The Trap of the “Cliché” Sub
I recently listened to a rant directed toward new female submissives. All the clichés and pitfalls and traps and nonsense. All the crap (and sometimes sheer stupidity) that comes with being a new sub. Of course there are some who skirt all the madness (hoorah!) but it’s more common than uncommon. The whole rant basically boiled down to new subs not knowing that their submission is a gift. I don’t buy into the whole notion of submission (or domination) being a gift*, but his rant seriously struck a chord in me.
- Believing a man is a Dom simply because he gives himself the title
- Subs who fall in love with a Dom who doesn’t love them back
- Doms who only see their subs during sexy time
- Subs who are so eager to please that they don’t examine if this Dom is a good man
- Doms who restrict a new sub’s communication with other knowledgeable people in the scene
- Subs pushing too many limits that aren’t ready to be pushed just to be pleasing
- Thinking that a Dom is a “Master” of a particular craft simply because he owns the toys
- Being a popular new toy to too many people
- Getting into a committed relationship (or slapping on a collar, ahem) before proper negotiations
- Negotiations? Huh?
The list goes on and on. It made me think about my own transition into the kink community. That rant about naïve subs was directly aimed at the new submissive that I once was. My entire sex life had been immersed in D/s and polyamorous relationships, but all behind closed doors, all in private. It wasn’t until my mid 20s that I actually came into the community. I found myself poking around online, seeking and researching and a so-called Dom quickly found me. Before I knew it, I was in a committed relationship with a man I barely knew, who was screening all my interactions with anyone else in the community. He wanted orgasm control, which anyone who has gone through this process will tell you is a major deal, often with long lasting repercussions. No one was allowed to talk to me. He had the passwords to all of my profiles and email. I was completely isolated with (still) no basis of comparison as to how D/s worked outside the bedroom. Although he demanded a lot of control in most aspects of my life, he didn’t see me much outside the bedroom. But, oh, how I longed to please. He would beat me black and blue knowing that I had diving and swim practice every morning. Those kinds of marks are very conspicuous in bathing suits and locker rooms. But I wanted to prove myself as a true sub. I didn’t even stop to think that I had to make him prove himself a true Dom, too. I didn’t know I was supposed to. Within no time at all, he wanted to bring other girls into the dynamic. I wasn’t on solid footing with him yet, but he wasn’t interested in that. He wanted more girls. After a single conversation about it where I voiced my hesitation, he ended it abruptly. It was a devastating blow at the time. I had given so much of myself to this person who didn’t give me respect in return.
A lot of people (men and women alike) find themselves in similar states. I’ve heard that losing your first Dom is one of the hardest losses in the BDSM realm. It completely turns some people off entirely to this deliciously exciting world. After one bad experience, they believe this just isn’t for them (and maybe it’s not), but they have fallen into the new sub trap. Unfortunately, all the great writing geared toward new subs and all the knowledgeable people in the community come along with experience. (Sometimes too little too late.)
And, indeed, all of those things did come to me with more exposure and experience. I found the classes and the people who had my best interests at heart. In retrospect, it was a great thing for me. Obviously he wasn’t the person for me and I learned a lot. Fortunately for me, I learned that all of this is worth it for me and is what I am at the core. The experience gave me an arsenal of what is unacceptable and it helped me develop my voice so that I could better express my expectations and boundaries. I learned what it means to take care of myself and what it means to take care of my partner. And now I have a lot of wisdom to pass on to new people who come eager for advice. It’s empowering once everything kinda “clicks” into place.
Ironically, that particular “Dom” touted the whole “hurt but not harm” motto, even as he continued to prey on new and unsuspecting girls. He hasn’t ever had a long-term relationship since I’ve known him.
Toxic people permeate…everywhere. All of life is filled with people who don’t care about us, but that becomes even more pronounced in the dark recesses of an adult playground. Unfortunately for many, they do not come prepared to play and fall into the common pitfalls and traps. Looking back on our experiences, I’m sure many of us grimace at some of the choices we made early in our journey (hopefully grimacing less with better choices and as time moves on). Some of us halted and exited the journey as a result, but for those of us still here, we gained priceless perspective, experience and knowledge, some of which can hopefully be used to the betterment of someone else’s expedition. Unfortunately, though, no matter how many people we try to save, there will always be those who end up the new sub “cliché.”
As far as submission being a gift, I don’t believe that submission (or dominance) is a gift. It’s a mutual, ongoing, ever-changing dynamic, dependant on each other. “Gifting” submission and dominance is simplistic and does not take into account things like consent or negotiation. Gift giving is sometimes one-sided and cannot be taken back. Of course, we all know that’s not true. For me, this isn’t a gift that I’m bestowing upon you. This is essential to my being. Gifts are superfluous. My need to submit is not. Your need to dominate is not. This is who we are. And this is what we do together to nourish our souls. (There are a million different views about the “gift” of submission, but this is what resonates with me.)