Opinion: What is Submission?

As I had promised in last week’s opinion piece, “What Is Dominance?”, here is the sequel, “What Is Submission?”

File this installment under “opinion” This is another in our ‘food-for-thought’ articles that should be not taken as gospel, but rather used as a jump-off point for a deeper discussion of the subject matter.
We all know what submission is in terms of play. Whether the bottom is a so-called “pain slut” or one who just craves bondage — or any of a large number of dungeon interactions — unless there is a spiritual connection between Top and bottom, this would fall into the category of “play.” Notice, I said “bottom.” I believe submission implies a deeper power exchange than just dungeon play.

So, when submission goes beyond just play, as in a D/s relationship, what is it based on? After years in the lifestyle, I have come full circle and think it is close to the idealized model, “I live to please my Master or Mistress” — a construct that I initially dismissed as pure fantasy when I first entered the lifestyle. When I first came across this concept, I was skeptical that any human being could truly embrace it. After all, we all want what we want, we are all libertines and many of us, Dom/mes and subs alike, are basically selfish. But this living to please Master/Mistress is obviously selfless. So how does anyone make the leap from selfish to selfless? Must all subs become little Gandhi’s? No; as I see it, it is not a leap at all.

Gandhi? Although he was selfless, his goal — independence for his people and the way he went about attaining it — could arguably be defined as “selfish.” We can quibble about the terms, but selfless and selfish can be two edges of the same sword. This equivalency works for submission as well.

Even if we are selfish, and we want what we want (the masochist who wants a good beating gets it), the best way for a sub to get everything he/she wants is by being selfless! Although this might seem to be a contradiction, on closer analysis nothing could be farther from the truth. Ideally, the sub must use “selfless service” not as a strategy, but as an internal basis for his/her submission. If it is simply a strategy, the sub will, sooner or later, tire of it. But, if she truly wants the Master/Mistress to be happy, the sub will be getting inner satisfaction from her submission simply from pleasing. Besides, a good Master or Mistress will, unconsciously, reward his submissive’s unselfish efforts by instinctively giving what the sub desires. Thus, as an unintended consequence (or bonus!) for her “selflessness,” the sub would be getting much more than she could ever hope to attain through being “selfish.” It becomes a perfect circle – selflessness leads to having one’s selfish needs being fulfilled. There is a sports corollary here. Magic Johnson, always lauded for his “unselfish play” where he always put his teammates first, ultimately was rewarded with money, fame and championships – the ultimate “selfish” goals. All as a result of his being “unselfish!”

I have always said that the protocols of a D/s relationship and the style of a BDSM union matter little – that it’s all good. I am now convinced, more than ever, of this truth. In my humble opinion, the most important aspect of any D/s relationship is that the submissive must, to some degree, put his/her Master/Mistress or Dom/me first and derive satisfaction there from. Maybe not like a cartoon stereotype

– “I live to serve Master and nothing else matters” – but, surely, some less extreme variant. Everything else – protocols, power exchanges, play, etc. – flows from this basic foundation. Obviously, trust enters into the equation – but primarily as a facilitator for the basis of submission, which is selflessness.

By BaadMaster
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.


  1. i love Your concept of submission. i believe what You say is right on true.

  2. I agree that for submission to work and be “real” the submissive has to enjoy the act of submitting. Which would follow that submission could be considered a “selfish” act.

    I think the important thing to note is that the term “selfish” isn’t being used in a negative or derogatory way. It just means “the act of doing for one’s own self.”

Speak Your Mind