bossy /bitchy/alpha wife speak. For me this is progress – somewhat small but its early days.

    Hence just wanted to say that this post is brilliant. One of the best for me specifically as it clarifies what service is too a dom & what it means to a sub. I shall be doing a lot more housework now & by xmas hopefully she will be more demanding. Fingers crossed….

    This is the first time in ages since i have written a comment & first time ever in a blog dedicated to femdom. keep up the good work….

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