Power Plays

One of the great things about writing erotic fiction is exploring some of my own ideas about sexuality and BDSM. Since Heather in Haven is about the title character’s exploration of those things, I get to immerse my mind into them. This means I get to refine and evolve some of my own ideas, which I like.

Sometimes it is nice to trace your own progression as you learn and develop.

In one excerpt, Heather and her Mistress have a short discussion about their roles. You might remember me showing the scene in my last post. Quick recap: It is Heather’s place to state what she wants, and Mistress Victoria’s place to consent to do those things to her. It is what I was always taught was the Dom/Sub relationship. The scene, though, really painted the picture for me in ways that the old “the sub lays the boundaries” simply cannot.

In part because the old adage, as true and useful as it is, simply does not give the full picture of what is going on there. It still implies a loss of control, a relinquishing of power from sub to Dom.

Only if you are free to relinquish that power, and you can assert your power back at any time with a safe word, then have you really relinquished anything at all? I have explored that illusion of control, and I have always been of the opinion that in any healthy sub/Dom relationship, the submissive is ultimately the one in control. The Dom only has whatever power the submissive gives.

To misquote a favorite movie,

“You have this power over me.”

Only, I’m finding that even that is an over simplification. When brought to task in my story, I found that it was not as simple as the submissive being in control. The Dominance-Submission game of BDSM is a dance, an intricate play of power between Dom and sub. When brought to life through my story, I found Heather happy to explore her limits, but Mistress Victoria happy to withhold.

Just because your submissive is willing does not mean you have to do.

Which is admittedly an old lover’s game. One wants. The other teases. It can create some great bedroom tension and, let’s face it, some nice rough sex, assuming you’re into that (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it if you are).

And yes, the idea is nothing new to me in the realms of BDSM. We all know the cliche Dom, looking down at the misbehaving slave and asking “Do you want me to spank you?” and, of course, laughing wickedly when the sub answers a plaintive yes and says “But why give you what you want so easily?”

What I had not really given much thought to, or explored, is what that little game is really doing. Why have it at all, if the purpose is to spank and whip the person into discipline play or make the submissive in Master/slave lick your toes for you?

The point of that game is not the act that you’re withholding. It’s the relationship itself that underlies it. Heather is there to be Mistress Victoria’s submissive, but there has not been submission given yet. Their first encounter involved Heather sitting back and being pleasured, and her second encounter carries the same expectation. After all, isn’t she there explore her pleasures and sexuality?

The game of withholding serves the same purpose in BDSM as it does in the bedroom: bring the other person around to wanting – to wanting – whatever act is being withheld. In the bedroom, that act of withholding by one partner is met by the second being more aggressive in seeking it. That might take the form of rough sex, as the other partner gives in and lets themselves go into the act. It might involve the other partner finding other, creative ways, to coax the one withholding into giving – a new technique in foreplay or a clever game designed to bring things around to the desired act.

In either case, withholding from your partner in bed brings that partner more into what is happening. Think about it. We almost always play the withholding game when our partner is following rote routines in sex. Five licks, she moaned, time to plunge in. We all fall into those routines when we have a regular partner, and when we withhold the expected outcome, we gain our partner’s attention. They focus. They think.

They act.

In Dominance & submission, withholding whatever punishment or demand the submissive expects to receive has the same effect. It is not about the Dom displaying power or invoking his or her will. It is about pulling the submissive out of routine and making him/her think about what is taking place. The submissive willfully doing something to elicit a direct punishment may be a fun thing to spark and flavor play. When it becomes a routine and habit, the submissive has failed. He or she is no longer submitting and handing over those reigns of power to the Dom.

BDSM play is very much a game of trust, and one should never enter into play with someone they cannot trust absolutely. Even though Dominance and submission is in the hands of the submissive, who with a word or gesture can call an end to play at any time, it is not an illusion, not really. Once the scene begins, the submissive really does relinquish control. It may be for an hour of paid time with a professional Dominatrix or until two lovers are spent. When the Dom withholds, it brings the submissive back into the mindset of the dynamic and reminds him/her of why s/he is there, and what, in being a submissive, s/he wants.


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