This was posted on RD and other boards (I'm not sure where it originated, sorry) and got a lot of good discussions going - so I thought I'd put it here after a friend reminded me of it.
I've seen this in various places over the years. Part of it originated on the oooooold Tripod blog/website of Kim Debron: http://kimdebron.tripod.com/id3.html
. Some of what she writes is standard in the BDSM community, but some of it is not. For instance, her definition of bottoming as roleplaying as a submissive within a scene while a "true submissive" is submissive all the time and immutable in that is not standard. She, of course, claims to be a "true submissive". This veers off into role essentialism, in which several false presumptions are made about BDSM and its participants, such as:
- a person has a certain innate, natural, or static BDSM role;
- a certain bdsm role necessarily has certain features;
- a person's BDSM role is determined by gender.
You can get an eyeful of how rampant those assumptions are in the BDSM community by reading this blog post by a submissive male who goes on at length about, and quotes several studies on the same topic of, role essentialism: https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/domism-role-essentialism-and-sexism-intersectionality-in-the-bdsm-scene/
For instance, he talks about how many dominants just assume that everyone should respect their dominance, including other dominants, by, for example, asking them for permission to play with "their" submissive. That crosses the line into unethical because that is involving other dominants who did not consent to the fantasy that the original dominant enjoys with his submissive. Back in the real world, he is not owed any sort of deference by other people; they are still all his equals. If they agree to participate in the fantasy that he's dominant, then they may ask him for permission, but it's still just a fantasy. Role essentialism does have a tendency to lead believers into such traps.
I identify as a dominant woman and can tell you from experience that because of role essentialism, many men who otherwise identified as dominant would come to me in secret for sub sessions because they got sick of having to explain to others that submissive men are not sissies or doormats or any other negative term. The preconception of men being dominant and women being submissive is pretty ingrained, and they just get tired of battling it. Also, just because they switch from time to time does not mean they are switches, or undecided, or any other negative connotation. They are not dominants trying to top from the bottom, or "do-me subs". They've just decided they want the pressure off for a bit, and submission allows them to relax. Who doesn't want that from time to time?
Anyway, I've read a bit more of that article now and can see some of the same mistakes being made, and I hope readers will get the other side of the picture as well and avoid the essentialism traps.