Experiencing power

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Experiencing power is about feeling your top, dominant or master using power over you, or about you feeling your power over your submissive, slave or bottom. In BDSM there are many activities which allow us to explore this experience of power, but it's important to note that merely having power is not enough. We must use it to control our partner for it to be effective and for it to be felt.

Ways to experience power

Power can be experienced in a number of different ways in BDSM. Here are a few of the most common areas where it is done:

  • Physical strength. For example:
    • Manhandling - grabbing your partner by the hair or arm and using strength to push them, move them or guide them,
    • Physically overpowering or subduing - preventing your partner from doing something using physical force, or compelling them to do something by physical force,
    • Plain demonstrations of strength - lifting your partner off the ground or wrestling with them.
  • Sexual power - at times sexual power can be about fucking with the vigour of a rabbit on heat, but often it's instead being able to be sexual with your partner, to embody being male or female with them so that they respond strongly to you. This doesn't necessarily happen just while having sex. Exactly what this power is varies from couple to couple, but commonly has to do with emotional characteristics, behaviour and attitude, as well as physical characteristics.
  • Intellectual strength - power can also come from being able to out-reason or out-think your partner. This is not the same as knowing more than you partner, but is instead about being to solve problems faster, see or understand things faster, and so on. For instance, for some submissives it is important for them to know that they cannot fool their partner so that they must surrender rather than hope to be able to manipulate their partner or get their way by stealth. For them intellectual strength in their partner is a definite plus.
  • Knowledge - knowing more than your partner is, of course, another way of having power over them. This is not to say that they are ignorant or stupid, but in some matters which are important to them you are more knowledgeable than they are and can take control because of this.
  • Determination - an often undervalued way of expressing power is by having strength of purpose or determination to achieve a goal. Some submissives look to their dominant partner for guidance or direction and a dominant who knows where they want to go and what they want to achieve is an attractive partner. A dominant who is merely skilled with floggers or rope who lacks goals beyond getting an orgasm out of their submissive may not be so attractive. This, of course, depends on the people involved.


In a study about why people had sex, Craig Hill and Leslie Preston[1] reported that approximately 20% of their survey respondents did so to experience the power or strength of their partner, while approximately 20% were looking to experience power over their partner.

This fits well with many of the activities and relationships in which BDSM practitioners engage which often emphasise a disparity of power, i.e., one person having and using power over their partner.


  1. [Hill1996]