Dominant and Submissive: Who is Really In Charge of BDSM?
After watching Fifty Shades of Grey with my friend, we decided to head over to a Starbucks to discuss the world of BDSM. My friend Daniel has been in a BDSM relationship with his wife for over three years. He explains that BDSM involves a dominant and a submissive. The Dominant is the one who is on top and in charge of the submissive. The submissive will obey and sacrifice his or her pleasure for the dominant. He or she will allow the dominant to take control over every action. Before both the dominant and submissive get into action, they have to create a contract. This contract discusses the “limits” that the submissive puts on the table. Limits are basically what the submissive is willing or not willing to do. At the end of the day, Daniel claims that the dominant is always in charge, but in actuality, I believe the submissive is the one in charge.
Here is the deal with the submissive-dominant relationship. “The submissive gives up control to the dominant until such a time they feel it necessary to take that control back.” For example, if the dominant is on top and is whipping the submissive, it may seem like they are in charge, but once the submissive feels that it’s too much, they can yell out their safe word. Then the dominant will have to stop and give back the power to the submissive.The submissive is the one who agrees and disagrees with the limits, they are also the one who creates the limit. In addition, they make a safe word that is easy to pronounce that will command the dominant to stop if the submissive feels uncomfortable. The submissive decides how far to take it and when they want to stop. The dominant may have control over the submissive but they do not get to decide the transfer of power. Only the submissive can decide where the power goes, therefore the submissive is truly in charge.
After my explanation, Daniel was confused. He further claims that if the submissive was in charge then why don’t they ever get on top or control the activity. The simple answer is “trust,” which the submissive must have for the dominant or else the relationship will not work. It is disrespectful for a submissive to get on top of the dominant without permission. It is a sign of distrust towards the dominant and can ruin the dynamic of the sexual activity. This would represent the struggle for power rather than the exchange of power. The struggle would signify the lack of control and confidence on the submissive’s part. This is why it’s important for the submissive to truly trust the dominant in the BDSM activity. The deep meaning of the trust lies in the fact that the dominant will not push the boundary and will ultimately respect the submissive, and is willing to give back control when it is requested.
Daniel started pondering about this philosophical explanation. He has finally understood the idea behind the relationship. He is a dominant who trust that his wife (the submissive) will serve his needs and provide him pleasure over her own. She trusts that he will not harm her or go beyond the boundaries. Whenever she feels uncomfortable and that it’s too much, she will yell out her safe words, and Daniel will have to stop. The whole BDSM exchange of power progression goes something like this: Before commitment (the control lies with the submissive), at commitment (control is passed to the dominant with limitations), learning (as the dominant breaks down limits, more control is given by the submissive), at maturity (more control to the dominant), at decline (submissive gradually takes back control), and end of commitment (submissive has total control).
During the whole BDSM process, you will notice how the submissive begins the activity and ends the activity with control. Ultimately, submissive role needs to remember that control is given not taken. In some ways, a vanilla relationship between a man and a woman has some BDSM to it. Men are bigger, dominant, and protective, and women are smaller, petite, and submissive. Men are usually on top during sex, and women on the bottom. Despite all this, the woman is the one in control. She determines the exchange of power and when to take back control. If she is uncomfortable with the sex or love making, she is the one who usually stops it. The man who is dominant is given trust that he will not harm the woman. If the woman does not trust or respect the man, the whole dynamic is ruin. If the man does not respect the women’s limits, the dynamic is also ruin. Basically, BDSM involves a lot of trust and respect between two parties, the dominant and submissive. If these elements are not taken cared of, then BDSM is not safe for both parties.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the submissive is submitting because they want to. It’s pleasurable to submit to the master. However, a slave submits because he or she has to. It is commanded by the master. “Want to” and “have to” are on the opposite spectrum, the former is desire whereas the later is forced. Submissive involving BDSM is the desire to please the master, therefore it is the control of power. The Master’s slave isn’t really submitting to him, rather she is submitting to her own desire to do so which in turns means that he is not on top. Therefore a slave that isn’t really submitting is being commanded by a master that isn’t really dominating. This would be the exceptional irony of BDSM where the submissive is the master and the dominant is the slave. Keep in mind that it is important that the dominant feels free and relax to dominate without feeling judged by the submissive. If the dominant does not feel this freedom, he ends up being a pleaser tool to the submissive. That is why a healthy balance is required in order to create a desirable BDSM experience.