It seems like I write about this about every 6-8 months. I wish I never had to ever again, but some recent contact with two people who are in the midst of experiencing this pushed it to the forefront of my mind. I’ll try not to write too angry on this, but it is a topic that I feel strongly about.
The idea of withholding dominance from a sub as a punishment isn’t new. It isn’t special. It isn’t unique. You used to be able to trace written documents online back to the mid 90’s talking about this, and I’m pretty certain it was even used back in the pre-internet days. Every so often a dominant digs this back up, uses it, shares it with others, and you get another wave of this becoming the flavor of the month punishment in a community.
Originally this type of punishment was used to cure subs that were prone to acting out for attention. They want to get physically punished so they disobey on purpose until their dominant gives them a spanking (or something similar). This type of behavior is generally regarded as bad form for a sub and you’ll find a large number of the negative labels and terms that exist out there are in reference to this: “do me” sub. SAM. Topping from the bottom. Taking away what they are trying to bait out of their dominant is an applicable punishment in these cases. It is better to train the sub to communicate in words rather than act out like a spoiled child.
In most other scenarios, withholding dominance by taking away actual punishments, protocols, rituals, rules, and symbols, is NOT a good method. There are so many things wrong with it that I won’t even bother trying to list them all and instead focus on the aspects that are most important.
The big one in all of this is that it is emotionally destructive for a sub. It says a lot of things to them without using the words. It tells them that their submission is more important to them than it is to you. “Look how easily I can cast it aside and you will suffer while I will be fine.” How is a sub supposed to feel like their submission has any value if it is treated this way?
It also says that the dominant doesn’t enjoy… being dominant. It’s too much work. I don’t want to think of anything. I find it unpleasant to have to deal with it. I’ll just take it away. Add these together and the sub not only feels like their submission is marginalized, but that their partner doesn’t even want to dominate them in the first place.
This kind of thing hurts. It hurts bad. If a sub takes D/s seriously, this will shake them on a trust level. Submission makes you vulnerable. Tossing that submission away feels devastating. If this was used as a punishment on me, I do not think I would ever feel comfortable being vulnerable to that dominant ever again.
There are dominant types that are more likely to use this type of punishment. Often they are the ones that tell subs they should be accountable for their own behavior. I get it if a sub is misbehaving on purpose. Those types of subs get irritating quickly. Beyond that, people make mistakes. They do things when angry or frustrated that they will regret. They will make the occasional bad decision. Most people will also regret the wrongs that they do. They will have remorse. They will feel sorry. They may crave penance. Taking everything away just kicks them when they are down. It’s pretty easy to come up with something unpleasant to do as a punishment. It doesn’t even require more than a second’s worth of effort. It is part of the responsibility of the dominant role. “I’m going to take my ball and go,” isn’t being accountable either.