‘Submission Is A Gift’ – The Rant

I appreciate that anybody who suffers from self-esteem issues can choose something about themselves which is outside their jurisdiction  (such as sexual orientation or BDSM preferences)  and big it up all nice and juicy so they can feel better.   I’m all up for that, I think that kind of self-validation is fantastic and healthy and helpful.

However, I don’t think that suffering from low-self-esteem and trying to feel better about it can justify issuing proclamations as if they were true for all time and spewing them about the place like an incontinent llama with the runs.

So what am I talking about?   I’m  so  glad you asked!   I was just getting to that.   :)

Further to my definition, I have some rantfestness to take care of.   So here it is.

    I am tired to the fucking marrow of my bones  of hearing the  “submission-is-a-gift”  brigade sing their worn-out used-up song about how “submission” is supposed to be such an almighty precious gift.


Submission-Is-A-Gift – The Logic Fail

The  “submission-is-a-gift”  principle fails my  Is there a reasonable analogue in mainstream?”  test:

  • Is being a specific gender a gift?
  • Is being a specific orientation a gift?
  • Is dating somebody a gift?
  • Is treating a partner with respect and courtesy a gift?
  • Is being a considerate lover a gift?
  • Is fulfilling an agreed part of a negotiated arrangement a gift?
  • Is consensually participating in  [insert specific sexual activity here]  a gift?

(just in case anybody isn’t absolutely clear on this, I regard respect, courtesy, considerate loverness, agreement fulfillment and consensual participation to be  basic relationship requirements,  not gifts)

Submission-Is-A-Gift – The Altruism Fail

I can’t think of any kind of purposeful giving which doesn’t involve some kind of reward, even if it’s solely for the feelgood factor.   In principle anybody could just “gift” their submission to a bottom, top, switch, cow, horse, or even a bunch of celery if they really wanted to.   So why dress it all up in this altruism costume?   If what is on offer in return for this “gift” is unimportant, why does it matter so much  to whom  a grasping sweaty little palm will open up to give away this fabulous jewel of preciousness?
I’ve written about the desire to receive dressed up as the desire to give before.   So if the  “submission-is-a-gift”  brigade are so riddled with altruism with all this gift business, why do they rigidly restrict their giving  only  to those who give them “domination”?   Why dress up “taking dominance” in the altruismical  “gift-of-submission”  costume?

Submission-Is-A-Gift – The Symbiosis Fail And A Scream

I’ve never heard any of the  “submission-is-a-gift”  brigade talk about “domination” as a gift, even though “submission” symbiotically requires it.   My interpretation of those spouting the  “submission-is-a-gift”  party line is that they are  less  about giving and a whole lot more about the  taking.

    For real, this is a “gift”, but I can’t give it unless  you  give me something  first.   Even though I can’t give  unless I take,  I’m not all about the take-take-taking, honest.
    If I say  “submission-is-a-gift”  enough times, it’ll come true!

So the next time I hear somebody spew that  “submission-is-a-gift”  crap, I swear I’m gonna  skuh-reeeeeem!!

Ok, end of rant.   Thank you for listening.   :)


About Lady Lubyanka

I am a 45 year old musician, and also a multisexual, polyamourous, Jewish, socially dominant woman within my romantic BDSM relationships.
This entry was posted in BDSM, definition, Dominance, fuckwitism, One True Way, Power Exchange, Psychology, Rant, Rantfest, submission. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to ‘Submission Is A Gift’ – The Rant

  1. Tom Allen says:

    But… but it’s a subcultural trope. Could a million Goreans be wrong?

  2. Pingback: Rule – Analogue In Vanilla « Lady Lubyanka

  3. Rebroad says:

    Not quite sure I agreed with the “logic fail” section, as I consider submission to be a choice, whereas things like gender and orientation no so much a choice. Based on my definitions of words, I’d tend to use “gift” when choice is involved, and “blessed” when choice isn’t.

    I do agree that D/s is a symbiosis, and would agree there’s give and take from both parties, and therefore I’d argue both submission and dominance are both gifts and receipts.

  4. Maxine says:

    Thanks for writing, Lubyanka. I’ve heard this claim before, and it never made sense to me.
    The number of ‘submissives’ I’ve met who want to lie there passively while someone else does all the work, or be ‘forced’ into scenes, and seem to think that the sheer privelige of access to their body is reward enough for the effort I’m expected to put in. Yuck. That’s a gift? I guess if someone’s idea of a ‘gift’ is an unwanted puppy that pees on the floor and eats you out of house and home, then maybe it is.

    I have to be feeling extremely very darned *generous* towards someone to be even faintly interested in domming them. If anything, in my experience domination *is* a gift, but it ought to be a two-way street.

    To Rebroad: I’m aware that you’re a switch, which you didn’t make clear in your post, so to you submission probably does feel like a ‘choice’. However I don’t believe you chose to be switchy in nature, just as you didn’t choose to be male etc. so the choice is not whether your submissive side exists, but simply who you share it with. You could go through life never using your submissive side, just as you could go through life not using your penis, but it’s still something that just happens to be a part of you, rather than something you invented just to please someone. Ergo, a feature of your person, not a gift. (Albeit a feature of your person that I happen to enjoy very much)

    • Hello Maxine and Rebroad. :)

      I agree that for some topping and bottoming is a choice, and for some it’s an orientation. I think my point was to highlight that choice or not, every person  has  an orientation and gender, so how can those aspects of a person be an especial gift to another? And also, I think that all people embarking on and maintaining relationships are entitled  (in my opinion)  to expect respect, courtesy, consideration, fulfilling negotiated agreements, and participation in consensual acts, so how can those be gifts?

      Appreciated and welcome features? Absolutely, yes. Gifts? No.

      That was what I meant by the logic fail.

      And Maxine, I appreciate your pointing out the “feature of a person” thing, well said, thank you. :)

  5. Sammael says:

    just in case anybody isn’t absolutely clear on this, I regard respect, courtesy, considerate loverness, agreement fulfillment and consensual participation to be basic relationship requirements, not gifts

    I think this is exactly the point of the phrase. I’ve also heard the phrase as, “Submission is a gift that is given, not a prize that is taken.” The point is, it is this person’s choice to submit. Someone who is a submissive is not necessarily submissive toward every dominant person that they encounter. They are offering something special.

    But to your point, submission isn’t really a gift in the traditional sense of the word, because gifts are given without the expectation of reciprocity. Whereas in this relationship, there is an expectation there that all people involved will give their time, energy, and trust. So really, if one says that submissions is a gift, then they must also accept that dominance is just as much of a gift (as Rebroad said).

    I haven’t personally encountered any subs of the variety that say, “My submission is a gift to you, oh undeserving one; now dance for me, dom monkey!” Then again, perhaps I reflexively ignore such people. :) I do not think that the phrase “submission is a gift” encourages that sort of behavior though — if a sub is that selfish, that’s just how they are, with or without twisting catch phrases to justify it.

  6. Bex says:

    While I agree that there is no reason to believe that “submission” is something that a person gives to another without expecting anything in return, and to perpetuate this idea creates unrealistic expectations on Doms who do a lot of giving themselves, I have to take some issue with your definition of the word gift, which forms the basis of your argument.


    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.

    The word comes from a variety of cultures, where it has been associated with meanings of “good luck”, “dowry” and even the word “poison” in German… not to mention about 700 years of history used to mean “a natural talent”.

    When we say that someone was given “the gift of the gab”, what we mean is that person has a natural inclination to be someone good at speaking, right? The phrase implies that it is not a choice, but rather the natural state of growth and being inherent in that individual.

    I would take the sentence, “Submission is a gift that is given, not a prize that is taken” to mean that a Top can’t create submission out of nowhere, can’t force submission upon another, can’t really “teach” submissiveness to someone without the natural inclination (at least, as far as I’m concerned, not morally and not without long-term psychological repercussions). It has to come from a natural inclination towards submissive traits…. a ‘gift’ of submissiveness.

    • Bex, the people I was ranting about always stop after ‘gift’ and omit the part about the prize. They also routinely refer to their own submission as the gift which primarily benefits other people, and are more than usually unpartnered and inexperienced with in-person BDSM partnerships. These people know little to nothing about actual in-person romantic relationships, how they can work and their limits, yet pontificate at great lengths to others using trite and glib phrases such as ‘submission is a gift’.

      I was ranting about those people.

      If a person has the gift of the gab they still are fully equipped with the choice to use that gift or not. I agree that participation in a romantic partnership is given, not taken, but if the people I am ranting about have any awareness of this, they conceal that awareness very well.

  7. this was mad lulzworthy. I didn’t choose to be submissive, and I’m actually grateful as all getout that there are folks in existence who are into that. :) I’ve learned to overcome my own traits enough to be a active and reciprocal lover, but its still so much easier just following orders. :) Praise the baby jesus there are folks willing to give em!

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