Power Play Fucking – The Art Of Negotiating Dominance

Following on from my previous article regarding the fetishisation of race – there was considerable talk about the notion of power within relationships. For the most part – power in relationships and sex, is a concept that we routinely forget or engage in unconsciously. Yet, it’s an inescapable part of relationships, and it needs to be acknowledged.

The thing about power and power exchange is that it’s an incredibly fluid concept, and like most things when it comes to our bodies, our performance of gender, sex and sexuality, power play is something that’s not often thought about and discussed openly – with the exception of abuse, domestic violence and associated situations. These situations however, highlight the abuse of power and fail to acknowledge the benefits of power play whether those benefits be in the relationship, the balance of an individual, or even mental health.

In BDSM, power play falls under the second acronym of DS – dominance and submission. Power play can simply involve a partner subtly assuming more of a dominant/submissive role in sexual play and/or activity, or it can involve more direct involvement such as active decision making, chastity devices, or the use of restraints. In this way dominance can be achieved through emotional ‘power’ and physical ‘power’ and even both at the same time, thus catering towards an individual’s personality as well as the relationship that they have with their partner. In this regard, every power play relationship is different as it accounts for the myriad of variables that are present in every relationship.

What are the benefits of engaging in power play?

We forget about the benefits of consensual and negotiated forms of power play – and this is one of the reasons why power play can be so much fun. It opens up unique possibilities by exposing us to the very things that we take for granted in our subconscious. For the most part – power is often, stereotypically, tied into gender and the roles of our gender. Males are routinely thought to hold the power within relationships, and this often falls back to the perceived activeness of the phallus in comparison to the passiveness/receptiveness of the vagina/anus. The thing is, that power changes, as individuals grow throughout their lives. The balance of power shifts and fluctuates continually both within relationships, and within a person’s life as a whole. There might be circumstances within our lives that cause us to rely more on our partners and this ultimately affects the idea of power. A partner might be naturally dominant in all aspects of life, but requires the balance of submission when it comes to sex – and vice versa. There’s no standard when it comes to the idea of power, but it’s certainly something that can be played with for the purpose of enjoyment and pleasure. By choosing to submit, one can take the stress and pressure of life and sex. Power play can involve anything from taking orders, to being subjected to pain and humiliation, to wearing a chastity device and even engaging in animal play such as puppy, pony and kitten play.

BDSM Power Exchange
Buy Now | Bondage Sex Toy Kits

The thing is, it’s often difficult for a partner to come up and say:

‘Hey, I need to be dominated in the bedroom because it provides me with a balance in other facets of my life’.

Such an admission by a male, can be seen as emasculating, and an admission of such by a woman can be seen as anti-feminist. Here’s the secret though – what happens in the bedroom isn’t necessarily a reflection of the rest of your life. In fact, a study by researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam titled “A billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire” (2011) demonstrates that humans have the capacity to be in possession of subcortical circuits for both sexual dominance and submission – humans, and other mammals, have the capacity to be both dominant and submissive interchangeably. With the social expectation that men need to be dominant both sexually and socially, is it little wonder then that some men require the balance of surrendering that power in order to maintain content and happiness? Similarly, when you’re continually being told that you’re caring and nurturing, wouldn’t you want to buck that stereotype every now and then?

Whilst there are examples of TPE’s (Total Power Exchanges) where a partner assumes control of all decision making processes in their lover’s life, these are relatively rare. As such, power play and the exchange of power relies on communication, understanding, and negotiation. Three things which at the end of the day, have the capability to strengthen any loving relationship.

So how do you negotiate power exchange in a relationship?

Power exchange fundamentally relies on trust. You cannot surrender power when you’re not trusting – consider such a relationship like the trust fall – you’re not going to willingly fall if you believe that your partner isn’t going to catch you on the way down.

Who is in control of the power exchange in a BDSM relationship?

One of the more interesting dynamics regarding power play, which is what the majority forget, is that the dominant isn’t actually directly in charge. It is the submissive’s choice to submit, and the sub can choose to end any form of play at any time of their choosing if such a play violates the negotiations and protocols agreed on, or in the event that an event triggers a psychological backlash or memory. Subs have the power of the stop button, with the agreement being that a dominant will respect that button, and also engage in a play that pushes the limits of the submissive, but never break those limits. In this sense, the complexity of power play are vast and interesting and they are something that should be more actively considered in every sexual relationship.

Author: Stephen Smith – BA Of Social Sciences, M.Ed

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 3,000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and receive a FREE ebook on the top 11 sex toys for 2018.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Stephen is a cis-gendered gay male who spends far too much time with his two cats and eating tim tams. A self-identified sex-positive advocate he cares deeply about gender equality, disabilities, sexual education and social issues. Opinionated and bold he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and say what others won’t. With a yearning for knowledge and experience in all things relating to sex, he is a prolific writer that has developed the content for a myriad of informative Sexual Health and Wellness websites.

Stephen’s articles and writings tends to focus on social issues, sexual education, queer issues and all things fetish and absurd. He comes qualified with the completion of a double Bachelor degree in Social Sciences and literature, and a Masters in Education.

3 Replies to “Power Play Fucking – The Art Of Negotiating Dominance”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *