Sometimes I look around the online and meatspace kink scenes and shake my head at some of the toxic rubbish being broadcast by both novice players and people who appear to have been around the lifestyle long enough to know better. Some of these myths would be mildly amusing if it weren’t for the fact their proponents ignore utterly their destructive potential.
Among certain segments of the lifestyle, vulnerability appears to be a dirty word. It can lead to all sorts of problems, including abuse of a Dominant’s hard limits and dismissal of a Dominant as not being “real” enough. Even though so many in the kink world have labored mightily ad nauseum to dispel this myth that Dominants aren’t allowed vulnerability, there are still too many players drinking the toxic Kool-Aid these myths create.
Here are five reasons why I believe vulnerability among Dominants should be celebrated by the community.
- Dominants are human beings.
We don’t roll off an assembly line in some sooper-sekrit factory in the year 2050, like Terminators armed with floggers instead of plasma rifles. We didn’t spring fully formed from the head of some deity of all things Domly. Not all of us have ten fingers, ten toes or four functioning limbs. We have all the same hopes, fears, needs and desires you do. We eat, sleep, piss, shit, bleed, fart, fuck, laugh and cry. We feel love, hate, apathy, remorse, depression, joy, pain, pleasure and hunger.
The idea that Dominants are not allowed to have vulnerabilities is a denial of our very humanity. It is high treason to reason itself. Worst of all, it creates a state where Dominants who need to reach out for help are often rebuffed as “fake doms,” because if they were “REAL,” they’d be able to handle their own shit without any assistance or sweat, right?
- Dominants can be wrong.
Lying cheek-to-jowl with the idea that Dominants are human is the reality that we’re going to make mistakes, be wrong or need help. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes and needed help on occasion. It is not Dominant to whitewash one’s mistakes or deflect blame. Some people believe Dominants should never apologize, because we’re always right, right? WRONG! We make mistakes and outright fail just like other people.
A Dominant who cannot admit error is no Dominant, and this toxic myth that a Dominant cannot apologize because it shows vulnerability is equally insidious and dangerous to everyone in the lifestyle.
- Dominants have feelings.
Dominants have the same feelings as anyone else. We often have to sublimate or subordinate our feelings to help those who depend on us deal with their own struggles. The trouble with this is, sooner or later, those feelings need and deserve to come out. It is the steps we take to deal with them so we can get back to business which in many cases separate a good Dominant from a dominant, or worse.
Perhaps more importantly, I find when I show my feelings and the vulnerabilities from which they arise to those who kneel before me, they are not only highly supportive, but more comfortable revealing their own vulnerabilities to me in turn. Thus, showing vulnerability is a net gain in my dynamics, not a loss!
- Dominants have desires.
This seems so basic and obvious that I wondered whether this needs to be said, but a cursory search of questions on Quora.com regarding what is and is not submissive indicates yes, Virginia, it does. One question I saw recently asked, “Is it a submissive act to go down on your partner?”
I’ll let you clean up the mess from choking on your beverage of choice because of your disbelieving laughter before I continue.
No act is inherently submissive or Dominant in itself.
It is the way in which the act is presented and structured which grants it Dominant or submissive status. If I tell one of my girls to get those fucking panties off because I want to taste what’s mine, this becomes a Dominant act and her response by corollary becomes a submissive act regardless of my posture. Likewise, if I tell one of my girls to get on her knees and suck my cock, and she does it, this is a Dominant act as well and their response a submissive one. It doesn’t make me a sub, cuck or otherwise less than Dominant. MKINYK!
- There is no Wan Twue and Only Way!™
Everyone has their own ideas of what makes a good D/s dynamic, Dominant, Master, sub or slave. “Good” is not a metered standard which can be proven with a certificate from an education course or even community approbation. “Good” is very much in the eye of the beholder, and “right” is whatever the people who live in the dynamic and are subject to the consequences and rewards thereof say it is.
The argument against vulnerability for Dominants ignores this premise in favor of a mythical “One Ring to rule them all” which applies equally to every Dominant and dynamic in every situation. It also implies those who aren’t living in a specific dynamic have a say-so in its management, an idea which I find deeply distressing on many levels.
Kink is all about being who you are at your most basic level, regardless of which side of the slash you occupy. If we can agree on this point, then vulnerability is necessarily the ultimate expression of this premise.
Why deny this fundamental right, and the release and intimacy it offers within a dynamic, to anyone?
Don’t drink the poisoned Kool-Aid.
Be human. Be vulnerable.
Be yourself and everything which comes with it.
“This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as night follows the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” –William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene 3.
J.S. Wayne is an experienced kinkster and head of a polyamorous D/s House under the nom de guerre “_Unicron_” as well as the author of Fantastic Dominants and Where to Find Them: A Player’s Guide to the Ultimate RPG. He is fascinated by human sexuality, occultism, quantum physics, the use of language and trying to figure out just what the hell the lyrics to “I Am The Walrus” were actually trying to say.