Friday, December 4

Power exchange

I find power exchange within a scene very hot. As in I have no power and the toppy type has it all. In such cases I surrender all control and yield to their will: either willingly or forced, the outcome is always the same.

When I first started chatting with HH we talked about power exchange a lot. How I thought I could easily submit to legitimate power, i.e. teachers, policemen, guards, judges etc. But illegitimate power e.g. perverted priests, gangsters and so on would illicit a negative response: stubbornness and defiance.

Even though in both scenarios I'd be soundly beaten and eventually be broken, the dynamic would be very different. Ultimately though, both forms of power exchange in play usually lead to great head space and therefore great scenes!

However power exchange in real life is a very different matter. While I like to play submissive roles in play I have always been adamant that a 24/7 lifestyle is not for me. And in my real life I am not at all submissive. I am quite the opposite.

I like, no, I need to be in control. Because when you're not in control you get hurt. Like in some work situations, managers and clients can have too much power over you and you need to steel yourself to not over-react to their criticism and their doubting of you. Otherwise at the worst they will own you, and at the very least they will cause you to lose confidence in yourself.

Or when you can't control your feelings. When you give them free reign to wash over friends and lovers, giving them the power to abuse those feelings and the trust you place in them. When you give someone your heart you do so at the risk of them breaking it.

The dynamic of friendship can be complicated. I have long since decided, (since I left school in fact), that I would only be friends with those who I like, enjoy their company and trust. No more forced or false friendships.

This has served me very well in the past year as I have explored this thing we do. Naturally gravitating towards the people I had most in common with. Not necessarily from a kink point of view, but a set of values, a similar sense of purpose and a certain trust. Apart from a very early slip up where I didn't follow my instincts, I feel I have done quite well in this scene.

But it's not always easy. In every group, work, family or friend, it's all too easy to have an unequal power dynamic. Someone always holds the reigns. As much as you try or think you are playing by the rules there are always circumstances outside your control. Circumstances that leaves you powerless.

In these cases I feel very frustrated. My natural instinct is to rage against the machine, while my cautious side urges caution and the longer term view. How often feedback in my performance reviews has been to reflect more, act and say less. So many times friends have said calm down, stop being so sensitive, don't react.

But no matter what my response is, whether explosive and reactive or calm and reflective, I recognise the power exchange for what it is. And all I can do is focus on how I can eliminate it. My submission is not 24/7 and I do not allow others to have power over me easily. In real life I do not want anyone to have the power to make me doubt my self worth or to make me feel inadequate.

Is the very fact that such power exchanges repulse me so much in real life what makes them so hot in a scene?


Eliane said...

"Because when you're not in control you get hurt" And this would by why I'm a control freak.

I totally understand where you are coming from here, and while for your sake I wish you weren't so sensitive, because I hate to see you hurt, I also admire tha fact that you CAN play power exchange scenes, that you can give other people that much control in any facet of your life, as it's more than I can.

Abel1234 said...

I love it when you post so openly and honestly, and share so much of your feelings.

Is there perhaps a difference between the *exchange* in a scene context - where the participants genuinely are equals - and what I read into your real-life frustrations? In this latter case, is it perhaps less of an 'exchange' than of people (e.g. senior managers) who actually have a position of some power / control not wielding it fairly or with empathy, and indeed even going out of their way to demonstrate that in their mindset the relationship isn't an 'equal' 'exchange'?

Indy said...

In a strange twist of fate, I find myself having to agree with both Abel and Eliane, and on the same day, even!

Seriously, having been on both sides of the management/labor divide, as it were, I like what Abel says about people wielding power without empathy. That happens far too often and makes it hard to build loyalty within an organization.

On the other hand, once I got to be a boss, I was astonished at how much less information I had about the people under me than I would have had as a co-worker. It made me understand why my bosses had been so appreciative on the rare occasions I'd told them about a co-worker's hurt feelings.

The other thing that's hard as a boss is to make sire to encourage one's best employees. They're so good, I assume that's obvious to them! Of course, it isn't, so I have to be careful to let them know. I guess what I'm saying is that even the best-intentioned bosses may not know when an employee they like is feeling discouraged or under-valued. So it's not usually personal.

OK, enough drivel. Thanks for such an interesting post!

Indy said...

um, sure, not sire! Must be reading too many spanking stories...

Kaiser said...

Personally, I think what you've expressed here is absolutely normal.

People that submit to the will of others on a constant basis are not submissive; they've become apathetic to the mammalian instinct of self-preservation. That is what is asserting itself here, and the cognitive dissonance between that need and what arouses you may be the source of your frustration.

I do not possess a degree in psychology, but it is possible that the act of knowing what is best to preserve yourself and acting against that interest may be a form of exercising power of your own.

Jessica said...

This is a great post and expresses very well how I often feel about my real life.

Psychologically, one of the eroticisms of BDSM is behaving in a way that is not the 'norm' - such as allowing someone to hit you with a stick. Power Exchange in a scene is therefore exciting for exactly that reason - you are subverting your normal instincts.

As Abel says, outside a situation where you have allowed youself to be taken over in this way, you normal human reaction kicks in and you feel frustrated and resentful. The people who are always most angry and fed up in work/school/friendship environments are the people at the bottom or halfway up the feeding chain - who don't get to make their own choices, they are told what to do, even if they know it to be wrong. People in high positions often really enjoy their jobs, despite the stress, because they have autonomy and they can define themselves by that.

I actually find that allowing yourself to lose control or have it taken away in a BDSM context is actually quite theraputic, as long as the person doing it to me is someone I can trust not to abuse that power. However, most of the female submissives that I know, especially the ones who are into roleplay and/or write a lot are remarkably strong women in their own right. They are not pushovers and they are not submissive in the sense that they are doormats. Sadly, it is this type that also finds real-life a bit much sometimes.