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Submissives Do Not Have All The Power


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Posted
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of sex toys.
(This is the true story!)
Jack tied Jill to a tree and whipped her with a barbed wire flogger.
I know it doesn't rhyme but the story continues; since subs have all the power in BDSM, Jill ordered Jack to give her exactly 30 strokes at an impact strength of five kj/m2. "And get it right, bitch," she said while criticising the fact that he had tied her left leg into quite a shoddy futo.

Jack wasn't used to barbed wire floggers, and the experience was a little ***ier than he could cope with. Only subs have the power to stop a scene though, so he closed his eyes, thought of England, and checked his impact strength again. He secretly wondered if this dynamic was affording him the control he'd signed up for. Maybe if he became a sub he could be truly powerful. At the very least, it would give him the capacity to say "no" or "red"

This, ladies and gents, characterises the extreme and inherent suffering Dominants experience. With no capacity to safe word and no control over their scenes, Doms are subject to the control of subs. There's no such thing as a "consent ***" in Domville. Only subs get to give consent, so think carefully before you decide to be a Dominant.

If all of the above sounds like 💩 to you, congratulations! You have graduated to the next step of BDSM: The one where you don't spout ridiculous tropes like, "Subs have all the power."

There's a reason subs have reds and yellows: it's because they don't have control.
Because sometimes, "If you come a step closer with that flogger I will throw glitter in your breakfast cereal for a week" is simply part of the scene.
Because subs are often tied and ***d and require a way to secure an instant ending.

When Dominants want a scene to end, they just put the whip down. The reason they can do this is that they're the ones with the control.

That's right, in consensual power exchange relationships, the right to consent belongs to the Dom as well.
Dom's too, get to have hard limits.
Dom's too, get to say no.
Dom's too, get to stop proceedings if their dynamic or scene is speeding along a bit faster than they'd like.

I expect that the "Submission is a Gift" crowd will turn up. If they're right, though, Dominance is a gift as well. Neither half of the dynamic should be giving less than the other, and I find the "gift of submission" line of thinking offensive at best. It assumes that subs only do what we do for the benefit of our Dom's and, well you can Duck that idea with a rusty anal hook. It's condescending, anti-feminist, and woefully bereft of insight.

I'm a sub because it's fun.
I do not take *** as a favour.
I do not exist merely to give the men in my life a good time.
My submission is not a gift to you, at best, it's a gift to me Jack. Now, pick up that barbed wire flogger and get back to work.
Posted
I am amazed that Jill could be able to say anything when she would be gagged 😆
Seriously though, good commentary there copperknob
Posted

"Subs are the ones who really have the power" is one of the tropes that just won't die, haha

A gesture I get, but is often somewhere between naive and dishonest

Posted
Seriously, a barbed wire flogger? That wouldn't just draw ***, it would kill someone.
Posted
I have one, no it wouldn’t but it can hurt like hell, unless you’re using less than 5kj of *** obviously 😉
Posted

I agree that subs don't have all the power - but there's more to it. Subspace can steal the ability to think or even speak. Submission can also suppress the will. If you don't have the will to use it, power is irrelevant.

Please don't be offended by anything I say. What I'm going to say may only apply to some subs and some relationships, your mileage may vary, etc. etc. And I'm not here to judge.

Talk of consent, power and assumptions of equality make submission seem rational. Power exchange is a transaction. We negotiate, strike a deal: I get something you get something. Everyone is happy. This contractual model for BDSM seems natural in a society organized around legal contracts and market exchange.

What is consent? Who can grant it? Under what conditions? What about prior inequalities of power? Often people give or appear to give consent at the time, then feel later that they were ***d or pressured. These are hairy enough questions in vanilla relationships, let alone BDSM. What about (non-BDSM) relationships where one partner is ***d - but refuses to testify against or leave (in most cases) her abusive partner? There are many situations in ordinary life where we consider consent invalid. One cannot consent to be an actual slave, for instance, even if one is of sound mind.

I'm not suggesting BDSM is *** or that consent is not necessary. I'm saying that the dynamics of power in human relationships are deeper, more dangerous and more compelling.

My experience is that submission, like sexuality itself, is an impulse that I do not fully control. Hormones make us feel and do things that we would not otherwise do. Puberty hits us like a truck. Submission likewise.

When someone presses the right buttons, I feel an almost overwhelming urge to submit. I feel as though I would do or agree to almost anything. It is quite possible that I would do things that I would not normally consider wise. That feeling of losing control, and the danger that comes with it, is a powerful aphrodisiac. Submission is attractive because it is dangerous - because it means allowing someone else to substitute her will for mine. What power do I have then?

How far could that go? I don't know, but I imagine pretty far. I think a bad actor might be able to leverage it into an abusive relationship: one that I would "consent" to. To prevent this I have what I think of as tripwires: things I believe so strongly that if she violates them, the spell will be broken and I'll recover my will. Or so I hope.

To me, this is the whole magic of submission. If it really were just a matter of contractual exchange of pleasure I don't think it would do anything for me. But the power exchange is real. It's as though there were an invisible leash reaching deep into the psyche, to a place more primitive and fundamental than reason. Someone who holds that leash has real power, until the spell is broken.

The modern world is all about control over nature. Our society and culture are organized around reason, technology, law. We imagine that we can consciously control our deep natures and label that control "consent." But that's just a myth to make us feel safe from the messy, dangerous, primal reality of our sexuality, desires, wills and inequalities. The dance of dominance and submission is a kind of magic: a power outside rationality. It can be beautiful, but that beauty is inseparable from danger. It is something to be celebrated, but treated with respect. The power is real.

Posted

Love this, brilliantly written as always - a great (and fresh) perspective on control within a D/s relationship :clap:

Posted
13 minutes ago, dorion said:

I agree that subs don't have all the power - but there's more to it. Subspace can steal the ability to think or even speak. Submission can also suppress the will. If you don't have the will to use it, power is irrelevant.

Please don't be offended by anything I say. What I'm going to say may only apply to some subs and some relationships, your mileage may vary, etc. etc. And I'm not here to judge.

Talk of consent, power and assumptions of equality make submission seem rational. Power exchange is a transaction. We negotiate, strike a deal: I get something you get something. Everyone is happy. This contractual model for BDSM seems natural in a society organized around legal contracts and market exchange.

What is consent? Who can grant it? Under what conditions? What about prior inequalities of power? Often people give or appear to give consent at the time, then feel later that they were ***d or pressured. These are hairy enough questions in vanilla relationships, let alone BDSM. What about (non-BDSM) relationships where one partner is ***d - but refuses to testify against or leave (in most cases) her abusive partner? There are many situations in ordinary life where we consider consent invalid. One cannot consent to be an actual slave, for instance, even if one is of sound mind.

I'm not suggesting BDSM is *** or that consent is not necessary. I'm saying that the dynamics of power in human relationships are deeper, more dangerous and more compelling.

My experience is that submission, like sexuality itself, is an impulse that I do not fully control. Hormones make us feel and do things that we would not otherwise do. Puberty hits us like a truck. Submission likewise.

When someone presses the right buttons, I feel an almost overwhelming urge to submit. I feel as though I would do or agree to almost anything. It is quite possible that I would do things that I would not normally consider wise. That feeling of losing control, and the danger that comes with it, is a powerful aphrodisiac. Submission is attractive because it is dangerous - because it means allowing someone else to substitute her will for mine. What power do I have then?

How far could that go? I don't know, but I imagine pretty far. I think a bad actor might be able to leverage it into an abusive relationship: one that I would "consent" to. To prevent this I have what I think of as tripwires: things I believe so strongly that if she violates them, the spell will be broken and I'll recover my will. Or so I hope.

To me, this is the whole magic of submission. If it really were just a matter of contractual exchange of pleasure I don't think it would do anything for me. But the power exchange is real. It's as though there were an invisible leash reaching deep into the psyche, to a place more primitive and fundamental than reason. Someone who holds that leash has real power, until the spell is broken.

The modern world is all about control over nature. Our society and culture are organized around reason, technology, law. We imagine that we can consciously control our deep natures and label that control "consent." But that's just a myth to make us feel safe from the messy, dangerous, primal reality of our sexuality, desires, wills and inequalities. The dance of dominance and submission is a kind of magic: a power outside rationality. It can be beautiful, but that beauty is inseparable from danger. It is something to be celebrated, but treated with respect. The power is real.

I think you sum it up very well. 

Posted
12 minutes ago, dorion said:

Subspace can steal the ability to think or even speak. Submission can also suppress the will. If you don't have the will to use it, power is irrelevant.

this to me is also key

I think it's very important to understand this 

otherwise folk end up in the situation of "but they had the power, they could have stopped it at any time!" in response to scenes gone wrong.

Posted
3 hours ago, Dom__Sean said:
I am amazed that Jill could be able to say anything when she would be gagged 😆
Seriously though, good commentary there copperknob

Many of us can make our thoughts known very cleary through a gag 😂

Posted
3 hours ago, dorion said:

I agree that subs don't have all the power - but there's more to it. Subspace can steal the ability to think or even speak. Submission can also suppress the will. If you don't have the will to use it, power is irrelevant.

Please don't be offended by anything I say. What I'm going to say may only apply to some subs and some relationships, your mileage may vary, etc. etc. And I'm not here to judge.

Talk of consent, power and assumptions of equality make submission seem rational. Power exchange is a transaction. We negotiate, strike a deal: I get something you get something. Everyone is happy. This contractual model for BDSM seems natural in a society organized around legal contracts and market exchange.

What is consent? Who can grant it? Under what conditions? What about prior inequalities of power? Often people give or appear to give consent at the time, then feel later that they were ***d or pressured. These are hairy enough questions in vanilla relationships, let alone BDSM. What about (non-BDSM) relationships where one partner is ***d - but refuses to testify against or leave (in most cases) her abusive partner? There are many situations in ordinary life where we consider consent invalid. One cannot consent to be an actual slave, for instance, even if one is of sound mind.

I'm not suggesting BDSM is *** or that consent is not necessary. I'm saying that the dynamics of power in human relationships are deeper, more dangerous and more compelling.

My experience is that submission, like sexuality itself, is an impulse that I do not fully control. Hormones make us feel and do things that we would not otherwise do. Puberty hits us like a truck. Submission likewise.

When someone presses the right buttons, I feel an almost overwhelming urge to submit. I feel as though I would do or agree to almost anything. It is quite possible that I would do things that I would not normally consider wise. That feeling of losing control, and the danger that comes with it, is a powerful aphrodisiac. Submission is attractive because it is dangerous - because it means allowing someone else to substitute her will for mine. What power do I have then?

How far could that go? I don't know, but I imagine pretty far. I think a bad actor might be able to leverage it into an abusive relationship: one that I would "consent" to. To prevent this I have what I think of as tripwires: things I believe so strongly that if she violates them, the spell will be broken and I'll recover my will. Or so I hope.

To me, this is the whole magic of submission. If it really were just a matter of contractual exchange of pleasure I don't think it would do anything for me. But the power exchange is real. It's as though there were an invisible leash reaching deep into the psyche, to a place more primitive and fundamental than reason. Someone who holds that leash has real power, until the spell is broken.

The modern world is all about control over nature. Our society and culture are organized around reason, technology, law. We imagine that we can consciously control our deep natures and label that control "consent." But that's just a myth to make us feel safe from the messy, dangerous, primal reality of our sexuality, desires, wills and inequalities. The dance of dominance and submission is a kind of magic: a power outside rationality. It can be beautiful, but that beauty is inseparable from danger. It is something to be celebrated, but treated with respect. The power is real.

No offence taken. You're right D/s is more nuanced than many give any thought or consideration to. I'm just tired of the BS that the subs have ALL the power. I don't and actually, for me, that's the point. There's a certain element I can control and of that, I choose just how much I relinquish.

Posted (edited)

Dorion said that so perfectly. Subspace can absolutely take your ability to speak. Which is why I refuse to use safe words. For me, they are not safe at all. To introduce atypical brain coding at a moment when my brain is going haywire is inane. I use regular words, or gestures if needed, so no one get crazy that safety and limits aren’t happening.

But even the basic tenets of BDSM don’t work for everyone. Everyone is different. My reasons for giving my submission are different than someone else’s. I don’t expect anyone to be like me, nor follow any particular standard. So while you may not like the tropes you see, just because they aren’t true for you doesn’t mean they aren’t true for someone else.

Edited by Kitanya
Posted
1 hour ago, Kitanya said:

Dorion said that so perfectly. Subspace can absolutely take your ability to speak. Which is why I refuse to use safe words. For me, they are not safe at all. To introduce atypical brain coding at a moment when my brain is going haywire is inane. I use regular words, or gestures if needed, so no one get crazy that safety and limits aren’t happening.

But even the basic tenets of BDSM don’t work for everyone. Everyone is different. My reasons for giving my submission are different than someone else’s. I don’t expect anyone to be like me, nor follow any particular standard. So while you may not like the tropes you see, just because they aren’t true for you doesn’t mean they aren’t true for someone else.

If you're familiar with the posts I write, you'll see that at no point do I make reference to a 'one true way' because I don't believe that there is a one size fits all approach to BDSM or D/s. In fact, I've previously called that approach out.

What I do, frequently write about and post, specifically in the 'New to BDSM, kink and fetish' forum are common misconceptions that newbies, including myself, often get caught up with and will often find themselves in situations the consequence of which is that they experience emotional harm. The purpose of the posts I add is to write in a way that isn't based on the 'theory' of BDSM which is commonplace across the net but to make them (hopefully) easy to read/relatable and for others, like yourself to comment sharing their viewpoint so that said newbies have access to a balanced overview from which they can form their own view of D/s.

Posted

I feel what is important is that in terms of tropes "submissives hold all the power" is not true for anyone. It's not only not true, it's a dangerous trope to continue.

People like it as a kinda romanticism - and while there is a lot of control, if you are tied to a tree. If you are overpowered by someone stronger. If you are in subspace... you really have lost all control.   

 

 

Posted
9 minutes ago, eyemblacksheep said:

I feel what is important is that in terms of tropes "submissives hold all the power" is not true for anyone. It's not only not true, it's a dangerous trope to continue.

People like it as a kinda romanticism - and while there is a lot of control, if you are tied to a tree. If you are overpowered by someone stronger. If you are in subspace... you really have lost all control.   

 

 

Agreed. Let's also not forget sub frenzy at which point no one is thinking straight. All it takes is for a Dtype to state "you've got all the power/control" and it's potentially believed which may well place them in a particularly dangerous situation where they quickly but too late find out that they're not.

Posted
8 hours ago, dorion said:

I agree that subs don't have all the power - but there's more to it. Subspace can steal the ability to think or even speak. Submission can also suppress the will. If you don't have the will to use it, power is irrelevant.

Please don't be offended by anything I say. What I'm going to say may only apply to some subs and some relationships, your mileage may vary, etc. etc. And I'm not here to judge.

Talk of consent, power and assumptions of equality make submission seem rational. Power exchange is a transaction. We negotiate, strike a deal: I get something you get something. Everyone is happy. This contractual model for BDSM seems natural in a society organized around legal contracts and market exchange.

What is consent? Who can grant it? Under what conditions? What about prior inequalities of power? Often people give or appear to give consent at the time, then feel later that they were ***d or pressured. These are hairy enough questions in vanilla relationships, let alone BDSM. What about (non-BDSM) relationships where one partner is ***d - but refuses to testify against or leave (in most cases) her abusive partner? There are many situations in ordinary life where we consider consent invalid. One cannot consent to be an actual slave, for instance, even if one is of sound mind.

I'm not suggesting BDSM is *** or that consent is not necessary. I'm saying that the dynamics of power in human relationships are deeper, more dangerous and more compelling.

My experience is that submission, like sexuality itself, is an impulse that I do not fully control. Hormones make us feel and do things that we would not otherwise do. Puberty hits us like a truck. Submission likewise.

When someone presses the right buttons, I feel an almost overwhelming urge to submit. I feel as though I would do or agree to almost anything. It is quite possible that I would do things that I would not normally consider wise. That feeling of losing control, and the danger that comes with it, is a powerful aphrodisiac. Submission is attractive because it is dangerous - because it means allowing someone else to substitute her will for mine. What power do I have then?

How far could that go? I don't know, but I imagine pretty far. I think a bad actor might be able to leverage it into an abusive relationship: one that I would "consent" to. To prevent this I have what I think of as tripwires: things I believe so strongly that if she violates them, the spell will be broken and I'll recover my will. Or so I hope.

To me, this is the whole magic of submission. If it really were just a matter of contractual exchange of pleasure I don't think it would do anything for me. But the power exchange is real. It's as though there were an invisible leash reaching deep into the psyche, to a place more primitive and fundamental than reason. Someone who holds that leash has real power, until the spell is broken.

The modern world is all about control over nature. Our society and culture are organized around reason, technology, law. We imagine that we can consciously control our deep natures and label that control "consent." But that's just a myth to make us feel safe from the messy, dangerous, primal reality of our sexuality, desires, wills and inequalities. The dance of dominance and submission is a kind of magic: a power outside rationality. It can be beautiful, but that beauty is inseparable from danger. It is something to be celebrated, but treated with respect. The power is real.

Both are amazing and thought provoking...I thank you both...

Posted

With power comes responsibility. That's a heavy burden for dominants. I don't envy them that. A sub only has to take a personal risk - a dom has to risk for someone else. Irresponsible dominants may not care - but it might discourage responsible dominants. Things that help solve the problem of responsibility (e.g. negotiation, consent, limits, safewords) makes it easier to choose to dominate.

I have follow-on question: Why do some people say that subs have all the power? What's behind this? A reaction to topping from the bottom or unsatisfying scenes? Frustration from the difficulty of finding a good match? A way to disclaim that burden of responsibility? A desire to go farther than subs will allow? The pleasure of turning conventional wisdom on its head?

By focusing on the sub's point of view, might we be missing a motivation that could be addressed if only we understood it?

Posted
27 minutes ago, dorion said:

With power comes responsibility. That's a heavy burden for dominants. I don't envy them that. A sub only has to take a personal risk - a dom has to risk for someone else. Irresponsible dominants may not care - but it might discourage responsible dominants. Things that help solve the problem of responsibility (e.g. negotiation, consent, limits, safewords) makes it easier to choose to dominate.

I have follow-on question: Why do some people say that subs have all the power? What's behind this? A reaction to topping from the bottom or unsatisfying scenes? Frustration from the difficulty of finding a good match? A way to disclaim that burden of responsibility? A desire to go farther than subs will allow? The pleasure of turning conventional wisdom on its head?

By focusing on the sub's point of view, might we be missing a motivation that could be addressed if only we understood it?

Here's the thing, never have I ever heard or seen an stype say or write that they have all the power, only ever Dtypes 🤷‍♀️
I can tell you why an individual repeatedly told me that and that it was due to their intentions.
.
I'm going to come back to,
"A sub only has to take personal risk - a dom has to risk for someone else"

First of all "only"?
Second of all how many stypes do you think speak out about harm as an outcome of either a scene or a D/s relationship?
And even of they do, the internet is rife with tales of predators that are supported/safeguarded in the community.

You could argue that, that again comes down to power differentials

Posted
8 minutes ago, CopperKnob said:

Here's the thing, never have I ever heard or seen an stype say or write that they have all the power, only ever Dtypes 🤷‍♀️
I can tell you why an individual repeatedly told me that and that it was due to their intentions.
.
I'm going to come back to,
"A sub only has to take personal risk - a dom has to risk for someone else"

First of all "only"?
Second of all how many stypes do you think speak out about harm as an outcome of either a scene or a D/s relationship?
And even of they do, the internet is rife with tales of predators that are supported/safeguarded in the community.

You could argue that, that again comes down to power differentials

But, thinking about it some more, I'd suggest that an stype doesn't only have their own risk to consider. It's also about,
"Did I communicate my needs well enough"
"Did I communicate my limits well enough"
"Did I safeword early enough"
What I'm saying is that there's plenty of scope for an stype to harm a Dtype

Posted
14 hours ago, Dom__Sean said:

I have one, no it wouldn’t but it can hurt like hell, unless you’re using less than 5kj of *** obviously 😉

You measured that on a willing victim?

Posted
7 hours ago, wicklowdom said:

You measured that on a willing victim?

I can tell that you take things quite literally however, the post is fiction. Sometimes, in the comments, other people continue that line
Lastly, let's try not to kink shame shall we?

Posted

I actually do own a couple of nasty floggers - one is a chain flogger, which is metal - and the other is 'barbed wire' but is actually a plastic.      They will both cut the recipient, quite quickly, if used with any form of impact.  But, I have used both on willing subjects.

They do generally work best for *** play, and sensation play.  

I don't use either on anyone as a light decision.  

Posted
On 9/4/2022 at 7:01 AM, CopperKnob said:

If you're familiar with the posts I write, you'll see that at no point do I make reference to a 'one true way' because I don't believe that there is a one size fits all approach to BDSM or D/s. In fact, I've previously called that approach out.

What I do, frequently write about and post, specifically in the 'New to BDSM, kink and fetish' forum are common misconceptions that newbies, including myself, often get caught up with and will often find themselves in situations the consequence of which is that they experience emotional harm. The purpose of the posts I add is to write in a way that isn't based on the 'theory' of BDSM which is commonplace across the net but to make them (hopefully) easy to read/relatable and for others, like yourself to comment sharing their viewpoint so that said newbies have access to a balanced overview from which they can form their own view of D/s.

I don’t follow you, so I’m not familiar with your posts. I don’t think one should have to follow you to get an understanding of what you’re saying. Each piece needs to stand on its own. The way you wrote may have been tongue in cheek, but a newbie wouldn’t know that. I absolutely got the opposite impression from your writing, that what is commonly said about the submissive having the power was all wrong, and that your opinion was the one right way. Perhaps because it had more of a personal than an educational tone. 
 

I am in no way a newbie, just saw your post on the main feed and had a look. If you are trying to educate others, I think a more objective tone and approach would achieve that better. While I appreciate your humor, it may be lost on some. Probably English vs American humor. 

Posted
4 hours ago, Kitanya said:

I don’t follow you, so I’m not familiar with your posts. I don’t think one should have to follow you to get an understanding of what you’re saying. Each piece needs to stand on its own. The way you wrote may have been tongue in cheek, but a newbie wouldn’t know that. I absolutely got the opposite impression from your writing, that what is commonly said about the submissive having the power was all wrong, and that your opinion was the one right way. Perhaps because it had more of a personal than an educational tone. 
 

I am in no way a newbie, just saw your post on the main feed and had a look. If you are trying to educate others, I think a more objective tone and approach would achieve that better. While I appreciate your humor, it may be lost on some. Probably English vs American humor. 

Perhaps you could provide an example as to how an stype has all the power?

Posted
15 hours ago, CopperKnob said:

Perhaps you could provide an example as to how an stype has all the power?

That’s not what I said. However I’m surprised people are questioning where this concept came from. Setting limits and using safe words clearly give the submissive some power, as well as negotiating the scene and relationship beforehand. It’s a two way street.

I remember a CSI episode years ago that said the submissive had all the power, in terms of setting limits and ending a scene with a dominatrix. It was a simple way of explaining the dynamic to those unfamiliar with it. But that is also a paid situation, and as such, I believe the client should get the experience they want and pay for.
 

I guess tropes are sort of like playing Telephone. When people hear things enough, they accept it, regardless of the veracity or lack thereof. 

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