Since my introduction to the world of kink, I’ve become attuned to the omnipresent power dynamics in other people’s platonic and romantic relationships, as well as my own. For example, despite my dominant nature, in platonic settings with dominant women, I tend to take on a co-dominant or sometimes submissive role. However, when in the company of dominant men, I usually find myself compelled to challenge their leadership and assert my own.
I wondered, why the sex discrepancy with my platonic relationships? Why wouldn’t I be equally annoyed at all other dominants, not just the men?
I initially hypothesized that my sexual repulsion to dominant men and sexual indifference to dominant women was a likely culprit to my platonic preferences. However, I now suspect the answer is broader.
This isn’t a sex thing or a gender thing. It’s a leadership competence thing.
Despite my innate control freakishness, when in the platonic company of someone I trust, and when that person feels the need or desire to take on a dominant role, I tend to be comfortable stepping aside and following their lead. Generally, I don’t mind deferring to someone else’s preferences if don’t have any — or, at least, if I don’t have any strong ones in the company of someone who does. If whatever they want will make them happier and doesn’t harm anyone (myself included), great! Let’s do that.
With that said, in my experience, I have had an easier time respecting women’s everyday dominance than men’s everyday dominance because it has been easier for me to find great leadership exhibited from the dominant women in my life than the dominant men in my life.
I blame social conditioning for that one.
The men in my life have had a greater tendency to act like they should be in control, out of entitlement rather than merit, whereas the women have tended to act with a greater social awareness and hesitance toward behaving in ways which would offend others. Their focus was always on leading the group and accomplishing tasks, not on appearing powerful in the eyes of others.
We tell boys to always be in control, but we often forget to coach them on how to do it well.
Some men make successful leaders, anyway. They step up to the plate and repeatedly hit home runs. For example, my father is a natural dominant, and I have always deeply admired his leadership abilities. The same goes for my boss.
Other men, like a few of my male relatives, are — at best — awkward when they take on leadership roles, and — at worst — supremely obnoxious. Their leadership attempts come across as a combination of arrogance and over-performance. It’s uncomfortable to witness the mismatch in self-anointed authority and failure.
Children need strong role models and lifelong coaching for how to make good decisions and become great leaders, and not all of us have access to such people growing up. I recognize that many of us could step up to leadership roles only if necessary, and a number of us would prefer to avoid those roles altogether, but I would like us to encourage the rest of us to nurture and provide resources to teach others how to emulate effective leadership. We need more good cooks in this kitchen.