Dominance /Submission

Okay this is kind of a weird topic but I was watching CSI last night and there was a great bit to do about dominant and submissive sex play. The jist of the entire shhow was Grissom’s great wisdom that “the submissive is always in control” . Sorry I dont’ get it. He based it on the premise that the submissive is given a code word to end the play then therefore the duration of the sex play is in the control of the submissive. I got that but in the end the culprit was a submissive gone horribly awry and by his conjecture “the submissive is always in control” maybe it was just TV or maybe I am inexperienced in the finer points of S&M but if anyone out there understands this concept, I thought it would make for interesting dialogue to say the least. Please explain…

A similar discussion…
Who’s really in control in a Master/Slave relationship?

The submissive is in control in the sense that if he/she chooses not to play along, the whole power thing is ruined for the dominant.

The dominant can, of course, temporarily TAKE control by beating the crap out of the submissive (and kinky sex aside, this pattern routinely happens in marriages in which one spouse terrorizes the other through beatings) but the submissive can still end it by leaving the relationship. A submissive who says “stop!” puts the dominant in the position of having to choose between backing down or continuing (and possibly becoming a criminal). If the dominant is some kind of sleazebag, they might choose the latter and later try to rationalize it (“he/she MADE me do it!”).

From what I’ve gathered, the dominant is in control while the relationship is ongoing, but the submissve can stop it at any time. Whether or not you think that gives the submissive the power is a judgement call.

Peronally, I think CSI is guilty of oversimplifying (imagine that!) and trying to boil down a fairly complicated dynamic to a comfortingly ironic platitude: “the submissive is in control.”

The whole discussion in that thread degenerated quickly, IMHO, and the real issue never got addressed. CSI is seldom accurate (or even thoughtful), but there is the usual grain of truth in this statement, to wit:

The Submissive can be submissive without a true Dominant; a Dominant without a Submissive, however, can’t be dominant (and a Sadist without a Masochist is a rapist or a bloody lump, but I digress). The Dominant needs someone who will, initially at least, agree to be dominated. Which, yes, gives the Sub one hell of a lot of power.

It’s pretty much the same as “A government rules by consent of the governed”; also the same as every marriage where the man does all the talking, the threatening, and the bullying, but it’s the wife who gets her way.

In healthy sex play, the submissive is indeed in control. The submissive enjoys the role-playing, and needs someone to actually perform the dominant role, but the submissive gets no enjoyment if the dominant doesn’t do it right — goes too fast (before the submissive is ready), does the wrong things (e.g., bites instead of slaps), or whatever.

In healthy dom/sub sex play, both people get off. The submissive gets off on being submissive, and the dominant is responsible for that, as well as enjoying his/her own domination. If the dominant is getting off without any regard for whether the submissive is also enjoying it, that’s unhealthy.

It’s to deal with this that healthy dom/sub partners have the code words and other things that establish boundaries and rules for behavior, to make sure both people get what they want. Since the dom is by definition doing almost all of the work, all the sub has to do is enjoy the experience or call a halt, so naturally that’s where the bottom-line control resides.

Yeah, the CSI thing was a simplification, as usual (I didn’t see this episode, but I haven’t been impressed with what little I’ve seen of the show), but there is a grain of truth to it.

I think you’re putting way to much significance on a couple of lines of dialog. Grissom made the observation early in the episode not so much as a display of great wisdom but as the typical verbalization of trivia for the audience. He pointed out that the sub is in control in much the same way that the coroner will belabor techie details about dead people, because on TV when you’re talking for the benefit of an audience, characters have to say things that their real counterparts would never bother to say.

At the end of the episode, this comes up again as a rebuttal to the dom’s expression of surprise that the sub didn’t quit whacking people when he told her to. Grissom says this line again just to make the point that the dom didn’t understand the nature of the relationship he was in. All in all, a pretty minor detail.