Bright Ideas

The Power of Irony


Dominance and Submission is riddled with paradoxes and ironies. In both scene-based and online relationships, many of the paradoxes are obvious. For example, contractual limits are often set as guidelines for the dominant, safewords are given to submissives so they can control when a scene ends and yet remain in character and beg for mercy without really meaning it. Actions done to the sub or required by the domme to be done by the sub are termed "forced" or "ordered", yet the sub is the one who determines if the acts are actually going to be performed. In most cases it is actually the sub's desire to perform the tasks he is being 'forced' to do. It is often said that the sub is actually the one in control of the scene (I'm all for "Safe, Sane, and Consensual", so I'm glad this paradox exists!).

Lifestyle D/s also has paradoxes and ironies although they present themselves in a much more subtle manner. As I have written, in a lifestyle D/s relationship the focus is on what the sub can do FOR the domme rather than what the domme does TO the sub and the concepts of limits and safewords do not readily apply. Additionally, since this form of D/s is substantially an extension the underlying relationship, formalities which exist in the scene world (e.g., collaring, protocol, etc.) are superceded by more traditional attachments such as love and commitment.

The most powerful of paradoxes which exist in the lifestyle D/s relationship is that of mutual benefit. A true submissive learns to derive pleasure in pleasing. His needs are satisfied by subjugating his perceived wants and desires to those of his partner. This concept is the hardest for the novice 'submissive' to grasp. The guy who is hell bent on 'being done while he's helpless' can't imagine that he will get his satisfaction, perhaps deeper than what he would get were he to get what he craves, by being the one who satisfies.

In building strong D/s relationships, the successful domme realizes the power of this irony. She understands that when a submissive is forced to confront the truth of the paradox, and rationalize his reaction to it, he feels more deeply involved in his role in the power exchange. Any exercise which fosters this confrontation within the sub can be used to strengthen the relationship.

Using Scenes - Treats and Playtime

I have mentioned in prior essays that, while scening is not a part of the dynamic of true submission, I do scene as a treat or playtime for my subs. I try to take advantage of these times to make an educational experience for the sub. The scenarios are carefully constructed to provide a paradox or a conflict which the submissive must face. The manner in which he resolves the conflict makes apparent where his preferences lie. He must ask himself why he chooses the way he does; rationalize his reaction. Aside from feeling pleasure, he is, by the nature of his participation in the direction of the scene, forced to learn a little bit about himself.

Ultimately, the most valuable lesson to be learned in a treat/playtime scene is that the activities he is enjoying are for HIS benefit. He should be brought to realize that he is being given a great gift. His partner is giving him pleasure, not sourced from the power exchange aspect of their relationship, but out of the foundation: caring, trust, and respect of their relationship.

One technique for structuring a scenario is to take an activity which the sub feels is "Submissive" or "Humilitating" and use it as the ultimate goal of the session. The objective is to structure a scenario where the sub is forced to accept greater humiliations or pain in 'exchange' for the CHANCE to perform the humiliating act. Such a scenario presents the irony to the sub whereby he is forced to realize that he NEEDS the ultimate act and is willing to do virtually anything to get it. He realizes that you fully understand him, perhaps better than he understand himself (which is a common desire among submissive men). He then realizes that you have the power to give or deny him that pleasure. You are doing it FOR him, because you care about's not about his submission to you. He may even express that he feels selfish accepting the gift. Mission accomplished.

A strong example of this is a scenario I produced for my husband, a submissive foot fetishist, who admited the desire to 'humble himself' by kissing my feet. The first step was to withold my feet for several weeks. They were off limits to him in any way. I then introduced a scenario which slowly and methodically introduced greater and greater humiliating and painful tasks for him, dangling the chance to kiss first my shoe and then my bare foot. By the time I decided to send him away to make dinner WIHTOUT the honor of performing the 'humbling' act, he was naked, on his knees, with clamps on his nipples, clothspins on his scrotum, masturbating, sniffing my toes and sticking his fingers into his own rear end! All for the CHANCE to do that 'humiliating' act of kissing my foot! During the short debriefing at the end of the scene (while he cooked) I asked him to reflect on what he learned. He thanked me profusely for helping him to understand how badly he needs to worship my feet and how much he loved me for some day allowing him the priviledge. These were not just words like you hear in the movies, these were heartfelt, sincere, and well thought out (the tears in his eyes helped the sell as well). He has never considered kissing feet humiliating again ... he feels it's a priviledge, one which I now feel comfortable giving him when I'm in a benevolent mood.

After the Orgasm

Men and women will tell you that when the sexual energy is released in the form of orgasm, the immediacy of the man's need to submit is diminished...and as dominants, we are taught 'not to let that happen'. I'd like to refine this observation. The need within the man for the things he wants is temporarily satiated. That's fine with me. However, his need to submit must not be allowed to wain. Many women will do something which further humiliates the man after his orgasm...and, I admit, I sometimes do to, but more importantly, I want him to do something FOR me...something which refosters his submission. It doesn't have to be much, it can be a massage, cuddling, getting me something to eat, or, if I'm in the mood, giving me an orgasm. It certainly means he doesn't get to roll over and go to sleep!

For the record, the one thing I definitely do is have my subs eat their ejaculate. I find that it does tend to whack a guy's submissive nature back into line. I may ask a foot fetishist if he'd like to lick my foot early in a scenario, then have him come on my foot and finally give him his wish and let him lick it...clean. Or I may contrive bondage whereby he ends up ejaculating directly into his open mouth. Depending on how far from properly submissive the guy strays after his orgasm, I may make him wait up to 30 minutes before starting the eating process. I may have him massage my back in the interim period of time, or I'll just have him stare at it with a timer running. I have found this to be a particularily difficult thing for a guy to do. It is a funny site though, the guy staring at his ejaculate while the timer ticks off, say, 10 minutes...and he knows that when it goes off, he'll be licking it all up. I don't even have to watch him do it...he's on auto pilot. Apparently, when the stuff isn't even warm anymore, the process of 'eating it all up' is particularily distasteful :)


Forcing a sub to understand that those humiliating or painful things he craves is actually NOT about submission but about acts of generosity, creates a very powerful irony. Forcing a sub to rationalize this type of irony brings him closer to an understanding of himself and helps him to come to grips with the reality of his submission. There is great power in irony and paradox...the domme who learns to use it will have happier subs.

My love,

2000 MsRika

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