Wednesday 13 July 2011

the role of submission in shamelessness

On a comment to an earlier post "submission and sex", Remittance Girl wrote ...

"I'm about to say something that will probably be considered very politically incorrect. I've come to believe that, for a great many women who take on the roll of submissives, submission is, ironically, a liberation that allows them to be sexual beings in a way they find more difficult in a vanilla situation. It becomes a very sexualized transition for them - even if it doesn't specifically involve sexual acts.

We live in a very strange time. Ostensibly, society encourages women to be equals, play the part of sexual aggressor, be proud of their sexual appetites, etc. But we are labouring under the weight of history - and our culture is steeped in a much older Judeo-Christian aesthetic that has, for 4000 years, drilled into the very fabric of our language that women with sexual appetites are bad, dangerous, evil, immoral.

And traditional feminism would have us believe that in the space of 40 years, all that earlier cultural conditioning can be negated with the click of the fingers. It's just not realistic.

Being submissive allows women to be hypersexual beings - to admit, explore and express that hunger - with 'permission'. This relieves them of the burden of being responsible because it is the Dom who acts as authority. And he, in essence, takes responsibility for when and how she gets to be sexual. But within that boundary, she usually gets to be very sexual indeed.

That's why I've argued very strongly that deciding to be a submissive is an intrinsically feministic act. It allows women to be who they want to be, without doubt or the subconscious guilt born of thousands of years of conditioning.

I do think, for most submissive women, sex is a pretty major part of being submissive. Even if that sexuality is not always explicit."
I am interested in her comments about being "politically incorrect" and on "feminism". I may come back to those issues in another post. However here I would like to discuss her view that being submissive frees their sexuality from restraints and gives them permission to be shameless. Because a submissive is no longer in control of her own actions - having given that responsibility to their Dom - they no longer have responsibility for them. In this way all guilt and social conditioning is removed. In its place is developed a new sexualised conditioning implicitly agreed with the Dom.

Many commenters to my previous post "shameless" also wrote of how their submisive relationship helped them to become "shameless". Sophia Anne wrote about "finding my sexual freedom in slavery" which led her to becoming more and more debauched and a libertine.

So does the argument hold water? Does the very act of submission help remove sexual inhibitions? Does submission make one shameless?


Anonymous said...

I think there's a difference between overcoming our shame (a good thing) and becoming "shameless". Shameless implies a total lack of outer boundaries, and even within a full M/s relationship there should be limits (we cannot impose our opinions/actions on the greater society).

However, submission goes a long way in helping us to lose the shame of our desires and needs. Exposing ourselves completely to our Masters teaches us that we are not "defective".

Losing that shame can make us more whole as humans and women. It certainly adds a deeper connection to our relationships. When both male and female can relate without those internal boundaries, it's a beautiful thing.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a slippery slope to submit in order to escape shame. Perhaps thats not what this is about, in which case i own my projecting...Women have the option to deal with shame and then submit if they still want to. Of course this is strictly from my experience and opinion, that in order for submission to be a feminist act, it cannot be about escaping responsibility but rather embracing it, and then kindly "sub"verting dominant gender politics by submitting to a man with awareness and will, and without shame.

Jz said...

I find myself on somewhat shaky ground here because it doesn't seem entirely clear where we are talking "shameless" and where we mean "unihibited".

I'm all about "uninhibited" but I agree with Dannah that some degree of "shame" is needed, at least within the confines of the larger society. There *are* things that a person ought to feel shame over in life. However, none of those things seem to me to exist within the realm of consensual sex.

I think we may have to tread carefully...

Alice said...

No, I have not found that being submissive helps me to overcome my shame connected to being overtly sexual. And yes, I do have shame, which fortunately Chess is able to work past because he is my Dom, but regardless the shame is still there.

I am slowly learning to overcome that shame but not because I can put the responsibility on Chess, but because I know it displeases him when I am ashamed of something that pleases him (and me) so much. And something that is right and good and natural within our marriage let alone our dynamic. I am learning to overcome the shame and become a more overtly sexual person (towards him) because it pleases him. It has nothing to do with where I place or he places the responsibility.

Alice said...

I agree with Jz in that it is, or should be, wrong to talk about "shame" in the context of sexual behaviour between consenting adults. But this is where we are fighting the centuries of conditioning that you mention. I believe that "sexual inhibition" is the correct description for that thing that sometimes puts the brakes on us as grown up women in a sexual situation who feel continually conscious of how others view us. For me, submitting to a man who will take over responsibility for my actions at these times is a release and does allow me to act in ways I may not "choose" to do. This is very sexually liberating and so a big step forward towards sexual liberation for those of us who are built this way.

Pygar said...

Thank you for all the very thoughtful comments. Some very interesting arguments which point out the silly carelessness in my own argument.

I used the word "shameless" to connect the post with the previous one. However Remittance Girl, who I quoted, was not talking about "shamelessness" but rather about sexual inhibition and freeing onself from it. Rather than trying to be too clever by half (always a failing of mine!) I should have stuck with that.

Jz is of course right that there are things that one should feel shame over. Many acts are truly shamfull.

The context here though is intended to be within consensual sexual activity. A freedom from sexual inhibition that may be socially based for women and whether submission can help free her from such social constraints. And of course whether this is a good thing or not.

It is interesting that the two Alices have different experiences. For the first submission is not the thing that helps her become more uninhibbited but for the other it is. I suppose each will have their individual journeys.

I do find K's point interesting and thought provoking that "in order for submission to be a feminist act, it cannot be about escaping responsibility but rather embracing it". There seems a lot of truth in that yet it clearly strikes against my argument that it might be the giving up of responsibility that is so powerful for a sub.

I like too Dannah Bridger point that there is a difference between overcoming shame and becoming shameless. Also her point that "Exposing ourselves completely to our Masters teaches us that we are not "defective"." It is sad though that some may have thoughts of being "defective" that have to be overcome. Yet again the tyranny of social conditioning.

Thank you all for this wonderful discussion.

P xx

greengirl said...

"Being submissive allows women to be hypersexual beings - to admit, explore and express that hunger - with 'permission'."

This was and is absolutely true in my case. It is very tangled to try to discern how much society, religion, and culture vs. my own internal demons and the dynamics of our relationship all worked to supress that in the first place.

For me it is more than now having permission to be sexual, although there is no way to deny that finding a paradigm in which that is valued has to contribute to such a transformation. It is also having found the way of expressing it that works for me. Being submissive may "work" because it frees me; but also, submitting arouses me, being the aggressor, being "equal partners," being gentle...don't. I know they are intertwined and feed off of each other, our psyches are so complex.

I agree with K. It would be possible for this all to be a way to avoid responbsibility. It can also be a way to face and accept responbsibility for ourselves, which is also freeing.

Unknown said...

Dannah got it spot on! I see now why I had such difficulty with the last post -because I still saw "shameless" as something negative. Which with Dannah's definition I'm still clear on that I do. "Overcoming shame" now we're onto something! Yes, submission is helping me overcome shame -not so much sexually though, I've always been quite sexually "loose" (see not 'shame', embarrassment ;) )

OK, still need to read everyone elses comments but I got so excited when I read what Dannah'd written and it clicked my head into gear that I just had to write right away *L*

Unknown said...

ok for some reason half of my bracketed comment fell away, it should say; cue embarrassment...see not 'shame' -embarrassment. (although i'm not all that embarrassed about it either to be truthful :P

Anonymous said...

Speaking of inhibitions and the effect of D/s on them, i've noticed over time that being a Dom has freed my husband from many inhibitions He felt about what He could or could not do to/ask of me sexually. In the past fifty or so years, we have made great strides toward equality...but in so doing, (in my opinion) we have also created a space in which a kind man might feel less certain of himself when it comes to "pursuing" a woman--particularly if He has Dominant leanings.

As Dannah said, i've felt that recognizing and exploring my own submission has allowed me to be naked, in every sense of the word, before my Master...and in so doing, to see myself as He sees me. That in itself is incredibly liberating.

- kytten

PetofSkyMaster said...

In my experience, being able to express myself sexually has been quite nice and when I am serving I don't think, "OMG it would be so messed up if someone saw me doing this right now".... I might be strange that I don't really feel shame about expressing my sexuality but as I expressed before, my Master is not shameful about me being His and what I do for him. Why should I be? It would be awkward for someone to find out what we do together but I will defend that my sexuality is my own until the end. If they don't like it then don't ask and knock before you enter.

Anonymous said...

For me, the D/s dynamic provides a sacred space of sorts where the cultural norms of the everyday world need not apply, only those agreed upon by the participants. Each time I enter that state of mind, from either side of the power exchange, I feel more comfortable and relaxed with who I truly am. Slowly this is spilling over into other areas of my life allowing me to live more authentically overall.

Power exchange is more than sex and the context it provides is liberating both sexually and otherwise, both in and out of play space/scenes.

Pygar said...

Yet more very thoughtful responses! Thank you so much.

I am interested in greengilr's comment of being aroused by her submission. I am aroused by the submission of a woman to me. If that submissive act is arousing each of us then that becomes a powerful force. Also her development of K's thoughts that it can be a way of facing and accepting responsibility for oneself. Thank you greengirl.

I think Sweet girl that the shame I was emphasising was that within us. You have perhaps never needed "permission" to be sexually outgoing - so bringing "shame" into it for you was just confusing!

Thank you too kytten for the notion that as well as freeing the sub from inhibitions it could do the same for the Dom. I had not thought of this side of it - but I am sure you are true and that it has freed me also from inhibitions in certain contexts.

Thanks PetofSkyMaster. You are right that most of us would not want to share what we do behind closed doors with the world at large. As I said above and as you are clear - the shame we are free of is that internal feeling of shame.

Thanks too SubRosaNoMore for explaining how this can spill over into other areas of our life and be liberating there also.

Again thank you all and forgive my fumbling responses to your well thought out comments.

P xx

thole05 said...

wow ...
i so confuse reading about this article ...
so hard to i can read the article
but i can understand little more :D
cause i can't speak english perfect ..