August 7, 2011

The Vitruvian Woman

basic-female-submission-virtuesMarcus Vitruvius Pollio (80–15 BC) was an artilleryman, writer, architect, and engineer in the age of Roman antiquity. Celebrated as one of Rome’s first published engineers, Virtruvius described how he saw architecture, ideally, as an imitation of things found in nature. Through all his writings, he is most famous for his three laws of architecture in his book, De Architectura, which asserts that a structure must possess three important qualities: firmitas, utilitas, and venustus. In other words, a building must be solid, useful, and beautiful to be of the utmost worth and utility.

It’s no surprise such philosophy is still followed by architects today, though not necessarily all. Certainly, there are exceptions that transgress Marcus Vitruvius’s laws, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Residence in Pennsylvania. Built partly over a natural waterfall, the home, while aesthetically pleasing, has suffered deep structural flaws since its inception. The visual idea was understandably neat, but the practicality of its deflected concrete projections quickly became a concern during its first stages of construction. Building a concrete structure directly over the water presented a humidity problem as well, particularly in regard to the roofing material, which collected condensation from the mists of falling water below.

The John Hancock Tower in Boston, a sixty-story marvel built by I. M. Pei, might serve as another example of structure sacrificed for the ideal of beauty, and thus, in conflict with Vitruvius’s tenets. It is, perhaps, well known how contemporary architecture idealizes narrow, glass-like structures, but the zealous implementation of such an ideal in this tower became deadly. Its bowed walls, nauseating sway and falling glass panes cost Pei’s firm 175 million dollars to fix and years of delay in completing the building.

There are many prevailing examples of sound architectural structures, of course, some of them ancient. The Pantheon in Rome, intended as a temple of all gods, continues to be used today in a state of perfect preservation for worship. The Kukulcán Mayan temple, El Castillo on the site of Chichén Itzá, with its 365 steps, still stands today as an exemplar of Mayan ingenuity, design, and comprehension of time. The Château de Versailles, Louis XIV’s masterpiece (also known as Palace of Versailles), was an opulent home for French nobility during the seventeenth century. Visitors can now tour its many intrigues, such as the Hall of Mirrors and its many beautifully manicured courtyards and gardens. Built from 1506 to 1626, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the largest church in the world. This gargantuan building’s celebrated dome was designed and built by Michelangelo himself.

She must have the heart of a willing slave—the spirit of a woman who truly yields her mind, body and spirit to the strength and guidance of the man who leads her. Only then can she be said to possess firmitas.

Modern marvels abound, too. The structural and decorative latticework of steel beams making up Herzog & de Meuron’s Beijing’s National Stadium, otherwise known as “the nest,” is a visual and structural wonder to behold. The elegance and beauty of Durrat Al Bahrain’s urban designs in the blue waters of the Bahraini seas makes it the most unique and striking island city in the world. The Shard in London towers above the surrounding historic architecture as an elegant and striking vision of the future, offering 40-mile views of the skyline at its dagger peak.

There are, of course, many more structures the modern world has to offer—far too many to mention—that heed the three basic principles Vitruvius put forth centuries ago. They are a testament to the wisdom of forming things with sound planning, purpose, and form.

When considering the laws of architecture and the natural appeal organic curves have to the human aesthetic, we can easily see why the beauty of women has inspired more than one visionary (Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, for example), but what of the woman, the source of that inspiration, herself? Can a parallel be found with Vitruvius’s standards in measuring her quality and worth—particularly in her submission—as it relates to the strength of her disposition, the validity of her service, and her outward aesthetic qualities? Let us consider the three standards, to find philosophic parallels with Vitruvius’s laws of architecture within the submissive woman herself.

Photo by Marc Esadrian

First, a woman must be of sound mind and body before undertaking the demanding role of submission to the man in her life. In this regard, a skeleton of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is worth review. For the most basic physiological functions, she must have food, water, sleep and shelter. Above this, she must have safety and good health. Further still, a sense of purpose and belonging, and enough confidence to see her usefulness in order to offer it. Finally and most importantly, comes the notion of self-actualization in her submission, the process of knowing it is the right path for her to make peace with herself. This tip of the pyramid, so to speak, is the most crucial in her service to him and where most of the qualities of firmitas will be found, as it speaks to her disposition and understanding of submission. Is she unshakable in her desire to serve? Does she embrace the path of submission to the man she loves, free of unexamined doubt or desire? Does she find a deep fulfillment in serving, or is it merely a means to another end? Will her foundation stand the test of ongoing service to her Master? Is she capable of reliably plying her feminine ego toward finding sole approval and validation in the pleasure of her master?

For her servitude to be strong and dependable, it must be felt and offered with sincere conviction, motivated not only by the external (the master), but the internal (a drive to serve and please that reaches to her innermost core). She must have the heart of a willing slave—the spirit of a woman who truly yields her mind, body and spirit to the strength and guidance of the man who leads her. Only then can she be said to possess firmitas.

Photo by Marc Esadrian

What worth does submission have if it does not provide function and commodity to enrich and improve the life of the one served? What real service lies only in a sensual veneer? The humbled female does not complacently offer her sexual charms with the notion these alone will suffice; she prostrates physically—and metaphysically—before her man, relinquishing her flesh and attuning her mind for his ultimate use and possession, and she does so with consuming desire. She knows submission isn’t merely erecting delicate staging with a pretty facade for surface pleasures. Just as it would be inadequate to build a structure with no discernible purpose, so too is a woman’s servitude meaningless if it stands as little more than sensual affectation.

Giving of her body for pleasure and breeding, tending to daily responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning the household and earning income (if allowed), when given unconditionally for the sole use and advantage of her Master, are the marks of a real and tangible benefit to submission.

Photo by Fotoro

The beauty of the feminine has been celebrated, honed and sought after since time out of mind, and the reason is obvious: female beauty is, naturally, a great source of pleasure to males. From a purely biological perspective, the woman’s body is a testament to the harmony of functionality and form: her body is designed to attract and entice, thus fulfilling her reproductive purpose. The mating imperative alone naturally entices women to embrace their visual appeal in order to attract mates. While humans make use of physical attractiveness (and sexuality in general) for a host of other purposes in society, sex appeal’s primary purpose is plain enough to see. Since giving pleasure is a great part of submission, it only makes sense for women to pay attention to their bodies, to care for them and shape them to be pleasing to the eyes of those they would serve.

That aside, the question in regards to servitude still remains: is beauty really all that important? Regardless of aesthetics, a woman is, of course, still a good servant if her conviction and loyalty is strong and her service remains fruitful. These first two principles, strength and utility, are easy to see as valuable. Beauty, however, may be considered to be of lesser importance, but just as architecture does not stop with the foundation and plumbing, so too should the woman value her outer appearance.  Her aesthetic lends elegance and pleasure to the former qualities, and thus enhances her service. A woman who abandons care of her body abandons the delight her natural beauty brings; it behooves her to guard and maintain it, so as to enrich her service, overall.

We have looked at three qualities in a woman that allow her submission to stand the test of time and trial in service. First, she must be strong. This isn’t merely a matter of physical health, but of resolve, accountability and actualization in the fulfillment submission brings to her. Second, she must bring advantage and commodity in her service; there is no value in a facade of submission—an ephemeral gift that only serves the giver. If her service adds to the pleasure and gain of the one she serves, it is more than sensual affectation. Third, she must compliment these good traits with her physical aesthetic so as to make herself pleasing to the eye.

Considering how easily Vitruvius’s laws can be paralleled to three of the most vital components in a woman’s service, it would seem his standards make a generally good and easy to remember philosophic guide by which to judge not only physical structures, but the intangible qualities of ideal servitude. While there is much more to discuss in terms of the depth of quality submission, strength of conviction, usefulness of service and beauty of form certainly cover the most vital parts.

Note about the art: the Vitruvian Man, from which this art is derived, correlates ideal human proportions, not only with geometry, but with the workings of the Universe itself. It represents Vitruvius’s “Canon of Proportions,” and was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1487.

  1. redbottomgirl83 says:

    I remember the Virtruvius ‘man’ sketch,but I can’t really recall him drawing the female counter-part (maybe I just never noticed). Anyway, good article, I myself happen to be really into the Greek/roman scale, plus some of the other European cultures. I minored in classical studies, which is odd, because when I was in high school even though I was interested in mythology at the time I never thought I would have had patience enough to studied things too far back in the past (when I went into college anyway). Ironically, I found out there was much to be said for studying the past.

    I also have to say, that I feel that in most of these elements or parts, that I find myself almost feeling up to having most of these qualities (though I admit, I think I was better looking in high school,but I think every person feels as they age, that they are not at their pique as much as they used to be. Though, at times I’m still conflicted with the self-actualization part & feeling comfortable in the decision(s) I’ve made or am making, or will make. Maybe, that is the hardest part about the self. I do feel I’m getting closer to things all the time, so I just try not to be too hard on myself & realize it’s a learning process.

  2. lana says:

    Hi Marc
    Two of these three qualities, usefulness of service and beauty of form , are permanent in a building but not in a human being. If thats what a master values in a slave, i wonder where is the long term security to the slave since inevitably as we age we will not continue to be as physically capable or as beautiful as we once were.
    lana (i’m submissive but not a slave)

  3. MarcEsadrian says:

    Hello Lana,

    I think we covered the whole security question fairly well in the forum (readers, you’ll need to join our site to access the forums). To sum up: slavery is by no means a small thing or a condition to enter into without all due reflection. There are risks involved in such an absolute state of surrender and service, but such is slavery. For some, the risk does not outweigh their passion to be slaves to their masters.

    Regarding your question about age, we are all subject to impermanence. No one (not yet, at least) can avoid death or old age. That said, slaves can certainly be useful well into their older years. Regarding beauty, that was one of the qualities mentioned in the article that were of least import. To quote: “Regardless of aesthetics, a woman is, of course, still a good servant if her conviction and loyalty is strong and her service remains fruitful.” What that means is your loyalty and usefulness is what really marks you, with beauty being a wonderful addition but not absolutely critical.

    I hope that helps clear things up for you a little, Lana.

  4. lana says:

    Thank you for explaining that, sir. As i have come to know some of the slaves better, i have seen that they are truly treasured by their masters and this has helped me to understand why security is not as worrisome a problem as i once thought. I think that among the older slaves, that their masters have most likely provided for them much as most all of us would make provisions for an adored and faithful wife/servant/horse/ dog /being… i think when one first starts reading about it (modern slavery), it seems a much colder proposition than it does when the specific slaves and masters speak of each other and of their relationships.

  5. Kargan3033 says:

    Ok I’m going to admit that I am not all that smart due to my mental disabilties.

    But from what I gathered about this topic that a True Slave worth her salt MUST have the proper mind set, willingness and beauty to true and loving submit to her Master?

    And those things come from her True Feminine/Submissive nature and that in order for her to willing accept and enjoy her True Nature she must not only understand herself and accept herself for who and what she really is a True Slave at heart but she must also be mindful of her nature and work towards being a True and Loving Slave to her man, not only for his pleasure and well being but for her own pleasure and well being right?

  6. Tempolton says:

    I do believe that I have stumbled into a group of people that are not your typical bdsm… I do not fear being alone in my musings any more….thank you for being here.

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