On submission and self-esteem

A lovely guy emailed me a while ago asking for a link to his blog on coping with depression. I don’t know much about depression, but I do know that something he said in that initial exchange really got my hackles up.

“Your posts on choking, the consent rule, safe words and anal sex all indicate aspects of the darker side of sex which, believe it or not, is more commonly linked to depression than you might think because of its links to low self esteem.”

Assuming that people who are sexually submissive suffer from low self-esteem pisses me off. He has kindly elaborated, to kick off a discussion.

He says:

“Sometimes I wince inside when I read some of GOTN’s posts. The reason? I have had low self esteem and self confidence issues for most of my teen and adult life. In more recent times this has developed into severe depression.

Self esteem can be a big issue where sex is concerned. It may prevent you from doing things you might otherwise enjoy, it may compel you to do things you’re not comfortable with or it may even cause you to do things that are dangerous. Take G’s posts on choking, consent, and the Soho cinema. The consistent theme is that she’s submissive and gets turned on by being in a sexual situation beyond her control, even one that could be scary and painful for her. Now, G assures me that there is no psychological dimension to her sexual enjoyment, which is fine, I’m not suggesting otherwise.

I will, however, give you the example of a friend of mine. Career minded, independent, didn’t want to be stuck in a relationship or have children. She was submissive too, in fact she would do pretty much anything in or outside the bedroom, with anyone that might take her fancy. It all sounds like harmless fun, right? Well, not quite – she used to self harm, such was her level of self loathing. She did what she did sexually as a way of subconsciously punishing herself for being the horrible person she was (or so her mind told her), undeserving of any love or affection, men were free to play with her as they chose. She then used to cut her arms and legs to punish herself some more. She would drink herself into oblivion to hide from the mental pain, which would result in her slumping into an even deeper depression, from which she could escape only by trying to stimulate her brain into producing more serotonin. It was a vicious circle, which tragically came to a juddering halt when she ended her life. She never sought the help that could have saved her, simply because she never thought she was worth it.

I guess my message is that you never know when depression might creep up on you. Never be ashamed to get help, it may just save your life.”

Sexual submission does not equal low self-esteem

The above post is written very cautiously. Note that after I’ve ‘assured’ him that I like submission, he ‘is not suggesting’ that I have low self esteem. Nevertheless, he launches into what is certainly a powerful and sad story, and one which makes him wince at my stories about getting choked.

Submission is a valid sexual choice

How could I possibly like being choked? It’s so damaging and painful that there simply must be something wrong with my brain that draws me, against my will and better judgement, to such agony.

Point 1: I don’t like the implication that a subset of women have made the ‘wrong’ sexual choices.

For the record, I like getting choked because it’s hot. Not hot because ‘I’m a bad girl and need to be punished’ and not because ‘I want someone to be in total control of me.’ It’s hot because it makes my cunt wet. If it makes your dick hard then it makes my cunt all the wetter.

I shouldn’t have to ‘assure’ anyone of that, because no one should make any pop-psychological assumptions about my sexual inclinations in the first place. For the record, assuming that submissive men like to lick feet and be beaten because they ‘probably have very high-powered jobs’ and want to ‘let off a bit of steam’ is just as odious a cliche.

I, personally, like to assume that people take part in sexual acts because they have chosen to. That way, not only do we give people the credit for being able to make their own sexual choices, it is also much easier to spot situations where they haven’t – acts that they might be feeling pressured into, or things they’re doing because they’re too drunk or out of it. I’ll come onto this later.

Lots of people like pain

Kink-friendly film ‘The Secretary’ is worth a mention here, if only for the fact that it does little to dispel the myth that submissive women lack self-esteem. Despite being one of my favourite films (Maggie Gyllenhall getting whacked by her boss before being humiliatingly jizzed upon and voluntarily pissing herself at a desk in what I can only describe as an orgy of awesome) it’s still, at its core, a damsel in distress movie.

Poor Maggie Gyllenhall cuts herself because she’s sad. She self-harms and covers it up, and only becomes truly happy when she’s found a nice big strong man to fulfil her desperate need for pain.

Point 2: the desire for pain is not particularly uncommon.

As the popularity of the film implies, an interest in dominance/submission is not even that bloody weird. Depending on the survey results you look at, and how the question’s framed, between 5-25% of people have a penchant for dominance and/or submission. A study quoted by the Beeb estimates that between 11-14% of the US population has tried some form of BDSM.

Dominance and submission also splatters our cultural discourse like humiliating bukakke – we make jokes about spanking, watch TV shows with two-dimensional Dominatrix villains, even fucking Cosmopolitan magazine has even given tips on it, for crying out loud.

So why do we still insist on holding the desire for pain up as an example of ‘unusual’ sexual behaviour?

Perhaps poor Maggie Gyllenhaal would have been happier if we hadn’t.

Do I deserve to be punished?

Here’s something explicitly referenced in the example. The lady you discuss was ‘punishing herself.’ So do most submissive women submit because they think they deserve to be pubished?

Do I think I deserve to be punished? God no. I’m undeserving of most of the good things that happen to me, and I’m always surprised and delighted when a dude gets it into his head to beat me to the verge of tears and then fuck me like a ragdoll.

Do you see what I did there? I assumed that this particular sexual act, like most, was something that I wanted.

Point 3: submissive women do not necessarily think they ‘deserve’ misery.

In order to draw the link between low self-esteem and submission you have to assume that the girl doesn’t really want pain – at least not in the same way as she might want a cuddle and a chocolate brownie. She takes the pain because she feels like she deserves punishment – she’s bad/wrong/fucked up etc.

Do we try to rationalise other sexual preferences like this? Do we feel the need to explain away your desire for blowjobs because you think your cock is dirty and needs to be cleaned? No. We say you fucking like blowjobs.

We work on the rule of thumb that people are having sex because they want to. If, when a girl tells you that she wants to be spanked, you assume some complex psychological trauma to explain away her ‘unusual’ desires, you make the wild and significant assumption that she doesn’t like it.

By assuming she doesn’t like it you make the girl’s decision – a choice she has made about the way she gets off – insignificant. Your revulsion at the idea that someone could actively seek out pain leads you to patronise her and assume that she’s compelled to do it for reasons other than that it’s her choice.

What better way to take away her sexual agency? To lower her self-esteem.

Some submissive women do have low self-esteem

I’m not saying that no one ever allowed someone to do horrible, painful things to them because they had self-esteem issues. But what I am saying is that assuming a link between these two things is unfair on the countless thousands of people who choose submission because it turns them on.

Moreover, it’s unfair on the people for whom this is a genuine problem. If the lady in the example my friend proffers had genuine self-esteem issues, then assuming that there’s a natural link between submission and low self-esteem isn’t going to do her any favours.

Point 4: linking submission and low self-esteem provides a smokescreen for the real issues someone might be facing.

Assuming that people do sexual things because they enjoy it means that alarm bells will ring all the louder when you see someone who clearly doesn’t. And that’s really, really important.

If you don’t assume that submission and self-esteem are inextricably linked, what you describe in the example is even more shocking. It’s not a submissive woman carrying out her sexual desires, it’s a damaged woman being taken advantage of when she actually needs to be helped.

Where’s the evidence?

A final thought, because I am nothing if not rigorous and overly verbose: I’ve had a google around this area, and have yet to find any comprehensive studies on the possible link between sexual submission and low self-esteem. If the original statement that submission is “more commonly linked to depression than you might think” is true, then this material must exist. I would certainly like to see any data anyone could provide on this. Links in the comments will be rewarded with my genuine delight.

Despite having failed to locate much info on the topic, I’m more than willing to believe that there might be a link between sexual submission and low self-esteem in some cases. But I’m still going to stick to my guns and say you should never assume there is one. It’s incredibly patronising, and sometimes damaging, and it certainly depresses the fuck out of me.


  • You Don't Need To Know My Name says:

    As a man I like to be sexually submissive, although I am not really into bondage or pain. I just like to do as I’m told and put my partner’s pleasure first. I don’t really know why but I don’t think it has anything to do with low self-esteem. I just know it makes me feel good when I follow my partner’s instructions and she has a stream of orgasms. I want orgasms as well but the emotional kick from enabling my partner’s orgasms is far more powerful for me.

  • SBM says:

    I have suffered from depression and instead of submitting to any sex act my partner wanted at the time, I didn’t want any sex of any kind. Depression kills your sex drive…

    I love being spanked, choked and so on (I’m not a fan of anal, I’m a big girl and can decide what I will and will not do). My partner is up for new things, knows the right moment to hold my neck and squeeze until I’m dripping wet. This man is amazing in bed, and I enjoy all of the things we do. I like that he takes control, but I like those moments when I decide that I’m the one deciding what happens and he happily lies back and does what the fuck he’s told.

    I study psychology, I’m pretty sure submissive sexual acts would have come up when we looked at depression, schizophrenia and so on.

    To be honest, the guy shouldn’t judge others based on one friend, who to be honest, probably wouldn’t fuck him.

    • girlonthenet says:

      Hey, thanks for sharing your story. I think the sign of a good partner (whether top or bottom) is one who can play around to find exactly that right point where you’re both enjoying things – the choking example you use has this spot on. One of my boys is extremely good at knowing exactly how hard to hit me and to stop at just the point when I start crying a bit, which utterly delights me.

      I just wanted to say, though, that although I have used this guy’s words (because he was kind enough to agree to join the discussion) it’s a fairly common misconception – I wanted to tackle it because others have said similar things before (The Secretary doesn’t help to dispel these assumptions). So although I think he’s wrong, I have a lot of respect for the fact that he was willing to elaborate, chat to me about it, and step up to help me kick off the discussion. So please don’t be rude about him – I think it takes a lot of balls to agree to a guest post on someone else’s blog where they’ve essentially said “I’m going to tell all of my readers why you’re wrong” and I’m extremely grateful to him for it.

    • matt says:

      I agree with your comments but I do feel your last line is a bit harsh on the guy. Despite his mistaken assumptions he obviously cares about people who might be suffering from severe depression. We also shouldn’t assume he doesn’t enjoy a good choking himself. I mean, he’s into reading GOTN blog. We need to hammer home the message never assume anything. Hope for the best in people.

  • Grizzlybaz says:

    Thanks for posting this piece G, it is much appreciated. A couple of points I’d like to add at this juncture:

    – You don’t have to be depressed to suffer from low self esteem, SBM. It is one possible symptom of depression, but I have suffered with low self confidence and self esteem since my teens in the 1980’s and didn’t have a full blown depressive episode until 2003.
    – For someone who has suffered with depression, I’m disappointed that you are so dismissive of my opinion. It’s ironic, don’t you think, that you accuse me of being judgemental and then make a judgement on why I take this view? For what it’s worth, I never tried to have sex with her because she was a friend, and I’ve been happily married for 14 years.
    – I did manage to find a couple of studies into the link between submission and low self esteem, but they did not relate to sexual submission. This website is well worth a peruse though http://www.asubmissivesjourney.com/esteem.html
    – Final thought…maybe I’m wrong on this, I don’t claim to be all knowing, but what I do know is that our characters are shaped by many factors, most of which is subconscious. Think about it – if you enjoy being choked, spanked, beaten or whatever else in the bedroom fair play to you, but there must be a reason for it, even if you’re not consciously aware of it.

    • Pandora says:

      “there must be a reason for it, even if you’re not consciously aware of it”

      That, right there, is pathologising sexuality.

      Why do you like having sex with women? What happened in your life to make you develop in that way?

      Would you ask a gay person what the reason is for their sexuality? No, because it would be fucking homophobic.

      If you’re looking for a reason each of us is born with the sexuality we have, how about, I don’t know, genetics?

      • Grizzlybaz says:

        Putting homosexuality and submission in the same box is a bit of a sweeping statement, don’t you think? Homosexuality is not a sexual choice, but a predisposition to wanting sex with those of your own gender. Can homosexuals not be dominant / submissive too?

        Are you suggesting, as you seem to be, that submission is not a life choice, and that you are compelled to do it because of genetics?

        • girlonthenet says:

          I don’t presume to speak for Pandora, but I think you’ve summed up pretty much what *I’m* saying. Saying that submission is a life choice sort of implies that when we hit puberty there’s a table laid out with all the different sexuality options, and we choose one that we think fits. Unfortunately life doesn’t really work like that – we have natural tendencies towards certain things. In my case this involves being used and degraded.

          I don’t want to say that it’s all genetics – there are any number of factors that influence who we end up being as a person.

          Yes, you can choose to act on the instinct to be submissive or dominant, but what you can’t choose is to have that instinct in the first place. If you could then there’d be a hell of a lot fewer sex scandals, as people would just choose to like sex that society considered acceptable.

          • matt says:

            Well put, but you slipped up a little with the somantics. This is what leads to confusion for people. Are you being used and degraded? Is that really how you see yourself when your partner chokes you? Being used and degraded is being raped. What you do is something else that looks like your being used and degraded, but by your own admission isn’t. You give them control. Being degraded or used is when they take it from you. Just call it BDSM not degraded and used (except with your partner obviously, because being told your going to be used and degraded IS hot!)

        • Pandora says:

          I think that what you are turned on is genetic, yes. People with a fetish don’t have a choice about it. You can have multiple fetishes, just like you can be attracted to multiple genders, so they aren’t neat either/or boxes. But no-one can help what turns them on: whether that’s the physical sex of the people they like fucking or the things they like doing.

          Whether you choose to do the things that turn you on could be said to be a lifestyle choice, just as whether you enter a same-sex marriage could be said to be a lifestyle choice. A full on formal BDSM arrangement, sure, that’s lifestyle more than sexual practice. But what turns you on? No, that’s your sexuality.

          No-one can help what turns them. There’s no point feeling guilt or shame about it. As long as any sex you have is honest and consensual, it’s more healthy to do what turns you on than repress it and pretend to be turned on by something else.

          • matt says:

            I really dont thing a shoe fetish can be genetic. Our genes evolved long before that. Even the idea that genes predispose individuals to seeking fetishes is unlikely. Fetishes are defined by our culture and society. Our genes evolved long before our culture could influence them with such focused detail. Homosexuallity is different, theres plenty of hypothesis (but no facts) that genes could influence that because we have always been around men and women.

      • matt says:

        I ask these questions all the time, because they are fascinating. Coincedently, (licks lips) am a geneticist yes, really. I do have an interest in why we like pain/choking sex/wnaking etc. But its not nessicary nor is it moralising to do so. Its just interesting. Its not constrained to sciencists, the problem isn’t asking these questions, the problem is with people giving answers to them with no evidence, and presenting hypotheses as damaging fact. That right there is the problem. Asking the questions allows us to discuss our feelings and add to our collective knowledge. We may never get firm answers. Long expensive science experiments that proove something isn’t doing something we thought it was are equally valuable. It allows us to dismiss unsupported claims. And thats why I love G’s writting so very much. Its clear and honest. And shes added enourmously to my understanding of sex. But its not univerally conclusive. She makes no such claims. But its clear her experience, her experiments have lots to tell us.
        To use the genetics analogy, we already have the Human Genome fully mapped, it has provided some information but very little. And likely won’t tell us much over our lifetime. It doesn’t mean it won’t be a worth getting of over looking through all that data. Phoar!

  • SBM says:

    I apologise for being harsh, and snapping at you in a childish way. It’s great that this is being addressed, because mental health and sex aren’t often discussed in this way. I thank you for that.

    1 in 4 people will experience depression at one point in their life, I don’t like you implying that the only reason I like what I like is because of my subconscious and/or mental state.

    I’m not the kind of person who isn’t aware of the impact of my life choices or experiences, but saying that there MUST an unconscious reason for me liking my partner spanking me and so on is offensive. I haven’t been conditioned to think that I enjoy this, and it’s not because I think that I deserve it.

    I trust this man, and he has enough experience and confidence to try something new and if I don’t like it, it’s no big issue – we just don’t do it again. It’s not because he thinks I’m worthless, can be used and abused, or taken advantage of.
    I get the point you are trying to make, but people have a variety of preferences – some might like getting spanked with a paddle, some by hand and so on, they can’t all have a for liking what they like.
    You are obviously repulsed by it, and I agree with GOTN – that in turn leads to lowering a person’s self esteem by making them feel bad about their choices. I just wonder how you knew your friend’s sexual preferences, unless she told you and how did you react? Did she only take part in submissive acts as her depression became worse, or is it possible that her sexual tastes had simply grown? There’s a lot to consider.

  • Grizzlybaz says:

    Firstly, thank you for the apology. It’s much better if we can debate things like this in a mature way. Secondly, I’m sorry if you are offended by what I think. I’m not trying to offend anyone, just as I’m not repulsed by submission in any way, shape or form, it’s just not for me.

    As for my friend…in her case, there were deep seated psychological reasons governing her behaviour, which I am not going to air in this forum. Very little she did shocked me, and I spent a great deal of time trying to help her. As it turned out, my efforts were futile, and that has almost certainly coloured my opinions on the subject.

    I accept that everyone is different, of course, but my own life experiences still lead me to believe that there is a reason for everything.

  • tiny says:

    sure, there’ll be a reason. i don’t know it and neither do you. but what does it matter? what does causation have to do with validity?

    • Grizzlybaz says:

      And where have I said that submission is not valid?

      • girlonthenet says:

        I think the point is that in assuming a causal link between submission and low self-esteem you imply that somneone’s sexual feelings are a symptom of something that’s wrong with them rather than just a facet of who they are. That does sound a bit like you’re saying they’re not valid – someone who is submissive has self-esteem issues: is therefore broken: needs to be fixed.

  • Procrasturbator says:

    From a psychological point of view, you start to look at the psychopathology of a behaviour IF it becomes detrimental to the individual. If someone’s sexually submissive behaviour was such that it was having a direct and negative impact on other aspects of their life (friends, family, work, etc) or became a real health risk, you’d start to see it as a problem. In the case of Grizzlybaz’s friend, it sounds as though her sexual behaviour might have been an outlet for her psychological issues – but it equally might have been a sexual preference that she happened to have while she was going through a lot of other difficulties at the same time. It doesn’t say above if her sexual behaviour ever led her to any harm, or if the aftermath of a sexual encounter of that type would perhaps result in her feeling worse about herself and then spiralling lower into depression. And I don’t want to make any assumptions.

    I absolutely don’t want to trivialise this, but as a clumsy analogy – I really like cake. I fucking love it, actually. I like to eat massive great big slices of it, and if I’m allowed to, I’ll stuff my face with it until I feel a bit sick. Now, SOME people will eat cake until they feel ashamed of themselves, and then they go and purge by vomiting or taking laxatives. Then they starve themselves. And then they begin the cycle again. And SOME people eat cake until they become extremely overweight, and their blood pressure is high and they are at increased risk of stroke and heart disease. But I’m neither one of those. I just like cake. It doesn’t mean I have an eating disorder. It doesn’t mean that I should have my desires for cake analysed. It just means that I like it, and it makes me feel good. I’m not doing myself any harm, and I’m not harming anyone else. So pass me a napkin and leave me to it, thankyouplease.

  • What a fantastic debate, I found myself nodding throughout. I’m a submissive woman and I have low self esteem but they are not linked. I just like what I like, it turns me on. My self esteem rises and falls but my enjoyment of submissive sex remains constant.

    Very glad you wrote this article, too many people are full of misconceptions about this topic.

  • UpsidedownM says:

    As sad as the story provided was I automatically assumed it wasn’t intended to fallaciously offer the argument (No true Scotsman, Cherry picking, proof by example etc) that submission and self-esteem are intricately linked in *most* people. My take on the piece was that it provided a heartfelt piece from an individual expressing their experience; and offering a fairly large ‘if’ when reading. I didn’t take that the author warned all sub/LowSelfE dynamics were dangerous; although I can understand how a reading of disapproval could shine through. If this latter reading was intended then I do completely disagree.

    I do however object to talk of the ‘subconscious’, even in the example of what appears a very obvious case of destructive patterns. Ironically, I suppose, I find so much talk of the subconscious is almost inherently dominating. It implies a weakness of thought within the subject, the subject is incapable of proper deliberation and it is this enlightened dominator who holds the ‘true’ understanding of someone’s person. This, of course, belittles any adult choice or nature someone may happen to have or be; I believe that many people do just enjoy ‘kinks’ healthily and need no ‘correction’ or explanation (as my preference for chocolate, and detesting of mango, cheesecake needs none. Mmmmm, cheesecake [chocolate, obviously]).

    I don’t like the suggestion that someone depressed obviously felt compelled to express themselves sexually through submission. Just as easily as it could have been self-loathing it could just as easily have been a (physically) pleasurable escape, the chance to desire/care for someone else (or at least a part of them), etc. Even if I did accept the premise that she was ‘sexually available’ through self-loathing, I fail to see how this directly relates to submission. I can easily imagine someone gaining value in themselves from sex but in, what appears, to be a sexually confident manner, someone who gains value in dominating. I think this illustrates the pseudoscientific nature of psychoanalysis-type, off the cuff, psychology.

    I think the above considerations of escapism do raise interesting points about the nature of submission though, what does motivate the desire to submit? I think to talk of purely behaviour is mistaken; the underlying argument concerns not what we do but why we do it. It’s not about ‘choosing’ but rather the hidden premise that you choose to engage in such submissive behaviour because (insert some form of trauma here, as in the case of assuming a link between LSE/Sub). Is submissiveness a psychologically induced desire where some people are just submissive, inherent or developed, is it psychology following on from chance physical pleasure blurring pain/pleasure, are there naturalistically beneficial examples etc… I would find the individual combinations within people fascinating, but alas, seeing as it seems unknowable without delving off into the realms of psycho-BS it appears we can’t, and should not attempt to answer it in any meaningful way.

    I think a really important point, not mentioned directly as far as I can see, concerns power. It is a lack of power, whether sub or dom, that is dangerous and not the state of being dom/sub in itself. A sub is not necessarily powerless as your many previous posts testify. The lady in question is unfortunate because she lacks power, not because she is a sub.

    I shall end here because I find I’m rather successfully procrastinating (and running out of time to proofread/actually form coherent points!). I do however further wonder about self-esteem and engaging in dominating behaviour now. I think considering a lack of self-esteem and the potential to dominate others sexually may highlight just how amazingly compartmental our thinking (and sexuality) can be and how submissive behaviour need not imply anything more than submissive behaviour.

  • MJ says:

    I used to have low self esteem and it is only since developing a mountain of confidence and self respect that I have discovered how much I enjoy engaging in submissive sexual acts. I never used to try to find what I liked because in my head I didn’t matter, now that I like who I am and have a healthy opinion of myself I’m more interested in what gets me off and what gets me off is pretty much all submissive.

    We’re all individuals and what may well be the case for one person is not the rule for all.

  • . says:

    I like to sum things up in soundbites, here’s my attempt:

    If you’re a regular submissive, and it makes you feel good, good for you.

    If you’re a regular submissive, and it makes you feel bad, seek assistance.

    The underlying workings of your mind are irrelevant. No one should care if I, or anyone else, likes spanking because of a childhood trauma, or due to all the good times you had playing for your high school ping pong team. It makes no difference to the fact that one enjoys or does not enjoy it.

    There is no “good” or “bad” reasons to enjoy being submissive, because the key word here is enjoy.

  • First of all causality and correlation. Two very different things. Low self-esteem does not lead to submissiveness but the two can be correlated. Also, people just have low self esteem. Submissive, dominant, sex with lights off, missionary every day and massive kinksters.

    I am a feisty submissive with a sky high self esteem (too much of it sometimes). People often asked if it’s because I am so dominant in life that I need to release that energy in being submitted. Taming of the Shrew so to speak. and I though about it long and hard and no. Seriously, I just enjoy the sparring and the fight. I like the physicality of it, the taming aspect, the animal like struggle during sex. I love the game and as a consummate actress I adore the role-play and the acting out.

    Interestingly, in fact, I became submissive in my early thirties when I finally grew into myself as a person. For me the act of submission is actually incredibly powerful. Giving away control, knowing full well that as a person, you have the full right to take it back is an amazing display of confidence.

    And also, I always picked my doms carefully and by God, they knew and know their place.

  • Grizzlybaz says:

    So, on the whole, a very interesting debate and comment thread. As I said to GOTN on Twitter, I speak from my experiences with my friend. I CAN categorically state that there was no element of “pleasurable escapism”, as has been suggested, with her. I can say that because there is some stuff that I did not reveal originally, nor will I publicly.

    But I digress. I tend to speak as I find and, like most people, speak before I think sometimes. I never set out to cause offence with this topic, and I am profusely apologetic if you are offended by what I said on this occasion. That said, judging by comments above, some people are in agreement that there IS a link between low self esteem and submissiveness but, quite clearly, not in a majority of cases.

    • Grizzlybaz says:

      PS I’d like to extend a massive thanks to GOTN for pursuing this piece, being patient when it looked like I might falter and allowing me a platform to get my blog about depression out there. I think I owe you a few pints now! :)

  • Lucy LLoyd says:

    Any consensual sexual encounter is a power exchange. It is a mistake to equate the rle of the dominant party as the “force majeur”. The sub agrees and consents to surrender the lead role and in doing so gives trust. That dominant role is not taken or assumed, it is earned and given.
    “No limits” in a sub/dom relationship is misleading. Death or serious injury have no part in a consensual exchange. An agreement to surrender to the primacy of the the dom within the context of trust is more accurate. That, far from subjugation and coercion, in the mind of the sub is freedom.

    Depression may involve feelings of low esteem worthlessness, a desire to be subjugated abused and humiliated because of feelings of low esteem in an unvirtuous circle. Thus, submission may have attractions for the depressive, however that attraction is not the same as for the consensual submission devotee who seeks freedom, not subjugation. A depressive may feel no sense of empowerment, and derive no pleasure from the gift of consent that they offer the dom. Indeed knowing how much the dom need it is a turn on for the sub in consensual submission.

    So I reject any accusation of exploiting depression by exploring submission, the act may have similarities, but the cause and rewards are different. In a sub role I get a kick out of being a man’s bitch, of being forced to suck cock and take cock the way he wants it. Equally knowing how much the dom wants it and how I am pleasing him by offering it also turns me on. The surprise of not knowing what is next, and having no control over what happens next is exquisite, as is the knowledge that in our respective roles we are both offering each other pleasure. The role is of submission- the balance of power is equal.

  • Becky Allen says:

    As I woman who is decidedly submissive in bed (and LOVES it), and as someone who has suffered from depression and low self esteem in the past, I’d like to add my thoughts.

    I no longer have low self esteem. I now enjoy sex far more than I ever used to, and becoming self confident has allowed me to realise how much I love being dominated. I would never have had the confidence or the self esteem in the past to admit or enjoy being choked, slapped, ordered about or simply fucked into a marvellous happy stupor.

    On the odd occasion, I like to tie my boyfriend’s hands together and fuck him into an oblivion.

  • rubyrubble says:

    So when read your blog post I recalled seeing a study that indicated that BDSM participants are no happier or depressed than the general population. This is the study: Demographic and Psychosocial Features of Participants in Bondage and Discipline, “Sadomasochism” or Dominance and Submission (BDSM): Data from a National Survey.
    The article was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine by Associate Professor Juliet Richters and her colleagues from UNSW and I know that wiley online library has a copy.

  • bdsm cams says:

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  • Diamond\\Featherhull says:

    Saying that enjoying the pain/humiliation is a bit of an oversight. The choice comes after you discover you like it. And the question is why people like these things. Saying ‘because I choose to’ is the answer to why you do them, not why you enjoy them. Don’t you ever wonder what the psychological genesis for a lot of these desires are? I do when it comes to aspects of my own sexuality.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Do you wonder what the psychological genesis of enjoying a blowjob is? Essentially that’s the closest thing I can compare it to, and we rarely feel that there should be some deeper psychological explanation as to why someone wants to get their dick sucked.

      • Diamond\\Featherhull says:

        Yeah, but the blowjob…ee gets an orgasm out of it. You’re directly stimulating the penis. But if one enjoys things like being spat one/humiliated/verbally abused etc then one assumes that, seeing as none of those things in of themselves involve direct sexual stimulation, then the attraction to them is psychological. Which is a fair assumption isn’t it?

        • Girl on the net says:

          He also gets a kick out of me saying “I fucking love sucking your dick. I love it when you push it right to the back of my mouth so you can come down my throat.” He also gets a kick out of looking at tits. Other guys I’ve known have been aroused by the snapping sound of rubber, women crying, and a whole host of things that don’t involve direct sexual stimulation. There’s not always a deep psychological reason for stuff: sometimes you just like what you like.

  • Diamond\\Featherhull says:

    But all sexual desires have their roots in the psychological, as with everything else. If I met someone who was turned on by women crying, I’d be interested to ask whether that person knows why that is. In fact, that’s probably the perfect example of a kink that would have some sort of an identifiable trigger.

    I know this is coming across as “What you do isn’t normal. Explain it!”. And if so, I apologize. And you are quite rightfully wary of the word ‘normal’ in context of sexual behaviour, because of course it would be impossible to define such a thing, but I think with something as all-encompassing as being a submissive, there’s definitely more to it than ‘it’s just nice’

    • Girl on the net says:

      There’s no need to apologize – I just think that we might have to agree to disagree that my sexual submission is something that has a specific psychological trigger. You might think it does, but I don’t, and I can’t offer up any examples from my life which might provide a deeper psychological explanation: I just really like this. It’s hot. It makes my cunt wet.

  • Sarah says:

    I realise this is an old post but I found myself here and wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post.
    I don’t enjoy being submissive because I have self-esteem issues, in fact it’s quite the opposite! I’m so in control and confident in every other aspect of my life that I revel in submissive sex, it’s the only place I can totally lose control and relinquish all responsiblity, and it is so fucking liberating!

    Keep doing what you’re doing, girlonthenet x

  • Me says:

    I’m totally late to the party, and while I usually am I think 3 years is a new record. I linked this from your latest post about porn and “eww” comments. I just wanted to join the litany of people rejecting this man’s case here. I have clinical depression, bipolar type ii, acute anxiety, social anxiety, OCD, and more! I’ve struggled with self-harm and suicidal thoughts, and live in a world where about 75% of my time is miserable. But I love sex. I love kinky sex where I am tied up, hit, insulted, called a “dirty little slut”, choked and much more. And yes, please do tell me I deserve it! But when a fun boy tells me that with a swollen hard-on, we’re both referring to me biting his ear, and not who I am as a human being. And on another level, yes I do deserve that kind of sex! I work hard and karmically I definitely think I deserve a cunt aching fuck like that *at least* once a week. And it has *nothing* to do with any of my issues. And no, this is not me in denial, I think about the various metrices of my fucked-up-ness quite often, but sorry Freud, you’ve lost this battle. It doesn’t make me feel more depressed, and I don’t use it to hurt myself. On that note, we should examine why people hurt themselves. I’ve struggled with it as a.) A physical manifestation of the emotional pain I feel. Something to ease the guilt of feeling like I don’t deserve to feel unhappy, that it’s just me sulking and b.) A distraction from the, much worse, emotional pain. Sex doesn’t really fit either of those requirements. Because being hit in the face while I come all over someone’s cock doesn’t really have the romantic feel of the suffering-genius that cutting your hip with a rock does. And believe me, it doesn’t fit b.) either because I’m already pretty fucking distracted when I’m having that much fun.

    And oh yeah, I’m also extremely intelligent and successful. I’ve run my own companies, work at one of the top universities in the world, etc. I don’t think I have trouble being dominant in non-sex-world

  • mbmb says:

    you got ur head in the sand. low self esteem is a BIG reason people go to dominatrixes. low self esteem is a big reason people get into bdsm in the first place, specially the humiliation aspect of bdsm where they feel worthless and then somehow sexualise their worthlessness all the while compounded by disgusting doms making a living off other peoples miseries and addictions

    check clipsforsale.com a large alternate porn website and about half of the stuff there is femdom/ humiliation related

    check all the online pages dealing with femdom addiction recovery too and read first hand testimonies instead of just talking out ya ass

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you for your incisive input. I look forward to reading the full clips4sale research on submission and self esteem when it is no doubt published in a peer-reviewed journal.

  • M says:

    What a joker, as a straight male with a love for being tied up and beaten, I don’t think anyone could ever describe me as depressed or lacking self esteem. What a tool.

  • jason oddi says:

    Hi GOTN,

    in my experience as a psychosexual therapist and also as a therapeutic counsellor, many clients have presented with depression and have an ongoing co-morbidity with low self esteem. The damage to their self-esteem in my opinion is not linked to their sexual predilection though can in many cases be linked back to parental and social issues from their childhood.

    Sexual self-esteem can be linked to sexual predilections in that the participant has been unable to either share verbally or physically enjoy their sexual expression without fear or shaming especially if their sexual expression falls outside of societies value system. Exploring ones sexual expressionism/energy whether kink or not is a must for developing our own sense of self. Staying in those shadows can only deviate the energy to more destructive paths IE hurting others or hurting oneself and those toxic feelings of denial that can turn inwards and develop into depression,self-harm and suicidal ideation.

    The guy who posted originally has made links that may add up for him. Unfortunately many clients with depression have no desire due to psychotropic medication which have a libidinal impact as a side affect or energy to have ANY sexual contact as their physical prowess and arousal circuit is dormant.
    Sexual self esteem as I mentioned earlier should be fed with the soil of desire and passion , not assumptions and judgement. Thank you for posting this topic and opening up this discussion.

  • Andre says:

    I’m a guy and I have become submissive as a way to deal with (in my opinion) controlling alpha wife. I have developed I think a depressed state of mind. Certainly I felt down for quite extended periods of time. On several occasions, at my request, she has spanked, caned or whipped me. I have found that one effect is heightened awareness for want of a better word. I have also felt very positive. Weird hey. So I suspect that providing a depressed person was wanting to try this could find that pain induces a positive outcome. I would imagine if ones mindset was such that one felt forced into it then I suspect that a whipping would be seen in a negative light.

  • Raja says:

    [CN added by Girl on the Net – discussion of rape and suicide]

    Strictly speaking there are lots of unusual sexual acts according to the norms of society such as rape,child porn etc . They are not widely accepted due to our thinking in which we assume that they are harmful but at the same time most find submission as normal even thought it is as harmful as rape but we do find it normal since it is consensual.As you have said pain triggers some harmful behaviour where she cuts herself but you continue as sexual submissive acts where craving pain is normal. So according to you the suicide is particularly normal and no one need to save them

    • Girl on the net says:

      “submission … is as harmful as rape”
      No, it absolutely isn’t. Consent is key. Me giving you £100 is not the same as you stealing £100 from me.

      “pain triggers some harmful behaviour where she cuts herself but you continue as sexual submissive acts where craving pain is normal. So according to you the suicide is particularly normal and no one need to save them”
      You assume that submission just means physical pain/harm: that is not what submission is. Submission is about finding pleasure through submission – that might be sometimes painful things, or it might be about control, or strong words, or rough sex. Self-harm is a very different thing, and people who do it need support and help, likewise with people who are thinking of suicide.

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