In correspondence, a friend (who is also new to BDSM) suggested he is only interested in a D/s dynamic when he and his Domme agree to play. Outside of “play,” they are equals. (Note the quotation marks… perhaps “play” is another topic for another time.)
But what does it mean… to be equal?
While it isn’t a new topic in BDSM discussions, it’s new for me to think about equality in this way, both in general and in the specific context of an actual relationship. Seeing as how I’m still trying to figure out what I want from my relationship with J, it seems like a good time to think it through…
We are equals.
We are equals in the sense that J and I are are well-matched in terms of personality, education, intelligence, sense of humor, interests, income, political leanings, long-term goals, and what we’re looking for out of a relationship (at this stage). We are equals because I’m no better than J, and J is no better than me. I don’t think I’d be attracted to a man who I didn’t consider my “equal” in the ways I listed above.
We are not equals.
We aren’t equals in the way that no one person is equal to anyone else. I am better with computers than J. He is better with finances. I’m good in the kitchen, and J is good with cars. I know more about politics; he knows more about policy. I’m prettier. He is stronger.
We are equals.
We are equals because we are both worthy of giving and receiving love in the way that best suits us. To the best of my assessment, he is worthy of my dominance and I am worthy of his submission.
We are not equals.
We are not equals because I am dominant and he is submissive. I dominate. He submits. I have more control in the relationship than he does–more control over what we do, how we do it, and when we do it. My say overrides his. Of course, the person with more control in a relationship is, by default, in a position over the one who isn’t. We are not equal because my say overrides his.
Does it matter?
I don’t think so. At least, I don’t think it matters in my current situation. J and I are equal in some ways and not in others. While, of course, any inequality negates the possibility of equality, that’s only if you’re looking at the notion of “equality” in an entirely abstract and unusable sort of way. An overarching approach to equality isn’t useful to me because it doesn’t speak to the day-to-day goings on of our lives. It doesn’t speak to lived relationships–it only speaks to relationships in theory.
Besides that, one of the values J and I share is that we both put little value on that sort of abstract notion. We don’t value that kind of equality, nor do we want it. Equality (in the abstract) isn’t important to us because it doesn’t facilitate us getting what we want out of the relationship.
For whatever reason, J is submissive, and I am dominant (and J wants to be submissive, and I want to be dominant). In that regard, we’re equal in that we’re both getting what we want and what we need from the relationship. The way we both get what we want is through our acknowledgement of different individual needs and through our consent to an imbalance of control, perhaps not in theory, but most certainly in practice.
(I know this is reductive and dependent on semantics and situation. I’m just trying to figure it out in a way that’s meaningful to me.)