Dominance and submission is a subset of BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance/ submission and sadomasochism), an increasingly popular subculture due to mainstream kinky erotica such as 50 Shades of Grey.
What is dominance and submission (D/s)?
People whom practice D/s may incorporate power play into their everyday life and/or sex. Power play is flexible and can be moulded to suit sexual preference, ranging from relatively vanilla to hardcore and doesn’t even have to be sexual. But generally an individual in a couple takes on the role of the dominant or submissive partner, the other the complementary.
The majority of people have a preference between being sub or dom, but others like to experiment between the two (switch).
BDSM is still surrounded by stigma however there is now a community of practitioners with this similar interest, facilitated by the internet.
50 Shades of Grey…
“The trouble with trying to introduce or integrate the world of BDSM with the mainstream, like 50 shades tried to do so badly, is the danger that people who do not really understand their own sexuality and limits may be emotionally or physically hurt when they see the single faceted naive story in the book, or more likely on film, and then desire a similar fairy tale experience. BDSM is about fun and satisfaction, control and surrender, respect and reverence… Not that it is OK for a rich man to abuse a simple young woman for his own satisfaction… And that “love” can cure you vanilla.” Shardfang
Personality and the role
Comparing the personalities of a large number of people quantitatively is nearly impossible. To make this easier researchers have simplified all personality traits into 5 main categories: extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
Finding this global list of 5 traits has taken centuries starting with Hippocrates in the century 400 Bcc. But in recent history Gordon Allport was the founder, listing all the adjectives in the dictionary that could be used to describe an individuals personality. Followed by Raymond Cattell whom grouped them into 16 main categories – first excluding any synonyms – finally narrowing them down to just 5. These traits are thought to be universal and be present in all cultures.
Including in the bdsm community, where the big five personality traits have been found to be correlated to the role someone prefers. In one study dominants were described as empathetic and nurturing, desiring, able to take control, and attentive and responsible, while submissives were characterised as willing to give up control and having a desire to please.
Furthermore people in general who partake in BDSM been found to have a lower than average rejection sensitivity and are more confident in their relationships. In addition male practitioners have been found to have higher well-being than the general population, suggesting that the BDSM community may be more stable than society in general.
Evolutionarily biology model
Evolutionarily speaking dominance is an attractive trait to prospective female partners, a visible sign of good genes. So men who exhibit this trait will copulate more and spread there genes. And the less attractive females in a group can raise their appeal to the high value males by being submissive. Darwinism suggests this as a theory for the development of BDSM, where these characteristics are just exaggerated.
Dominatrixes as Therapists
“…Because shes therapeutic”
This seems to be a ridiculous excuse of a philandering husband, of course they are just going for sex. But a study has now shown that Men who pay to go and see a dominatrix commonly site the therapeutic benefits of the sessions as one of their main motivations. These properties could be split into 3 distinct groups
- helpful alternatives to sexual repression
- for gaining control over prior trauma,
- as processes through which clients experience psychological revitalisation through shame.
For individuals who were abused as a child having the power to claim their abuse and relive it in a controlled environment, can be very therapeutic and better than any traditional therapy.
What causes BDSM?
There are four main theories.
- Learned behaviour
- Transgressive and trans-formative.
This suggests that BDSM is just an extension of normal sexuality which is present in everyone. The dominant or submissive side is just exaggerated.
D/s is often introduced to an individual by a partner or a friend and now more often mainstream media. So people might be learning domination and submission from the people in their life. In addition those who were abused or hurt as a child might learn the associations between pain and pleasure and being controlled and having sex.
This approach to domination and submission is viewed from a psychiatric standpoint – D/s as an abnormality. This view is becoming less common as more research has been done. Which is showing that the majority of people who practice bdsm are not sexually abused and are psychologically stable.
Trangressive and transformative
This is a rather complicated explanation, which views domination and submission as ways to challenge politics. A way to explore and break stereotypes and class barrier and sometimes to emphasis them. For example race age and gender play in particular using the negative stereotypes to humiliate the other. Or go against the usually hierarchy and have for example a black dom taking control of a white sub.
What do dominants and submissive do?
There are so many things I will just give real examples. As you will see they range from pretty normal to outlandish.
“Making the subs happy and content, love giving them orgasms“
“I like bondage, and spanking, control is a big thing for me“
“I met this Mistress through a previous kink
I was tied to a bed , blindfold, naked and left key to hotel room underneath the door for her to come and and play with me for her pleasure!!“
“Meet her in the bar and a few drinks, then handed her a pair of remote controlled vibrating knickers“
“But I still use nappies and wet pants on purpose and yes find it arousing.”
Personally I do not believe that BDSM it’s self is pathological, but I do believe some individuals with extreme fantasies may have a higher likelihood of trauma.
And I’ll finish with a quote from Ben “Don’t live a life of conventional fun. Get out there and enjoy kinky sex fun. “