I’ve always been into Primal play: The kind of play where no power exchange dynamic is certain, everything is a battle, the struggle is rough and dirty and sometimes people do actually get hurt. Maybe it’s because I get to be both a sadist and a masochist that I love fighting oh so very much.
Wrestling, grappling, submissions, punching, kicking, slapping, grabbing, pulling, head locks, leg locks, arm bars, pins, choke outs, pressure points, scissors, lift and carries… Oh my!
The process of the battle is just so intoxicating; The rush of anxiety at the beginning, the stress of the battle itself, the glory of winning, the embarrassment of losing and the afterglow courtesy of the endorphins racing through my body as a result of intense physical activity. Nothing else quite captures me the same way as a physical power struggle does because nothing else seems to outline both roles so boldly while at the same time leaving them both up for grabs. The dominant party is only the dominant when they are winning or have won and the next second could be completely different; Dominance must be won or earned. Which quite honestly, is a concept I think more people involved in D/s and power exchange should consider or even be aware of.
In many ways I find traditional power exchange (I am the dominant because we’ve decided this) to be corny and unrealistic. In many situations it isn’t an accurate representation of that person, their skills or even the role they identify with. Sometimes the person in the dominant role is just taking direction from the other person because they didn’t really want to be in the dominant role or maybe the submissive party has refused to give up control unless it’s under this one specific condition.
To give a real world example of a situation where dominance was not correctly placed:
Recently I read a post a man had written about the issues he faced when trying to cut his bottom down from an inverted suspension. It was my understanding that he had three up lines: A gravity boot on each foot and a chest harness. Upon changing the positioning of the gravity boots (from the ends of a spreader bar to the center) a knot had slipped and had tightened down the gravity boot causing the bottom’s foot to be pinched uncomfortably. Understandably, the bottom panicked and asked to be let down. Well, no. She commanded her top to cut her down which is exactly what he attempted to do and exactly what he should not have done.
Why should he have not tried to cut her down? First of all it meant he had to leave his bottom, presumably with one of the up lines not secured. Second, literally cutting someone down from an inversion is effectively dropping them on their head although at that point several people had rushed over to help. Thirdly in the time it took him to cut her down he could have had her safely on the ground and resting if he had just untied her. Especially since he had people there to help who could have taken the weight off her foot, held the up lines, ect.
I am in no way trying to advocate for ignoring your bottom; If something is wrong, you need to address it. However, as the dominant person in the scene it is your responsibility to make the best decisions for your bottom and to have the knowledge and know how to prevent emergency situations from occurring and to also have the knowledge and skill to correctly respond to emergency situations. I don’t believe that this person had the necessary skills needed to respond safely in this situation; Namely, he lacked the confidence and experience that he needed to correctly assess and respond to this situation.
So what should he have done?
Initially, he should attempted to calm his bottom down to avoid the chaos of a heap of people rushing over and trying to help in a panicked manner. Then he should have just called someone over to help support her and take the weight off the foot that was hurting (or even do that himself ) while he untied her and lowered her to the ground. At most, releasing the up lines should have taken 30 seconds or so. Where as the chaotic attempts to hack her out of the rope took several minutes and several different blades.
Over all, it seems to me that no one who responded to this situation was thinking of anything besides the distress of the bottom which can be a dangerous thing when the top’s ability to assess a situation can make the difference between a safe bottom and one with a cracked skull.
Obviously, not all incidents involving traditional power exchange are corny (sometimes they can even be hot) and not all dominants are unable to maintain control in a scene/are faking control but I have witnessed enough train wrecks in human interactions to notice a general theme; Implied or predetermined D/s or power exchange with no basis for testing and defining limits will end horribly. What exactly does that mean, you ask? Simply that in order to have power or control over a person you must earn it and you must be responsible for the control you take.
But I’m the DOMINANT! That means I make the rules and call the shots!
Sure, you’re making the decisions and that’s kind of a given but why should anyone listen to what you’re saying? What have you honestly done to earn submission from someone? Are you qualified to be in control in this situation? What if it goes horribly wrong? Have you earned your submissive’s trust? If not, why not and why are they willing to submit to you? Most importantly of all, why do you want to be in control and why do you think you deserve it?
My point of all these questions being that you need to check yourself constantly when it comes to power exchange. If the people involved in most of the train wrecks I mentioned earlier had done something to check themselves and their skills in an honest way, the issues could have been prevented.
Whether it be planning for emergencies, testing your submissive’s respect for you with protocol or having an honest chat with someone whose opinion you trust about your skills, earning the right to be dominant is an aspect so often over looked.
So next time when you go to assert your dominance or top a scene, really ask yourself this: Is my submissive’s trust in me well placed?