Power exchange is one of the foundational concepts that exists within the BDSM world. Almost all our interactions center around this single idea in one form or another. A large part of what separates BDSM from the vanilla world is the fact that we are overt about the unequal way we structure our relationships. Relationship parity rarely exists even in vanilla although it strives to promote that concept. Look at any relationship for a short period of time and you will realize who "wears the pants" in that interaction. Certainly, there are relationships where authority determines who has the power. However, even in friendship or romantic relationships, usually one person has more control than the other. This is determined, not so much by position, but, rather, by the personality of the individual. One person tends to take on the leadership role while the other embraces the part of follower. Oftentimes, this is not a conscious decision as much as one's underlying personality emerging.
BDSM is much different. In this way of life, we are very open about the fact that we are not into equality of interaction. Relationships and interactions are established based upon one's place along the domination/submission line. Here, we find that power is granted to the dominant from the submissive. It is a natural choice based upon the core component of each. Each is following a natural tendency that was uncovered within each of them. In contrast, society created a system or ideal which is not natural, in my view, while trying to mold everyone the same. Under this realm, little thought is given to what is best for the individual. Instead, we get a one size fits all. Most often, this ideal is the monogamous, male/female, one on one, equal basis relationship or what I call the traditional model. Unfortunately, those who are drawn to power exchange, homo or bisexuality, and polyamory need not apply. Even today, people fall into these later categories are considered abnormal.
That being said, before we explore the concept of power exchange, we best define what it is. Have you ever thought about what power is? Certainly, we mention it often enough on the BDSM sites we visit. Ironically, few of us ever think about what it is we are referring to and transferring.
According to dictionary.com, power is the ability to do or act. It really is that simple. Power is the ability to get something done. To expand on this a bit further, power is what enables you to do those things that you should do. At the same time, it is also the ability to refrain from taking those actions which are counter productive to what you desire. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, power is both the ability to get your butt to the gym while also holding back from eating those fried mozzarella sticks.
Notice the individual nature of power. What is ironic, when you look at the definition, you realize that power exchange is a bit misleading. In fact, it is really impossible to turn one's power over to another. The ability to do or act is still within one no matter what the circumstances. What is really transferred is control. Again, looking up the definition we see that control is Certainly, this sums up what we do in BDSM. A sub gives control of herself over to a dominant. While she still has power to do something, he is the one who determines whether it is exercised or not. Nevertheless, since it is common to exchange these two words and ideas with each other, we will operate from this perspective.
There is a spiritual axiom that says you cannot give away what you do not have. If we think about this in the physical realm, this idea really jumps out at us. How can I give you $20 if I myself do not possess it? The answer is I cannot. On the emotional level, have you ever seen anyone who is not happy pass along happiness to another person. Usually, if one is angry or miserable, those around him or her will not experience happiness in the moment. What usually happens is that anger, tension, and misery are transferred.
What I am about to embark upon applies equally to submissives as it does dominants. Many seem to think that submissives and dominants are completely different. In truth, they really are not. Their cores are different and actually form a reciprocal arrangement. Therefore, the basic tenets of each is the same in terms of what I am going to discuss here.
Getting back to the axiom, one cannot transfer what he or she does not have. I think we can understand this point. Applying it specifically to our way of life, one cannot cede over control if he or she does not already have it. Ergo, when looking at the topic of control (power), the starting point is with oneself.
This creates quite a quandary for many. To start, so many dominants want to control another when they lack the ability to control themselves. They believe their place is to tell a sub what to do and expect her to follow. Certainly that is part of the BDSM arrangement. However, one shows the ability to control by his own life. If one's life is completely out of control, bet the ranch that person is a terrible master or dom. He has no clue how to control anything. Instead of being dominant, he ends up being domineering. Many encounter this when traveling around the different BDSM "dating" site and running into all the pretenders barking out orders. The "on your knees bitch" crowd knows nothing about control. Individuals with this mindset believe that control is about the submissive when it is about himself. This is a major point everyone needs to understand.
At the same time, a submissive needs to be able to control her own life. She need the ability to get herself to act, i.e. exert power over herself. This might seem contrary to what the BDSM way of life is all about but it is not. Again, if she wants to cede control over to another, she ought to have it to begin with. Someone who has a life that is totally out of control is not submissive but a train wreck. Many times, she is using submissiveness as a means of avoiding responsibility. Understand that being submissive does not make one free from responsibility. Even slaves who are owned have responsibilities and require the power to act when instructed to. Ultimately, one chooses when she is going to exert her ability to act (of course, defying brings up consequences but that is another matter altogether). It is a power that does not go away nor is it transferred. The only difference is that when one cedes control, there is an outside influence "motivating" and directing her.
Which brings up a question I wrote about in the past: what are you truly offering another? If you have no control over your own life, how can you either give control to another or accept something you have no ability to exercise. I see this regularly when traveling around the online BDSM world. So many want to be "owned" yet you start to investigate their lives and you realize they are offering nothing but a big pile of crap. This is equally true on the dominant as well as submissive side. Physically they are a mess because they eat garbage all day and refuse to exercise. Financially they are in the ringer because they cannot control their spending. Emotionally they are nothing more than children since they refused to engage in the maturation process required to control one's emotions. Mentally they are slightly ahead of moron since they refuse to learn about anything and spend entirely too much time watching senseless television or posting stuff on Facebook. In short, they are a mess yet they feel that entering a BDSM relationship will straighten everything out. Of course, it comes as no surprise when one ends up bouncing from relationship to relationship with no results.
Thus, I ask you, are you exercising the power over yourself to:
-get you ass to the gym to lose that weight?
-avoid eating those nutritionally empty foods that are high in sugar and fat?
-living within a sensible budget so that you are not deep in debt?
-keeping your surrounding clean and tidy?
-pressing your clothes so that you put forth a nice presentation visually to others?
-educate yourself about important matters such as investing, child rearing, health, and money management?
-resist spending time online opting instead to take those classes that will further your career?
Whatever the situation, are you exerting control over yourself to get things done? This is what it all basically comes down to. Waiting until you are owned or own someone else is too late. Discipline is a trait that is required for success in all BDSM interactions (and in life). The only way to establish this characteristic is to exercise it over yourself. Then, and only then, do you have something to offer another person. Remember, before you can give something over to another, you must have it yourself. If you want to cede control, establish it in your own life first. And, if you are on the flip side, if you want to have all the control, make sure you have the ability to apply it to yourself. From my experience, failure to do this will result in failure in all your BDSM interactions.
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20 hours ago