Submission is not a gift

People like to say “submission is a gift”. To a certain extent I understand that – personal submission (that is, submission to *me*, not to the nearest dominant woman) is hugely valuable to me. It feels like an incredible gift because I don’t truly understand what the submissive person gets out of the deal. Like giving a gift, submission isn’t submission anymore if you force someone to do it.

However, there are some very important differences, too. A gift can’t be taken back when you decide someone is mistreating it. A gift is given freely, without any expectation of getting something in return. A gift is just given, it’s not something you have to earn. Submission isn’t any of those things.

Submissive people have the right to stop submitting whenever they damned well feel like it, whether their dom is a jerk or the relationship just isn’t working. You are not a bad submissive if you decide to end a relationship that isn’t meeting your needs. You’re not a bad submissive if you have needs at all, but that’s another rant. It doesn’t matter if you’re collared or you signed a contract or swore you’d never leave, you always, always have the right to change your mind.

While I do believe that submission isn’t submission if you’re only doing it to make your partner feel like they owe you something, I also believe that submissives have a right to either get their needs met or end the relationship. If you accept someone’s submission, you need to hold up your end of the deal. Maybe all your partner wants is someone who will give them the opportunity to serve without getting uncomfortable with it and insisting on doing things for them. Maybe they need to feel dominated, maybe they need to feel owned and cherished, maybe they need some play now and then. Whatever it is a submissive person needs out of the whole exchange, they have a right to need it. A dom who takes and gives nothing back is not a dom at all, but a leech.

Finally, I believe dominants should earn their partner’s submission. Or more precisely, I believe submissive people have every right to judge potential partners and decide whether they’re worthy of submitting to. Not that trying to be a good person entitles you to anyone’s submission, but it can’t hurt for doms to ask themselves why someone would want to submit to them. If you’re not willing to keep your word, to be honest about what you want and what you have to give, to know yourself well enough to do that, to look out for your submissive’s best interests, why should anyone submit to you?

Submissive people are awesome, but calling submission a gift leads to all sorts of stupid ideas about what you can do with it after it’s given.

10 thoughts on “Submission is not a gift

  1. OK, yes. You are so on it with this. I do understand the positive aspects of characterizing submission as a gift but you are right, there are implications attached that are wrong and unhealthy.

  2. “I don’t truly understand what the submissive person gets out of the deal”

    I can only speak for myself, so my answer is festooned with all the caveats that apply to the purely anecdotal, but…

    As a submissive male, what I get from my F/m relationship is:

    1. Liberation from the false construct of ‘masculinity’ that patriarchy expects people of male gender to conform to, and which, when examined, turns most of those who accept it into emotional and existential amputees.

    2. Since liberation is empowering, I feel paradoxically more empowered.

    My Mistress, a wise soul and smart with it, has always said to me that the submissive has enormous power in the D/s dynamic, and I didn’t understand her at first, but now I do.

    • Liberation from the false construct of ‘masculinity’ that patriarchy expects people of male gender to conform to, and which, when examined, turns most of those who accept it into emotional and existential amputees.

      That’s an awesome example of how patriarchy hurts men too. I keep hearing how submission and bondage can be paradoxically freeing, which I can kind of understand on an intellectual level, but I think I’m never going to really grok it.

      My Mistress, a wise soul and smart with it, has always said to me that the submissive has enormous power in the D/s dynamic, and I didn’t understand her at first, but now I do.

      I love the idea of submitting making the submissive more powerful.

  3. I enjoyed this start to finish, but particularly your comment about not really understanding what submissives get out of it, because that’s exactly how I feel about dominants! I’ve read about it and had partners explain it, but at the end of the day, I think less-switchy sorts may never fully grok the other side. I’m just glad to know the tops out there are thrilled to be tops.

    • I’m just glad to know the tops out there are thrilled to be tops.

      That’s exactly how I feel about bottoms 🙂

  4. Personally I think calling submission a “gift” is arrogant. I can see why a Dominant who has earned submission would feel its a treasure but I don’t think its appropriate for submissives to call their own submission a gift. Its not a gift if its taken and given freely.

    The term “gift” implies that everyone should want this “gift”. Not all submissives and dominants mesh well. There may be no chemistry and that “gift” can become a burden.

    Its one of those insane terms in this lifestyle that makes me, as a submissive, want to puke in my mouth. I don’t feel my submission is a gift. I feel like its a choice. I choose to submit to a partner. They choose to dominate.

    I can’t and won’t submit without a dominant partner. So therefore its a mutually beneficial exchange where both parties can benefit. Any other submissive I know doesn’t submit for bragging rights and because they decided to worship the first partner that came along. They do it because the dominant is willing to do the actions that curl our toes. By the way, I can’t stand submissives who act like submission is a pennance either. Grrrr. That’s a whole new rant.

    Ok done now. 😉

    • The term “gift” implies that everyone should want this “gift”.

      Ooh, good point. When guys talk about how they’d submit to any woman who would have them, and always be perfectly obedient no matter what she wanted with no thought to whether they’re actually compatible, all I can think is “no wonder you’re single”. That combination of stupidity and desperation is just not attractive.

  5. I wrote something related to this too. I agree with you and also I think it is crazy that so much emphasis is placed on the “gift” of submission as if the “gift” of dominance is not equally as valuable.

    Respectfully,
    mysticlez

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