Submission is not passive

Submission is not passive.

I remember a submissive saying to me once “It’s easy for me, I just have to turn up and do what I’m told…”

Yeah, good luck with that.

Submission is NOT about being passive. If someone chooses ‘submissive’ as a role because they think it absolves them of the responsibility to be an active and enthusiastically functioning participant in a relationship, they are going to be sadly disappointed.

I see a not infrequent attitude where men essentially say “My vanilla relationships failed because I didn’t do shit and she wasn’t happy with that… I just want someone to tell me what to do…”

To me, that’s not submission. That’s being a dysfunctional person seeking a relationship that will ‘save’ them from decision making, from succeeding at life, from taking responsibility for themselves.

If you want to submit, for fuck’s sake, come to it from a position of strength. By that I mean have some self knowledge, have autonomy, have a functional, successful life (however you define that), have some personal power, and see D/s as a way of expressing your romantic and erotic desires. D/s can and should enhance your life and relationships, but it will not magically save you from a crappy life or free you from taking responsibility for it.

Dominant women are not seeking losers who can’t cope without guidance. They are seeking self-fulfilled men whose relationship happiness comes from submission. There is a difference.

So, if you are thinking that a dominant woman is going to ‘save’ you from being bad at life, at relationships, at decision making, forget it. She’s not. She is not a therapist, she is not a salvation from your sad life. She is a woman who seeks out her complement in life, not someone who is looking for a ‘project’ to fix.

/rant

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33 Comments

  1. *nod* Seems like some people are too shy to initiate anything, make decisions, or otherwise take any of the risks associated with being in a relationship. It’s as if they think that not participating means they can’t screw it up, which is like thinking you can’t screw up at pro wrestling if you never get in the ring. It’s technically true, but it also means you aren’t a wrestler at all. Slapping the word “submissive” onto shyness, indecision &c just devalues the word. Frankly, submission, especially male submission, has been devalued enough. And no one, dom, sub, or vanilla, wants a relationship that’s only grounded on one end. So yeah, good rant.

    1. “Seems like some people are too shy to initiate anything, make decisions, or otherwise take any of the risks associated with being in a relationship.”

      I think this is so true (though I would use the word ‘fearful’ instead of ‘shy’, which I think is a different thing).

      I have no problem with fear (or shyness for that matter), but I DO think that some men who identify as submissive (and I can’t emphasise enough that I only mean *some*) think that by abdicating all responsibility for *everything*, they reduce their risk and maybe don’t even realise that the natural consequence of that is that their partner has to assume ALL OF IT.

      Worst case, if something goes wrong, it’s *all the dominant’s fault*.

      The entire premise makes me feel exhausted.

      “Slapping the word “submissive” onto shyness, indecision &c just devalues the word.”

      Yes! I’m using the word ‘dysfunction’ to package up that whole thing, yes. And boy, I really feel as if I need to do a rant about dominants who do this also now. Even it up… heh. Equal opportunity ranting.

      Ferns

  2. Spot on.

    If I can be immodest for a moment, I’d say that the reason my Mistress values me is because I’m intelligent, well-educated, funny, and vulnerable, but also a bit spiky. I’m nobody’s doormat. If I’m going to submit, it’s got to be to someone or something that’s worth submitting to.

    In addition, despite being over 3000 miles apart, and of widely differing ages, we have a very similar cultural background that draws us together.

    Despite being vulnerable (who isn’t?) I’m also confident and comfortable in my skin. Some people don’t seem to realise that it takes a lot of emotional strength to be submissive.

    I’ve also reached a point in my life where I have absolutely no problem in revealing my vulnerabilities (to her at least), and where traditional gender roles, particularly patriarchal definitions of ‘manhood’ are, IMO, utterly meaningless.

    I would grovel and whine for her all day without feeling that I’d lost a scintilla of self-respect, because I respect her absolutely, and I know that the feeling is mutual.

    In short, my submission gives her something that she values and that feeds her eros, and it’s exactly the same for me.

    1. *smile* Your immodesty is most welcome. Thank you for it and for sharing some of your relationship.

      In short, my submission gives her something that she values and that feeds her eros, and it’s exactly the same for me.

      I’m so happy that you have both found something that works and your first phrase there (“my submission gives her something that she values”) is something I can really relate to.

      Ferns

  3. Not ever. I never sought a bossy woman. It pleases me to please a woman. I find that women find that good. Then I tend to find or sometimes find that women think that I am submissive or that I wish them to be bossy. But I love submission in a woman too. I do not prefer a bossy woman. I ask a woman to relax and be herself. Then to let me know what she likes. I can love a woman for being passive, bossy or submissive. It still pleases me to please her. I have never asked a woman to be bossy. I have asked women to be less bossy. Touch wood a woman will be less bossy with me, if I ask her to.

    1. I don’t see how your comment is related to my post.

      Have you been drinking again, Satan? You know how you get when you have been drinking…

      Ferns

      1. Not related to your post at all Ferns. I comment first. Then I read your post. Or was that the other way around?

        Satan

  4. I don’t disagree with your broader point here. Abdication of responsibility is not the same as being submissive. However, that opening quote touched a nerve with me, as it’s something I’ve jokingly said in the context of individual scenes. In fact it’s almost exactly the words I used in the opening paragraph of my description of the staple zippering scene I posted a few days ago.

    I think when it comes to a time bounded scene then passivity and doing what you’re told can be very hot. That’s not to say it’s easy or that the submissive should simply lie around like a wet fish while stuff is simply done to him. Remaining passive while very stressful things (either mental or physical) are done to you is a real skill, and it can be a real button pusher in a scene.

    So no disagreement overall, but it was so weird to see that opening quote I felt I had to respond. I’ve no idea what context the submissive originally said it to you in, but I don’t think it’s always a stupid thing to say. Particularly if your tongue is in the vicinity of your cheek :)

    -paltego

    1. *pokes at the nerve… poke poke poke…*

      “I think when it comes to a time bounded scene then passivity and doing what you’re told can be very hot.”

      Yes, that’s very true. It can be uber hot.

      “That’s not to say it’s easy or that the submissive should simply lie around like a wet fish while stuff is simply done to him.”

      But this. A hundred times this!

      “Being still and doing what you are told” is NOT AT ALL the same as “lying around like a limp fish waiting for her to do the stuff”. I am calling it out because the *attitude* of ‘not having to do anything’ riles me. I know that *you* clearly see the difference, many don’t (or can’t or won’t) see it.

      Passive to me is ‘giving nothing back’ and even if I want him to stand there, STFU and be a lamp stand, there is ‘something’ that he is giving back to me in the form of submissive energy and a thrumming acknowledgement of something going on between us, and there is a cyclical feedback loop *even if you can’t see it*.

      That concept is not something I was trying to explain in this case (because for ranting, it’s just too subtle and nuanced), I’m just putting it out there now because you raise a good point.

      “Remaining passive while very stressful things (either mental or physical) are done to you is a real skill, and it can be a real button pusher in a scene.”

      Agreed. I like to tell him not to react, but the joy in that is not in him *not reacting* it’s in watching him *fight not to react*. Because… hot!

      “I’ve no idea what context the submissive originally said it to you in”

      To clarify, the man who said that to me was talking about ‘submission in general’. Just… no.

      Ferns

  5. My submission ranges from responsive to active. Even when my partner takes the lead, it’s up to me to be responsive and communicative. My preference isn’t to passively consent to what my partner desires; I want to give active assent, to make that decision each time that I want it because she wants it. It’s something I do, not something that is done to me. That gives me ownership and control over my own sexuality and desires, and I’ve never been happier with my love life.

    1. *smile* I really like how you put that: “It’s something I do , not something that is done to me.”

      “I’ve never been happier with my love life.”

      Aww… happies!! I’m glad things are going so well for you!

      Ferns

  6. Hi Ferns:

    I absolutely agree. Submission can be a very powerful thing. A good submissive always brings at least as much to the party as his or her dominant partner.

    An author I admire (TammyJo Eckhart) disagrees with the notion that D/s relationships are built on power exchange. She points out that without power you can achieve nothing. The slave does not lose his power. Rather he recognizes the authority of his Mistress to direct that power. I always liked that.

    Best

    hmp

    1. “An author I admire (TammyJo Eckhart) disagrees with the notion that D/s relationships are built on power exchange. She points out that without power you can achieve nothing. The slave does not lose his power. Rather he recognizes the authority of his Mistress to direct that power. I always liked that.”

      Oh, interesting. I haven’t read any of her books, though I am aware of her and her writing. I do like that sentiment of ‘directing power’ though, and the implication that the submissive has and keeps power to direct (whatever ‘power’ means to the people involved).

      As an aside, I’m not really comfortable with the term ‘power exchange’ because it doesn’t make sense to me. I get that most people mean ‘power transfer’ when they say it, but as a term it is oddly inaccurate.

      Sometimes I just want to exchange my power for a bar of chocolate. I shall see if the supermarket will accept that.

      Ferns

  7. As a newbie, I have to admit that I’ve said those exact words so color me guilty on the desire for “blind obedience”. But an interesting thing has happened to me in the course of my training so far and that is that I spend just about every idle minute throughout my vanilla day either thinking about things Mistress has taught me or things that might make Her happy. Proactive service is proving to be very rewarding so far. I do love the look on Her face when I’ve done some little thing that pleases Her in a way She didn’t command.

    1. Thank you for your comment! And now it gets tricky because there is a subtlety here that ranting may not get across. The *words* are less important than the *attitude*.

      “Obedience” (even ‘blind’, where I imagine what you mean is ‘I do everything she says’) is not what I am talking about here. This is not about ‘obedience’ vs ‘proactive service’, which is simply a preference for interactions.

      I am talking about someone who offers nothing into the relationship except “Here I am” and thinks that’s a valid (and valuable) way of participating in the relationship, in the play, in the exchange.

      It especially irks me when they not only offer nothing into the interaction, but expect the dominant to ‘fix them’ because they are *incapable* of offering anything due to dysfunction in their lives and relationships, and they think that D/s is the ‘cure’ to their woes and the dominant is there to ‘take care of all that’.

      Regardless, if your Mistress is happy with what you are bringing to your relationship, what anyone else thinks or says doesn’t matter a whit!

      Ferns

  8. Reading your advice in this general area shaped a lot of the way I began to think about and approach D/s. I strongly agree that when seeking out and engaging with a dominant partner submission is an active pursuit.

    The thing is, the reason why I have still occasionally clung to the word passive, is that there are times when I would really prefer to be acted upon. To be told what to do without having to think, or reason, or decide.

    When I’m depressed I have a tendency to become a useless lump, and being told what to do (as opposed to actively seeking out was to please my partner) is something that I may sometimes need. (That or a cattle prod)

    Not all the time, hopefully not often at all, but sometimes I will not have the energy to be anything but passive in my submission.

    1. *smile* I know we have had a few discussions over time about the word ‘passive’ in relation to submission. I’m glad that they were useful in some way.

      “…there are times when I would really prefer to be acted upon. To be told what to do without having to think, or reason, or decide. When I’m depressed I have a tendency to become a useless lump, and being told what to do (as opposed to actively seeking out was to please my partner) is something that I may sometimes need.”

      I’ve quoted that whole lot because I think it’s important (though there are a million different ways to address it).

      Firstly, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be acted upon, or told what to do, or to be micromanaged, or to be dictated to every second of the day. If both parties like that, have at it. Ditto my comment about ‘total obedience’ above. Some women despise proactive service, find it annoying. However you want to enact your D/s is perfectly fine.

      That’s not really the point of your comment, though, I know. I’m just throwing that out as a ‘this is not about how people like to practice their D/s’, which I have no real opinion about as long as all parties enjoy it.

      To the crux: We are all human, and we go through ups and downs, have issues and problems, and what you are talking about there is normal, and natural, and doesn’t define ‘how you see your submission’ (or your relationship). That’s not a small distinction.

      Part of *any* healthy relationship is providing support when it’s needed and being there when someone isn’t at their best. And I think that D/s *can* sometimes be a useful tool in those instances. I don’t see any problem at all with actually absolving you of responsibility, telling you what to do so you can go do it, giving you a kick up the arse if it helps you over those times.

      That’s a *very* different situation from you bringing ‘being a lump’ into the relationship as all you have to offer and calling it ‘submission’:

      “Well, that’s submission: me being a lump and you ‘fixing’ it/me so I don’t have to. You’re welcome!”

      *That’s* the concept I have a problem with.

      I know you don’t do that, and you *definitely* aren’t that guy.

      “(That or a cattle prod)”

      You just made a Cougar-call… you know that, right? She’s gonna come a-runnin’ any minute now, all helpful-like…

      Ferns

  9. Amen, amen, a thousand times, amen!

    As always, you say what’s in my head much more eloquently and succinctly than I ever could.

    I shall be pointing folks in the direction of this post often.

  10. “Regardless, if your Mistress is happy with what you are bringing to your relationship, what anyone else thinks or says doesn’t matter a whit!”

    THIS also X a quadrigazillionbillion

    Coug

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