The woman I serve has a friend who also happens to be a Christian-based counselor. When she speaks about power exchange and my submission, in particular, it concerns him, as it does many people are trained in disciplines such as psychology and conflict resolution. I think the word that comes to mind for many is passivity, that slaves sublimate their needs in favor of their Masters’ desires.
I had this in mind as I read through Oren Jay Sofer’s communication book Say What You Mean. Reading he lists passivity as one of four ways that people react to conflict, my defensive hackles raised ever so slightly. Would this Nonviolent Communication (NVC) expert say that my surrender is passivity?
With passivity, “…we give up what we want and acquiesce to whatever requests, needs, or demands are presented by those around us.” Sofer says that passivity differs from conflict avoidance “…as the aim is to diffuse any potential conflict by abandoning our own needs and preferences.”
Healthy power exchange doesn’t ask for the slave to abandon their needs; Instead, they trust that their Master will care for them both while enacting shared values. If a power exchange duo has a conflict, the slave’s needs are not ignored, but, in the NVC language of Say What You Mean, the Master may ask the slave to abandon a particular strategy for meeting a need.
I’ve found that slaves by definition have an underlying desire, sometimes weak and sometimes screaming out, to surrender to the will of another person. So when the Master asks the slave to find another way to get a need met, possibly on their own, that delays the meeting of one need, but often meets the need of surrender to another person. a grateful slave expresses this perfectly in Slavecraft.
What’s more, slaves with this point of view get to a place in our heads where every time we give something up for the Master, we feel that our slavery, our surrender, is renewed and reinforced. So, i’ve lost the pleasure of seeing the building, but i’ve gained my slavery….And when slavery is the most important thing in the world, joy is the result in my life.a grateful slave & Guy Baldwin, Slavecraft.
Bringing this back to Say What You Mean, does this prove that slaves are passive? Well, we occasionally “give up what we want and acquiesce to whatever requests, needs, or demands are presented by those around us.” But we also deeply desire to acquiesce to the person or people we have chosen to serve!
Those called to slavery do not acquiesce to the people we serve to avoid conflict, but instead because it brings us deep, incomparable happiness. This is not passivity – We are actively seeking that which brings us joy.