The Faces of D/s
These two images have been sitting side-by-side on my computer desktop for some time now waiting for me to formulate my thoughts around them. I had placed them there because the juxtaposition of the two spoke to me in some way that I could not quite put my finger on. However, as so often happens, a conversation with my Muse coalesced the essence of where my mind was with these seemingly unrelated images. The faces of D/s, and how dependent they are one another.
Many curious newcomers to D/s are initially attracted by the lure of kink and the perception of power. In effect they are drawn by the BDSM play depicted by the likes of the bottom image. There is nothing wrong with this in principle, for there are many people who participate in the leather scene who are scene players but not particularly interested in having a deeply intimate relationship with anyone. But frankly that is the minority of the leather community in my experience. Most are interested in something far deeper and intimate, for some even spiritual; the intense bond between two people that can occur within a power exchange relationship.
D/s, like most everything else, is a compromise. It is also a collaboration, and an agreement. Few are the submissives who will throw themselves at the feet of anyone and everyone desiring to tie them up, flog them or have kinky sex with them simply because the sub has an undeniable urge to do so. That’s really not how this works and yet that seems to be the fantasy with which many would be Doms approach D/s. The reality is something much more complex, something that takes much more work. You don’t get something for nothing.
The reality is that while D/s, among other things, may be an agreement between two partners to exchange power to one degree or another, there is something (often many things) given in equal measure in return. At its core, regardless of how it may be dressed up and disguised, what the Dominant gives the submissive in return for power is trust, acceptance, and devotion. Above all, trust.
Trust; even the most devoutly submissive among us cannot tap their well of submissiveness without it. It is trust that allows vulnerability and vulnerability that enables submissiveness. And it is not just trust that a submissive will not be harmed physically in kinky play, it is real trust; emotional trust. A submissive needs to feel that they have a physically, emotionally and spiritually safe place where they can be comfortable exposing their most secret and fragile selves, break through social barriers and sexual taboos, and just be who they are at the very core of their being.
This is the ultimate intimacy where a submissive’s walls, armor and battlements, consciously and unconsciously erected over the course of lifetime in reaction to hurts and harms, are methodically torn down. They are emotionally stripped and laid bare in utmost vulnerability; the physical manifestations of bondage are but a metaphor for the deeper emotional vulnerability that lies beneath. Their very core is exposed and raw. Here, in this profoundly vulnerable state a submissive can be either healed and grow or be destroyed; it can be a transformative and cathartic experience or a life shattering one. In many respects, a submissive’s fate literally rests in the hands of a Dominant.
The power exchanged in D/s is not just the power to command in overt and kinky ways. Indeed the real power that is exchanged is the power to probe and delve deeply into the heart, mind and soul of a submissive. The power to be allowed to touch all those emotional and spiritual cuts and bruises, explore them, play with them, and perhaps even heal them. It is the ultimate trust.
So the hard work of the Dominant is to continually build the trust that enables the vulnerability and thus the deepest submission and exchange of power. We do that through acting with unwavering honesty, consistency, and selflessness. We create structure and order and not only demand compliance but live it ourselves. We act with integrity and show undying devotion. We accept and never ridicule. We encourage and praise. We seek the greater good for our submissive even at the sacrifice of ourselves. In doing these things, doing them well and consistently, we exude love, acceptance, devotion and above all we earn trust. The better we do these and many other things as Dominants, the deeper the submission and the greater the power vested in us.
So look to the images above, they could so easily be of my Muse and I and the faces of our relationship. There is trust and love and devotion. There is power and vulnerability, sensuality and intimacy, sexuality and kink, command and obedience. All the colors of the emotional and sexual rainbow are there in vast quantities. But it takes the intimacy and trust of the top image to be able to have the vulnerability and obedience of the bottom one. It is after all a power “exchange” not a power “gift.” The more we as Dominants give selflessly of ourselves, the more we get in return.
Caption © For The Love of a Submissive, 2013
First Image © Elizabeth Messina
Second Image © TheTrainingofO.com