Most of the posts on my site thus far pertain to D/s (Dominant/submissive) relationships but, as I’m becoming more drawn to M/s (Master or Mistress/slave) relationships, there will be a shift towards M/s topics.
This week’s mentor post is by FetLife member Toebob and concerns the various ways to bring a slave’s behavior into line with a Master’s desires, as well as how a Master may be sure he or she is continuing to fulfill their responsibilities.
At a recent MAsT meeting we discussed Correction, Discipline, and Punishment. A couple of people said I should post my ideas on the subject so I decided to do just that.
Correction, to me, is synonymous with training. If a slave is trying to learn a new task it is up to the Master to provide the proper correction to train the slave in the proper form of service. This may start initially with writing a set of instructions or even demonstrating by example. Later, it could be simple verbal corrections such as “I’d like the tea a little warmer next time.”
If correction is synonymous with training, discipline is synonymous with practice. It involves repeating a task until it is done correctly. For example, if the slave fails to address Master properly, the slave will stop, return to the previous position, and try again. For serious errors this may be repeated several times to strengthen the discipline. For a real life example, my slave is learning how to properly trim my nails. If she makes a mistake she gets to correct her error as best she can. When the nails grow out she can try again for perfection. At no point do I take the task away from her. At worst we have to return to correction while I demonstrate exactly what I want and have her repeat it. Otherwise she will repeat the task and that practice, that discipline, will make her better at it.
Punishment goes beyond training and practice. The slave knows what they should do, knows what they shouldn’t do, and chooses to break the rules. In this case there is an injustice. A good Master will correct the injustice by applying a punishment of a style and force that appropriately matches the transgression. Justice is served, the Master’s rules are upheld, the slave pays penance, and the issue is resolved. A proper punishment properly applied will reinforce the connection between Master and slave.
When people discuss M/s they often talk of rules and punishment. They sometimes speak of correction and discipline. They rarely speak of reward. Punishment and Reward are two sides of the same coin. Punishment is negative reinforcement applied to discourage bad behavior. Reward is positive reinforcement applied to encourage good behavior. A lack of reward when it is well deserved is just as damaging to a relationship as a lack of punishment when it is deserved. A reward might be as simple as verbal encouragement to recognize a job well done or it could be big and special like a treat, a present, or a trip.
I’m tempted to go off on a tangent here regarding reward vs punishment but I’ll save that for another post.
Some people may not see it this way, but Master is a job, just like Father, Husband, Foreman, or CEO. Just like a slave, a Master has tasks to perform and must learn their trade. Correction, Discipline, and even Punishment/Reward apply to Masters as well as slaves.
A Master must learn how to be a good Master. It helps to have other Masters as mentors or friends to learn good Mastering behavior. This is where groups like MAsT provide such a benefit. A good Master should also encourage their slave to give feedback. The slave should be able to tell the Master what motivates them, what encourages them, and what feeds them. The Master learns from this and becomes more proficient in becoming the best, most effective Master for their slave.
Masters make mistakes and Masters need practice. When a Master makes a mistake it is all the more important that the Master repeat the task until it is done right. Create in the relationship more opportunities to practice being a good Master. For example, perhaps a Master has gone too long without checking to see that the slave has completed their chores properly. The Master should apologize for the oversight and make a point to very explicitly check in and verify every chore for a time until the Master regains their competence. This will let the slave know they are not being ignored and that their Master cares about being a good Master for them.
Punishment and Reward are different for a Master than a slave. It is rare that a slave has the opportunity to punish or reward their Master. Instead, the Master must punish or reward themselves. When a slave commits a transgression an injustice is created that should not be ignored. The same applies when a Master commits a transgression. The Master is the judge in either case and must correct the injustice. The Master should communicate with the slave, apologize for the transgression, and decide on a proper punishment for himself or herself. It’s not an easy thing to punish yourself in the proper amount. It should be harsh enough to bring the scales of justice back to balance but not so harsh that it doesn’t fit the crime. Rewards are a bit easier, at least for me, because being served by a happy, competent slave is quite a reward of its own.
Correction, Discipline, and Punishment/Reward apply to slaves and Masters alike.