Identifying as ‘a dominant’
It's taken me many years to become comfortable identifying as ‘a dominant’. A common kink trope is the concept of the supposed ‘natural dominant’: a cis man, before whom anyone lesser will feel faint and compelled to submit. A more general trope is that men just need to have an air of confidence in order to be attractive to women[a]. These two tropes get combined by an army of cis men behaving like entitled douches towards people they haven't actually negotiated a consensual power dynamic with. For example:
- “I'm a dominant. If you're lucky, I might consider you as a possible submissive.”
- “As I'm a dominant, you will address me solely as Sir / Master / Lord.”
- “Oh, you're a submissive? I'm a dominant, so although we've just met, you're obliged to do whatever I say.”
It gets somewhat farcical: there are those who describe themselves as ‘ultimate dominates’, the misspelling making it difficult to even begin to take them seriously.
All too many women have had to deal with this phenomenon - not only women who identify as submissive or switchy, but women in general. This, combined with the dominants of the kinkier-than-thou crowd[b], meant that although i was happy to identify as a domme[c], i avoided identifying as ‘a dominant’ for many years.
The problem, however, is that i am in fact a dominant. Not only are RACK[d] d/s power dynamics typically central to my intimate relationships, but i only switch in very specific circumstances (usually involving me having regularly interacted with someone over an extended period of time).
i had a number of discussions about this with one of my current partners, who very strongly identifies as submissive. She was adamant that i shouldn't abandon the term to the entitled and arrogant, and that if i'm comfortable identifying as ‘a top’, i should be at least as comfortable identifying as ‘a dominant’ - she feels i'm dominant in particular more than i am ‘a top’ in general. So i now identify as a dominant, and i'm comfortable with that.☙
[a] @sgrstk once said on Twitter, “The only thing more attractive than confidence is intelligence. Don't believe me? Have a conversation with a confident idiot and let me know how horny it makes you.”
Cf. also the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which people with low skills overestimate their skills:
[b] i.e. the group who has granted themselves the ‘responsibility’ of deciding who is and isn't really kinky, or is or isn't a serious kinkster.
[c] The ‘feminine’ form of ‘dom’, and not, as a number of people seem to think, just a fancy French spelling of the latter.
[d] ‘Risk-Aware Consensual Kink’.