Very often the stereotype of submission is that the submissive person loses the ability to have an opinion. While that clearly isn’t true except in the absolute rarest of occasions, how does communication factor into your submission and how do you communicate your desires and needs?
We’re going to step outside of kink for a moment here, but let me take you back to two times in my life. before BDSM:
In the first example, I was representing my martial arts training centre. My job was very simple and straight forward: Be polite. be on time, smile and give good answers to their questions. That was it, and I got plenty of bonuses out of that little deal. Each time the national board appeared to question whether they should adopt some of my Sensei’s practices nationwide, I’d explain how happy I was and how much fun I was having. I explained how I loved to train on Saturdays and how easy it was to learn because of my Sensei’s techniques. Even if it was largely a crock of bull, young people will do anything for a bit of extra pocket money.
In the second example, I was a “statemented” child (I had someone help me carry my things, because of my spine) at school. My support worker – a devout Christian lady – was more concerned with carrying her Bible than she was with helping me, and my brother had had enough. He wrote her a letter labelling her as a “fucking lazy cow” and left it on the table in the Special Educational Needs room for her to find. Because he’d signed it, he was suspended from school for ten days. Naturally of course, as my brother had defended me, so I too had to defend hm.
“Mr Jones*, if you suspend my brother then you suspend me as well” I asserted. It was a well-curated speech, but I’d already expressed my plan to say it during a family meeting, and it was given the go ahead. If it was what I wanted to say, I was told, then I had clear way. After all, family honour is first – always.
“Oh well, we don’t want to do that. You are one of our most exemplary students and it would not look good on the school record..” Mr Jones began.
“Fuck you, Mr Jones, I am not the person you think I am” I growled, “now, are you going to suspend me for swearing at my headmaster, or are you going to let my brother go?”
To be fair, I got suspended too, but I have no regrets about the fact that I did. I stuck up for what I believed in, I defended my family honour, and I had no shame.
I changed as a person after that. Gone was the quiet, shy, meek little girl that I’d grown up as, and here was a new bold, confident woman in the making. I learned that people wouldn’t hit me for having an opinion, I learned that sometimes I really could get what I wanted by speaking my truth and for everything else, there was often workarounds. I stopped seeing the world in black or white, in only “yes” or “no” options. Instead, my world became full of possibility.
And now, back to BDSM.
As a person, I am very forthright in my views. Some people don’t like it, but to be honest, that’s on them. My views and opinions are my truth, and to deny my truth would be akin to denying me my right to simply exist. Our worldview is based on our past experiences, and no two people have exactly the same experiences to be able to hold exactly the same opinion. If you try to change me or tell me that my opinion is wrong and yours is right without any solid evidence for doing so, I will get up and I will walk away. To me, coercion is a major sign of disrespect. Playful behaviour is one thing, asserting your will over someone because you don’t agree with them is quite another.
As a submissive, those feelings carry over, and I do often see red flags where others may not see them. A Dominant who tries to tell a submissive what is right to believe, for example, would be a red flag for me. A Dominant with a list of preset and non-negotiable rules would be another. I may be a submissive, but I am not a submissive person. If anything, I’m quite the opposite.
When it comes to communicating my needs and wants, I believe,. quite simply, in being honest. Humour can help break the ice, but sometimes we have to be serious to be clear that we are being serious about what we want. Honorifics are probably okay, sometimes, but both partners should feel the need to be able to speak freely with or without them. With bot of the men that I am involved with, I have frank, honest and heartfelt conversations. Of course humour and kink has its place, but so does being honest and being real. If you can’t be honest and real with one another, the chances are good that you probably don’t have much of a connection, after all.
*Names have been changed.