Posted by: littlegirlyone | March 8, 2010

ask the little girl: explaining submission

Admittedly, this isn’t the kind of advice column-y post that I was anticipating writing in my “ask the little girl” feature. But, I received this very interesting critical comment on Killing the Flame, part 5 a couple of days ago. After composing a response, I tried to paste it into the comment reply box, only to find that my answer exceeded the allowable maximum. Rather than edit my response, I decided to post it as part of the “ask” series. I’m very interested in hearing my readers’ perspectives on Anonymous’ questions, so please feel free to join in the comments section. I’ve posted the entirety of the comment below, as well as my response.

Dear little girl,
I’m looking for help in understanding this all better, so I have a few questions and I apologise in advance if I sound at all judgmental.

I’m uncertain as to how one can so simply brush off very strong feelings as ’emo time’ as though it pales in significance to this grand narrative of abusive sex. As if the sex were a life project that’s going somewhere.

Do you really think that was just ’emo time’? I think sex is there to be questioned, desires shouldn’t be sanctified. By all means explored, but they are malleable too, not concrete.

Why wouldn’t someone prefer to have sex and its associated pleasures without any additional emotional pain?

Moreover, when you fantasize about this losing control and objectification you suggest elsewhere that it’s intensified by really believing that you have lost control and that you have become this almost dead thing. However, you KNOW that this isn’t TRUE, because it is desired, so fundamentally you are still controlling what is done to you, whether you like it or not. So in some ways don’t you think this whole culture of ‘submission’ is self-deluding and a barrier constructed by your fears in the way of a rawer sexual empowerment, a more selfish, self-confident approach to extracting pleasure.


Hello Anonymous,

I have to admit, the first time I read this, I felt very defensive. I am going to do my best to answer your questions, with the caveat that there’s part of me that believes that D/s can’t really be explained.

When you say “I’m uncertain as to how one can so simply brush off very strong feelings as ’emo time’ as though it pales in significance to this grand narrative of abusive sex,” you’re not actually asking me a question. However, I’ll try to explain what (I think) you’re inquiring about.

I characterized my response as “emo time” in the moment, and for Alan’s benefit. Obviously, to me, it was much bigger and more complicated than that flip little phrase. However, I was afraid to tell him the extent of my emotional reaction. I am cagey about telling men when something hurts me emotionally because I’ve experienced some very harsh rejections in past relatioships. So, I called it “emo time,” in an attempt to make light (for Alan) what was a very overwhelming emotional situation (for me).

I do take issue with your characterization of the Killing the Flame series as a “grand narrative of abusive sex.” I agree with you that in parts of my time with Alan I engaged in sexual conduct that was not the healthiest for me emotionally, but I don’t think that qualifies as “abusive sex.” That’s like having too much to drink on one or two occasions, and having someone call that alcoholism. Part of this encounter was hard on me emotionally. However, this whole narrative was not about unhealthy or abusive sex. That’s part of why the interaction was confusing for me.

I also find your fragment, “as if the sex were a life project that’s going somewhere,” to be a bit dismissive. I write a sex blog. I explore my sexuality and the way it affects my life, and the sources for my sexual kinks here, in my sexual relationships, and in therapy. I find this kind of self-analysis useful. That’s about all I can say to defend my interest in my sexuality: I *do* find it a valuable part of my life’s emotional work. Certainly, others are free to hold differing opinions.

“I think sex is there to be questioned, desires shouldn’t be sanctified. By all means explored, but they are malleable too, not concrete.”

I think you’re implying that I believe that just because something turns me on, I don’t need to question or analyze the desire (which is a little bit ironic in light of your characterization of my attempts to analyze my sexuality as some kind of “life project that’s going somewhere.”) This whole journal is about my attempt to parse through and understand my sexual desires. No, I don’t think that just because something turns me on, that I don’t have to question or think about it. I have spent the last 10 years of my life thinking about what it means for me to identify as a submissive woman, a little girl, to have a Daddy kink, etc. Just because I’ve come to the conclusion that these desires are healthy, and not something I need to be ashamed of doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought about it. I have. Extensively.

“Why wouldn’t someone prefer to have sex and its associated pleasures without any additional emotional pain?”

As a childhood sex abuse survivor, I don’t think that sex and its associated pleasures can be entirely free of emotional pain for me. D/s gives me a structure where I can explore the pain that I would feel anyway around sex and sexual contact. This is empowering to me because I can negotiate to experience emotionally painful sex with a partner that I feel safe with. (This is NOT what I did with Alan, btw, but it is something I have done.) Basically, I don’t think that I can make a choice to have fulfilling sex that doesn’t trigger me emotionally–and I’m ok with that. Some people might be able to make such a decision, and that would be up to them whether or not they choose to do so.

“So in some ways don’t you think this whole culture of ‘submission’ is self-deluding and a barrier constructed by your fears in the way of a rawer sexual empowerment, a more selfish, self-confident approach to extracting pleasure.”

This is an interesting question. I’m not actually sure. I haven’t gone far enough in my self-analysis to know whether my submission is a defense mechanism that is keeping me from exploring a more powerful expression of my sexuality. I have explored gently with topping, and I have found it can also bring me sexual pleasure. I can’t really speak to the whole “culture of submission.” I do think it’s an interesting phenomenon in our society that we have lots of people that prefer to take a more submissive role in their sex lives, but I don’t think that every submissive’s motivations can be generalized in the way that you suggest.

Let me ask you this: if I didn’t call myself submissive, and if I just went along with whatever my partner wanted in bed because I didn’t want to tell him about my submissive sexual desires, would that be a more self-confident approach? I can’t imagine you would think so. In expressing my desire to be controlled by my partners, am I not demanding exactly the pleasure that I want from sex? Am I not more empowered by voicing my submissive desires than a person who does not voice their sexual desires at all?

I really do welcome debate and comment. Thanks to Anonymous for the questions, and please feel free to explain or clarify anything I misinterpreted in the comments section.


  1. "We can all become trapped by our desires, desires which can be indoctrinated and conditioned into us. In this case your suffering was made tangible and you were prepared to repress it at the time for the benefit of your partner, who evidently either didn’t care or wasn’t capable of caring."This could be applied to ANY relationship though. Kinky, vanilla, platonic… lg recognizes that her relationship with Alan wasn't exactly the most healthy, but I don't think that has anything to do with the D/s aspect of it. I identify as submissive, and I had a perfectly normal childhood. If my submissive desires have been "conditioned" into me, I'd be the first to want to know where and how such indoctrination occurred. I was raised in a very feminist household, where it was stressed over and over again how important it is to be an independent woman. And yet, I do have a "sexuality in which [I] encourage [my] own objectification and reduction to a series of holes". However I don't see this as being "irrelevant of [my] own immediate physical pleasure". Being objectified and reduced gives me physical pleasure. Understanding that this is what I enjoy gives me a great sense of freedom. I was routinely unhappy in vanilla relationships. Realizing this part of myself has given me an incredible sense of self. There's virtually no way this sexuality could have been programmed into me. It's the way I am, it's who I am. It's as much a part of me as the colour of my skin, or the size of my breasts. It's not something I could have chosen, and it's not something that is wrong or bad or unnatural. Being in a relationship where I am accepted, even cherished, for this, is not abusive. It's loving.

  2. This discussion was pointed out to me by a friend and I have followed it with great interest, wanting to say something but not wishing to fuel any flames.However, I feel compelled to add to this discussion that I completely relate with Sky's last two paragraphs. I agree with her words so completely that I could easily have written them myself.I appreciate that the desire for 'objectification' can be very difficult for many people to understand and remain ever grateful to know a few people (including my husband) who accept me just as I am. Isn't that what we all want and deserve?

  3. Missy and I have made a resolution. Never again will we participate in any flaming on any blog. Ignorance, foolery, or misunderstanding are to be ignored or offered enlightenment. Our apologies to lg, anonymous, and whoever else reads.Sorry, folks!-B

  4. A brief check-in to say: thanks for all of the comments! The discussion has been interesting and has pushed me to consider a whole range of responses. I'm working very hard on a follow-up post. It will be worth the wait, I promise.Anonymous, thanks for provoking discussion. I'm actually glad I took the time to answer you completely (even if I'm not sure you read what I wrote.) But you were the catalyst for what has surely been one of the most interesting conversations I've hosted. I appreciate the time you put into your responses. Missy n' B, your commentary is always welcome, and I really didn't feel that anyone was being inappropriately flamey. This is obviously a topic near and dear to many readers' hearts. I appreciate the passionate nature of your responses. No apologies are needed.Sky, Sapphire, Persephone, Kelsi and Vesta: thanks ladies for weighing in with your questions, points of view and perspectives. It's lovely to have something spicy going on in the comments. Not that I'm complaining, I love it when people leave me lots of positive comments. But I just want to thank everyone for what has been a change of pace around here :)Thanks to all, look for more soon!

  5. More here:

  6. Just returned to cyber-world, there is much of interest here to reconsider over the next few days.But first: "No, you are the guy who comes on the Net to say, “You are wrong!” You are not the guy who comes on the Net to learn, absorb, have discourse, and expand yourself."Where have I said anyone is wrong? Where have I demanded anything be stopped, where have I suggested anyone SHOULD do anything differently? If you feel you must have sex in a particular way then feel free, I am merely a discombobulated internet voice, I have no power over you, nor do I want any…indeed that is your domain."What do you want here, do you even know? Why are you browsing through submissive/kink websites?"These 'submissive/kink' sites are not as rare as you seem to imagine. Anyone who has taken an interest in pornography & sexuality (academic or otherwise) would know this. But this particular one came to my attention through tumblr, and it's very rare to find an articulate and genuine-sounding host. There are a myriad of reasons as to why I'm interested, but not, as I think you intimate, because of any desire to abuse, humiliate or subordinate women – this is a range of 'affection' that is quite simply beyond me. Perhaps I am missing out.

  7. Thank you for writing so openly and honestly. i happened across this via the 'next blog' button, and i'm really glad. you inspired a minor, but much needed, epiphany. so, thanks.

  8. […] **What follows is a continuation of the discussion that started with a post I called “explaining submission.” If you haven’t read that post and the comments, you may want to start […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: