MEMBER OPINION - The Nuances of Domination & Submission

MEMBER OPINION - The Nuances of Domination & Submission

from Recon News

11 March 2024

The Nuances of Domination & Submission: Active, Passive, Versatile, Switch, Top, Bottom.

By NikeShoxBoy

It's safe to say as we get older and mature, we realize the world isn't black and white; we do not live in just this or that box. I'd argue the spectrum of the rules and standards by which we live and conduct ourselves both privately and publicly is certainly more nuanced than anything else. Murder is a prime example. Don't kill someone. It's illegal. It's wrong. But what about self-defense? What about an accident? Nuance. Gray area. Muddying the waters of a topic that is popularly perceived in only one way. The general consensus is murder is bad, don't do it. And despite mitigating circumstances, the general consensus has stayed the same: do not commit murder. Throughout the course of human existence, intercourse—sex, has surely seen its own "general consensus." It has relied on a specific formula and set of circumstances. The innate goal is to reproduce, to create life, to keep the human race going and going and going and…going.

What do we know for certain? A heterosexual couple is naked on the bed. The man is on top. The woman is on her back. The man proceeds to penetrate her until he ejaculates. Nine months later, another mouth to feed. That is the general consensus, isn't it? If one is sexually vanilla, one is thereby conventional, adheres to the standard formula of lovemaking. The opposite of kinky. When it comes to standard lovemaking, one doesn't typically think about it in terms of kink language. But what if one did? The man is on top in an active position. The woman is on the bottom in a passive position. To achieve the ultimate goal of conception, typically the man and woman do not switch. The man remains in a dominant, active position, and the woman remains in a submissive, passive position, so the probability of conception is at its highest. And versatility—different positions and so on, isn't a mitigating factor that would affect the formula. Nevertheless, domination and submission—power dynamics exist all around us, in vanilla sex and in our day-to-day lives, even if we don't think about it in those specific terms like we do for kink.

The paradigm broadens, shifts, changes, evolves, grows, adapts, etc. It's only natural. The who, or with whom, how, when, where, and why regarding sex – the general consensus – our basic understanding of these factors – has broadened, too. Kink is no exception. As storytelling has a general layout of beginning (exposition and conflict), middle (rising action and climax), and end (falling action and resolution), so does kinky sex. And at which points on the layout specific kink acts and the presence, or lack thereof, of penetration are marked varies from person to person. Meaning, "climax," may not be defined as when penetration starts or when one may literally orgasm; the climax may be when a dom flogs and spanks his sub. The trajectory of the very beginning to the very end is unique to us all. And throughout this trajectory, from start to finish, the dom and sub may or may not remain locked in the roles of active, passive, versatile, switch, top, and bottom.

Sidenote: I would modify the layout above by switching exposition and conflict. I believe that "conflict" should come before the exposition. And in literature, TV, and film, that is sometimes the case. For kinksters, the conflict is both external and internal. Internally, one has an urge, need, desire to either dominate, submit, or do either depending on the direction of the wind, or switch during the same "session" or with the same partner. That internal conflict is resolved by externally searching for and finding the proper match. In other words, doms and subs balance out each other. Going further, they depend on each other.

Kinky sex, in relation to standardized BDSM, has a general consensus, and we speak in our kink vernacular to help illustrate that consensus. While browsing through profiles on Recon, I often come across those on the active side state something like, "I am of the old guard." Old guard refers to a traditional consensus of kink and BDSM. Disclaimer: I am not of the OG kink world, but typically, there is a master, a slave, and assorted physical and mental representations of BDSM, which depending on the kinkster, stands for: bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism. And even within the Old Guard, one might find nuance, deviation, and distinctive application of personal modification to the general consensus. The beginning (conflict and exposition), middle (rising action and climax), and end (falling action and resolution) of BDSM has a general consensus, but there is much nuance to be found that is unique to each and every kinkster.

So, just as one matures and sees that the world isn't black and white, a kinkster will inevitably mature and settle on how he identifies with the terms: active, passive, versatile, switch, top, bottom. Active is the person doing it—whatever "it" is. Passive is the person receiving "it." Versatile relates to one who is both top and bottom. Switch characterizes one as both dominant and submissive. Top and bottom are hopefully self-explanatory. Entering the kink community, I assumed if one was dominant, one could only be active and top. If one was submissive, one could only be passive and bottom. And if you were a switch, you were likely versatile. But I soon learned those rigid conceptions didn't apply to a large faction of our wider kink community. For when I joined Recon, I started off as 50/50, meaning evenly balanced as active and passive. But that didn't quite describe my relationship to kink, BDSM, and power dynamics. It is funny to think about, but as time went on, I updated my profile to 60% passive, then to 70%, then to 80%, then to 90%, and finally settled on 100%. And unless something changes, I don't plan on reverting my percentage anytime soon.

Therefore, you must be thinking, NikeShoxBoy (that's me) is 100% submissive. And there's the misconception and where nuance plays into D/S. Domination and active, and submission and passive are not necessarily synonymous. Recon members fill out their stats and should fill-out their respective profiles to paint a more specific picture of themselves, who they're, and for what/whom they're searching. Upon my entrance into kink, I was told master and dom, and slave and sub were synonymous. I have learned that that is, in my view, not necessarily true. The connotations of these kink labels are way too nuanced for me, and I know that's true for many others. This begs the question: who are you? Which kind of kinkster are you? How do you relate to the essential identifying terms of domination and submission?

I have encountered an overabundance of nuanced combinations in relation to these terms. Here's who I am (at the present time). I am submissive. But I am not a slave. I have limits that must be respected. I am not looking to relocate or be permanently owned. I am both an active and passive sub. I actively serve my dom, and I passively receive the ways in which he dominates me. I am a submissive bottom, but I can be versatile if my dom commands that I top him. Otherwise known as a submissive top. But am I a switch? I can switch. But I am not looking to. Hence my decision to identify as 100% passive on my Recon profile, even though I am not only a passive sub. And I technically have a dominant side. My dominant side is intricately triggered by a specific set of circumstances. However, at the present time, I am looking for a dom. Specifically a brat tamer, for I am a brat sub who is both active and passive and can be versatile, too, if it is expected of me.

The nuances of domination and submission through the lens of active, passive, versatile, switch, top and bottom are fascinating. Are you a dom/bottom or sub/top? Are you a passive dom, wherein you expect your subs to be 100% active in serving you while you sit back and receive the service/submission? Are you a switch, but also strictly a top—but a passive one? Meaning you top, but prefer your bottom to be actively fucking you? It might seem ostensibly confusing. But giving it real thought helps you understand who you really are. It helps you find compatible matches, as well.

I kindly encourage the wider kink community to familiarize, contemplate, and experiment. We change overtime. Or stay the same. And that's the general consensus of the human experience: everything is in flux, and everything stays the same. It's a paradox. But it makes life worthwhile, I think.

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