Sunday, September 10, 2006

What Does "Serving Her" Look Like?

It doesn't look like this picture, much though I wish it did. In fact the The Northern California Ladies Tea and Discussion Society pretty much has captured my fantasy of recreational service. They appear to be dormant, and in any case, they're not around here.

The last couple of days have felt like they've been a little low of service opportunities. That's probably because I haven't learned to look the right way in the right places. What I have figured out is that for me, "serving her" in the context of a wife-led marriage (or a female-led relationship) is about figuring out what she wants, and doing that.

Yesterday, it came in the form of a long-deferred home improvement project - actually one of the last steps in a project that's been pending for years. She's suggested we work on it on several occaisions over the past several years. It's the kind of project I dread. Yesterday she mentioned it - she didn't exactly ask, she didn't "demand"; in her typical way, it was along the lines of "We could work on..." My only question was "Should we do that before or after I mow the lawn?"

So the project is done; there was a certain amount of scruffling around a dirty basement; we worked together on it because it really was a two person project, and we are a team (see Saratoga's post on teamwork and my perhaps excessively long comment); and I got to feel a little "buzz" while doing it that this is what my beloved wanted to have happen, and it was happening.

So was that "service" (or submission), or was that just "not being an asshole anymore." That's putting it a bit strongly, since I do enough stuff that it is occasionally remarked upon. But the point I'm learning is that a wife-led marriage is not about fantasy and kink. It's about listening and serving.

It's important to distinguish this, for a moment, from

  • what I think she wants,
  • what I'd want if I were her,
  • what I want her to want from me.

Some of this I've figured out by reading other postings. There is this whole concept of "stealth submission" out there. I've seen it credited to either Elise Sutton or to the Addisons. The theory is that you start doing submissive things, and somehow the whole situation starts to resemble your fantasy.

Ms. Rika trashes that notion pretty thoroughly, in my opinion, in a brief thread on her forum. She concludes with the questions:

  • What's the difference between chivalry and service?
  • What's the difference between acts of kindness to a mate and D/s?

While I don't entirely agree with Ms. Rika on this, here's an example of the kind of thing that I think misses the point. I read this post on a mailing list I'm on, and for me it's pretty much a caricature of this approach (reproduced without permission):

Stealth Submission: 1st Night
1. Washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, after he made dinner
when I came home.
2. Did the laundry and folded the children's clothes.
3. Prepared the kids lunches for school the next day.
4. Cleaned the kids room last night, with their help of course.
5. Bathed the kids and got them ready for bed.
6. Set the coffee maker to brew her morning coffee..decaf only.
7. Made the bed this morning while she went on her daily walk.
8. Prepared the kids breakfast this morning.
9. Dropped off the dry cleaning on my way to work.

Don't get me wrong, these are all fine things to do. But this strikes me as kind of zero-to-sixty in nothing flat. I wonder if someone starting from nothing is going to be able to maintain this pace. Apparently, the poster thinks so:

2nd Night of my Quest:
1. Cooked dinner and Cleaned the Kitchen.
2. Cleaned both children's room after dinner.
3. Did the laundry. She said that this was her job, but came back
and asked her why this is defined as her job or role. I could hear
her mind thinking as I said that.
4. Put the kids to bed.
5. Washed her lingerie in Woolite--this blew her mind.
6. During the day, she asked about certain, small decisions like
weeding our front flower-beds, dinner with her folks, etc. Told her
it's her decision and happy with whatever she decides.
On the other hand, we haven't heard any more from this fellow on that list, and there was some evidence (and much discussion from the women on the list) that his wife had the obvious "What the hell is going on here?" reaction. At which point much difficult conversation is necessary, for which perhaps the necessary relationship groundwork has not been laid.

I hope "stealth submission" will work for me by creating a habit of mind to listen to what my beloved wants, and to realize that I'm happier doing that than imposing my own will on the situation. And, paradoxically, that this makes it easier to ask for what I want (ultimately, in the long run). This brings up the question of whether male submission is a "quid pro quo," about which I'll have to write another time.

Today's example (a very little vignette still unfolding): She needs to either re-paint her toe-nails or take the polish off. She knows this and is going away on business for a few days. So in the midst of a busy morning, she appeared downstairs in the kitchen with the polish remover.

I did not say "Please, please, can I possibly do that for you, I'd love it and it would make me so happy." All of which is true. A little while latter she said, "I need to take the polish off my toe-nails before I go; it isn't looking very professional right now."

I said, "I could help you with that."

She said, "That would be fine."

If it works out that way, small victories (in many senses, I think).


whatevershesays said...

"What I want her to want from me."

That sums up most of my issues.

That was one of the bests posts I've ever read. I'd comment more except's perfect.

Thanks for sharing

Mistress Laura's boy said...

I really liked this introspective post, you have me thinking deeply about motivations for submission...


Jamie said...

Thanks; awe-shucks. This is just the kind of thing I've been wrestling with for a long time, without any external tangible success. I'm finding writing is really helping me clarify my thoughts. I'll see if I get from thought to action.

I've got a really long gnarled up post about more of these subjects and as soon as I untangle it, I'll put up the pieces.

Thanks again.


Tom Allen said...

I'm gonna have to put Ms Rika on my regular reading list; there were some interesting things in that group. A few years ago I pointed my wife to her website because I think that she presents a nicely balanced perspective, one that is accessible to the vanilla crowd who are seeking to understand what goes on in the minds of those who desire this.

Coincidentally, I had been working on a post with a similar theme which I published at lunch today. It suddenly occurred to me that "stealth submission" has some characteristics (e.g., fantasizing about a person or situation while performing pleasurable acts) that in another context would be considered "masturbation". While I'm cool with masturbation, it doesn't satisfy intimate and emotional needs; for that you need a partner, which implies a relationship. I don't see anybody advocating a "stealth relationship."

The Edge of Vanilla

saratoga said...

I have noted that Elise Sutton recommends stealth submission. But, when you think about the context, it's basically when the woman doesn't want a serious FemDom relationship.

As my Domina and I discussed this, we concluded it is in order to foster Elise's goal of Female Supremacy.

That is, even if the woman isn't interested, Elise wants males still at least mentally 'serving.' One way of accomplishing that is to put the male in a position of believing that he is submitting to his Female partner, even when it's neither acknowledged, nor reciprocated, as submission.

Stealth submission is, I would agree, as Tom Allen said, a lot like masturbation. But it doesn't seem to be relational at all.

Tom Allen said...

Stealth submission is, I would agree, as Tom Allen said, a lot like masturbation. But it doesn't seem to be relational at all.

I just want to make clear: there is nothing wrong with either masturbation or stealth-subbing. I think I've just gotten tired of people turning into something that it's not - a relationship.

Jamie said...

I think it's hard for us when femdom and female superiority and loving female authority all get mixed together. They're clearly different and related.

Thanks, Saratoga, for pointing out why Elise would be advocating stealth submission even if it doesn't work in the context of the relationship - it does fit well with her agenda of female superiority.

If anyone knows anything more about Ms. Rika's site or her, I'd love to hear it. Her long multi-part essay on submission is really good, I think. I almost want to download all of it in case it goes away, as is the habit of such things on the web. But I'm surprised her forum has such little traffic.

I think there might be a name for "stealth relationship", but I suspect it's illegal (stalking, anyone?) Bad idea.

Tom Allen said...

I think it's hard for us when femdom and female superiority and loving female authority all get mixed together. They're clearly different and related.

And I think you nailed it, Jamie. There really isn't a common syntax for expressing what we want - a situation made worse because most of us seem to want different things at different times anyway. Some people lump LFA under the Femdom category. Others see see Femdom as a subgroup of LFA. Some see it as a kink, while others see it as simply an alternative lifestyle.

Ms RIka said...

I thought I would chime in here. I have just completed my first book on this subject...entitled "Uniquely Rika". It covers my approach to adding the D/s dynamic to your relationships and is targetted for people of all experience levels.

As with all my writing, it's not about male-centric activities (although there is a section covering male-centric activities as gifts); it's about serving and caring for the dominant partner's needs. From this persepective, it's ironically unique.

You can buy Uniquely Rika through Lulu publishing:

Feel free to contact me if you have questions by posting back to this blog or sending me a private email!

- Rika.