I've managed to avoid a great deal of self doubt about how society would view our arrangement or does view what it believes about arrangements it believes are like ours. But every once in awhile - something outside of us, outside of what i see as a virtual community to which i belong (and in a very few cases, an irl community) - every once in awhile something crashes through and impacts me.
It happened last week. Apparently the two deranged people who kidnapped two little girls and sexually abused them were living as master and slave, in the kinky, bondage sense, as the news put it. I also noticed that the media, if not law enforcement, seemed to be mentioning it as a way of relieving the woman from culpability: she was his slave, she had to do it, it was all his fault. I didn't think a lot about it though, it was just two bad people who did bad things, way too much of that around it seems.
But then we were at a social thing - lots of people we didn't know very well at all, people who are mostly parents of very young children, and i overheard the small talk, including a conversation about this case. They were aghast and also titillated and mostly self-righteous about the inherent evil of 'those kinds of people.'
Later that evening my husband and I went for a walk I asked him if he had overheard the same conversation. He hadn't. In fact he hadn't read about the case at all, at least not anything beyond that the girls had been found. I was having a very hard time relating the story to him - i couldn't bring myself to say the words submissive, slave or master - i just couldn't get them out. He was a little impatient with me, he had no idea where i was trying to go because he didn't know the story.
I had thought i had dismissed the whole thing in my mind - but it floored me then. Eventually i was able to say what it was, and why it upset me so much: suddenly we are 'those people,' people one assumes are evil and child molesters. But i know that people from so many groups have done evil in the name of that cause, or in the name of that group or that religion, when it has nothing to do with the group at all. [Leaving aside the issue of groups being complicit by not rooting those people out.]
Even more so though, was the assumption that i, as the slave or the submissive, have no responsibility for my own actions and decisions. I must be so far lost mentally that i would do even something like that without stopping myself, or him.
But i'm not. I do think for myself and i do speak up, about all kinds of things that impact us and our family. This is that stupid, absurd hypothetical, 'Would you cut your arm off if he told you to? Would you commit a crime? Would you sexually abuse children?' Except that it wasn't hypothetical in this case. I know damn well that he would never, that this scenario is not in the realm of possible. And furthermore, i know that if some bizarre turn of events leads to him asking me to do anything wrong, morally or ethically, he fully expects I would say no, and to do what i can to stop him.
This i know - have always known. But it left me with a flood of self-doubt. Where is the line? If i'm to analyze every request for right vs. wrong, and choose to comply or not - how is that submitting? And I must be no where near slave then, which i do consider myself, except i still don't like that word at all, but i have no other. But if there are - and there are - things over which i would certainly refuse him - how deep is my commitment really.
This is only a question in the face of the outrageous and completely absurd, the things that won't happen really. Except it did. And some man asked the heinous, and some woman didn't stop him. I know that has very, very little to do with D/s and everything to do with the wrongness of both of them.
It works in my head: I have given my whole self to him, no reservations. No holding back. No contingencies. Not even any limits of my own. At the same time, I completely retain my own intellect, my judgement, my conscience. I know that i would disobey, i would work to thwart him if i believed i ought to. He would have me do no less. And i can't explain how both of those can possibly be completely true at the same time. In words and on paper - clearly they can't. But in me - they are.