One of the first things you’re asked to identify is whether you’re a domme, sub or switch, in BDSM
I decided upon entering BDSM professionally that I was a domme. I wanted to let go of disempowering scripts and conditioning that tells women they need to be submissive and docile, and that dominance is a turn-off. I wanted to grow in my dominance and learn to call the shots. Some women who are dommes are purely dommes, meaning, in no circumstances do they switch or sub. I however, wanted to be more flexible and sometimes switched, subbed at the beginning of my career. After being in this profession for many years, it starts to leak into your identity in all other spaces. It becomes either an outlet, or a lived truth that coaxes out who you really are.
Still, for years, I had no idea what my “orientation” was outside of BDSM professionally. There was a period in which I identified with my “domme-only” peers and would never, ever put myself in any situation that required me being less than a domme. Because for some reason, there was a negative slant they ascribed to the sub position- of inferiority. I started to grow out of that as I began paving my own way in BDSM. They’re both just orientations that need each other to make a scene. I saw them as neutral. I also began craving a safe space to be submissive in my personal life, and began experimenting in that regard here and there. I knew that to be an even better domme, it was important to understand the headspace of the submissive too.
What I then came to discover was how complex, yet simple, this all is. I’m never strictly one or the other- there are times in life when my energy and body language may be communicating dominance, yet my speech and conscious behavior may be dictating submission. There are times when the opposite is true. Still, I was happy and relieved to have found clear outputs of behavior- when I was domming, I was in control. I had the power. I feel that when we don’t grant ourselves outlets to express all sides of our personality, we can oftentimes hinder our development and these traits leak out in strange, shadow-like ways. For instance, if you continually play the submissive role in life, then you may become controlling, manipulative, codependent, aggressive in covert ways.
The healthiest approach is embodying duality and understanding that not all circumstances are the same. I could respond to someone’s energy and demeanor in a certain way, but I won’t know what (dominance, submission) they bring out in me unless I’m present with them and engage with what they’re communicating on all levels. Sometimes gender roles can come into play here, but what I used to think were power dynamics that were strictly associated with gendered roles in vanilla contexts and BDSM role reversals, aren’t that related afterall. Especially after you play for a while, or you begin to strip away a lot of the gender expectations from your own life and allow yourself the room to breathe. I identify as a woman, but that doesn’t mean I have to act like how women are conditioned to be, to be one.
So that’s why I think it’s a good idea to reconsider the idea of switch. Switch to me lays out a binary- Submissive and dominant, and I switch from one to the other. Yes it grants more fluidity than the other roles that are locked in one way of associating with power and control, but I don’t believe that it needs to be a one or the other, an established binary. I prefer to look at it as a whole- a totality of traits that can be expressed simultaneously or one at a time. I’m not a switch. But I’m not just a domme either. I’m a dominant in work, in some ways dominant in life but, I can be many things at once and so can everyone.