Submission Without Dominance?

Ever since I created this blog, I’ve been exploring other sexuality blogs here on WordPress, and loving how much I’ve learned about the current state of D/s and others’ ideas and terminology. It’s at the cross-section of linguistics, psychology, and sexuality, so how could I not love every minute of it?

The thing that’s been most interesting and most revolutionary to me in my reading is exploring the idea of “dominance.” I’ve realized that dominance as a concept is not actually that important to me when it’s able to be extracted from “submission.” What I mean is that what I really, truly like is submission, and I enjoy dominance primarily as a way to be on the other side of that. But in a world where I can enjoy a boy’s submission without being dominant towards him, it’s not so important to me. I’ve been latching onto it because I’ve seen it as the other side of the coin, but maybe it doesn’t always have to be.

In educating myself about this line of thinking, I came across—well, I came across many things I didn’t understand, then things I disagreed with, followed by many things that truly fascinated me—and the best, most profound thing to my mind was the last line of this paragraph:

“And my point is, if our environment weren’t designed to train rapists […] no one would see anything special or ethical or fun about domination, even people who think submission is sexy. Because, bluntly, Submission’s where the magic happens.” [originally from maybemaimed.com, which no longer exists]

I don’t know how much I agree with the first part, but I’m including it for context. Frankly, “Submission is where the magic happens” perfectly encapsulates everything I’ve been trying to understand about myself lately. I know it’s what turns me on, but I know I’m not submissive, so where does it fit in? For me, that’s it: it’s where the magic is. It’s everything about my desires that makes me passionate about sexuality. And what this paragraph got me thinking about is where my lust is located.

Really deconstructing it, I see that when I try out a dominant thought in fantasy, my satisfaction comes from the resulting submissive feeling in my potential partner. I think of it like a chain of events. The dominant thing triggers the submissive feeling, and that triggers my satisfaction. It does not come immediately from the dominant thing. It’s an important distinction, and I’m glad to be on this thought path now, because it helps me understand myself that much better.

If submission doesn’t require dominance, then what other roles can a partner take opposite submission? Facilitator? Leader? What if facilitating submission requires dominance? Is that distinct from being dominant? It’s fascinating to me and I intend to explore the idea.

I do want to say this: I don’t fully stand on either side of the judgments on dominance that I’ve found, and I don’t know nearly enough to have an ultimate opinion on this. This is particularly true because I’m not in the BDSM community and I also lack D/s experiences. What I do know is that my ideas about it have evolved a lot over the past year, and that “dominance,” as it exists both in practice and in theory, continues to be a subject of interest to me. I’m not shedding the label so much as I’m stepping back from it a little, so that I can see where I want to use it and where I don’t.

Topping in Fiction?

Imagine this: your female hero and her male love interest have made it through their story, saved the world, and realized their feelings for each other. There’s a dramatic moment of intimacy and love. They’re overtaken by passion, and she takes out a strap-on and tops him.

Instantly, it’s kinky. Right away, she becomes a character who thinks and cares about sex more than she “should,” even if she wasn’t before. By necessity, it impacts her character. Why? Probably because she’s assumed the bottom until proven otherwise, and being otherwise marks her as different. Because straying from the bottom “default” role takes forethought. Maybe it’s the addition of a sex toy that does it, but imagine instead of using a strap-on she simply fingerfucks her male love interest. Still kinky, right? What if she just uses her hand on his cock and the other hand on herself? Then maybe it’s not kinky, but it’s also not a very dramatic first time sex scene between the lovers. It might not be considered “sex” at all.

I think it’s the penetrative role, because there are certainly fictional women who have personalities I can imagine making them “in charge,” in the sense that they’re still being penetrated but they’re dominant in some way, maybe in terms of sexual position or the control of the situation. I think there’s a certain amount of acceptance of that—at least, my mind can comprehend such a scenario without a necessary change in character. And that’s really cool. Maybe I shouldn’t care so much about the mechanics of it and I’m too hooked up on my own preferences. But why shouldn’t the position reversal be plausible? Why can’t it be? If sex is about pleasure and intimacy, there’s nothing unnatural about a woman fucking her boyfriend.

If the character is shown to be preoccupied with sex, dominant, and maybe contemporary in thinking, it might be possible. But for everyone else, topping seems out of character. Because women in fiction never do, and so it feels unnatural. It’s a horrible cycle. You never see it, so you never can see it. Even when the matter is left completely open—even when all sex and relationship roles are left as a blank slate—I simply can’t envision it.

So what’s the result? When it’s not even an imaginative possibility, the stigma on topping cannot change at all. It continues to be an outlying case. Pegging as anything more than a fun roleplay doesn’t exist. And quite simply, that bugs me a lot.