Each day in September, I will be posting a question about submission, along with two responses- the first written five years ago and the second from today. I welcome all who wish to join in this exercise to post your own answers in the comments, adjusting the question if necessary to suit your own roles and sensibilities.
Does your submission- either what you practice or what you strive for- have a label? Do you view your submission as taken in hand, domestic discipline, top/bottom, dominant/submissive, master/slave, owner/pet, or some other description or combination? If you do not use a label, why?
I like the term “submissive” best, possibly because it’s vague and the core of me knows that it applies. I’m hesitant to say something more specific, it feels like when we were forced to make predictions about books we hadn’t read yet in grade school English class. I haven’t tried this for real yet, and have no idea how I will react and what will work now.
I think I am looking for a mentor/student relationship. I like the thought of being guided, and I miss being a student (being three years out of college now). I miss the permission to be ignorant, the open-mindedness, the learning and changing. I take classes part time now to keep this part of me active- I’m not trying for another degree or certification, just little continuing education things. Just enough to keep my inner student active. I would like to try to be in this mindset more often.
I have always pictured this with a man, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility of meeting the right dominant woman. When reading about TTWD, the gender of the participants almost doesn’t register sometimes- it’s more about the relationship between them.
Whatever the label, I tend to thrive when I have a well-defined role and know my place. Even if the role is uncomfortable at first, I like to know the expectations for how I should behave. One particular vanilla relationship really drove this home for me. In my late teens, I was working part-time as an assistant coach for an acting program. I had an older student who acted as a mentor for me. He was a good friend, we got along well, and had a lot of respect for each other, but we had a rather unusual relationship. It was critical that we present a united front when with the students. As he outranked me, I was supposed to follow his lead. It didn’t matter I thought he was wrong or if I would have taken a different approach. It was difficult sometimes, but I think it was worthwhile overall. I felt valued, but we were definitely not equals. I was ok with that.
I still like the term “submissive” best, perhaps for the somewhat irrational reason that the word simply feels right. In any event, it is a term sufficiently broad to cover the varying ways in which I submit depending on the partner and the context. I submit to light-hearted party play, to demonstrations, to discipline; I submit to acquaintances, friends, mentors, lovers. Submission is the common thread through each of these disparate encounters.
That same broadness often requires explanation of the nuances of my chosen label when working with a new partner or exploring new territory. These discussions provide a lovely opportunity to explore more of what exactly I am looking for in the power differential.
Even when other labels may be more objectively appropriate to describe the things I do within a scene or with a specific partner (student, slave, bottom), I prefer the connotation of “submissive” when speaking of what I am.