One of the myths that always pops up is “the submissive is the one really in control”

Granted. The submissive has more control than credit is sometimes given for but to say they have overall control is both inaccurate and, frankly, dangerous.

For the sake of this post I am going to use Dominant as a catch all for terms such as “Top”, “Service Top”, “Sadist”, “Rigger”, etc because the logic is the same – and submissive again as a catch all covering “bottom”, “masochist”, etc.

The myth generally comes from the idea that the submissive can (and should)
– set limits
– set boundaries
– safeword at any time

But the Dominant can (and should) also
– set limits
– set boundaries
– end the scene at any time- Hell, decide if they even want to engage with the request at all

But also. Ignoring something like the Dominant deliberately ignoring those (if you’re strapped to a bench and being struck and can’t wriggle free then you’re really not in control if the Dominant disregards your safeword.  Obviously this is an example of abuse) there are situations where the submissive may not be able to communicate their limits, boundaries or safeword.


I will start with the safeword as there’s two common reasons you might not get a safeword from a submissive.

The first is that during play a submissive may encounter subspace.  A bit like alcohol, anything that alters the mind can make a submissive a little bit more suggestable.  So this means a question asked, or an action began, may not get a ‘no’ or safeword.

A dispute in recent years involved a male Dominant doing an agreed scene with a female submissive and this involved heavy beating, breath play, and others – and he would then towards the end touch her genitals.
She does not say no or safeword. Partially because she is in subspace and maybe either isn’t fully aware of what is happening or struggles to communicate this is not OK.
It would be bad form to say she is in control. She is not.
It may also be very possible that this IS completely OK and she loves it. But regardless, to say she is in control is still dishonest.

The next problem is there are some stubborn subs.  These are subs that are able to safeword. Who should safeword. But feel or fear that doing so would either
a) disappoint their Dominant
b) end a scene they are otherwise enjoying

Both of the above are things that the Dominant should be aware of and keep their own control of the scene.  That they can monitor, understand and communicate with the submissive to know themselves whether to wind down the scene, change activity, and have confidence the submissive is communicating with sound mind.


There is a slight tie in with the above.  For example a Dominant and submissive have agreed a caning scene.
The submissive has been caned before – it is not a new activity.

If the Dominant decides 6, 12, 18, whatever is enough – then they are controlling the scene. They should also be controlling where to strike and the level of impact.

If, for example, there is an effort to see how much or how hard the submissive can take then there again may be a scenario the submissive is pushing themselves further than comfort levels.

With absence of a communicated safeword, the Dominant has to keep control before it becomes too much.

This might be something they achieve through conversations or prior play.


We all know the subs who will say they will do anything or have no limits.
And, to be honest, even the best communication from a submissive still comes with the knowledge that limits are not exhaustive.

If a Dominant and submissive are conversing and the submissive is very “up for anything” then the Dominant has to exert their control.
In either – refusing to play in the first place if they don’t have confidence the submissive can communicate with them.
By asking questions about experience and previous play.
By treating someone as a newbie and maybe giving a little all-round of activities rather than blindfolding them and thrashing them cos they said they’d “do anything”


In general. Any scene with any submissive there is a lot the submissive isn’t going to be able to do. For example if they’re blindfolded, tied, gagged, in subspace – and so the Dominant literally controls the scene.
Of course, it may be the submissive can direct a little be it via safeword. Be it by, “I really do not want to do that today” or, subject to relationship/context, ‘bratting’
But the Dominant always maintains control over what to do *next* which could include stopping the entire scene if they can’t do something they planned.


Of course. The aim of any scene or relationship should be mutual enjoyment. This could be in consensually doing things you both enjoy. Or, consensually non-enjoy, for example not being into a certain activity but knowing the other person enjoys it so doing it for them.

But that’s control also.  If you know your submissive doesn’t enjoy an activity, but you do, but they’ll do it for you – you can choose whether to include it or not. Or whether to offer incentive/reward.
Equally, if you know your sub loves something you’re not massively into but isn’t a limit, it can make a nice reward at your own discretion.

Of course. If you demand something of a submissive they can refuse, but if this was a reasonable request – are you really compatible ?