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BDSM Education BDSM Myths

Submissives have no control over what happens.

This myth, like most myths, is born out of ignorance, inexperience, and misunderstanding. In my opinion one of the main roots of this myth is a misunderstanding or lack of thought of how control or power is exchanged in a Dominant/submissive relationship. This myth stems from the assumption that the power, control, or influence that defines Dominance is limitless and automatically transferred from the submissive to the Dominant. While that assumption might be an expedient and even intoxicating basis for fantasy and fiction, in reality it is a dangerous assumption because it ignores and violates the fundamental concepts of consent and negotiation that are essential to a successful Dominant/submissive relationship. Thinking about and analyzing this myth reminds me of “Lady Heather’s Box” an episode from the tv series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Gil Grissom and Lady Heather are discussing the rules and dynamics of a Dominant/submissive relationships. Lady Heather states, “Unfortunately the language we speak in here doesn’t necessarily translate to the world out there and Grissom responds “No, in here the submissive has the power all he has to do is say the safety word and everything stops.” Safe words are just one way that submissive has to exercise control and not exclusive to the submissive as both the submissive and dominant can always “say stop” (or insert safe word) to end a scene. Both participants also have the ability to end the relationship. Another means for the submissive to exercise control is the establishment of limits both hard and soft. A limit as defined by Webster is something that bounds, restrains, or confines. In Dominance/submissive relationship the exchange of power and control is what is being restrained or bound by limits. A hard limit is an activity or idea that a Dominant or submissive is either tentativeconcerned about exploring (soft) or does not want to explore at all (hard). The extent of that breadth, depth and limits on the exchange of control/power are determined and defined during negotiations. Negotiation can be both a one-time event such as right before a scene or a continuous process throughout a relationship. Negotiation is both an example of the submissive having control and means for the submissive to establish other examples of control such as limits and safe words.

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