Thursday, 17 May 2018

Service Submission Series: History and Importance of Service

As a caveat, I will be speaking of the leather lifestyle, which is the forerunner to the more laissez-faire pansexual kink genre we see in mainstream today. Service submission has roots extending back as far as the initial existence of leather. To understand service, let's take a brief look at the history of the leather lifestyle.

Leather, as it was first expressed, was highly disciplined, with rules, rituals and protocols. Having been born in the military, motorcycle clubs became a natural almost organic continuation of the lifestyle returning gay war veterans had come to know. It was the uber masculine sexuality of leather clad brothers in arms that drew many to the clubs. The discipline, rules, rituals, and protocols that were commonplace during their military service, found a new home and new expression in Old Guard leather.

One of the cornerstones to this lifestyle was service - to your Top, to your family/club/tribe, to your community. At a very basic level, a boy - since the lifestyle was predominantly but not exclusively gay male oriented - would do as instructed by his Sir/Master. This would often be whatever was needed, sexually or non-sexually. This could be some sort of domestic chore, or perhaps something of honour such as caring for a Top's leathers or boots. There was also service to the club and community, when there were gatherings or events.

These tasks, these forms of service, were thought to give training and understanding to a boy, so that when he was one day raised to be a Top/Sir/Master himself, if that was the chosen path, he would understand what is required of his property, and what his responsibilities might be. Service didn't need to be discussed, or introduced, it just was - it was as much part of the lifestyle, as instructed or passed down by the Top. Just as protocols and etiquette were passed on, so was the concept of service.

During the 80's, the leather lifestyle began to change, due to two main factors: HIV and fractioning of the community. When HIV hit the leather community, the ideas that had guided the communities and the families in the leather lifestyle, were either lost, or started to fade. The community started losing the elders who would have passed on the 'traditions' of this underground, outlaw sort of lifestyle. There were no manuals, or books, or widely published manuscripts about this life - it was passed down, Sir to boy - in leather clubs and leather bars - anywhere where leather men would congregate. As well, the community was growing, and also changing. So called protocols, which might be strictly enforced and observed by certain factions, were only loosely observed if at all by other leather communities. While the core values such as loyalty honour, and trust were still held, the execution of many other ideas, such as earning your leather, started to become optional rather than mandatory.

So where did this leave service? Well, as leather, and leather sex, started to move into more mainstream areas, foundation cornerstones started to become misunderstood, even seen as antiquated. As leather was replaced with BDSM and D\s, the focus moved from being a disciplined social construct, to a more bacchanal kinky sex fest. Sex has always been very much a part of the leather lifestyle, but the lifestyle moved from being a taboo act of rebellion, to being a peccadillo at a key party.

Moving forward even today, due to the changes in the lifestyle, where the pendulum has perhaps swung too far, service is very often no longer understood, and at times treated with such suspicion. It is viewed by many as some sort of click-bait - something shiny to lure someone into an uncomfortable and non-negotiated situation. For Dominants, they may no longer know how to actively participate in receiving service - they may not know how to hold up their end of the power exchange tango. For a submissive, they may view it as merely foreplay to the "real exchange", be that play or sex.

I am not one to bang a drum with some sort of campaign slogan like "We need to get back to traditional service submission values", but I firmly feel it is a tragedy that the structure of the lifestyle as it largely exists today, views service submission as an anomaly, or for many, a whimsical oddity, rather than a core foundation. Before furries, ponies, littles, primals etc., there was service, and if for no other reason than that, service submission deserves acknowledgement and respect.

For many service oriented submissives, service is the core of their identity, it IS their expression of submission. It is not merely a shiny pair of leather boots, it is not merely fetching tea - Earl Grey - hot, it is not merely moping a floor - these are just physical expressions of a complex dance of emotions. Service is both an expression of respect - for the lifestyle, for the title, for the hierarchy that is implicitly or explicitly established - and an expression of affection - for the community, for the lifestyle, for the person being served. It is a basic acknowledgement and acceptance of one's place and space in the community, in the lifestyle.

Forget play, forget the theatrics, even forget the trappings that the lifestyle affords, but without service, there is no lifestyle. For that reason alone, service needs to regain a place of honour, if for no other reason than to keep the cohesion of WIITWD for future generations.

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