Sadly the media and pop culture do a great job of misrepresenting BDSM and kink. While most non-kinksters have never heard of floggers and canes, many know, or rather think to know, what it means to be a submissive. The myths about submissives range from dangerously wrong to upright offensive. This guide is for all those who have been misinformed and those who need some strong scientific evidence ready at hand for any upcoming arguments.
Myth #1: Submissives have no control over the play
This one couldn’t be more wrong. In general, the misconception exists that in BDSM the dominant has power over the submissive. This is wrong for a couple of reasons.
First, the submissive must always agree to be dominated by their partner. Without their consent, the power play cannot take place. Secondly, an agreed-upon safeword can end the power play immediately. And thirdly, consent is not final. At any point during sex can the submissive take back their consent.
Clearly the submissive controls the course of the play and whether her partner can dominate her in the first place. Because they need to give their partner consent, they are in control of the situation. The power they give their partner during sex is temporary and intentional. The submissive wants to give up control for her own pleasure.
Myth #2: Submissives let the dominant decide where the limit is
Before two consenting partners begin a power play, the direction of the play, as well as their limits are negotiated. Although the term “negotiated” could imply that limits are negotiated, this is wrong. Every individual sets their limits which are not to be questioned. Both partners list their no-gos and what brings them pleasure. Additionally, the partners might agree on a script or path the play should follow.
During the play, the submissive has a couple of ways to communicate their limits. An often-used system is the traffic light system. Saying the word “green” expresses that everything is fine. “Yellow” communicates that the person is approaching their limits, while “Red” immediately stops the play. At no point does the dominant set the limits to which the submissive must adapt.
Myth #3: All submissives love to be spanked
BDSM and kink are not always about punishment or pleasurable pain. Kinks such as bondage or roleplay are very popular and do not necessarily include physical punishment. The same applies to submission.
Erotically spanking the submissive can be a way to show dominance, but not exclusively. Other ways might be verbal humiliation, orgasm control, roleplaying a power play, or tying them to the bed. For some, just being the bottom during sex could mean submission.
Myth #4: Males do not submit
The prejudice that men must always be dominant in relationships or sex is strictly wrong. A study from 2015 has shown that 10% of men prefer being submissive in bed, while 32% like both, submitting as well as dominating.
However, the study did in fact show, that 21% of women prefer to submit (compared to 10% of men). Nevertheless, it reveals that quite a large amount of men like to be the submissive partner during sex.
Myth #5: No submissive enjoys regular vanilla sex
There definitely exist those submissive kinksters who don’t enjoy vanilla sex and who would always choose being tied up and spanked over standard missionary. But for many, being submissive is something to do every now and then. It’s a great way to spice up sex and take on a character.
Myth #6: Submissives can’t be feminists
Feminists fight for female equality and rights in society. Sadly females still have less control and rights in certain parts of society. When it comes to submitting during sex, some might argue that the woman gives up control and is dominated by the man, which would be against feminist belief.
I disagree. As argued against myth #1, even during submission the woman still retains control. Others might even view male dominance as a result of female irresistibility, giving them sexual power.
Myth #7: Submissives never take on a dominant role
While there do exist those, who only prefer to be submissive or dominant, the so-called “switchers” are actually more common. A “switcher” is someone who likes to take on both roles, the dominant and the submissive. The above-mentioned study from 2015 showed that 32% of males and 24% of females like to switch their roles now and then.
Myth #8: Submissives are rare
This myth is definitely supported by the fact that many people are reluctant to talk about their fetishes openly. BDSM in general has become more known through the popular “fifty shades of grey” movie, which certainly is one of the reasons why some of the named myths exist.
There are a couple of studies investigating how many people have taken part in BDSM. The above-mentioned study from 2015 shows that 13% have tried BSDM, while other studies show a higher number. Because submission is such a popular kink a large percentage of at least 13% are into submission, making it a not-so-rare kink at all.
Myth #9: They must have been abused in their childhood
Media and pop culture did a great job spreading this misinformation. In “Fifty Shades of Grey” Christian reveals that he used to submit to heal his childhood trauma. Not surprisingly and due to the movie’s popularity, many people started thinking this applies to every submissive. Since then social media and the internet continued to spread this narrative, not second-guessing whether there might be recent proof for this or not.
Luckily BDSM has become an interest for the science community and a wide range of studies exist. A study from 2020 indicates that BDSM in fact is not a coping mechanism for trauma during childhood.
Nevertheless, there do exist therapies that use BDSM to heal trauma and abuse in the past. But this does not imply that every submissive is enjoying this kink to heal their past.
I hope this cleared the air on the most common myths concerning one of the most common kinks out there. I definitely encourage every person regardless of their gender, and yes that definitely includes masculine men as well, to give this kink a try. But make sure to have a partner of trust with whom your communication is on point. A great way to dip your toes into submission are roleplays that include a certain power dynamic, such as boss and secretary or professor and candidate. Not only do they spice up your sex, but give the submission a background story, a scene.
Besides reading and writing about roleplay and kink, Massimo enjoys a good sweat in the gym or hanging out with friends. After hearing about roleplay he immersed himself in the topic and writes about it ever since. You will find his guides and tutorials on Lustnerd.com.