Let’s Start from the Top. Or is it Bottom?

 Posted by on December 20, 2012
Dec 202012

istock_000000162629medium-300x220-8201909“I want to be a dominant! People tell me I should start out as a submissive. Is that right?”

Let’s start by taking a look at two reasons why people might suggest this idea.

  1. More so in early days of the public and organized BDSM scene, many saw a hierarchy of ranks between dominants and submissives. You had to move up the ranks to be recognized as a dominant or master.
  2. Some people think that to effectively be a dominant one must experience submission, much like a sergeant is more effectively able to lead subordinates for having been in their shoes at one time.

For sake of completeness, an ulterior motive to get you in a submissive role could also lead to such a suggestion made to you.

Today, the first reason is less commonly cited and the second more so. So let’s focus on the second and start by considering what benefit does a dominant gain by taking on the role of a submissive.

Dominance or sadism is not always about leadership. That said, there is indeed a benefit when leadership is involved because you gain first-hand knowledge about some aspects of submission and you might be able to share any tricks you developed during your experience as a submissive. For example, you might be able to give tips about how to manage time, how to process a difficult experience and manage ego, how to check for understanding for instructions, how to process pain, what to watch for and report when in bondage, etc.

Also, this experience might allow you to better empathize with a submissive when, for example, everyday demands create stress that hinders *voluntary* submission, or when a submissives feels the submission is taken for granted. However, you gain this empathy only for aspects of submission that are common to being human and you would have to experience scenarios that create these difficulties in order to gain this insight.

Furthermore, this knowledge and empathy can be reached through other ways. You can draw upon personal experience in similar situations (e.g. being taken for granted at work, juggling obligations of work with stress at home) or upon communication with other dominants and submissives who can speak to this matter. And this knowledge is only part of the puzzle; you might understand a cost but not the gratification which offsets this cost unless you are wired to psychosexually respond to submission. Thus, this point has limited applicability.

Another related idea is that you should know what a sensation feels like before exposing a submissive to it. I think this point gives general ballpark information because pain is somewhat subjective. For example, some people like pain that is thuddy (think a hammer fist punch on the upper back) while some like sting (think a slap on the upper back). Some like low intensities of pain while some like it high. A masochist likes pain whereas you might not.

It never hurts to strike your hand or leg with a new type of sensation to get a relative idea of intensity but I don’t think a complete scene is necessary with each sensation. A more effective way to know what an implement or type of pain feels like and how hard it can be used on a submissive is to start with low intensity and gradually increase the intensity while asking the submissive to rank the pain on a scale of 1-10.

So I think being played with each or any specific implement also has limited benefit. If a case is to be made here, I think it can more strongly be made for experiencing the endorphin flight to get some sense for what type of altered state of mind and loss of faculties your submissive might face during SM play.

Thus, whether you should first try submission depends on what you hope to gain out of experiencing submission, and whether you want to do it versus whether your motivation is because you are told you ought to do it.

If you want to do it, great! All things equal, going through submission will give you experience and first-hand knowledge beyond what you would have otherwise, which carries value. But this knowledge has limited applicability and can be acquired through conversation. I think it is more important to acquire knowledge and skills from others which relate directly to your role: how to read the skin and body language, what to do if a bottom becomes non-responsive, etc.

On a parting note, I will leave with you am amusing question. Why are not submissives encouraged to assume the dominant role so they can better empathize with a dominant?