I’ve been having a discussion with a young man who aspires to be a Master, and that discussion is very valuable to me because in addition to the gratification of having someone value my opinion, it requires that I take a look at the things that form the core of who and what I am. What follows was written to convey what I see as the basis of what it means to be a Master.
There are as many answers to that as there are Masters and slaves. I can give you my answer; a Master is what a Master does. In the same way that a slave is defined by his or her service, a Master is best described by what they bring to the relationship. I have spent the past six years working on this, it started as nine or ten pages, and here is where it sets today:
In my opinion, my job as a Master is to provide a safe, bounded, and structured environment in which my slave can operate freely and be successful.
Now to break it down. I begin, “In my opinion,” and that is what this is, my opinion. It is a studied, well discussed, experienced, even agonized over opinion, but in the end that is all that it is. Do not take it as the end all and be all of what you should strive for, rather think of it as more of a jumping off point, a place to start your journey.
I used to begin “A Master’s job is…,” until I realized that I have no authority to define Mastery for any except myself, and those who ask me to help them define it for themselves. Now I restrict myself to places I have authority and resources to operate, and so try to define MY Mastery, not Mastery in general.
Safe, bounded, and structured.
By safe, I mean physically and emotionally safe. Physically, I am my slave’s protector and guardian, and that is perfect for us. I stand between her and the threats, whether they are bugs and spiders or armed intruders. I have a friend whose relationship has that reversed, in her house the slave is the warrior/protector, and that is perfect – for them! Emotional safety includes security, for me it means I do not ridicule or attack the person, I comment on the behavior. That is an important construct I learned raising my children, and it directly translates into my day-to-day life as a Master.
Bounded means that we set up mutually agreed upon limits to the Master/slave relationship. There are those who will profess their relationship has no limits or boundaries, I am afraid I am not yet that advanced, and I’m not sure I want to be. For example, in our relationship I do not exert influence or control of my slave’s professional life, other than strictures on common courtesy. I believe that defining the boundaries of the relationship up front prevents problems down the road. It is important to remember that this relationship thing is a living, breathing and growing thing. Your boundaries will and must change as your relationship with your slave evolves, and one important thing is to provide a way to allow the evolution without weakening the structure.
Let us discuss structure. Structure consists of many things, but I am going to limit this discussion to rules, protocols, and procedures. (See that, I just established a boundary!)
For my house, rules describe a desired state of being. A rule might be “all bathrooms are to be cleaned daily,” or “Dinner is to be served 45 minutes after Master gets home unless Master has specified otherwise,” or “a slaves dress is to be decorous and pleasing to the Master, and appropriate to the environment where the master and slave are operating.”
Protocols relate to behavior, and implement rules. To use a previous example, you have a rule that says, “A slave’s dress is to be decorous and pleasing to the Master, and appropriate to the environment.” Protocols will describe how that rule is to be implemented in the home, at the mall, at a formal dinner, at a play party, or whatever circumstances might apply.
Procedures are related to tasks. If the rule is that “all bathrooms are to be cleaned daily,” the procedure might say:
- first clean the toilet,
- then wipe down the tub or shower,
- then wipe clean the glass,
- then wipe the sink and remaining fixtures,
- then gather all of the trash and empty the trash receptacles
- and last sweep and mop the floor
One note about structure, it requires maintenance. Do not put structure in place unless it is important enough for you to follow up. You get what you inspect, not what you expect. If a rule is not enforced, it is soon not a rule; it is a fight waiting to happen. This idea deserves its own post, but briefly, if you do not follow up and enforce a rule all of the time, it will be ignored in favor of the rules that you do enforce. If you ignore a rule for weeks, don’t be surprised when the rule is not being followed, and it is the Master’s fault.
Operate freely and be successful.
I am one of those results oriented people. I want my slave to have the structure she needs to be able to succeed. I want her to be able to predict how I will react in a situation, because then she can operate freely, without having to ask me about every little thing that comes up. That is important to me, because I want my slave to feel safe and secure.
So there you go; these are my thoughts on what it is to be a Master. I hope it helps, and I welcome your thoughts.