By Mistress Kashiko
A Beginning Look
There are many different opinions and ideas about the meaning of dominance in a BDSM context, what the appropriate definition and titles for it, and what being a good dominant means. What makes a good dominant, in some ways, is in the eye of the beholder as each person has their own preferences; there is no cookie cutter mold for a good dominant. |
As always, general ethics is strongly considered as a vital role of a play partner and this applies equally, if not even more so, to dominants.
What are we talking about here? Time to DefineThe common dictionary defines "dominance" as:
For alternative communities, the use of the term "dominance" first arose in the 1970s gay community when it became unpopular to feminize the submissive one in same-sex couples (TorqueDom, 2000). In the BDSM context, dominance is seen as a personality trait that can exist in or outside of a relationship and can apply in a single scene or a lifetime lifestyle (Kaldera & Joshua, 2009).
Dominants can fall into several categories depending on their level of BDSM and lifestyle activity. Light Dominants are considered to be those who have little desire for any real D/s aspect to any relationship, have poor knowledge on the subject, possess little or no toys/tools, have conflicting life goals that keeps them from being active, but tend to exemplify some dominant BDSM behavior/tendencies. These types of dominants are not always ethical or safe (Mallory).
The Moderate Dominant will generally desire a relationship of some kind, be reasonably educated and willing to learn/explore, and are typically more common. These dominants usually have some interaction with the community and are stable (Mallory).
A Heavy Dominant is usually a seasoned member in the community and has engaged in the lifestyle for a longer period of time. They typically have varied experience with a few areas of expertise and are more likely to desire a full time or 24/7 D/s aspect to their relationship (Mallory).
A Master/Mistress is often considered a dominant with real life BDSM experience (Mallory). Some circles consider these terms to be associated with the consensual and ethics ownership of a slave or submissive and that this title has been earned during that ownership while others feel that these terms may be used by anyone who identifies with them (Kaldera & Joshua, 2009).
A Top is typically a dominant but is considered to be the person who is the active participant in an S/M scene in contrast to the bottom who is the recipient of BDSM play (Kaldera & Joshua, 2009).
What kinds of dominants are there?Dominant is dominant is dominant right? Wrong! There are different styles of dominance and knowing what kind of dominant you are or you are looking for can mean the difference between a satisfying or frustrating experience. Dominant preferences can be observed on a continuum with two polar opposites: parental or celebrity.
Parental dominance does not refer to any ageplay or illegal play with minors. This style of dominance refers to a high level of control over the submissive's life. A parental style dominant will desire control over the all money, clothing, food, activities, sexual release, etc; the submissive has little to no control over most decisions. These dominants desire a relationship where the submissive does as instructed promptly but nothing more (Kaldera & Tenpenny, Real Service, 2011).
Celebrity dominance is when the dominant prefers for all obstacles out of their path. The submissive will receive extensive training on the preferences and desires of the dominant so that ultimately, the submissive will attend to those details so the dominant can enjoy the effects. This style of dominance expects a level of anticipatory service and requires a submissive who is able to be self sufficient for periods of time while the dominant otherwise occupied. These dominants are often career-driven or keep highly active lifestyles (Kaldera & Tenpenny, Real Service, 2011).
So what makes a good dominant?If just beginning on the road to domination, take some time to figure out your primary kinks and interests, and then take time to learn about them. Some forms of BDSM have higher risk and you should have a strong knowledge base in them and practicing as much as possible for the safety of yourself as well as your partner prior to engaging in a scene.
A good dominant has a number of important characteristics, each as important as the last. A D/s relationship, despite any outward appearances, is a two-way street and a good dominant is able to give strong, satisfying direction to their submissive that is more than self-centered commands (Nala, 2001).
A good dominant is able to accept the desires and realities of themselves as well as their submissive. They are able to communicate effectively about those needs, desires, and limitations with honesty and respect (Shadowborne, 1997). They should be able to state their desires and preferences in a way that is respectful, consistent and straightforward (Payne, 1999). Dominants are people too and must be able to realize and be honest about their limitations and shortcomings. They also need to be aware of dom headspace and drop and be prepared for their own emotional reaction. Their dominance is inherent and a powerful command of devotion while maintaining an ethical and respectful demeanor (Shadowborne, 1997).
A first-rate dominant is able to understand the psychological and emotional evolution of their submissive and provide the appropriate support. Because of the potential intensity of a BDSM relationship, there is a lot of potential for emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth. If the relationship develops rapidly, the rush of augmentation may be overwhelming. A good dominant should be patient and sensitive to this process (Shadowborne, 1997).
They are able to reliably and infallibly abide by the agreement laid between the dominant and submissive; there should be no question of loyalty or trustworthiness (Shadowborne, 1997). They should hold the best interests of the submissive in mind at all times, protecting the submissive even against themselves in moments of extreme play should it be necessary (Saber, 2001).
Another important characteristic is personal responsibility. The dominant should be serious enough to understand the consequences of the play and be prepared and able to accept responsibility for any potential outcomes. They should be able to exercise appropriate self control for themselves as well as for their submissive (Shadowborne, 1997).
ConclusionsThe subject of dominance is not an easy one to sum up and several books have been written on the subject. Style of dominance and tips can also vary depending on the type of kink in question. The important thing to remember is that a good dominant does not stop learning. And remember, being dominant does not make someone better than being submissive, just different (Payne, 1999).
Recommended ReadingDear Raven & Joshua: Questions & Answers about M/S Relationships
The New Topping Book
Written January 19, 2012
ReferencesKaldera, R., & Joshua, T. (2009). Dear Raven & Joshua: Questions & Answers about M/s Relationships. Hubbardston: Alfred Press.
Kaldera, R., & Tenpenny, J. (2011). Real Service. Morrisville: LuLu Enterprises.
Mallory, F. (n.d.). Dominant vs Master. Retrieved 12 28, 2011, from Steel Door: http://www.steel-door.com/Dominant_vs_Master.html
Nala. (2001). Domination. Retrieved 01 03, 2012, from http://www.leathernroses.com/domination/naladomination.htm
Payne, P. (1999). Sex Tips from a Dominatrix. New York: HarperCollins
Saber, L. (2001). What Makes A Good Dominant. Retrieved 01 10, 2012, from http://www.leathernroses.com/domination/sabergooddom.htm
Shadowborne, R. (1997). Characteristics of a Successful Dominant . Retrieved 12 20, 2011, from http://www.leathernroses.com/domination/domtraits.htm
TorqueDom. (2000). The Difference Between A Dominant & A Master. Retrieved 12 27, 2011, from http://www.leathernroses.com/domination/domandmaster.htm
Other Beginning ConsiderationsIs BDSM Normal?
Is BDSM Legal?
What are Red Flags?
Choosing Play Partners
BDSM & Ethics
SSC vs RACK
Alternative or Mentally Ill?
Dominant & Submissive Headspace
Dominance: A Beginning Look
What is Submission?