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Power Exchange - Core Track,101 - Dynamics of Power Exchange: An Introduction


21 Aug 2016

Speaker: Ikonoclast

Date: 24th July,2016,Sunday

At the entrance we were welcomed by a KC organizer at the registration desk, where there were also cookies and tea, and pictures from the IKC photo exhibition to browse through. We headed indoors, and made ourselves comfortable after selecting a spot to sit, be it a chair, sofa, or the floor. There were many familiar faces, and some new ones too. We welcomed our speaker, and then everybody introduced themselves, following which Ikonoclast took over.

To get things rolling, he started by asking us a basic question—"What do we mean by power?" Of course, the word 'power' has many different definitions if you look it up in the dictionary. But it's understood that for the purpose of this workshop, it's not the power that's measured in Watts that we're talking about, but power in a social and interpersonal context. Already, we got various responses to this question, showing that we all have our own conception of the word and what it means to us. But we converged on a simple working definition, where power is seen as the ability to control or influence another person. We dove into some of the academic approaches to looking at power and its various types (cf. French and Raven's bases of power), just to get an idea of how many different ways there are for power to manifest itself, the conditions required for it to happen, and also the limitations of power expressed in a particular way.

Now before you start getting the wrong idea, we weren't being subjected to a dry lecture. The speaker made the whole presentation quite engaging, littered with little anecdotes and humour. The format of the workshop was quite interactive, and questions and participation was encouraged. Those present did not disappoint, and we got some interesting discussions. This discussion about what power is comprised the first half of the workshop, and then it was time for a short break for us to stretch our legs (meanwhile on the screen we had a picture of Elmo tied to an automobile)


After the break, we got to the main theme of the evening, Power Exchange. Having talked a bit about what power is about, it was time to discuss why one would want to indulge in (consensual) power exchange. Why would you want to control someone and have power over them, or conversely, want someone to control you and have power over you? The reasons for wanting to do so are also varied. People do it for pleasure, as a form of exploration or experimentation, as a means to bond. For some it's a means of escapism from their normal reality. Many gain a sense of belonging and acceptance by indulging in it. There is no one reason why one would want to do it, and what one seeks out of a relationship involving the exchange of power, as well as the extent to which this exchange takes place, (ranging from a relatively equal/switch relationship all the way to TPE) falls over a broad spectrum.

Depending upon what is important to us (or simply what turns us on), we seek certain types of interactions and relationships. We took some examples, such as a Master/slave relationship (involving authority, obedience, and ownership), or that between a professional Dom(me) and client (which could be based upon availability and discretion and involve elements of sadomasochism), or a DD/LG dynamic (providing mentorship, security, and a feeling of belonging). This too generated a lot of freewheeling discussion, including a discussion of power exchange dynamics not only in the kink world, but our vanilla lives too, and how they might be connected. How much of what plays out is strictly personal, and how is it connected to the social, political and cultural?

To wrap up the workshop, Ikonoclast spoke of some of the practical aspects, through a discussion of the elements that can be a part of a power exchange, and how to play with them responsibly. Control can be physical, wherein one may have control over another's body, their physical mobility, comfort, appearance, and give them pleasure or pain. It can be mental, through controlling someone's thoughts and emotions, their decision making, sensory control, conditioning, getting "into one's head" (something to watch out here is that sometimes the one who believes to be in control is in fact the one being controlled!). And it can involve controlling someone's lifestyle, by enforcing a hierarchy or routine, assigning responsibilities, tasks and chores, and having influence over what are normally an individual's personal choices. There is plenty of scope to be creative, and the participants chipped in with ideas of their own!

By now, we had had enough food for thought, and it was now time for some food for our stomachs, a moment that was being eagerly awaited. We helped ourselves to some delectable Kerala cuisine, and there was plenty of it to go around, so we all had our fill. Along with good company and conversations, of course!

Post-dinner, we gathered together for a final task before concluding the event—a feedback session, where we all got a chance to share our experience of the workshop and what we thought about it. We did receive a lot of constructive feedback, which Ikonoclast also appreciated. For some people, the content was eye-opening, while for others, perhaps it was mostly stuff they were familiar with. This being a 101 level workshop, it was to be expected, but we were unanimous in thinking that it was a good thing that such a workshop took place and would welcome more of it in the future to delve deeper into the topic. We thanked Ikonoclast for coming and volunteering to conduct this workshop, and we hope we shall get to see him again (and if Trump gets elected come November, he plans to resettle in India. But will it be worth it? Hmmm ...)