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Author Topic: BDSM: Exchange of Power  (Read 1549 times)

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Offline crystaltearsTopic starter

BDSM: Exchange of Power
« on: January 26, 2011, 10:01:41 PM »
Well then, time for something a bit more substantial than my new stray thoughts entry and more objective than growth and change and mending bridges. *Smiles* I love objectivity. And.. it's been a while since I wrote on the lifestyle... If only because it's been a while since I wrote prior to my recent entries. At any rate, I've found myself thinking a lot lately about the actual exchanges between a Dom and a sub (regardless of the label given the two (or more) individuals involved).

So... As I inch back into things... This entry is about the Exchange of Power in a BDSM relationship and how it (sometimes) manifests.

Also, if you're an approved member and haven't stumbled upon it, go read Captain Maltese's, The Captain's Voice on BDSM. Apparently he and I have been milling over the same topic. His thoughts (lovely ones, I might add) are made available there and give a Dom's perspective for those seeking one. :-)

Do remember that everything here is the expression of one person's view of things. One person's thoughts, collected in a handful of words with a submissive's perspective. I hope you enjoy the read.



Posturing

From the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

   posture
   transitive verb
      : to cause to assume a given posture : POSE
   intransitive verb
      : to assume a posture; especially : to strike a pose for effect
      : to assume an artificial or pretend attitude : ATTITUDINIZE

It's really one of two words that readily springs to my mind on this topic (the other being orders). Why? I suppose because it has to do with the physical behavior of a person's body and the attitude they adopt (though the strict definition says an artificial or pretend attitude). There is an exchange of power in any BDSM relationship that puts emphasis on the Dom/sub aspect of the Lifestyle, and with that comes expectation in one form or another. If the latter weren't the case than nothing would set aside a Dom and sub from two normal vanilla people.


Position of the Body

Postures, physical ones, are an interesting manifestation of this exchange. They take many forms. Two examples (off the top of my head and from real individuals I've known (at the very least online if not in real life)) include:

  • When I enter the house you are to kneel in the specified position (knees spread apart, hands resting on your knees, palms upward, head bowed, back straight) and await my permission to move.
  • When I give you x command (word, gesture, snap of fingers, chime, etc.) you are to assume y position (previously determined and explained position (usually sexual)).

Really the list of examples could go on for some time, but those are some general examples of the actual placement of the body. The Dom/me's will to have the sub assume these various poses could come from many reasons, but the sub doing so is one of the visible manifestations of their compliance (and it might amuse those of a more technical mindset to know that examples such as the above are very similar in my mind to a Switch or Select statement, conditions set to modify variables based upon case, oh goodness, when did I become such a nerd?). It's an artistic touch to the gift of submission. Expectation weighed in hints that perhaps this particular aspect is more requirement than gift in certain circumstances, but to see this in motion (and I've been privilege to such a thing once) is a beautiful thing; a live and physical manifestation of the relationship shared between Dom and sub.


Physical Proximity

Not unlike the positioning of the body, physical proximity is an interesting expectation to me. I've two examples of this as well:

  • When we go for a walk outside you are to walk to the inside of me (away from the road) and always even with or behind me, never in front, unless told otherwise (two-fold, in part to protect the sub by keeping her further from the street and any vehicles; how sweet :-))
  • When we take dinner in the living room I expect you to be sitting on the floor beside my chair unless we have company.

Just another manifestation that is visible, if even somewhat mundane. Particularly with the first example I gave.. The pair who used that.. erm, condition.. Well, I didn't even know they were in the Lifestyle until it came up in conversation at a later period. I'd always gotten a somewhat distinct impression that the dominant in that pairing ran the relationship, but she just hadn't struck me as the type (it was a fun surprise to learn she was). I had, however, noticed her habit of walking to the inside of the sidewalk, away from the street and of walking a bit behind him. I just assumed (shame on me) that it was something more normal.. Not an order and consensual obedience.


Lifestyle Choices

Perhaps not as obvious as the physical positioning of the body or the proximity of a sub to their Dom is the surrender of lifestyle choices. Things like diet, attire, physical activities. Ironic that this sort of concession is often less-visible than the others as it surely extends further into a person's daily life.


Surrendering at Play Time

*Pauses for a long while as she considers what to say here. Eventually nods a little and nips her lower lip.* Right, this one is a fun one. Sometimes not as much about true power exchange as it is about... *pauses, rewording her thoughts with PG13 in mind* pleasure. *Nods* Pleasure. But, it can be about true power exchange... And even when it's not meant to be, a bit does seep in. So many ways I could break this down and expand upon it, but I'm going to resist that urge and keep it all looped in one... So instead.. I'll do a shortlist of examples of ways to surrender at play time (shush! I've got a thing for lists. >.>).

Many of these number among some of my favorite things, but I'm giving them to you in no particular order:

  • Bondage.
  • Sensory Deprivation.
  • Orders.
  • Breath Play.
  • Pain Play.
  • etc.

*Reads over them a few times and nods.* More than enough examples... And yummy ones at that, but anyways~~ Those are all relatively common (in the lifestyle) practices involving the surrender of power during a play scene. Safe, sane, and consensual. Three words I've come to recognize and respect. The thinking behind the phrase a key factor in all of this, and especially in things like breath play and pain play.. Where going just a touch too far can have truly dire consequences. (A small bit of advice that's dying to interject itself here both for Dom/mes and subs is 'if you're not comfortable, say no'. I know, I know, it's said a lot, but there's good reason for it.) At any rate, these sorts of surrenders made by partners are another manifestation of power exchange. They are thoroughly explored in many threads and stories here on E and behind many closed doors the world wide (as well as in the open in some cases/places).


Discipline

Get your mind outta the gutter; it doesn't have to be about paddles and whips! *Winks* Discipline in it's most basic principle implies an exchange in power:

Also from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

   discipline
   1 : PUNISHMENT
   2 obsolete : INSTRUCTION
   3 : a field of study
   4 : training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
   5   a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order
        b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
        c : SELF-CONTROL
   6 : a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity

Now look at that word. Look at it! It's such a yummy word! But I'm getting away from the point of this so I'll stop there and move on. *Clears throat softly, eyes still smiling far too much.* Ahem, punishment is a thing which in the lifestyle often must be willingly received. That coming back to the 'Safe, sane, and consensual' idea. Be it paddles and whips or the silent treatment (by the way, that one there is far more effective than any paddle or whip ever could be on me) or being made to go sit in a corner with your nose touching the wall... These things are voluntarily accepted by the sub in a BDSM relationship, punishments taken for falling short of their partner's expectations.



All of that said (and I'm sure I've left plenty of things out in actual examples and manifestations, though I truly did try to cover a decent scope) I intend to move along to the implications of the subject and of its manifestations. What it all really means and why the gestures are just the tip of the iceberg.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Souls Behind the Masks

If posturing is acting and posing, and if all of the above manifestations fulfill that definition.. Then what I'm trying to talk about here is the actors who take on the roles involved and the motivations for their part in the play. I've discussed Dom/mes and subs at length in their own separate entries, though I haven't touched on this... And I find it a rather daunting thing to attempt... So forgive my errs, if you'd be so gracious, and allow me to try to convey a bit more of my soul and my perspective in plain words for you.

BDSM relationships are at the base of everything, relationships. Every relationship is built on trust.

A theoretical and stereotypical short example of what I mean:
   In Business - Trust of the other to provide a product, service, or payment.
   In Friendship - Trust of the other to accept you with an open mind and to support.
   In Family - Trust of the other to support you with fewer conditions than a friend might.
   In Romance - Trust of another to work with you toward building a lasting relationship.
   In Love - Trust of another to love you unconditionally (or as close to unconditionally as humanly possible).

A BDSM relationship is no exception from the rule. What it is truly is more reliant upon both parties being trustworthy and offering trust. Without this willingness from both (or all) individuals involved, the relationship will fail. Power Exchange, likewise, relies upon trust.

A submissive must be able to trust their Dom/me to keep the best interest of both at heart. What is in the best interest of both? Health, first and foremost. Emotional and physical. If something hurts a person truly (as in with real repercussions) it is not in the realm of a healthy BDSM relationship.

A Dom/me likewise must be able to trust their submissive to truly give what they offer with naked honesty. There can be no hidden strings, no lies trapped behind closed teeth of something that is too much being 'okay'. If a Dom/me asks you if you're okay they have to be able to trust you are truly communicating.

I feel like the first is more often hammered than the latter. That the responsibility is heavily laid at the feet of Dom/mes and people (especially those who aren't in the lifestyle) probably don't realize how much a healthy BDSM relationship relies on communication from the sub to their partner. That could turn into a whole second blog entry though, so I'll stop there and move on.

Emotions. Emotions motivate the exchange. I don't care if people say otherwise. Lust is an emotion as much as comfort, nervousness, happiness, and anxiety. I know from my end of the leash I gain a sense of pride. Pride that a Dom/me has taken the care to claim me, to ask these things of me. Pride that I can bring them happiness by obeying. That I can earn their praise and perhaps pass along the same pride to them. Safety and security and a wonderful sense of peace are also involved in knowing that they will not lie, they will not play with me (at least, not in a bad way). They respect my boundaries because I have made them clear and they take pleasure in the gift(s) I have to offer.

I wear the mask of the submissive (almost always, I admit I've a slight domme streak under my skin for certain ladies) and my motivation is pure and simple. In giving what I do I receive the gift of a relationship and a connection far deeper than I can make with most vanilla individuals. I give submission, and I find *resists the strong urge to say Bliss here* peace. A most fleeting state of existence in a world as stressful as today's, and one that I will always savor and appreciate.

I feel it should also be said that with the trust and submission I offer is also caring, genuine attachment, and respect.

This I offer as a collection of thoughts on what Power Exchange really means to at least one individual who lives the lifestyle and who always strives to learn more about it. I would love to read the perspectives of others on this matter should any care to share them, and as always I welcome comments of all sorts.



*Rereads the entry once.* Well, perhaps this isn't a mere handful of words after all.

P.S. I tried to be gender neutral, but I'm sure I failed at that in more than one place. Forgive me.

P.P.S. I wrote this over the course of four days of rather long contemplation on the topic and what it means to me so there may be places that read a bit oddly to you. Sorry for that too.



1/27/11 edit: Changed the word 'normal' to 'vanilla' as per an err in my phrasing brought to my attention by Torch. Thanks again. :-)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 01:37:47 PM by crystaltears »

Offline Will

Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 10:12:49 PM »
That was a wonderful read, and entertaining, too!  I really appreciate you posting it. ;D  While I do take issue with the relative nature of the "safe, sane, and consensual" concept (especially the sane part, and to a lesser extent, the safe part), I do appreciate and agree with the underlying idea.

Offline crystaltearsTopic starter

Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2011, 09:44:55 AM »
Thank you, Will. I'm very glad you enjoyed it.

Perhaps at some point in the future I'll try to cover 'safe, sane, and consensual' (at least my thoughts on it) in a more thorough manner. *Winks*

Thanks for reading.

Offline Torch

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Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 10:56:00 AM »
Very nice read. I suppose the only thing I could criticize would be this statement:

If the latter weren't the case than nothing would set aside a Dom and sub from two normal people.

and its implication that those who are involved in a lifestyle relationship are not "normal". 


Offline crystaltearsTopic starter

Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2011, 11:08:05 AM »
Thank you for reading it, Torch, and for catching me.

*Chuckles* That was poor wording on my part. I use 'normal' and 'vanilla' interchangeably far too much. The sentiment there was meant to reflect that without power exchange there would be nothing to differentiate a D/s relationship from a vanilla one. And even that is debatable.

I'm actually one of those who believes that 'normal' in and of itself has no true rule or measure to it anymore; society is too varied these days for anything to be 'the norm' in my eyes (which I suppose means that I do think "those who are involved in a lifestyle relationship are not "normal".", though I believe that those involved in a vanilla relationship are not "normal" as well. No one is, for we're all unique as cliche as that is).

I'm glad you enjoyed the read and appreciate the feedback. :-)

Offline Torch

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Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 11:29:49 AM »
Thank you for reading it, Torch, and for catching me.

*Chuckles* That was poor wording on my part. I use 'normal' and 'vanilla' interchangeably far too much. The sentiment there was meant to reflect that without power exchange there would be nothing to differentiate a D/s relationship from a vanilla one. And even that is debatable.

Very much so. And in fact, lifestyle relationships aren't much different from those outside the community. The vast majority of Doms and subs have jobs, pay taxes, weed the flower garden, go grocery shopping and wait in line at the post office just like everyone else.

Quote
I'm actually one of those who believes that 'normal' in and of itself has no true rule or measure to it anymore; society is too varied these days for anything to be 'the norm' in my eyes (which I suppose means that I do think "those who are involved in a lifestyle relationship are not "normal".", though I believe that those involved in a vanilla relationship are not "normal" as well. No one is, for we're all unique as cliche as that is).

I'm glad you enjoyed the read and appreciate the feedback. :-)

It was a small quibble, and only because, like you, I'm of the belief that that word normal is of little value and shouldn't be used to describe any relationship, vanilla or otherwise.  :-)



Offline crystaltearsTopic starter

Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 12:16:15 PM »
Very much so. And in fact, lifestyle relationships aren't much different from those outside the community. The vast majority of Doms and subs have jobs, pay taxes, weed the flower garden, go grocery shopping and wait in line at the post office just like everyone else.

Like me. *Smiles* Except maybe not the weeding part as I don't have a garden.

It was a small quibble, and only because, like you, I'm of the belief that that word normal is of little value and shouldn't be used to describe any relationship, vanilla or otherwise.  :-)

Well thanks again for reading and definitely for calling me on it! I hope I get to hear more from you on future entries too.  :-)

Offline Captain Maltese

Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 01:29:37 PM »
Crys, that was a LOT of quality writing. I could comment on specific things but I think I will suggest one thing - post smaller segments. This is like trying to read a book chapter; commenting becomes like writing an essay. This is wonderful blog material but smaller pieces are a lot easier to give a single paragraph comment on. Would you consider reposting this as a number of smaller mouthfuls? No need to remove the original post.

Offline crystaltearsTopic starter

Re: BDSM: Exchange of Power
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2011, 04:27:51 PM »
Crys, that was a LOT of quality writing. I could comment on specific things but I think I will suggest one thing - post smaller segments. This is like trying to read a book chapter; commenting becomes like writing an essay. This is wonderful blog material but smaller pieces are a lot easier to give a single paragraph comment on. Would you consider reposting this as a number of smaller mouthfuls? No need to remove the original post.

*Chuckles* Most of my blog entries end up being rather long, but I can see your point, Sir. I will play with this and gladly oblige in the next few days. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed the read and thank you again for the compliments you've given.