Does DD Work at Work?

I hope those of you who have been following the torrid, melodramatic story of my partner's and my experiences with DD (Domestic Discipline) will forgive if I diverge from the main storyline of how we're doing overall and follow a tangent in this article. I realize I'm leaving off the main narrative at a particularly messy point, but quite frankly I have no idea how we're doing overall and thus I don't have anything new or useful to add on the larger issue just now anyway. Rest assured the moment I acquire any wisdom on the larger issues from the last post, I will share it post hence! Meanwhile...

This article addresses instead a topic that's tangentially related to my partner's and my issues: the question of whether or not DD is effective and appropriate in a professional, as opposed to a personal, relationship.

To give some background on my own experiences, my partner and I met as professional colleagues in the political arena -- we both are both high-level political consultants and have worked together in various capacities for almost 10 years in what is arguably one of the most stressful, challenging and ego-bruising environments imaginable. We became romantically involved about halfway through that 10 years.

Extending the DD element of our relationship into our professional lives seemed a natural fit -- something that would make work spicier and more fun for both of us. After all, he's got more political experience than I do and has been a mentor and teacher to me over the years in our mutual work. And he's a natural alpha male at work -- always the leader regardless of the situation. (And of course, discipline at work fueled a lot of old fantasies about stern headmasters and desks...)

But looking back on the troubles we've had over the past year and especially the past few months, I wonder if mixing work and DD wasn't one of the biggest mistakes we've made. Taking the submissive role at home in a sexually-charged male-female dynamic is very different from taking the submissive role in a professional environment -- particularly one as dominated by male energy (meaning aggressive, masculine) and power-driven as politics.

Here's why.

I'm willing to go out on a not very shaky limb here and say that I am good at what I do. (So is he, by the way.) There are skills that we have that virtually no one else on the Democratic side has, and we're well compensated as a result. But to be good at what we do requires a certain dynamic that seems inherently opposed to the dynamic required for DD to work.

The problem with incorporating DD into our professional relationship is that being good at my part of what we do requires a certain amount of, shall we say, Hillary Clinton energy. That is to say, the emphasizing of my more masculine self. To do the work I need to do the way it needs done often requires me to be ruthless, bossy, stubborn and sometimes downright nasty. (I am a big Hillary supporter, by the way, lest anyone take offense. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have those qualities in spades. Believe me, she does. Particularly when on one is looking...)

The reality is that politics at any level is high stakes. You only get one shot at winning and there are very few do-overs. Not to mention that if we want to keep getting work, we have to win. All of which means that if we're at work and I think I'm right and he's wrong, I have a professional obligation to stick to my guns and not back down just because I might get "punished" for it. Careers are at stake -- both ours and the candidate's -- and our clients pay us to be right, regardless of what it does to our personal relationship.

This past campaign was particularly contentious (we lost when we should have won, by the way, which is no coincidence, I think -- our candidate and the country paid the price for our mistake). My partner and I have always had disagreements over strategy, but this is the first time we had them in a context where we also had a DD relationship.

Suddenly, my digging in and not submitting when he insisted he was right became a betrayal of our DD pact. I wasn't being professionally aggressive; I was being disobedient. I wasn't being a hard-core strategist in the trenches fighting for our candidate and doing whatever it takes to win; I was being disrespectful to my mate. He got angry; I got confused and resentful and felt like I was being asked to play with my hands tied behind my back. I felt I wasn't able to do my job without compromising my relationship and couldn't have a good relationship without compromising my job performance.

The "obvious" answer here would be to say, yes, good point. Keep DD out of the workplace. Women should be allowed to interact with men as equals in their professions, however submissive they choose to be at home. But I'm not convinced that's the true answer.

I must say here that (and please don't send me hate mail for the following. I'm just going to delete it anyway...) this is one of the many reasons that I'm not entirely convinced that women belong in the professional world at all, particularly in such masculine-energy professions as politics.

I've written a bit in the past about the need to reclaim our natural archetypal roles in our culture and about how out-of-balance our culture is because we've bought into the "feminist" idea that to have power, women need to act like men (and to be "good guys," men need to act like women). (see "Feminism: The Power of Giving Way")

I (and others -- I'm not making this stuff up out of whole cloth, you know...) have also written about how the male archetypal role includes, first and foremost, taking care of his family by going out everyday and slaying the dragon and bringing it home. In our world, winning a political campaign is about as close to slaying a dragon as a man can get. Other examples are, of course, making a big business deal, launching a new company, winning a sporting event, etc.

As good as it sounds to say that women should be allowed to pursue any professional they choose, I'm not convinced that we women are doing ourselves and the men in our lives a favor by demanding the right to go along on the dragon hunt. It doesn't leave much territory for men to claim for themselves and that doesn't seem any more fair than a man inviting himself into the Blood Hut.

More importantly, going along on the dragon hunt requires sublimating our more natural feminine tendencies. There's not a lot of room for emotions and feelings on a dragon hunt. It's about logic, it's about brutality, it's about conquest. It's where men's archetypal energies are given full rein -- and have every right to be given full rein without them having to stop and soothe our worried brows.

Alternatively, if we go along on the dragon hunt, we could choose to suppress our feminine natures and become as hard and ruthless and brutal as the men are. This is the 70s model of feminism -- suit up and play hard, just like a man would. And a lot of us have done just that. Certainly, that's what I do when I put on the Man Suit to become hard and ruthless in my political work. And the world rewards me for it, just as it rewarded (to some extent) Hillary for doing it. But I believe it's ultimately too high a price for a woman to pay.

I'm not saying I have definitive answers here and I realize I'm treading on dangerous ground when it comes to advocating that women maybe shouldn't have equal access to every profession.

I'm tempted to say that the answer is that we should respect men enough to let them go on the dragon hunt alone, and respect ourselves as women enough to recognize that our power lies elsewhere, far from the dragon cave.

But... what does that mean for a woman who does want to pursue say, politics? How does a woman keep her femininity intact and still excel at her chosen profession? Is it possible? Should it be possible? Or is my even asking the question just more of our culture's collective refusal to grow up and acknowledge that we can't have everything we want just because we want it?

I'm trying to officially "retire" from politics, but even after only a few months, I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it dreadfully -- the rush, the pressure, the thrill of the hunt. I just don't know how to reconcile my desire to hunt the dragon with my deeper need to reclaim my feminine energy and respect a man's right to go on the hunt solo - or even if those things are reconcilable. Is the desire to play hard-ball politics just a product of cultural conditioning (a la Hillary and others) that says that's the role I should aspire to and I'm not being empowered if I don't? Or is it my inner masculine genuinely demanding to be acknowledged?

I don't know.

26 comments:

  1. Anonymous05:41

    Interesting article as always, Vivian. I'm glad you're back and hope everything gets better in your personal life.

    Regarding women as workers and, so to speak, dragon-slayers, I've always thought ethology is a good place to know or at least speculate what feminity and masculinity (in a biological, not cultural, not learned way) entail. In the case of most mammals, it is in fact the females who hunt for their "children", who teach them how to survive, fight and associate. In the case of the species where there's an alpha male that is always present in the family, the females still provide food for the "children" and watch for their safety (even at the expense of defending them AGAINST the males), while males watch for themselves, fight among themselves and establish territories. We might say, as an analogy, that if the human world had no male leader, the females would be huntresses and fierce protectors always keeping males far from the kids, and in this world where there are leaders, a bonobo model might be possible (female leaders, collaborative society), or even a wolf model (alpha males and alpha females, pack hunting where both are involved, parenting where both are involved), but also a model where the male leads the whole group, the world, a country and STILL the female needs to provide for her kids and protect their survival and welfare.

    The animal world, and let's not forget we're animals, can teach us a lot about how our biology can determine our behaviour and position. The thing is, I'm not sure the animal world actually says the females should be led at all in this aspect we're discussing, at least where the founding and maintenance of a family (with kids) goes... I've always thought that's more of a cultural thing and quite rare amongst the species, the majority of them having females who are intensely active in at least the "economic", provider, "work" role.

    I don't know. Complex issue.

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  2. Vivian, as a woman who is in a position of top authority in the workplace I have grappled with some of these issues. One difference may be that I am in health care and not politics, so that being that aggressive is not required. I have found, over the past few years, a way to channel not only my aggressive (male?) qualities, but also my softer (female?) qualities to both be effective tools in the work place.

    The masculine model of leadership and accomplishment is not the only way to get things done. I think I am really a better leader with access to my softer side.

    I also had the experience of working with my husband. As I am the 'big boss' there, I was in charge. While I was always respectful to him, my word was the final one, and although it was hard at times, not overly so. My husband is not HoH because he is inherently right all the time, or because he is male. He is HoH in our home because we agreed to that. I am HoH at work. While that created tensions, mostly due to his HoH aura, even in meetings in front of others, and I would not want to repeat the experience, he would never have punished me for not following his lead at work. I just do not understand that part of your arrangement.

    I believe a good leader must inherently have a sense of power dynamics, and be able to follow when necessary. That is a balanced individual. I am the leader at work, and I follow at home. He is the leader at home, and I was so impressed and proud of him that he was able to follow at work. He would express his opinions, but when push came to shove, at work, it was my call which way things went, and he respected my role there, and my obligation to all the people I serve.

    One of the things that makes DD work for me is that while it has allowed me to discover my feminine energies, my submissiveness, it has been very empowering. My husband does not hold me back. He backs me, and truly and sincerely helps me to be the best person I can be. At work that is a leader.

    Sara

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  3. Vivian, I work in public policy advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities at local and mostly state levels (with a little bleed over into federal level issues.)I've done this for 33 years. While it is not the level of participation in politics that you are invovled with, I do understand some of the stressors you deal with.

    First of all congratulations. You sound very gifted as does He.

    I've known many women in politics either as advocates, lobbyists, or as elected officials. I understand somewhat some of the struggles of being a woman and a in such a role. My closest professional mentors were women, and women who had very fulfilling love lives.

    I beleive it is entirely possible for a woman to be fulfilled in that professional realm if it is in fact fulfilling for her.

    I have a friend I spoke with the other day. She is much younger, about five years out of college. She had a rather meteoric rise to a position of Executive Director of a non-profit that exists within a highly politicized arena. She has been quite successful. I called her the other day and she shared that she was quitting her job the end of this month and returning to school. She is going to become a nurse. She's decided that while she is successful at what she does, it does not fulfill her.

    My swan was a top level corporate rising star in the petroleum industry in the 80's. She had always wanted to teach children. One very traumatic day (a colleague and close friend came to work and literally blew her brains out in the office next to hers)she walked out of the corporation and never returned. She has taught school since and is by the way the most superb educator I've encountered.

    In each of those cases a woman, a very strong and accomplished woman, relinquished a career path for something that is a more traditionally "feminine" role. I would posit however, that neither of them had to do with an inability of women per se to perform or flourish in those professions. It had to do with their feeling a need for different vocatiional pursuits to fulfill thier lives. In both cases it involves women who are not just working to earn a paycheck, but who have found ways to do what enriches their lives.

    As for DD, I think it is possible for some of us to reverse power exchanges between work and home environments. I don't think I could do it. I am in charge at work and at home and I like it that way. If I am not in charge I tend to become "difficult". (It made for an "interesting" childhood.)

    I have to question as I've read about your relationship, if the issues you both struggle with have more to do with who is in control of your relationship: whether you in fact submit to Him or He Tops you to satisfy you....meaning you are the one in control, despite being the recipient of spankings.

    I don't think at all the relationship dynamics you are struggling with mean that women in general are not able to fulfill the roles you describe. I wonder if you don't need to work at evolving from "Warrior General" to "Warrior Princess." One does not have to become masculine to be a Dominant Leader.

    Always remember, the problem with politics is that they're so damned political.

    All the best,

    Tom

    Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

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  4. Anonymous21:26

    Your article reminded me of the Gender differences in the two main parties. I challenged a co-worker to name a prominent Republican woman politician who could be McCains running mate. The only person he could come up with was Rice. I am sure there are any number of Democratic women he could have named.

    What a lot of Democratic women consider as submitting to a Male the Republican woman consider to be fullfilling a role.

    I am not associated with either party but I despise the Democrats for a number of reasons. Part of it is the constant demonizing of men with the Archtypes as you describe here. Slaying the Dragon requires teamwork and personal leadership more than anything else. The French lost at Agincourt because they went for personal glory and the English fought as a team under the Black Prince.

    I know more Husbands than Wives who have been beat up by their spouses. And the emotional abuse is easily ten to one. I know a lot of people enjoyed the movie "Little Miss Sunshine". To me it was nothing but severe emotional abuse of the husband. He only had three choices. Walk away from everything that was important to him, submit to the constant abuse and try to convince himself he is happy, or use physical force to stop the abuse and get thrown in Jail.

    I am glad you are willing to discuss the issues you are trying to resolve. But in the end you have to stop trying to figure everything out and just decides what makes you happy.

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  5. Hi Vivian, nice to have you back and with avengence as usual!

    I work at a high level in an extremely male dominated environment (the space industry) where by the men outnumber the women by say 20 to 1. I know that my brain in very many respects is wired in a more masculine than feminine way, if it were not then the logical engineering function that I perform would be hard, BUT the feminine side of me also has a strong role, she is the communicator, the mediator the conflict resolver and the good people manager. I need both sides of me at work and am a better employee for accepting and embracing both sides. In addition, I am so used to juggling many balls in the air (home, work, kids etc) that I do it without thinking at work, something many of my male colleagues cannot do to the detriment of the company.

    Hil

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  6. Vivian,

    One comment I'll make is that I think DD is best when the HOH is making decisions that are in the best interest of the family, or at least the relationship in the case of an unmarried couple -- perhaps one way to solve the issue is to discuss with him the dynamics at work and come to an agreement that when the issue has some sort of actual direct bearing on the health of your home life, your relationship or your person, that he has the final say and you will abide by it -- in other words, this is appropriate to call an "obedience" issue. But when it's a professional call that has nothing to do with your personal relationship other than the fact that it pisses him off not to be agreed with, then it is no longer an obedience issue but remains simply an impersonal, professional one.

    This would be more cut and dried if you were married, because in my mind (being married and Christian, and happily a disciplined feminist), we are not to submit to men in general, we are not to submit to someone else's husband who is not our boss, we are to submit to our own husband. In the case of personal choice to submit to a man to whom you are not married, I would think the problem could be made less muddy by a clear agreement about the distinction between what is truly his realm of control and what is not.

    What I guess I mean is, if in the work place you were to be totally rude or disrespectful to your mate, not just professionally in disagreement, then I would think you could rightfully expect a spanking at home (or in the parking lot if he couldn't wait that long....), because such behavior to him would have direct bearing on the health of your relationship and would be completely destructive to your bond.

    On the other hand, if you simply come at a problem from a different angle, a different perspective, and both of you disagree, even passionately, that should not be considered a punishable offense, but a time when mutual respect and forebearance are called for. And such conflict can produce wonderful sparks for later, particularly if he admires the passion and commitment of the woman with whom he so thoroughly disagrees! (Pop "The American President" into the VCR to remind him of this....)

    Just my two cents. I personally would find it impossible to work with my husband....!

    Belle

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  7. "The American President" might well be great model for how to make all this work -- I'll take another look at it and see. Thanks, Belle!

    And thank you to all of you for starting a discussion on this issue!

    Viv

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  8. Addendum:

    I took a look at The American President this afternoon, from a gender role perspective.

    The situation is similar in many ways to the one I describe -- he is clearly in the power position, but her job requires her to tap into both her masculine and feminine sides to get the work done: If she's too soft, she doesn't get respect. If she's too hard, she's just a bitch that no one wants to meet with.

    And the whole thing opens with her being very disprespectful to him and having to apologize and acknowledge her bad behavior. (Not to mention that she calls him "sir" throughout much of the movie, acknowledging the power imbalance between them -- while adding to the sexual tension at the same time.)

    This does seem to be a good starting point for what works and doesn't work in a work relationship. I'm going to suggest to my partner that we screen it together to see what his take on it is.

    Thanks for the excellent suggestion, Belle!h

    -Viv

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  9. Anonymous12:53

    Dear Viv,

    I'm not going to try and convince you one way or the other because, mainly, I don't think that was the intent of your question and because no one can answer that question for you but you.

    While the 'fantasy' of headmaster, or strict boss fuels a lot of play-time roles and feeds the desire of wanna be DD participate - the reality is that it probably won't work.

    One can give up the dragon hunt because she 'wants' to give up the hunt or because she's forced to give up the hunt by powers she can not control, ie. losing a big political endeavor can certainly send you in that direction. I don't think you can give up the hunt because of DD. J. and I were both particularly successful employees in our fields...although they were different. I couldn't do his job and he couldn't do mine - by choice and by training. But there was also a lot of overlap. I am, like you, in a predominantly male work environment and often, if a woman happens to slay the dragon, it's dismissed as being a 'little' or 'easy' dragon to slay. :)

    You can't bring DD into your professional world because of exactly the reasons you stated: you have a commitment that goes way beyond your personal relationship. You need to stand in and do battle regardless of what he thinks - the same way any other unrelated third party would. To do any less is a disservice both to the job you took and to yourself and your relationship.

    My guess is that your partner was attracted to you for all the professional qualities that you possess and displayed in the years before you became involved. I'm a little frightened that if that was gone - he would find the need to be attracted to another high powered intense woman - one he hasn't yet controlled. But not knowing him I can't know that.

    In trying to envision the both of you in a working atmosphere, especially in the heat of a particularly stressful decision where you disagree, I would hope that there would be a moment (and only a moment) where he catches your eye and conveys to you as only he can his inner feelings as to what he would really like to do to solve the problem of the moment and your return look would let him know that you understand his feelings and agree that in a different time and place, that would be an acceptable response. Hopefully that would diffuse his need to 'control' and your need to have him be in control. Because that is who both of you are....and you can't change that just because you put on your suits and go off into the workplace. You can't change it but you can control it. :)

    In addition to 'punishment' spankings - which I hated and they were given so that I would, sometimes I would get spanked 'just because'. Because he felt like it. Because he wanted to. Because he thought I needed it. Just because. I would venture to guess that some of those unexplained 'just because' spankings were because of something I had done that he had taken issue with personally but which didn't quite fit into the agreed up transgressions that would generally earn me a trip over his knee or a chair or whatever. If they were, he never admitted it and I didn't push for an answer. They were generally kind of exciting and often my chance to push the envelope a little - very little - but a little.

    So my take on your question is no: you can't bring it in but you can acknowledge the need and/or desire.

    I'm sure you will get loads of responses, pro and con and that's the purpose of debate. At the end of the day it's what works for both of you that matters. I would really love to read his response to your question. :)

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  10. Interesting... as always. Luckily most couples don't work together, so the issue is less pressing. Each can go into the workplace and be as aggressive as they need to be without it directly impacting their personal relationship with each other. Which is a good thing, because often there isn't much choice. Two paychecks are *needed*.

    In our relationship we keep work related issues largely off the table. It's easy enough to do because we don't work together. Could certainly see where things would get tricky if it were otherwise.

    Todd & Suzy

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  11. Thanks for commenting, Todd & Suzy!

    Certainly it's true that most couples don't work together, but wonder if this is an issue even for those who don't?

    After all, if a woman spends all day being aggressive, that must affect her relationship when she goes home. I find it very difficult to make that transition, and I wonder if perhaps women who work in particularly high-stress, aggressive fields (even if they don't work with their partners) have trouble balancing their two selves.

    And can a woman who works in an aggressive, male-dominated field explore her softer, feminine side without running into the contradictions inherent in her lifestyle?

    If I had the answers... but maybe someone else does? Thoughts, anyone?

    Viv

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  12. Anonymous14:59

    My husband and I work together 6 to 7 days a week. We are not currently in a D/d relationship but when we were, the work related issues caused problems. I felt that most work issues should be left out and he disagreed. It is not an easy thing to work out for sure. I enjoy your writing.

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  13. Like some others before me, I immediately picked up on the "working together" as being the point of contention, rather than turning the DD on and off at work.

    My husband and I have never been professional colleagues. However, for about two years in our history, we had jobs which we did in close proximity to each other. I could see him in his office from mine, and vice versa. We did not supervise each other or even work for the same employer, and yet it did not go well for a long time.

    At first, he let me know when he saw me doing anything he didn't like. I returned the favor by expressing my disapproval of certain decisions he made regarding his clients and his employer, even though my opinion was neither wanted nor consulted. You can imagine how this all disintegrated.

    Eventually, I rearranged my office so that he could not see me from his desk. And then after that he found a new job where he goes away in the morning and comes back in the evening and in the interim we don't see each other.

    It turns out that DD works MUCH better for us when we don't know too much about what the other one is doing at work.

    sparkle

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  14. Vivian,

    My apologies, I forgot to say earlier that unless your last name is Clinton, you are not responsible for her loss. I'm not even convinced she is. I suspect it may just be one of those times when any decision was the wrong decision.

    In any event, the buck stops at the candidate, not at her staff, consultants, volunteers or spouse. She is ultimately the one responsible for making decisions, and accepting or rejecting good and bad advice. Unfortunately, some of the decisions that affected the outcome were frankly made years ago.

    Anyway, no guilt complexes! Please don't allow your perspective on this particular campaign to influence your decision to continue working, change how you work, or retire.

    sparkle

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  15. Anonymous23:45

    Vivian,

    I found your post very interesting as someone who is an activist probably to the left of you I have always been conflicted by on one hand my desire for equality and on the other my desire for a DD relationship.

    As a dominant male who's been in D/s relationships, I have been conflicted between the Dom in me who desires to lead his partner and the feminist in me which is meant to overcome traditional gender roles and encourage my partner to lead.

    I think there is a conflict and I worry even though my partner and I chose a D/s relationship that we are reinforcing sexist patriarchal structures and in doing so reinforce not only our own socialisation but that of those around us. I am curious to hear your thoughts.

    Jim

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  16. I do think it's possible to go along on the dragon-hunt, Vivian... I really do. I think that in this situation, it is possible for you to be there, let him know how you feel, and still be submissive to his will. I have had to do this for many years when I worked with my spouse and with my father. It is also possible to do what you need to do without shoving his face in it. I have a doctorate, so it's not like I don't know what it's like to be in a male-lead profession, but/and it's possible to be in a heated discussion and still not HAVE TO "win." It's a fine art but it can be done.

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  17. I do think it's possible to go along on the dragon-hunt, Vivian... I really do. I think that in this situation, it is possible for you to be there, let him know how you feel, and still be submissive to his will. I have had to do this for many years when I worked with my spouse and with my father. It is also possible to do what you need to do without shoving his face in it. I have a doctorate in Rhetoric, so it's not like I don't know what it's like to be in a male-lead profession, but/and it's possible to be in a heated discussion and still not HAVE TO "win." It's a fine art but it can be done.

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  18. Hi all,

    Below is a longer version of Alison's comment above, that I I'm posting the expanded version because I feel like her take on this is one of the most helpful on this issue that I've seen.

    Thanks, Alison!

    ---

    I wanted to say that I have a doctorate in Rhetoric, and have some real life experience trying to be submissive at the same time that I am forced by my profession to defend my position. It is hard, but it's not impossible. I do think it is possible to work with one's DD partner and be able to stand back, not have to "win," but instead be able to put forth one's views, respectfully, and not expect to be "right." The real issue comes down to that delicate process that is not negotiable... the moments when the relationship is at risk because you're disagreeing with his authority, rather than with the issue. The issue should be and can be DISCUSSED but it should not be ARGUED. There's a big difference, and as someone with a background in Rhetoric, I'm acutely aware of the distinction.

    I am not suggesting you do or don't do anything, but what I do is make it very clear at the beginning of any conversation that could be fraught with misunderstanding and personal discomfort is to say some version of "I need your take on this/your guidance/your perspective." Then, if there is a decision to be made, I will ask him what he thinks I should do. If I am FORCED to do something that contradicts his wishes because of the realities of the job, then I tell him how sorry I am I wasn't able to do what he thought was best. If, however, it's a matter of my will up against his, and he won't find out the consequences of my making my own decision, I simply don't tell him. I keep my mouth shut. If he WILL find out, I get his permission first. In other words, he is ALWAYS in the loop, it's always respectful, and he never feels like he's lost control. Perhaps this seems excessive, but it's the way I keep my relationship on an even keel, and let my man know how very important his opinion and knowledge is to me, even when I disagree or know he's wrong. The outcome of him being wrong is usually not as great as his loss of trust in me if I go against his wishes.

    Thanks for your blog. It's very interesting. ;-)

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  19. Anonymous08:41

    Thought-provoking article. However, you are assuming that, to get ahead, a women needs to suppress certain "feminine" traits and allow her "masculine" side to dominate. I would respectfully suggest that, whatever the profession, a woman will be more likely to succeed if she is true to herself. Hillary may be ruthless and dominant, while her husband may be undisciplined and inconsistent, even though these appear to be gender role reversals.
    In my profession (I am a lawyer), women can do very well whether they are aggressive and overzealous, or more inclined to negotiate to find common ground. In fact, I see Barrack as a negotiator, with probably more feminine characteristics than Hillary. It is my opinion that a person needs to be true to one's self, and in the professional arena that is true as well. There is no reason why a woman with more "feminine" traits cannot be involved in politics.
    It sounds like your situation involved a misguided disciplinarian. The discipline should be loving guidance for the person on the receiving end, to allow that person to fully reach his/her potential rather than asserting power and control over the submissive for egotistical or power-hungry reasons.

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  20. Anonymous06:22

    This is a great blog :)

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  21. Anonymous22:35

    I'm coming late to this discussion because I've just found your blog, but I must say I am so very thankful to be reading thoughts from a very intelligent woman who is not afraid to look deep into herself and question everything.

    I agree that we need to give men their Dragon Hunt - but I don't agree that the way to do it is to leave certain areas, namely politics, solely to the men. We need women in politics. We need their perspective, their willingness to negotiate, to say "sorry", to look out for the helpless ones that, frankly, can get run over when the Slayers run off towards the Dragons. Unfortunately, I think that sometimes we have to act like them to get there, but only until we can clear some breathing space for the rest of us coming up behind. Women, sometimes acting like men, have demanded and received family-friendly policies that made it possible for us to have families and work together - never perfectly, but for many of us, there is no other choice. We can't leave the important stuff to the men alone - but we can bring a different perspective and different solutions, and we can do so with dignity, grace, gentleness, and humility.

    Looking forward to hearing more from you - perhaps now that the campaign is over? Or has your work just begun?

    Joanna

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  22. Hi Joanna,

    Thank you for your comments and welcome to the blog!

    Thanks for asking about my future in politics. Archetypes aside, I'm still struggling with whether I'm really suited to work in the field. While I have great skills in some areas, other parts of the gig aredifficult for me.

    So the answer is, I'm not sure whether I'm done, or whether I'll continue. The good news is I have a few months before the next election cycle starts to get into swing to consider things!

    -Viv

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  23. Anonymous02:45

    Viv,

    I’m new to your blog, but I’ll carefully try to address this issue from my perspective. Since I may not have the full context, maybe you can make that allowance. This turned into rather a long comment, but then, it's a rather long topic.

    I think you can take D/s into the workplace in many cases, but the degree of difficulty and risk depends on what that workplace is like. If you work at a grocery store, then it’s not very likely that you will have the degree of conflicting goals that you have in a professional job. The less you interact with the public, generally, the less opportunity there is to create situations where the normal course of D/s would be interrupted.

    I’ve spent many years as an IT consultant. As a consultant, I have a responsibility to my clients. That responsibility is to give them what I believe best serves their needs. This is a personal responsibility that goes beyond rules, per se, to taking a look at what I truly believe is best in the current situation. At the same time, I have to look at whatever rules there are as significant guidelines, so that I give them proper weight.

    To bring another person into that situation creates a conflict of interest. In any given situation, I have to then decide whether I’m doing what’s best for that person or for the client.

    I suspect that political consulting requires a fair amount of creative intellect and spontaneous decisions in response to battlefield conditions. Politics, really, is a substitute for war in civil society, so political consulting seems like those scenes from Kagemusha where the battle is raging all around and a clear view of it is impossible. That doesn’t strike me as being a place where an external consideration would make much sense. (Although, a certain discipline sure would!) Bringing D/s into this would be very risky.

    Now, we could potentially set up the right set of guidelines for engaging jointly with a client that would resolve the conflict of interest. That would mean that the D/s rules between us would take that professional need into account. In that, the rule would be that I would do what is best for the client during the engagement at all times, regardless of whether I was obeying a direct order from my partner or not.

    And, as I’m a heterosexual dominant male, if I were taking my submissive into this kind of situation, that’s the kind of rule I’d want to set up. I would want to know from them whether they were doing what they honestly thought was best for the client. That would be a tough rule for me to follow as the dominant, but then I have high expectations for myself as a dominant, too.

    The implication is that if I thought, for a moment, that my sub was doing something to please me even though they thought that it wasn’t the best for the client, they would be in big trouble. They could expect that to come up in a very disciplinary way.

    However, your initial take on this was that extending D/s into the workplace would perhaps make work spicier and more fun. I guess the caution is to carefully decide if the experience is living up to the hype, and terminate it if it isn’t. It’s better to call for some straight time and revoke the D/s rules for that part of your life than to let it become a problem in the overall relationship, and/or (heaven forefend) create a problem with the client!

    So, that’s about the D/s part of the equation, but you go on to talk about feminism and women in the workplace. I’ve been a feminist for a very long time. I’m 54 and I marched for the ERA, I did some volunteer work for NOW, I’ve got feminist credentials. I’m a “feminist” because I’m a liberal, and I’m a liberal, in part, because I believe that humans are fundamentally equal. As such, liberating anyone from undue prejudice is my fight because it frees me, as a human. I’ve also seen women treated in degrading ways that I simply think are unfair. So, I am a feminist from a point of empathy, as well.

    Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that women and men should try to approach life the same way any more than two men should approach life the same way. We need to approach life from the strength of who we are. For a woman, that means leveraging what female qualities she happens to have. We have to be careful not to simply stereotype, but there are certainly broad tendencies. Women tend to have more peripheral vision. If an individual woman has better peripheral vision than the men around her, then she should use that strength. A woman should not use a thing because it is a female thing; she should use it because being female gave her that thing, and it is hers.

    And, women have every bit as much a claim on the workplace as men. If they approach it differently, and that means that things are done differently, then so be it. We need to be tolerant of all differences, whether they are individual or come from a group difference, such as gender. So, women definitely belong in the professional world.

    But beyond that, perhaps the nature of the workplace makes it hard for women to take part. What about being a woman would make it hard for her to be in the professional workplace? If you are saying that females are naturally submissive and that the professional workplace demands dominance to win, I have some problems with that. First of all, there are many people in any given professional situation. Only one of them is the leader. If you have six men around a conference table and one of them is the leader, that doesn’t make the other five women!

    And, I don’t think that dominance is a male or a female trait, either. The quality of being female has to do with position. The nature of sex is that the female is around the male. The male is inside and the female outside. The male can actively penetrate the female, or the female can actively surround the male. There is nothing about male and female that is inherently dominant or submissive. That comes from a decision about how to interact.

    There is also the energy. The male contributes energy to the female, who, through the creative act of combination, creates something new and brings it out into the world. This is how thought works, and it is that way regardless of whether the players are physically male and female or both of one sex. It has to do with the thought coming from the one, being transformed by the other, and then given birth into the world. I would say that this is the real nature of sex, and it is separate from the nature of dominance and submission.

    I would agree that we need to reclaim our archetypal roles. In fact, I was just at a lecture where John Grey talked about this in the context of our essential sexual hormones. He said that we need to pursue the strategies and activities that our hormones dictate and not try to do what the other sex would do. A big factor for men is testosterone, and for women oxytocin. Each of these chemicals contributes to relaxation in the corresponding sex. Specific activities generate these hormones, and an activity that helps a man produce testosterone and therefore achieve relaxation might be just the activity that drives down oxytocin in a woman (and increases cortisol).

    So, I think that people do need to reclaim their archetypes, but we need to look at creative ways to do so that allow women to be treated fairly. Just because we had a specific pattern of treating women in the workplace before the feminist revolution doesn’t mean that it is or was ever ideal, or that we should go back to exactly that pattern. We understand much more about the physiology and the psychology of the human now than we ever have, and we should use that knowledge to create a workplace (and a world) that best works for all.

    In any case, I’m a little alarmed that women would hang back from the dragon hunt. Who is to say that the way men have traditionally felled dragons is the best way? You go out, like Beowulf, and stick a sword in the dragon; is that the best way? Perhaps you should be weaving a net and capturing the dragon so that it can be used to heat water. If you stick a sword in its throat, then you may end up with a dead dragon. I’m not convinced that we want more dead dragons. Maybe we want them alive, cooking for us and heating our homes.

    I guess, Vivian, that I’m just refuting everything you say! Maybe as a feminist you’ll like that. (Or, maybe as a submissive.) In any case, these are my views and YMMV. But, I think you should consider that you have a place in the political consulting world, that you can use that part of you that is dominant where that’s appropriate, but that also you may be able to see how politics could be done in a way more compatible with the female nature and still be successful.

    If I have advice, however, it is to let go of the belief that the pleasures of the hunt are incompatible with the feminine energy. Remember that Diana is the goddess of the hunt. If you are really feeling the needs to be in the hunt, then I think you should go with your gut and not let whatever rules society has come up with stop you.

    --Rich

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  24. Dionysius14:23

    Viv,

    I don't know if you're still reading answers to these questions since this is a 2 year old blog, but just in case... (background, I'm a male switch, strictly into erotic spankings, with pref for receiving). I know so many women who do so well in the workplace, and get so much satisfaction out of it that I think--and forgive me here my strong opinion about this--that the notion that women should leave "slaying the dragon" to men is nuts. Also, in order to have a good rlationship with a woman, I need a woman who is fulfilled in a major way. Also, I know that marriages between people who both work are more successful (have lower divorce rate) than marriage where the woman doesn't work. Even in hunter-gatherer days, while men did most of the hunting, women did most of the gathering, and many of the other tasks. And my guess is that the major reason why men did most of the hunting is because women, by virtue of their secondary sexual anatomy, could not run very well, and part of nabbing a beast involved chasing it, often over a couple of days. (Humans have much better stamina than the beasts we pursued, so the hunters would eventually catch up to an exhausted beast.)

    The other important thing is that what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. ***Maybe*** you'd be happier at home. And certainly some women are probably happier that way. And so are some men. And some people prefer poly to monogamy, and people have all kinds of different beliefs. So I would be very hesitant about trying to prescribe any lifestyle for everyone. And I'm guessing if you left your political consulting you would not be as happy as you are now. I doubt the Democrats would be as happy, either. We probably need you. Ah, Viv... life is complicated as you well know. I hope it treats you well.

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  25. Dionysius14:26

    @Rich
    Both sexes produce both hormones. I pet dogs and smile at toddlers and cuddle with lovers to get oxytocin.

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  26. Hi Dionysius,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I am indeed still reading and responding. I just haven't had much new to say on the subject of DD for awhile, as I've been occupied with other things (campaign season, etc.).

    As soon as I have something to share that's worth my readers' time, I will definitely share it!

    Warmest,
    Viv

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