Dominate is a Verb


Image    1. To control, govern, or rule by superior authority or power

2. To exert a supreme, guiding influence on or over

In the BDSM world, and particularly in D/s relationships, labels and shorthand are frequently used to denote who is whom and what is what.  In the daily working realities of relationships, whether in r/l or online, the dynamics are often much less strictly defined and the definitions more fluid and organic.

In days gone by, people were less concerned with living within the specific labels we have grown accustomed to today.  You might say their barcodes were more blurry and tricky to read.  I believe that hasn’t really changed, it’s simply that the sheer numbers of people involved make it easier to start with a pre-conceived ideal and see where, when, and how that ideal shifts and alters in situations and circumstances.

To those who do not think too deeply about the standardized labels, the general understanding is that domination is based on and means “power” – it may mean physical power or emotional/psychological power, but it doesn’t always also mean “superior authority” as per the definition above.  Nor does it always necessarily include a “guiding influence”. 

The dynamics of dominance are also often mis-construed as being rooted in patriarchal and even misogynistic behavior. It hardly appears as effective dominance, for example, for a lazy man to “order” his sub/partner to “get me a beer” just because they are too lazy to get up and get it themselves or to beat their submissive if they are not “quick enough about it.” 

So what, in reality, does “superior authority” mean in terms of dominance?  It can mean applied knowledge and experience.  It can mean specific or general expertise and skill.  It can mean better analysis and management in decision making.  It can mean a wider philosophic world view and sophistication.  When, however, the authority is based on false premises or outright lies, it undermines itself.

Most people inherently question authority, yes, even those who are generally submissive.  We wonder what the presumed authority is based on.  Is it based in fear or manipulation?  Is it based on the sometimes false presumption that “older is better/wiser”?  Is it based in bullying behavior?  Conversely, is it based on confidence through experience?  Is it based on rational and mature thought and action/reaction? 

Each and every relationship, like the people involved, will have a continually changing dynamic.  Without that dynamic in play, the rituals, protocols, daily behavior, and every other element will stagnate.  The rituals become performed by rote without the underlying emotional response which prompted them in the first place.  The protocols become stale and even boring when robbed of their original meaning and intent.  Sometimes they even become parodied or cynical as when the jaded submissive mutters “Yes, Sir,” while thinking/feeling an added “asshole.”

Dominate is a verb and as such it only has meaning when the action is, well, active and full of intent and energy.  When the energy is fueled by passion and the intent is desire, domination (as well as submission) is fulfilling and satisfying. 

We are continually seeing newcomers to D/s, of all ages, previous lifestyles, orientations, and genders, with questions: How do I ______?  Should I ________? 

Of course people explore domination for a variety of reasons, from simple curiosity to natural impulses, and there are numerous, simple and complex, resources available to research and discover.  Unfortunately, many also seek just “a quick fix”, a manual or handbook of D/s tips, techniques, and notes, a How-To book, like “Domination for Dummies”.  Here’s a tip: There is no quick fix.

Domination is not available at the drive-through window nor will it, like pizza, be delivered within a half-hour or it’s free.  It requires, in most cases, a lifetime of continuing experiences, failures and successes, commitment, study and applied knowledge, as well as learned skill sets and dep thinking/feeling.  It requires practice, like any skill or Art, to become confident in and at ease with so that it becomes as natural as breathing.

Yes, of course, you can play with the surface trappings of dominance, and all the accessories, from crops to harnesses, from kneeling postures for submissives to collars and leashes.  But to understand its deeper meanings, to “be” dominant, you need much, much more.  And remembering that dominate is a verb.

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