There are times when I meet people – generally face-to-face – and the conversation somehow comes round to the fact that I am submissive, and being me, I brush it off casually, without really getting into the ins and outs of how my submission works. I don’t brush it off casually because I am ashamed of being submissive: I’m not. I brush it off casually because all in all, I am not that comfortable talking about myself unprompted. I will happily answer questions, but to get the real truth out of me, a person has to turn him or herself into something of an inquisition. I could go on for pages about why this is, but that’s not the point of this piece. And don’t get me wrong – I rather like being at the hands of the inquisition. In fact I love to be asked questions about myself. But still, I get into these situations where someone will hint at BDSM, or make a crass joke, and I’ll laugh and blush. At these times what I often see flash across the other person’s face is a mixture of shock and interest. But there also seems to be a momentary assumption. I see them scroll swiftly through all the things they know about BDSM, about submission and dominance. Unfortunately, the outsider’s view of this lifestyle seems to be one of leather and dungeons (or at least the things inferred by that visual); which is fine if that’s your thing, but truthfully it only scrapes the surface of what being submissive means to me, and if I’m honest leather is not where I live. In these moments I sigh, and I realise that unless I sit and talk for hours, unless I formulate my arguments more clearly than I have ever structured them even for myself, there is no way to make this person understand what it really looks like from where I am sitting. And I give up. Because this is not the battle I’ve chosen. I will fight for many things, but for me, personally, persuading each individual of how the many facets and details of BDSM as a whole, or more particularly for me, work is not a struggle I have chosen to undertake.
But perhaps that’s too big a challenge anyway. I would bend to kiss the feet of the person who can give three, four, five hours of discussion to each individual they meet who has misunderstood or misinterpreted what it means to be dominant, or submissive, or sadistic, or masochistic, or any variation and combination of the above; but I am not this person. Don’t get me wrong: when it comes to the people I love, my friends and, well, perhaps my family from the right angle, I will give it the time it takes to help them understand me and my life. But with near-strangers, I would prefer to order another G&T and discuss Tuesday’s episode of The New Normal.
Which brings me to two points: one, it is a gift beyond anything I have known to meet people who just understand. The conversation begins and it hits that moment, and there is no snag, no pause, just understanding. Of course, you will never completely agree with anyone, but there is a place of harmony where you don’t have to explain where you’re sitting, you can simply discuss what you see – because this other person sees it too. Maybe they don’t completely agree with your analysis, but they see it. Secondly, whilst the individual, micro-explaining that I described above may not be my chosen course of action, I still believe that a broader, more open discussion can bring people round to, not the same point of view as you, but a similar one, and certainly a lot more acceptance.
Which is why I am so thrilled that my dear friend Molly – who, incidentally, is one of those people with whom I just understand, without explanation – is running a session at Eroticon titled Myth Busting: the submissive woman. As part of her preparation for this session, she has asked her readers to answer a few questions about the imbalance between how submission manifests and how that is represented or misrepresented in the world.
And so Molly asks…
What are the top 5 myths/beliefs you would like to dispel about submissive women?
(I only have four, but they are closely interwoven.)
The main thing I would like to dispel is the myth that because I am a fiercely independent, strong-headed, ambitious, and – yes – dominant woman when it comes to my work, I am not really submissive. Anyone who has actually seen me submit will know that I truly am, at my core, submissive.
This first myth goes hand-in-hand with my second point: that a real submissive should be submissive to everyone. In reality – and this is true for 99% of the submissives I have met – the list of people I will submit to is a drop in the ocean of people I will not submit to.
The third belief I would like to dispel is actually more prevalent within the community than out of it: this is the infuriating belief that a true submissive will never say no to his/her dominant. That in order to really be submissive you have to agree to let down all your boundaries and agree to everything and anything you are told to do.
This also mixes with the fourth belief I would like to address: that safewords are unnecessary. People are allowed to play in whatever way they wish, but I am a strong believer in safewords and I am no less submissive for having one.
As a submissive woman, use up to 5 words to describe you or your submission.
The complete corruption of innocence.
In erotic fiction what are the most common ‘wrongs’ you come across that don’t work for you as a submissive woman?
My pet hate with all fiction is characters – but particularly female characters – who are so full of self-doubt and neuroses that it overwhelms all sense of agency. Whilst it could be argued that the reason this trope is used so often is that it is only a slightly exaggerated reflection of the truth for many people, it does not apply to everyone. Furthermore, it is a character flaw attributed all too often to submissive, female characters. Given our socialised understanding of a submissive woman as someone who requires a leader (and in some ways that can be true) it’s easy to understand why the submissive woman might be read as a character who cannot lead herself. The problem with this, for me, is that most of the submissive women I know actually have a very strong sense of self, often because they have had to look very deeply at themselves in terms of their submission.
If you could ask a submissive woman any question, what would it be?
This question is tricky for me because I know a lot of submissive women and have asked them many questions. But the main thing I always want to know is how her submission manifests for her. How it feels to be submissive, and what physical form it takes in terms of the actions and sexuality she lives. Because I know that it does not mean over-the-knee spanking for everyone, and even when it does, that still may not be at its core.
If you could as ME (Molly) any question, what would it be?
This question is even trickier because I am fortunate enough to be very close to Molly and I have asked her numerous burning questions this week alone. However, I do have a question I would like to ask publicly: what, from your point of view, is the best thing we – submissive women and the men and women we love – can do to help society better understand what it means to be submissive?
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If you haven’t got your ticket for Eroticon 2013, it is not too late! Simply visit the site here and register for your weekend ticket.
And if you are coming to Eroticon on March 2nd-3rd, be sure to come and support Molly and the other delegates who are offering a free evening of erotic readings and cabaret. More information here.