“Trouble on my left, trouble on my right, I’ve been facing trouble almost all my life
My sweet love, won’t you pull me through? Everywhere I look I catch a glimpse of you
I said it was love and I did it for life, I didn’t do it for you
Got so much to lose, got so much to prove, God don’t let me loose my mind–Cage the Elephant, “Trouble”
Hey, my kinky, poly peeps! Sorry for such a prolonged absence. Normally, the holidays are a time for me to get extra work done. However, this year, between traveling to see Panda’s family and traveling to see Foxy, I was on the road seven out of eight days, plus add a week to make up for time lost when I should have been productive at home, and well, it’s just been nuts. In other news, I came out as poly to my family and vanilla friends over New Year’s, which has been both rewarding as well as challenging, particularly when it comes to my family. I knew it would be a rough road, and as I suspected, the benefits have far outweighed the stumbling blocks.
As promised from my recent Facebook Live post, I wanted to talk a little more in-depth about how to be a good submissive. I mentioned that, at least through my own personal experience, the majority of BDSM literature and educational tools tend to focus on the “left side of the slash”, or the D in the D/s dynamic. There’s pleny of literature about how to be a good dominant, and to the outsider, this makes perfect sense. If one were to causally observe a dom and sub in their dynamic, one would assume the dom has full control, and hence, is responsible for educating themselves on how the dynamic should operate. The sub on the other hand is at the mercy of the dom, and hence, one would think their resonsibility is simply to ensure their own personal safety, but otherwise, have faith in their partner.
If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that this is in no way the case. Submissives have (at least) 50% of the control in a scene, and with it comes a great deal of respsonsibility. Even being aware of that fact, the amount of submissive education is sparse and dare I say, not that good. A quick Google search of “How to be a good submissive” (which I may or may not have done prior to writing this entry) will provide you with plenty of how-to guides that boil down to little more than “Safety first, shut up, sit down”. While we encourage subs to be cognizant of their limits, I dare say we (often inadvertently) promote passiveness. To be submissive and to be passive are too completely different things, however, for some reason (most likely the fear of being accused of “topping from the bottom”), we don’t encourage subs to play a more forceful role in their dynamic.
That’s right! Fortunately for you, The Bratty Cat is gonna set the record straight. I was able to find three useful articles from some trusted sources that have never steered me wrong in the past. You can check them out over at YourTango, Beducated, and Vice.com. Rather than doing a straight article review, I pulled the bits and pieces of each article I liked the most and we’ll review the highlights.
Educate Yourself – I could make an argument that this entire piece could be summed up by those two little words. All of the educational literature around submissiveness tends to highlight this very important point. Where the diversion happens is exactly how deep into education the submissive needs to go.
Personal safety for the submissive is always a must. That point is non-negotiable and I would argue a deal-breaker in any D/s dynamic. If both you and your dom don’t agree that you need to be kept physically and emotionally safe, then leave immediately. Beyond that, there isn’t a ton of consistency on what education should look like. In my personal opinion, the submissive needs to be just as, if not more educated than the dominant in what is happening in the scene, since it’s literally their ass on the line. Education can take many forms, as you’ll see as we go deeper into the list.
Why are You Submissive? – The reason someone chooses to submit is a deeply personal one and understanding it is integral to being a good submissive. For me, I caught the volunteerism bug in high school and I’ve spent the last twenty-five years of my life looking for ways to give back. In addition to this, bratting plays nicely into my provacateur and exhibitionist nature. If you tell me “the submissive is always in control”, I’m going to take that statements to it’s extreme and make you regret you ever said it.
While there isn’t really a right or wrong answer as to why someone would want to be a submissive, it is important to recognize one’s motivations. Are you submitting because you find power in letting go, or because you helplessness is the only place you feel safe? Do you choose pain because it makes you feel alive, or because you feel it’s the only thing that you deserve. If you are someone who chooses to submit because of some unresolved trauma and see punishment as the only love you’re worthy of, I encourage you to get some help. Having been there myself, it’s not a fun place to be. Once you know why you submit, you’re on the first step to crafting scenes that will not just please your dom, but yourself as well.
Explore Your Kinks – Early in our relationship, I used to play a game with Panda, and by “game”, I mean, “I would brat, and she would get annoyed”. Being the adorably indecisive person she is, I would ask her that age-old question every monogamous couple asks every night of the week: “What would you like for dinner?” She of course would respond with “I don’t care”, at which point I would run to the kitchen and grab a can of Fancy Feast. Naturally, if she really didn’t care what she ate, then chicken pate cat food would be just as good as anything else.
As a new submissive, you don’t have to know from Day One what it is that you’re into. Part of the fun of BDSM is being able to explore different things. It’s like a magnificent buffet from which you can pull a little of this, a little of that, and whatever you like you can have more of and whatever you don’t like you don’t have to eat. What you can’t do is leave it up to your dom to decide what it is that you’re into. You have a responsibility to explore your options and communicate which activities work best for you, which brings me to my next point…
Know Your Limits (and Your Responsibilities) – I have a Bratty Dom friend who manufactures floggers and other BDSM gear. He’s often on the road attending expos and gets to meet all sorts of submissives who ask him to perform demos on them. He absolutely loves it when he meets a self proclaimed “no-limits sub”. He’ll ask them “So, it’s okay if I whip out my handsaw and sever all of your fingers.” They quickly realize they are no longer a no-limits sub.
Having hard and soft limits is an integral part of every submissive’s repertoire. Even this self-described masochist knows there’s certain places I can’t go (at least not yet). You understand what they are by experimentation and communication with your dominant. There’s no shame in calling your safe word, and keeping your wits about you, even while in subspace, is a promise that must be kept not just to your dom, but yourself as well.
Be Active In Negotiations – As someone who is not in a 24/7 dynamic, a lot of my writing comes from a place of someone who only acts submissive while scening. I would like to point out that negotiations can and do apply to “full-time subs”, and the negotiation process is no different. Just because it covers an extended period of time doesn’t mean the submissive should be any more or less vocal.
As I mentioned at the start of this entry, too much of submissive education, outside of “be safe”, amounts to respecting your dom and various ways of making sure they’re satisfied with your service. For those of you like me who had to sit through that monstrosity that was “Fifty Shades of Grey”, you’ll remember that, during Anastasia and Christian’s negotiation scene, our textbook example of toxic masculinity dictates the terms of the contract to Anastasia, and her input consists merely of a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”. Now, kudos to the film for even showing negotiations and kudos to the film for showing that the submissive has a say in the contract, however, no where in that scene does Anastasia say “This is what I want”. She is merely a receptacle for Christian’s desires, who really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything other than his carnal pleasure. Negotiations are a two-way street, and subs have every right, dare I say, a duty, to stand up for what their interests are.
Safety first – This is the one point that every piece of submissve education seems to agree on. As a submissive, it’s very easy to want to put absolute trust in your dominant, and you absolutely should not be scening with someone that you don’t have trust in. However, the buck stops with you. You are responsible for educating yourself on the ties, the tools, and the techniques your dominant will be using. You are responsible for listening to your body and when it may be telling you to slow down or stop. You are responsible for doing everything within your power to make sure you are safe. Your dominant is “Plan B”. You are “Plan A”.
Be Prepared – Outside of obtaining the knowledge you need to partake in a safe and healthy scene, it’s important to be both mentally and phsyically prepared for playtime with your dominant. This is going to look different for everyone and will depend heavily on what activities you’re looking to engage in. For instance, a colleague of mine who is a fan of anal play will go through a one-week cleansing process that incorporates changes to his diet and grooming routine to ensure that his colon is as clean as humanly possible. As someone who enjoys pegging, I don’t go to the extremes that he does, but I do spend the day of the scene making sure I’m extra clean back there and even trim some hairs to ensure the back door is as clean and smooth as possible for my Domme.
In addition to physical preparation, mental preparation can be just as important. I like to say, “If you want to get to subspace, you’ve got to be in the right headspace”. As someone who lives with depression, your mental state can turn on a dime. You can feel excited, happy, and ready for a great time with your Domme and “BOOM!” out of nowhere you feel like shit and just want to crawl into bed and go to sleep. While I’m not going to feed you all that “Power of Positive Thinking” bullshit (Because that’s what it is: bullshit), I will say that there are small steps you can take that will help put you in that right mindset for a satisfying scene. Much like your grade school teachers would tell you to get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and take time to breathe before a big test, all of these things can go a long way to relaxing your mind and ensure you get the most out of playtime. Diet can also play an important role. If engaging in anything highly physical, stay away from greasy, heavy foods the day of the scene. Nobody wants to get spanked on their ass and then “Oops! I need to take a shit…”
Know Your Dom – If you haven’t picked up what I’m putting down by now, let me be explicit: “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!!!”. That’s really what this whole entry boils down to. BDSM does not exist exclusively for the pleasure of the submissive. Part of being a good submissive is understanding what your Dom likes and what they want to get out of the scene. How do we go about accomplishing this? Well, it should be no surprise that it all comes back to that “C” word: Communication.
I like to say I’m the subbiest sub whoever subbed, and by that, I mean I don’t like having to make decisions when it comes to how my scenes play out. With that said, I also recognize that it’s important to inquire with my Dommes what they would like to do during the scene. In addition to this, since the essence of being a submissive is to serve, you need to periodically check-in with your dom and ask “What can I do for you?” Remember: doms need aftercare too sometimes. It always puzzles me what Penguin gets out of our dynamic, because everytime I ask her what I can do to make her a happier Domme, the only response she gives me is “Keep doing what you’re doing”. Still, I know she appreciates the thought that I ask and I know if there is something she needs, she won’t be afraid to speak up.
Give feedback – Debriefing after a scene as well as periodically checking in with your dominant is what makes each scene better than the last. A D/s dynamic is one of symbiosis in which both partners gain strength and the ability to grow off of each other. Doms are not mind-readers. Much like calling a safeword is not a sign of weakness, discussing what went well and, possibly more importantly, what didn’t go so well, is not a sign of topping from the bottom and nothing you should feel shame from. Likewise, be receptive to feedback your dom offers you. After all, part of the reason you’re submitting is for them, just like part of the reason they’re dominating is for you.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, I would say it’s a good start, particularly for those new to the community. Remember, as a submissive, you are ultimately responsible for your own care. While the trust you place in your dominant is a gift you have given, it does not exonerate you from the consequences if you aren’t holding up your end of the bargain.
Until next time, stay kinky, my friends…
–The Bratty Cat