Or, let’s talk about different styles of bottoming and submitting. This post will probably make more sense if you read the last one about styles of topping and dominating. These two posts were inspired by Xiao Yingtai’s brilliant post “Am I Just Selfish? Service Versus Control,” which you should go and read.

The gist of her post is that in addition to the service submissives who everyone seems to know about, there are also control-oriented submissives who (shockingly enough) just want to feel controlled during a scene.

Xiao Yingtai’s post blew my mind because she explained something I’ve literally spent years trying to understand: what the hell people are on about when they say they want to be “trained.” I always thought people who wanted that had spent too much time with one-handed BDSM reading and not nearly enough time talking to real people about how they actually live their lives. But it turns out that some s-types are control-oriented and love things that would make service-oriented submissives miserable. Or to quote from the post:

Constant micromanagement and correction? No endpoint? Sign me up for this!

I never realized that feeling controlled was the point when someone asked to be “trained.” I always kind of thought they were just bad at service or had the idea that there was some magical “right way” to do things and if they learned it they would be the perfect submissive and never feel sad or lonely or inadequate ever again.

The idea of “training” also irritated the shit out of me because if you assume it actually is about making yourself useful, then being trained by someone else before you look for a partner is a complete waste of everyone’s time. Even something as simple as how to make tea isn’t that likely to carry over, and assuming that all dominant women take their tea the same way (or even that we all drink tea) is a good way to convince your prospective dom that you see her as female dominant seven of nine, not an individual human being.

Where things get complicated is when people try to sell themselves as service submissives when making themselves useful is really, really not the point of the kind of scene that they’re after.

To quote Mistress Matisse’s article “Slave Labour“:

Some folks try to turn what’s sexy for them into something of practical use to others, in an attempt to attract partners. This rarely works. My friend Jae has coined a not-very-complimentary generic term for the breed of man who does this: “the Panty-Washer type.” The name springs from dirty-underwear fetishists who try to persuade you that hand-laundering your lingerie should earn them sexual favors.

Another example of that type are the boys who’ll offer to, say, scrub your floor. Oh–did they mention they’d be doing it naked? And you will be standing over them, supervising and disciplining them the entire time? In full fetish gear? With a riding crop?

Guys, there is someone out there who wants to have that scene (possibly for $250 an hour, but that’s a separate post), but you are absolutely not going to find her by trying to convince people that this is a good way to get their floors clean. For fuck’s sake be honest about what you want. I mean, I’m not even particularly control oriented but the way Xiao Yingtai puts it is just hot:

But some of us irrational types like being constantly pushed further. We actually live for that state of desperation, we get a kick out of providing entertainment through our suffering. Or, at the very least, the boot on our necks.

Entertaining me by suffering for me? Yes please! Desperation? I’m all over that. Tell me about that if you want to play, not about how clean my house is (not, let’s be honest) going to be.

It turns out “training” actually does mean something after all. It’s still not my thing, but it makes me so happy to finally have any idea what people who like it are talking about.

Readers, are any of you into “training”? Has anybody else struggled to understand what that hell “training” even means?

6 thoughts on “Service/Control

  1. For me, training would not be how to do tasks, but how the particular mistress likes them done. It also may involve learning protocol.

    While it’s true that the mistress should not need to stand over the slave as he works, it is also true that she can’t just assign tasks and then ignore the result and abdicate any involvement with the slave. She can, but the relationship won’t last long. The slave needs some level of interaction with the domme, including being held accountable for the work and some level of feeling that he is doing a service for the mistress.

  2. I think that’s certainly one version of training, though honestly, from what I’ve seen it’s far from the most common one.

    I think there is a HUGE contingent for whom training means ‘doing sex things a lot’ (e.g. as in ‘being trained to give oral’ or ‘being trained to [do my fetish]’) <= THIS is where my eye rolling comes in the hardest because when I see or get a generic 'need training' request, I ALWAYS assume it means that. Most times I'm right.

    I DO train my submissive to do things in the way that I like. I tend not to use the word 'training' though because it has those connotations. But to Downlow's point, I am *active* in doing that, and the D/s interaction in it makes it a very different process from asking a vanilla partner to do something.

    I’d also separate out training from micromanagement. For some people one might be part and parcel of the other, but I don’t see it that way.


  3. I never realized that feeling controlled was the point when someone asked to be “trained.” I always kind of thought they were just bad at service or had the idea that there was some magical “right way” to do things and if they learned it they would be the perfect submissive and never feel sad or lonely or inadequate ever again.

    Holy shit. Lightbulb moment.

    Where things get complicated is when people try to sell themselves as service submissives when making themselves useful is really, really not the point of the kind of scene that they’re after.

    I was just thinking about that because of this:

    I wish people would be more honest about their motivations. Or learn to satisfy some of their kinks while being genuinely useful at the same time. Either/or. Because I think I’ve run up against entirely too many guys who couched their own selfish wants as some kind of service.

  4. Oooh. It’s funny, as a domme, I really get off on control. But I’ve always gotten twitchy when subs talk about training, because while I like control, I’m not into micro-managing, and training too often seemed like it was tied in with punishment (and/or funishment) which I’ve never really been into. I never thought of training as a way to control…which really says something about the way training is talked about and presented in the community. Much thinking to do…

    (Sad/scary note: my inline grammar check is now telling me I need to capitalize ‘domme.’ I got no words.)

  5. Like Jess and Ferns, I don’t usually use the word “training” for this kind of control. Whether that’s mostly because of decades of seeing the “fulfill this role in my fantasy” connotations or something else, I’m not sure.

    But yeah, I’m all about the control, both in play and relationship roles. Bondage and orgasm control are among my favorites in play, but at the relationship level, I like the micromanaging. I also identify as a “rules perv,” for when micromanaging is not practical or necessarily relevant to the task at hand. I like being trained by Jalan to how best to meet her needs and desires, including making a damfine cup of tea, per her, with no expectation that the details would carry over to another dominant. (I hope never to find that out — we’re open/poly, and I’m free to seek other relationships, but not with respect to who gives me orders.)

    But there’s another level: Her control over me, her training of me, helps me be the person I want to be. We use the rules and other tactics to help move me toward goals I have for myself, and in some cases have had for many years. The rules I’m under now, especially for things like how I approach my work, would have seemed impossibly constricting three years ago. There are things we had constricting rules for three years ago that are now second nature to me and part of my happiness. And still, periodically, she makes or I ask for another step in these directions.

    Is that training? That’s a fair word. A psychological behaviorist or learning theorist would call it shaping. And yes, it’s a core part of my submission and my motivations.

    • To follow up on Naga’s post, I’d like to point out that for me as his dominant, the “shaping” Naga refers to is not about me fixing him or saving him. We tackle goals that he has for himself, not ones I’ve made up. This is an important distinction from the kind of “training” I see people talk about in which the dominant’s agenda is the only driving factor. I have a long history of those kinds of “fixing” relationships (which turned out…. poorly), so part of my growth as a person is finding ways to care for someone without losing myself in the process. My dynamic with Naga allows me that kind of balance.

      Unlike so many dominants who seem to have been self-assured and comfortable in their dominance from youth, I’m still in the process of learning to trust my instincts and voice. My D/s with Naga allows me the safe space to be particular in the way I want my life to run – my relationships, my home, my career. Writing rules or setting expectations for Naga allows me a large measure of that particularity. But just because I have ways I want things to be done and we order our lives around those expectations doesn’t mean I think of that as training.

      If I were going to use the word “training” for any part of what I do, I would use it to describe the early process of subtleties and assertions that establish the overall dynamic. Sometimes after a discussion about expectations Naga will remark, “I see what you’re doing there, and I hate that it’s going to work!” I’m not even sure I can describe the process more clearly than that, I’ll have to give it some thought.

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