Friday, February 27, 2009

What is submssion? and can it be suppressed? put away?

(a reposting after rethinking some parts)

An interesting question arose at Pygar’s blog (see here) detailing his recent actions in releasing a submissive. In short, a submissive asked for her release as, new to the dynamic, she underestimated the impact her submissiveness would exert on her regular life and could not find a comfortable balance.

In the subsequent comment section, Pygar mused whether in fact ‘submission could be put back in the box’... sparked by several commentators who feel once experienced, once embraced, the inner submissive aspect of an individual’s personality cannot be “put away”.

First, while self-evident, this is MY opinion (of course I think it’s the right one (grins – that’s a JOKE)) I do not think it the only valid one, nor am I out to attack anyone- however, I enjoy a good debate and heated arguments are fine insofar as people keep some rationality intact.

So, my take on submission

What is submission?

First, I think one needs to have some concept of what submission IS. Do you perceive it as a personality trait? A state of mind? Something you are born with? Do you see it as something physiological – i.e. it’s somewhere there on your gene strand? Or is it a trait triggered by psychological impacts over the course of your youth?

I’ve thought long and hard on it and while I don’t have a definitive “description”, I have come up with some conception of what having submissive tendencies means in terms of the human animal.

At its most simplistic, I believe submissiveness is a personality trait. The psychological lexicon incorporates five “traits” (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness neuroticism) as a starting point to establishing an individual’s personality through a battery of tests, studies and enquiry into the human personality.

I’m not going to get into an empirical discussion about it – google Big Five Personality Traits and you’ll get enough to keep you busy for the next week, but at the core is I believe those who perceive themselves as “submissive” would most likely score high on the “agreeable” spectrum and most likely (for service-oriented submissive in particular) on the conscientiousness spectrum as well.

The reality that each of us is remarkably unique in our personality and individuality in itself makes it difficult (thankfully) to slot any one of us into a little “box”. That very uniqueness will make each individual’s submission distinctive to her (I use the female gender in this instance and for this discussion as that is what I can talk to, I’ll save male submission for another discussion).

I also believe implicitly, as in any dynamic (be it with fellow employees, siblings, friends or acquaintances) the maner in which two distinct personalities interact are unique and individual to those two people. In short, "submissiveness" like other traits, is quantifiable in the manner in which it is affected by another person's unique traits. In short, "submissive feelings " are not triggered to any individual calling or presenting themselves as “dominant”.

To my mind, someone who styles themselves submissive and then submits easily and on being told to, to any self-styled “dominant” is not submissive, but a doormat and more than likely, psychologically damaged; someone who seriously needs to work on their sense of self-worth.

Thus, I do not think it valid to simply state “I am submissive” and leave it open-ended. Submissive to whom? Submissive to what dynamic? What triggers that deep emotional reaction? What personality traits in another elicit a submissive response from you?

Conversely, too with dominance .. stating categorically “I am dominant, always have been, always will be” is just silly – the reality is that if all those dominants were bred in the bone to ALWAYS be dominant in every situation, there would indeed be too many cooks and not enough chefs in the world at large!

So, if submissiveness is part of the makeup of the individual, a character trait in short, how much control does the individual hold over that part of her personality? Can such a trait together with the emotions engendered by those feelings be controlled? directed? rebuffed? restrained?

And this is where I know I will digress from a lot of opinions.



Buffalo said...

I see it as a learned trait.

M:e said...

Interesting piece. I've often been fascinated by the 'nature v nurture' debate about many personality traits and I tend to come down on the side of those traits being ones we're born with and either enhanced or repressed by our upbringing and general surroundings.

Since embracing my submissiveness, a lot of things from my childhood make much more sense than they used to, even after I'd become an adult. For a lot of my adult years, I felt there was a piece of me missing, and yet couldn't have told you what that was. Now I know.

Can it be 'put away'? I prefer the term 'dormant' to 'put away'. Reading this, a picture came into my head (you know how 'visual' I am). It was of a plant in a desert that only blooms after rain. If the rain comes regularly, the plant blooms regularly. If there is a drought the plant often doesn't die, but it doesn't bloom either. It doesn't 'choose' not to, but the right set of circumstances don't exist for it to flourish.

I guess that's how I feel about my submissiveness....that it was always there, lying dormant, just waiting for the right set of circumstances and the right person to make it flourish.

love and hugs xxx

Gillette said...

I am enjoying this series and await more.


selkie said...

Buff, I don't agree with it being "learned" - one could pretend, but to truly embrace it, I think it has to be in you.

Me - I like the word "dormant" - becuase I agree that it can't be erased- I agree that it is part of what makes us us.

and yes, the right person is essential.

enjoy Gillette! I have a HUGE problem with being FAR too wordy though - just a warning - sometimes I think I should post it on my blog!

Liras said...

I think we can suppress it. It can be managed and we can live with the discomfort of denial.

It might not be the most desirable thing, but it yet another thing we have to adjust around.

Think of this: what good is half-assed submission? Or a quarter worth of effort?

If one cannot get it all, then it might be best to put the desire away. For we do have a mindful reaction and choice over our sexuality.

but I am somewhat mean, so don't mind me.

selkie said...

Liras, you're not mean at all; you're honest and that is a different kettle of fish altogether. And you're right, in fact you just articulated exactly what I was thinking (and didn't know) - yes, as I conclude later we CAN suppress it becuase pretence is not comfortable for me; if I can't offer it all, I offer none.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
selkie said...

sweets's been there a VERY long time - I honestly had NO idea it was called that now LOL