“I need someone to *force* me to submit”

So, Lily Lloyd wrote an awesome comment that got me thinking, particularly this part of it:

When I hear “force me to submit”, I think someone’s looking for some kind of D-type Ubermenschen who’s so completely confident and knowledgeable that it makes submitting effortless.

The idea that the fantasy of being forced to submit is really a fantasy about submission being easy makes so much sense to me. This is just guessing, since I’m not submissive, but I’d assume it would be a lot less scary to submit to someone if you could somehow be sure they’d never fuck it up. Not to mention, it’s a scary thing just to admit you want to submit – if you’re a man, well clearly you’re not a real man, if you’re a woman, you’re a traitor to the feminist cause, and if you don’t fit into the gender binary, you’re buying into heteronormative power dynamics. If someone conveniently forces you to submit, you don’t have to admit you want things that you’re not supposed to want.

So, if from the submissive side fantasies about force aren’t really about force (or at least not solely about force. Let’s be honest, force is hot), is the same true from the dominant side? I think it is.

When I fantasize about forcing someone to do whatever I want, sure, it’s partially about having the power to that. But it’s also about not worrying that I’m going to screw up. Sometimes I think the most attractive part of that fantasy is not having to worry about my partner’s happiness. Just like no-one actually wants to be forced to do things they don’t enjoy on any level (having your submissive buttons pushed by being forced to do something you don’t like, to heavily paraphrase a comment of Ferns’, counts as enjoyment on some level), I would never actually want to force someone to submit to me. If someone needs to be “forced” to submit, I’ll wish them well and find someone who can demonstrate that they really do want to submit to me. Consensual non-consent is hot for the space of a scene, but if I have to fight you to get you to submit every bloody time, I’m going to start wondering if you really want to submit to me at all.

In a fantasy, on the other hand, I really enjoy not having to worry about anything but my own enjoyment. I may have to hand in my control-freak badge for this, but it’s actually kind of nice when not everything is my problem. Taking responsibility for making a scene work is deeply satisfying for me, but it’s not effortless. It’s also a vulnerable place to be. If I try something new and it falls flat, I’m going to feel pretty stupid. It’s nice to imagine dominants are all-powerful, but every time we ask for something there’s a chance we’ll be told ‘That’s just weird and I think you’re kind of a freak for wanting to do that’. Maybe not in so many words, but nobody wants to see that ‘I’ll never see you quite the same way again’ look in their partner’s eyes.

Having taken my argument this far, I just figured out that we’re pretty much all fantasizing about the same thing we fantasize about “force”. We all just want to feel safe, whether that’s safe enough to submit or safe enough to ask for anything we want.

What do you think, readers? Am I completely out to lunch here?

9 thoughts on ““I need someone to *force* me to submit”

  1. (all of this “forcing” is obviously, to me, seated in the realm of “consensual forcing”, as my preamble.)

    For me, I don’t require force in my relationships – most of my partners don’t (or couldn’t) force me to submit, nevermind physically “Force” anything that I hadn’t already agreed to. No real complaints there, that just seems to be how things work.

    I do fantasize about the possibility of force, though, as opposed to the actual use of force.

    Sometimes when I am going through something excruciating, I know in the back of my head that I could just stand up and walk away. I could wriggle out of those ropes. I could just flip over and pin my top under me, instead of vice versa.

    That knowledge in the back of my mind works to reduce some level of satisfaction; it’s submission only insofar as I allow it to be, I am rarely [if ever?] made to feel helpless or at the whim of another. I always feel like I have a certain semblance of control.

    I don’t want that control. I want my partner to run faster than me, to be taller than me, to have more weight than me – or at least know more about joint locks and martial arts that they can make up for the difference. I want to know that if I try something stupid, or if I try to get away, that shit will fall flat. I will be at the mercy of my partner, and that is really really hot.

    Even if they never actually flex any of those muscles. I just have to believe it for me to really “let go.” It can be tough to walk that line.

    It’s tough to bring this up because I also understand and appreciate how “hot” it can be for me to be able to run away and choose not to, and I’m not quite sure how that side of things balances out. I guess being able to run away and not is hot for the top; not being able to run away is hot for the bottom? (guessing!)

    Once, on FL, I tried to bring up this subject and was met with an angry wall of “YOU AREN’T REALLY SUBMITTING” that made me feel pretty bad about ever mentioning it, so I’m happy you’re bringing it up here with a bit more of a general, questioning perspective. I’m interested to see what other folks write in response.

  2. A large portion of those who write about wanting to be forced to do everything are typing with one hand. That said, among those who actually do BDSM in real life, force can be hot as part of a scene, as you said. But if force is required every single day, it’s no longer a d/s relationship. It’s just a d relationship. Lots of dominance, but no submission.

    This is the flip side of the doms who sit around saying “gimmie gimmie gimmie” while contributing little to the relationship; lots of submission, but no dominance. It’s an s relationship.

    How much dominance and how much submission a particular relationship should have is really a matter of personal taste. Most people I know prefer a solid mix of the two and tend to avoid the two extremes I just mentioned.

    I also feel that the use of force enables a sub who is ashamed of a certain desire to experience it without guilt. I see it most frequently in regard to forced bi scenarios. The sub wants it but doesn’t want to admit (either to others or to himself) that he wants it. So by passing off the responsibility to the dom, he’s essentially free to indulge without worry. “No, I’m not bi- she *made* me do it!”

  3. Hi, Stabbity!

    Roo, I think you get at something very interesting when you say:

    I also feel that the use of force enables a sub who is ashamed of a certain desire to experience it without guilt. I see it most frequently in regard to forced bi scenarios. The sub wants it but doesn’t want to admit (either to others or to himself) that he wants it. So by passing off the responsibility to the dom, he’s essentially free to indulge without worry. “No, I’m not bi- she *made* me do it!”

    Every time we negotiate, in addition to negotiating activities and limits, we’re also negotiating how the emotional risk of the encounter gets distributed.

    Let’s say that the emotional risk of an encounter is 100 points, including things like:

    * The risk of the s-type having reduced affection, respect, or trust for the D-type after the encounter.
    * The risk of the D-type thinking the s-type is too needy, clingy, too much work.
    * The risk of liking a particular activity ‘too much’ and that forcing either the s-type or the D-type to face uncomfortable facts about themselves.
    * The risk of being misunderstood about something very private and personal.
    * The risk of being thought “too weird” or a freak
    * The risk of being seen as a kinky sex partner, but those kinky urges mean your partner disqualifies you from the running for conventional relationship goals (marriage, kids)
    * Depending on the activity, the risk of real injury from the encounter, leading to unpleasant sequelae, including visits to the emergency room, encounters with medical or police personnel.
    * etc etc etc

    There could be less or more on that list, right? So if the total emotional risk is 100 points, is one partner bearing more of that risk than the other one?

    I often read “force me” as a maneuver to shift more of the emotional risk into the D-type’s column. I think the desire to have a partner take on more than 50% of the emotional risk of an encounter is tied to sexual shame — as you point out, Roo, “I didn’t do it! They made me!” Well, what’s preventing you from really owning liking that thing? Probably sexual or gender-role based shame.

    D-types try to do this too — for example, look how contentious threads about bratting get. Why? Bratting pushes the emotional risk onto the D-type. I’m being put in a position where I have to force an adult who’s disrespecting me to shut up, possibly with physical force. What if I screw up, and my tongue is too sharp or my cane too wicked? What if I pull them over my knee and they fly right over my lap and do a faceplant in the carpet? I really like *willing* submission. Sure, it turns my crank. But how much of the force applied to the crank comes from the fact that it’s less emotionally risky?

    Lots and lots of sexual fantasies are about reducing the emotional risk of a sexual encounter. Look at the standard porn trope of the plumber and the inexplicably hot-for-him housewife; it’s sex without ever having to worry about getting shot down.

    • I often read “force me” as a maneuver to shift more of the emotional risk into the D-type’s column.

      That is such an awesome insight! I’ve never liked the “force me” dynamic, but I’ve never articulated my reasons why quite so clearly. When you lay it out like that, it’s so clear that dumping all the emotional risk onto the dominant is unfair. I’m totally happy to play act “force”, but I have to be absolutely certain that the bottom/submissive really does want what we’re doing.

  4. Stabbity, I think you are really onto something. I totally buy the argument that everyone wants to feel safe. There’s a counter-current of wanting to feel vulnerable or dangerous, of course, but I think underneath there IS always a certain universal desire for security and acceptance. I really like how you flip it and point out that this is true for D-types, too, that we like subs who want to submit because then we can force them to do all kinds of things without feeling a shred of guilt. It’s almost as if THEY are forcing US to be sadistic fucks; they want it, don’t they?

    Roo, your comment about the use of force enabling a sub to experience a desire without guilt reminds me of a common explanation I’ve heard for why women have rape fantasies. It’s often suggested that women fantasize about rape because it takes away their own accountability for having sex, making it guilt-free.

    To play Devil’s Advocate, though, maybe it really is the idea of being FORCED to do something – anything – that really turns people on, and sex and bi-sex and other common ‘forced ___’ fantasies are safely harmless compared to other things someone could be forced to do, like jump off a building or drive blindfolded down the highway. On the other hand, I suppose there’s really a helluva lot even safer things that one might be forced to do … so maybe not.

    Lily, what fascinating insights on emotional risk! It strikes me that while negotiating an encounter, including limits, from positions of equal power is a great goal, it seems that such equality is often a fiction. Power dynamics shape every interaction between all people; that’s just a fact of life. D/s creates the mirage of simplicity: now we’re unequal, now we’re not. The more I like a submissive guy, the more I WANT to dominate him, but the more I feel rendered less powerful by my wanting. Desiring someone gives him power over me. The paradox drives me up the wall! This is getting off topic, but just wanted to share the thoughts your comment inspired.

    Cap’n Andy, I, too, have seen some heated debates on FL over whether submitting without the threat of force is more or less ‘submissive’ than submitting by being rendered utterly helpless by the use of force. Your guess may well be generally correct. For me as a top personally, however, I find it really super hot when the bottom CANNOT run away. Maybe less loving or intimate, but very fucking erotic. I like to see them really struggle! And pegging is much more interesting to me when the boy is a hesitant, blushing virgin who begs me to go slowly and not hurt him, than when he’s an enthusiastic slut who begs me to fuck him harder. The line between forced and willing submission gets blurry when an s-type is completely addicted to their D-type. Actually, I think when a lot of D-types talk about wanting willing submission, what they really mean is that they want a sub so hopelessly crazy about them that restraints and beatings are not necessary to ensure obedience, loyalty, service, submission, etc. Overall, I can see where moments of *willing* submission can be very hot, but I’d prefer them to be few and far between, and the more powerful for it. Like you, I appreciate that that’s fantasy-world-stuff, not realistic.

    • The more I like a submissive guy, the more I WANT to dominate him, but the more I feel rendered less powerful by my wanting. Desiring someone gives him power over me. The paradox drives me up the wall!

      I actually wrote a whole post about that. Basically, I feel more powerful when people worry about whether they’re attractive to me. It is paradoxical, though. I’ve certainly pursued people who were terrible for me because they were attractive.

      maybe it really is the idea of being FORCED to do something – anything – that really turns people on

      Absolutely. It’s just a difficult thing to explain to people when “force me to do this thing that I want but am embarrassed about” is so much more common.

  5. @ Random thoughts

    ” The more I like a submissive guy, the more I WANT to dominate him, but the more I feel rendered less powerful by my wanting. Desiring someone gives him power over me. The paradox drives me up the wall! ”
    Spot on.

    Are you familiar with Jean Genet’s play ‘Le Balcon’ in which this is a constant theme? The D characters are secretly terrified that the s characters will stop wanting to be submissive, because, existentially speaking, without the s there can be no D

    In short, your paradox is central to the whole D/s thingy.

    In a healthy D/s relationship there is equipoise to the extent that the D needs to be wanted and the s wants to be needed.

  6. I don’t identify as a sub, the idea of being forced to do anything does appeal to me. Very much so. I don’t actually think you can be forced to submit. Submission is willingly giving yourself over to someone else’s control, is it not?
    I am not submissive. I am not wired that way. I AM masochistic. And the element of being forced to endure something difficult appeals to my masochistic side, and simply adds to that experience.
    I am also lucky enough to be with someone who identifies as a Sadist first and foremost and who is literally only as dominant as he needs to be in order to get his sadistic rocks off.

    (confused yet?)

    Me fighting back turns us both on, and he gets to restrain me and hurt me just that little bit extra so I can’t escape and THEN do whatever it is he wants to do to me and that makes us both very happy sado-masochists.
    If he started throwing his weight around and giving me orders and expecting me to obey them and call him Sir I would absolutely die laughing. Its just not in my nature.

    Whilst I have the utmost respect for those that enjoy that lifestyle, it is absolutely not for me.

    But what is really important is that we are all with people we are actually compatible with.

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