by Jack Rinella

On preparing to speak in Springfield, MO this weekend I posted a request for questions to their newsgroup and a reader submitted a question about “What advice would you give someone who is becoming a MaleDom.”

Well there’s a mouthful and not an easily answered question, but I’ll try.

Before I do, though, I’d like to make note of my writing style. You will see that I compound this essay by my unwillingness to call someone a dominant or a submissive. These words are adjectives, not nouns, and I refuse to use them wrongly. Having a dominant personality does not make someone dominant. Being on the dominant side of a relationship doesn’t necessarily give someone the right to insist on the title of “Dom” or “Domme.”

If you look at my family tree there are one or two “Don Battaglia” ancestors. Don and Donna are titles bestowed by Kings and Lords and our corruption of them into Dom makes no sense to me. But that is my minority opinion. Another minority opinion that I have, based on four years of struggle at the hands of teachers of French, is that Domme has no accent mark on the “e” and so the “e” is silent. Thank you very much. I sure can be picky, can’t I? I guess it’s because of my dominant butnon-aggressive personality.

For starters I began thinking about myself and what kind of qualities I thought I had which made me a dominant player: Extroverted but not aggressive, Controlling but not overbearing, Decisive but not impetuous, Consistent, Confident but not cocky about it, Honest and open, Persuasive, Selfish but caring, Responsible, Having a strong sense ofself, Able to articulate that sense of self, and Respectful of others.

What is most notable about this list is that many of the characteristics can be said to apply to a submissive personality as well as to a dominant one. As usual, a discussion about kinky folks is fundamentally a discussion about human beings. Too often we disregard this very real fact and think that as soon as we put on fetish clothing we cease to be human. Simply put, the manners that your kindergarten teacher tried to teach you apply even when you are playing in the dungeon.

So I’m extroverted but not aggressive. I would be loathe to say that introverts can’t be dominant, but there is an element of being pro-active and out-going that seems to be necessary, since domination in this context is as much leadership as anything else. I necessitates some amount of directive-ness. I qualify this trait with “but not aggressive.” I do so because aggressiveness can portray the idea of violence, trespass, and disregard of the wishes and consent of others and hence is notappropriate as a characteristic of a healthy dominant personality.

You see, what I am alluding to here is that the appearance of being dominant is not the same as being dominant, at least not when applied to the context of what it is that we do. That’s why one of the characteristics that I listed was “Respectful of others.” We all share the same human condition and therefore we are deserving of the same respect that we ourselves desire.

Now the experienced dominant participant knows that respect comes in many shades and hues. Additionally the interactions between two consenting adults is highly dependent upon the type of relationship that the two have negotiated. What this means in practice is that the way a M/s couple relate to one another is entirely different than how they might be expected to relate to everyone else. As Patrick says “I’m Jack Rinella’s slave, not anyone else’s.” That’s why I eschew the title Dom and don’t insist on being called Master Jack or Master Rinella. At present I am only master to Patrick and so I am only dominant in my relationship to him, not to anyone else.

Of course I get lots of deference, probably because of my gray hair and the remarkable size of my dick, but I neither expect it nor require it. I hope, though, that I am appreciative of it when I receive it. One of the characteristics that ought to be noted in the best masters is that they understand the need for humility. Being masterful is differentthan being prideful.

I once wrote a column (it’s on my website) called “Confidence Makes a Master.” It’s also included in my book, “The Compleat Slave.” No one wants to own a slave who lacks confidence either, but since direction, control, and decision-making are all part and parcel of mastery, then it stands to reason that the master must be confident enough in him or herself and in his or her relationship to the slave that he or she (doesn’tt his PC gender stuff make for difficult sentences?) can direct, control, and decide.

That leads to another thought. The primary control that the dominant partner must exercise is over him or herself. If you can’t control your own actions and desires you will never be able to control those of another. Control of another creates the necessity of being responsible. The gift that a submissive partner bestows is primarily that of surrender to the will of the other. The only thing that makes such a gift reasonable, responsible (on the part of the submissive partner) and tenable is that the gift comes with the requirement that the dominant partner accepts responsibility for the safety, care, and well-being of his or her property.

I guess this is as good a place as any to make note of the wide variations in the expression of a dominant personality. There is, though we sometimes fail to recognize it, a difference between a master/slave (M/s) relationship and one that is dominant/submissive (D/s). Though they are near one another on the continuum of relationships, they are probably most easily differentiated by the intensity of control that is given.

They vary, then, by degrees defined by how much time is spent together, by what one partner surrenders or retains, and by the necessities of career, family, and health. Examples include the fact that a long distance relationship mitigates the possibility of more intense control being exerted, as does the fact of a submissive partner being at work, having children in the home, or being of ill-health.

Additionally partners may agree to leave some aspects of a relationship out of the boundaries of control. For instance, finances may not be surrendered to the dominant partner. In fact it could be that the submissive partner not only retains control over his or her own finances but might be in charge of the master’s banking accounts as well, though this would be more of a service than exercising true control. I, for one, would love to have a slave pay my bills for me.

Lastly, what this boils down to is that the successfully dominant partner accepts his or her domination of other as healthy, empowering to all in the relationship, consensual, and morally good. It boils down to self-acceptance of one’s personality and therefore the ability to live it authentically.

I think of this almost every night. Dinner is over and my mother taught me to help clear the table. Instead I get up, say thank you and do whatever I damn well please, leaving an after-dinner mess for Patrick to clean up. Doing so is simply part and parcel of my standing with him. I am master of the home and therefore act as such. Leaving him to do the dishes is one of the ways I exercise control. He agrees with and enjoys that I do so. It is as simple as that and for me to do otherwise, in my home, would erode and eventually destroy our relationship.

When I’m in your home, I’ll act differently, unless of course you want to be my slave too.

Copyright 2008 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.