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What Kind of Submissive Are You?

Monday, August 29 2011 @ 02:19 PM CDT

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by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Rachel White's Kinseyesque scale for measuring the degree of your submissiveness offers insights into more than just how submissive you might be in the bedroom.

I rarely take Internet quizzes to tell me what kind of personality I am, whether it’s which Sex and the City character or which dessert I most resemble, but I recently found one extremely intriguing: the submissive scale that my fellow SexIs writer Rachel Rabbit White posted on her website, which I highly recommend checking out whether you’re into kink or not (or aren’t sure).


The questions it asks are ones that could not only be fodder for fiction, but for introspection. I loved that, somewhat akin to the Kinsey scale of sexual orientation, the seven matrices of submission scale isn’t just asking us to pick a side, but to delve into the nuances of BDSM and submission, specifically. It doesn’t assume that just because you’re into one activity that falls under the BDSM umbrella (say, being tied up, being owned, being beaten, whether involving pain or not, etc.) that you’re into everything that does. While the scale itself doesn’t ask you why you gave a given answer, that further exploration could lead to some very interesting results, whether you’re tallying them solo or with a (play) partner or potential partner.

I came close to a 9 or 10 on all seven questions…but I wouldn’t say that’s my true “score” on this test, because I can’t truly answer them in the abstract. With the right person, I’d be a 10 out of 10 on almost all of these, but even then, they are not all what White describes as maximized fantasies (a term that was new to me but that makes so much sense), meaning ones I want to live out.

Sometimes, when role-playing, it can be hard to know where one person’s maximized fantasy ends and another’s minimized one begins. I’ve discussed plenty of things I might maybe someday like to do if all the right circumstances aligned, but the reality is, that is very unlikely to occur in a way that would make me feel comfortable actually living it out. I also think that many people don’t value the role of fantasy as fantasy enough. To me, “talking dirty,” whether that means sharing, building or exchanging fantasies, or verbal degradation, or being ordered around, is something even my most vanilla encounters usually entail. Even Holly Robinson-Peete, co-host of CBS show The Talk, recently proclaimed that she’s into talking dirty with her former NFL star husband Rodney Peete. “I love embracing my inner freak,” Robinson-Peete shared. And so do I! I suspect that many people, when they’re with someone they feel totally themselves with, are willing to share intimate secrets precisely because they trust the other person to keep them quiet and not to judge them.

I can’t answer what kind of submissive I am without also telling you what kind of dominant I am. To me they are both sides of the same coin, and one helps inform the other. The truth is, I’m probably a pretty narcissistic dominant on the occasions I indulge that side of myself, because the things I tend to like to do to other people are things I like having done to myself. Maybe that’s not so much narcissistic as familiar and relatable. When a lover’s fantasies differ from mine and I’m in the dominant role, sometimes I want to cater to them but don’t exactly know how. I can learn and enjoy learning, and to me the hottest thing any lover can do is allow me to peer inside their mind, for a few minutes or hours or more, and see a part of them that can only be accessed via a shared sexual or kinky, intimate space.

Something else the scale brought up for me is what kind of submissive I’m not, and the biggest offender to me, there, is the idea that I can switch that side of myself on and off, or that I’d even want to. I forwarded an email from a stranger to one of my best friends with the subject line “OMG FML” the other day. It started off innocently enough, wherein the man told me how he’d found my work via looking up erotica classics. But it devolved into cringe-worthy territory when it went on: “Your butt is scrumptious. In my fantasy last night, I took your specs off, kissing your neck in front of a full- length mirror, divesting you of your dress and bra and spanking your bootylicious ass while tweaking your nipples with my other hand. I then ate your sweet pussy and ass till you cane all over my happy face. YOU are my sex goddess now.” [sic]

I’m not so much offended that someone might have that fantasy, but that to me is the epitome of unsexiness, not because I’m not into spanking, but because I know absolutely nothing about this person and to me that is what the whole point of sex or kink is. I’m not arguing that everyone should feel that way; plenty of people have minimized and maximized fantasies about fucking strangers, I’m just not one of them. I don’t want to peer into everyone’s mind, otherwise the act loses its charm.

Even though I think the scale is a very useful tool, it does have its limits. To some degree, even knowing what my numerical answers were wouldn’t tell you much more about me than whether I’m most like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda, because it doesn’t, and hopefully shouldn’t, tell you what I would do in any given sexual scenario. I like that there is part of me that is still a mystery, even to me; that I can’t know until I’m actually in the moment what I might enjoy or not enjoy. So much depends on my mindset, my mood, my feelings toward whomever I’m with and their feelings toward me. That 70 could easily turn into a 7.

The real answer to the question of what kind of submissive I am could also be applied to what kind of lover I am and what kind of person I am. It depends, and can’t be quantified or pinned down in some objective, scientific way. I never want to draw a line and say, “I’m always going to be into X, but not Y.” Today’s yes could be tomorrow’s maybe, and while I will certainly change and evolve, I also learn from and grow alongside whoever I’m with. I take so many cues from whoever I’m sleeping with, not because I “have” to or because it’s part of our kinky play, but because I enjoy getting to know them and building on what’s come before. Ultimately, the answer to this column’s title query is one that is always evolving. In many ways, contemplating the answer is hot in and of itself, as is the process of figuring out where my answers might fit with someone else’s. I like the idea of those responses playing off each other, winding in and out of the range from 1 to 10 as they go from abstract questions into reality. Most of all, I like knowing that I have the potential to fall anywhere on that scale — and still maximize my pleasure. I don’t know how submissive that makes me, but it certainly makes me excited about the future


What Kind of Submissive Are You?

Everything You Wanted to Know About [kinky] Sex but were Afraid to Ask

By Rachel Rabbit White

In almost every sexual encounter I’ve had, there has been a dance of dominance and submission. In the kink world this is explored and talked about heavily– but in vanilla sex, we just sorta do it blindly.

Some people think that we are naturally born either dominant or submissive — yet I find that’s a bit dismissive of the many ways all of us can be submissive, which are worth exploring. My friend, Jim Marcus introduced me to this “Submissive Scale”. It’s a great way to learn more about your sexuality, fantasies and compatibilities with your partner (whether you are a curious vanilla or a BDSM expert).

Jim: “There are many different ways to be a submissive. It’s a mistake to try and treat every submissive the same. One of the ways I use to determine HOW someone wants to submit is to use the 7 matrices of submission, asking them how much they do or would enjoy each one.”

Directions: Answers each on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being “I don’t care for this at all” and 10 being “That makes me super hot”. You can include caveats: things you like or don’t like, or perhaps imagining being the dominant is what turns you on. You can do this alone to learn more about your turn-ons, or together with a partner to learn more each other and find some new things to do in bed.



1. How much do you like being owned? On a scale of 0 to 10. Do you enjoy hearing “You are mine I own you?”, this extends to being marked as someone’s property, being someone’s baby, little girl, slave, their thing, etc.

2. How much do you like to serve, on a scale of 1-10 — 0 being “I do not much care to serve people”, 10 being “It is my life to serve you! Let me massage your feet, bring you a drink, etc…”

3. How much do you want to be degraded, yelled at, called “dirty” or a “slut”. (This includes being humiliated, made to do things in public, objectified etc.)

4. How much do you want to be tied down and restrained. This means to be restricted, having your ability to move being restricted via being tied up. (This can include being caged.)

5. Do you want or need to be beaten? This is not always about pain. You can “beat” someone for long periods of time without hurting them. When you are beaten you are the center of someone’s physical attention. This is about having someone use their strength against you…its not the pain but being the focus of a partner’s aggression. And of course, some people do like pain.

6. How much do you like to be fucked…This may not be about penetration–but having someone devote sexual attention to you. How much do you like to be the focus of someone’s sexual attention? Thrown down and fucked, used for someone’s pleasure…

7. How much do you desire to be given away — In the Story of O, at the final scene, the character is “given away” to someone by her lover. When this happens in real life, usually it’s not permanent, but perhaps you’ve been very “bad”, so your partner’s friends are going to use you. This reinforces the fact that you are such a powerful object of pleasure.

A Brief Question on Acting out Fantasies
Rachel Rabbit: So how do you know if something is just a fantasy, or something you want to really do?

Jim: “It’s also important to recognize that not all fantasies are made equally. There are fantasies that anyone would act out right now if given the chance. We can call these maximized fantasies. These change from person to person and might include public sex, rough sex, anything they would do now if the right opportunity came up.

But there are also minimized fantasies- things that they may not want to do exactly but may masturbate about it for their whole life. These may be things like Gang Bangs or severe whippings. One of the jobs of a Dominant is to create maximized fantasies for a person–within limits they can tolerate, that feel and seem like Minimized ones.

For example, a sub may have a maximized fantasy of servicing two men sexually. She may also have a minimized fantasy of being used indiscriminately by a roomful of men. The dominant could lead her into a roomful of men, where she is stripped, talked dirty to, etc. Then, once blindfolded, used by two of them while the rest look on. The illusion that many many men are using her can be preserved –while the reality exists that it’s really only two people she trusts who are ‘violating’ her.”

Enjoy trying out the submissive scale and have a juicy weekend! xx


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