Since discovering Taken In Hand a few months ago, I've been trying to get a handle on what it means to me. I can relate to many of the articles. However, those articles don't hit dead center for me. The one that comes closet is the boss's I don't want to be a servant or slave. In my view, Taken In Hand is not about servitude, or enslavement, or a martinet's discipline. Taken In Hand to me is more like a dance. The man leads, guiding both across the floor, but with each step she chooses to follow or not. She follows because she trusts him to guide them both through the swirling, ever-changing crowd of dancers.
Is this taking a lover in hand? I believe it is. Fundamentally, Taken In Hand is the consensual surrendering of some personal sovereignty to another. Sovereignty is the quality or authority of being independent and in charge of the conditions you live under. When you surrender sovereignty, you give another person the power to control some, if not all, of the conditions you live under. Realistically, we negotiate our level of personal sovereignty in every interaction with another person and that level is in constant flux. To be taken in hand is to allow some of your most intimate conditions to be influenced. Influenced rather than controlled, as you can always refuse to follow. This influence requires the most intimate connection between the individuals. Deep trust is required and that can only come in response to absolute and unassailable concern for you. It is this connection that is the fundamental element of Taken In Hand.
The different views of Taken In Hand are simply manifestations of this connection. Service, slavery, control, or discipline are all ways to maintain the connection between the two individuals. Each creates a sense of intimate sovereignty being surrendered. With each service performed, each command obeyed, each spank received, the sensation that you no longer control all the conditions you live under is enlivened. My feeling is that the connection can also be asserted through “care”. Can the sensation of surrender not be sparked by being bathed, being held, being massaged, being caressed, or having your coat buttoned? True, these are all things that might be desired or even demanded, but then so are spankings or serving another. The difference is attitude and timing. The difference is submitting to being bathed, or being held, or being spanked, etc., even when you'd rather not. Submitting by choice because you don't want to break the connection by refusing. Choice of submission is also key: you must choose to submit; force or coercion destroys the connection, breaking the trust.
So what does being taken in hand look like? Is it being tossed over a knee for sound spanking? Is it being commanded to do something? The recent discussion about the film Secretary caused me to consider when and even if, Mr Grey took Lee in hand.
It seems to me that when he tells her to stop the cutting, that is when he takes her in hand. When he brings up the cutting, she stiffens, preparing to be judged, to be questioned about what she is thinking, to resist. But he doesn't order her to stop, he doesn't tell her that she should stop, he simply tells her, quietly, that she's done with that.
I believe this is why she complies. An order would imply she should do it for him, telling her she should get a hold of herself would imply she should take control of her actions when in reality the cutting is how she feels control, but the way he just looks at her and says to stop, screams “I'm here to help you put that behind you.”
We see Lee hesitate, almost panic at the thought of losing her crutch, to her surprise she agrees. The voiceover after also implies that she isn't sure why or how she stopped. She simply states that she stopped bringing her kit to work, eventually tossing it away.
To me this is Taken In Hand. Being Taken In Hand is having someone you allow to tell you to stop. To stop doing something that isn't in your best interest. Something that interferes with your happiness, but more importantly your contentment. They don't order you to stop. They don't tell you that you have to stop yourself. They simply acknowledge what you are doing and tell you not to do it. They see you. They see the real you and care enough infringe your personal sovereignty, to cross the invisible borders we all have, to dare to attempt to influence the most intimate conditions you live under. They cannot use force but rather can only create opportunity and offer assistance that you are free to take advantage of or not.
Sounds simple? It's not! From the day we are born, we start fighting to become independent beings. A two year old ventures further and further from their mother. A teenager works hard to have a life separate from their parents. Giving up even some of this independence can be almost impossible. But while we strive to be independent, we also long for someone we have a deep connection with, for that one person whom we allow to influence the conditions we live under, for that one person who knows and accepts our true self. For someone who “gets” us.
Interestingly, you cannot influence someone's personal sovereignty without surrendering some of your own sovereignty. You cannot maintain influence over the most intimate conditions of another without fully accepting the enormity of the responsibility. That responsibility changes the conditions that you live under. Taken In Hand simply acknowledges that there is a natural tendency for men and women to be toward a particular side of this equation.
Taken In Hand need not involve domination and submission or even corporal discipline. It can be realized in small innocuous acts. A glance to confirm assent, being bathed, being massaged, deferring the final decision, are all small acts that affect our independence. Being taken in hand is not the act, it's the reason. It's not being bathed, it's allowing yourself to be put in the tub to be washed or to relax. It's not the act of deferring to a decision, it's trusting someone to decide because you trust that the decision will be in your interest. Taken In Hand is not glancing at someone for permission, it is being concerned how a choice affects that person. It is the connection the acts build and support.
This is my view of Taken In Hand. Submission, not by obedience, discipline, or control, but by the surrendering of small parts of your independence to the care of another. Taken In Hand is a way to keep this surrender fresh and alive. Taken In Hand is a multitude of small acts that daily confirm the surrender of sovereignty. Taken In Hand is dropping all your walls to allow the most intimate conditions you live under to be influenced by another. It is trusting another to care for you most intimately, it's caring enough for another that they trust you with their most intimate self.