My kinds of Positive Power Dynamics

When it comes to positive power dynamics, there are two kinds that I tend to like.

Type 1: Need

In this dynamic, the constrict has a need, either psychological or functioning-practically-in-the-world related – for authority, or for boundaries, or for guidance, etc – and the principal is providing it for them.

In loco parentis type dynamics of various kinds tend to fit here. A prominent example is most CP fanfics based on police procedural shows.

Type 2: “I am at your disposal”

This is the one I figured out at the end of the previous post. This is the kind of dynamic where the attitude of the constrict toward the principal is “I will do anything for you”. It’s absolute dedication and loyalty. Myself, I tend to write a lot of supernatural loyalty bonds, but non-supernatural ones work too.

Loyal armsmen (and women), very dedicated servants and subordinates, oath-sworn honorable people of various kinds, etc, tend to fit here.

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Submission, Control, Mantras, and Intro to Positive Power Dynamics

[Note: this is going to be a ‘goes over multiple topics’ kind of blog post, but the way they all connect and relate to each other and the way I thought through them to begin with means that putting them together works much, much better than trying to separate them out. Also, in this post I talk about myself and how I am a lot. This is just what is true for me, and is in no way what I think is best or anything. Everyone is themselves, and equal in that. This just happens to be me.]

Pretty much since I first properly thought about it, I realized that I wasn’t submissive, that that wasn’t one of the labels that fit me or was true of me. It took me three pages of writing to finally come to the conclusion the first time, back when I’d recently started reading about BDSM and had gotten to the point of trying to formally figure out how it all applied to me, but it was one of those times when I already knew the answer to something, and basically had to talk to myself until the conscious part of my mind caught up.

That first writing is very rambly – I went through a lot of analogies and attempts at conceptualization trying to put into words and thoughts the set of feeling I was having.

After, I mostly thought of my non-submissiveness in terms of two things that a lot of people I read about associated with being submissive, and that did not appeal to me – giving up/giving over power, and wanting something you don’t want.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch an (amazing) scene that also reminded me of a third, very important thing that I was completely overlooking (though, looking back, it was pretty central to that rambly writing of mine) – control.

Now, at first I phrased this conclusion simply as not having a thing for control, but actually, that’s not entirely accurate, because there are multiple types of control, and I do have a thing for some of them. So, I though through my idea of that:

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Types of control

Let’s say that there is something I want done.

Possibility 1: I write up a program that will do this, and feed it through my computer. My computer, having no independence, follows the instructions exactly. It has no will, and couldn’t have done otherwise. This is a type of control.

Possibility 2: I write up a list of instructions, and give it to someone absolutely loyal to me. This person does have indepence. They could decide to not do what I said. But they won’t and they don’t, because they have dedicated the will they have to me. This is a type of control.

Possibility 3: I am skilled at manipulation, have enough power to force and threaten people, etc. I use this to get people to do what I want. The people involved have independence and will, but I am twisting or forcing it so that things go my way. This is a type of control.

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Well, kink-wise, I am interested in the last two types, but (unlike, as far as I can tell, quite a lot of people) not in the first one. Or, to put it another way, I have a thing for control, but specifically don’t have a thing for what I would call intrusive control – imagining that every person has a bubble of sorts around them that is their will, I kink-enjoy control that’s about forces between bubbles (one bubble tethering itself behind another, say, or being caused to move or contract by another bubble pushing it or holding a pin to threaten it), but I don’t kink-enjoy the kind of control that involves one person penetrating or flooding the bubble of another. From the other side, I don’t kink-enjoy someone letting their bubble go completely, or having it be flooded by someone else. [Note: I keep saying kink-enjoy because there is a very strong type of enjoyment I get from ‘these people are having fun that they want to have!’, and I get this kind of enjoyment out of very many things I myself don’t actually have a kink for].

So, first, I think this idea of not being into intrusive control is actually the central concept of me not being submissive. The kink-appealing thing to me is not a person (or myself) without will or without control – it’s a person who has will and (varying amounts of) control, but who is within or under a power dynamic that affects what they can or will do with it.

However, it also goes beyond that, because aside from not having intrusive control as an actionable kink, I also don’t have it as a narrative kink. Which left me with the question of, well, if that isn’t what I enjoy in positive power dynamics, then what do I enjoy?

This thought-quest of mine ended up being helped along by a blog post that Spiral made about mantras he uses. These are things he has people repeat that also have to do with their headspace, and they’re things like ‘I am obedient’, ‘I am a puppet’, etc. In other words, they all have the tone of intrusive control. So, given that none of them sounded like what I tend to like in positive power dynamics, I promptly tried to think – well, if someone in one of my dynamics was saying something like that, what would it be?

The first one I came up with was ‘I am at your disposal’. Then also ‘I am your tool’, and for some tones, ‘your servant’. And, this led me to figuring out the ‘what I like in positive power dynamics’ question. I will present my conclusions in the next post.

[Edit 9/17/12: I realized after some thinking and talking that I needed to further elaborate and distinguish between a few things in this post. So: I have read about and talked to people for whom being submissive involves a kink for intrusive control. However, there are also definitely people for whom it does not. I have also run into people for whom being submissive involves control type 2. And, there are definitely many other possibilities. Everyone’s identity is their own, and that’s that.

Now, also, people I was reading about and talking to seem to generally have a kink for their type of control not only as applied to characters in stories, but also as applied to them themselves in a scene or a fantasy. (Again, this will not be true for everyone, though).

I, personally, do not have a kink for intrusive control either when applied to me, or in stories. On the other hand, I do have a kink for non-intrusive control in stories – but not when applied to me. Scenes that I like involving control types 2 and 3 are roleplay scenes, where the control is applied not to me, but to a character I’m playing.

And, both my lack of a kink for intrusive control, and my lack of interest in any of the types of control when applied to real-me in a BDSM context, are, to me, connected to me not identifying as submissive.

This continues to have no bearing on anyone else’s identity and how they define it.]

A Thought on Thinking about My Kinks

Not so long ago, I went to a community event where I met a very interesting person who is also a sex educator. Conversations with her, attending a class she led, and reading her website a bit after I got home reminded me yet again of something I’ve wanted for a while: I want to figure out my kink in an organized fashion. What exactly do I like and in what way, what are the common patterns and trends and connections. This almost immediately led to another reminder: that is something I have a lot of trouble doing.

Now, as I think is pretty well demonstrated by this blog, I’m a person who likes to have things organized. Having an organized conceptualization of ideas is what allows me to understand them, to think about them best, and, of course, to explain them to others. I also like to self examine, and I also like to think about kink. So this, exactly at the intersection of three of my favorite things, seems like an absolutely perfect thing for me to be doing. And yet, I can’t seem to make it work. Which of course leads directly to the question of ‘why?’.

The first analogy I came up with was that it’s as though someone asked me what foods I liked, and I said “well, apples, and rice pilaf, and oatmeal with honey, and fried ice-cream, and raw carrots, and pomegranates, and grilled chicken sandwiches, and crepes…” All of which is absolutely true, but neither organized, nor helpful for figuring out overarching patterns.

Alright, I thought then, If I were giving somebody that kind of list of foods I liked, what would be the way to put it in order? And the answer to that was pretty simple – bringing up categories, and asking more specific questions. “What kinds of vegetables do you like?” “What do you eat for breakfast?” “What is special occasion food for you?”

And this led me straight to the root of the thinking-about-kink issue – when it comes to my kink, I know neither the categories, nor the questions.

Categories and questions are usually community matters. I know what a vegetable is because I learned this, not because I came up with it myself. Someone can ask me what I eat for breakfast because we both know what breakfast is, and share the conceptualization of dining that includes this meaning.

And the problem is that when it comes to my kink, I don’t have this kind of community. Instead, it’s like I’ve spent my whole life in a variety of buffets, most of which did not label their dishes, and none of which coordinated any labels they did use (chicken with cashew nuts is very similar to chicken with mixed vegetables, but the categories ‘vegetables’ and ‘cashew nuts’ are not actually parallel). I know I’ve eaten foods I liked, and foods I didn’t like, and foods I was mostly neutral towards, and foods I was allergic too, and foods where upon trying them I wanted to eat nothing but that for the next week. But trying to figure out a structure to view it all in – I don’t even know where to start.

I’m not exactly sure what this conclusion leaves me with.

I know I want to find other people with kinks similar to mine (very often it’s the differences along with the commonalities that that demonstrate the categories, and it’s very rarely possible to make a graph with just one point).

I know I want to read or listen to more people talking about their kinks, and how they conceptualize them, also (Spiral, for instance, has a very interesting writing here, which also relates to my point about communities and thought organization).

I know I want to discuss my kinks with people who enjoy that kind of thing (often, an outside mind can come up with questions and connections that I never would have).

I know I’m going to keep trying, keep seeing if there are links and categories I can come up with, any patterns that I can see.

And I know that regardless of how close I can get to the destination, I do thoroughly enjoy the journey.

And this thought on thinking has been a step on that journey, and that is also good.

Some definitions that are important for discussing myself and consent

Sparked Desire
-This is anything that I have actually decided to do or have started doing.

Driving Desires
-I believe that this is the same/similar thing that people might call emotional needs. They also come the closest to what I would actually define as ‘desire’. Basically, if something is a driving desire, that means it’s very important to me, if I get it it means a lot, and also I want/need it on some level wherein if I don’t get it, there is an unfulfilledness there.

The thing that allows me to ‘diagnose’ something as a driving desire is that something ‘happens’ when it is unfulfilled. Sometimes that’s simple- my mind goes back to it over and over again. Sometimes it’s personally unpleasant, but OK-  I cry in stairways, I curl up on my bed in ‘despair’ of a sort. Sometimes it’s a bit problematic- I start steering conversations in certain directions in the sheer subconscious hope that a topic I go to will bring about the effect I want, I drop ridiculous hints about things I feel that I can’t say. Sometimes it’s more problematic.

Also, as a general rule, having one of these things happen is the only way I get to consciously know that something is a driving desire. I’ve had at least a few times when I thought something was simply a want, or didn’t know it was a thing at all, until one of the above things started happening.

Wants/would-likes
-This is anything where, if someone asked ‘do you want to do this/ would you like to do this’ I would have the answer ‘yes’. This can be something I’ve done before, something I haven’t done before but want to try, something I want to do for the process, something I want to do for the goal- anything.

Likes/predicted likes
-This is anything that I have done and feel positively about for its own sake, or anything that I haven’t done but predict this feeling for (if I subsequently do it and feel differently, it gets moved to the corresponding list), but that isn’t on the wants list.

Neutrals/predicted neutrals
-This is anything that I have done and for its own sake feel neither positive nor negative about, or anything that I haven’t done but predict this feeling for (again, if I subsequently do it and feel differently, it gets moved to the corresponding list).

Dislikes/predicted dislikes
-This is anything that I have done and feel, for its own sake, negatively about, or anything that I haven’t done but predict this feeling for (again about moving).

Issues
-This is anything that I can’t/won’t/don’t want to do because of some issue I have, separately from whether I do or don’t like it. (Note that for a lot of these, I really don’t know how I properly feel about them, since the issues pop up before I can try to make that kind of judgment.)

On Service (Not properly, but I can’t think of a better term)

I like and desire both doing things for other people, and other people doing things for me (‘things’ here meaning quite a range of things, from writing someone a note about why one values them, to having a party on someone’s birthday, to cooking a meal someone likes or giving someone a present).

I like the latter because it’s a chance to be happy and excited, and because it makes me feel loved/liked.

I like the former because I want to show others how much I value them, and I want to make them happy.

I also have a lot of anxiety around both these things. For the former, I worry that whatever I do won’t be welcome, that I’ll be imposing, or look clingy or overbearing or whatever the word is for people who seem to be more excited about you than makes you comfortable. For the latter, I also worry about imposing, about people doing me favors and how before long this will make them too annoyed to be around me, that they’ll think I’m overly demanding and needy and too much work.

What this means is that I am happier being told what other people like having done for them, because then I know what is welcome, and am happier not telling other people what I like having done for me, because then if they do it, I feel somewhat less like they are only doing me a favor, and somewhat more like they actually want to do it.

This falls into several categories of thought for me: things where I’m not sure if they’re part of my personality or an issue I should be dealing with; double standards I have between myself and others (I have different feeling-ideas on how I should/shouldn’t act, and how I mind/don’t mind if people act toward me), compatibility-thoughts (this would make me compatible with someone who liked to tell others what they liked having done for them, and also liked to do things for others without being prompted), desire-thoughts.

But it’s true, so there we are.

Myself and pain

This writing was prompted by two things: first, a writing prompt that I found here while searching for BDSM writing prompts, and second, a friend suggested pain as something I might want to write about. The prompt was this:

“If SM is a part of your dynamic explain how pain works for you. Is it a sexual turn on, a healing release, a spiritual moment, a session of giving?”

So, how does pain work for me?

First, a ‘how we got here’ overview:

  • Pain is something I desire. As far back as maybe middle school, I can remember moments of telling myself stories when they frustrated, when they didn’t work, because I could talk all I wanted, describe things in any detail, copy my characters’ positions and movements with my body, and the feeling would still not be there. This year I once ended up in near-tears from the same issue- I was trying to enjoy the story, and I just couldn’t, because it wasn’t working, it was empty and blank (this was, incidentally, before I was lucky enough to find a partner).
  • Pain is something I cannot experience in any way except physically. I cannot imagine pain. I write stories with lyrical, detailed descriptions-at-length of the pain my characters feel, but I feel none of it. I do not feel pain in dreams- moments that clearly should be painful give the odd sensation of a tangible absence. I cannot remember pain I have felt when I am not feeling it. I can remember that I did feel it, I can remember how it made me feel, if I think of descriptions in the moment, I can remember them, but the sensation itself is beyond me.
  • Pain is something I have sought out experiences in. Two summers ago, I burned myself on the upper thigh with a paperclip. Three times, heating it red-hot in a candle. I still have the scars. This summer it was on the inside of my arm, and molten sugar. I tried hitting myself with various items. I have now tried me-getting-hit-with-things with the aforementioned, and very awesome play-partner Spiral (I believe the proper term for this is impact play).

So, now that I have had these experiences, what do I know? First, I enjoy them, quite a lot. Second, in terms of the prompt, none of the above. Pain is not in the least bit sexual for me, and it does not arouse me. I don’t feel healed, or spiritual, or giving.

So, what do I feel?

  • First of all, I experience pain as pain. I’ve read the term ‘experiencing pain as pleasure’. It doesn’t quite make sense to me in terms of myself, since to me pain is a physical sensation and pleasure is a mental experience, but even aside from that, this isn’t something I experience. Pain for me hurts. When I burned myself, I was holding the metal against my skin, and my mind was going ‘oh dear god’. The few times I manage to hit myself hard enough to hurt, my mind goes ‘ow!’. When Spiral hits me, my mind goes ‘ow, ow, ow this hurts, ow’, and I move around and can’t force myself still and make quite a bit of noise out loud as well.
  • Second, pain makes me incredibly excited. I get euphoric, cheerfully elated, I smile very widely, my eyes get bright, my talking to myself is excited bantering conversation. After the paperclip, I ran to Zack’s room, basically bouncing up and down going ‘honey, guess what?!’
  • Third, and as I said before, I enjoy the experience. I like it. I like it happening, I like it having happened, I like planning things knowing that it will happen. I like the side-effects- the flooding-though warmth that’s the aftermath of hitting, bruises and the scabs and blister on my burns and the scars I now have. Close to the fact, they make me excited as well, somewhat farther they make me happy, beyond that they make me satisfied. They feel right.

Some final thoughts:

  • While this is possibly obvious, I do not enjoy all pain. Stubbing my toe, period cramps, headaches, are as non-enjoyable to me as, I’d imagine, to most others.
  • Trying to obtain pain, and not getting enough of it, frustrates me. I’ve tried dripping molten wax on my skin, and it’s nice enough, but it’s not enough. Hitting myself is usually much the same. (I have had a pretty satisfying experience with that, but it was my first one, I successfully and purposefully gave myself two bruises, and I was at it for over an hour).
  • If I ever find some way of getting (enough) pain such that I can do it to myself, it doesn’t cause damage, isn’t a limit issue for me, and is quick and reliable, I will be very, very happy. The fact that in very many of my stories I focus a lot on this kind of pain- on pain spells and machines that copy them, on experiences in magical virtual realities where all the senses work but the real body is unaffected- and that characters who can cause this kind of pain really appeal to me when I find them in other works, may be related to this.
  • I have yet to experience pain past the point where I am enjoying it. I think I’ve gotten close- at several points when Spiral was hitting me, my mind went ‘OK, this is approaching the line beyond which I will not enjoy it’- but I have not yet crossed that line. Also, crossing this line is something that appeals to me. It may work out differently in real life, it would have to be carefully arranged to make sure of safety, and I would probably need help staying in place, but it is an experience I feel I want. Part of the reason for this is ‘research’- my characters experience that kind of pain, and I want to know what it is like. Part of the reason, I suspect… isn’t.

And there we are.

The people currently in this part of my life

(This way, when I mention them, the mention will make sense).
People I’ve scened with:

People I both know well, and am out to:

  • My, let’s say neighbor, Zack
  • A long-distance friend

Other people

  • The members of my local community, which is, gratefully enough, a positive and interesting place