Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I once interviewed a famous yoga instructor and one of my questions had to do with the connection between the often simple, physical poses or asanas, and the emotional change that came out of assuming them. My example in the question was the premise that if one was depressed, they could exercise, or in this case do yoga and it could have a positive effect on mood. He talked about the power of various positions and movements and how the energy that is connected to our emotions works its way through our bodies in the poses. He talked about how often we reflect physically what we are feeling emotionally. For example, when depressed, we rarely walk with good upright posture and chest out, but usually we are closed, slightly hunched over with shoulders pinching inward. The reverse is true when we are feeling happy, strong, confident and carefree.
Of course the poses in yoga are deliberate and conscious and different poses bring about different physical, emotional and psychological results. That’s one reason that there are different yoga programs and poses for different times of the day and for different purposes, which aid us in everything from relaxation to energy.
I think that in a similar, and even deeper way, some of these dynamics are at play within the context of various “kinky” acts in the D/s dynamic – they are expressing complex subconscious feelings that are potentially quite profound. For example, women who are confident and commanding often carry themselves in a certain way. BDSM images often show women – often ample – in power poses with hands on hips and legs slightly spread. That stance can imply something bold and daring. Men, sometimes look exaggeratedly cowering by comparison. Other images suggest woman as feminine and striking, sometime nurturing yet dominant in poses standing over a man who is kneeling in front of her as she reaches down to caress his head or pull him into her, close to her. The men in some of these images are sometimes very masculine, muscular figures that allude to physical strength, but yet his position beneath her with head bowed down close to the life source, or looking up into her eyes, implies that he is getting his power from her.
It makes me wonder if underlying a true D/s dynamic there isn’t ultimately an implied acknowledgement that regardless of what a man is or achieves there is a maternal debt that will never be repaid. These are perhaps underlying, “meta” messages that may never rise above the subconscious. They are tied to the dichotomy of the female as both mother and lover. This isn’t to suggest anything overtly oedipal; after all, most of us have no literal sexual desire for our own mother! But if we were to try to break down and verbalize the underlying dynamics of what is going on in the “kink” -- where the woman stands over the man and they look into each other’s eyes and she sees the man get down and worship her literally at her feet -- there is, for some of us, a highly sexually arousing event that involves the, perhaps unspoken, covenant that he needs to be seen as succumbing to the ego surrender associated with accepting the fact that the dominant woman provides the potential of the guidance, nurturance and love that he got from his own mother, but now fully realized as an adult, including non-maternal, sexual implications and possibilities.
Males are pulled away from mothers in order to pursue the construct of the predominant male archetype. This pursuit is the antithesis of that relationship with the first woman. I think that part of the great turn on of finding a woman who is equally turned on and enthusiastic about her part in this particular kink, with its underlying dynamic, is that it allows the submissive man to let go of that archetype and acknowledge how much he longs for that which is feminine, which was withdrawn from most of us at such an early age.
As consenting, sexual adults these “meta” messages play themselves out in a way, which unlike as children with our mothers, where we explore this interdependence and the need for closeness with a woman in an erotic, sensual and sexual way. There is also eroticism and arousal in the privacy of having her, our dominant woman, know of this desire, which to the masculine, outside world is perceived as a weakness. In this way the submissive man is going into the realm of some of the greatest taboos within our sexual society. After all, the idea of that maternal nurturance, love and tenderness is relegated to a brief period of near total dependence associated with pre-birth, infancy and the early parts of childhood. It is outside the mother’s realm that the male learns everything from aggressiveness and the skills needed to compete, to the need to hide anything within himself that shows acknowledgement of dependence and vulnerability, which are traditionally seen as feminine traits and thus considered weaknesses in the patriarchal world. For reasons I am not clear on, there is also a turn on in the embarrassment we feel in revealing this need within ourselves, to a woman. Implicit in our vulnerability is acknowledgement of the woman’s power over us, which at once can be sexual, sensual and nurturing. This acknowledgement -- this covenant that outlines this intimacy and interdependence -- is the antithesis of what traditional masculine imagery does with regard to women: everything from the patronizing of the woman’s place to the assumed subservience that is still a part of the thinking of more traditional men, to in the worst cases, rape and violence against women.
To me it is something as simple as this “on my knees” kink, when done with the right woman within the context of a trusting, loving relationship, that works through many complex issues. And in spite of the unpopularity of acknowledging the sexual turn on, it is in fact that turn on that attracts many of us to want to make this expression.