As I began researching BDSM relationships for my books, I discovered that their portrayal in fiction is typically quite different from real life in so many ways. I mentioned in Part 1 that real life play partners have agreements, Doms are responsible for their subs, players often have scenes with someone besides their lover, and either way, they may or may not have sex. But who are Doms and submissives? What do they look like? And how do they see themselves?
Who are Doms and Submissives?
Well the stereotypical Dom is a man, with a lovely young female submissive. But in real life, a Dom can be female as well, often called a Domme or Dominatrix, and she may prefer her submissive to be a man or a woman. Many play with both. Of course in homosexual circles, a male Dom would have a male submissive.
Can you Recognize a Dom or Submissive?
In commercial fiction (and movies too!), we tend to romanticize the image of our heroes and heroines. In real life, they may be young adults or senior citizens, they may be fit and toned or out of shape, and they may wear the iconic black leather, stilettos or cuffs, or none at all. And even if they enjoy dressing up and wearing leather or cuffs for a scene, that doesn’t mean they dress like that in their everyday lives. There’s certainly the occasional bohemian artist, but the rest have regular jobs in stores and corporate offices. Doms don’t necessarily act tough or pushy–many are mild-mannered and quiet spoken. And very often high-powered executives enjoy being submissive in their personal lives.
How do They See Themselves?
In Power Play, my characters explore the power exchange dynamic in their sexual relationship. In real life, plenty of people dabble with BDSM play, but the ones who are pursuing this ‘lifestyle’ specifically identify as their role. Just as some people may play tennis or dance in their free time, that’s different from people who identify themselves as a tennis player or a dancer, who may enter competitions, and who focus their energy on that aspect of their lives. In a similar manner, people who identify as “Dom” or “submissive” or “switch” (one who enjoys alternating) actively study their roles. They attend classes and lectures, and take turns teaching and learning from others in that lifestyle.
Do play partners have agreements before they play? Do they have scenes outside their relationship? Do they have sex ? See Fifty Shades of Real Life – Part 1!
Also check out “What Six Words does BDSM stand for?”