The following is a comment I intend to post in response to the article "Romantic Domination and Submission in MLP:FiM" on the blog "Analysis is Magic." Posting is blocked for that blog on my work computer, so I'm posting it here instead for now. The article in question:
My response to this blog post:
As a fellow pony-analysis freak, I have to say this is some respectable work, as far as giving insight into the complex social interactions portrayed in the series (its strongest suit, but sadly the nuance and subtlety within the characters had diminished drastically by the time Season 3 premiered).
Complex dynamics of power and domination/submission are definitely at play in this episode, and you track them with admiriable precision. However, I totally disagree that there is anything sexual going on. Just because characters are acting dominant or submissive does not automatically mean they are referring to BDSM. You are correct that the power dynamics at play in the episode are the same as those found in BDSM, but there is absolutely nothing in the episode to suggest that Rarity, Fluttershy, or Photo Finish are deriving sexual pleasure from their roles. I know from personal experience that people may be directly involved in dominant/submissive roles without any connection whatsoever to sex or fantasy. For instance, I may act submissively in the presence of one friend and more dominant around another, depending on the dynamics of our relationship; but I think it's totally absurd to claim that this means I automatically deriving sexual pleasure these roles. The interactions in this episode (which you detail eloquently and accurately) are amongst friends (and an image-savvy talent scout bent on commercial exploitation), not love interests.
(And yes, even though Photo Finish does "exploit" Fluttershy, there is nothing in the source material to imply that this exploitation is sexual. Commercial exploitation? Yes. Personal exploitation? Sure. Sexual exploitation? Possibly, but in all likelihood, probably not.)
That said, you have an excellent blog. I will keep reading when I have free time between calls at work and drop comments when I have something to say, I'm sure we could have some edifying arguments.