I’m writing this with the familiar sting of welts on my back, and bruises on my ass. Why? I just woke up from the heavy, peaceful slumber that follows a play party. A play party is, for the most part, exactly what it sounds like-- a bunch of BDSM fanatics getting together and playing with fun toys such as floggers, whips, paddles, ball gags, ropes, and more. A safe space where the masochists, sadists, dominants, fetishists, and submissives of the world can get together and experiment, gain valuable knowledge, socialize, or just sit back and watch the show.
One of the most difficult BDSM aspects to swallow is the fact that some people enjoy receiving physical pain--and will allow someone who enjoys GIVING pain to grab the paddle and make them “weak”. Or so it seems, because in reality, they are becoming stronger. If you have ever had a tattoo, or know someone who has had a tattoo, you’ll know that after a while, the sting of the needle becomes less painful, and more pleasurable. You know that you are getting something worthwhile out of it. You learn to love the pain. Just like the tattoo artist knows that they are causing someone physical pain, but they know that they are doing it because the customer wants it. You wouldn’t get a tattoo if you couldn’t handle the pain. Both parties are consensual, both (usually) enjoy the experience, and both gain something valuable in the end.
In the world of BDSM, I label myself as a Switch. This means I enjoy dominance and submission equally. I do not participate in BDSM relationship dynamics outside of the bedroom, for the most part, but I do allow power exchange during play. I allow men, women, trans people, or other people of ANY gender who gain my trust to tie me up, whip me, paddle me, and in the eyes of some, disrespect me. However, this is what I crave. I think it would be more disrespectful to deny me of my pleasure. On the other hand, I like to exercise control. I like to be the rope rigger, the ass-paddler, and the back-whipper. There are people who trust me to do so, just like there are people I trust to do the same to me. And that’s all it really comes down to--trust.
For lack of a better word, let’s say dominance is the ultimate “masculine” act, while submission is the ultimate “feminine”. I apologize if you cringed at that, because when I first heard it, I did too. The ultimate “masculine” energy is aggressive, extrospective, powerful, and giving. The ultimate “feminine” energy is nurturing, resilient, introspective, and receiving. But this doesn’t have to do with natural born gender, just energy. Anyone can have any amount of masculine and feminine in them. Think of it as the yin and the yang, instead of the tits and the dick that we’ve been conditioned to think control our lives. There are plenty of female Dommes, and plenty of male subs. This is not to say that there are no misogynist Doms and that misogyny never comes into play in BDSM. There’s some screwed up people out there. But misogyny comes into play pretty much everywhere. The difference is, submissives submit because they choose to. Doms dominate because someone chose to GIVE them dominance. In reality, the sub holds all the power. He/she/they can call their safeword and end the scene anytime they want, and they can leave the relationship anytime they want (in proper D/s-there are still abusive D/s relationships, which unfortunately, us sane people can’t do much to stop).
But isn’t it anti-feminist to allow a man to dominate you? Isn’t it anti-feminist to tell another woman that her way of sexuality isn’t the correct way? The only time a man can dominate me, is when I tell him to. I give him the power to do so. Which means, I hold the power to give, and I can take it back anytime I want.
As for D/s relationships outside of the bedroom- I can’t speak on that. I do not exercise control in another person’s daily life, just like I wouldn’t allow someone to exercise control in my daily life. That’s not to say there’s anything “bad” about the D/s dynamic. Some people feel that they are natural leaders, and that they want to help someone grow. Some people need guidance in their life. Who am I to say they are wrong for doing that? It’s just not for me. D/s or S&M in the bedroom, however, I can speak on. I’ve been practicing dominance and submission in the bedroom since I was 16 (I was a bit of a troublemaker, I know).
When you give someone total control, you are trusting them with your health, your sanity, and possibly even your life. This isn’t something to just “play” around with, even though we call it play. It’s trust. It’s love. It’s even therapy, in a way. Most of us, whether you are man, woman, trans, fluid, or anything else, have to do a whole lot of controlling in our lives. Controlling our bodies, our employees, our finances, our health, our families, our own thoughts, and so much more. We live in a masculine world, and we live in a masculine way, no matter our gender. We are always doing, doing, doing. But hardly ever just letting life do for us. So when you allow someone to take control, when you allow someone to cause you pain, you start to drift away. Your body starts to loosen. You start to go into a trance. Why? Well, it’s actually pain induced meditation. We call it “sub-space”. It’s when you allow the world to pass by for a while, and you allow yourself to just exist, rather than control. All that matters in those moments is your body and the person there with you. And you get some awesome sex on top of all of that. In my opinion, it really is a form of therapy. It’s learning the art of letting go--something most of us don’t know how to do, because of the hyper-dominant world we live in. Yes, I just compared our entire world to BDSM.
So maybe instead of assuming that submissives are weak, fragile people who can’t do for themselves- let’s consider them master pain/service-induced meditators. They’re actually incredibly tough. And instead of assuming that dominants are manipulative, misogynistic control freaks- let’s consider them strong minded individuals who enjoy helping people let go of their worries, and blossom into resilient, introspective, badass feminine-energy-wielding warriors. If you can take a leather whip to the back, you can take pretty much anything.