Who's In Charge?

Author: MstrCerebus aka Sam Guss © 2001
Mr. Alabama Olympus 2002
Contributing author to the C.A.P.E. web site

This article first appeared on the C.A.P.E. web site and is used here with MstrCerebus's permission



Editor's note: Please bear in mind that the author is writing from a hetrosexual male Dom/fem sub point of view.

Believe it or not this is one of the hardest topics to get a universal answer from and it goes beyond the obvious, “the Dom is in charge” or “the submissive has absolute control”. This article is my attempt to delve into this topic and help make some sense of it.

The short version of this is all is this: “The submissive gives up control to the Dominant until such a time they feel it necessary to take that control back”. This means that it is the submissive who is ultimately in control and the Dom who is in charge until such a time he loses that power from the submissive. Sounds simple doesn’t it? I would even bet that most of you would agree in theory that this is how the exchange of power rests. We would all be right and we would all also barely scratch the surface.

The D/s relationship is also known as a power exchange. In the purest form this power exchange is known as a TPE, or Total Power Exchange, a true Master/slave relationship where the submissive partner has no say beyond choosing to wear or remove the collar (please read my article on TPE for more information and context). Even with this extreme of a D/s relationship there are stages in which we progress through. Some of us make it through all the stages, some of us don’t. I would suggest that as participants in our chosen lifestyle these progressive steps are as outlined and include where the power exchange exists: (some will apply and some may not to you or those you know)

  • Before commitment: The control lies with the submissive.
  • At commitment: control is passed to the Dominant with limitations – i.e. “limits”
  • Learning: as the Dominant breaks down limits, more control is given by the submissive
  • At maturity (maturity of the relationship or TPE): total control is given to the Dominant
  • At decline: submissive gradually takes back control
  • At end of commitment: submissive has total control

Notice how the power exchange ebbed and flowed in these stages? At only one point in this is the Dominant truly and completely in control of the relationship. Please note that this one point can start immediately after commitment or whenever it does start last for years, it all depends on the partners involved. The submissive may be without control during parts of their relationship, but the power to take back that control is always there. So as we can see though it is the Dom in charge, it is the submissive who holds ultimate control.

So does this mean that a submissive should gloat and hold that over a Dominants head at all times? Nope. Matter of fact we have the saying “topping from below”. In my opinion it is one of the worst habits and signs of disrespect that a submissive can show a Dominant. You either trust someone to be in charge over you or you don’t. If you don’t then don’t go bottoming under someone you say you do trust, because the instant you try topping from below is the instant that you show you do not trust them. Does this mean there is never room for topping from below? I would suggest there is two acceptable times:

  • When casually playing with someone who is not your Dominant and is new to you and even then, respectfully.
  • When getting to know someone you are in a scene with to allow them better familiarity with what pleases you and what doesn’t.

The idea behind releasing control over to a Dominant is trust and respect. Trust that the Dominant will not harm you or take advantage of, to take care of you. Respect for the Dominant that you are willing to serve their ends rather than yours. Remember most submissives are not giving up total control, that’s why they have “limits”, and please don’t be mistaken, limits serve a very important purpose and everyone, including Dominants have limits. (Read Understanding Limits and Pushing Limits for more information.) Remember also whatever control they do give a Dominant is given with trust that they won’t abuse it and it is only after constant proving that they won’t can a Dominant even begin to push a limit and gain more control.

So the end of it is that submissives are in ultimate control, but that control is held by the Dominat in trust and respect and while they have that control it is theirs to do with as they wish. Dominants be worthy of that control. Submissives, remember control is given not taken, and if you trust a Dominant with control, then give it to them, do not bait them with it.

© 2001 MstrCerebus






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