As you know, I have started to worry whether my kink of abject submission is really about self-injury. Fiction proved to be such a good window into my fears that I decided to look harder at my favourites.
And oh dear. Practically everything I tag as “Abject Sub” is about unquestioning acceptance of intense suffering. There are three main storylines:
- Dying of desire → Requited → Happy ending
- Abuse → Rescue → Happy ending
- Abuse → No rescue → Bad ending
Please feel free to skip to the results of this survey. They were mixed, but surprisingly encouraging.
1. Dying of desire → Requited → Happy ending
Here is a sub reeling from the realisation that she has no idea when she will get to come, ever.
He had me. My god, he really had me.
You would think that it would be orgasms, that summit of purest pleasure, that would tie me to him. A conditioned response bringing me always back for more.
But after fulfilment one can move on. Make weekend plans. Read the paper. Go out for sushi. Or at least get on with one’s slavegirl day. Not me. I stood, trapped at that barred threshold, unable to see any other path, much less take it. In the absolute grip of the gatekeeper.
This author has a chastity kink, but most dying-of-desire stories produce the torture via unrequited love or sensory overload. And it really takes talent to convey so much want that an extreme power dynamic emerges from that alone. I’m hoping that’s why I don’t have that many favourites in this category:
2. Abuse → Rescue → Happy ending
Dean seemed pleased with it, turning the volume up a notch. Then he reached back along the back of the seat, settling his hand on the back of Sam’s neck, thumb and two fingers brushing bare skin.
Sam forgot how to breathe. He’d had this reaction before, whenever Dean touched his hand or arm or face, but never at this level. His vision didn’t go dark, but he couldn’t see at all, couldn’t take anything in—lights were exploding behind his eyes. Unconsciously, he dropped his head forward, breathing carefully through his mouth. This couldn’t last, it wouldn’t—even outside of Freak Camp, a monster’s life could, would, always get worse, he knew that—and he had to savor every second.
Distantly, he was aware of Dean looking at him. Dean’s thumb and forefinger began to press gentle circles, moving in counter directions. A strange noise rose in Sam’s throat, unbidden and unfamiliar—almost like some of the sounds he couldn’t help making in interrogations, but entirely different, too. Startled, he choked it off, clenching his hands around the sides of his jeans. He never made noises unless he absolutely couldn’t help it.
You can’t get much more abject than the fear and awe and gratitude from not expecting anything except more abuse. The majority of my favourite stories fall into this category.
Is it the abuse or the rescue that I enjoy? That was a scary question, because I know I often don’t enjoy the post-rescue [cough] relationship.
But I confronted my list of ebooks. And it became blindingly clear that all I need is an extreme power asymmetry after the rescue. Sometimes it’s even better than the abuse. The truth has set me free!
3. Abuse → No rescue → Bad ending
When I found out about BDSM in the 90s, there was still a huge male market for pornographic novels with no aspirations to ethics. This is one of the happier endings, and I think it’s no coincidence that it’s by a submissive female author.
Toy falls to her knees as the pain hits her once more. On all fours, through eyes blurry with tears she looks up at the smiling man and understands at last. This is her owner. All the events of the past months, the operations, the inspections…… all fall into place, suddenly intelligible. She is no longer a free woman, she is no longer a woman voluntarily submitting to a life of servitude in praise of the greater sex, she is now only what her name says, a toy, that can be operated in the same manner as any other toy of sophistication by a simple, hand-held device.
Her eyes meet those of the man who controls her and she screams, in pleasure this time, as the orgasm buffets her.
Yes. In the no-rescue genre, this actually counts as a happy ending. You can see the opposite in this graphic novel scene. I suppose they’re all happy endings for the abusers.
I used to feel sick and swear off every time I read these. But back then there was nothing else. And I missed them when the supply failed. Slash was initially a slightly frustrating substitute because I was used to more, er, interaction per page, higher horsepower, and consistently extreme power dynamics.
But I’ve drifted away from this genre since then. And I didn’t even realise till I wrote this post.
This list is a little shorter because most works of this kind don’t hit my emotional masochism kink. Please also be very, very warned that (a) most of the following works hit my squicks for physical damage, and (b) I now consider these stories junk food that can poison your kink (see Abject Submission 3: Only the Gift).
Results: Good, Bad and Interesting
At first I could only see the bad news, but there was actually good news in every category. Plus a surprise at the end!
While these stories did include abuse or hangups or unrequited wants, the abject submission was coming from somewhere else. It was as if those subs and doms couldn’t be any other way. It was natural for them.
Maybe I’m one of them? These exceptions are some of my most treasured stories. Suffering does make the submission sharper – but it seems I can manage very happily without.
The truth shall set me free!