So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

10 June, 2007

Yeah? Well, My Power's Got Balls

There are days that I am kind of sad that I was out sick when they handed out the gender essentialism derangements, because damn, if it doesn't make it hard to understand people. I swear, there are times I feel that I'm only monstering around in this damn labyrinth because someone put pink and blue frocks over all the damn signposts; what's a snake to do?

This one was, almost tangentially, talking about "masculine" ways of being a dominant in a BDSM interaction, as opposed to, presumably, "feminine" ones. And the "masculine" was defined as "force or overt force-inspired power."

This makes my head hurt. On a number of levels.

I'm aware, in a sort of intellectual way, that it's a cultural norm (at least in a number of circles) to equate maleness with force, and to equate force with power, but it's not something that's ever been intuitive to me. And I certainly wouldn't get "force or force-inspired power" from the concept of masculine dominance.

Not least, I think, because my particular prejudices read power that rests on force as insecure power. Fragile power, easily disrupted, needing to prove itself consistently (to itself and its subordinates) by making displays. Power that doesn't trust its capacity to act and has to demonstrate that it can make changes by forcing them. Which means this "male = powerful" assumption that rests on force as proof of power mostly comes across to me as fragility with bravado masking weakness.

There are places for power as force that aren't going to come off as weakness to me, but it's not where I would rest the nexus of power, or even, if I could wrap my head around what "masculine power" was supposed to mean in the first place, "masculine power".

A thread of power in my relationship with my liege is that he is someone who inspires me to a support role who gives deference to his leadership. This might wind up somewhere where I would assume someone was pointing when they said "masculine dominance", as the cultural unmarked case of leadership is male. (My favorite story about the 'I just don't think to challenge your leadership' response I have involves a good friend of mine: we were puttering about Edinburgh sort of aimlessly, and I had the distinct impression she wasn't sure where we were. It wasn't until she said, "I don't know which way the hotel is" that I pointed straight at it. My sense of heirarchy is happy to offer support and directions, but not to lead, where she's concerned.)

A thread of power is care and responsibility, the capacity to look after my well-being (and I his, but that starts getting complicated). And, y'know, I see this in places outside my own crazy moon language or whatever -- in Raven Kaldera's written comments about his boy, often explicit from people who do some sort of animal play in which the sub is considered a pet, and thus the owner has extensive care responsibilities as part of the framing, but there's at least the basic "If you don't take good care of your toys, they'll break and then you won't have them to play with anymore." And the thing is, taking care of people is I know -- again intellectually -- flagged "feminine", and I don't get that one either.

A thread of power is that he respects and values the support and service that I have to offer in all of its forms -- ranging from sexual through emotional through making sure he has dinner available to scraping the polyurethane bubbles off the bottoms of the shelves for his bookcases so he can put on the rest of the coat. And really, if respecting support roles were considered a gendered trait, it might exist as a cultural norm for someone. (Not that I'm bitter.)

There are other threads, but if I started hauling out all of them I'd be here all week.

And, y'know, I've had a kinda rough week, emotionally, for a bunch of reasons, and I got to spend the afternoon with him, and he held me and stroked my throat and pulled me close when I near cried from the needing of that care and concern, and he's no less my liege and my love when he's opening me up and holding me close and cherished like that than with the hair-pulling rough fucking or the rope or the performing household tasks or whatever else is butch enough to get recognised as showing power to the essentialists. His ability to do that is intimately wound up with the fact that he is my liege, has the power to crack my shell like that, which has nothing to do with force. We are whole, complete people, and sometimes even subtle.