Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Submission vs Obedience. Now featuring Bondage Puppies.

img (and bondage dogs for sale):

When a pet-owner becomes exhausted by a rowdy canine, that dog might be sent to doggy day-care or obedience school, but even the kinkiest of us would probably take pause before sending a beloved pet to a school for submission. Submission School for Dogs sounds like a fetish-oriented pet care program, which may explain why I was unable to find a listing online for any canine training program with the word "submission" in its name. Apparently, even dog trainers know that submission is different from obedience. Why, then, is it so difficult to explain how one differs from the other? How do I know if I am submissive or just willing to follow commands?

I've been thinking about the disparity between these two concepts since MurasakiTeapot, kinky conversation starter and fellow fetishist in the Twitterverse, posed her Kink of the Day Question on Tuesday: "Submission vs. Obedience? Can you obey and not submit?"

I won't repost the whole thing here, but the course of the conversation can be followed on MurasakiTeapot's Twitter page if you go back far enough. I summed up my feelings with the theory, "Obedience is submission to a command. Submission is obedience to a person."

I'm going to approach my feelings on this from the perspective of sex and punishment, but not life and lifestyle. I know for certain that if I could never be the "s" in a D/s relationship, and I'm therefore not well-versed enough to consider that aspect of this subject. What I do know is that I've always considered myself to be sexually submissive, in the sense that I want to give up control. I want to be told what to do and how to do it, to be physically manipulated into the right position. My attitude takes on a "Do with me what you will" quality that can at times be crippling because it means I don't take initiative. I wait, because I fear I will do something dissatisfactory. In this sense, my submission greatly varies from obedience in that I have put my whole self and the entire scenario into my lover's hands. In waiting to take action because I am waiting to be told, I'm not actually obeying anything. I may, at times, even be preventing anything from happening at all. I haven't been told to wait. I haven't been told to fear. Those traits are intrinsic. Therefore, it seems I have answered the opposite of the original question. It is possible to be submissive without simultaneously being obedient.

Now consider a scene in which I am going to receive a spanking. Before the spanking itself, possibly for hours or days on end, I may have been literally begging for it. I most likely will have been pointing out, at times to an obsessive and irritating degree, exactly what I want and how I want it. No submission there. I do try to top from the bottom, I'm aware of it, and I know it's perceived as a big no-no, but I am nothing if not a series of diametrically opposed characteristiccs, and this just happens to be one of them. I've been told not to, and still I try to, pun intended, force my husband's hand. So no obedience in the spanking prequel. Apparently, I am just a very, very bad girl before my punishment.

When I want to be spanked, what happens to the sub from the bedroom? Why am I not that girl when it comes to discipline? Why do I suddenly want to take control and command my own spanking? My fear of behaving dissatisfactorily flies out the window. I have actually become aggravated with myself at times for wanting a spanking so badly that I am perfectly willing to ruin an otherwise peaceful but spank-free day by whining and pleading and then getting mad when I don't get my way. Mr. W is forced to prove his dominance by denying me the very thing I want. I realize this, and still I behave this way. So does that mean I really want the spanking, or I don't?

Fast-forward to the punishment. I bend where I'm supposed to, I take the strokes I'm meant to take, but I don't enjoy it. It hurts. I obey, but once it really starts to sting, I fight it, I wiggle away, I moan "please no more" into a pillow, I stamp my feet or kick or otherwise make a fuss. Inside my head, I'm wondering why I wanted this, why I'll be happy afterwards that it happened. In the moment I hate it, and I want it to stop, but when a new command is given, such as to reposition or to count the strokes, I obey. I'm mad about it, I don't want to do it, but I obey. Original question answered: Yes, it is possible to obey but not submit.

So where does this leave me? Do I need to learn to be both more dominant and more submissive? I think, in my case, the debate between obedience and submission is less relevant then the debate between my confidence as a spankophile and the tentativeness with which I approach other aspects of my life. As a spankophile, I know what I want, and won't rest until I get it. Is it really so easy as that? If I just knew what I wanted, and said what I wanted, would I get what I want as well? I don't think Mr. W even knows about the part of me that wants to fully submit, at least sometimes. He's so often exposed to Miss I Want My Way that he may not realize that Miss I Want Your Way to Be to Have Your Way With Me even exists.

I guess it comes down to three things. The first is that who I am sexually and who I am in terms of my spanking fetish really are two different entities. That is good to know, and something I had never considered separating until now. The second is that the theme song Mr. W picked for me when we first met still applies today, and I still laugh every time I hear Cheap Trick singing, "I want you to want me. I need you to need me. I'd love you to love me. I'm begging you to beg me." If nothing else, it seems he knew what he was getting into.

The third is that maybe I'm more submissive than I realized in the grand scheme, because what it all really comes down to is me saying not only "Dominate me" but also "I want so much to do what pleases you that I want to please you all the time, even when it might just be time to relax."

Next lesson: learning that submitting isn't really about what I want. And we're back to me considering D/s and realizing if I'm the "s" it's going to have to be a capital letter.


  1. This was a cool post. I loved "Miss I Want Your Way to Be to Have Your Way With Me" : )

    Pandora recently wrote about "defiant obedience," and I think that's a good illustration of how obedience can be separated from submission.

    Maybe it's the inexperience talking, but I don't see what's so heinous about "topping from the bottom." I mean, if I want a certain kind of scene, am I supposed to cross my fingers and hope my top is a mind-reader? Seems like a waste of time.

    Submission is a fascinating concept. It means so many different things. I really don't think there's a submissive bone in my body, but I sure do get off on fantasies of being spanked and denied control. Well. So it goes.

  2. This post was great, Abby. It really got me thinking about my own submission and obedience, and the relationship the two have and what place they have in my life. It is wonderful to read somebody else's thoughts on submission, too...I am really quite curious. :)

  3. Submission is abject surrender. Being spanked is one part stoical endurance and nine parts ecstatic abandon!


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