Strength in Submitting
by Joseph Lance Tonlet
Merriam-Webster defines submission as:
An act of submitting to the authority or control of another
The most important word in that definition, as it applies to this article, is act. As a submissive, I believe that act of giving is a gift, and it’s something I take enormous pride in. Indeed, nothing that I can see within the definition implies something being done to me (without my consent) or being taken from me (without my consent). Additionally, there’s no implication of weakness – which is another important point.
I’m going to veer off for a bit, but I promise to return to the topic. *smiles* I don’t’ know if it applies to all authors, but the often repeated I’m a reader first, and an author second definitely rings true for me. Books are my passion, they’re my entertainment, my escape, and they’re my hobby. Throughout my life books have offered me a safe place. In my teen years they allowed me to escape a strictly religious home life and venture into worlds where being gay wasn’t an unequivocal sentence to a fiery place of damnation. Later, as an adult, they offered a level of entertainment, with their gay content, no television show or trip to the movie theatre could even come close to matching. And, now they’re the vehicle I use to tell my own naughty stories.
When I pick up a book, I’m filled with hope. The hope that I’ll meet characters I can relate to, hope that I’ll ‘see’ places I might long to visit, and hope that I’ll experience stories that will stay with me long after those dreaded The End words are read. My challenge in finding those books has grown as, over time, who I am has changed. Of most significance is my self-identification as a submissive.
Phetra H. Novak, of the review site Seduce Me With Words, said something in her review of Grif’s Toy that so matches my feelings they could’ve been my own words. I found her entire review stunningly beautiful, but I’ve placed the (paraphrased) comment which struck me hardest here:
“…[so often] the submissive is portrayed as a person who has to be convinced by the more dominant partner of what they need; like a child who needs a parent to explain why it’s important to brush their teeth. That aspect, that hint of “parent/child” behavior (for the lack of a better comparison), drives me absolutely bonkers.”
Another phrase I often hear is It takes more strength to kneel before than it does to stand over. Although I certainly appreciate the intended compliment toward submissives, I’m not sure there is more fortitude in either role. I’m not a Dominant and, therefore, I have no concept of the strength required to assume that position or mindset. However, I can surmise it’s simply a different type of courage. Neither is better, or stronger, or more valuable. In Wes’ Denial, one of the main characters, a younger Wes, is on a journey and finds himself under the tutelage of a far more experienced Dominant. Below, we join Wes, Thomas, and his sub, Henrik in a teaching moment:
“Henrik climbed onto the table and assumed a hands-and-knees position. Thomas, with a tap to Henrik’s inner thigh, silently ordered his legs wider apart and then ran a finger over Henrik’s exposed hole.
“Why are you here, Pet?”
“My sole purpose is to please you, Mirus.”
“You see, Weston, the important thing is his gift.”
I looked at him, perplexed. “His gift?”
“You said you were here to learn, is that right?”
I nodded. “Yes. Absolutely.”
“Then the first thing I’d like to share is my philosophy on The Gift. That philosophy is what everything else is based on.”
He was talking to me, looking at me, but his finger never ceased its gentle strokes over Henrik’s exposed hole.
“He gives me—all subs give us—a gift; a gift of self. He has no idea what I’m going to do to him this evening; it could be toe-curling pleasure, or pain so intense he’ll be screaming and begging me to stop. Or perhaps both.” His hand abandoned Henrik’s ass and softly ran up the man’s tight back. “Isn’t that right, Henrik?”
His muscles tensed and his torso arched slightly at the soft touch. “Yes, Thomas. I am yours to do with as you please. To use in the way which offers you the most pleasure.”
I stood slightly to their side and had a clear view of Henrik’s refined profile. “The desire to please aside, do you hope for something in particular tonight, Henrik?” I asked.
Thomas’ hand moved down his back, past the puckering hole, and gently palmed Henrik’s low hanging balls. “Yes, Wes. I do. Mirus knows exactly what pleases me. Of course I want that, desire that. But if he decides I’ll not have it then I’ll find my pleasure in knowing I’ve served him well.”
“He does this because he knows—because I’ve communicated, on the most basic level—how deeply I appreciate what he’s giving me.” Thomas steadily rolled and massaged Henrik’s nuts in his palm. “There’s no doubt in his mind how much I value him. Without their gifts, Weston, we’d be alone without an outlet. There are those who quite mistakenly judge submissives as less than, and us Doms as better than. That we, because we’re the aggressors—because we’re male and assertive—that we somehow hold a higher position, or that we’re somehow better. This can be a costly mistake. One I hope you’re never guilty of making.”
In my experience, most submissives freely relinquish control to a Dominant not because they need to, not because they seek a parental figure, and not because they are broken and require fixing. We offer the gift of kneeling because it brings us pleasure. And, we are thankful for the gift given to us when a Dominate accepts our offering. My partner and I have been married for nearly thirty years and maintain a self-styled D/s relationship. I won’t go into specifics, but like Wes and Grif, we have very distinct Vanilla and Chocolate times. Thus, when I kneel I’m not kneeling for my husband, rather I’m kneeling for my Dom. A Dom who respects me. A Dom who accepts my gifts. A Dom who offers me his gifts in return.
If you’re an author and you happen to be reading this, know I appreciate – beyond words – reading your portrayals of strong, healthy, fully fleshed out submissives. If you’re a reader and you also enjoy these types of characters, perhaps Grif and Wes might just be your thing.
About Wes’ Denial
Wes has spent his life looking for that one special guy who will understand and love him—all of him. From his tender vanilla side, to his darker debauched side.
Throughout high school, his successful career in the Marines, and as a BDSM Dom, he’s remained confident his partner is out there waiting to be found.
However, several events shake his normally unflappable self–assurance.
And, even after he finds Grif, will his past catch up with him and possibly drive his soul mate away?
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About Joseph Lance Tonlet
JOSEPH is a born and raised Southern Californian—with a twenty-year stint of living in the Midwest. He loves the laid-back lifestyle of San Diego and considers himself lucky to live where people dream of vacationing.
A lifelong reader of m/m fiction, he began his writing career one night sitting at his MacBook and has never looked back. He writes to bring the characters he dreams about to life.
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Don’t forget to check out JustJen’s review of Wes’ Denial to see what she thought of it!
Highly recommended! Beautifully written story that will stay with me – I love these characters. Bravo!!