One of the first people to take a shine to TDND™ was Gillian Colbert. I’ve enjoyed our tet a tet very much, and the blog entries I’ve had the time (HOW do you people find time to do all of this?) to read have made my grey matter hard. As in erect. As in she gives great blog. Check her out.
My reason for mentioning her is that she was kind enough to “open the kimono” and share her views (dated by her own admission) on the power exchange, or lack thereof, in BDSM via her blog post “Power In Submission”. This was in reply to my post “Safety Dance”.
In “Power And Submission” Gillian cites one particular aspect of Foucault’s polyvelance:
“Foucault sees power as all-embracing: everything and everybody is a source of power. Power exists in every relation, and subservience, silence, or subjection do not signify a lack of power so much as a different manifestation of power.”
She then goes on to hypothesize that, within BDSM, there is not so much an exchange of power as much as there is a negotiation of role within the dynamic. In short, there is no true power exchange as much as there is an agreement on how each (the Dominant and the submissive) will provide each other with what they crave. In short, a transaction, akin to bartering. “I’ll let you do as you want to me . In exchange I will offer you the gift of my submission to your Will.”
One aspect of her diatribe spoke to me:
“I guess what I am trying to say is that the submissive or slave has just as much power in the relationship as the Dom or Master, their role is just different”
I would mildly disagree with this assesment. In Safety Dance I alluded to that the Submissive has ALL the power. The Dominant desires this….greatly. The power the submissive has is the safe word. One tiny word. For every vile, intense, sadistic, selfish act that the Dominant can inflect on an often physically restrained and helpless submissive, the submissive has the penultimate retort – the safe word. This word, when uttered, ends any and all BDSM play immediately. As in right now. Its over.
That’s fucking power. And the submissive has it.
Now a good Dominant will push a submissive to the edge of the crevice that is their soul. They stand there, naked, alone, twisting in the howling winds of Doubt created by the internal hurricane created by their Dominant. They trust this person implicitly, offering them the ultimate gift – their total submission. But its just that, an offer. It is presented to the Top for the taking. Its up to the Dominant to not just accept it but rip it open and play with it like a 8 year old on Christmas morning. The submissive won’t force it. The Dominant must take it. But take it too soon, or ignore it too long, and it will dissolve like dust on the wind into a safe word, from which both parties suffer. Its a dance. One Leads, one follows.
Its right there where power transfers. The Gift.
If power did not transfer, there would be no such thing as sub drop and Top drop. Yes, Tops drop. I do all the time. It fucking sucks. Its easy to see, even to someone vanilla, how a submissive could experience drop. But a Top? Another day we’ll explore this admittedly taboo subject, but back to the discussion at flogger, er, hand.
The power that is exchanged is intoxicating. Both start from the same point, if you will. The submissive, physically restrained and under the most severe and sadistic assault of their physical, mental and spiritual being, is forced to submit to their own fight or flight mechanism. The Dominant places them in a position to not just submit to the Dominant but also themselves. How’s that for a mind fuck? Its awesome from the flogger end of things! The inner protects when the outer cannot. So they retreat inside themselves. They leave their bodies and soar, limply and floating, into subspace. This space is deep inside themselves. It’s a retreat from the attack of the Dominant. And they fly…oh they fly so high inside their cage.
But it only makes sense that if the self occupies new space deep down the dark, twisted, demented staircase into the basement of their souls, that room must be made for this univited guest. This is when the power exchange transacts its back alley deal. The submissive needs space inside themselves to fly. They must jettison something to free up space.
Power. As in Trust. Or Faith. Maybe Love. Self Control. Pick one, pick them all. Throw them overboard or drown.
The Dominant, on the other hand, is a fucking vampire of emotions. They crave, no need this act of self preservation to get their fix. Its not about sex at all. Its about Trust, or Faith, maybe Love, perhaps Self Control. They need this. Want this. Will do unspeakable things to the one person they care about more than any other living soul on this planet to get them.
Its like a rubber band being stretched to its breaking point. On one hand the submissive pulls it closer, on the other the Dominant pulls it away. Both, in time, will collapse back to the same point. But there is an exchange when the band gets released in the heat of of an intense BDSM scene. One gives, one takes, but balance is maintained. Ying and Yang.
So while in general I agree with most of what the lovely Miss Gillian says, I do take issue with the assertion of power exchange vs. role fulfillment. If it was only as simple as playing a part I wouldn’t feel like shit when I fall like Lucifer back into the Hell that is reality.