Part 1: An Introduction

In the Spirituality of Power Exchange series, I talked about what happens when we align our spiritual and physical selves in the context of relationships. Here I want to talk about an oft-misunderstood area of the leather, kink, and fetish world: Domination and submission.

submit: to allow another person or group to have power or authority over you

Cambridge Dictionary

For our purposes, submission refers to someone, typically (but not always) referred to as a “submissive” or “sub”, who makes the conscious decision to release power or authority to someone else, typically (but not always) referred to as a “Dominant” or “Dom”. You may have noticed a difference in letter case in the words Dom and sub (D/s), and that isn’t a mistake. It is widely accepted by people involved in the D/s world to default to recognizing the authority differential by capitalizing the honorific (Sir / Ma’am / Dad / Miss / Master / Mistress / etc) or other words used to describe a dominant person (You vs you, He vs he, etc) as a written show of respect and admiration by a submissive person.

I understand that the concept of D/s can be a lot to take in, and it can seem foreign and even wrong on the surface. I am writing this in an effort to help people better understand what’s happening in the dynamic, and to explain why a consenting adult would willingly choose to submit to another.

A Problematic History

The most common negative reactions about the D/s dynamic conjure horrific images of enslaved and incarcerated people. But in this dynamic and even when terms like “slave” are used, the act of submission is a conscious and carefully considered decision made by consenting adults. And unlike enslaved and incarcerated people, these consenting adults always have the choice to say no and walk away.

Why Submit?

Submission is far from a new concept. In fact, spiritual submission is taught in pulpits all over the world. In the realm of Domination and submission, the focus of submission becomes more tangible in that the sub is willingly submitting themselves to a Dom. Over the years I have talked to many subs who describe the act of their submission using words like: freedom, honor, and strength. Those are not the words of someone who feels coerced. In truth, submission is not giving up, it’s about letting go.

One of the most striking aspects of submission is that it frees someone from the need to be right all the time. This is one reason that so many high powered professionals seek the services of professional Doms/Dommes, because it gives the individual an opportunity to release themselves from the confines of responsibility, even if only temporarily.

Domination and Submission Series