Now here’s a doozy (now there’s a word I never used before!) of a question that was submitted to me. I guess this must be a common concern as even I have pondered this dilemma. So without further adiex – or something like that – here is the question:
Reader: I’m a Dom and I love giving head, but I don’t want to come across as submissive… it’s such a submissive thing to have someone’s cock or pussy in your mouth… how can you do this in a Domly fashion? Is it even possible? How can “servicing” your submissive be Domly?
I have always maintained that D/s is a system wherein the objective is for both parties to get what they want. What distinguishes it from a vanilla union (where, similarly, both people strive to get what they both want) is that in a D/s relationship there is a definitive, negotiated power exchange. But, what constitutes a dominant or a submissive act is determined solely within the universe of the D/s couple.
And herein lies the key. I do not think any act, sexual or otherwise, is inherently dominant or submissive. For example, it might appear that boot licking is an intrinsically submissive act. On the surface, it does lend itself conveniently to a show of submission. But, what if a Dominant actually loved licking boots? Must this Dominant forever be sentenced to being unfulfilled in this need? Is this pleasure off limits to him? Does it make him/her less of a Dom/me because he loves to lick boots? I don’t think so. I can easily write a scenario that turns boot licking into an act of dominance. Here, the Dom/me orders his/her submissive to “present boots for licking.” Would not this twist in verbiage change the implication of the act? Remember, much of dominance and submission lies in its mental aspects. If an act has a submissive edge to it, and is presented as such, it becomes an act of submission – regardless of how it appears on the surface. Thus, if the Dom/me says, “Worship my boots,” the act is clearly one of submission. Should the Dom/me order, “Present boots for licking, slave,” the act is now one of dominance. Same act, different D/s hierarchy.
Similarly, the act of oral sex is not, per se, submissive. Many people assume it is, mainly because it lends itself to a “service me” mindset. But, it is much like boot licking in the example above. If you are not comfortable switching and want to preserve a set D/s dynamic at all times, then you simply have to change the setup of the act. “Present pussy for Master,” would be an order that would immediately change the power dynamics into one of dominance. This would be one elegant solution. After all, it would be silly to expect any Master to give up something he loves simply because many people stereotype it as submission. In fact, you might say giving in to a stereotype and thus sacrificing pleasure is the ultimate act of submission. A Dom/me who gives in to outside judgments of what he should and should not do is no Dom/me at all.
The way I see it, it is the setup of your relationship and the protocols within it that determine the overall power exchange dynamics – not one or two individual acts. Besides, there are always times when a submissive will say things like, “harder” or “slow down;” that doesn’t turn the Master into a slave. These are preferences stated in the throws of passion; I doubt if any Dom/me would get bent out of shape or feel threatened by them. If the overall power dynamic of your relationship is sound, no big deal.
Any given sexual act is but a small spoke in a much bigger D/s wheel. In my personal experience, there is no such thing as absolute dominance. One should not be rating every little act within your relationship as being “Domly” or “Undomly.” Soon you will have to hire judges rating you from 1 –10 like in the Olympics. Rather than go this way, I suggest you do what you enjoy and try to work everything out within your D/s protocols.
In other words, if you like it, do it. You are, after all, the Dom/me!
About the Author
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.
I think we’re just debating the difference between a session – or game of BDSM, where each partner has a role and plays that role — and a lifestyle-based D/s dynamic, in which one partner commits themselves in service to the other as their submissive. The latter is less about the roles that are played and more about the commitment that’s made.
It is somewhat analogous (thought not meant to be identical) to the difference between dating and marriage. The activities in which you engage may be the same, and sure, you might move from dating to being married – but there’s not usually something called “Casual Marriage”! The difference is the commitment that is made.
Similarly, there is a commitment and communicated intent in a D/s dynamic, that is different than, “Tie me up and whip me for the next 2 hours”. And it’s not so much the time frame as it is the intent-based commitment to serve and dedication to the dominant.
@Baadmaster i think how much of a problem Topping from the bottom is, depends on how serious a Top is about being a Top, and a bottom is about being a bottom. If the Top and bottom are just playing at T/b, then Topping from the bottom may be of little or no concern to them.
But then the question i would ask is, are they serious about having a T/b experience, or are they just messing around? i have nothing against messing around, but i wouldn’t take it seriously as T/b, if it resulted in blurring the distinction between Top and bottom.
@Ms_Rika i don’t see ” a huge difference” between D/s and T/b (Topping/bottoming). In fact, i see T/b as involving D/s in the sense that i see D/s as controlling/being controlled, and T/b as also involving controlling/being controlled. To see this, consider what “Topping from the bottom means. Doesn’t this expression imply that T/b involves controlling/being controlled? My understanding is that Topping from the bottom refers to the bottom improperly controlling the T/b interaction. If this is so, then T/b involves control, and, moreover, the Top is normally in control of the bottom, and the bottom is normally under control of the Top. Then equating controlling/being controlled with D/s, one can conclude that, in a T/b interaction, the Top is Dominant, and the bottom is submissive.
Thus, when a sub service Tops a Dom/me, the Dom/me and sub switch roles. Since the sub is now in control, the sub is now the Dom/me in the T/b interaction, and since the Dom/me is now under control, the Dom/me is now the sub in the interaction.
I recently hosted a panel discussion at DomCon LA on “The Future of BDSM.” Many – both panelists and audience – talked about the projected emergence of play relationships rather than full blown D/s relationships. I think we have to separate those two types of interactions. After all, when you are just playing, “topping from the bottom” is no big deal. It might be in a D/s relationship. Your thoughts?
@Baadmaster Thanks for the compliment. i especially appreciate it, coming from someone of Your knowledge and experience. i’ll try to answer without getting burned.
Regarding Your hypothetical question, i see the Dom/me ordering the sub to torture the Dom/me as an act of Domination of the sub by the Dom/me.
However, as to the act the Dom/me is ordering the sub to perform, i see this act as a S/m interaction in which the sub then assumes the role of Sadist, and the Dom/me the role of masochist. i would regard this as switching because i would consider Sadist as equivalent to Dom/me, and masochist as equivalent to sub.
My reason for this is that i think torture can be seen as an act of Domination in view of the social meaning of the word. In this connection, Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, defines torture as “2: the infliction of intense pain…to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure”. i’m seeing a connection of torture with domination here in that the purpose of punishment or coercion is control, and i equate control with domination.
Assuming the role of sadist is the key phrase. That’s the differentiator. They aren’t the dominant, they are assuming the role of Top. This is a huge difference – highlighting the contrast between topping/bottoming and dominance/submission.
@Ms_Rika You state, [regardng Your submissive Husband], “He may be the dominant at the time, but neither of us forget that I am THE dominant at all times.” i don’t see how this can be. How can Your husband be “the dominant at the time”, yet you’re “THE dominant at all thimes.”?
Moreover, aren’t being dominant at all times and switching mutually exclusive? If You switch occasionally, that means to me You occasionally assume a submissive role in a D/s interaction.
Because acting dominant and being someone’s dominant are two different things. Anyone can act dominant and commit “dominant acts” – but only their intent – and the interpretation and commitment of the submissive, can determine if they are actually the dominant for that submissive. Just different things.
Great debate. To add fuel to the fire, what if a Dom/me says “I order you to torture me (with a safe word, of course).” Is this Dominance or submission or Dommission (new word for this!) Opinion please.
There are plenty of examples of this…in fact, the term “Service-Top” is exactly this…a submissive person topping a dominant for the dominant’s pleasure. Since the intent of the submissive is to do what the dominant wishes, for the pleasure of the dominant, and by the will of the dominant – the act is submissive even though the actual activities fall into the traditional BDSM Topping genre.
i think the issue here is not whether or not Dom/mes shoulld perform acts of submission, or whether or not a Dom/me is less “Domly” for doing so, but that Dom/mes are reluctant to admit that They occasionally like to switch. Then, in order to avoid admitting to switching, Dom/mes will rely on the notion that acts aren’t “inherently dominant or submissive”, as You say, and claim only the intent of the Dom/me matters, as You claim.
i have a problem with this because it amounts to a denial of the existence of objective reality. In our world of human experience, are there not two realities: subjective reality and objective reality? Do we not live in a subjective world of thoughts and feelings, of introspection, and, at the same time, an objective world of our observations?
I this is true, then by saying, “And herein lies the key, I do not think any act, sexual or otherwise, is inherently dominant or submissive,” aren’t You ignoring objective reality?
As to objective reality, i have noted that the objective meaning of a kink is often the social meaning of the act it mimics. Specifically, as to Your example of bootlicking, the word has a dictionary definition: “bootlick:…to try to gain favor with through a servile or obsequious manner…” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition). Thus, bootlicking has an objective social meaning of submission, regardless of anyone’s subjective thoughts or intentions about bootlicking.
Do You really think a Dom/me can turn the submissive act of bootlicking into a Dominant act just by saying , “Present your boots for licking, slave”? To me, this is just a ruse of self-deception. It’s a means by which Dom/mes can avoid admitting that They occasionally like to switch.
If this is so, then why aren’t Dom/nes willing to admit They switch? i can see two reasons:
1. If the Dom/me is indeed switching roles with the sub, the Dom/me should then get the consent of the sub to switch. And lack of consent would prevent the Dom/me from doing what the Dom/me wanted to do, unless the Dom/me found another partner who consented to switch.
2. “Domly Dom/mes” may be reluctant to admit They switch because switching makes Them feel less Dominant in Their own eyes and in the eyes of others.
@stubsub: For many folks who switch, it’s scenario-based. “This weekend is your turn to be dominant…next weekend, it’s my turn” – and the power exchange lasts for the specified time-period of the scenario. The intent of submission is time-boxed – and is not likely to be (although it could be) much deeper than the activities of the scenario.
By my definitions, (of which I know you are very aware) submission isn’t about what you do, it’s about why you do it. In my relationships, I am the dominant at all times. So if I wanted to “switch” roles, I would decide that we are going to do so and do it – it’s my decision, my time frame – because I’m the dominant. And the “switch” would end when I decided it should end…because again, the intent in being topped is that it fulfills my needs at the time…and it is my submissive’s intent to serve me by topping me. The roles that we assume in play don’t change the nature of the commitment that creates our power dynamic. In fact, for most people who switch, if there is an actual power exchange beyond the one that occurs during the time of the scenario, the actual submission isn’t likely to switch, it’s most often the activity (the topping and bottoming) that switches.
So I’m not sure I agree with your supposition. I’m not concerned about switching top/bottom. If that’s what I want, I have that – within our power dynamic. I don’t need to pretend I don’t have a bottom-oriented desires. If I want my husband to grab me by the hair and take me from behind, he does it…and no matter how “dominant” he appears – or even feels – doing it, we both understand that his intent (and mine) is to serve MY needs at the time. He may be dominant at the time, but neither of us forget that I am THE dominant at all times.
I’ve often said (and written) that submission is not what you do, it’s why you do it. There are no submissive acts…only submissive intent!
good way to address this