April 17, 2011

Differences In Perception (the meaning of "sub" as I see it)

We all see things differently.  That's part of what makes the world go around.  Many times we perceive the exact same thing very differently...and perception can be everything.  I recently had a conversation about subs, and the meaning of that word.  The word was taken too literally, I think, and out of context.  I was sent this definition of the word:

 sub- prefix definition 
1 : under : beneath : below
2a : subordinate : secondary : next lower than or inferior to b : subordinate portion of : subdivision of c : with repetition (as of a process) so as to form, stress, or deal with subordinate parts or relations
3: less than completely, perfectly, or normally : somewhat
4a : almost : nearly b : falling nearly in the category of and often adjoining : bordering on

The context was that a sub is a person who is less than someone else.  A person that is below their Dom, and therefore, is lower than Him in some way.  That they are not equal, and she is beneath Him.  That a sub isn't nearly the person a Dom is, and doesn't carry as much weight or matter as much.  I had to point out that nowhere...I repeat...NOWHERE...in this definition does the word submissive appear.  In my world, and the context I use it, the word sub only means and is short for the word submissive.  In no way do I feel like a submissive is below me, beneath me, or any less of a person.  We may be able to argue this a bit differently in a M/s relationship, but even in that dynamic it is a consensual agreement between them.  Granted, this is how I view a submissive and how I feel about it.  Some of you out there may see it differently.  But this is my world, and in my world, my views are what matter to me and with those I interact.  With me it is about mutual trust and respect.  It has an element of one being in control and the other submitting to that control.  Yet, at the same time it is about mutual love, admiration and adoration.  

I know we all have words we take the meaning of, and they mean something to us personally.  They are words that we absolutely despise.  I have no problem with that.  For some people, you can curse all you want, but if you say the word "fuck" (or insert your word of choice here), then it's like the world is going to end.  Some women, and understandably so, never want to be called a slut or a whore.  I totally respect that and really don't blame them.  Yet, I think it's all about the context.  No woman wants to be called a whore in general terms.  Yet, in the context of our relationship, if I call a woman "My Whore", then that has a totally different connotation to it.  Or at least that's my opinion.  

I was reading the blog Finding Sara a day or so ago.  Sara is involved in a completely voluntary Domestic Discipline relationship with her husband.  In one of her posts she wrote (I'm paraphrasing from a couple of different paragraphs):

I submit to my husband. That’s a choice on both our parts. It does not say anything about my abilities, intellect or ethic as a person…or about his, for that matter.  I do not submit to my husband because he is smarter than I am, a better person, has more vision, drive, or because he is superior. Grant would be the very first person to tell you this is true. I submit because we realized that you cannot have 2 captains on a ship that plans to make it successfully through a lifetime of voyages, especially knowing that there will be rough seas and the occasional storm. Sometimes he even asks me take the wheel, if he thinks it’s best, because he’s that kind of captain. He has come to trust me, knows I am capable, and there have been times when he was not at his best, or I simply knew those particular waters better than he did. A good captain will delegate.

This is great and this is powerful.  This is how I view a D/s relationship.  This is how I want and need it to be.  It has absolutely nothing to do with me being better than my partner, feeling like I am more than her, or feeling like she is below me in some way.  I am Dominant as it is part of me and my personality.  I want my partner to be submissive because it is part of who she is and needs to be.  She wants and needs me to guide and lead her.  She needs my steady and controlling hand.  She needs to be able to submit and enjoy all the wonders that come with that.  She does it because it makes her feel more like herself, and because it gives her a sense of total freedom because it is natural for her.  It has absolutely nothing to do with me feeling like a better person and more than her. 

To me, a relationship is just that...a relationship and a partnership.  It is mutually nourishing and we each compliment the other.  It isn't about one person being any less than the other.  It is about needing each other to make each other feel whole and complete.  That without each other, we are missing an important piece of ourselves, and don’t feel whole.  One where we both contribute and are on board with each other’s needs and desires.  We just happen to have a dynamic involved that many people don't like or understand.  This isn't for everyone.  There is no doubt about that.  But for those that do have a need for a dynamic such as this, it can be and is a beautiful thing.   

So, yes I am Dominant.  Yes, I like to have a submissive partner.  Does this mean I want someone that feels she is below me?  Not even close!  I want someone that has her own opinions, speaks her mind, and isn't afraid to share it with me.  Someone that freely and willingly gives herself to me completely.  And by the way, that is something I value and cherish with all of my being.  Someone I can let be the "Captain" when needed.  Someone that wants input and knows her voice will be heard.  Someone that wants my guidance and trusts me to make the right decisions, yet can feel free to ask me why I do something a certain way.  Not because they question me, my ability, or Dominance and what I'm doing, but because we have that ability as a part of our dynamic.  The ability to question as a way to better understand, and maybe she will even make suggestions I haven't thought about, in order to make things better.   

I understand it is our perception and meaning of words that shape our views.  Maybe this perception is right...maybe it's not.  But we all need the ability to be able to ask for clarification and gain some understanding of a view that is different from our own.  Sometimes a debate or argument is all based on a misunderstanding of a faulty interpretation or perceived gesture.  So for me...I don't want a "sub"...I want a submissive partner in crime.  


  1. i love this post :)
    The word 'sub' when used to mean 'submissive' doesn't relate to the prefix 'sub' at all in my opinion, no more so than the word 'sub' as a shorter version of 'submarine', so that person was quoting completely out of context. And i too agree that i am not lesser than my Sir or below Him, i have just agreed to let Him take control because that's what's best for both of us. If submitting to someone else's control meant being 'lesser' then we would also have to say that children are 'lesser' than their parents or teachers, employees are 'lesser' than their boss, and people in general are 'lesser' than the police and the government which clearly isn't true.

    Much to think about here, maybe a follow-up post on my blog when i've had chance to mull it over :)

  2. well said, my girl is not below me or less than me or any man for that matter. Suggest it to her one day I am sure you will know what I mean.

  3. Yeah sub is short for submissive not sub:)

  4. Lovely

    particularly with all the Captain references


  5. DV,

    Great explanation. Wonderful post.


  6. libby...Thanks for your input! I agree 100%.

    Sir J...Thanks! I think if any of us were to suggest a woman was below us or another man, then we would probably get more than an ear full. LOL! I don't care to be on the receiving end of that myself.


    sfp...I liked the Captain references myself. As the post said, can't take credit for that though. That one came from Sara, so thanks to her for that metaphor. I love it as well.

    Joss...Thanks so much!


  7. I love how you are able to express your feelings and your opinions. You have a great gift in your writing.


  8. Great post. Yes, everyone perceives meanings differently. I'm sure two people also find a balance between each other in how they individually perceive their roles in D/s. That's the difficulty...find the other who matches your idea of what that person should be in reference to your own role as you perceive it. I like your thoughts. Thank-you. :)