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Mentoring: Dominance and Vulnerability

Posted in Archive, and Sex & Relationships

This is the second post in my series on my new Mentor-student relationship. For the first, see On Mentoring.

Noelle. Photo by Flash.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have begun mentoring a young Domme named Noelle in the psychological side of Dominance and Submission. Earlier this week she got in touch with me in a state of some confusion and self doubt. A good conversation set her straight, but as often happens the result was some thought provoking reflection.

Noelle is a firm believer in fully exploring all sides of anything which catches her interest. When she began exploring BDSM, she tried both Dominance and Submission, and she still considers herself a switch on some level. Even so, being a Domme is her primary interest right now. Lately though she has felt conflicted because after her first successful scene she’s deeply in love with this role, yet a masochistic part of her still craves the endorphins and release of consensually-inflicted pain.

I told her how even as a Dominant I can be masochistic — I adore when my submissive play partners will leave bruises, scratches or bite marks on me. Not only does it give me pleasure but I wear the marks afterwards as proudly as they do. At this statement, Noelle opened up to me about a damaging conversation she had had in her first days in the scene, a conversation which was haunting her now.

It seems she’d said much the same to another Dominant, and he’d responded with anger and contempt — he even told her she had no right to call herself a Domme if she allowed any such kind of vulnerability into her life. How would a submissive respect her, he asked? How could he even respect her, he added.

To me it’s easy to see how this so-called Dom showed his own weakness through his limited worldview. It’s also easy to see, however, how this kind of response is damaging to newcomers to the scene. I explained to Noelle that it was sometimes important to remember that not only are there all kinds of attitudes and opinions in the kink scene, but the scene itself is changing rapidly. What for decades was a deeply secretive, hidden and traditionalist culture is bursting into the wild, flexible, digitally social modern world and that will naturally bring changes.  Many of those changes are very good ones for people like us who don’t fit into rigid binary definitions in our sexuality, but they also arouse fear and hostility in the hidebound.

In the tarot, Strength is represented by a woman who receives the submission of a lion despite her weakness. Image by Menina Dedê.

I was happy to reassure Noelle that there’s nothing wrong with being a Domme with a masochistic side. In fact I’ve known several, including a dominant woman I was in service to in Houston that loved to get flogged. But it led me to wonder where we got this notion that a “True Dominant” will never show vulnerability of any kind.

It’s true that at times we put on a mask of unwavering strength, of fierceness, of intense control. All of that is part of the fun. And yet the phenomenon known as “Dom Drop” comes about in part because we cannot stay there all the time. After having been in such a powerfully heightened altered state it can be a harsh comedown until we learn to balance those two sides — until we learn to embrace all of us. As Mistress Steel says in the link above:

“That means my vulnerability, my need to cuddle, my desire to laugh, to dance with my man, to do dishes and vacuum, whatever it is that pleases me and brings me fulfillment and joy in my life all are part of me, integral and necessary for me to feel whole and healthy. There are no rules which say you as a Dominant must do this, that or the other. You are unique.”

Unless he is living in as much of a fantasy world as the “Dom” Noelle encountered, your sane submissive does not want some super-dominating robot. He wants to be involved with a dominant human being. The submissives I have known and loved wanted a person with a sense of humor, with unique desires, quirks, and genuine emotion.

To me the true dominant is one who can show vulnerability and still command respect, not one who must hide their real selves under a thin and easily broken veneer of false bravado.

Kit’s short story “Lifting The Veil” was published on March 1st. Read an excerpt here!

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