What Is “Obedience”?
Obedience refers to the following of rules, protocols, or behaviors by a submissive set by a dominant partner in a scene. Obeying can be tied directly to the scene or an ongoing part of a D/s dynamic. While obedience can be a part of the play, it is not always required or desired by either party.
The Psychology of Obedience & Relation to BDSM
Psychology recognizes obedience as a form of social influence that differs from conformity and compliance. Conformity takes place when a person changes a particular part in their behavior in order to become accepted or more agreeable to a group. The people or group that a person conforms with is of equal social status as theirs. On the other hand, compliance means a person changes their behavior at the request or order of another individual or group.
Social power influences obedient behavior. Compared to conformity, the person giving the order who has a higher status or someone with authority. Obedient behavior is also a response to an order, not a request.
In BDSM, obedience is usually exhibited by subs or bottoms. But, unlike obedience in nonsexual settings, the obedience of subs/bottoms is consensual and applicable to a certain extent, depending on the participants’ agreement and negotiation.
When a submissive obeys, it is usually rewarded by the Dominant. When a sub is disobedient this is often a cause for punishment. The types of punishment vary based upon previous negotiations or the preferences of those involved. Some subs or bottoms are purposefully disobedient in order to elicit a response from their dom. This is called being bratty or a brat.
Applying Obedience in a Dynamic
Obedience play and training as part of a D/s dynamic are one of the key aspects of BDSM play. A submissive obeying the commands or instructions of a Dominant form the basis of play and engagement. This can be adhering to predetermined rules, commands during a session or scene, or even aspects of daily life. Being disobedient, whether intentionally or not, is cause for punishment or discipline.
As a general rule in BDSM, obedience is not applicable unless both parties consent to a specific act or scene. While it is true that subs find pleasure in obeying and in releasing control to a more authoritative, influential, and dominant figure, they too have limits that should be respected.
Some subs enjoy the humiliation and the pain inflicted by the Dom. Their obedience is also a symbol of their devotion to their Dom. Thus, subs should not be forced to obey a Dom’s demands, especially if it has not yet been discussed, agreed upon, or goes beyond the sub’s limits.
Related Practices & Fetishes
Discipline (represented by ‘D’ in the BDSM acronym), is the act of teaching a submissive to obey. Many aspects of corporal punishment are used to punish a sub’s disobedience.