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Powerful People Are Subs

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"I don't want to hear another sound out of you, not a moan, not a grunt, nothing. But if you can be good, I might just have a little treat for you."

Luke Skywalker: He kept calling me "Skywalker". Because I don't have a title — I'm not a senator, I'm not a general any longer, I'm not an ambassador. He used the word like an insult.
Mara Jade Skywalker: He could have called you "Master". Like I do sometimes.
Luke: I don't think it would be the same as when you do it.
Mara: It better not be... Skywalker.
two married Jedi Masters, Star Wars: The New Jedi Order — Destiny's Way

There's an old cliche that powerful people tend to be submissive when it comes to sex. For one reason or another, they prefer being subs in BDSM or are otherwise submissive during sex. This often relates to power-play. Another reason why this trope can occur is that the person is a leader most of the time so they enjoy having someone else take the role instead.

This often pops up as a joke as well. For example, the serious executive, or another high-ranking individual, has a secret thing for femdom. In this case, it's almost always an example of All Women Are Doms, All Men Are Subs. This is to a certain extent Truth in Television, much to the delight of unscrupulous journalists everywhere (many a politician has had their career ended after being busted with a dominatrix). Of course, this is not always the case. Indeed, many people are very consistent: wanting to be either leader or follower in all aspects of their life.


Compare to Aggressive Submissive for when someone has an aggressive personality but does a 180 when it comes to anything sexual, and Brains and Bondage for when BDSM is favored by smart people (who are often powerful as well). See also Best Her to Bed Her and All Amazons Want Hercules, where the person is only willing to love someone that's stronger than they are.


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    Comic Books 
  • Implied in The Authority. Despite being the Superman Substitute of the team, Apollo seems to be the submissive in his relationship with Midnighter.
  • At one point in The Losers, Aisha follows her target (the immensely feared warden of a Hellhole Prison) to the brothel where he goes to be dominated. She waits until the dominatrix has him tied up before entering, chases the woman out, and takes a moment to note the irony of a man who is so feared and has literally decided if others live or die on a whim being in such a predicament. Then she goes to work on him Jack Bauer style.
  • Shades of this appear in Cyclops and Emma Frost's relationship with Frost frequently helping Cyclops to "relax" and "let go" during their downtime. Her Dressed Like a Dominatrix costume tendencies do little to dissuade this line of thought.

    Fan Works 
  • Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya once complained about how frequently doujinshi of the games made the title character, a Hot Witch resembling a stereotypical domme in a Hack and Slash game that is frequently sexually suggestive, the more submissive partner in sex scenes. The fandom responded by making Bayonetta the dominant partner in later doujinshi.
  • Implied in A Good Compromise, which opens with professor and combat veteran Captain Tyria Sark engaging in some light bondage with her husband where she's the one tied down.
  • In the Star Wars Legends fanfic Encounter on Myrkr (NSFW), Mara accuses Luke of being one and claims she knows the type (in the end, it is revealed to be a little role-playing, so the veracity of her statement is unknown):
    "I saw men like you - powerful, rich, men with connections, men who held the power of life and death over others in their very hands. They would come to the lowliest and vile drinking establishments to slum with the locals. They came for one reason, one particular kind of woman... These powerful men who had others trembling at their feet wanted a woman to dominate them. They wanted to feel helpless at the hands of another. They got a sick sexual arousal out of being abused and degraded. That is the kind of type I think you are."
  • The RWBY fanfic Vale's Underground makes Cinder an example. She's a psychopathic, sadistic mob boss who keeps everyone under her thumb. However, she also seems to enjoy it when guys are rough with her during sex.
  • My Pain, My Thrill revolves around Princess Peach finding out that she's a masochist. The problem is that her lover, the equally powerful King Bowser, isn't a sadist. He Does Not Know His Own Strength and tends to leave scars during sex, but he hates seeing Peach injured, even if she consents to it.
  • Saeko Busujima in Fate: Gamer Night is a variation. With Shirou, she proves to be very submissive once he bests her but she's still a sadist with others. Shirou doesn't realize quite how submissive she is until he has to take her as a Familiar and he notices that Saeko's relationship tab labels her as his Sex Slave.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005): Jane disguises herself as a dominatrix to get close to a mob boss. He likes it when she ties him up and whips him, not so much when she breaks his neck and escapes out the window.
  • Jason X: The sleazy college professor is not only shown being seduced by one of his students in exchange for a higher grade but dresses up as a woman and engages in submissive roleplay.
  • The General's Daughter: Colonel Moore is shown to have been the submissive party in the late Elizabeth's BDSM play, inverting their official mentor-protegé relationship.
  • In Undercover, a policewoman goes undercover as a prostitute in an upper-class brothel to investigate a murder. Many of her "clients" are high-powered men who are submissives in the bedroom.

  • Prevalent in The Wheel of Time, its author Robert Jordan having a flair for the kinky. Specifically, it's actually invoked by the Sea Folk, whose marriage vows include a requirement that one member of the couple is always in command while in public, and always submissive in private, something that Lan and Nynaeve don't realize when they ask the people to perform their wedding ceremony.
  • In Cryptonomicon, an extremely wealthy character known only as "The Dentist" opposes the protagonists because he is a submissive under the control of his Filipino dominatrix wife, who in turn takes orders from conspirators opposing the protagonists' attempt to recover gold stolen by Those Wacky Nazis and create an Internet data haven.
  • In Polystom, one scene reveals that Cleonicles, the governor of the Moon, has a fetish for being ordered around and sodomized by his servants.
  • Played for Laughs in The New Jedi Order: Destiny's Way. Luke complains to his wife Mara Jade (both of them senior Jedi Masters) that Fyor Rodan, a New Republic politician, addressed him simply as "Skywalker" during a discussion about the Jedi Order's role in the Yuuzhan Vong War. In response, Mara cracks that he could've addressed him as Master, "Like I do sometimes."
  • Queen of Zazzau: Amina is a princess, later a queen regnant, but her lover is the Hausa War God. Their first time together (a couple pages after agreeing to the pact) has definite BDSM tones, with Dafaru choking her and Amina referring to enjoying her own humiliation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Nip/Tuck: A powerful CEO who comes into the McNamara/Troy practice for surgery turns out to be the sub to a ridiculously aggressive dominatrix. Sean walks in on the guy being tortured with fish hooks and immediately threatens to call the cops. The man claims it's a way to punish himself for having to fire people constantly.
  • Castle: Zig-Zagged in "The Mistress Always Spanks Twice". The BDSM club where the Body of the Week worked is patronized by various powerful men, but on the other hand, the domme who runs it is herself a retired attorney. And then there's the various Casual Kink moments this episode where Beckett, the homicide detective, acts domineering over Castle, the millionaire crime novelist, as well as a male suspect who was a sub client of the aforementioned BDSM club.
    Castle: My safe word is "apples".
  • In Twin Peaks, the manager of Horne's Department Store, who secretly recruits underage girls into prostitution/drug rings, turns out to enjoy being bound and gagged.
  • In the episode "Change" in Silent Witness, the Body of the Week is a wealthy CEO whose secretary tries to cover up that he liked being tied up, gagged and whipped in the bedroom to avoid tarnishing his reputation.
  • The Punisher (2017): Colonel Morty Bennett, who participated in helping smuggle heroin out of Afghanistan inside the corpses of KIAs, commands a base of troops by day, then at night engages in submissive roleplay with a dominatrix. Resulting in Frank giving a hilarious line when he shows up:
    Frank Castle: Well shit, Morty. Looks like I got here just in time.
    • Following Frank's visit to Bennett, Billy Russo proceeds to kill Bennett in a run-down motel room alongside the dominatrix who was there when Frank made his visit to the base and makes it look like a sex-related incident.
  • Assistant United States Attorney Chuck Rhoades on Billions is a sub. His wife Wendy is his dom.
  • The trope shows up occasionally in Criminal Minds:
    • When the protagonists visit a BDSM event while trying to track down a killer using not-Fifty Shades of Grey to lure his victims, the woman they talk to says that the people she sees most are high-powered women looking for a submissive outlet.
    • In another episode, they suspect a school principal who's introduced being very aggressive and authoritative in punishing one of the students, to the point that Blake feels the need to step in and stop him. When they discuss his habits with the prostitutes who've been killed, he admits that he pays them to cut him, rather than to let him cut them, as they'd assumed.
  • Las Vegas: At one point, based on some suggestive camera footage they stumble across, Danny and Mike (mistakenly) believe that their boss Ed, a hard-ass ex-CIA agent who runs the casino, was having an affair with Monica Mancuso, an ill-tempered Gold Digger who bought the casino and regularly feuded with Ed. In an Imagine Spot, both Ed and Monica are in turn portrayed as submissives to the other behind closed doors.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: If Iron Bull is romanced, he decides the Inquisitor has so much on their plate, they'd appreciate someone else taking charge in the bedroom.

    Web Comics 
  • Blood Bank stars Shell Overlord, a powerful vampire with a huge amount of guilt over enslaving humans. This results in him doggedly pursuing the protagonist One (the only human immune to his mind control pheromones) so One will step on him.
  • In Pixie Trix Comix, it turns out that scheming corporate executive GiGi (who was introduced in Ménage à 3) is not only having a relationship with her secretary FiFi, but clearly enjoys being tied up and spanked. All this comes with overtones of Bondage Is Bad and Depraved Bisexual.

    Military Folklore 
  • In at least one platoon of the French Foreign Legion in Dakar, French West Africa, 1940, it was an article of faith that high-ranking officers paid women to beat them.


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