Listening is easy. Just follow the link in the tweet.
[Clean link is here]
The interview will be loosely structured, so I’m unsure about everything that will be discussed, but some topics mentioned are: power dynamics in BDSM, “topping from the bottom”, the influence of Patriarchy on BDSM and gender play, and more.
It will be a live video feed.
UPDATE: Due to my illness, this discussion will be postponed. A new date will be announced shortly.
When speaking of power exchange relationships in BDSM, such as Dominance/submission (“D/s”), you may occasionally hear some people claim, “it’s the sub who truly holds the power.” Often this is followed with the assertion that submission is a “gift”. While there is truth to this, it’s not the whole truth.
The first error is the implication that power is held by one person: the sub. Just like outside of our kinky play, everyone has power. It’s just up to you whether you’re going to exercise it or give it up.
So, while the submissive does in fact hold power, so does the Dominant. Both roles involve having and expressing power. The sub can be controlled only as much as they allow and the Domme will control only as much as they are willing.
This is a symbiotic relationship. It’s characterized by interdependence. One is defined by the existence of the other.
In other words: while it’s true that without a sub the Domme has no one to control, it’s also true that without a Domme the sub has no one to be controlled by. They are both receiving benefits from — and giving “gifts” to — one another.
I believe one of the most pervasive misunderstandings in kink is the difference between top and bottom, Dominant and submissive, and fetishism. In My experience, this confusion is not limited to people who are new to the culture, but people who have been involved in it for many years and don’t quite seem to know what they are and which apply to them. Because I think it is a fundamental aspect to concise negotiations and overall better experiences, allow Me to explain.
The first thing that is helpful to think about is that our experiences are multi-dimensional. Whether that experience is kinky or not, there is never just one thing going on at a time. Even if you’re just sitting there, breathing, your body is completing a multitude of tasks at once: your heart is beating, your body temperature is being regulated, and your immune system is on alert. Likewise, in kink, there is more than one thing going on. Three of those things are the focus of this article.
The three things are: topping and bottoming, or what I’ll call “position”; Dominance and submission, or what I’ll call “role”; and fetishism. While they all relate to one another, they have distinct differences which are helpful to understand, not only for self-awareness but when seeking out others for play. Understanding which concepts best describe you can help you hone in on who and what it is you’re looking for.
First, I’ll define position. When someone assumes the active position in play, we call that person the “top”. This is the person who provides the sensation, physically and/or emotionally. This means it’s the person who is spanking, tying, spitting, humiliating, or penetrating. The complement is the person who assumes the passive position, what is called the “bottom”. This person receives the sensation, physically and/or emotionally, that the top is providing. This means it’s the person being spanked, being tied, being spit upon, being humiliated, or being penetrated. Of course, one can do both, and when someone does they’re called a “switch” or “versatile”. Note that this doesn’t say anything more than who is giving and who is receiving.
Next, we have role. Consider that in life, there are people whose role is to lead or assume control and there are people whose role is to follow or to relinquish control. This dynamic applies to kinky play as well. The person who leads or controls play is called a “Dominant”. Dominants make the decisions about how and when the spanking, tying, spitting, humiliating, or penetrating will take place. The person who follows or is controlled in play is called a “submissive”. A submissive is not there to make the decisions about how and when the (negotiated) activities occur, their role is to submit to the decisions of the Dominant. In BDSM culture, we call this dynamic “D/s”, which is short for “Dominant/submissive” or “Dominance/submission”. It’s what the middle two letters in BDSM stand for. (There is another dynamic which we call “M/s”, which is short for Mistress/slave or Master/slave, and is another form of power exchange which has different expectations, but I’m not going to go into that here.) Note that this doesn’t say anything about who is creating or receiving the sensation; only who is in control of it.
Lastly, there’s fetishism. When the term “fetish” was first introduced in the early 20th century, it was used to describe something that needed to be present in order for someone to feel sexual arousal. Since then, it’s grown beyond its clinical beginnings to more broadly encompass something that is not considered inherently sexual but causes sexual arousal, such as shoes, being put in a diaper, being tied to a chair, or being slapped in the face. And now, we also have a pop culture concept of “fetish” which can be anything someone is fixated on, including things we think of as sexual.
A fetish is a subjective experience. What is a fetish for one person may not be for another. Because it is subjective, it will therefore involve personal variables about what, when, and how the fetish manifests. Fetishes may be common between people, such as seeing a woman put on pantyhose, or be unique to that individual, such as that it must be Mistress Belinda putting on nude, Cuban-heel, thigh-high stockings with black contrast. Note that this says nothing about giving or receiving, or about power dynamics, just arousal.
Now, I’ll describe some of the confusion people seem to have with these layers.
Probably the most common misunderstanding I see is the conflation of position and role. While it is common for the person assuming the top position to also be the Dominant, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes a person can control the way in which they receive sensation. If Mistress Belinda says, “Lick My stockings!” how would we describe her position and role? Well, because Mistress Belinda is both dictating the action and receiving the licking, she is acting as a Dominant bottom. The party that is agreeing to follow Her command and provide the licking is acting as a submissive top. Another term you may hear used to describe a submissive top is “service top”. This person submits to requests/orders/control about how they will provide sensation to another.
Perhaps the second most common misunderstanding is the difference between wanting to assume a role and wanting to assume a position. It is common that people who say they want to Dominate or submit don’t actually want to do those things at all. Someone may say they’re submissive, but what they really want is to bottom. That is, they want someone to take the active role in creating sensations for them, not submit to someone else’s control about how those sensations happen. Likewise, some who consider themselves “Dominant” are really tops, in that they enjoy creating sensation for others, but they want someone to tell them what they want them to do, and then they’ll do it.
Maybe the third most common misunderstanding is the confusion between what it means to actually exchange power and to fetishize it. There are many people who say they want a Dominant or submissive, whether it be for play or a relationship, but what is really going on is that they actually just have a fetish for it. What does that mean, exactly?
Submissive and slave, like Dominant and Mistress/Master, are words we use to describe the way power is exchanged. Fetishism is not about power, it’s about arousal. Because a fetish is about arousal, to fetishize something is to be aroused by one’s own subjective perceptions about a person or object. It’s a form of appropriation, or assigning a value to something based on one’s own feelings or beliefs about it rather than what it actually is. For example, being aroused by someone with glasses because they’re assumed to be more intelligent or by a person with blonde hair because they’re assumed to be less; certain ethnicities because they are “exotic”; or Dominant women because they are believed to exist to be a service top to men’s sexual fantasies.
Since a person’s ideas and fantasies may in no way reflect the reality of the person or object, it is said the person or object is being fetishized. While fetishizing something is normal, it can be problematic. People may not welcome someone’s fetishization of them. This is not only because it’s appropriation, but because it’s a form of objectification. Nonconsensual objectification to serve another’s erotic and sexual desires is dehumanizing. This is why I believe it is especially important for fetishists to understand their motivations and responsibly negotiate them. Without this awareness, you are treading in very touchy terrain.
An example that encapsulates the three areas of this article is a man who identifies as a “submissive” and wants a “Dominant” woman that dresses, acts, feels, and speaks in the way that he desires. In actuality, this man is fetishizing a woman who he would like to control into being what he wants her to be. So, this man who thinks he’s a “sub” is actually a Dominant fetishist. If he wants her to do things to him, such as “tease and denial”, he’s also a bottom. If he wants to do things to her, such as body worship, he’s also a top. This relates to what we call “topping from the bottom“, a misnomer that really refers to “Dominating from the submissive role”. I can tell you that as lifestyle and professional Dominant with over a decade of experience playing with a lot of men, this is a very common situation.
So, what is happening here?
Many men seem to find the idea of being controlled by a woman to be sexually arousing, but the actuality of it is not what they are really looking for. There is a disparity between their fantasy of what She is like and the reality. This fantasy is often the result of the influence of media, such as pornography, on one’s ideas and perceptions.
Let me talk a little bit more about how porn can help create this situation.
Porn is a business, and its business is to arouse. Those who create porn must think of what arouses their audience. If their audience is men, they need to understand their fantasies. Since a person’s fantasies put them at the center, they do not necessarily reflect reality, where they aren’t the sole participant but part of an equation and set of circumstances with one or more people. (This isn’t a male or erotic phenomenon, by the way, but a natural byproduct of fantasy itself.)
In a FemDom clip, for example, the idea isn’t so much about depicting a woman actually being in control, as it is about her embodying what they think their (male) audience wants her to be like. This is why it is common for Female Dominants to encounter men who expect Us to simply act out their fantasies without little to no regard about our part of the equation. (And, yes, Dominants can also be confused by the fantasy of what they believe they are supposed to be.)
The mixture of not understanding these concepts and the blurring between what is fantasy and what is reality can add to the confusion of who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. If you recognize what it means to be Dominated versus being be topped, or if what you are really feeling is a fetish, you will be able to find a more comfortable space in which to explore your kinks and further refine your experiences.
If you would like help figuring out your own kinky identity, I offer high-quality, personalized coaching.
On Friday the 16th, I was interviewed by Pat of Coalition Radio. In the interview, I discuss the SESTA bill. I touch on various related issues, but focus on what I believe are the psychosocial origins of the legislation.
You can listen here:
(This is an hour-long interview. Those who have attention issues [raises hand] may find it more palatable to listen to it in smaller chunks.)
There is a faction of men, and some women, who are very outspoken about their contempt for Dominant Women who enjoy submission. I have seen them stalk and harass such women, proclaiming, “She’s not a REAL Domme! She submits!” Aside from looking like a troll, there’s a clear lack of understanding about power exchange as it exists outside of their porn clips and fetish fantasies, as well as some possible double-standards and hidden misogyny. Let Me attempt to bring these people into the real world.
First of all, I want to say that I do not trust ANY Dominant — female, male, or otherwise — who claims to have never submitted and does not have an interest to do so. To Me, it’s a big ol’ red flag. It’s kinda like when you have a supervisor who has never done your job and has no interest in learning what you do, but they are happy to act like an authority about it and boss you around. Nobody likes these kind of people.
I believe that to be an effective and great Dominant, you need to experience submission. What does giving up power mean, how much are you willing to give, under what conditions are you able to let go, how do you feel and react when being given an order, what goes through your mind when you are pushed, and so on. This is important because having an experience as a submissive increases your empathy for submissives.
Likewise, to be a great top you need to understand what it means to bottom. If you want to use an implement on someone, you should know what it feels like to receive that implement (anatomical limitations aside). If you don’t understand the perspective of the person who is bottoming, your knowledge will be limited to what you can imagine their perspective being like. And, personally, despite My rich imagination, I can tell you that there really is no substitute for actually feeling a single tail yourself.
“But how can a woman say She’s Dominant but also be willing to submit? Dominant Women don’t submit! It’s against their nature! It invalidates Their Holy Dommliness!”
Here’s the reality: dominant men can kneel before Me, submit to My power for one, two, three or more hours, and at the conclusion of our scene, guess what? They get up off their knees and continue their lives as dominant men. Likewise, a Domme can relinquish control to another…and when She stops relinquishing that control, She’s still Dominant. People, like power, are things whose expression is multi-layered and dynamic.
One way power can be expressed is through an intrinsically “dominant” personality. You may have heard of “type A” personalities. These are dominant types. Their brain is wired in such a way that they are naturally take-charge people. They feel more comfortable in leadership roles, and being assertive and confrontational is usually easier for them.
Another way power is expressed is by making a conscious choice to express it in a given situation. If one makes a decision to take the advice of their doctor and have the surgery, this is actually an act of submission! However, agreeing to let someone else operate on you does not change your underlying personality — whether dominant, submissive, etc. — before, during, or after the procedure.
Also, like many men, women usually have requirements before they’ll agree to offer their submission. It might be only given during certain activities, definitely not during other activities, and there might even be conditions to “inspire” submission, without which they don’t feel the desire or ability to do so in the first place. Sometimes it’s a person’s sex or gender, sometimes their age or ethnicity, sometimes it’s physique or clothing, sometimes it’s money. I have heard several men tell Me that beauty inspires submission in them. Or height. Or intelligence. Or big tits. Or bitchiness. Or very high heels. Dommes who submit are pretty much guaranteed to have their own versions of these things. It’s all personal and valid.
If you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world would someone who is Dominant even feel a desire to submit in the first place? Isn’t that exactly what Dominant people don’t want to do?” I think one reason why people feel this way is because they are, probably unconsciously, associating submission with weakness, humiliation, or because it’s a sign that someone is actually unable to effectively dominate. None of these are true.
Imagine a dominant male CEO who is responsible for leading his company and the people in it every flipping day. He’s very good at this, but it’s still a lot of pressure and it can wear a person out. Most people will want to find ways to manage the stress that is generated. We all tend to do this naturally; it’s part of our inclination to homeostasis. The more “on” and “in control” a person has to be in their lives, they more they might feel a need to do the opposite to find their equilibrium. (The inverse can be true for people in positions in which they lack power.) This is not weakness. It’s a function of emotional health. So, the CEO might find his equilibrium by going sailing, gambling at a casino, or visiting a Dominatrix.
It’s the same for a Domme. She might spend all week controlling Her subs’ every move; tying them down and doing all sorts of things to them “without their consent” and on the weekend think, “All these guys seemed so at peace afterward. I want to know what it’s like to be tied down and have things done to Me ‘against My will’. I want to take a break and give someone else the power to make the decisions.” And so, like the always-in-control CEO, She decides to release some pressure by situationally submitting to another.
The thing about this that shamers don’t seem to understand or care about is: the rope that ties Her down or the thing that does whatever to Her doesn’t magically change Her desire, ability, or wiring to be Dominant anymore than the CEO who gets on his knees and licks the bottom of My shiny black boots. These are just experiences people are having. It doesn’t fundamentally change who they are. (Well, it could have an effect on one’s consciousness and self-concept which can change over time, but that’s for another article.)
People also can submit just for fun. I mean, some of you do it for that reason, right? You’re not hardcore, “lifestyle” slaves, you just want to negotiate some activities and then let your Dominant make the decisions about what they look like for a couple hours. You enjoy the mystery, the suspense, even the “game”. It’s sexy. It’s a good time. Why would that be any different for a Domme?
Lastly, if a woman is really Dominant, She’s going to do whatever the hell She wants, anyway — whether someone thinks it’s okay or not. A person’s ignorance won’t change that, and any unexamined beliefs regarding women, dominance, submission, and how they relate to that person’s fantasies about those things are theirs to own and don’t necessarily have any bearing on reality. So stop shaming Dominant Women who submit.
slave david likes pain.
Quite a lot of pain.
He has his favorite ways of receiving pain. One is his nipples.
Because of this, I bypassed all of the “entry-level” nipple clamps, teased him briefly with the butterfly clamps in My nipple cages, where I stretched his nipples skyward, and then toyed with him via a pair of DIY clamps that have a pretty tenacious bite.
I placed them on the tip of his nipple…and pulled.
He let out a blissful sigh. “It should be illegal to feel this good.”
After fucking with his nipples for a bit, I turned to his ass.
After teasing him with a variety of sensations, I selected My purpleheart paddle.
He was tied down, so there was no asscape. ;D
This paddle is not for amateurs. It requires a very deliberate application. If not, you will bleed. (Which, of course, may be your very intention.) Despite My not hitting him with a substantial amount of force, slave david’s ass oozed some droplets of blood.
He took this exceptionally well. For one, paddles aren’t his favorite. And two, he was also tied, face down, to My table, while hooded and gagged.
Would he ask for mercy as I increased the variety and intensity of My treatment to his body? Or push through and take whatever it was I wished to give him?
I’m proud to say he accepted every spank, paddle, blow, and lash…
…and afterward, sat up, smiling.
(I joked that he must be working to become a Zen Master of pain.)
So, again, slave david upheld his commitment to be My slave for our time together and completely submit to the manner of My control.
Later that evening, he wrote to Me:
“…looking at my back, I smiled to myself. I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I, and I hope we may recreate another adventure soon”
Yes, I most definitely enjoyed Myself!
Until next time!
People who are new to BDSM may feel confused about how they fit in. They don’t know if they’re a top, bottom, or both (sometimes called “versatile”). They aren’t sure if they’re a Dominant, submissive, or a “switch”. Let Me attempt to help you figure it out.
The terms “Dominant” and “submissive” (conjugated: “Dominate”/”submit”, “Dommed”/”subbed”) are about power dynamics. Let’s call it your “role” for the purposes of this article. If you are assuming control and giving direction, then you’re acting as a Dominant (not DominATE, which is a verb). If you relinquishing control and are receiving direction, then you’re acting as the submissive. To be a “switch” indicates your ability to either control or be controlled.
The terms “top” and “bottom” (conjugated: “topping”/”bottoming”, “topped”/”bottomed”) relate to the positions of “giver” and “receiver”. If you are the one providing the sensation(s) – such as being the spanker, fister, fucker, or otherwise taking the “active” position – you are assuming the role of a “top”. If you are the one receiving the sensation(s) – such as being the spankee, fistee, fucked, or otherwise taking the “passive” position – you are assuming the role of the “bottom”. Someone who is “versatile” can assume either the top or bottom position. (Some use “switch” here, too. If you can both Dom/me or sub but not both top and bottom, i.e. only one or the other, you may want to not use them interchangeably to avoid confusion.)
Which position you take is not necessarily the same thing as your role. That is, being in the “top” position does not necessarily mean you are in the Dominant role (although it is more likely). You can top and NOT be Dominant, just like you can bottom and not be submissive. A person who is in the top position but whose role is to receive direction from another is sometimes called a “submissive top” or “service top”. A person who is in the bottom position but whose role is to give direction could be called things like “Dominant bottom”, or the more pejorative “pushy bottom”.
Positions and power roles can be situational. Let’s say a man does not like to take the top position during sex and penetrate another with his cock but prefers to be the bottom and be penetrated anally (guys of any sexuality can be like this; it does not mean you’re homosexual), you could be considered an “anal bottom”. If you also did not like to take the top role with kink and do things like tie someone up or flog them, but prefer to be on the receiving end of these activities, you could call yourself a “bondage” or “rope bottom” or a “flogging bottom”. These can mix and match. One could be submissive (i.e. not liking to be in control), an anal top (i.e. liking to penetrate but not be penetrated), and a rope bottom (i.e. wanting to be tied up but not enjoying tying up others).
People’s position and role can vary depending on the characteristics of the person/people they are with. Sometimes a person’s sex, gender, age, ethnicity, body type, sexual orientation, relationship status, etc. influence the way we feel erotically. One person might feel very submissive with women and very Dominant with men. Another might feel Dominant with thin, Caucasian women and submissive with African Queens. One might be a strict Dominant top with nearly everyone except older, muscular Latino men with accents, in which case they become quivering puddles of submissive bottom-y goodness.
The possibilities are endless!
This was originally published on FetLife in 2010. I have updated it slightly.