How to dom (or, you know, not)

I see so many online posts & blogs about what dominance is. What makes a good dominant. What makes a bad dominant. How does one be the best dominant one can be. I hear a lot of discussion about it at educational events and parties as well. It is a very popular topic. And everyone seems to have at least some opinion on the matter. Including me.

One thing I see and hear over and over and OVER again, is that dominants are leaders. In fact, this opinion seems nearly universal. It’s odd that so many diverse groups hold this singular opinion. Goreans and female supremacists may not agree on anything about how D/s works, but I’d bet you that a quite significant portion of both groups (if not all) would agree that dominants lead and submissives follow. So where does that leave the dominants who don’t want to be leaders? (Or the submissives who don’t necessarily want to be follwers?) And what does it even look like when the dominant doesn’t want to dominate that way?

I don’t agree with this prevailing opinion on dominants as leaders. I think it can work that way. I think it frequently does work that way. But I don’t think it has to or even needs to work that way. Here are just a few examples of definitions of dominant.

  • most important, powerful, or influential
  • having or asserting authority or influence
  • controlling

None of those definitions say anything about leading or being a leader. Sure, there are some definitions of dominant which do mention leading, but my point is that there are ways to dominate without being a leader.

I think that it can work perfectly well when one looks at dominance from a perspective of control and asserting authority. I don’t need to lead in order to be the person who has control over something. I don’t need to lead to be the person who has the authority to make decisions. Am I leading when I decide what I want to eat for dinner? I certainly don’t feel like I am leading. I don’t have any grand plan, I just want lasagna for dinner. I have the authority to make that decision, because we have agreed that he will give me that authority. Therefore I can say we will have lasagna for dinner.

Even on a grander scale, I don’t feel like I am leading when I decide what color we will paint the walls. Or which car we will buy. Or where we will go on holiday. But I do have the authority to make those decisions. So if I want to, I can decide all those things. None of those things will lead us into a better relationship. (Well, a nice holiday might well better our relationship!)

But where is the leadership? None of those things will take us down a path that I have chosen and planned out. They are not designed to better him or us. I am not trying to inspire him to do things the way I want them done because I’m such an exceptional person. (Spoiler alert, I’m not.) They are simply things that I can decide on because he has given me the authority to do so.

So how does it work? It works because having authority and being a leader are not actually the same thing. And when one has the authority in a relationship, one can be said to be the dominant party. It works because a submissive wants to give up control or authority, and does so.

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2 responses to “How to dom (or, you know, not)

  1. Very nice distinctions between authority, control and how they relate to leadership and wonderful examples! đŸ™‚

    • Thank you! I have a long-standing dislike of the idea that dominants must lead. And it is precisely because of my own personal definition of dominance and submission. The prevailing wisdom changes over time, though. So in a few decades, I may agree with the common definition of dominance again!

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