I haven’t heard much of it lately, but for a while there it wasn’t at all unusual to hear that submissives have all the real power in a scene. That is, because they absolutely always have the power to end a scene that isn’t working for them, some people say this means submissives are the ones who are really in control. News flash: doms can safeword too. If you ignore my limits, I will end the scene. If you are a dick to me, I will end the scene. If you disrespect my partner or my relationship with him, I will end the scene. If you try to order me around, I will end the scene. If you call me mistress, I might very well end the scene because I fucking hate that shit.
No matter what kind of agreement you’ve made, s-types absolutely always have the right to end a scene. Say whatever you want about your no-safeword lifetime contract, but let me know what happens when your s-type says they’re going to faint/throw up/call their lawyer/call the cops/that this relationship is over. That’s right, you’ll fucking end the scene. However, that power isn’t special. I can end the scene too, and it’s much more convenient for me since if someone’s tied up, it’s not me.
Just being able to end the scene isn’t very much power, though. You only get to decide whether or not you stay on the ride, not where it goes. That is, while I would never ignore someone’s limits, I don’t take orders. If my play partner suggests something that sounds like fun odds are very good that I’ll do it, but it has to be an actual suggestion.The way I usually run scenes is pretty low key – we agree on which toys are on the table and a general intensity level, then I basically do what I feel like within those parameters. I can definitely be steered towards toys and actions that make my bottoms make fun noises, but if I’m not in a caning mood one night there’s no making me get one out.
So who’s really in control of my scenes? That would be me. Obviously I negotiate and I’m willing to do nice things for people I like, but come on. Only having the power to end the scene is not very much power at all, and someone who tells you that s-types have all the real power because they can end the scene whenever they need to is a) being hugely disrespectful of the d-types humanity (I have limits too, I can get triggered too, I can need to end a scene too) and b) sketchy as fuck.
While I feel very strongly that everyone in the scene should understand that s-types are powerful and awesome, the fact is that the s-type is not in control of the scene. If someone tries to tell you that you are, that makes me very worried that they’re trying to talk you into something that you wouldn’t be comfortable with if they were honest about who is actually in control. That’s creepy as shit. Informed consent is a thing, people. Don’t tell someone they’re in control when they’re not. I mean, if you’re willing to give them complete control over the scene then cool, but if they’re not going to be in control (which is very often the way the dom runs the scene, not to mention usually what the submissive person actually wants anyway), don’t fucking tell them they will be.
Submissive people absolutely do have power in the scene. What you bring to the scene can make it fly or fall flat, the dom is never ever the only one whose ideas and effort matters. If we’re going to talk about a submissive’s power in a scene, let’s talk about the power you actually have, not imaginary power you don’t have. Real communication is about honesty, after all.