So this is today’s wisdom, straight from the keyboard of your friendly neighbourhood stringed instrument.

Social dominance and sexual dominance are different things.

You can be dominant and shy. You can be dominant and introverted. You can be dominant and uncharismatic. You can be dominant and disorganised. You can be dominant and afraid of rejection. You can be dominant and poor with words. You can be dominant and flustered under pressure. You can be dominant and scared of public speaking. You can be dominant and unpersuasive.

Whether someone likes being on top in the bedroom tells you nothing, not a single damn thing, about how they interact with people socially.
Let me clear about what I’m not saying here. I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a continuous power dynamic between specific people.
But I’m not socially dominant. I’m the person at the edge of the conversation, the one who always seems to be at the back of the group when you walk somewhere, the one who gives way when interrupted. I’m the person who doesn’t speak up when group decisions need making. I’m the person who just goes home when they don’t feel welcome. I’m the person who doesn’t go to new places alone, who won’t talk to strangers, who gets flustered by unfamiliar choices.
I’m also the person who pins my lover down and hurts them and teases them and makes them beg and doesn’t give them what they beg for.
There’s no contradiction here.

Too often I hear people talking as if dominance in bed and social charisma were the same thing. As if my shyness made me less dominant, or my dominance should make me less shy. As if people should shut up and listen to me when I want them to, because I like to hear people scream. As if being able to lead a meeting was a necessary condition of tying knots. Or, just as bad, as if nobody who submits in bed were capable of leadership. As if I couldn’t be expected to be persuasive or competent or able to make hard decisions, because after all, I like to have my hair pulled.

This stereotype hurts everybody. It hurts people who have to be assertive and charismatic if they’re to be recognised as dominant. It hurts people who are assertive and charismatic, and aren’t acknowledged as submissive because of it. It’s inaccurate and it’s unhelpful and I want to get rid of it.

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