Much of what is written about this lifestyle concerns the underlying basis of Dominance and submission. Are they inherent or acquired characteristics? If they are acquired, how does one go about attaining them? Can anybody learn to be a Dominant or submissive or is it “in the genes?”
Most of my observations here are the result of interviews with lifestylers I personally know. Although I am not the Gallup Organization, I hope you will learn a little about your own Dominance or submission from my work. In this installment, I will concentrate on submission, with some additional observations on Dominance.
As to the big question, is submission a trait you are born with or one you acquire, I think it is a little of both. Most submissives I have questioned have stated that they identified a submissive need early on in their lives – long before they acted on it. Most did not recognize an overwhelming early need; I never heard, “Almost from birth, I knew my destiny was to be a slave.” That seems more like a quote from a BDSM romance novel. Although I am sure there are some who are “born slaves,” most subs and slaves (both male and female) seemed to have identified an “itch” and, sooner or later, decided to scratch it. Typical is the following quote from a 38 year-old female divorcee I know who now has a Master.
“Although I always had these submissive feelings…reading the “Marketplace Series” were a turn on to me…I read them behind my husband’s back…I also had feelings of guilt – that having these feelings, especially the need to be a sexual submissive and perhaps even bare pain, was somehow very immoral. In fact, I was even thinking of going to a shrink because I thought there was something wrong with me. Then, two things happened – really one thing that caused two things. I started spending time on the Internet and found that I was not alone. That made me feel a lot better. Misery loves company you might say! Also, the more time I spent on the Internet, the more my itch needed scratching. And, once I found an “online Dom,” – even though he turned out to be a total phony, a complete liar, married and not an experienced Dom as he claimed – I knew that I needed to be someone’s submissive. The Internet pulled this need out of me you might say. My marriage was on the rocks anyway; this experience gave me a new direction and told me that after the inevitable divorce, I would search for a Dominant. And, I did….”
This interview, although surely not representative of all subs, does point out some key facets of submission. It shows, in no uncertain terms, the way society treats submission as opposed to Dominance. (And the way society treats men as opposed to women, if you have been following the news lately.) Dominants, especially male ones, have their dominance encouraged by society. I cannot count the times, growing up, that I heard, “Be a man!” Contrast this to her quote about having feelings of guilt; nobody, pre-Internet, encouraged her to explore her submission. Thus, until the Internet, there was very little “nurture” floating around. That there still were subs back in the day argues for the fact that submission has a very strong “nature” component to it.
I believe that submission — like Dominance — is both nature and nurture. The major difference lies in the fact that society seems to look down on submission – both male and female – more than it does on Dominance. This widespread lack of “nurture” argues that submission must have a pretty strong “nature” component to be as strong as it is – both in the number of submissives and their willingness to explore these urges in the face of this resistance.
I might add that I am not sure how “society” looks at Dommes – although the Dommes I know don’t really care about how society views them; they are a pretty strong lot it appears. But there is more “Internet nurture” for Dommes than ever which, like the encouragement for subs, is a good thing.
In conclusion, it seems that neither nature nor nurture alone works; it is more a case of nature and nurture as opposed to nature or nurture. But the Internet has given many people the “nurture” they have lacked.
That said, we can all benefit by encouraging – or “nurturing” – our fellow lifestylers on their journey. After all, if we rely on society to encourage people to explore their kinky side, there won’t be many kinksters – at least publicly!
About the Author
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.