Power and privilege

Power and Privilege (Vegan BDSM pt3)

Why Vegan BDSM? – veganism, feminism and kink part 3

In this final part of ‘Why vegan BDSM?’ Miss Pixie and Stuniverse discuss the opportunity for insight that arises from having fun with role play and power exchange.

Role play and taking the place of the other

Role play is an integral part of kink. Through role play we are able to step out of ourselves and be anything we want. We can be sexy nurses, mean daddies, a naughty child or a faithful dog. One of the primary reasons we do this is to experience the feelings of power (or powerlessness) when we step into these roles. People who engage in animal play often feel a keen affinity for their chosen animal. Over time, they develop an understanding of how it feels to be a dog, or a cat, or a pony, or a fox. While we can never truly know what it is like to be another person or being, by role playing them we can often learn something. Remember how it feels to be a dog? You can’t use your hands because you don’t have any, your ability to communicate is greatly reduced and you are completely dependant on your owner for food and care. You place all your faith in this person, you love them so utterly and trust them so blindly that you are effectively helpless.

It begs the question – if I existed permanently in this state, how would I like to be treated? Its easy enough for us to consider this with a dog since most of us have owned or been around dogs at some point. But what about a fox? Or a pig?

Recognition of power imbalance

For many of us the experience of kink is, at it’s core, about experiencing power imbalance in some form. We deliberately create situations where we take on power over another, or hand over our power for a short time. In the world of kink this is a consensual act known as “power exchange”. When we play in this way, we become consciously aware of those items, situations and/or role dynamics that can create power imbalances. We deliberately create “protocols” about how we speak and interact, we wear symbols of power or submission, and we represent our power physically through relative freedom and restraint.

Similarly, through our play we create ways to talk about power, and to equalise power when it is important. We recognise that a submissive cannot always consent while in subspace, so we may attempt to discuss the scene ahead of time. We agree on nonverbal signals with those who are gagged. And importantly, as a Dom we work hard to foster a play space which is safe for our submissive to speak their mind, where they know there are no repercussions if they need to stop the scene, give feedback, or say no.

We have observed that the acknowledgement and exploration of power imbalance within kink relationships naturally lends itself to the noticing of other kinds of power imbalance in the world. Specifically to do with social power and the various types of privilege. The power imbalance of a man who chooses to play with a woman, or a person of colour, or a person with different physical abilities, must be acknowledged in order to effectively negate -or exaggerate- those power imbalances.

That is one of the beautiful things about kink, it allows us to explore issues such as power imbalance. We can play with them, notice what it is like to be on the vulnerable end, and hopefully learn from it. As we do, isn’t it our duty to challenge these imbalances when we see them play out in the world around us?

Once we begin to acknowledge privilege in the form of male privilege, able bodied privilege or colonial privilege (amongst many others), it becomes easier to acknowledge another form of privilege that often goes unnoticed – human privilege. The power imbalance between humans and animals is as real as the power imbalance between men and women. Playing with power needs to be considered within the wider societal context of power and privilege. And if we want to effectively acknowledge and eliminate unintended power imbalances, we need to try and acknowledge all of them. This includes considering the potential implications of playing with, and wearing, animal products.

Thanks for reading.

If you have any comments we would love to hear from you.

Someone in your life need to learn about the importance of power? Why not check out our awesome web store for some ideas ;)?

Thank you,

Miss Pixie and Stuniverse

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About Stuniverse

Stuniverse is a very lucky person. He has been exploring kink and polyamoury for about 8 years, and both have dramatically changed his life for the better. A long time vegetarian, he made the happy leap to veganism at the beginning of 2014 and won't look back. Stuniverse is currently the driving force behind Ethical Kink, and brings a bunch of technical and business skills to the team. His interests and values include: feminism, ethics, personal development, meditation, veganism, activism, games, being a massive geek and writing about himself in the third person.
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