A Conversation for Dominance and submission - a Power Exchange Relationship
Spitfire Started conversation Jul 5, 2001
My responses to h2g2 entries are usually humourous, maybe flippant, but this is a serious topic so I have some serious thoughts.
1. This is an excellent entry - concise, clear and interesting and I'm better informed for reading it.
2. Hurrah for someone writing about it and emphasising the nature of the relationship and that it's a considered choice. I'm 5 by 5 behind being open,informed and making choices when it comes to relationships, responsibility and happiness.
3. Here's the rub - my personal view: I can't abide the thought of a consensual D/s relationship. Many human relationships, probably most, carry an element of dominance or submission, varying with the partners, circumstances, time, maturity but this element is implicit in these variables.
A consensual D/s relationship is by definition, contrived. In that respect, it's a paradox. To take control over someone else or to give control to someone else by arrangement, and solely for the sake of the relationship itself, ie. to voluntarily exchange power, is a self-refuting act.
The more powerful or less powerful partner in, well, I suppose you could call it 'reality' (by which I mean, an interaction of people where no power exchange exists other than by virtue of assumed or inescapable facts rather than by conscious choice) but I guess it could be a social situation, a room, a specific day of the year, whatever, is more or less powerful because that's what all the contributing factors lead to. For example:
"My house, my rules!"
"Please can I have a payrise?"
"Shall we have ice cream for dessert or ...?
"It's my party and I'll cry if I want to."
In a consensual D/s relationship, it would seem the contributing factors are defined by detailed conscious decision and in my opinion, to voluntarily impose these conditions is artificial.
In the worst case, the D/s relationship would seem to open the submissive to pain/humiliation/lack of self-esteem, which, compounded over time cannot do the body or mind any good, and at best, is a frivolous artifice with no meaning, where the issue of power is more important than the quality of the relationship. I like to avoid being on the giving or receiving end of pain,humiliation or ego-battering and I also like to retain as much meaning in my life and quality in my relationships as possible. I guess the bottom line is, it's your own choice but it certainly isn't mine.
I take issue with the use of the word 'vanilla' to describe relationships where no consensual D/s agreement exists. 'Vanilla' is clearly intended to denote 'ordinary', 'plain', 'unimaginative', 'boring' maybe even 'cheap'. No human relationship worth a damn, even the bad ones, would warrant any of these descriptions. Human nature and interaction is too complex to make it possible. I'm sure you didn't coin the term but I sure wish it wasn't used in D/s terminology. It devalues the relationships it describes. How about 'Baskin' Robbin's'? That would be a bit more accurate, if you want to couch relationships in terms of ice cream: 33 flavours (well a few more than that but it's a reasonable approximation).
Well, there it is.
Sam Posted Jul 5, 2001
This is a great post, Spitfire - it adds real value and depth to the original entry and as such, I commend you for it! Great work. Entries with threads like these really benefit enormously, because the entry itself is not the final say - it's not definitive.
iaoth Posted Jul 5, 2001
Personally, I find it more healthy to consciously agree on a D/s relationship than live in 'reality' where the D/s relationship actually exists to some degree, only unconsciously.
BluesSlider Posted Jul 5, 2001
In the IT world 'vanilla' is often used to describe systems or packages which have not been customised. The systems or packages themselves may have a rich functionality. As I read the article that was my interpretation of the term. Non D/s relationships can be rich and fulfilling but are not 'customised' by explicit rules and agreements - hence 'vanilla' .
Just a thought.
Martin Harper Posted Jul 5, 2001
It's always fun meeting people who can't abide you, isn't it?
I don't see what the problem is with 'vanilla' being an insult. Since D/s couples have had their relationships a paradox, contrived, artificial, frivolous, and without meaning - and that's just in a one page post - a little come back would be in order, perhaps?
voluntarily exchanging power - kind of like the soldier voluntarily swearing over his life to hir country. The priest to hir god(dess). The wife to her husband in the old wedding rituals of yesteryear. The knight to his leige. The samurai to his code of honour. Are all these things paradoxes? I suggest not - for anyone who recognises the validity of 'my word is my bond', the chains thus formed are very real and strong.
The entry itself talks about self-esteem, but I will emphasise that loss of self-esteem is certainly *not* part of submission, though it can be (in some circumstances) be a danger of submission. In particular, those with a history of non-consensual abuse, or with self-esteem problems, are warned to stay away. That does not mean they always do, though, and you are right to be concerned.
Long term damage?? What do you mean?
Yes, power exchange can 'take over' a relationship. Just like sex can take over a relationship. Does that make sex a frivolous artifice with no meaning? Perhaps, but it's still fun... Almost as much fun as pain...
-Lucinda and Martin
Gainsay, if I may
Spitfire Posted Jul 6, 2001
Sam - thanks very much!
Iaoth - each to their own
BlueSlider - Interesting thought - one which I hadn't considered.
Lucinda (et al) - The entry roused some strong views in me about a topic on which I didn't even realise I had a view until I read the entry. I was stating , as I said, 'my personal view', as if I were (and this was not clear from my wording, I realise) in the position of myself being in a consensual D/s relationship - ie. how *I* would feel in that situation. I do not project this view onto anyone who does choose a consensual D/s relationship. If that's what takes someone's fancy then go for it and good luck to them but as the entry stated 'a D/s relationship is not for everyone'.
Gainsay, if I may
I'm not really here Posted Jul 6, 2001
I always took vanilla to mean no flavourings, rather than plain and boring.
Gainsay, if I may
iaoth Posted Jul 6, 2001
Gainsay, if I may
Martin Harper Posted Jul 6, 2001
Gainsay, if I may
Marc C. DuQuesne Posted Nov 13, 2001
Just a thought... remember that far and away, vanilla is the preferred flavor of ice cream in every survey taken. That does not inply that it is boring, just that it is popular. I take the D/s inference here that D/s is just that, a different flavor, that appeals to some but not all, and certainly not to most.
After all, Tin Roof is my all time favorite flavor in ice cream but part of that appeal is that fact that it is not always available. It is not familiar to everyone and therefore seems to be my own special secret temptation, which I give into on special occasions. Finally, once I find a source for this special craving, I cultivate it and guard it jealously, because I enjoy it so much.
Vanilla is not a perjorative term here. Love comes in all flavors, thankfully. This is just an encouragement to experiment occasionally, as you might find something you like as much as vanilla. Or not, but at least you will know for sure.
Captain Venom: (Making his triumphant return to H2G2!) Proud Keeper of ... Posted Dec 7, 2001
This dispute has nothing to do with sex, but still it is valid. Don't we live in a modern society? Dominance is something exhibited in societies where one type of person fears another's success, so they attempt to control that type of person. No matter which side of the pond you live on (if you're speaking english I'm assuming ur from US, UK or OZ) we live in civilized societies where everybody has the right to be equal and I for one don't believe that they can simply give that (in America, Constitutional) right away to somebody to "relieve the pressures of life". You chose to live here, you can move to someplace where they still have a dictator, but as long as you exist in a democracy you should conduct your lives accordingly!
I'm not really here Posted Dec 7, 2001
You are right. I live in a democracy. And I choose (as is my right in a democracy) to sometimes lend my power to my boyfriend. It doesn't mean I am not still equal though, and I always get that power back.
btw, telling someone else what they 'should' do is not very democratic.
Filksinger Posted Mar 20, 2002
One thing that seems to be overlooked in a lot of this is that people involved in these relationships often report that it is the submissive one, rather than the dominant one, who has the power.
The submissive has the safe word, they can end the situation at will, and they are the ones who are in short supply in the real world. If the submissive doesn't like what is happening, the Dominant must please them, or the submissive can end the game, or even leave. The submissive will find a new partner to play the game, if they want to continue as a submissive, or can pick up a more typical relationship, if they don't. The Dominant might not ever find another submissive again.
Submissives often report that they get into these relationships because of the power it gives them over the Dominant partner. Remember that submissives are almost always in these relationships _because they like it_. We are talking about true D/s relationships here, not actually oppressive relationships where control belongs to only one person. It is a game, and they are both there because it is fun.
Martin Harper Posted Mar 23, 2002
Fizzicist Posted Oct 25, 2002
I've found both sides of this argument interesting and informative. The comment about Vanilla is nit-picking a bit for my liking but there ya go.
As for the debate regarding self-esteem, I disagree about it being a mark of low self esteem. Although in what would probably be termes a Vanilla relationship (I'd term it give and take - we're fortunate to naturally find a balance), my job is pretty stressful and it's a fairly high pressure environment. Personally in my professional life I thrive on pressure - I enjoy it, I'm a natural control freak and if I do say so myself, I'm doing rather well for myself.
However, there has to be a work life balance and no-one can healthily deal with intense pressure all the time, I very much like to relinquish control to my girlfriend when we are together, both in terms of the time we spend together, and what we get up to...
I'm certainly not short of self esteem and I do NOT like being told what to do or having to ask for permission. Except when it concerns one other person. The reasoning for that is probably very convoluted and contractidtory but it seems to work - she knows it puts her in a unique position in my life and the success of our relationship has actually helped me cope with stress a lot better than I used to.
In short - the person who submits is often the more likely (in terms of character) to assume a dominant role in life. Malign them at your peril...
pixel Posted Mar 24, 2005
Hi i know this an old thread but i'm new here and just found it.
I think this is a great non-judgemental piece on the lifestyle.
Just one thing the BDSM community has a definition or rule of its own.
SSC ( Safe Sane Consensual).
You'll see this everywhere in the BDSM community on and offline and it would have been good to include it.
I'm not really here Posted Mar 24, 2005
You can apply to have it updated if you like. I can tell you how to go about that if you are interested?
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: Spitfire (Jul 5, 2001)
- 2: Sam (Jul 5, 2001)
- 3: iaoth (Jul 5, 2001)
- 4: BluesSlider (Jul 5, 2001)
- 5: Martin Harper (Jul 5, 2001)
- 6: Spitfire (Jul 6, 2001)
- 7: I'm not really here (Jul 6, 2001)
- 8: iaoth (Jul 6, 2001)
- 9: Martin Harper (Jul 6, 2001)
- 10: Marc C. DuQuesne (Nov 13, 2001)
- 11: Captain Venom: (Making his triumphant return to H2G2!) Proud Keeper of ... (Dec 7, 2001)
- 12: I'm not really here (Dec 7, 2001)
- 13: Filksinger (Mar 20, 2002)
- 14: Mina (Mar 21, 2002)
- 15: Martin Harper (Mar 23, 2002)
- 16: Fizzicist (Oct 25, 2002)
- 17: Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like (Oct 25, 2002)
- 18: I'm not really here (Oct 28, 2002)
- 19: pixel (Mar 24, 2005)
- 20: I'm not really here (Mar 24, 2005)