I was talking with a visiting friend the other day about the "Spoiling Feminism" post, and, after a bit of reflection, commented that if I could inject one bit of comprehension into the brains of people I argue with sometime, it's that people are most powerful when synched up with who they are. Then I read Trinity's frustration at the blogs over BDSM, and decided to write about this.
I have commented before that getting into a stable d/s relationship as a submissive has been the single strongest contribution to my development and maintenance of a sense of personal power and capacity. And I'm not going to use the "empowering" buzzword, because that's nonsense; I did not get this power as a gift from outside, handed to me by my liege, or from thumbing my nose at some orthodoxy or other -- I got it from being able to put my integrated self in motion. If, gods forbid, something were to happen to him and our relationship, it would not go away, because I know what it's like to have that power now.
And I know that this concept will get a bunch of little twitterbirds with the, "But DH, you're a submissive, and further you're in a relationship with a man, which means this is all about perpetrating the hegemonial status of patriarchy somewhere in your subconscious and Come The Revolution people like you will be heeeeeeeealed" like is suggested in some of the comments to the post that Trin gave up on, but, y'know, unfuck the twitterbirds. (I'm not gonna fuck 'em, for sure.) If you're one of those little birdies, shut up for a minute and actually listen to what I'm saying, okay?
One of the big ways that systems keep themselves in power is to keep people who might challenge them off-balance. I wrote a while back a piece about how crazy Western culture is about the core biological impulses colloquially referred to as "the four Fs" -- food, fighting, fleeing, and reproduction, as it was taught to me long ago in class. Everyone is kept offbalance by this shit. And people who are of their own selves outside of the parameters of the normal in whatever way get it worst of all, because there's this constant modelling of the boundaries of what is a real human that stops somewhere short of us freaks out in the desert.
And I read stuff like the comment thread at Amptoons and watch people scurrying around drawing their little personal lines of who's the monster off the edge of the map, and who needs to be corrected and cured. And I see sequences that go like this, in paraphrase:
"Sheyeah, right, like a couple with a male dominant and a female submissive is counter to social norms."
"What makes you assume that I'm a submissive? Huh? Isn't that kind of fucked up, that a feminist dealing with a kinky woman assumes that?"
"Well, okay, no, I didn't mean you specifically, but there are people like that out there, and their stuff is clearly just asking for the Evil to come in."
Maybe, grudgingly, Trin's allowed in the sandbox, but I'm presumed to be a concussed idiot led down the garden path by the patriarchy or some other such blitheringly offensive nonsense. If I were a top or a domme or something else, well, maybe I'd be allowed a model of power, but as it is, my stuff needs to be questioned more, examined more, evaluated in terms of well, really, is this what I really want, truly, even after I've had my goddamn consciousness raised?
I had this big revelation a while back, working with one of the tools of Feri witchcraft, the Iron Pentacle. If one traces the points of the star around in the standard 'drawing a star freehand' way, the Iron Pentacle starts with Sex, goes down to Pride, back up to Self, across to Power, and down to Passion, before returning to Sex. Tracing the pentacle that way, each point is the previous one in motion, the ripple of that point.
I learned how Pride emerges from Sex from watching a lover's orgasm, and then expanding the metaphor.
The big reveal for me, though, was how Power is Self in motion. The more centered in myself I am, the more whole and complete, the more manifest, the stronger I am, the more able to act, because each act is backed in the fact that I am real and whole and putting my whole self behind those actions. When I am dissolute, when I am off my center, when I am acting from a place where there is self-doubt, I have no power, I have no capacity to move, because I constantly question whether the action is legitimate, the choice meaningful, the motion well-chosen.
I used to have those moments of doubt, back before I had my relationship with my liege, about whether it was okay for me to be a submissive, if this part of my Self was something that I should accept or question, correct, and get heeeeeealed from. I held myself as incomplete, refusing to give that portion of me any legitimacy, and thereby sabotaging my capacity for self-worth, acceptance, and effective action. Even when I shook most of the conscious stuff, gave up on the question of whether or not it was okay to 'give up my power', I had this lingering offcentredness about whether or not it was okay. I had relationships where my kink didn't mesh well with a partner or caused issues of one sort or another. I wound up in doubt that the sort of interaction I wanted was possible, or whether, if possible, it was going to be welcome or acceptable to anyone.
Having a partner who not only connected extensively with that part of myself, not only loves and accepts it, but who gives me the support that those fragile and ill-assimilated portions of myself need to have to integrate and bring myself together -- this is something that has meant that it's been possible for me to get into therapy after years of mumbling that I need to do so, has gotten me to wrestling with personal demons and strong enough to face them, has not only revealed to me what power I have when I'm actually in possession of both a lever and a place to stand but gotten me able to start working on becoming more Self-possessed, so that I have even more real, genuine, making a difference to the world Power.
Because I'm in a place where it's okay for me to be who I am, to be my Self, I'm actually able to do the damn work of figuring out how to be a gods-be grownup, and learn how to bring to bear adult Power. And because I recognise the huge wellspring of strength that that centeredness is, that rooting myself in my Self has granted me, I find myself caught in a sort of strange baffled wonderment at the people who want to try to convince me that I should be something else, should conform to their political fetishes, should lobotomise my understanding of power to 'being bossed around' because they told me to. Do these people not realise they want me to be a child, and further to be consciously constrained to weakness? Do they think that this is appealing to someone who strives to live in a place of I-Am-In-Motion-Making-Ripples-Of-Power? Be someone else, be still, be frail?
I am many things, and there is not a place where one stops and another starts; I strive towards actual wholeness. Someone may come in and say, "Well, being a submissive may be one thing, but that creates a vulnerability to these kinds of abuses", but being a submissive in motion does not create different Power than not being willing to put up with bullshit in motion does -- both are me, both are the ripples of Power that come from Self. Being a submissive is not about allowing my Self to be diminished, as the handwringing twitterbirds would like to suggest: it is allowing my Self to move.