Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Paradox of Domination and Submission Resolved: Power Exchange and Spheres

The dom may also
sadistically "mistreat"
the sub. And yet
the masochistic sub
consents and "likes" it.
Our kink is riddled with paradoxes!

Doms aren't evil. Subs aren't losers. And yet out erotic focus is on the experience of victimising and victimisation, exploiting and exploitation.

Doms often want to make their subs happy (e.g. because relationship). Subs stick around because they are happy. And yet the tone of our kink is often coercive and extends into the callous.

Doms aren't all powerful. Subs have rights and stand up for them. And yet the dynamics we crave  revolve around an empowered dom and a disempowered sub.

The dom may also sadistically "mistreat" the sub. And yet the masochistic sub consents and "likes" it.

We're left with the conundrum:

How can any of this be real? 
And if it is real, how can it be OK?

This is so confusing to the tidy mind that it generates trite non-useful statements like "the sub has all the power" and simulationist approaches that blunt the underlying dark urges.

The confusion around motivations dissolves when we consider that there's no authentic "I".
people on a roller-coaster scream
in genuine fear... then buy
another ticket.

Rather - as modern science tells us - we are a mess of subsystems working in parallel. That's why people on a roller-coaster scream in genuine fear... then buy another ticket.

The confusion around ethics and authenticity similarly dissolves when we compare our activities to sporting ones. For example, two boxers consent to be in the ring, are governed by rules, and yet authentically fight.

These apparent paradoxes are actually built by comparing things from different spheres!

Fearing and enjoying can coexist as brain chemicals without contradiction. Rules constrain freedom of action but do not prevent it.

Thus, as soon as you are strict about what applies to which sphere - my catchall for headspace, framework, and system - BDSM relationships start making sense.

The outer framework spheres are what give people permission to indulge in D/s:

  • Consent Sphere: Both parties consent to a scope, otherwise the relationship would not be possible.
  • Moral Sphere: BDSM is OK because (if!) both parties consent within sensible limits. The dom is therefore not evil. Nor is the sub a victim.
  • Relationship Sphere: The dom understands that the sub craves BDSM and is therefore making them happy on some existential level. The sub wants to be there, despite the considerable bravery sometimes required, and is therefore not an exploited loser.
The inner experience spheres are what satisfy our orientation and they are dark places.
  • Physical Sphere: The physical activities and sensations are real. Therefore any sadism, victimisation, and exploitation is experienced as physically real, as is any coercion.
  • Power Sphere: The dom commands and the sub obeys (within the scope covered by the consent). It follows that the power exchange is at least as real and authentic as the action in a boxing match.

D/s couples actually experiencing D/s
quickly forget that it's not real. 
Just as boxers lose track of the framework beyond the ring and forget that it's "just a game", D/s couples actually experiencing D/s quickly forget that it's not real.

We become accustomed to the power dynamic to the extent that disobedience starts to become unthinkable, even though the dynamic only exists because of the consensual, moral and relationship framework.

This is no different from the way that people in conventional marriages forget that they don't have to be faithful or work together.

Therefore D/s relationships are at least as functionally real as traditional marriages.

Conversely, I think people in a room considering BDSM shy from the darkness and treat the framework as an end in itself, rather than as a means to support the experience of domination and submission.

Perhaps this explains both "do me" subs who spend more time on the internet than on their knees, and also what I think of as "consent and aftercare fetishists" who seem to take two important concepts too far and put them in centre stage.

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  1. Boxing rules is a good analogy. It’s a good start for an understanding.
    Box rules are written by third party and relatively stable.
    D/s spheres, all spheres, are changing all the time. That makes it hard on all participants.
    There is also no referee, so there is drift.

    1. I think it settles. There is a momentum toward an equilibrium.


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