Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Submissives are not doormats

Recently I read a review for a BDSM book that mentioned she didn't like how the submissive was a doormat. I've read that book, and that submissive is not a doormat. She's a submissive. Big difference, but one this reader could not discern. So, being a BDSM author myself, I started thinking about why this reader might have classified this submissive as a doormat.

There are several potential reasons:

1. The BDSM was intense and somewhat edgy.
2. Her Master had rules for her and if she didn't follow them, she was punished.
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3. The submissive was available to her Master sexually at all times.
4. The submissive had a good, high-paying job outside the home, but when at home her personal role reversed.
5. Her Master pushed her, sometimes out of her comfort zone, but she submitted the best she could.

I'm sure I could come up with other reasons, but hopefully you get the idea.

Now let's answer each point:

1. That's how the submissive wanted it. So she submitted in many areas, not just the bedroom.
2. The submissive knew she had organization and self-control issues so she asked for this.
3. Being available to her Master was part of their contract. Her libido had been low for a while before the book started and she thought it might help her sex life to make this a rule.
4. Again, she wanted it that way. She wanted to give up control to reduce stress.
5. Part of a Master's job is to help their submissive explore. Depending on the contract/communication etc this could mean pushing soft limits, pushing hard limits, requiring that the sub try everything once if the Master thinks she'll enjoy it, etc.

Submissives are not doormats. The power in a D/s relationship ultimately resides with the submissive. They are GIVING the Dominant the power. They can and sometimes do take that power away. And it takes an incredibly strong person to be able and willing to give up that power.

So the next time you read a BDSM book, remember, the submissive is doing it because they want to. Safe, sane, and consensual, people!

-- Cassandra
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  1. i agree with you cassandra! very well put.

  2. Very well put indeed! I think you made your points wonderfully. :)

  3. I don't understand why people refuse to recognize that very simple fact. Ostrich syndrome I think LOL! You made your point very well.

  4. I guess I got a little bit opinionated here, huh? :-P

    1. Nope, its a good article. And either way, opinions are good. Even better when people are brave enough to express them :)

  5. Very succinct Cassandra. The reviewer maybe hadn't read a lot of BDSM to know the difference. Good education.

  6. Great points! Especially the fact that the submissive wants it that way. Also I like how you point out how its the Master/Mistress's job to help the submissive explore, to push them on their limits. Isn't that what is so alluring about certain situations sometimes? The pushing of someones limits, whether it be yours or theirs?

  7. Well said, as always.

  8. Great post, Cassandra. It is a common misconception that subs have no power in a D/s relationship and I think you adressed the issue really well.

  9. The problem is, a lot of erotic romance has subs who are doormats. I've read an alarming number where the dom marches in, 'chooses' his sub, starts giving orders, and basically rides roughshod over the sub, who has no say in the matter.

    I don't know which book you're referring to; maybe I've read it, maybe I haven't, but if this reader thinks the sub reads like a doormat, then...maybe she does.

    If, within the bounds of this relationship, there is a contract, rules and a safe word, then great. But there are a number of BDSM stories where such are ignored. Perhaps this reviewer was burned out on 'rapey BDSM' as I call it and this book got caught up in the aftermath of that. I don't know.

    A good dom knows he's a dom and also recognises what the phrase 'power exchange' means. There's no exchange if the sub's power is taken, instead of willingly surrendered. Submission is like trust - it must be earned, but in a lot of erotic romances, this is not the case. "Safe, sane and consensual," is all too often forgotten or ignored.

    Just because someone claims to be a dom doesn't make it so, and many authors mistake submission for being a walkover, and write their 'submissives' accordingly.

    1. I totally agree. But I have read this book and the submissive was not written as a doormat. There are definitely books out there that are exactly as you say - the "my way or the highway" Dom - but this one wasn't. I guess my larger point is that, in general, submissives aren't and shouldn't be doormats.

  10. Great post! Yes, it always bothers me, too, when someone calls a submissive a "doormat." Submissives are some of THE strongest people out there, and are frequently ONLY submissive to one person or in one circumstance. I know submissives who are extremely Alpha dominant personalities in the rest of their life.

    1. I agree, Tymber. In fact, I'd go so far as to say a submissive CAN'T be a weak person. I don't think a D/s relationship would thrive (or be healthy) if the submissive wasn't a strong person inside.

  11. I think you nailed it. It isn't always immediately obvious that the sub is calling the shots. Ultimately, the sub decides yes or no. Anything else isn't consensual and is something else.