if that’s what it is, then what isn’t it

How to even start this…


It’s disconcerting that when I deliberately tried to write about scenes without D/s, twice now I’ve gotten responses that basically amount to “Actually, that is D/s.”  And by “disconcerting,” I mean it feels like I can’t write anything vaguely kinky without being conscripted.

Even knowing there was no direct malice involved, it does feel a lot like being gaslit, when I’m literally saying “I don’t want That,” and I get told, “So what you’re telling me is you want That.”

Or rather, that’s how I experience the exchange.  Whatever.  Maybe I bristle easily, when it comes to this subject.  This post isn’t an accusation, really, just to be clear.  It’s an expression of bemused frustration.

So far, I’ve gotten very mixed and (mostly) unsatisfying answers as to what exactly a dom is, so I won’t speak to that, but without trying to define what D/s “is,” I can still talk about what I’ve regularly seen D/s presented & represented as.

Discrepancies exacerbated.  The weak made weaker.  The strong made stronger.  Subs referring to themselves as “i” in lowercase and doms expecting automatic reverence.  A sub telling me they don’t understand the concept of a sub arguing with their dom — of a sub having a will that isn’t their dom’s will.  Endless treatise on “D/s requires trust, so trust your partner!” that implicitly treats “trust” as a step to enact once D/s is begun rather than a prerequisite to it in the first place.  A fetishization of eternal curling in and crumbling out and shrinking lesser and lesser in autonomy, and a fetishization of entitlement and boundary-pushing and prevailing over resistance.  Competition with a predetermined winner.  One-sided access to vulnerability.  Interactions and relationships where one party’s will always prevails.  A “superior” lording over a “possession.”  Lopsided constrained/excessive permission.  Weight of input disallowed.  A person who dominates, and a person who submits.

I don’t want to hear about “no, that’s not all D/s, that’s bad D/s” or “no, that’s not real D/s, that’s something else.”  That’s great, cool, alright, and also beside the point.  I’m marking that out, authentic or otherwise, as the thing I want to head in the opposite direction of.  And you know what?  An awful lot of people doing That Thing are calling it D/s and presenting that as the totality of what it is, so if you have a problem with that, take it up with them.

If you want to persuade me that my understanding of D/s is too narrow, I guess you could do that too, but if you’re going to call something D/s even if it doesn’t involve anybody “dominating” anybody, in any performative or psychological sense…  That’s throwing the doors open pretty dang wide.  Honestly, saying something like “I don’t care where we go for dinner, you decide” is more overt D/s than four out of the five ideas I put in that post.  The odd one out is literally wrestling practice.  And if you seriously count that, then I assume you must have overlooked where the emphasis was.

Mmph.  Man, I hate… thinking I was being clear, and being shown otherwise.

Is it some kind of– gravitational field, or something, on par with a black hole?  You mention bonding and intimacy and deliberate messing with power dynamics and automatically that brings it within range, crossing the event horizon, and no matter what material it’s made of or where it came from or how much it weighs it gets dragged down inward and collapsed into a homogenized linear notion of power “exchange”*.

*Don’t really see the point in describing it as a shift from balanced to unbalanced when really, most of the time, it’s more of a shift from unbalanced to… unbalanced in a more graphic format.  That’s not a conversion, that’s an Instagram filter.

You know what, though?  Maybe I wouldn’t be so bristly about D/s if it were genuinely treated as more… optional.  Maybe I wouldn’t mind it so much if it weren’t for how the culture, in some gestalt broad-pattern sense, has acted entitled to my participation.

One response to “if that’s what it is, then what isn’t it

  • doubleinvert

    Some subjects do just make us bristle easily. I certainly have mine, most revolving around gender.

    From what little I know of the kink community, and maybe this is splitting hairs, but the whole submissive is completely without will to their dominant sounds more like a master/slave dynamic. Otherwise, what’s the point of the safeword? But at the same time, I’ve seen these D/s dynamics that play out 24/7 with the utter submission and lack of will on the part of the sub. That’s been my experience, but I’m also a switch. Please note that I’m not disagreeing with you. Quite the opposite. I am agreeing with you. There does seem to be a lot of highly problematic behavior (to my mind) in kink communities.

    In fact, what you describe is somewhat like the power dynamic in my first marriage. My first wife was very much one who needed to be in control, so we had an unnegotiated D/s relationship in the mundane aspects of our life rather than in the intimate aspects. Where we lived, the extracurricular activities for our kids and who was going to pay for them as she quit her job to go to school putting all the pressure on me to provide. D/s or master/slave can play out in various ways, but when it’s unnegotiated it will end badly.

    From what I’ve seen on FetLife, the master/slave-D/s folks seem to be among the most vocal about What It Truly Is, often to the point of gaslighting the rest of us in the kink community. It’s almost as if they feel the need to justify what they do. At least, that’s how I’ve experienced these conversations.


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