A thread on Fetlife got me thinking about service. So for my first assignment for the Kink Academy, I thought I’d try to find out a little bit more about what exactly is meant by the term “service” in a d/s context. Or rather, if my own thoughts about what it is, needed a little readjustment.
I was thinking about that thread when I starting poking around the videos at the Kink Academy to see if they could help me figure out what people meant when they talked about service. I wanted to see if I could figure out the difference between just doing “something”, and doing something as “service”. And of course, the Kink Academy didn’t let me down.
I started thinking about that thread and the video while I was chopping ice from the driveway. Here in my neck of the woods, the weather has been pretty awful and as a result, we’ve had a ton of snow and ice building up on the driveway, making it difficult to even get out of the car. Septimus was out, and I had a few hours, so I thought I’d see what I could do about getting rid of some of it. While I was chopping the ice, lifting small but heavy pieces, and shoveling it over the five foot high snowbanks, I was thinking that it was damned heavy and I could use a massage. I didn’t WANT to be doing it, Septimus hadn’t asked me to, and so I was wondering why I was doing it at all.
Why WAS I doing it? Why was I busting my ass breaking up ice on a day where I could have gone shoe shopping? But as I looked at the chunks of ice disappearing around his parking spot, I realized that I was doing it because I wanted to see his face light up when he got home, from the fact that I HAD done it. Oh god, I thought. What kind of idiot I must be.
But then I wondered if what I was doing was what Sarah Sloane meant by “service”.
Before watching that video, I would never have dreamed of calling myself a service submissive, and I daresay that neither would Septimus. I don’t have a fetish for serving unknown people, I don’t get off on cleaning toilets or serving drinks with my head bowed and on my knees. I thought that to be service oriented, meant that I got off on the mere fact of the service alone. I thought that to be a “true” service submissive, one had to look to the internal feelings felt and that those feelings, whatever they were, had to be enough. In other words, if I didn’t get my rocks off from cleaning a toilet while wearing high heels and fishnets, then there’s no way I could consider what I do as “service”. I do however, get off on seeing Septimus’ face light up when I’ve done something to make his life more pleasant.
After watching the video, I realized that service comes in many forms and for many service oriented people, it’s not necessarily what I thought about cleaning toilets. I listened to Sarah describe the different types of service, the reasons why people offer service, about service dominants, about how hard it is to accept service, to know what to do with it, and even about how it doesn’t have to be an altruistic act with no thought of reward, to be called service. The fact that I do something for Septimus to make his life easier, to give him time to do other things, or even to just make him smile, can all be considered service. Whether we call it that or not. I still don’t believe I’ll ever call myself a service-oriented submissive. But I think Sarah has given me a whole new way of looking at what services I do, why I do them, and how hard it must be for Septimus sometimes.
I then thought about all of the things that I do for Septimus, whether he’s asked me to do them or not. I thought about the way I do things, which is sometimes very different from how I’d do them if left to myself, the small acts that I always just thought I did because “that’s what a good little submissive does”, and the unexpected things that I do simply because I know that he’ll appreciate them. I thought about the way I load the toilet paper, the way I always make sure he has his favorite drink in the house, how I always straighten the bedsheets before he gets in, how I hang his clothes, match his socks, take care of the shopping, keep our kink calendar and keep up the correspondence with our friends, keeping him updated on events and taking care of the details. I thought about how I willingly go out at the spur of the moment because he’s mentioned something he’d like to eat, or scratching his back at night so he can fall asleep or “shnoodling” with him on an afternoon, with him sleeping and holding me so tight that I think he’s part anaconda. I even thought about how I’d figured out a way to read his favorite book so that he’d have someone to discuss it with (okay, so I cheated with this one and got the audio book because I’ve tried three times to actually read it and haven’t gotten past the first chapter). I thought about all of the things that I do, without even thinking that I was providing “service”
But then a couple of disturbing thoughts struck me: would I really do them for just anyone, and do I really do them and expect nothing in return?
It was the first time I’d really thought about what service is, and realizing that I’d been mistaken about it. I thought about what it means to me. And more to the point, what it means to Septimus. I had to answer truthfully that no, I wouldn’t do most of the things I do for anyone else, and I certainly do expect something in return. It also made me think about all those times I’d joked with Septimus during silly pillow talk about finding a service submissive to take care of my shoes or do any of the other hundred of tasks that we both really dislike. It was the first time I’d thought about the investment that I’d have to make to such an arrangement, and the investment he must have to make in me for all those little things I do for him. I learned that although I’m fully capable of offering specific service to a specific person and having one of several specific rewards in mind, and that doesn’t make me NOT a service oriented individual, just that in order for me to be happy within my service, I need to have Septimus’ reciprocity in a specific way. That’s part of his investment in me and to our relationship.
I also realized that I’m not capable of giving service without expecting some sort of payback and that I’m certainly not capable of accepting service from someone else without having that investment. It seems that it’s a lot harder knowing HOW to find out what service means to another person, and how to accept the service being offered, than it would be to just clean the toilet yourself and be done with it. There’s always some sort of payback expected by the submissive. Whether from an internal feeling of satisfaction and of a job well done, knowing that what you’re doing is appreciated; or whether its with some external showing by their dominant through the form of acknowledgment, praise, or even physical interaction.
Or in our case, the payment on both sides, is in fact, love. But spankings certainly wouldn’t be frowned upon either.
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