Ok, I'm going to talk about power dynamics in a relationship. Those of you not interested or who (rightly) think I've got no business going on about it due to my own limited experience can safely skip this one--nothing else interesting should be mixed in.The Beautiful Kind
(not worksafe) lives a much, much kinkier lifestyle than I do. Her website is a great read, especially some of the letters she receives. One in particular brings up what I think is a common issue in terms of the perception of BDSM--the idea that pretty much everyone into BDSM, D/s, and other kinds of kink are substituting those kinks for "real" relationships. As someone with a long-standing interest in pursuing a D/s relationship, I find the assumption pretty offensive. I also find her assertion that people who are into kink are basically fucked up to be pretty offensive. More than that, the writer implies (although she never outright says) that (male) doms are basically just violent rapists getting a pass because they live in sexually liberal times, and that (female) subs are really just the bad kind of victim. The whole letter is also pretty biased towards heterosexual relationships with male doms and female subs, but that's a whole different kettle of fish.
This letter really bothers me because she's basically talking about the sort of relationship I'm interested in. Because these criticisms are so squarely aimed at my interests, it really hits home and makes me feel like she doesn't understand relationships with a consciously-included power dynamic. Her assumption is that men are taking power from women who aren't willing, because they are in some way incapable of really giving up power willingly. She seems to be saying that:
a) a woman who willingly gives up power to another person is either being coerced or is too screwed up to make that decision and have it be considered viable
b) women don't actually have power to give away anyway, or women in D/s relationships are powerless.
A commenter replies with a saying that I like a lot, because it sums up the complicated interplay of power between a Dom and a sub: "a collar is also a crown."
Because the truth is, a Dom gets power from the consent of his or her sub. That initial willing submission is the basis for a Dom's power over a sub, even in a scene that involves forcing submission in some way. Doms exert the most obvious power, but subs derive a power of their own by giving it up, and subs retain the power to say no and end the activity or scene. And none of that even gets into the mutual affection and respect that ought to exist between any two people in a relationship.
So yeah. Basically, screw you, lady who believes that I must be mental and dysfunctional. Keep your insecurities off my once and future sex life.