Style as Mastery Pt. 2
In terms of giving examples of style as mastery specifically within an M/s dynamic, I’m confronted by the difficulty that the particular style of any master is specific to that master. There are of course more general “community” styles, but they are more limited to visual style rather than behavioral style, the latter being of more interest to me. The importance of visual style within the community and various sub-communities does however demonstrate that style is definitely a component of this type of relationship, so I’ll say a couple of things on that topic and then attempt to move to the more cogent behavioral style.
One big sub-community, especially recently, is the “leather” community. While “leather” encompasses a wide variety of lifestyle types, which I don’t need to get into here, the single commonality between the various groups and group types is a visual style intended to express masculine power. This goes as much for lesbian groups like LSM as for gay leathermen’s groups or biker groups. That the term leather is used is itself an indication of the desired masculine style at the origin of all the groups, leather being a traditionally strong male aspect of dress.
The other sub-community with a long history is the fetish/goth community. Again although relationship types are as various in that community as in any other BDSM community the visual look is what defines membership in the group.
Style as mastery in a behavioral sense can really encompass anything that serves to delineate place within an M/s relationship. This can range from overt displays of power to very subtle expressions that might be completely invisible to someone outside the relationship yet conveys a compelling expectation. My own style tends towards the latter – invitations to do something or statements of something desired are fully expected to be acted upon without question as if they were expressed as direct orders. For this to be effective the slave involved has to have a decent ability to read non-verbal cues.
A very different style is embodied in the “high protocol” type of relationship, where the overt actions are intended to establish and reinforce the different places of the people involved. Where the slave is not well versed in reading non-verbal cues this can be a more effective style, for instance at the extreme of difficulty with non-verbal cues it is particularly effective with a slave with autistic spectrum symptoms. Of course large numbers of people in the “normal” range have some difficulty in reading non-verbal cues, and the readability can also depend on how overt those cues are with any specific master’s behavior.
Within the above extremes and between them there are plenty of variations of specific style, probably as many as there are M/s relationships. Some are more successful than others in a specific relationship context. Those styles, though, are not adornments or accoutrements to some mythical substantive dominance; for the most part they constitute that substance itself.