Submission is Not Passive

"Submit" is an action verb.

Well, duh, Paradox, you might say. Of course it's an action verb. That's just basic grammar.

You would be right, but I mean it in a deeper sense than that.

For a long time, I felt a little guilty when I had long sessions with lovers where I was being submissive to them, where they were doing hurty or bondagey or sexy things to me and being in control of what was happening. I felt like the burden of creativity, of action, was on them and that it was somehow unfair. That I was simply taking what they gave me without contributing that much, since I was going along with what they thought up and told me to do.

I've realized it's more complicated than that. And better than that, really.

When I'm playing with a top (or dom or whatever) who likes what he* is doing, he's getting something out of it too. I'm giving him my reactions and my permission and contributing my energy to the scene. Depending on our dynamic, I'm giving him my obedience. I'm using my strength to hold uncomfortable positions or to accept whatever pain he gives me. I'm giving him a release that he probably craves on his own, access to my body and to an activity that he wants. I'm exciting him. It is, as I say on my Fetlife profile, a gift.

To submit is an act of will. It's an active choice, one that I continue to make throughout a scene. There's a saying in improv of all kinds: Say yes to your partner. And it applies in kink (and sex for that matter) because if I'm not saying yes, we can't do anything. If he's trying to feed me and I don't open my mouth, that's the end. If he's trying to hit me and I run away, that's the end. If I use my safeword at any time, that's the end. And when it goes well, when it's hot and exciting and satisfying, it's because we created that together.

Which is so, so much fun.

*I use male pronouns since I tend towards heterosexuality in my kink life. I play with women sometimes, but not nearly as often. But this could all apply to dominant types of any gender.


Jordan said...


I've always seen submission and domination as active, but I've always focused more on the act of striving: striving to get what they need, but striving also to please. In the dom's case, s/he is striving to be a good dom for his/her partner, to respectfully provide experiences for the sub while soothing his/her own needs (to be dominant in a particular way). In the sub's case, they are striving to be true to themselves (safe-wording when necessary, refusing the dom when and if they feel a need to be punished, or striving to go beyond their limits) as well as fulfill their own needs.

Both have opportunities for enjoyment: the dom enjoys the dom role and the act of providing experiences for the sub; the sub enjoys the experiences and providing the dom with the opportunity to be a dom.

Though I've always used this model, I've never really considered either the role of dom or sub as strictly a position of GIVING. Though it could be argued that this is implicit in the model I described above, I'm not so sure. It bears interrogation.


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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