Before you read another word, read this. Then, come back here….
“I may have a naturally submissive personality, but I enjoy being forced….” – Mariposa
“How do you tell the man you love that you want him to own you? That your desires are not of the vanilla kind. That you want him to dominate you in every aspect. That you need and crave consequences for your brattiness. That sometimes your [sic] bratty just because you need him to put you back in your place. That you want him to spank you when you break the rules.” – Bratty Sub (unfortunately, her blog was very short-lived)
There are two different kinds of submissives*, in my experience. (Well, of course, there are an infinitude of kinds of submissives – but there are two useful broad categories into which submissives can be divided.)
On the one hand, there are bratty subs, like those described (and the one shown) above – women who seem to get off not just on submitting, but on being made to submit, who don’t necessarily crave pleasing their dom so much as being dominated by him. There’s a strain of thought that says that such brattiness is, itself, a problem, or at a minimum, a symptom of a problem. This seems silly to me. There are some people for whom this is just how they like to be: they enjoy being a smart-ass, and they enjoy the fight, and they enjoy losing the fight. In fact, for many subs, the sexiest part of an encounter is the moment when her will is defeated, when she is forced to do that which she doesn’t “want” to do, when her power is overcome (and, of course, ditto for the doms: many crave the moment in which they overpower their sub, assert their dominance forcefully).
On the other hand, there are what I think of as devoted subs – women whose pleasure doesn’t come in the moment of power’s being wrested from them, but for whom it comes in the moment of their willingly handing it over. These women don’t say “no,” they don’t question the dom’s wishes: if the dom wishes something, then these subs wish it, too. Their pleasure comes not from defiance being overpowered, but from devoted service. (In fact, if it were true that their defiance could not be obtained by force, that they were too physically strong to be “beaten,” then so much the better, for all involved.)
I can’t, won’t, analyze either the subs or the doms here. All I’ll say is that, for me, the use of the same word to refer to these two very different kinds of submission seems dead wrong. What I crave, as a dom, is precisely the opposite of what a bratty sub has to offer; what I have to offer is precisely the opposite of what she craves.
I want to earn your trust, and, having earned it, be given your body. That giving, the trust embedded in it, the confidence that all will be good if left to me, is the moment of maximal excitement for me. And it’s precisely the “taking” of it that I want to avoid, that I structure my dominance around avoiding: I don’t want to take something from you. I want, at every moment, to feel that what I want is, by definition, what you want. This is what, for me, is so powerful about submission: it ensures a complete congruence of desire, a congruence on which I may rely, completely. And I take great pleasure in achieving your submission by causing you to want to give it to me, rather than by taking it from you.
I take reassurance in that structural congruence.
For me, one of the most difficult aspects of sex – one I’ve spent years working to overcome – is what I think of as the legacy of a second-wave feminist mom: the idea that if I respect a woman, I’ll never use her; that my desires always should come second, not out of chivalry, but out of respect.
Turns out, I learned in my 30s, some women (most?) desperately want to be used and objectified. What’s more, sex is just better – for both parties – if you’re selfish. Generosity doesn’t make for good sex, most of the time (or, perhaps, ever). Michael Bader wrote about this in his (excellent) Arousal and here, on his web site.
So I take nothing away from those who want their compliance, their submission, to be wrested from them – or from those doms who prefer to discipline a bratty sub.
But for me, I don’t want to discipline you: I want perfect compliance, perfect yielding, perfect submission.
And a note: Throughout, I refer to submissives as female. This is because I’m a straight male dom (with some unexplored switch-y tendencies). I’m not presuming that submissiveness is in any way intrinsically female, that there aren’t plenty of submissive men and dominant women, or that I’ve even come close to identifying the variety of gender/sexual twists available. I’m just speaking simply, about my own experience.
Submission is a gift one that a dom should never demand of. Service is beauty it lets us in other ways to show our appreciation in how well we are cared for. When a connection is there, the dance is real, and the energy exchanged between partners is phenomenal.
I don't know how to explain it exactly, but I think that there can be generosity in objectification, even though it seems like it should be inherently and almost exclusively selfish.
Elegantly put, and I agree. It's why the bratty mode is so problematic for me. I want the gift, not to have to demand, or take, it.
I agree. Oddly, though, I think generosity is maximized in objectification by maximizing selfishness. Always hard for me….
N., The initial point that knotbound makes in the post that you reference is, I think, inarguable, and that is the very different understandings of the term "brat". I come from an age demographic for whom there is absolutely no good connotation for "brat" – it's shorthand for someone whose self-centeredness manifests in willfully bad behavior. I think that most who describe themselves as "bratty" are really intending to convey a sense of playfulness – "cheekiness", as knotbound puts it, or "smart ass", as you put it. It's a way in which boundaries are explored, a way to determine to what extent a dominant can be trusted, or perhaps, can be relied on. It sounds perverse, I know, even child-like, but a submissive needs a very solid construct of trust, and if she cannot trust the dominant to ensure that he has her respect, how can she trust him to respect her? (By the way, and speaking as a smart ass, this kind of cheekiness is a good barometer of a sense of humor in a dominant) You say, "I want to earn your trust, and, having earned it, be given your body. That giving, the trust embedded in it, the confidence that all will be good if left to me, is the moment of maximal excitement for me." Yes, of course, but the question is, how do you get to that level of trust? Isn't it a journey of mutual testing, of trying out and discarding, so that you both are confident of being safe in the other's care? In some dynamics, playful resistance (not bratty defiance) on the part of the submissive is part of this. I think, too, that part of the reason for your take on this is that you aren't, or at least don't appear to be, in the market for the kind of structured dominant/submissive relationship that involves rules, training, ritual, etc. And if you aren't into that, there really isn't the environment in which brattiness can flourish. You are actually one of the few people (and the first dominant) I've come across to see a difference between needing to be dominated and needing to submit; a difference which I, too, think is very real, despite my arguments about brattiness. There is a whole separate aspect to this, one that involves the sheer physicality of dominance, but that's a discussion for another day. Best,b.e.g
Thanks for this (very) thoughtful post. I think you're right: you make a point that I didn't really get into (and hadn't really thought about) – namely, the HUGE difference between structured relationships and play in the context of more conventionally configured relationships.I'm clearly in the latter category – my relationships are conventionally configured: when I dominate someone, or imagine allowing myself to be dominated, it's a way of having fun, not a way of organizing power in a way that extends beyond the beginning and the end of a sexual encounter. That latter form of a relationship is radically different….Thanks for your (increasingly) thoughtful comments….