What Is Dominance, Anyway?

So, I’ve talked before about the gap between expectations for dominants versus the reality of making this work for your personality. We have all done to death theorizing why femdoms appear to be in short supply, what I haven’t talked about as much is trying to describe what it is.

Dominance is a tricky beast to pin down, probably because more than anything else, it’s a feeling. It’s a simultaneous sensation of connection and detachment, usually between two people but one that blossoms under individual specific circumstances. And, unfortunately, it’s not just someone doing what you say; I don’t get a dominant thrill from each and every time I experience someone’s unsolicited compliance or even when someone in my wider life takes my food order or something.

It’s different for many people too: some people like the service aspect, where the person does things for them to make their life more fun. Some people like the obedience aspect- it’s not so much knowing that someone is out to give to you, as knowing they will do what you want, whether it is painting a fence or doing jumping jacks. Some folks like the control aspect, of which I am most into- I like the power trip and making people react. That’s what feeds it for me, regardless of how I do it.

I’m also a sadist, which is commonly paired with dominance, but doesn’t have to be. I like men in distress. I like the whimpering, the big eyes, the cowering and the vulnerability. Other people, for example service oriented doms who just want to be pampered, might find a hurt sub upsetting. And it’s a buffet, not a radio button system, so keep in mind any of my examples might apply in any way and and any level of intensity.

On the other hand, applying theory to real life practice adds an extra level of complexity.

Recently, one of my cynical, funny, smart and pretty friends who usually lives on team sub tried switching with her boyfriend. Now part of this is motivated by his desire to get all aspects of his sexuality paid attention to, but the funny thing about that woman is that she’s got a sharp, sarcastic and mean sense of humour that means that it’s not necessarily a bad fit for her- this person likes the reactions in others from playful bullying.

Now their first experiment ended a month of orgasm denial and teasing her bloke got one of those male post orgasm headaches that made them think he had a stroke and end in hospitals- but that’s modern love, no?

But, this lady is having a devil of a time with the whole femdom thing because she’s having trouble making it work for her desires. Normally, I’d be quick to encourage her to just do what works for her and forget if it it’s being irksome, but she genuinely wants to dominate, so I’m not going to question her judgement in this matter. However, at the heart of her problem is that she doesn’t want to be stern or mean as much as she wants to be nurturing and that, in her mind, is a failure in her expression of dominance.

There’s a lot of pressure, particularly on femdoms, to prove your dominance. I already mentioned that unsolicited gudgeons and addlepates were happy to tell me that even developing a liking for someone was trading in my D-card, or dealing with folk who are convinced the only thing standing in the way of my submission is several centuries of social progress barring them from carrying me off, as if rape was universally submission. But perhaps because of the pressure from these people to prove it, I think I categorically need to come out and say that my dominance is not, by a long shot, gold star or ‘pure’. I am not here to impress people with how much of an uber dom I am.

 (If you want writing from people who are not porn stereotypes, but who are not quite as complicated as me, people like FernsDee or Stabbity are a good place to start)

What do I mean? In common use, “Gold Star” is the semi facetious designation for a gay or lesbian person who has never had sexual contact with the opposite sex. In BDSM, it gets a smidgen more complicated, because even allowing for the people who are into the idea of being True Doms from the moment they bit the midwife, people also romanticize the journey from sub to dom out of some sort of apprenticeship fantasy. At least one portion of why people created and participated in a BDSM scene is that some of the people in it are trying to live out kink hierarchy fantasies where real life doesn’t actually give them power- which means even participating in a community means there will be encouragement to Prove Your Dominance.

The men generally get hung up in skill based fuckery, rope being the most popular, as well as fancy ways to flog or flamboyant stuff like electric play or fire cupping. With femdoms, there’s the extra work of looking the part- not a utilikilt but the expensive and restrictive fetish look, the usual female ranking by how conventionally attractive you are, and fetish behaviour of the kind that graces porn and kinky sex farce punchlines.

But, as a female  dominant, I personally can’t just top people like something out of a porn script because that sucks- not only does it grate on one like sand under a contact lens, but chances are it’ll get you nowhere fast, except among people prepared to wank to anything. and, for my  friend, the ‘rub my boots with your precum, wormboy!’ shtick never worked for her because it’s absurdly nasty. It’s not even just the wanton cruelty, which can be fun, it’s the shotgun approach that makes it as intimate as the kind of vanilla porn where he mindlessly yells “you like that!?” over and over again.

But, back to my friend. There’s certainly sadism in her- I’ll watch her get a little jolt from jamming someone’s buttons hard with a jibe (or enjoying watching someone else do so), but the jump to bringing that into the bedroom doesn’t quite work for her thus far. She says that she gets too performance focused and gets no nice head space- It turns into service topping and she spends her time worrying if she doing it right and trying to figure out if she pushed too hard. Can/does she dom?

The answer is yes, provided she finds a way the head space works for her, which may mean not so much thinking of ways to be a better dom according to the stereotype, as ways that bring her what she wants.

Often it’s a matter of packaging a concept in a way that makes it attractive.

For example, my Gentleman Nemesis (a switch) was explaining to me how he doesn’t get anything from remote applications of power like controlling an absent person’s orgasms. he identifies as being bedroom only, but on the other hand, the next day, he explicitly comes out and casually announces he wants to order me to a salon to be properly pampered.

Our dynamic is somewhat complicated, as I may have mentioned. Now Wildcard’s particulars is that he’s very good at what I’d describe as running emotional interference- he wants to control *feelings*. He’s a button pusher, rather like I am (at times all this feels like making love to a mirror). In the instance of the salon anecdote I had just finished explaining that I didn’t really do the self-care-for-the-sake-of-self-care thing- I like looking good, but I don’t really have much patience for what I perceive as frivolities for me. Only to find myself confronted by a very intense insistence that he was going to make me go. Why hello, dominant [Wildcard]! Pleased you could join us- someone was just telling me how you only lived in the bedroom.

On the flip side, one of the best moments of dominance with him was after I had just given him a mild but vigorous spanking. He was still lying over my lap, sans trousers, and I was watching his leg slowly uncurl from his reaction to the slaps, and then he just sort of relaxed and seemed to want to stay there. There’s certainly been other great moments, but that one was just perfect because of what it meant, a minute in time at once inherently pleasant and loaded down with all sorts of symbolism relevant to us- I had, in my perception, reached him in a way that was deeply relevant.

And that, for me, is a core part of my dominance, to have reached someone in a way that matters, that I am in complete control of.

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