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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Why Commander/Champion isn't a simple predictor of Dominant/Submissive BDSM Roles

...the knotty business of gender roles.
I'm proud of my Commander/Champion insight - please go and read the original post if you haven't, or else none of this will make sense! I also think it's useful. I don't, however, offer it as the BDSM version of gaydar. Here's why.

First, like Gay/Straight, Commander/Champion is a spectrum. People may wander around it almost randomly, and particular relationships may trigger or re-enforce particular positions. (Though I suspect life tends to nudge people one direction or the other.) When I use the terms, I mean people who are clearly at one or other end of the CC spectrum.

As important, it's easy to misidentify Commanders and Champions in the wild. 

CC preference is about where you get your certainty from, and doesn't guarantee particular skills or attributes. You can be an introverted, inarticulate Commander, or an extroverted charismatic Champion. It follows that roles and status don't map to CC.

Not all Commanders are any good at being in charge in the real world - we all know bossy, angry people in low status jobs and stormy relationships. Not all Champions are nurturing, or even like people in general!

The attributes of each are applicable in a variety of professional roles. You'll find some Commanders in subordinate or supporting  positions, and some Commanders in leadership roles. Consider, for example, the sales assistant who knows just what jacket will suit you, and the manager who fiercely buys into corporate identity, or who is all about consensus building.

People also learn to perform their opposite style. For example, to reach their goals, a Champion may need to step up and be a decisive leader, and a Commander may need to adopt persuasive techniques. Or the Champion may see that the best way to help is to be commanding, and the Commander may decide that somebody needs championing...

There's also the knotty business of gender roles. Our culture demands that men be Commanders and women, Champions. This nudges people into styles that don't naturally suit them, with resulting blowback - e.g. the unfortunate stereotypes of the loudly alpha bank manager who is a wimp at home, and his super feminine wife who controls his life.

Then we come to the problem that BDSM is about play as well as dynamic.

One the one hand, a Commander may enjoy the experience of "bottoming", say being tied up and edged or whipped. On the other, a Champion may really get off on giving pleasure through "service topping".

Thanks to identity politics leaking into BDSM, and the related erosion of the terms top and bottom, they may loudly identify as respectively Submissive and Dominant, even though the Commander has no interest in more general submission and the Champion only ever dominates for effect.

Just to confuse things, people develop strong fetishes through repeated masturbation and actual experience. So it's quite possible for a Commander who enjoys bottoming, to become so fixated on the experience that that's their main and preferred source of sexual pleasure. Their head may also be full of complex submissive fantasies, precisely tweaked to generate the precise physical scenarios they like.

So though the Commander/Champion distinction might be helpful, it's no kinkdar.

If you meet a woman you experience as "domineering", she may actually be a Champion: championing somebody or somebody that's not you; or gritting her teeth and performing Commander in order to "lean in"; or she may just have good reason to be angry (because patriarchy generates a lot of bad experiences for women). God help me, if your dating and she's old school, she may even be actually goading you in order to see if you "man up" and act dominant.

Conversely, a woman who seems insecure and lacks confidence may be Commander who, lacking role models or just the right kind of personality, has experienced some nasty knocks whenever she acts naturally. Even nowadays, girls are told not to be bossy, and are raised to be nice. End result there are a lots of female Commanders who second guess themselves and self sabotage and never reach their full potential at work or in bed.

Even so... Commanders and Champions have a different feel. Each seems a little brittle when they perform the opposite style. Each makes different private choices whenever they don't feel judged. And, if you look closely and take them in the round, you'll find they do have different sources of certainty.

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2 comments:

  1. Very good.

    I'll probably lose my kink card for that but I feel that quite a few of self identified fem subs are actually what you'd classify as Commanders, and what I would simply call dominant bottoms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!

      I'd also say that many high profile prodommes who enjoy their work are 90% Champion.

      Delete

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