May 31, 2012

Equal but Different

A current post by Pygar, A Kind Dom, asks, “Who is in control?”, I responded:
"Ultimately, they each have the power to end the exchange, but it is a power exchange. She exchanges her power for his control and having done so, as long as the relationship/exchange continues, the Dom is in control.
If the sub withdraws, there no longer is a "who?"."

Two related topics, again by Pygar and his correspondents, “submission and feminism” and “submission, feminism and equality” also talk about who is in control but goes on to discuss the question of the value of the submissive in the power exchange relationship. The construct for women that is called feminism is about a quest for equality, and the full and complete right to choose from all the available options. There is nothing about feminism that equates to dominance just as there is nothing in it that is tied to submission.

Aisha also spoke on this topic in response to the Newsweek article about 50 Shades of Grey that suggests that the submission portrayed in that story is anti-feminist. She says:

". . . they’re trying to figure out the connection between women being equal and being submissive at the same time without understanding BDSM at all."'


"But i think it increases the split, creates a greater dichotomy, between feminism and submission, when in fact, it is not even a split. Not a dichotomy at all."

I think it is interesting that she titles her post, BDSM Lite because it reflects the common misconceptions. Until you have the real, personal, and visceral experience of Dominance/submission as Aisha says, you are almost sure to see the two positions in a hierarchical view where one is above the other, not a linear view, where they are truly side by side, equal but different.

Feminism is about having equal rights; what is done with those rights and that choice, it seems to me, is up to the individual. Some women may choose to take on a strong business challenge or be a dominant leader in her career, or to grab the reins of her relationship and lead her husband/man in the course of their connection and activities. Or, exercise that same free will and equal opportunity to choose letting go of her power in the context of a power exchange relationship where she knowingly relinquishes control and ceeds it over to her partner. Of course, she knows she can always take that power/control back, effectively ending the power exchange dynamic and perhaps consequently the relationship, or at least the currrent formulation of the relationship.

But there is no hierarchy like:




where if one is a feminist there is a better/higher position called Dominant and/or a lower/lesser one called Submissive. The feminist is a feminist, whether she chooses to be dominant or submissive or neither. Perhaps it is more like this:

Dominant - Feminist - Submissive

where she can choose either on a linear scale with no hierarchy involved at all. One is no better than the other, except as it relates to her personal feelings, perspective and desires.

There seems to be a popular sense, a misconception, that Dominant is superior to Submissive, higher, better? Admittedly in the context of a power exchange there may be that appearance. A feeling that the Top is above the bottom, qualitatively, not just physically, but I have always seen the dynamic as, again, "equal but different." I am not a better person because I am a Dominant nor do I see a/my submissive as a lesser person, nor would she view herself in that way. That “who is in control” discussion poses the exact question, who is in charge, who has control, who has the ultimate power. I would suggest that both parties have the power and control because without them being in the relationship 100% each, equally giving themselves to each other, there is not power exchange, no dynamic, and really no relationship.


  1. Excellent explanation of a topic that is often misinterpreted and misunderstood.

  2. Spot on David, on many levels. Equal but different is right. Aisha is correct too. Until you've been either the Dom or the sub, you do not understand that interplay. I know I didn't. When Wolf and I finally did play with that dynamic, oh wow. I understood things so clearly. I may be dominant in the boardroom, but I'm a sub when I need that kind of release. I willingly give it and Wolf accepts it. And yes, I've been commenting on the discussion on the other blog too.

    Feminism... That is a sticky trap, and there are days we all get stuck to the paper. While some of the issues it covers are good, there are still so many cultural pitfalls. Equating it with BDSM and the like... sorry. That's like comparing eggs and bricks.