I hope you have been enjoying Rika’s Lair, my monthly column dedicated to thoughts and experiences regarding power dynamics in Service-Oriented D/s relationships. Look up “Ms. Rika” in the search box for links to all of my articles in KinkWeekly!
This week, I would like to address the notion of whether relationships that have power dynamics will become mainstreamed, that is, acceptable as one of the normal relationship options within our society.
This morning, I was answering a question regarding being served in public. Given the nature of my power dynamics, there isn’t a lot of stereotypical “Outward Show” in my relationships. Dominance is what a submissive does for me, not what I do to them – so their efforts generally go under the radar of an outside observer. I’m served equally well inside or outside of my home and no one needs to be the wiser. However, the fact that I feel the need to remain private about my dynamics is discomforting. It would be great to be able to have power dynamics as openly accepted as other relationship choices – and be able to “wear it out” in a more open fashion.
Now…I’m not a fan of public displays of any type…so, I’m not implying that I’m going to walk my partners on leashes and have them grovel at my feet in public spaces. But it would be nice if the reason I don’t do those things is because they’re not part of my dynamic, rather than not being acceptable to the general public. I could say “screw them” and do it anyway, and some people like to stand out and do things specifically to have people gawk at them…but I have a different set of kinks.
I’ve given some thought about other movements of sexual liberation (because that’s what it will take to make power dynamics “accepted”). It seems that a general indicator of social acceptance is present in media. Media reflects our culture, but it also greatly influences the acceptance of cultural changes by presenting imagery in a positive light. Shows, with characters that people can love and relate to, feature couples exercising liberative practices. Advertisements show acceptance – which means sponsors show acceptance. The message to those not in the movement is, “The movement is OK”. The result is that we SEE the positive imagery repeated, until it begins to feel more “commonplace”. We begin to adopt the imagery and accept it as part of our norm. The power of television, movies, and streams – exposing us to imagery as acceptable, is incredibly powerful in shaping our culture.
LGTBQ and interracial relationships have been passing through this media gauntlet for many years. Most shows, most commercials, and most movies presented in 2020, will feature completely acceptable and loveable couples who are same sex, transgender, and gender fluid. Of course, they’re not all the way there yet, but much progress continues to be made.
I’m old enough to be able to remember back, some 30 years ago, when LGTBQ relationships were just beginning to be visible in media. The gay couple had to fit a pejorative stereotype: Tragic or comedic…but importantly, they were present. When “Will and Grace” came around, people saw successful and happy gay relationships that had substance and meaning. Yes, it was comedic and the characters where neurotic – but Grace and Karen were just as bonkers – so being crazy was not a “Gay Thing”. They were human neurosis: Everyone could relate to the issues they felt. Being gay was accepted and normal – even when you’re nutso.
Interracial couples have made more recent forays into culture. If you’ll notice, mixed race ads are more the norm at this point than at any time in the past…and they’re not presented as exceptions, they’re natural states of affairs. We have new TV shows based around interracial couples. It’s reflective of portions of our culture, and it’s actively shaping the entire culture.
So, I now look at the current, 2020, state of power dynamics. In many ways, power dynamics are where LGTBQ dynamics were 20 years ago: The presence of power dynamics are being recognized. We have shows like “Billions”, “Elementary”, “Bonding”, “CSI”, “Yes, Mistress”, and “Shrimp” all showing accepted power dynamics, everyday people, and professional dominance as an acceptable business. However, they are still promoting stereotypical trope. The participants are still “weird” and are projected as either “damaged” or “comical”.
Yes, things are changing for the better, but are not there yet: Now, the power protagonist is allowed to achieve, but not without caveat. You’ll notice “protected” positives: While “Billions” allowed an openly admitted masochist to be elected to a powerful government office, his wife/mistress is clearly “giving him what he needs” as a dutiful wife and psychological ‘fixer’. She is not allowed (yet) to enjoy her role. Dominance is still not really about her – it’s about her acceptance of, and provision for, her husband’s needs. In “Bonding”, the dominant character is portrayed as dizzy and comical, and has a strange sense of “consent”. In “50 Shades”, the practice of dominance is portrayed in a negative light of childhood trauma. Dominance, in a character, is still only allowed to be satisfying an inner hurt or sadistic rage. It seems that the desire to submit will be accepted earlier than the desire to dominate.
Still, I’m greatly encouraged to see the progress. I trust the protections will be removed. I see more people allowed to have normal relationships that happen to have power dynamics. Soon, without the need to be kinky and salacious. Of course, we’ll know that we’ve reached total acceptance when the word “Kinky” stops being used to describe power dynamics. Once it’s an acceptable option, it stops being exceptional and becomes more mainstream.
I’m looking forward to the day when the power dynamics within a relationship are openly visible and readily accepted, regardless of gender. I’m empowered by the progress that’s been made and I’m boldened by the direction media is taking in reflecting and influencing these cultural changes. I do believe we’re 15-20 years from acceptance…possibly sooner. I hope to see the day!
Ms. Rika is a lifestyle dominant, educator, and author; living in the suburbs of NYC with her husband/slave. She has written several popular books on her approach to adding Dominant-Centric, Service-Oriented D/s to relationships. You can find her books (in both print and eBook formats) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/msrika), or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Books-A- Million, Kobo.com, or anywhere books are sold. Search for “Ms. Rika”. Write to me at Ms_Rika@hotmail.com
Great discussion; love the examples from popular culture!
your work is always on point