Abject Submission 2: Lit Survey

Statue of naked supine woman and winged, clawed demon crouched on her
Image: Le cauchemar [The Nightmare], Wikimedia Commons.
This post is part of the Is It Bad for Me? series. You may wish to begin with Part 1.

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:

  1. Dying of desire → Requited → Happy ending
  2. Abuse → Rescue → Happy ending
  3. 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:

Subs dying of sheer desire: As She’s Told by Anneke Jacob, The Claiming Game and similar works (all online) by hoosierbitch, Rough Canvas by Joey W. Hill, Borrowed (online) by scarylady & darkrose.

Subs/slaves dying of (apparently) unrequited love: Dark Heart by Thom Lane, In Name Only (online) by BootsnBlossoms & Kryptaria, The Violet and the Tom (online) by Ocotillo, Danny Boy by Ben Cassidy, Duck! by Kim Dare.

See also my post on The Submissive Ache: Wanting and Waiting.

2. Abuse → Rescue → Happy ending

This excerpt really counts as dying-of-desire as well as rescue. Dean has just rescued Sam (this is Supernatural slash, but in this story they are not brothers).

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!

Sufficiently D/s happy ending: Unmarked by Dusk Peterson, The Golden Bird (online, work in progress) by Augusta Columbine, The Good Boy by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock, Temporary Mark by Kim Dare, Regan (online) by Francesca, Collared by Kari Gregg, A Scotch for the Road (online, work in progress) by flighty_dreams,

Worth it anyway: The Slave Breakers: Bran (also online) by Maculate Giraffe, Better Angels (online) by lmk05, A Monster by Any Other Name (online) by Brosedshield & LaviniaLavender, Cinderella in Chains (online) by Delanach, Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz, Transformation by Carol Berg, Beautiful Broken and sequels (online) by Lit Gal, Trade (online) by meus_venator, And I Have Been Consumed (online) by meus_venator.

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.

– Excerpt from Enslaving Anna (Chapter 20) by Giselle Lorimer (2004).

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).

Slash: Bound for Pain and Pleasure (online) by blissedbess, Bent (online) by ellen_fremedon.

Porn that I still reread: Enslaving Anna, Bound to Please, Owning Laura by Giselle Lorimer, Slaveworld series by Stephen Douglas, all from Silver Moon Books.

Porn I’d nearly forgotten: The Doorman (online) by V.P. Viddler, The Chair (unattributed, online), both from a former incarnation of Alebeard’s Stories.

Visual porn: Anything by Erenisch. I’m so damn relieved to have discovered her. Just Google BDSM comics. Fernando’s graphic novels are frighteningly effective for me, as are Horikawa Gorou’s manga. Not sure if this Femdom Humour gallery counts. (I ran into all these while searching for BDSM humour, triggering a brief horrified replay of my Alebeard experience.)

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!

  1. Dying-of-desire stories: It takes a lot of desire for me to experience a scene as abject submission. But it can be done.
  2. Rescue stories: I often don’t enjoy the happy endings. But enough D/s can make the rescue even better than the abuse.
  3. No-rescue stories: They can make me feel very sick indeed. But on average, they also make me react harder than anything else. And yet I seem to have drifted away from them.
  4. Surprise: A few of my favourites eluded classification:
Unclassified: Ricochet and other BDSM Universe novels (online) by Xanthe Walter, The True Master and Milord by Dusk Peterson, parts of Scenes from the Marketplace and No Safewords from Laura Antoniou, Uneven by Anah Crow.

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!

8 thoughts on “Abject Submission 2: Lit Survey”

    1. Thanks kleesbutterfly! Your images are AWESOME.

      I’ve been learning a lot about my own taste from watching myself do this blog. Most of the nudity has been in the humour collection, of all things! I think I have never featured photographed nudity here. Somehow it just happened that way. I hope it’s a nice change for others as well as myself.

What do you think?