Someone on a forum asked a very, very excellent question. I know little about this person except that she’s new to the idea of BDSM, and she has a child.
“Does being in a master slave relationship have to continue outside the bedroom? Or do you take it outside of the bedroom?
From my point of view (and, fair warning, others will disagree with me very strongly), it is just not possible to have a “true 24/7” master-slave relationship in a modern Western world where the people in the relationship have any duties or responsibilities to other people. There is always going to be something in life that is going to require the master/slave dynamic to be set aside for periods of time. It is completely unrealistic to expect that one person is going to be able to devote every moment to obeying/pleasing their partner.
This is, of course, just my philosophical view. There are others who will disagree, and be able to give examples of how they make it work. I will say, though, that a master/slave relationship absolutely DOES NOT HAVE TO BE 24/7. If you are interested in a master/slave dynamic, but you don’t want it to be “24/7”, then the answer is very simple. Don’t ever agree to a 24/7 relationship. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied or pressured into one. Any person who would try to bully, force, pressure, or guilt-trip you into a relationship you don’t want to have is someone who doesn’t respect you as a person, and someone you shouldn’t be in a relationship with.
This is just as true for vanilla relationships as it is for BDSM relationships, as it is for simple friendship. If you were a just plain old vanilla person, you wanted a career, and your boyfriend was pressuring you to marry him at be a stay at home mom, wouldn’t that be the kind of thing that would make you want to leave him? I mean, sure, maybe he’s a great guy… but he wants you to be someone you’re not.
That’s just plain not okay. And it’s the same thing with master/slave relationships. If you don’t want to, then don’t. It’s not something you HAVE to do.
It is my opinion that the master/slave dynamic MUST be turned off in front of the kids. It is the responsibility of every parent to be the example of ‘what an adult is’ for their children. Part of that is raising the children to see that both genders are absolutely capable of being independent, thinking people who can form their own opinions. Part of that is demonstrating what a “normal marriage” is. Part of that is demonstrating how adults resolve conflicts and disagreements. Children do not learn about what’s normal from books, or from school, or from the occasional lecture. They learn from what they see every day.
There are other things children need to learn, too – especially the part where “mommy and daddy have parts of their lives that do not include them”. Like, in the bedroom. Or going out on dates without the kids. Or having sleepovers (or an overnight babysitter).
Being dressed up to go to a fetish event, for example, is not necessarily something that must be hidden from the children (depending on how extreme the dressing up is). The explanation “grown up costume party” is enough. As to “where are you going?”, the answer is “out”.
All of the above that I have written for this post is based on the fact that most people who are new to BDSM have read online, or in books, or heard, stories and warnings and examples that are usually on the extreme end of “master/slave”. In real life, most people don’t do anything like that. Seriously. It’s a great fantasy, but most of the masters in the master/slave relationship actually have no desire to do anything in front of children, ever. It’s just goddamn creepy, and the masters have just as much “OMG WTF ARE YOU GODDAMN KIDDING ME????” reaction as anyone else. There’s always a few sickos you hear about, and those situations are always sensationalized because of how horrific they are – but it’s NOT common.
MOST people (99.999%, basically) have an understanding – sometimes it’s explicit, usually it’s an unspoken understanding – that there are some limits you JUST DON’T CROSS. EVER. There will always be warnings about child rapers and cannibals and serial killers. These warnings will always, always be out of proportion to the actual chances of running into one.
On the internet, this doesn’t actually get spelled out all that much – because it’s obvious to anyone 1) with a brain, or 2) everyone who’s not a total newbie. Anyone with a brain knows that legal responsibilities come first, and anyone who’s a dominant with a brain isn’t going to get in the way of their submissive’s responsibilities. People who are very new to what is affectionately termed “the lifestyle” have often only heard propaganda, scare stories, sensationalized news events, or the wishful thinking that gets posted on line.
One of the reasons I answer newbies the way I do is that this kind of stuff is generally the first thing they hear about – so 90% of the time, the answer they initially need to hear is the definitive “oh hell no”
There are people who say it’s perfectly okay to perform acts of submission that aren’t explicitly sexual in front of the kids or the public, because that’s what “true submission” really is in a “real master/slave relationship”. I’ve seen statements from “I’m the master, and I really do own everyone in my house” to “It’s perfectly right for my daughter to observe how my wife is submissive to me so she knows the proper role of a woman.”, and these aren’t even the people who are involving the children in anything overtly sexual.
Seriously, I just want to beat the living hell out of whackos like that with a copy of the DSM-IV, either for being abusive to children, OR for being retarded intarweb trollz. Hell, I know one woman who had to divorce her husband for shit like that. So, I know they exist – they’re not just urban legends. They’re worth warning people about, and somewhat firmly.
They’re NOT worth panic filled, barely literate, incoherent “public service announcement” type posts or comments. There’s not that many of them.
For anyone who is new to kink, initially reading about BDSM, there’s either no mention of children at all, or there’s… Tell ya what. I’ll be the nice one and call it “trash”. For someone coming at BDSM kinda cold, it can seem like the only reason people engage in 24/7 kinky relationships is because they don’t have kids, or are bad parents; or, alternately, that being a good parent and having desires to be in a BDSM relationship are just not possible at the same time.
This naturally leads to a belief that if someone has those desires, then they must not be a good parent. This is very conflicting for a parent in that position, and this is one of the reasons why people believe that anyone who’s kinky is obviously some kind of corrupted child abusing pervert who should be fired from their job immediately.
There certainly IS good, reliable information out there on the ‘net about balancing one’s life with one’s kink. However, for a new person, there’s SO MUCH information, and so much bad porn, that it can be really overwhelming to try to wade through all of it, while making sound judgments about what information is reliable, and what is not. Or even what reliable information is or is not relevant to one’s own situation.
It is quite possible to be discreet about the dominance or submission in a relationship. There are all kinds of little hidden, publicly acceptable or even unnoticeable ways to express oneself to one’s partner. I don’t have as many ideas about that as others do, because that’s not a dynamic I practice, but I have run into people who manage it. Without collars, or leashes, or colorful language, or overt public displays of obedience.
The one thing that seems consistent among rational parents, though, is that when dealing with one’s children – or their teachers, or coaches, or whoever – is that expressing a master/slave or dom/sub relationship in front of them is wildly inappropriate or out of context.