Submission Can Be Many Things

by Dark Vulcan

To make oneself an object, to make oneself passive, is a very different thing from being a passive object.

Simone de Beauvoir

Submission is a state of mind, not a status. It is a choice, and in BDSM play it is the gift the bottom brings to the scene. However the role-play may be creating the dramatic effect that it is the other way around: a Top does not force submission from a bottom, the bottom gives himself to the Top. As a Top that is profound, moving. I know from experience as a bottom the strength of will and trust it takes to open oneself up in this way … And, of course I also know the sense of complete fulfilment that can result.


There is great variety in BDSM and every bottom is different. For some the act of submission is like a blossoming, as they mentally and physically open out, presenting their vulnerable flesh like a natural flowering of their sexuality. Others seem to tear themselves asunder in an emotional open-heart surgery that is astonishingly powerful to share. And for others still, it is like a descent into complete servitude as they abandon their body, their emotions and their will to the whim of the Top.

The exchange that is involved in submission is only fully perceivable by those involved. I have had moments when a bottom has reached new levels of submissiveness that would have been barely noticeable to an outsider. Moments when I know the bottom has taken another step towards complete abandon. We live our daily lives protected by a social and emotional carapace – to stop people getting too close, to allow us to move through life without always feeling the drag of others’ opinion and demand. All that is swept aside in a successful BDSM encounter. Within the theatre of painful play it is possible to open out, to connect and to experience intensely.

Submission is the investment the bottom makes in the scene. It (the act not the bottom himself) puts demands on the Top. The Top must be equally honest. He must take care that the bottom is safe at all times. He must push hard to ensure that the scene reaches it’s full potential and the bottom is not left unfulfilled. In short, a Top should be worthy of the trust the bottom places in him. BDSM is not a slight thing. It is the meeting of equals in a theatre of inequality.

Feature image: detail of Fallen Angel (1847) by Alexandre Cabanel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *