What does control mean to you? Is it mental? Emotional? Physical? Is power a subtle trait or does it declare itself with loudspeakers and riot gear?
I'll tell you the truth: I find genuine control with locks and keys way hotter than voluntary control. Why, I can't tell you. If everything is about willpower, and the sub/slave's desire to serve, it's just -- meh. I know a great many people feel differently, which is fine.
This relates to something I've been pondering. There are a number of reviews and commentaries on As She’s Told that describe Maia as willing to do whatever, to please Anders. And I've had to think about why that doesn't resonate with me. Yes, Maia wants to please Anders; yes, his pleasure makes her happy and secure. He even notices how hard she works to stay open to what he's doing to her, despite her fear. But she isn't choosing to do what she’s told in order to please Anders. She’s not the active party. Anders is choosing what she does, to please himself. She's handed that power over to him, and now if she doesn't fully cooperate, she gets punished. There are consequences. The "doing it to please him" idea is a misreading of the power dynamic.
Both Maia and Etrin struggle against something that won't budge. That is one definition of helplessness, and genuine helplessness...works for me; what can I say? Hardware needs to have a purpose, or it's meaningless. Real locks and keys mean genuine helplessness, not just when the dom is there but all the time.
Of course, there are many other ways to configure a power dynamic. The subtle version can be unnervingly effective, and potentially just as abusive as the physical version. I think sometimes about Grandcourt’s cruel and casual power over Gwendolen In George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda. Grandcourt never doubts his right to own and control his wife exactly as he pleases. Nineteenth-century male dominance with a flavour of psychopathy. And he never lays a hand on her, or even threatens violence; he doesn’t need to.
So I do understand power in its subtler versions. It just doesn’t happen to turn me on. Thoughts, anyone?