Submissive != Masochist, Dominant != Sadist

You’d think the fact that not all submissives enjoy pain and not all dominants enjoy inflicting it would be fairly obvious, but sadly there are people out there with some pretty fucking stupid ideas about how this whole kink thing works. Thanks to the pervasive myth that all subs are masochists and all doms are sadists, people get judged on how intense their play is and get all kinds of shit when they fail to “measure up”.

Sure, it’s disappointing when someone you’re interested in turns out to be totally incompatible with you on a kink level, but lashing out and telling them they’re not a “real” whatever is just blatant douchebaggery. Suck it up and move on. If it’s just extremely important to you to let people who you’re not even playing with know that they’re doing it wrong, then congratulations, you’re an asshole. It’s none of your fucking business how people you’re not involved with play (as long as no one’s being harmed, of course). Seriously, how does it affect you if Jane Q. Dominant doesn’t inflict the daily recommended allowance of pain on her sub?

I happen to be a sadist, but I firmly believe that if you can’t think of anything to do with a sub besides inflicting pain then you just don’t have much imagination. You may not want to do any of the thousands of painless things you can do with a sub, but that doesn’t mean those things don’t exist. Come on people, haven’t you ever heard of pet play, tease and denial, bondage, tickling, watersports, obedience, service, sensation play with sensations besides pain? Service alone covers a huge range of fun things you can do without inflicting any pain.

On the other side of the slash it’s all well and good to love pain, but if a sensual dom can’t make you feel submissive the fault is as much yours as it is hers. Don’t blame your limited range on her, jerkface. It’s great if you can take a beating, but what else are you good for? As much as I like hitting people with things, I also have errands to run, projects to work on, meals to cook, and housework to do (well, I would if the ridiculously adorable boyfriend didn’t take care of all the cooking and all the cleaning that the housekeepers don’t do).

Not being interested in pain absolutely does not mean you’re a bad sub or a bad dom. Anyone who thinks it does is a jerk and deserves to have their tragic lack of imagination pointed out.

24 thoughts on “Submissive != Masochist, Dominant != Sadist

  1. I totally agree with this! Also I’d like to point out that just because I am masochistic, doesn’t mean that I want you to cut me. Or make me kneel on rusty nails, nor am I a “bitch to beat the fuck out of” (yes I was called this once) seriously. Masochists may enjoy being physically/mentaly uncomfortable but they all enjoy different implements to be uncómfortable with.

    Same as sadists. Not every sadist wants to punch you. Some sadists are only interested in certain things to be sadistic with. That doesn’t mean they ALL want to light your hair on fire.

    So people PLEASE remember that masochists are all different with different degrees of masochism and sadists are all sadistic with different tools and different levels of sadism.

    YOU ROCK STABBITY

    Smootches

    -Just A Slut

    • Aw, thanks 🙂

      So people PLEASE remember that masochists are all different with different degrees of masochism and sadists are all sadistic with different tools and different levels of sadism.

      That’s a good point. And even if someone is masochistic, and even if they usually love canings, that doesn’t mean they can take a super hard caning when they worked late last night and need to help a friend move tomorrow.

  2. I completely agree. I also think that a lot of people confuse things the other way around. Just because someone is a masochist doesn’t mean they are a submissive. Just because someone is a sadist doesn’t mean they are a dominant. As someone who is both sadistic and dominant, I completely understand the confusion. But in my personal search, I have run across one too many people lately that think that being able to take a bullwhip means they are submissive. Then we both get quite frustrated when I tell him to go get me a glass of water (and he refuses).

    • Just because someone is a masochist doesn’t mean they are a submissive. Just because someone is a sadist doesn’t mean they are a dominant.

      Yep. I think that causes a lot of confusion and frustration for people who are turned on by being tied up and flogged, and are just mystified when the woman they’ve dictated a scene too isn’t satisfied.

  3. Spot on.

    Kink, on one level, is about refusing to abide by the repressive ‘rules’ and repressiv taboos that society imposes on our sexuality. So it’s all the more incomprensible that people who should know better, get into kink, and immediately start attempting to legislate for what’s ‘genuine’ X or Y, and what’s not.

    It amounts to nothing less than a dreadful kind of ‘kink snobbery’.

    Wthin the context of consenting adults exploring the many roads and byways to mutual ecstasy we need to remember this. There. Are. No. Fucking. Rules.

    Desire is Protean. All that we really want to do is to liberate the anarchist that lurks inside all of us.

    • Kink, on one level, is about refusing to abide by the repressive ‘rules’ and repressiv taboos that society imposes on our sexuality. So it’s all the more incomprensible that people who should know better, get into kink, and immediately start attempting to legislate for what’s ‘genuine’ X or Y, and what’s not.

      That just drives me up a wall. So, you’re willing to throw out everything society tells you about how hitting is always wrong, and calling people names is always wrong, and being bossy is not okay, and then turn around and tell people they’re doing it all wrong? I don’t understand how people don’t see the terrible irony in that.

  4. I’ll echo the agreement above with the main points here. But some other things you touched on are worth going into further.

    “people get judged on how intense their play is”

    I see this a lot. There’s pressure to be more intense, more entertaining, more extrasuperhardcoreextreme. When did this “more is better” mentality creep in and why? When did our fun, sexy, intimate activities become a competition?

    It’s also frustrating to see the confusion between d/s and topping/bottoming in other areas. Yes, I’m submissive; but just because I bottom to someone doesn’t mean I submit to her. Submission is more of a relationship thing to me. I may have a one-off scene with someone, but that doesn’t give her the authority to boss me around outside of that scene. Likewise, it doesn’t mean I can follow her around calling her “Mistress” all night.

    • When did this “more is better” mentality creep in and why? When did our fun, sexy, intimate activities become a competition?

      Ooh, I can’t believe I haven’t ranted about that yet. I really hate the whole “kinkier than thou” thing. I’ve seen far too many people ask on various forums if they are even a real sub/dom if they don’t want to get hit/hit anyone. Not only is making people feel inadequate a dick move in general, but I think the emphasis on being as extrasuperhardcoreextreme as possible scares people away from even trying kink by giving them the idea that they’re just posers or wannabes if they’re not going to hang upside down from the chandelier, on fire, with 50 needles stuck in them.

      • “giving them the idea that they’re just posers or wannabes if they’re not going to hang upside down from the chandelier, on fire, with 50 needles stuck in them.”

        First of all, that image is just hilarious! But also, I couldn’t agree more that the whole uberdom and ubersub (or ubersadist/ubermasochist) thing is really annoying. The whole “I am a horrible scary monster… grrrrrr!” thing is a personal pet peeve. I’ve blogged about it and tend to complain about it in my local irl scene as well because we have a few of these people around. And it annoys me for exactly the reasons above! It basically boils down to trying to raise yourself up by making other people feel inadequate. And you don’t get extra kink points for hanging from chandeliers so you can level up to become a grand master poobah. It’s not xbox.

  5. My Wife and i are in a D/s relationship. i’m submissive. i’m not a fan of the pain. But i’m a fan of what the pain brings to our play. It brings my Wife a great deal of arousal to whip me (She is sooo horny afterwards!) and it brings me a feeling of being fully objectified. (Humiliation is my particular fetish.)

    It wasn’t actually until we started playing regularly (we started about two years ago) that my Wife discovered that She really gets off inflicting pain. Before that point, She had no idea it would make Her so aroused.

    So i guess my point is you don’t know what you like or don’t like until you try it.

    • i’m not a fan of the pain. But i’m a fan of what the pain brings to our play.

      From what I understand, that’s not unusual either. There’s a good friend of mine who really doesn’t like the physical sensation of pain, but like you he loves how happy he can make a sadist by suffering for her.

      So i guess my point is you don’t know what you like or don’t like until you try it.

      Very true. Not only do you not really know if you’ll like something until you try it, but so much depends on who you try it with, too. If you hated pain play so much that you couldn’t even enjoy what it did for her, she might not have gotten to like it herself. For me, positive feedback is really important. If the person I’m playing with really, sincerely hates something, it’s really difficult for me to enjoy doing that something. In a certain way kinks are transmissible too. I didn’t think I was at all interested in chastity play until I tried it with a play partner who really enjoyed it.

  6. interesting 🙂 my hubby would like to pursue his leaning towards dominance with me and have previously tried pain, wasnt a fan of the idea and definitelty not now. i’d like for him to be able to explore this side of him, and with the thought of pain taken out the equation then i’d be far more interested. hopefully i dont have a poor imagination but not sure where to start looking for ideas as far as power play etc goes. i’ll be reading further comments with great interest 🙂

    • It’s kind of tough to get started if you don’t already know what you’re looking for. Pain is kind of an easy fallback, but there’s tons of other stuff you can do to make someone feel a certain way or get a particular reaction.

      Bondage is a popular one. Whether it’s fuzzy handcuffs or elaborate rope bondage, if you’re tied up and he’s free to move around it becomes really obvious who’s in charge 🙂

      Then there’s all kinds of sensation play – tickling can make a person feel really helpless, or he could use feathers, ice cubes, warm wax (if you hold the candle up high enough and don’t pour too much wax at once it doesn’t hurt, it just feels warm), maybe a whartenburg wheel (unless you really press on it, it just feels sort of prickly. It’s a weird sensation, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it painful).

      On the more mental side, maybe it would be fun for the two of you to set up some boundaries, then decide that for an hour or two you’ll do whatever he wants out of the activities the two of you have agreed are safe. Maybe he could choose your outfit and have you pose for him, or order you around sexually, order you around non-sexually, or tease you but not let you come unless you ask really, really nicely.

      Or if you want to play with “force” but not pain, you could role-play all sorts of blackmail or coercion – you could be the secretary who’s been late for work one too many times but would do just anything to keep her job, or maybe you got caught speeding but can’t afford the ticket, or maybe someone has some very interesting pictures and if you don’t want everyone to see them you’ll have to do exactly what he says.

      If you’re not already on Fetlife.com, there’s a group there called Novices & Newbies that would probably be a good place to ask questions. Just keep in mind that fetlife isn’t a good place for photos that you wouldn’t want just anyone to see. If you can make an account in under a minute, so can everyone else.

      • thanks so much for the reply, yeah pretty difficult to look for suggestions when i dont even know what i’d like! i think it’d be better looking for ideas and seeing what does or doesnt sound appealing and at least then i’d have some idea. having a list would be great actually, would give variety and options. its a bit of a learning curve as im happy with vanilla although i know he’d like more and if you dont try new things youll never know. thanks for the fetlife tip, heard of it but not got an accout and i’ll bear that in mind about the photos 🙂 thanks again

  7. The slightly confusing part (for me, anyway) is that I’m a masochist, but I’m not at all submissive. I like being restrained, and I like being beaten, sure. But it feels like I enjoy being broken (in the sense that the person I’m with is doing what she can to break me physically) rather than being broken in the sense that I’m some submissive pet.

    I’m definitely a masochist, and while I wouldn’t say I’m dominant I would definitely say I’m feisty rather than submissive, any day. But there doesn’t seem to be a term for that. xD

    • William,

      As far as my lingo goes, there is a term: “bottom.” It seems to be increasingly widespread to distinguish “bottom” as a type (not just scene role) from “submissive” as a type, though it still is depressingly common for bottoms to be derogated as “just” bottoms.

      There’s nothing wrong with being in it for the play, without wanting the relationship status!

  8. Yes! Great post and this is a huge problem. I am NOT a masochist. Personally I am an anti masochist, I am really really really turned off by someone intentionally inflicting pain on me. I see it as someone harming me on purpose. I AM submissive and would love to find a dominant partner – but I can’t. I live in SF Bay area so you would think I could. Finding a dominant non sadist female is nearly impossible.

    So then the problem boils down to getting a dominant sadist female that is willing to put limits on themselves during our sessions. This turns out to be very hard. I have ‘hard limits’ which are written and spoken and reviewed prior to any session. So far they have been violated every single time I have had a session. The dominant usually has a very dismissive attitude about these violations. They are sadists after all so it is logical that they don’t feel bad about inflicting pain or marking my body even though those activities are not consensual.

    At this point I have stopped having sessions because I can’t find a partner. Not sure what I should do, and it is very frustrating.

    • They are sadists after all so it is logical that they don’t feel bad about inflicting pain or marking my body even though those activities are not consensual.

      Oh my fucking christ that is not remotely logical! I’m not blaming you, I’m blaming the assholes who lied to you. You can absolutely expect sadists to respect your clearly stated boundaries 100% of the time because that is what decent human beings do! (You should be able to expect people to respect limits you didn’t know you had as well, but in practice people can be total assholes about that).

      I’m a sadist, and I would never intentionally hurt someone in a way they didn’t like, and if I did it by accident I would feel terrible about it. I am a human fucking being and I can control my own goddamn behavior – and if I’m worried about accidentally overstepping someone’s boundaries, I don’t fucking play with them. You’ve just been playing with unbelievable assholes. Their behavior is not okay, not even a little bit, in any circumstances, ever.

      That sounds extremely frustrating and I’m not sure I have any useful advice. Assholes are gonna asshole no matter what you do. I do know there are doms out there who don’t enjoy inflicting pain (they post once in a while in the submissive men and women who love them group on fetlife worrying about ever finding a submissive boyfriend because they don’t want to hurt anybody, they just want a sweet guy who will do what they tell him), and they sometimes describe themselves as sensual doms, but not everyone uses that description.

      • Yes everyone agrees it is not OK to violate limits. What no one wants to talk about or have any recourse for is what happens when it DOES happen? What can the sub do?

        The horrific truth is the sub, especially if male, has almost nothing he can do. Not repeat the play with that dom of course, but the violation still happened. The damage is done and psychologically it is not easy to ‘just blow off’.

        As a male, I can say it is hard to find information or online communities to help mentally heal from abuse from women. Most people outright laugh about it. Most believe somewhere in their heads that women CAN’T abuse males. Mix in a fetish play scene and the sensitivity to your limits can crash to zero.

        It is a reality that any sub male should be aware of and one where there is very little support for on the internet anyway. I have read about other communities where you might be able to foster a non S&M dom/sub relationship, but they are very loose-knit and lack the fetish element. Basically a guy like me is relegated to simply trying to find a ‘normal’ woman who has a dominant side. We could grow into the dom/sub relationship over time.

        I found a few couples that developed their relationships like that. For fetish ‘play time’ type activity it is just about impossible however. Sub males should be made aware of this as a part of ‘getting into’ any sort of BDSM scene.

        Luckily it seems that I am in the minority as most sub males I have met on the internet are very much masochists and love the sadistic treatment the dominant women give them. Or maybe there is a legion of sub males out there with no outlet without the S&M so we just never hear from them and it makes it seem like most sub males like pain.

        • Sean, I am so sorry for what you’ve been through, and angry at the women who didn’t respect your stated boundaries.

          My boyfriend is usually masochistic, but when he’s ill or run-down, or sometimes for no reason he can detect, he doesn’t enjoy or want pain. I enjoy inflicting pain on him, but I assure you we still have a lovely kinky sex life when he is in one of the times when he doesn’t want the pain! The first time it happened that he didn’t want painful things we had happily done before I was quite disconcerted and worried. Neither he nor I understood what was going on. I talked with some of the masochists I knew from munches, and they assured me that it’s normal even for a masochist to have times when pain is not on the menu.

          My point is that kinky sex does not necessarily require pain even if the top likes giving it. And I am angry on your behalf that people have violated you like that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *