What is Submission?
Submission is the act of complying to the will or authority of another.
Being submissive takes on many different forms in the BDSM community and not all submissives are made equal. In fact, many submissives, also known as ‘subs,’ are bratty or defiant in order to elicit a particular response from their dominant, or Dom which is usually capitalized out of respect. Depending on the submissive their service to a Dom can be either psychological, physical, or both.
There are two main kinds of sub’s, session-based and lifestyle and they can be drastically different. Lifestyle submissives tend to be constantly in service to and in contact with a Dom. This can be a romantic partner, someone removed from their daily life, and can even be non-sexual depending upon the needs of the sub. Lifestyle submissives are commonly referred to as collared if they ‘belong’ to a Dom or have a deeper ongoing connection and relationship with them. Lifestyle submissives are depicted in mainstream movies such as Secretary with Maggie Gyllenhall & James Spader as well as the wildly popular 50 Shades of Gray. 50 Shades of Gray is largely viewed by the BDSM community as an inaccurate representation of true lifestyle BDSM relationships, and abusive.
Session-based subs are generally only submissive in the context of a sexual or otherwise BDSM encounter. Being a sub during a session does not automatically make the person in that role a lifestyle submissive. They can be what’s commonly referred to within the BDSM community as a switch, playing the role of Dom, sub, or neutral as their desire or situation permits. Submission often works inside a reward/punishment dynamic, which often fulfills the psychological needs of both the Dom and sub.
The psychological and sociological aspects of submission are a topic of intense debate among many subcultures and being a sub is not limited to any specific gender, sexual orientation, or identity. Ironically, one thing that the BDSM and fetish community at large agree on is that submissives are the ones who hold the true power, for if there was not someone to sub, there would be no Dom.