The Difference

April 12, 2009 at 11:41 am (Life, Writing) (, , )

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because it’s a recurring word in conversations with certain friends. It is also a word many people seem to mistake for something entirely different. I won’t claim the word does not have certain connotations, but the difference between its real meaning and its implied meaning is an important one.

The word I speak of, my dears, is submission and the act of being submissive.

Especially when you consider yourself a feminist, being submissive seems frowned upon. Aren’t we supposed to spend every hour of our life caterwauling against the patriarchy? Burning bras, not shaving, not wearing make-up and what-have-you? Feminism, these days, is equated with a raging activism that bases itself in hating men – but that’s an entirely different discussion. Fact is, feminists are not, in fact, man-hating harpys. We can be as traditionally feminine or as “butch” as we like, we can have civilized discussions over the state of the world and the position of women therein. Many feminists get offended when you refer to them as bra-burning radicals, and yet I get the impression a lot of them will wrinkle their nose at a fellow feminist saying they are submissive on occasion.

They think doormat. They think coward. That’s where they’re wrong.

Being a doormat is vastly different from having submissive personality traits that you occasionally let out. A doormat is someone who will let you walk all over them, no matter what. A doormat will not resist, a doormat will just bear whatever you fling at them and later cry about it, but not do anything to change their situation. They will rely on the help of others for a long time; being a doormat is not necessarily a permanent state, but it becomes one for women who are never taught that they, indeed, have the ability to take their life into their own hands.

To be submissive requires a level of trust in another person, a level of understanding and hope that someone will not abuse the privilege of seeing the submissive person in that position. Someone who is submissive is a strong person who is – at least to a certain degree – stable in their core so they can handle their situation, but will not be diminished by it. There is the possibility that one can slide into being a doormat, but a submissive person will know how to resist and work it out.

This all came to be at like 01:30 AM as I was trying to sleep, and I’m not sure it makes any sense. But I wanted to get it out there.


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