The Power of Powerlessness: Submission in a Nutshell
BDSM

The Power of Powerlessness: Submission in a Nutshell

By Emmeline Peaches, 30.09.2019

In his book, Pastoral, author Andre Alexis speaks of a pastor who bows down to the ground in prayer. And, in doing so, Alexis touches upon something that many might know or feel:

“There was a great comfort in prayer. It was not so much that he felt the presence of God when he prayed…It was that kneeling – head bowed, fingers interwoven and held on to his chest – immediately brought to his mind all the times he had surrendered…Comfort came from the continuity of submission. Kneeling, praying, he was himself at his most open and at his most genuinely human; ignorant, hopeful, humble in the face of the unknown.”

This quote speaks volumes about submission and the power that can be gained in it. The power of powerlessness. 

What Is Submission?

Submission is the willing abdication of control to either another person (usually a Dominant) or more to achieve sexual satisfaction or as part of a further process of sexual gratification. 

Those who do so are known as ‘Submissives’ or a ‘Submissive’ and are often engaging in the BDSM community, either seriously or as part of an at-home interplay. Indeed, the S in BDSM can stand for ‘Submission’ among other things. 

What Does A Submissive Do?

In short – anything their Dominant wants them to. In reality – there’s often a lot more to it. 

Being Submissive in a sexual encounter or as part of a relationship is always part of a mutual (and mutually beneficial) agreement between the two or more people involved. 

As part of this agreement, Submissives will almost always let their partner know what activities and forms of submission they’re happy to get involved in and what the hard and soft ‘Nos’ are. 

Hard ‘Nos’ are always respected and never pushed. Soft ‘Nos’ might be brought up in conversation at a later date but never during a session. They are a subject of respect.

Equally, many individuals will have Hard ‘Yes,’ soft ‘Yes,’ and potential ‘Maybes’ in a Dominant/Submissive agreement which represent the boundaries and possibilities for play. Again, the ‘Maybe’ category is best explored and discussed outside of play, though different people will have different approaches to this. 

The Power Exchange

As you can see from this dynamic, however, is that there is an interplay of power in a Dom/Sub relationship that those outside of the BDSM community might not initially have in place nor understand. 

A Submissive may relinquish power as part of their play session but it is just that – play. What makes Dominance and Submission work is that the Submissive at all point has their power fully intact. They can use their safeword to veto activity, they have full ability to change the consent boundaries of the situation, and they have already set the boundaries of their Submission prior to stepping in to the role. 

A Submissive submits in order to experience the release of power, and such a release is an amazingly intense stress-reliever (and turn-on), but this is made possible through the safety, understanding, and trust that full control is always in place when it comes to the situation. A Sub always has power and a choice, they just choose to act powerless at times. 

Is Submission Normal? 

It is if sexual studies are anything to go by. 

In one study of the kink community, involving 1580 participants, 62% of individuals weren’t just submitting but actually engaging in specific forms of submission, such as service-oriented submission. 

The same study also found that Submission is often something people share in together – with 37% being submissive, 24% doing it to someone else, and 51% actually engaging in both dominance and submission. 36% also enjoyed watching such activities too, demonstrating that Submission isn’t always about doing what others tell you but perhaps also having someone witness the surrender. 

But Submission isn’t just common – it’s healthy too. 

In an exploration of Submission and erotophilia, one study found that individuals who are receptive to such activities are more likely to think about sex, have a healthier approach to masturbation, have stronger abilities to engage in sexual fantasy, and visit the gynaecologist more frequently. Such individuals also participate in more activities that prevent sexually transmitted infections and are more inclined to discuss and participate sexual care. 

These are all immense benefits which come naturally with engaging in Submission. After all, a Submissive must make sure their needs are known, be overt with what does and doesn’t work, and take responsibility for their sexual safety and for the activities that will come in the aftercare phase after a play scene. 

And, yes – aftercare is essential in our opinion.   

Every good Submissive deserves to be tended to, as does every Dominant post-scene or activity. 

How To Get Involved

If you’ve read this article and you’re interested in Submission we don’t blame you!

Submission can be hot as all hell and comes with some pretty awesome perks that you now know about too. But how does one get started?

In short, create a conversation!

If you have a partner or partners then talk to them about your desire to explore Submission, do your research and begin to discuss play possibilities, a safewords and your Yes, No, Maybe list. 

Feel free to look through out directory of erotic films too in order to get ideas for your session, though use them as inspiration rather than strict guidelines of how to play.

After all, Submission is, as Andre Alexis notes, fundamentally about finding the most unique and genuine version of you. That, is something you hold inside of you and can only be brought to a vulnerable exposure in the exchange of your relationship. 

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