Who has the power?

This post is partly a question, actually.

I’ve heard that in BDSM domination and submission (which I haven’t engaged with much), ideally, the submissive has the power.

Does this mean the sub has the power because they consent, or because the dominant is orchestrating their needs being met, but it’s about their (the submissive’s) needs?

If the submissive has the power because they can say yes or no, I don’t really think that’s “the power”.

I find the ability to say no the most incredibly low bar for agency I’ve ever encountered.

I’ve lived with sexual encounters or relationships where the only power I had was to say yes or no to what was happening to me, with me, at me. My “no” was respected, but I could not ask for things, I could not express my needs, I could not express much nuance in how I was feeling.

I could accept or decline.

That isn’t agency to me, that isn’t sexual agency at all. That’s so basic, the ability to say “no” and have it respected, that should not count, in my opinion, as having the power.

I think the ability to say “no” being powerful only makes sense in a rape culture. We’re stripped of our ability to say “no” so often, so repeatedly and so brutally, that we find the ability to say “no”, ever, finally, empowering.

If the submissive has the power because their needs are centered…but the dominant’s needs are also being met, why is that about power at all?

So, this post is partly a question about what that means, when people in BDSM communities say “really the sub has the power”.

And it’s partly a statement that I do not believe that being allowed to say “no” is an acceptable maximum bar set for sexual agency.

What do you think?

 

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Consent to What I Do?

We often value consent to the poly dynamic way more than consent to the monogamy dynamic, when really that doesn’t make much sense. Using the word consent about the behavior of people outside of you doesn’t feel right to me, personally. It’s more “comfort” and “this was the agreement”.

I don’t think the word consent really applies here. It feels wrong to consider someone else having the right to consent over what happens with my body as just as important or MORE important than what I consent to with my body involving people outside of them.

It feels like monogamy is then a default state of relationship and ownership and that that ownership is rightful–which is why compulsory monogamy is a function of misogyny. It used to be about men owning women’s autonomy. Now we romanticize it as owning each other’s autonomy.

And we demonize people who revoke their consent to having their autonomy controlled. This brings me to my analogy to the full time D/s dynamic and how monogamy is similar (though without one person being dominant, in theory).

If someone said “I am not comfortable being a full time sub anymore, and I am now going to act against my Dom’s wishes about my own body” would we really tell them no, you made an agreement, so before doing anything with your own body, you *have* to clear it with your dominant that your body is now under your own control again? And if you don’t, you’re a terrible person who doesn’t deserve love?

Wow, no. And that’s how I feel about monogamy. That you have a right to revoke your consent at any point, and your partner can decide that they need that mutual control and leave, but you’re not a bad person for dropping that consent at any time, because *it is your body*.