We like to think that BDSM is new, that power exchange is something that has evolved recently.
However it is far from the truth. Historically most relationships have been male “dominated”. As an example, many people use the 1950s as an example of the D/s relationship they want to have.
Today, a healthy D/s relationship may reflect some of the virtues of the 1950s while providing women with greater rights outside the dynamic. An unhealthy one will be more along the lines of abuse, where one partner is not comfortable or safe.
I found this Tumblr blog that shows BDSM through “the ages” and has some really great photos on it: http://historyrestrain.tumblr.com/
Go check them out!