Organic power and d/s power

Not so long ago the creator of Submissive Guy Comics asked readers to ask him questions on Tumblr. Ferns asked an especially interesting question about organic power (the power someone has outside of a d/s relationship) vs d/s power (the power someone has over another person because they’ve talked it out and agreed to it). Ferns also has some interesting commentary on SGC’s answer, as well as a whole post of her own about traditional power signifiers and d/s, all of which you should probably skim if you want to make any sense of the rambling that’s coming 🙂

Balancing organic/societal power and d/s power in a relationship can be pretty tricky. Personally, I need someone to have a certain level of organic power before I’m even interested in dominating them. Submission is only meaningful to the extent that it’s freely chosen, so I really need someone who can say no when he needs to. I get that it can be really hard to say no sometimes (god knows I’m not always good at it myself) and that low self-esteem is a sadly common thing, but I personally find the inability to say (to quote Ferns’ delightful post about “protection” and big bad doms)  ‘No thank you’ or ‘I’m not interested, strange shouty lady who is ordering me about’ or ‘Are you insane?!’ or ‘Piss off’ an instant interest killer. I want someone who can say no and chooses not to because that makes me happy, not someone who just can’t say no.

On the other hand, too much of an imbalance of power in the sub’s favour would probably just make me all twitchy and insecure and that’s no fun for anyone. On a fantasy level I love the idea of dominating someone much more powerful than I am, but in practice I’d probably spend a lot of time being anxious about whether he sincerely respected me or whether he was just getting off on how humiliating it was to submit to someone he saw as lesser than he was. To be clear that second scenario would be totally humiliating for me and if someone did that to me I’d never acknowledge his existence ever again. Things would probably also get weird if I tried to have a d/s relationship with someone smarter than I was. Being a woman in a male-dominated field gives me a gigantic chip on my shoulder when it comes to men assuming they’re smarter than I am, plus I’m generally insecure about being smart enough, so to have a d/s relationship with a particularly academically clever man (I’d be fine with someone who was a genius painter or composer or anything that’s totally unrelated to my field, that most likely wouldn’t set me off) I’d have to absolutely trust him never ever to treat me like I was stupid or tell me how to do things.

Like SGC says in his answer, power imbalances can certainly be worked around, but they have to be understood first. I’d probably have an easier time having a d/s relationship with someone who had tremendous advantages but understood that the deck was stacked in his favour than the type of person described in the Barry Switzer quote “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” even if we were otherwise fairly equal in terms of organic power. If you’re just oblivious to the advantages you have, whether that’s access to education or physical beauty, then no amount of conversation is likely to make a d/s relationship work for me simply because we can’t talk about power if one of us sticks his fingers in his ears and yells “La la la I can’t hear you” whenever I bring it up.

Readers, how do you think differences in organic power affect d/s relationships?

Today’s post brought to you by DayQuil

I have a nasty cold but thanks to the magic of DayQuil I can at least give you a few links to funny videos.

My Drunk Kitchen, episode one:

Hannah Harto is an absolute genius at comedic timing. An incredible amount of work must go into editing these videos.

Jenna Marbles, Bounce That Dick:

Yes it’s three years old. It’s still funny.

zefrank, True Facts about the Owl:

There’s a whole series of these, they’re all pretty great.

Jake Jacobson III, Ylvis vs. Drowning Pool – Let the Foxes Hit the Floor

Not so much a video but you can’t tell me this isn’t funny 🙂

Henry Edmonds (animation),  Robert Clouth (music) – Boots and Cats

This will now be stuck in your head forever. If I were a better person I’d feel bad about that.

Mr Weebl – Badgers:

Electric 6 – Gay Bar:

Duck Sauce – Barbra Streisand:

Us vs Th3m – You can’t simple maths under pressure. A game, not a video, but it has a horribly catchy theme song that gets stuck in my head for hours

And if that doesn’t keep you entertained, there’s always Khan Academy. If you’re bored, why not go learn a thing?

You’re too young to be a dom

It’s sadly common for the ageist dicks of the world to tell younger doms that they’re too young to be dominant, as if age has anything to do with it.

First of all, being dominant is an identity, not an achievement. If it was an achievement, there would be an agreed upon test to take or a panel of judges who could decide whether or not to bestow true domhood upon you. Tests and judges only make sense when you have something concrete to test, like the ability to play pierce someone without cross contaminating anything. Domination (and submission!) are so subjective that testing how good a dom someone is would be as relevant and useful as testing how good a romantic partner someone is. There is no “good partner,” only the person who is right for you. Dominance is an identity like nerd is an identity – it’s certainly related to things you do, but only you get to decide whether or not you’re a nerd and it has nothing to do with how old you are.

If the people who shit on younger doms were being logical about it, they would also have to shit on older doms who are new to the scene. Age does limit the amount of experience you could possibly have, but if you’ve ever spent any time at any kink events, online or off, you’ll know that it’s not exactly uncommon for people not to figure out they’re kinky or not feel comfortable exploring it until later in life. So why don’t older newbies get more shit? My theory is that they don’t scare the douchebags of the scene because they aren’t walking threats to the idea that domination is this extraordinarily difficult thing that requires years of intense study and only the most extraordinary, experienced, and educated person could possibly call themselves a dom. Basically, these people are so insecure that they freak out when some kid shows up and proves that anybody can be a good dom to the right partner. We can all agree that’s blatant douchebaggery, right?

On the subject of douchebaggery, how exactly are people who are “too young to be doms” supposed to get the experience that would get these assclowns off their backs? Oh, that’s right, they’re not. They’re supposed to quietly slink away from the scene and not provide any competition for the hot young submissives. If you know you can’t compete with a young, inexperienced dom in a subculture that fetishizes experience in doms (god forbid submissives be experienced, but that’s a separate post), I know where the problem is and it’s not with your competition.

Life experience does count, of course, but it’s hardly the be-all end-all of skill as a dom. There’s no shortage of people with decades more life experience than I have making complete asses of themselves on Fetlife, after all. Now, it would take a pretty exceptional 20 year old dom to convince a 25 year old to submit to them, but why couldn’t they be a perfectly good dom for another 20 year old?

I used to have trouble taking younger doms seriously, but I think that was because I a) bought into the myth in the scene that you can’t possibly be a good dom without lots of life experience, and b) was insecure about my own level of experience so I was kind of a dick about people even younger than I was. Fortunately, I’ve grown up since then and now understand that it’s pretty cool if people are figuring out what they really want younger than I did.

And finally, if age is so important how come nobody gets told they’re too young to be submissive?

Respect and Respect

I came across this tumblr post by Abby and it made me think about how some people talk about respect in the scene:

Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority”

and sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like a person”

and they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.

I’m really suspicious that the doms who keep talking about how respect is so important and they deserve to be respected and how terrible it is that submissives these days have no respect aren’t using the word respect the way I do. The people most likely to be disrespected are submissive or assumed to be submissive. Doms, particularly male doms, have very little to complain about in terms of being respected (younger doms, even male ones, do get a certain amount of shit from ageist dicks, but that’s a separate blog post).

Given that male dominants generally are respected in the scene, I have to assume that when they say respect and I say respect we’re actually talking about different things. What would make the whining I’ve seen make some sort of sense is if these guys (let’s be honest, they’re mostly men, although I have seen female doms pull some ridiculous bullshit too) are actually talking about wanting to be treated like an authority by everyone they run into, whether or not they’ve ever done anything to earn it.

Fuck that. Deciding to call yourself a dom in no way makes you an authority. Literally anyone can do that, no matter how inexperienced or ignorant they are. Treating every dom like an authority would require everyone else in the scene to completely ignore basic common sense and their own ability to judge whether someone is worth taking seriously. Not only is that never going to happen, but that sort of “respect” is worthless. Why would I care whether someone with such terrible judgement that they’ll fawn over every so-called dominant they meet fawns over me too? That’s not even about me as a person, it’s about their fantasy of how they should act around doms. I really don’t care to be used as part of someone’s fantasy without them even asking if I wanted a cameo in the J. Random Sub Show.

Real authority is earned. If you’re that invested in being treated like an authority, get really good at something and share your knowledge. Unless that’s too much work for you, in which case keep whining and crying about how everyone you meet is an asshole because they won’t act like their mission in life is to prop up your oh-so-fragile ego. That will totally make people respect you.

The only respect people in the scene are automatically due is being treated like people. It should but sadly does not go without saying that subs are people too and are entitled to the exact same level of respect that doms are until they’ve specifically negotiated other arrangements with a particular person. We are all just people with an unusual hobby until we make other agreements with someone, calling myself dominant doesn’t make me any more or any less than anyone else in the scene, no matter how they identify. I’m fine with that because I’m a fucking grownup. If you’re not, I recommend taking a long hard look at yourself.

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it

To quote my search terms: what happens if you’re a dominant woman who enjoys penetration?

Well, your partner better penetrate you if he doesn’t want you to find a new one 🙂

More seriously, it’s really common for kinky people to believe that some actions are inherently dominant and some are inherently submissive, as ridiculous as that idea is when you actually think about it. Because it’s such a common belief, even if you don’t think that way yourself you’re likely to run into people who do, which makes it pretty hard to avoid worrying about whether the thing you want to do might be completely misinterpreted.

For example, it’s pretty common for people to assume that being penetrated is a submissive action. That’s ridiculous, actions aren’t inherently anything. Lending a friend money might be a good thing, unless that money helps them to stay in denial about their addiction. Punching someone in the face might be a bad thing, unless they’re learning a martial art and need to experience getting hit in a safe environment in case they ever get hit for real. It’s the context that matters, that’s what gives an action meaning.

So in the context of a dominant woman telling her submissive partner to penetrate her, to do it the way she likes, and to keep it up until she’s good and done, it’s pretty clear that she’s not doing anything remotely submissive. Performing a particular action in no way changes the fact that she’s calling all of the shots. By the same token, performing a particular action in no way makes the submissive man doing the penetrating dominant. He’s still following orders and he’s still doing it to make their dominant happy.

Where things get messy is that even if our hypothetical dom knows perfectly well that telling someone to penetrate her doesn’t make her submissive, her partner might still have the idea that some actions are fundamentally submissive. Now she has to worry about how he’s going to react and face the possibility that their relationship might end if he can’t get over the idea that an action is fundamentally submissive. That’s pretty fucking scary, especially if you’re new to domination and deep down you’re still scared you really aren’t dominant enough (that goes away eventually, right?)

The possibility of being told you’re not good enough or losing your relationship sucks, but if someone thinks he can tell you what kind of sex you’re allowed to want he’s not very fucking submissive now is he? It may take a while to find him, but I guarantee there is someone out there who cares more about who you actually are than who he thinks you should be.

Also, the idea that letting other people decide what kind of sex I have could possibly be anything but submissive irritates the shit out of me. Am I seriously supposed to prove how dominant I am by doing what I’m told? I hate to break it to those assholes, but that’s not how domination works.

If you’re dominant and you like penetration, go for it! Anyone who says that means you’re not really dominant is too stupid to listen to.