Why do many Taken In Hand folk reject the D/s label?

Why do many Taken In Hand folk reject the D/s label? What is the difference between Taken In Hand and D/s (or BDSM, M/s, etc.)?

Some D/s (or BDSM, M/s, etc.) relationships are Taken In Hand relationships, but many are not.

A Taken In Hand relationship is, inter alia, a permanent, sexually exclusive, fully committed marriage. There are some such marriages within the D/s (or BDSM or M/s) community, but those terms (D/s, BDSM, M/s) do not necessarily imply even a relationship, let alone a permanent, sexually exclusive, fully committed marriage.

Labels like D/s, BDSM and M/s, etc., can apply to open or poly relationships and casual sex, mentorship relationships of finite duration, and relationships in which the dominant partner reserves the right to have sex with whomever he wishes, irrespective of his partner's feelings about that. Indeed, in many cases, it is frowned upon as bad form for submissive individuals not to meekly accept such a state of affairs. That idea is as unappealing to Taken In Hand couples as Taken In Hand is unappealing to many D/s folk. Our preferences differ.

I hope this does not sound holier than thou. Indeed one of the things that does not appeal to me about the online D/s/M/s/BDSM world is that there are so many insults, holier than thou judgements and snobbish, scathing comments that completely take for granted various questionable ideas (such as, for example, the idea that there is a hierarchy of submissiveness with the lofty slave being at the top of the ladder, and the alleged faux-sub being beneath the bottom rung, and a lot of tedious discussion about who has a right to call himself a master, etc). But to be fair, many a RL TPE/M/s/D/s person feels the same way about that. Many of them enjoy this site. Regrettably, we too sometimes have similarly objectionable comments here despite heavily discouraging them. I mention this merely to explain one of my personal reasons for wanting the Taken In Hand site to remain outside the online D/s/M/s/BDSM world rather than becoming subject to what seem to me its oppressively narrow and rigid prescriptions and proscriptions.

Taken In Hand is just one set of many possible preferences. Within Taken In Hand there are millions of individual variations. We all start from our own perspective and sometimes think we know best and that others are wrong, but I am at least trying to correct such mistakes in my thinking. I try to remember that I'm not actually an omniscient, infallible god, but just a mere mortal who makes a lot of mistakes. I recognise that my preferences are merely my preferences. In no way do I think that everyone should share my preferences. I am a staunch supporter of the idea of individual freedom, including the freedom of others not to share my preferences in any way.

The Taken In Hand site is not a sex site: we focus on the psychology and the relationship rather than sexual practices. On most D/s/BDSM/M/s sites there is a huge amount of focus on sexual interactions and practices.

Whilst the Taken In Hand is not a sex site, the purpose of the Taken In Hand relationship is to create a white-hot sexual connection that permanently bonds husband and wife together in a vibrantly happy relationship that will last a lifetime. Taken In Hand is sexy and fun or intensely erotic. If it were not, why bother?

On the other hand, many in the D/s world take the view that D/s is a very serious matter, not at all about having fun, and that it is not even necessarily a sexual thing (their heavy focus on what seems to us like sexual practices notwithstanding!). Some D/s authorities state categorically that the submissive partner must submit—that it is her duty to submit, and that if she doesn't, she is not truly submissive. They bandy about terms like “faux-sub” and “fake sub”. Some D/s authorities also regard dominance as a great burden that the dominant partner must bear. It all sounds decidedly unpleasant. Teeth-gritting, dutiful self-sacrifice and burden-shouldering is not Taken In Hand.

One defining characteristic of a Taken In Hand relationship that some (though by no means all) D/s folk reject is the idea that the husband in charge puts his wife and the relationship first. We take the view that putting her and the relationship first is the key to creating a marriage in which the man is in control in a good, healthy and sustainable way.

Several D/s individuals have criticised this Taken In Hand position as advocating coddling women. Indeed, many in the D/s world take the view that D/s is nothing to do with love, and that if anything, love complicates D/s or makes it less pure. For Taken In Hand folk on the other hand, love is important, and Taken In Hand folk welcome a bit of (so-called) coddling (both ways) because when spouses are kind to each other that goes a long way towards creating a happy marriage.

Taken In Hand stresses that the relationship is for the benefit of both spouses, not just the woman (as in some DD relationships) and not just the dominant individual (as in some D/s relationships). To be fair, many in the BDSM/D/s/M/s world thoroughly agree that a relationship should not be all about either party. But there is a lot of narcissism going unquestioned. The husband in a Taken In Hand relationship is a bit like a master of the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu: he submits his partner gently, trying not to harm the person he is submitting.

Another reason some Taken In Hand folk don't identify with the D/s label is that D/s implies dominance and submission, and from a Taken In Hand perspective the D/s idea of what properly constitutes dominance and submission is so narrow as to exclude Taken In Hand. According to many D/s folk, the essence of submissiveness is feeling a deep need or even compulsion to serve. Others say that the defining characteristic of submissiveness is the desire to obey no matter what. Whilst Taken In Hand wives very much respect, honour and appreciate their husbands and strive to please them, many cannot claim to be submissive in that D/s sense, because they lack the deep need to serve and obey that so many believe is the essence of submissiveness.

In the D/s world, one of the most common ideas of what constitutes dominance leaves Taken In Hand folk scratching their heads. For Taken In Hand inclined men who think of themselves as dominant (and many do not particularly think of themselves as dominant), being dominant means enjoying dominating. The men in Taken In Hand relationships relish submitting their wife.

By contrast, for many in the D/s world, being dominant is nothing to do with dominating and submitting, and indeed, they state very forcefully that they would never countenance doing that. They prefer to be served and obeyed rather than dominating and submitting their woman. While to a Taken In Hand person, dominating and submitting implies strength and is highly erotic for both husband and wife, some D/s folk see it as weak.

I am sure such D/s folk don't see it like this, but from a Taken In Hand perspective this is a bit like a mixed martial artist expecting the person he is facing in the cage to submit without him actually doing anything to submit him. Men in Taken In Hand relationships are more like those who make it in the MMA world: they positively relish dominating and submitting their partner, and they do not in any way regard it disrespectful of their partner not to submit without them doing anything to bring that about.

Try asking MMA fans who is the weaker—the one who enjoys dominating and submitting a worthy partner, or the one who prefers partners who submit without him having to do anything to submit them. The alpha male in the animal kingdom doesn't get to be the alpha male by expecting others to submit without any action on his part.

Another slight difference is that the D/s world stress on strict protocols, large numbers of bizarre rules and hardcore punishments, correct form, and elaborate rituals, and their penchant for humiliation and degradation, tends to leave many Taken In Hand folk cold.

Another difference is that Taken In Hand couples tend to regard their Taken In Hand relationship as being a very private matter, whereas D/s/BDSM/M/s folk tend to be very open and public. We ask posters not to let it all hang out in their posts on this site, and we also ask posters not to post sex posts. It is not that we disapprove of such posts; they are just not what we want for this site. Many Taken In Hand folk find D/s/BDSM/M/s folk tend to be far too exhibitionistic for their taste. To many D/s/BDSM/M/s folk Taken In Hand folk are far too private and prudish.

Moreover, it is not just a matter of being private. Many Taken In Hand folk are repulsed and nauseated by D/s/BDSM exhibitionistic sex posts. They really don't find them erotic. Again, this is just a matter of having different preferences, not a moral judgement on D/s sex posts.

Many Taken In Hand folk dislike the idea of any label whatsoever, not wanting to accept any standard role, and not wanting to be put in a stereotypical box. A Taken In Hand relationship is not stereotypical but evolves in its own unique way. Some find that the more they think of themselves as being this or that label, the more they tend to fall into a boring stereotype instead of interacting as the individuals they are.

The D/s, BDSM etc communities make a point of being inclusive and make no assumptions about which person of which sex is doing what with whom. Taken In Hand is specifically about consensually male-controlled sexually-exclusive marriages, simply because that is my preference as the owner of the site. The mere fact that this is my preference in no way means I think everyone else should share my preference! (Have I said that enough times to get through yet?!) I positively love the fact that many who read and enjoy this site have different preferences from mine. You might be surprised by how many gay, lesbian and female-dominated couples read the site.

Finally, there is no getting around the simple fact that to be willing to associate yourself with a given label or idea, that label or idea has to appeal to you. Since D/s, BDSM, M/s etc tend to leave Taken In Hand folk cold, that suggests that there is a difference between Taken In Hand and these other things. A Taken In Hand woman is more likely to be put off or repulsed by a prospective partner approaching her in the sort of manner D/s men seem to adopt, whereas, presumably, a woman into D/s would find it thrilling.

Similarly, a Taken In Hand inclined man prefers a woman whom he can enjoy dominating and submitting, and thereby bending to his will through his own action. Just as a mixed martial artist would not want to be in the cage with someone who submitted without any action on his part, men with Taken In Hand inclinations would not want to be with someone who is already in hand and thoroughly submissive. Hence the name “Taken In Hand” as opposed to “Already In Hand”

Having said all this, may I stress (please hear me!) that I am not saying that no D/s (or indeed M/s, etc) relationships are Taken In Hand, and nor am I criticising D/s, I am merely answering the question I have been asked several times recently, namely, why do Taken In Hand folk reject the “D/s” label? What is the difference between Taken In Hand and D/s?

(And to answer the gentleman who has recently challenged me (three times) to answer this question, and accused me of being hung up on labels, it is surely not I who am hung up on labels, but those who keep insisting that I adopt their preferred label! I personally hope no one ever wants to discuss labels ever again!)

See also:
How to read this site
A lifetime of denial ends
The resistant woman
Women want men who are more dominant
Are your labels preventing you from seeing what you have?
BDSM practices in our Taken In Hand relationship
SM / D/s / BDSM in a Taken In Hand relationship?
Is she afraid of losing control? Topping from the bottom?
Why is BDSM so popular?
Saying things for effect
Do you 'meet as equals' or 'establish roles from the outset'?
The Night Porter: movie review
The sexuality of ‘non-sexual’ dominance
The erotic power of the unshackled man

And now please let’s drop this extremely tedious and boring subject and get on with discussing Taken In Hand relationships.

The Taken In Hand Site Owner and Creator

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[This is an answer to a frequently-asked question: this page is part of the FAQ. Please try to ensure that your post is answering the question or discussing the above post. The question is: I am a man looking for the one. Why do many Taken In Hand folk reject the D/s label? What is the difference between Taken In Hand and D/s (or BDSM, M/s, etc.)?]


clap my hands

Another complaint I have had from BDSM folk is that Taken In Hand is the most dangerous thing they have ever heard of, since we don’t stress that it is all a sexual game and then we go home to our normal lives.

We can't go home to our "normal life".
Taken in hand is our normal life.



Taken in hand is not a lifestyle

"Taken In Hand is not a lifestyle, let alone an alternative lifestyle. It is about creating a happy marriage"

It was nearly 4 years ago when I first came across the DD community when searching for articles about traditional marriage. Since I had already included spanking right from the beginning of our marriage, and viewed it as one way of expressing my authority, I found a natural bond with many practioners of DD. However, DD always seemed a rather vague term which included all sorts of practices and relationship dynamics which had nothing to do with the way my wife and I related as a married couple. There were frequent discussions on the DD forums, some quite heated, arguing over what DD really is. I participated in some of those discussions. Yet, I never really felt comfortable in the DD world because for my wife and I, there was more to our marriage than spanking and discipline. What we had was what I prefer to call a traditional marriage. A marriage that was male led. A marriage where my wife, although not an especially submissive woman, chooses to submit to me and follow my lead. I don't think we are unique in this, I know of many couples in the DD community who consider themselves living in a taken in hand marriage. It may be true as some have suggested that labels do not matter. It is true for all of us in the sense that our marriages are unique. But since we all come here to read and share, it is good that we are clear about what it is we are discussing.

It was not until several years ago when the Taken In Hand site owner introduced me to the taken in hand concept that I realized why DD was not a good fit. I realized that, although I spank my wife when I think it is needed, the way we live together as husband and wife is much closer to taken in hand.

"Taken In Hand is about longstanding marriages, not sex,..."

This point is an important one. I have long objected to the arguments made by some here who argue that Taken In Hand is about sex. It has been referred to by some as a kink or as a fetish. I suppose if taken in hand is only about spanking, then for those people it is a kink or a fetish. However, I find these descriptions of taken in hand to show a general lack of understanding of what it means to take a woman in hand. There is no doubt that when emotional and psychological needs are met that one of the effects is a heightened eroticism. But that is a benefit of how we relate, not the end in itself. I agree with the editor, ultimately taken in hand is about developing a mutually fulfilling marriage.