Power exchange is not about an individual becoming a doormat. As a submissive, you do have the ability to both refuse and negotiate how sessions will come to being. This idea that by becoming a submissive or even just identifying as a submissive means you have no rights, no say in what happens to you, is flawed. I genuinely believe that this idea that power exchange means the submissive should be doormat in order to be a “proper” submissive, grew from the need to control women’s bodies. As those of you who are part of the BDSM community, Dommes are few and far between. (One of the reasons many of us charge for our services, supply and demand, but I digress…) Women are often on the more submissive side of the power exchange.
Historically, and in the current state of things, women’s bodies are viewed as vessel for pleasure. Our purpose is purely to please our male counterparts. Our bodies are not always ours to control. Look at reproductive rights, access to contraception, porn! The concept of our bodies not being ours is not something new and it is deeply engrained into our minds as well as the minds of men. Not all obviously, I am doing my generalization thing.
So how does this control of the female body relate to power exchange? As women make up the majority of submissives and the popularity of books and films, various media depicting women as the submissive will prove, the act of submission has taken on the idea of your body no longer being yours! “A real submissive would never say no to this!” “Safewords are for pussies!” (There will be a rant about that term at a later date.) Women have been treated as doormats and expect to be treated as such. A submissive (a feminine role) should be treated and expect to be treated as a doormat.
This entire view point is flawed and wrong. Doormats, while they do exist within the BDSM community, chose to be that way. In a power exchange, there is no real exchange if one is in fact a doormat. Because they themselves do not see or desire any power. A submissive has power. They decided to give it to another being for a period of time, but at the end of the session, or within designated spaces, they can take their power back.
It irks me that so many people believe that being a doormat is part of being submissive. The two have nothing to do with one another. BDSM is about trust, knowing you are giving your power to someone by choice. Someone submitting to you is a gift, not a right.
If, as a Domme, I expect doormat behaviour… because let’s face it, sometimes it is fun when your every whim is obeyed and you can do whatever you want to your submissive, then we discuss the expectation beforehand. I insist on clear, concise limits from my submissive before we session. I tailor my session accordingly. This is what makes me deserving of the gift of your submission. This is what all Dommes should reflect upon… in the power exchange, do I deserve this gift!
I have a feeling the idea of the doormat as a submissive was created to minimise the incidence of topping from the bottom. I can’t be sure, more research will have to be done.
What preconceived notions about BDSM or submission bother you?
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(This piece was originally going to outline behavioural differences but as I wrote and researched, I found myself changing the tone of the entire piece.)