Friday, July 13, 2012

Frisky Friday - Submission - Doing What You Don't Want to Do

OMG, it's also Friday the 13th.  Yikes.

A friend of mine, and a fellow author, wrote an intersting guest blog article a few months back where she said submission for her "lies in accepting that you may be told to do something you don’t enjoy, and you have to go ahead and do it."  She went on to add, "For submissives in the real world…submission is often the bowing to things that take us out of our comfort zone in a drastic way. When your Dominant tells you to do something, the act of submitting is to do it. But what if he tells you to do something you don't like? What if you hate being tickled—really hate it—and yet he wants to string you up and tickle you as a punishment? You might balk, wheedle, complain, but, if you really want to be submissive, you submit. You know it's something you will truly despise, but you do it anyway. Assuming you have a responsible and sane Dominant, he might take you out of your comfort zone, but he won't be asking you to do something that is illegal, harmful or immoral."

So, for her, submission is agreeing to do something she hates on occasion, because her Dominant demands it.  The example she gives is for a punishment.  Now, I agree, to be effective, a punishment needs to entail an activity the submissive does not find enjoyable.  If she has an orgasm eating chocolate candy, she wouldn't consider an order to eat her favorite chocolate bar a punishment.  Perhaps if her dominant insisted she gobble down ten or more of them, she would.  However, and this is where it becomes a bit of a sticky wicket, would an order to eat ten or more candy bars be considered harmful?  It's certainly not healthy, but unless she's a diabetic it wouldn't be fatal, either.  So, why would a Dom want his sub to do something that wasn't good for her health?  What constitutes harm?

Webster's dictionary defines harm as "physical or mental damage: injury."  What is harmless for one person could indeed be damaging to another.   So, harm (outside of severe bodily injury or mental devastation) is personal.  If a submissive's Dominant cares for her well-being, he is not going to insist she do anything that would harm her, although he may want her to submit to an activity that will bring her pain or discomfort, physical or emotional.  Since each person's tolerance level is different, a responsible and sane Dominant needs to know exactly what his sub's limits are to determine how best to stretch them without breaking them, or her.   So, this is the point where it personally gets uncomfortable for me.  When is enough, enough?

If a Dominant is responsible and sane, but also a sexual sadist, doesn't he always want to take things one step further the next time?  If his sub hates to be whipped, and he feels the best way to punish her is to take a crop to her butt, the first time he may choose to stop when her backside reaches the proper shade of pink.  The next time he may go for a deeper color or prefer to leave a tiny welt or bruise.  The next time he doesn't stop until he sees he's left either a slightly larger welt or several more tiny welts.  The next time….  As I said, when is enough, enough?  Is a sexual sadist ever truly satisfied with keeping things at the same level, and never progressing on to the next step?

Again, a sexual sadist's satisfaction is also personal to the individual.  Every person, unless they are truly insane, has lines they will not cross.  Hard limits.  Since a submissive's limits are set by her Dom, if only because he determines how long and hard to stretch or push her and when to stop, not she, a sub needs to know exactly which lines her Dom will not cross so she can trust him not to push her beyond her limits of tolerance.  Pain is relative.  It bothers me when a person does something painful to another person and insists it didn't hurt.  How do they know?  Even if the same thing was done to them, their pain tolerance level could be entirely different.  So, who is right?  To me it is the person experiencing the pain, not the person delivering it, who is the true judge of what is painful, unless the dominant really can read minds.

This brings me back to a Dominant ordering a sub to do something she hates because he enjoys watching her struggle.  He gets pleasure from it, so he demands she submit.  As my friend said, "You might balk, wheedle, complain, but, if you really want to be submissive, you submit. You know it's something you will truly despise, but you do it anyway."  I'll add because he is your Dom, and your job as a submissive is to give him whatever he wants, even if you don't want to do it.  But is that right?  Knowing that the person I'm attempting to please wants to punish me, simply because he enjoys watching me suffer, would make me question his motives.  As a submissive, I would expect my Dominant to want what is best for me, and I would need his motives to be of a grander scale then simply getting his jollies from watching me squirm when he punished me.  If I suspected that was all he wanted, I doubt I would submit.  There needs to be a lesson involved, in my opinion.  Discipline dispensed as a correction should primarily be used as a negative reinforcement, not a joyride for the Dominant.  I also believe a Dom's punishment should fit the transgression.

I heard a story of one Dom, whose sub kept mouthing off at him, so he chose to punish her by making her hold a live goldfish in her mouth.  I'm not sure how long he made her do it, but I hope it wasn't long enough to kill the innocent fish.  I do agree, in this case, that the punishment fit the crime.  The small wriggling carp on her tongue should serve to remind her for a while that she's not supposed to wag it at her Dominant.  I'm sure the experience wasn't pleasant, and she no doubt wanted to rinse her mouth out immediately afterwards, if he'd permit it, but the penalty he set wasn't harmful to her, and hopefully wasn't too harmful for the fish, so it served as a teaching lesson or a reminder.

He wasn't being cruel or sadistic, in my opinion, but he was making a point.  Did he enjoy the faces she made as she struggled to keep her mouth closed?  Maybe, but he didn't do it for that reason.  He did it to teach his sub, who also happened to be his wife, a lesson.  So, I guess that's where the dividing line is for me.  If the Dom's punishment is meant to reinforce a point and teach a lesson, then I think the sub, who knows what she did was wrong, owes it to him to obey.  But if he's just doing it to get off because he enjoys watching her suffer, then I think she needs to find a new Dom.

So, in the chocolate example I gave, I could understand a Dom ordering his sub to eat a large amount of her favorite chocolate if she wasn't supposed to have any, and he caught her snacking behind his back.  You really can have too much of a good thing, and insisting she eat up her supply until she felt sick could get her to end up hating the high-calorie treats.  It might not be healthy for her short term, but if it kept her from cheating on her diet, then both he and she would consider the punishment worth it, even though she might hate doing it at the time.

However, I have difficulty understanding how punishing someone by tickling them, when they really hate to be tickled, will teach a lesson.  I suppose it could be considered the same as spanking.  If the sub enjoyed being spanked, but hated to be restrained and tickled, then tickling her could serve as sufficient motivation to correct undesired behavior.  I guess as long as the imposed penalty serves to curtail undesired behavior, then the sub owes it to her Dom and herself to submit to his will, even though she really dreads what he's insisting she do.  Perhaps that's what it all comes down to.  Is the punishment being given with the sub's best interests in mind?  If so, then let the punishment begin.  Subs, you need to do what you don't want to do, and dutifully submit to your loving Dom.

A Dom's point of view:


  1. That's a very thoughtful post, Kathryn. I recognize the quotes. :) I think you might be conflating domestic discipline with BDSM. They're not the same thing. A DD punishment spanking is meant to cause pain to the person who submits to it, and is applied by someone who does not consider himself a sexual sadist. Sexual sadists, however, enjoy giving spankings of all sorts, but, assuming the Dom is a sane person (something you mentioned a few times), then he isn't going to continue to escalate his rough treatment to the point where the sub is harmed, either physically or emotionally. If he's that kinda guy, he isn't fit to be with anyone and needs mental help.

    And, partners for DD are looking for marital harmony, while BDSM partners are fulfilling a sexual need most of the time. Thus, while a DD couple might be made up of a dominant person and a submissive one, their contract is unlikely to include whips and bondage. BDSM partners, however, are more likely to get into toys of all sorts, and this is to stretch the boundaries of the submissive AND the Dom. (Doms have concerns over their own mental health and guilty feelings to deal with as well.) As a rule, sexual sadists are looking for submissive masochists--women (and men) who get a sexual thrill from pain. Once again, it's about sex, not discipline per se. In BDSM, discipline is often an excuse rather than a goal. If a submissive person has no qualms about her submission from time to time, she's not as satisfying a partner. Doms--in my experience--want to see their subs sweat a little or they're not much fun. In a DD relationship, it's not about pushing boundaries, it's about punishing bad behavior. There's nothing sexual about it (though the intimacy it produces can lead to sex).

    Bottom line: sexual sadists are not psychopaths looking to finally reach the level of doing harm to their submissives. They don't particularly escalate things. They might stretch a sub's comfort zone some, but a submissive wants to be challenged that way, or they wouldn't find the submission as satisfying.

    My comment is made from a submissive woman's POV, but I don't claim to represent all submissives. The contract between the partners, whether BDSM or DD, is utterly different from one couple to the next. Sanity must prevail in all cases.

    1. Verity, thanks so much for your insight. The story I related was about a BDSM couple, but you're right, I think it does sound more like DD. I do know several DD couples venture into areas of whips and bondage, but I'm sure they're far from the norm. And though DD focuses on punishing undesirable behavior, and for BDSM it is more of an excuse rather than a goal, I think the line between them is growing thinner and thinner on the DD side. I say this because I think 50 Shades has encouraged a lot more DD couples to experiment with kink. Whether or not the experiment works is another matter.

      I really like the following statement you made, "Bottom line: sexual sadists are not psychopaths looking to finally reach the level of doing harm to their submissives. They don't particularly escalate things. They might stretch a sub's comfort zone some, but a submissive wants to be challenged that way, or they wouldn't find the submission as satisfying."

      I guess it's the term sadist that catches me up. In my mind, I keep seeing an image of the whip-wielding Marquis de Sade, who probably was a psychopath. Even so, I never considered sexual sadists as psychopaths, but I did believe they got a sexual thrill out of dispensing pain. I envisioned that thrill more as an addiction rather than a disorder. The desire to stretch just that little bit further each time to see where the limits really are and to sustain the endorphin high a touch longer. Like an exercising program does. Each time, you do a little more. No pain, no gain. And occasionally you end up stretching an inch too far and hurting yourself in the process (and it's the people who keep going on despite the injury they've inflicted who probably need counseling).

      However, from what you said, it appears that is neither the goal nor the desire in your experience, which is not small by any means. I also thought all D/s couples were into BDSM, but as you indicated DD has a D/s relationship that is distinctly different from those actively participating in BDSM.

      Thanks again for giving us your point of view. I always love it when you reply. I learn so much.

  2. This is a well-written piece, but I note you concentrate entirely on submissive submitting to experiences they don't enjoy as punishment. Just like mundanes, sometimes members of a D/S couple just have an interest the other doesn't share. :) When that happens, the submissive can offer submission to it simply as part of the gift of submission, and not because they "deserve" it or the dominant wants them to have an unpleasant experience for some reason other than their own pleasure.

    When mundanes do this, the technical term is "compromise." As in, "I'll wash the dishes if you'll rub my back." It's much the same for D/S couples, it's just that the exchange isn't quite so explicit or quid pro quo. Your dominant likes having his toes sucked and you just aren't into it? Or, more closely analogous to your examples, maybe he just wants to paddle your ass to watch it turn red and feel you squirm on his lap while he does it. Even if you didn't do anything "wrong," you do it because he likes it and it pleases him. Simple as that.

    1. Marc, thanks so much for dropping by and commenting. You're right, I did focus primarily on punishments in this piece, but I can see how a certain give/take could fit into a D/s relationship as well. A compromise, like the first one you mentioned above, has absolutely nothing to do with punishment, but everything to do with performing an act (like washing dishes) that the sub doesn't especially enjoy, but will leap up to complete for a compensatory reward (like a back rub), if her Dom would ever propose such an offer.

      I realize you weren't talking about a D/s couple performing such commonplace, everyday tasks, but in Domestic Discipline (DD) couples that are also D/s, I would think such offers are possible. I would assume, however, that this proposition would need to be suggested by the Head of the Household (HOH), not the wife, in a D/s rather than vanilla or mundane relationship. If a sub attempted to broach a compromise like that, most Doms would accuse her of "topping from the bottom," and make it equally clear such quid pro quo finagling was not permitted.

      He, and I'm using the basic He/she relationship paradigm primarily because I write M/F and I'm a girl, would remind her that he determines when to give back rubs or rewards, not she, and she should do the dishes to please him, no other reason needed. I think even the HOH in a DD relationship might say something similar, though HOHs are probably more prone to helping out with the daily chores than other Doms. As for the toe-sucking, yeah doesn't float my boat either, the sub would perform the act simply to please him.

      This same reasoning applies to the paddling you mentioned. In that case, the act is not being dispensed for punishment, and not exactly for the sub's pleasure, either. The Dom is performing the paddling because he enjoys the results, and expects his sub to submit simply because it turns him on. No explicit or implied exchange offered.

      Again, as you pointed out, these acts are a sub doing something she doesn't want to do for no other reason than to please her Dom. Another basic tenant of the D/s relationship. Thanks for submitting your thoughts. They add another well-written and pertinent facet to the article.


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