Why Submission ≠ Gift.

I don’t mind tropes. Sometimes, phrases that are often used are that way because they withstand the test of time. I don’t’ even have to finish the following sentences and you know the balance…

“You can’t judge a book by…”

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t…”

“Good things come to those who…”

“I got ants in my pants and I need to…”

And in the BDSM community, we have similar truisms that people hear, jump on, and repeat because they seem to make sense.

Or do they?

I’m a questioner. I was the kid with 45 iterations of “Why?” whenever presented with facts. Then I would process and come back and ask the same questions with “OK, so what if…” until I hit the point where the person I was haranguing lacked the vital information, and I trotted off to the library to continue.

Moment of respectful silence for my Mom and Dad.

This didn’t stop when I hit the BDSM community.

When I first heard things like

“A submissive is not a doormat!”

“Always use a safeword”

“Always have a safecall”


“Submission is a gift”

I thought “OK, those seems reasonable.”

I have since learned that a submissive certainly can be a doormat…if they choose to be. Safewords are only good if you are able to use them. A safecall is a Nice Idea, but not reliable for your safety.  And submission isn’t a gift.

Yep, sacrilege.

Here is why.


/gɪft/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [gift] 


1. something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.
2. the act of giving.
3. something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned: Those extra points he got in the game were a total gift.
4. a special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent: the gift of saying the right thing at the right time.

That has little to do with my submission.

I absolutely expect something in return when I submit to someone. I expect to be cared for. Protected. Respected. My “payment” is the exchange of power. I submit to you, I expect the satisfaction of that energy exchange. I expect you to do everything in your power to remain within the boundaries of what we have negotiated. I expect you to be there for me.

Like I said…I don’t mind tropes and truisms.

But rather than making them a pre-fab home into which you move, make them bricks that up can use to build your own damned foundation for your own damned life.

My submission, for me, is many things. But given with no expectation or need for reciprocity?

Fuck. No.

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  1. DangerousLilly on December 1, 2009 at 6:18 PM

    That….that is a really GOOD fucking point. Can we make a new one? What would be fitting instead of gift? Because to me, my submission is rare. “precious”. It takes respect and caring and time and effort to get it from me. But once you get it? Best consider yourself goddamn lucky, I tell you what.
    .-= DangerousLilly´s most recent blog moment of Zen on the net was…Fucking For Art =-.

  2. Naomi on December 1, 2009 at 6:19 PM

    I don’t tend to look at it as a freebie, either. I do tend to look at it as something that someone doesn’t *deserve*, though. Just because someone goes by the name of LordSirDomlyDom, or can throw a mean flogger, or can suspend me three stories off the ground, doesn’t mean that they’ve earned the right to make me kneel. It’s a measure of grace.

    I grew up Christian. A lot of my spirituality still is, though by God, I’ve made it work for me. I’m absolutely not your typical Christian, whatever that means. But I grew up with, and still believe, that any favor from God isn’t something I’ve ever DESERVED.

    If I kneel to someone because I choose to, I definitely am giving them something. Maybe I’m gracing them with my presence (and damn it, sometimes I do feel that way, and will rarely play with that person twice), but it is a gift. It’s like saying, “Hey, you! Here’s a present! Take care of it!”

    I don’t know if that makes any sense. I know what I’m thinking, and I know what I’m trying to convey, but I’m afraid I’m just going in circles. Maybe it just comes down to different definitions of the word “gift”?

  3. softestbullet on December 2, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    Well said!

  4. Sascha on December 6, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    You know, I’ve been guilty of using that trope. My reasoning was that submission is not a foregone conclusion. It is something bestowed in trust by a consenting partner, and that is not to be taken lightly.

    But then, the whole not expecting something in return angle didn’t really occur to me.

    Can’t tell you why.

    But looking at it that way, I can see your point. Submissives are selfish too!
    .-= Sascha´s most recent blog moment of Zen on the net was…Love, beatings, bondage =-.

  5. Lil on December 6, 2009 at 11:20 PM

    “Got ants in my pants and I need to …” What??

    Must be a cultural thing but I have no idea how to finish that sentence and it totally screwed my concentration for the rest of your post. :(

  6. Spryte on April 25, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Thank you for so eloquently voicing thoughts that I have struggled to express myself.