The Psychology Of Submission

Dont' be afraid. :)When most people picture a Dominatrix, they think of a woman dressed in all leather, or some sort of shiny black plastic thingy, with giant heels, and a whip at her side. I think when people think about BDSM, they think of people who like pain, like abuse, and who have, somewhere along the way, gotten confused about the purpose of a good spanking. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe the dominant culture is more progressive than I believe, but from what I’ve seen in our media, that’s not really the case, which is a pity.

Ok, So Who Is into this?

I don’t think I can watch an entire season of CSI: Something without seeing an episode relating to BDSM. There’s the Dominatrix who lost her daughter and nearly beats the murderer to death in a contrived scene. There’s the man who has “issues with his masculinity” and so has to dominate women in the bedroom. Frankly, after a while, you start to wonder which character you are in all of this. Am I the curious girl who gets sucked into a life of depravity (I hope so!)?
The funny thing is, of all the people I have met in the DC scene, most of them belong to two groups;

  1. Totally normal people who just happen to enjoy exploration

  2. People who are using the scene as a way to work out trauma or issues

The Psychology Of Submission

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of psychology that goes into the BDSM lifestyle, particularly what most people consider your basic BDSM scene: one Dominant plus one submissive. You may be surprised to learn that most of BDSM is actually more work than sex.

I like to think of sex as a great outlet. It’s an opportunity to be totally open to another person, and get rid of those frustrations that build up in your life. I think a lot of people would agree with that, which is why the stereotype of the big, powerful, CEO who likes to submit by dressing up in a little French maid’s outfit and run around in heels is so pervasive, but there’s a lot that goes into a scene that most people don’t think about.

You Learn About Yourself

Recently, a friend confided to me that he had been in the middle of a scene with a woman, nothing too heavy, and he had been working on a particular psychological scenario with her. It was totally unrelated to her life, or so he thought. It was a situation where certain obstacles got progressively harder, but it was meant to be in fun, and she had, in the past, enjoyed those games. That night, however, for some reason, the games took her to a different place. She stopped enjoying it (to my friend’s credit, he took note of this very quickly, and was immediately responsive to her needs), and started shaking. For whatever reason, the scenario had brought back long repressed memories of rape. It had happened when she was so little, that she didn’t recall it until that night. Has she been in what we call a “vanilla” relationship, or one that is not based in BDSM, she might never have discovered this, because sex may have just been “business as usual.” Whether or not her rediscovery of long lost, painful memories is a blessing or a curse, and you can debate that as you will, there is no argument that “The Scene,” as it’s called, is a place where a lot of people come to learn more about themselves. In my opinion, those who choose the role of submissive learn more about themselves than those who choose to be Dominant.

A Power Exchange, Not A Power Loss

I would argue that the lifestyle which is called “deviant,” “bizarre,” and “perverted” is actually incredibly misunderstood. Submission in sex doesn’t necessarily mean, “I want you to beat the crap out of me and then screw my half-dead body,” although I am sure that there is someone out there who loves this idea. Most submission is actually more of a power exchange, not a power loss. I, as a submissive, choose to give you the ability to do what you will, with the understanding that there are limits, and that you will use that power wisely. I don’t necessarily want you to rape or hurt me, and many scenes between people may never involve intercourse of any kind.

For example, a “Service submissive” is someone who performs a service in a Dominant’s life. This can be anything from caterer, to care-taker; from geisha to gardener. A Service sub derives pleasure and satisfaction from knowing that they have helped in some way, and have earned the esteem of someone they respect, namely, their “Master.” Service subs may never have sex with their Master. They may never even receive a “Thank You,” but knowing that they have helped, feeds their psychological need to be needed. The point here is that while sex in the “vanilla” world may be for either procreation or enjoyment, sex in the BDSM world serves a variety of functions, not the least of which is to fulfill needs that sometimes aren’t met in our daily lives.

Our Culture Looks Down On Us

I think our culture views people who willingly defer power, especially sexual power, in the lowest possible terms. To give up power in the bedroom can be seen as akin to giving up your ability to think for yourself. Sure, there are people who like to get tied up with silk scarves to keep it interesting, and I have zero problem with that, but I think our culture would derive a lot from taking a look at how BDSM views sex and power exchange: a means to grow and learn about yourself, as well as a FANTASTIC past time. Although, with half our country still preventing sexual education in schools, it may be a long time before folks understand how much you can gain from a scene, and the benefits of the psychology behind submission.

So what do you think about power sharing in the bedroom?


  1. KinkyJew

    Diva – I’m sorry to hear that you’re no longer involved, for whatever reason. Also, I wouldn’t be too concerned about you read in a “Dear Abby” column. Our own “Dear Redhead” is far superior, and I think she approves of our “deviant-tendencies.” As my mother would say, “Good! More for me!”… though she wasn’t talking about BDSM. 😉

  2. I am unable to “practice” any longer, but I loved it. My biggest peeve about it is I remember reading a Dear Abby column and someone had written about it and she referred to those that participate in the lifestyle as “deviants.” Really pissed me off.

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