A few things i've come across and read lately have painted the picture of submissive being "less than" Dominant.
They were subtle - and from people within the lifestyle - so it wasn't the ignorant "submissve must mean doormat" from someone who has no idea about anything.
But the message was clear - it was still - a submissive is somehow less than a Dominant.
Obviously - sub is sub - literally - below; by definition and convention - bottom, subject to, subjugated to, and under, among other adjectives.
But this kind of "less than" that i ran across was more along the lines of less value, less desirable, less admirable, less how a person ought to be, than a statement of relative position in a dynamic.
The implication was that submissive is a stage to go through and learn from, but ultimately to outgrow. Or - submissive is for those who can't quite cut it at being Dominant: as in "those who can - do, those who can't - teach" - except with Dom and sub instead.
My knee jerk reaction to this implication was indignation.
Then i thought about it awhile and thought maybe it was the predominant view, or maybe even reality, in parts of the BDSM community with which i'm not familiar, that is to say - lots of parts. Maybe in clubs, for example, where people are D or s perhaps independent of a partner...maybe in that context people do tend to grow through stages of submission --> Dominance.
Then i mulled it over for a few weeks and started seeing other sides to it:
Being ruled, being overruled, being subjected to humiliations - no matter how small, or physically dominated or - well - the list goes on - all these things are designed to put one in (her) place. They are potentially - or in other contexts would be very demoralizing, deflating, probably damaging. They work to maintain the power distribution and meet the vastly different needs of the people involved (the D's to be dominant, the s's to submit).
But there is a very fine line between maintaining a dynamic and breaking one person down by building yourself up; doing actual damage; each party believing the D is just a more worthwhile person than the s.
Or is there?
Maybe i'm supposed to truly want that - maybe that is the issue - maybe that is truly what submission is.
I am saying this sincerely, not sarcastically, maybe to truly give oneself, to truly submit, one has to believe that (she) is not as valuable as her Master/Dom. Or - to see it the other way - maybe i am not truly submitting if i don't believe he is altogether better than i am.
I know i'm not there. I'm not outraged or even indignant at the whole thought anymore- but i don't want to be less than. I admire my husband enormously and will tell you he is more than me in a great many ways, maybe in most ways.
But I don't think i believe he is more worthwhile as a person than i, and i'm really not ready to accept that i am less worthwhile as a category.
But can one really be submissive without that shift?