Tuesday, July 26, 2011

i am submissive - just wondering

I am submissive - most certainly in my relationship with my husband.  I submit to him.

And this is the point at which most often people go on to say things such as, "But in all other circumstances, I am strong, independent, intelligent, feisty, a leader; really - I'm dominant, except to my husband/HOH/Master."

As much as people repeat that submissive does not equal doormat, no one seems willing to be considered anything remotely like submissive outside of their relationship.  Not only are they not submissive - but they consider themselves dominant.

I'm not at all convinced that the word or the trait 'submissive' should be applied (to people) in contexts outside of intimate relationships/play/ttwd.  I think that, used in the context of work, or extended family, or any other social dynamic, the word submissive is almost universally equated with doormat, pushover, shrinking violet, the runt of the litter cowering in the corner.   Who wants to admit to that?

I am not dominant in the wider world.  I'm not a doormat or a pushover.  But i'm not the one who must be in charge.  I can be; if i am the one in charge, i do that well.  But i prefer to play nicely with others.  I'm good on a committee.  And i love teaching: it's in charge, yet still collaborative, it requires leading by convincing and motivating, not ordering and directing.

I am an introvert and i am shy.  I strongly prefer not to be the center of attention, ever.  I can be downright anxious  meeting new groups of people or in certain social situations.  I don't consider this the same as being a doormat or pushover.  I think many people do, or they equate shyness with  an  inability to function or make decisions.

Certainly there are those who struggle with social anxiety to the point that it is paralyzing, or who are timid to the point of being unable to protect themselves, just as there are those who are extroverted or gregarious to the point of being obnoxious blowhards, or worse.  Just as i am shy and an introvert, certainly there are people who identify themselves as submissive in ttwd who are not at all shy and who are quite extroverted, and everything in between.

Of course i am strong, of course i am intelligent, and independent.  Who would not claim to be?  There are so many types of strength and so many situations people face which require strength.  Likewise, there are so many kinds of intelligence.  I think everyone lays claim to those in some form.  

I'm not really sure what 'independent' is meant to mean.  I am very much intertwined with my husband and my family and even in the connections in my life beyond them.  Does that make me not independent?   Isn't the point of D/s to strengthen certain connections, not sever them?   Maybe 'independent' means I am capable, high functioning, accomplished, self sufficient, and many more adjectives that are considered good, but which are really not very well defined either.

So yes - I am submissive: I submit to my husband.  Beyond that - I am a lot of things, and there are many traits i do not posses, just as with everyone else out there, including those who are dominant in ttwd.  I think it would be ok to have a full stop there - no need for further clarification, justification, explanation, or especially further assumption.


  1. Interesting post, and I can very well see your point.

    Dom/sub is a very simple concept, very concrete, or at least in theory. The outside world is complex and makes it impossible to be just any one thing.

  2. Yep, people are not simple at all, and there are so many variations on the theme. I DO know women who are more 'submissive' both in their marriage and in the world at large. They say so, and no, they are not doormats, either...they just have no real interest in being in charge. They tend to step back, or not step forward. I do know women who are more of a complex mix, and I do know women, like me, who are more dominant in the outside world and try at least to be submissive to their husbands. I really do end up being in charge of many things...it sometimes seems to just happen to me. I am able to follow well. I like being part of a team, but I get impatient with things not getting done and often end up leading a team towards the goal. I don't think it's always a good or bad quality...just personality differences. Not every quality should or can be assigned a rank or value, outside of whether it serves you well in your world, wherever that happens to be at the time. Sara

  3. Good points. I don't think I would use the word submissive in relation to any relationship other than the one with my husband, or in relation to the outside world in general. No, instead I use the word follower. I would rather follow than lead. I can lead, and I do a good job of it, but I prefer to not be that person. I'm also not afraid to admit that. It's part of why I want a D/s relationship with my husband anyway, I'd rather he be in charge.

    Good post! :)

  4. Interesting! I recently wrote a post about being passive in my outside life but submissive at home. Submissive has a very special meaning for us and I don't like to use that word with other people. I couldn't feel that way with other people. Thanks for a thought-provoking read. Meow

  5. It's like I've written this myself! I agree wholeheartedly -I think that people are overly busy with defining and labelling themselves to be honest.
    Loved the post

  6. Good post. I've never understood why the world at large views submissive as weak. To submit to anything takes a huge strength, and a deep faith in whatever force commands. Further, almost everyone is submissive in some way. We all choose to submit to some power, most of us more than one. You do what the boss tells you at work, and if you are self employed you do what the client says. Most people obey some God of their choosing. They therefore submit themselves to a will not their own. Every soldier in every military force in the world is submissive by virtue of the fact that they agree to take orders. No one seems to think that's a sign of weakness. So I've never understood why submissives involved in BDSM seem to get the bad rap.

    Basically, what folks need to realize is that in the context most of us use it in, the word "Submissive" describes a relationship role, not a character trait.

  7. Thanks for this post. Even an extroverted dominate should probably not be taking the lead in every situation.
    MC, your soldier analogy was very helpful as was your comment "the word Submissive describes a relationship role, not a character trait".

  8. I would just like to add that since I have a tendency towards taking the submissive (non leadership) role in many situations, I have been encouraged (by the therapist) to not consider myself in terms of submission but in terms of being assertive/effective. What she means by that fundamentally is to put into practice strategies that makes for agreeable interactions but still allow me to express my opinions and say what I need/want. This has been empowering and whilst I don't have the skills completely honed down, I find it complements my submissive nature nicely whilst allowing me to have a sense of personal power and accomplishment that I did not have before. My interactions in any environment are f a r from dominant but they are definitely more effective.

  9. Serenity,
    Thank you. Yea - i tihnk it is simple in theory and so complex to put into practice - i just don't necessarily think it is a useful construct in the wider world really.

    I think that point was part of my wondering - i am one of those women who is not especially interested in being in charge - and that trait is often met with disdain - or at least an assumption that i must also be less competent. It is that assumption and, as you put it, assigning value, that i think is a mistake. Because the term submissive is so heavily baggage laden in the outside world, and because people are truly not reducible to such simple terms, i think the term should stay within a person's relationship.

    I'm not sure i've wholly figured out why i want this kind of relationship - but yes - with my husband is really the only place for it.

    I like the idea of it having a special meaning for you and Lash - that is much more positive than my spin here. thanks

  10. Sweet Girl,
    Exactly - i like figuring out the what of what i feel and think - but the labels are becoming less useful and perhaps more troublesome.

    Sir J,
    Who? Me?? Gosh! I don't think so... In all seriousness, i never did learn those girlish charms, so no, i'm not. I'm an open book.

    What an excellent analogy! I agree - submissive is a relationship role. Somehow it is an inherent trait - just as dominance must be. But - like many other aspects to my (intimate) relationship with my husband - submission can be very real, very innate, and yet not at all something that carries over to any other interpersonal dynamics.

    welcome,I started to add parts to my post about just that - there are many situations in which being overtly dominant - in the same way as one is in a dynamic - would be completely inappropriate. Doms clearly recognize and modulate their behaviour - no reason to assume subs are less flexible.

    I like the sound of that way of approaching things. I think there can be a lot of inner conflict from wanting to not take a lead, but knowing certain things just need to be addressed, listened to, or done. I've felt that before as well.

  11. What an interesting post. I started writing comments and it got longer and longer so I might have to go write something about it myself. Thank you for your thoughts.

  12. sin,
    welcome. this is my take on it, my experience. i am interested in what others think about it, i will look for your post.

  13. *very* well put, greengirl.

    this knee-jerk reaction of "BUT I'm totally dominant everywhere else!" annoys me very much.

    it reeks of defensiveness, as if submissiveness were something that has to be hidden away and confined to the bedroom.

    well *of course* a person has to look out for themselves in social situations, where everyone being equal is (arguably) the best strategy.

    I just *had to* bookmark your blog post. sharp thoughts there. you're cutting through the bullshit.