The first and foremost thing one must understand about fairness is that it is a HUMAN invention. It does not exist in nature nor, arguably, is it even a major factor in most human cultures. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. “C’est la vie” captures the spirit of this, but doesn’t go far enough. The basic truth is LIFE is not fair.
On the other hand, dominance and submission are facts of life, both in nature and the human world. One buck will have all the does he wants and the vast majority will go without. The head lion gets his “lion’s share” despite not participating in the hunt. Lesser dogs will lay on their backs and turn up their bellies to the alpha male when he comes around. Why is this the case? Because it WORKS . . . without a hint of fairness at all.
There is no denying the basic human emotion that desires for things to work out ‘right’. Criminals SHOULD be punished, and the virtuous SHOULD have their rewards. But the EXPECTATION of fairness is a relatively recent development. What we must question is whether this expectation is reasonable or not. Or whether it may only be reasonable in some circumstances and not others.
I would argue that fairness is neither reasonable or even desirable in a D/s relationship. Is it ‘fair’ that one person have most or all the power? Is it fair for a submissive to be punished for infractions (real OR imaginary), while her dominant operates under no such penalties? Not at all!
A healthy D/s relationship has many good qualities, but fairness is not among them. It should be based on trust, respect, caring and a healthy dose of responsibility (on the part of all members). But the essential fact is that the dominant has all the authority. All of it. With that comes all of the responsibility. And yet, it is the submissive who ends up with the whipped tail and waiting on her master, literally hand and foot at times.
The eternal cry of the freshly punished subbie is “That’s not fair!” True, and that’s the way it should be. The contract between a dominant and his submissive (whether explicit or implied) is “I will care for you, but I have the right to guide you, use you or discipline you as I see fit.” Nowhere in there is the responsibility to cater to anyone’s sense of fairness. To do so would undermine the essential UNfairness of the transfer of power inherent in all hierarchical relationships.
Nor does a submissive, deep down, truly desire fairness. By ceding power, she is saying, “Do not be fair to me, CONTROL me.”
The fairness doctrine insists that people be treated equally and identically for the same actions. If a sub makes a mistake, she may be whipped, denied pleasures or forced to perform some arduous task. A dominant, making the same mistake, might simply make a sincere apology. Should the bottom get to swat the top in the latter case? Of course not!
A dominant should strive to be consistent, even-handed, and authoritative. But fairness should be avoided in all its forms. And BOTH parties will be happier for it.