This particular topic has to do with marriage/relationship dynamics. It may or may not apply elsewhere.
A lot of people for various reasons do not like using the word ‘submissive’ to describe themselves, even when it may apply. There are obvious reasons for this that can be nutshelled by saying it’s a loaded and misunderstood term. As someone who has decided to use the term to describe myself I have given this a lot of thought. In recent days in a few different corners of my life the term has been brought up and hurriedly rejected again and again to the point that I started to feel the push to say something about it. And thus this series of posts was born! I’m not suggesting everyone agree with my stance on this and use the term themselves, of course. Do what you’re going to do. I just want to actually nail down a definition of “submissive” in this context; first by starting with what submission isn’t.
‘Submissive’ is not interchangeable with ‘doormat’.
I am not a doormat. There is nothing meek about me (which I actually consider a bit of a character flaw but that’s a whole other thing) and there is no part of my submission that goes without thought and reflection. I don’t lay down and let my husband walk all over me. Though I have met women like this they are generally involved in an abusive relationship and not mindfully choosing submission. The women I have met that are submissive (whether they want to use the term or not) are not doormats in this sense, either. To submit to another human being is to yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another. Though some read that as “Yeah, a doormat!” I have to, in turn, ask them: are you a doormat when you follow your bosses commands at work? No doubt it is possible to be a doormat in such circumstances but with submission one retains self-respect by retaining free thought which is usually the case in an employee/employer dynamic. Which brings me to…
Submissives do not only do what they are told.
Simply put, no. Submissives (the non doormat kind) do live outside of their submission. Their submission isn’t all-consuming. I have hobbies and interests outside of my husband and our home. I enjoy reading a ton and nerd out over history the most. I have an interest that takes me outside the home and into classes where I both learn and aid others in learning said interest (it’s a unique interest so I’d rather not name it to retain a little bit of my anonymity). My life is not just about commands from my husband. In fact, this blog was formed so that I could kill two birds with one stone on my own: write, which I enjoy, and focus on a topic that fascinates me (relationships and gender roles within them). And, get this, I didn’t ask my husband permission to start it. I’m living on the edge! No, not really. I just don’t need to ask him to pursue these types of things. (To be fair I did ask him if I could share some personal things without divulging too many personal details because these things have to do directly with him. I would have asked anyone this. It’s a common courtesy)
Submissives are not mindless and opinion-less.
If you were to tell my husband that I have no opinions of my own I’m pretty sure he’d die laughing. I’m am so beyond opinionated and loud mouthed to boot that more than once I have been referred to as being full of piss and vinegar. I have opinions and, hold onto your hat, I voice them to my husband often. And if that didn’t blow you away wait for this one- he asks me for them and then, are you still with me?, he often times follows my suggestions. Someone fetch the smelling salts! Not only do I have opinions of my own but I purposefully come about them through much thought, consideration, and research. I pride myself in being well-informed. It’s something I strive to improve on every day. It also just so happens to be something my husband loves about me.
So what is submission not? It’s not being a shrinking violet, it’s not lacking self-respect, it’s not being an empty minded puppet, it’s not existing solely for one person, it’s not surrendering every last ounce of yourself to someone until there is nothing left.
Coming up next: what submission is…