The Submissive Woman

by Arielle Loren


Submissive
adj \sub-ˈmi-siv\ to yield oneself to the authority or will of another: surrender

From birth, I’ve been taught to be a strong, fierce, intelligent Black woman. I’ve always been self-determined, possessed a level of endurance that most people couldn’t fathom, and treated my education, both inside and outside the classroom, like a game that came with the instructions “Arielle, must win.” Thus, when it came to my relationships, it was no different. I was the type-A personality, young career woman, no-disrespect-tolerating girlfriend that also loved sex and having a good time. I saw submission as a threat to my personal power and all of the descriptions listed above. Submissive women were weak, and I certainly was far from it.

But then one day, I had an epiphany and realized I had been avoiding submission out of fear. Submission requires vulnerability and trust in the partner that you are yielding your authority to. I realized that the problem I was having with submission really had nothing to do with the concept but rather the people and men I was dealing with. It was easy to submit to my mentors because I trusted their judgment. It was easy to submit to my elders because I knew they had a certain level of wisdom that I was still working to possess. It was not easy to submit to my lovers because frankly put, I feared what they would do if I gave them an authoritative position in my life.

Known for being fearless, I decided to live up to this standard and dive in head first into being “submissive” in my relationships. It didn’t always feel good, but I learned from it. You’d be surprised how much you can see into someone when you approach him or her with a white flag in the air, arms down, in full surrender. I was able to judge character effortlessly in watching how my lovers responded to receiving full power. I tried being submissive in the bedroom. I tried it out during arguments. I tried it when asked about the simple things like where we should go out to eat.

The result was contrary to what I expected. I actually became more powerful.

The truth is that most people really are not prepared to deal with someone in full submissive mode. They expect fights. They expect conflict. They don’t expect to be given full control. Being submissive shifted the dynamics of my relationships, and actually softened my partners’ actions toward me. All of the sudden they wanted to find a way to compromise and honor both of our needs when facing a problem. If we did do something completely their way and we failed, they came back to the table, acknowledged their misuse of power, and sought my opinion on how we should proceed in the future. Not to mention, my partners also started practicing submission toward me as well.

It’s all about finding balance. I’m not always submissive in my relationships or social interactions, and I don’t aspire to be. But I do know how to bring out the submissive woman inside me and use her when I want to learn more about a partner, friend, or family member. Or I use her when I simply feel it would help resolve a conflict or situation.

There’s nothing wrong with being a strong, fierce, intelligent Black woman. I admire those parts of me and I will teach my future daughters how to possess those characteristics. But I also know that there’s also power and positivity in submission, and learning to be submissive is an important lesson for any human being regardless of gender. I will teach this to my daughters and sons as well.

How do you feel about being submissive in your relationships? Speak on it.

  • LADreaming86

    Eh, it’ll never happen. Being ‘submissive’ isn’t apart of who I am, especially as someone who has had to be extremely self-reliant.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Never! What?! Submit to who?! I was brought up in society in which women were and are still extremely disenfranchised and dis-empowered. Growing up, I always wondered if gender equity and equality were some imaginary reality that only existed in the West. Just the other day, I had a conversation with my mother in which I opined my disgust to her “outdated beliefs”. Granted that we are from two separate school of thoughts due to generational and cultural upbringings, my mother just looked at me and laughed. A lot of African women my mom’s age belief in submission being one of the keys to a lasting marriage. Someone can argue this point, but therein lies some truth-not all, but just a little (0.1%)-as far as I’m concerned.

    In regards to my relationships, I’ve always held the notion-we are equals and I will NEVER submit. My culture will have me serving my man food-I won’t. He has hands, he can serve himself. My culture has it that the man is the head of the household-brotherman, if I’m also bringing home the bacon-guess what I make decisions and we split that head.

    As Arielle, noted that we are able to submit to people in authority, other instances why not in our relationships. I blame it on my cultural upbringing! Go back to the 1st paragraph. The day each and every woman in Africa will be treated as an equal, maybe just may be will I think of submitting. Until then, submissiveness can kiss my deriere! (sp?)

  • chanela

    i absolutely LOVE making my man feel manly and needed. in the bedroom telling him to take control. men go crazy for that. i could never be that annoying girlfriend/wife who bosses my man around,nags at everything,refuses to let him do anything without my permission NO! men don’t want to be emasculated.

    for me its not a bad thing if its your boyfriend/husband. just don’t be submission to other men and as long as he isn’t a controlling jerk and beating you then you’re cool in my opinion.

    i feel like a man’s role is the provider and protector and leader of the family.you can be a strong and intelligent woman AND treat your husband like the lion he is at the same time. what’s so wrong with that? (sorry if my comment is all over the place. im so tired.lol)

  • binks

    Get out of my head…lol love this article! I think people,especially women, have a problem with the word “submit” because it usually brings up negative thoughts/images and feelings. So you will not win a lot of women over with that word in fact in most cases the conversation shut down, I know I use to when I heard the word so maybe “passive” is better? But enough with word trivial, and you’re right we do submit everyday whether we realize it or not at our jobs, interacting and yes even in realationships…hence “give and take/compromising”. Two people won’t be dominating all the time in a relationship nor will it always be 50/50, one or the other will submit and say “alright” and give in BUT the thing is picking and choosing your battles. My ex taught me this wonderful lesson because it made me stop and relax, gave me a chance to drop my defense mechanisms and enjoy the relationship, since it made me realize I didn’t want to be in the driver’s seat ALL the time. Sometimes it’s good to sit in the passenger’s seat and give someone else a chance to drive while I enjoy the ride. And that doesn’t mean I am weak or letting someone willingly walk all over me..hell no

  • overseas_honeybee

    There is a such thing as a quiet power…and there’s also an art to submission. It does not make you less of an equal. It took a minute for me to wrap my head around the very thought but it is very doable but certain conditions must be met.

    Ladies … you do not submit to a “fool” or an outright idiot or somebody that’s only going to be in the picture for a hot minute.

    Doesn’t not work that way. We’re talking about a long-term brother who respects God and himself and who has proven without question to be a leader, provider and an all around champion. He treats you like a queen and handles his business in the streets, on the job, at home and in the bedroom (yes sir!). He is also not afraid to call you out on your crap as needed and tell you when you slippin’.

    He’s the one that is willing to earn his position in your heart and willing to put “a ring on it.” to seal the deal. Those are the ones you “submit” to.

  • Miss September

    I totally agree with @Chanela and @Binks . I was also taught growing up to be the “strong black woman” never having to depend on a man etc.
    I think that mindset is great, I feel like all women should have some independence about themselves but at the same time it is absolutely ok to have a man be a man.

    I think that turns a lot of men off, when women are too high strong (I know from personal experience) that can be overbearing. I mean don’t get me wrong some men
    Don’t deserve to be submitted too, but the ones that are good men deserve it.

    Also, as society changes women are not homemakers and are working and sometimes
    Bringing in more income than their spouse/SO. So I could easily see how some men
    Would feel devalued or emasculated, that’s when we as women should let the man rule the roast if you will……….

  • Miss September

    * I mean roost , not roast lol…..

  • alldawg

    A lot of women who say they are not submissive are only talking about little trival matters. IE dont tell me what to wear, i can spend my money on this, etc etc…

    But if a man, especailly a BM says hop with one leg up. A BW will curse him to no end, but if that man says hop into my bed with one leg up, then yes she will SUBMIT to that.

    Proof: BW have the highest oow births in america. How comical is it for a women to tell a man what she wont do, but when it comes to something that will affect the rest of her life, there is no protest, no standing her ground against high risk sex. What you’ll get is “he should have put on a condom argument” which is a big contradiction to the whole I wont submit to a man.

    And she is getting pregnant by the most worthless man that she can find, he dont care about your degree, how much money you got or if you can cook or not. All he wanted was to smash and alot of BW submit to that lifestyle.

    Now lets reverse that situation, tell that man if he gets you pregnant, your going to leave the baby on his doorstep. He will have something to say about it because men dont do things that they wont profit from. But too many BW will.

    What would anybody rather submit to.
    A. cooking for a man
    B. having a baby by a man who wont stick around.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    I was the type-A personality,

    don’t like

    young career woman,

    like

    no-disrespect-tolerating girlfriend

    ambivalent

    that also loved sex and having a good time.

    mucho likey because it’s

    dirty but -

    hot.

    LMAO!

    going off topic for a mo –

    that’s a beautiful couple in the photo. although judging by her frame, the sista’s got room for a lil more ass. That’s the trouble with wifey types – never have no ass.

    Nah, I guess I’ll take a -

    type-A personality, young career woman, no-disrespect-tolerating girlfriend that also loved sex and having a good time

    who has a big arse

    over a submissive little wifey who takes cute pictures but doesn’t have enough ass to make me submit.

  • Jayne Dirt

    @ Socially Maladjusted…The thing about a woman with a fat ‘arse’ is that we have the power to render a man into submission #roundofapplause

    Nice read…I agree that the submission has it’s place, as Arielle mentioned you just have to have a good man, who is a good leader in order to be comfortable enough to reliquish some control. After all, what is a PARTNERSHIP for, if you want to run the whole entire show? In that case you may as well just be in a relationship with your independent know-it-all self.

    My grandmother who was married to my grandfather for 50+ years taught me that the man is the head and the woman is the neck…their is power in submission, or at least the perception of it.

  • lynette

    Uh oh, I hate to be the voice of reason here but this all depends on the status of your relationship. If you’re married or have a long term partner, then this article applies to you. But if you’re still in the courtship phase, be REAL careful. The courtship stages are just that…no need for you to be submissive to him because he’s still trying to impress you.

    Sorry, ladies, but “submissiveness” wasn’t intended to be for the dating/courtship stages. I’m just afraid some girl will read this article and go home and bow down to her boyfriend of 2 weeks!! Please don’t go home cooking and cleaning and he hasn’t even taken you out on a date yet!

    I love the idea of submissiveness for women in long term partnerships because he has already proven he is a good guy and that you can trust him…please allow him this opportunity…

    Just my 2cents..

  • http://serriasays.com Serria Says

    Serria Says….
    You are right. Submission can also be exchanged for being a lady. Ladies don’t need to argue with men, their words are heard through other ways. I think that we have to find me we trust and let them be the man.

    I agree with you, men don’t like drama. I’m like a puppy, I roll on my back most times with conflict and it’s easier. You can’t fight someone who isn’t swinging back. African women are so good to watch for this but it might be a bit much, too the point where they are being misused but if you can submit and keep your wits about you. You should be fine.

    After all, we can’t always control EVERYTHING.

  • Yeahright2011

    “BW have the highest oow births in america” that’s not true, another group does, the number is based on how many women give birth, not the number of women the in group. Wait you won’t listen to me so I’ll give you quote:

    “Nonmarital birth rates are highest for ——– women followed by black women.”

    I personally don’t believe women should be giving birth in the US
    or any developed or developing country but that’s an aside. Without your “proof” you have don’t have an argument anymore.

  • http://musedmagonline.com Drew-Shane

    I think there is nothing wrong with being submissive. I like to use the term considerate. We’ve turned the word into something so disrespectful that people shy away from it as a good trait. It’s all about dynamics in relationships. Everyone should take and play a role. However, I can’t deal with someone who is totally submissive or passive- that’s a big, BIG turn off.

  • CurlySue

    I’m extremely cautious when it comes to submission. Unfortunately, history has taught us that when given full power, men have been known to do terrible things with it. Power changes people. Were all the men who subjugated women en masse terrible people? Of course not. And that’s the rub! A man doesn’t have to be a “bad” man in order to use your submission against you. I’m afraid it’s human nature for people to push boundaries, both of their partners and their own morality, when faced with power over another.

    I’m not saying that a woman should rule the roost. But a system of checks and balances is, to me, absolutely essential. Any person you deal with in life, no matter the relationships, should know that you won’t be taken advantage of and your love and respect are contingent upon that.

  • OSHH

    With the RIGHT man, the one GOD has ordained for me to be my husband, it ain’t no thang but a chicken wang!
    I simply cannot submit to someone who is not built to lead, in a GODLY way.
    I also agree and echo alot of the comments with the exception of husband as opposed to boyfriend(s).

  • Tia

    I enjoyed this article a lot… A man wants a woman that is easy to get along with! If that means taking on a softer tone or allowing him to take the lead in SOME situations or arguments? So be it. We have just as many opportunities to be a strong-willed, powerful woman as we do a soft spoken, dainty woman. Why not let go of some of the responsibility and decision making in your relationship? Focus your super determined, unwavering side toward your career, ladies. Please.

  • http://blackonpurpose.blogspot.com/ gryph

    some women think in binaries: it is either be a screeching hag or a door mat; and so refer to not being a screeching hag as being ‘submissive’. just a be a person who happens to be a woman, i say. the history of womanhood is too much of a burden.

  • OSHH

    I know that you do not share the faith that I have respectfully from previous posts, but in my beliefs when both the man and woman are in full submission to GOD first, that is all the checks and balances I would need. You can’t get power drunk when you acknowledge all power is in Christ, IMO.

  • Natalie

    I’m completely independent, but as far as submissive in a Christian context, I would totally be. People have really misused that word in a context. Submissive doesn’t mean my husband will run all over me. Momma ain’t teach no fool. It just means he can pay the bills and be the head of the house. In a perfect world, I would love to have a guy who was a feminist, yet can still take control. Maybe it’s impossible to have both. *Kanye shrug*

  • Jen

    I am not submissive. My boyfriend and I have a very egalitarian relationship. Why would I settle for less?

  • CurlySue

    That’s a beautiful theory. I wish it applied more often. Unfortunately, history has shown us that even those with the best of intentions have done terrible things with their power. Whether on a mass scale or just in their own household. Even those who profess to be Christians. It just seems like an awful big risk for the woman. Again, I don’t suggest emasculating your man and being a constant nag. That’s a joyless existence for both of you. But most strong men can handle and actually enjoy a little spirit in their women. And frankly, sometimes our ideas are just better. Why should I defer when I know that there’s an easier/more successful/less expensive/yada yada way to go about something? If my man’s ego is so fragile that he can’t handle his woman saying “Ok, babe. But maybe xyz might work a little better”, then he’s not the man for me. But I enjoy your comments on many of these articles, OSHH. You seem like someone who has their head screwed on just right…despite our differences :)

  • Isis

    It’s been my experience that men of today dont like The sweet, uncomplicated woman. They like The drama filled ghetto hood rat cuz thats what rap music has taught them to like. The sweet girls go unnoticed

  • OSHH

    ITA agree here and this is aligned up with my definition and ideas of submission and being a help mate. We not gone get into where good intentions lead, when not in line with GOD’S authority/will.
    You aiight with me too Curly Sue!!!

  • overseas_honeybee

    +1 OSHH. Totally agree … if he’s not submitted to a higher power greater than himself … you can expect some foolishness. Had to learn the hard way.

  • CurlySue

    I think you’ll find that men have always been tempted by the “mysterious” woman. She’s a little dark, a little dangerous, a little wild. A la Angelina Jolie. Sonnets have been written for her, legends from Greek and Roman mythology focus on her. In the past, men married the sweet, uncomplicated woman for societal reasons, but they often took her for granted and stepped out with the wild child. That’s why when people say “Oh, my grandparents have been married 1,000 years” as an argument for being the submissive, soft-spoken wife, I take it with a grain of salt. Infidelity, abuse, and general tomfoolery was much more tolerated in the olden days than it is now.

  • MsMooreinDC

    Ooh, the word “considerate” is a good alternative. Nice.

  • OSHH

    Why can’t a woman possess that “it” factor if you will, yet still submit to her husband?
    I would imagine that is far more desirable as opposed to someone devoid of personality<—I don't think that is what it means to be submissive.

    @ Isis I'm not a loud mouth uncouth no calss hoodrat, quite contrary but I have been told I possess a certain je nais se quoi, a spunk,a sass, an "it" LOL but I would still totally yield and let the right man lead, assisting when needed.

  • Tonton Michel

    There should be a different definition for “submission” when it comes to relationships, after reading the literal definition at the beginning of the article I can see why it would be rubbing women the wrong way, I would buck against this interpretation too.

  • alldawg

    you missing the point. Which is alot of women “bw” in particular are the most submissive in terms of sex, kids-”oow” and relationships…

    your response is somewhat of a moot point.

  • Simone L

    Like the others have said…in serious relationships you have t be submissive to a point. I’ve seen many a woman that I know want to be the ball buster in their relationship. And guess what? They’re alone. The Bible never said anything about submitting to a man you’re not married to but if it’s serious? Yeah. invest in batteries if you don’t think you can do it. I submit to my husband yet I let him know what will and won’t fly in our home. I still get respect, I’m still his equal but I never emasculate him. Never.

  • alldawg

    men like women who can get rid of an headache, not give them one…

  • CurlySue

    @OSHH, exactly!!! There’s no reason you can’t be a fantastic helpmate who also has that spunk about her that lets her man know that at any time if he needed her to step up and handle business, she could and would kick ass in the process.

  • PJ

    I was brought up in a society whereas being submissive to your man was a way of life. The downside to this environment was that it was NOT taught that you shouldn’t submit (cater) to EVERY man. It’s a double-edged sword. By a woman being taught to be submissive and independent, a heaven is being created for the wrong man. She needs to learn first what submissive entails and who is deserving of it. Similar to a man stating, “you can’t turn a hoe into a housewife”, it should be the same rule for being submissive to a man verses a boy in my opinion.

    I was taught to become independent before anything in which I have always been. In order to become independent, one must receive a quality education of course this attribute was taught as well. Even though I am an educated woman with continued goals and very independent, I believe in being submissive to the right man. Being submissive is by far not a “PASSIVE” trait. Being submissive to me means that you strive to create an environment for a worthy man that will lessen his burden, energize him the next day, and clear his mind of “unnecessary” clutter to always operate in a forward-thinking capacity (continued success). In the end, he is able to continue caring for his family within a holistic manner.

    The key to this is the man has to be “worthy”. I say this again because if he is not, he will take advantage of a good situation by not appreciating it. This is why being submissive is not a passive trait. If she was passive, she would allow anything to pass. A submissive woman is merely creating a harmonizing environment to have a happy successful family. In the end, the man will give his woman whatever she desires. “If mommy isn’t happy, nobody is” holds true. Last thoughts: If a woman and the man are both grinding, this is where compromise comes in. One cannot do more than the other; as an end result, a train wreck will eventually occur.

  • Midori

    Thaaaank you. Just because I have a uterus doesn’t mean that I need to “bring out my softer side” in order to avoid being seen as anything but pleasant. It’s exhausting to see people go between the “strong Black woman” and “soft Black woman” – both of them are unhealthy, because they teach women to repeatedly forgo their needs to support others or prop them up. Women are trained to be weak and without will-to-power even when simultaneously taught to be “strong,” and it disgusts me. Submission and dominance should be restricted to BDSM…I’d say it was yawnworthy outside of that, but that polarity has clearly demonstrated itself to be dangerous and conducive to myopic thinking about interpersonal relationships.

    *siiiiigh*

  • maymay

    I prefer cooperation and collaboration along with EQUAL love and respect.

  • MsMooreinDC

    Okay, so first off…why must we always gender submission so that it’s women who should be submissive to men who should be dominate? Interestingly, Arielle wrote this piece without specifying to which gender she was submitting in her relationships. Sidenote: heteronormative default made everyone jump to the conclusion of a woman/man dynamic that specifically was not implied. As “strong, independent, blah, blah, blah” Black women, why are are we so willing to hop on the “let men be men” bandwagon? Men are not any more or less deserving of submission than women are. Submission is what people (men and women) do when they are in relationships with people they love, trust, and admire. Which is a fortunate arrangement that I hope we all find ourselves in one day.

    Submission, or as Drew-Shane aptly put it, being considerate, is something that we should strive for in our relationships (in whatever form them come). Relationships aren’t awesome when we insist on asserting ourselves at every turn. Of course there are times where this is totally appropriate, but a chronic desire for self-assertion just signals insecurity and distrust – which are not the building blocks of a happy long-term relationship.

    That said, I think many are right to point out that your submissive self isn’t for the person you’ve been “talking to” for a week or two. Submission requires trust and security that’s built over time.

    And no, submission isn’t cooking or cleaning, or rubbing your man’s feet or otherwise acting “feminine.” It’s the willingness to yield your will to another, which requires an enormous sense of self-possession, empowerment and self-worth.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    I agree with you, men don’t like drama.

    Unless your acting out a bedroom role play.

    I’m like a puppy, I roll on my back . . . .

    gadzooks!

    these women learn fast.

    LMAO!

  • PJ

    I like this!

  • Socially Maladjusted

    I was going to get down one knee and ask for your hand in marriage (assuming that, that doesn’t offend your anti-traditionalist sensibilities)

    but then I got to this part -

    And no, submission isn’t cooking or cleaning, or rubbing your man’s feet or otherwise acting “feminine.”

    ok ok

    how about we share the cooking and cleaning?

    I’ve got tickly feet so not too bothered about foot rubbing, But I absolutely insist on you being – not acting female.

    LOL

    It’s the willingness to yield your will to another,

    Works for me.

    which requires an enormous sense of self-possession, empowerment and self-worth.

    going cold again.

    Ok

    it’s back on – just stop talking before you mess it up.

    marry me.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    damn I messed up the html tags. Oh well you get the drift.

  • Pingback: » The Submissive Woman Arielle Loren

  • lynette

    Very good post! I don’t think I could have said this better myself! I’m just really afraid of women taking this “submissiveness” the WRONG way and men taking advantage of them in the process.

    Good stuff!

  • sli

    “the history of womanhood is too much of a burden.”

    I agree.

  • Alexandra

    Everyone is submitting to someone one way or another. A lot of people have no problem with submission as long as they’re positively benefiting from it. It is earned, not deserved. If you’re not desperate and have a lot of things going for yourself, would you submit to some bum, unworthy of your vulnerabilities?
    The hesitation towards this word, is due the constant misuse by people attempting to remind women of their ‘natural place’ , while disregarding the opposite genders duties. I know a lot of women may think they’re hard to crack, but I don’t think any woman would give a man difficulty submitting, if he is also in his ‘place’ as well. I look around; the women who are currently leading are doing so because no man in their life recognized his position……yet. I like ‘consideration’ too.

  • Alexandra

    Same here; submission can mean that as well when both partners are doing their right job. No relationship works one sided.

  • QueenofNew

    @PJ

    Agreed. Women scoff at submitting because they don’t like the results of having submitted to the wrong man. Submit to the right man and you are in line with nature. I think this is why women’s sexuality has been controlled all thourought history. If they make the wrong mistake in men, it can be devastating in the long and short term.

  • QueenofNew

    @PJ

    Women have a finite number of eggs to be fertilised. Men produce healthy sperm for a couple of decades longer than a womans healthiest fertility period. Therefore women have to harness that window of the healthiest and easiest time in her life to have children with the best provider because she doesn’t have forever to do that. Its important that the right man fertilises those eggs. Its socially dangerous immoral and threatening to the fabric of society for women to hook up with the wrong man. There is too much at stake.

  • ChezCerise

    I can be submissive on some issues. But my man also does the same on issues that are important to me. It’s give and take on both sides.

    I used to balk when he wanted to do all the “manly” stuff ( ex. always being the one to take my car in for maintenance). I had a serious problem with someone else driving my car. It caused a few arguments. In the end, I had to question why I was so against it and then I just let it go.

    This is just a minor example but you get the drift. But I would never submit to anything that made me feel disrespected.

  • Just Me

    I think the concept of submitting to your man is a good one, but not as easy as it seems. I think it’s in a man’s nature to want to feel like the head of the household. Allowing him to do so, definitely increases harmony in the household, and may even take some stress off of the woman.

    It used to be so easy to submit back in our grandparents’ days when women’s only job was to take care of her kids and husband. But it’s a lot more complicated now that women are working and contributing as much (if not more) financially to the household. We make half the money, we should make half the decisions, right? Add to that the fact that many of us lived on our own, making our own decisions for 10+ years before getting married, it makes it hard to let someone else come in and make the decisions for us. As much as I may trust his leadership, old habits are very hard to break.

    Submission is something I definitely think is beneficial for the relationship, but it’s still something I struggle with.

  • Dani

    “it makes it hard to let someone else come in and make the decisions for us. As much as I may trust his leadership, old habits are very hard to break.”

    It’s hard because no one is supposed to come in and make your decisions for you. You’re not a child. What happened to discussion and mutual agreement?

  • arlette

    submissive in the bedroom yes.

  • Candi83

    @PJ

    I whole heartly agree. I will submit to the right man, a man that is worthy of it.

  • Furious Styles

    Many of you might just have a problem with the word “submissive”.

    It’s no accident that it was one of the words in the title of this piece…how many of you clicked on the link and were ready to have your blood pressure go up?

    The things you describe in this piece sound more like “being a team player” or “interdependence”; things that are necessary for most partnerships to work. “Submissive” is one of those loaded words that nobody wants to be labeled. In American culture, submissive people aren’t well respected; and everybody wants to be respected and also loved while getting their needs met. Submissive implies that one person is getting their needs met and the other is just throwing their own needs away.

    It’s like “commitment”. That simply means how you spend your time and money. It’s how you gain anything you really want. But use it when talking about relationships and people start thinking about loss of choice, pressure, biological clocks, being under someone’s control. In the larger culture, look at how that word is used; “I committed ___ crime” “I can’t because I committed to something else” “They should have you committed”. So I think it’s largely a matter of semantics. Word choice matters. My 2 cents.

  • Leelee

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with being submissive in a relationship, sometimes. I have no problem with my man doing whatever he thinks needs to be done around the house(car, repairs, etc.) without my permission. The problem is nobody is perfect. No one makes the best decisions all of the time. So I do have a problem with my man making life-changing decisions without my input. Maybe I feel this way because of the things I’ve seen in my life, but I don’t think one single entity, man or woman, husband or wife, should have the power to single-handedly destroy a family. Growing up, my father made what he thought was a really good career move, even though my mother felt uneasy about it every step of the way, and catapulted the whole family into complete ruin. Contrary to what some may believe, he wasn’t thinking of only himself, he truly believed that this move would benefit his family. There were just consequences he didn’t consider; he has never believed he could or would fail at anything. My mother voiced her concerns but never came right out and told him he shouldn’t do it, that’s not something she would have done back then. The end result left everyone homeless. (And when my father felt emasculated, which was his OWN doing, because he couldn’t take care of his family, it left him in the arms of the woman he ran to to get his manliness back.) My point to this sob story is, sometimes being completely submissive in a relationship or certain situations is akin to group think. Think back to the Challenger spaceship crash, everyone in the boardroom knew that they should not allow the Challenger to take off, yet they allowed that mentality to override their instincts. That’s something I could not allow anyone to do in a relationship that I am a participant in. If we make a bad decision together, we fail together, and we can pick up the pieces together.

  • LaDreaming86

    The ongoing theme I see here is that people think women should stop being who they are, do things differently, and become demure so that men can be happy and function while believing that men are who they are by nature and need for women to mold themselves to fit them.

    It’s disgusting really how women are expected to suppress themselves for the sake of a man not feeling ‘manly’, whatever that is.

  • Chrissy

    I agree.

  • JaeBee

    Co & Sign. I was just about to say something similar. As a member of a relationship, each party should be willing and able to submit to each other. If I’m more knowledgeable then my mate about a particular subject, then I don’t see why I should be the one having to submit to [his] decisions on the matter. This is just the same old patriarchal b.s. that they always try to wrap up in a pretty bow to present to women. I for one ain’t buyin it!

  • victor

    God’s word is rational enough. When God says submit He knows what it entails and how it may be abuse. When He says Love your wives as husbands He knows it could be abuse as well. All i have to say is that we can never can proove the delight of His word, until all on the altar we lay. Truth is costly when it comes to obeying it.
    As you obey God it works and it pays both now and afterwards!

  • apple

    sometimes im in charge sometimes he’s in charge.. i like equilibrium

  • http://eclecticspectrum.wordpress.com Afia

    I believe that there should be mutual “submission” in relationships. In the same way that I trust his judgement he should trust mine when the need arises.

  • Jinx Moneypenny

    Doesn’t interest me, unless we’re talking bedroom antics. Submission as a sole concept for how I am in relationships has never fit, and I’m okay with that. It’s not for me.

  • Candi83

    +1

  • wuluwulu

    I grew up seeing my mother in an abusive physical and emotional relationship, that abuse extended to everyone in the household. Submission means something else to me all together.

  • Humanista

    I totally get where the author is coming from. If you (male or female) are *submissive* to the RIGHT person, someone who you trust (trust is bigger than whether s/he will cheat!) to not abuse that position and sincerely treat you like an equal, seek your counsel and value your needs.

    I learned that the *who* was as important as the “what” the hard way, in a relationship w/ a very controlling person who constantly harped on the idea of women deferring to men, meanwhile abusing the bit of power he had (I am accommodating by nature, but we weren’t married!). It’s true any people misinterpret the idea. And if you or the person you’re with is looking at submission as a means of power, you are already losing!

  • E.M.S.

    Tonton, I absolutely agree with you. What she’s describing I don’t consider submission. To me, that’s nothing more than being respectful of your partner. You would want the same from them.

    You have to learn to pick your battles, choosing not to fight over something or be difficult is not surrender, but a strategic move to help maintain your relationship. Your partner could love you to death, but if you’re always acting crazy, you’ll get on their nerves really quick.

  • http://www.poshmiss.com Poshmiss.com

    I am doing a book club on my blog and Chapter 7 addresses this issue. This is something that black women need to learn to do. Independent versus In Dependence.

    Check out the link..

    http://poshmiss.com/2012/02/23/day-7-knight-knight-submission/

  • QoN

    @Simone

    Hello. Im not causing trouble but what if you guys disagree on what can and cant fly in the home who wins out?

  • Elle

    I definitely believe that you have to find a balance. As Black women, we’re expected to be strong and tough. There isn’t anything wrong with being strong or tough but it gets tiresome trying to be that way ALL the time. We have to learn how to ease up and just let things be. We have to have courage to let down our protective armor.

    http://ellecherieamour.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/interdependence/

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Taking the convo a little to left

    all those who believe that female submission to male leadership is “the natural order” should consider

    1) how unintelligent and primitive you seem to those who’ve given the matter some serious thought.

    why would do you want to abdicate leadership of yourself to someone else?
    From this male’s point of view, seems like a man would be taking on a child.

    2) how inconsistent they sound -

    if the natural order dictates male dominion over the female then you don’t get to decide which man you submit to. There is no “wrong man” who is undeserving of female submission because all men are above women in YOUR “natural order”

    Furthemore there is nothing natural about male domination of women, that is merely a behaviour that arises under certain conditions.

    The patriarchy that we have today didn’t always exist, it came with the first societies to move from the hunter gathering way of life to agragrian culture. Up until then women’s knowledge of ecology, (acquired through gathering) made them the proffesional class of their day. The PROVIDERS of food, the doctors, the scientists , , , .

    Furthermore – for the ignorant who believe patriarchy was ever thus – consider this. It’s unlikely that in pre-history, men or women knew the role the male played reproductive process. There were no patriarchal families in a time when no one knew that sex and sperm caused women to become pregnant. Some speculate this connection was only made during the agricultural revolution, eg the planting of seeds . . .

    Which is why it appears that pre-historic human societies were matrilineal – you came from a line of – gasp – SINGLE MOTHERS, no dad, and matrifocal – males didn’t head families, the only family they were part of was that which they were born into – yo mama’s family.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    sigh

    Why do people insist on supporting ideas that only hurt themselves? Blacks are the last people who should be promoting patriarchy. Slavery and just every about every other system of tyranny you can name, is an outgrowth of patriarchy. The subjugation of women paves the way for the subjugation of whoever you can exert power over.

    I despair.

    Don’t people wanna be FREE?

    I’ll leave you with this –

    “Women have for millennia participated in the process of their own subordination because they have been psychologically shaped so as to internalize the idea of their own inferiority.”

    “The unawareness of their own history of struggle and achievement has been one of the major means of keeping women subordinate.”

    Gerda Lerner

    In other words – go read a book or two.

    sheesh

    All these educated black women with big brains, but nothing small enough to put them in.

    I know these ideas won’t be well recieved in a place like this, but that’s the point of posting on em.

  • MsZMC

    I think people are misunderstanding the stance she is taking..

    Being submissive is a power in it’s own. The powerful thing is that you are allowing the man to believe he is in control but you are actually steeering him becuase he is going to respect and consider you a lot more during decision making. Now you don’t have to be toatally submissive, but when it’s time to let a man be a man LET HIM. Ever heard the saying more women will sit and be ladies if more men will stand up and be a man? You have to let a man get his “man” on and wear the pants. We want a strong black man then we get one and treat him like we dont need him and we can do this by ourselves. That is why so many of them are running to white and asian women today… us black women are so “strong” and independent we emasculate them….

  • sli

    I hear you.

  • MsMooreinDC

    Oh, how I appreciate critical thought…<3

  • http://eclecticspectrum.wordpress.com Afia

    I thought about this article last night and this is not about submission. This is about trust. It’s not submitting to someone’s will but trusting that your partner will not lead the both of you astray. There has to be mutual trust. If he is allowing me to be the so-called dominate person sexually that means he has faith in my ability to please the both of us. The same thing goes for restaurant choices or finances.

    Relationships are not this game of who can control whom. It’s not a sign of submission to accept a trusted partners decision. It’s submission, stupidity, and lunacy if we do it blindly. In any relationship who takes point is not static.

  • coco

    I think what women have a problem more so is the word. “Submit” it is so true that we as black women have a hard time giving power to a man. That’s why a lot times we can’t keep them. It is so true that they go to white women. Because we have a hard time with being soft or soft spoken, sweet ladies. We have to let our man be men. That is the way God made them. If he is a good leader. Women we have to let him lead and gently stir him in our direction.

  • realitycheck

    sorry, I don’t believe in being submissive……. and i’ve never had a problem getting a man who didn’t mind…. though I will say, most of them haven’t been black.

  • MySister’sKeeper

    @coco

    This notion that black men only want white women has been debunked over and over. The majority of black men are with black women. So stop, just stop.

  • Velma

    Submissive. No. Domestic. Yes. I love to cook. Preferably for someone who loves me “as I am”…..whatever that may be.

  • Astro

    You sound like a pseudo intellect.

  • http://www.serrriasays.com Serria Says…

    Serria Says….

    Submissive is a fine word. I get bothered by our attachments to words. Submissive…so what! We all know what she meant and having an attude about the word doesn’t change the fact that we need to “back down.”

    Women are interesting, all colors but women as a gender. We have such a problem with some words. For example, I am aggressive. I can turn it off, just like I can turn it on, but it’s a part of me nevertheless. When I tell men that I’m aggressive, they nod in agreement but when I tell women, you’d think I said that I have cancer. “Oh no! No your not aggressive, maybe we can find a different word.”

    Nah, I like aggressive. It is what it is.

    Submissive, is not a bad thing. Fake it and see what happens. It doesn’t mean you aren’t opinionated, smart, accomplished…all those things that we pride ourselves on that men really don’t care about because they will marry a waitress instead of that girl.

    Try it on your next date….you do go on dates right?

  • Socially Maladjusted

    also

    what is “let a man be a man”?

    what does that rubbish mean, is it like – let a man act out the male gender role?
    Well that authority is given to him by prescription of the “natural order”. Not by you. If you reject the idea of female submission then reject it whole. Don’t pretend to honour it.

    A relationship supposed to b a co-operative coming together of two people who mutually try to fulfil each other’s emotional and material needs. It’s not a battle ground in which the parties vie for dominance and power, with submissiveness merely weilded as a tactic outfox the other.

    and

    why do people assume that the decision making aspect of a relationship will always be a source of conflict, which can only be resolved by, e.g. – playing silly submission games?

    Decision making is neutral and straightfoward – if it’s about what’s best for both of you. If it’s about one person getting their way, that’s when you get problems.

    If you’re in it to be catered to and served – then go buy yourself a dog. That goes for man or woman.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Well I am still learning and studying (informally at this stage and age – way beyond the college years) so I guess I’ll always be a psuedo intellect as opposed to a true intellect.

    And I probably am showing that new convert enthusiam that people exhibit when they think they’ve evolved out of some former state of ignorance.

    Can’t you let me have that?

    Anyway, I am surprised that your no intellect self was perceptive enough to see how psuedo-ly brainy I am.

    chuckles

    but if you wanna test your no intellect against my psuedo intellect -

    I dare you to bring it on.

    LOL!

  • Bridgette

    I grew up in an extended family headed by my paternal grandmother;she ran the household and its finances. But I will never forget how she deferred to my uncle, her son-in-law. She always fixed his plate and I never saw him wash a dish or perform any other domestic chores. I know that she was old school but she taught me that a woman can balance being strong and submissive.

  • smm

    I enjoyed your insightful and intelligent commentary as much as I enjoy the works of of Gerda Lerner, Audre Lourde, Bell Hooks et al. Just wonderful!

  • LMO85

    Thank you for your refreshing comments on this tired ass subject. It is a shame that they will fly over most indoctrinated heads. But again, your comments are much appreciated.

  • A

    LOL @ ‘bow down to boyfriend of two weeks’ – reminds me of the princess they tried to set Akeem up with in Coming To America!

  • Zanele

    I love this article! Brilliant! 100% true! Resonates with my personal experience as well. I am now a much more well-adjusted, more rounded person because of this.

  • Carynne

    Give me a break, don’t think so. I’m sure there are a lot of men, especially black men who would love this. The problem is that there are not enough quality black men out there for women to be submissive to, plus what man would want a submissive women. Sounds boring and old school. Why can’t two people just be respectful to each other instead of trying to get the other person to submit. Same old story, nothing new about this. If it works for her more power to her, but it would not work for me. I have only one daddy don’t need another one at home.

  • Donald K Sumner

    Oh, they will be submissive, if the bm is thug/gangster/athlete/baller/bad boy/swag boy/ or TALL. BW are too messed up and HEIGHTIST!!!

  • Mr Jay

    Coming from a conservative Black christian household I think the notion of “submission” is misunderstood by men as well as men. Basically as a man you are to sacrifice for your wife as Christ did the church and she can chose to accept it or not putting you first as you put her first. That’s the two becoming one. Personally I like intelligent strong opinionated women because I need all the help I can get.

  • Mr Jay

    by men as well as women

  • thinking person

    Thank you Socially Adjusted…

    I agree “sheesh.” It’s interesting: To truly be free, to seriously move oneself out of an emotional and psychological state of (or desire for) dependency takes some deep honesty. Love and honor is not about attachment nor someone owning another’s will (read: submission). Submission: Is that concept useful in the 21st century. Interesting… Post-slavery black women seeking a way to be submissive … frightening way down in my soul.

    Yeah… read and think bigger Ms. Lorna. Gerda Leaner… some bell hooks and throw in a little Frederick Douglass mixed with some Harriet Tubman narratives: pay close attention to discussion/notions about owning one’s on life and body.

    Peace

  • thinking person

    Corrections! !
    I meant: Thank you “Maladjusted”.
    And I meant Ms. “Loren”.
    okay!

    be well.

  • thinking person

    my corrections! !
    I meant: Thank you “Maladjusted”.
    And I meant Ms. “Loren”.
    okay!

    be well.

  • leonard smalls

    Thought provoking comment and article; however, allow me to add the following:

    1. Equality – Women and men are not equals, but they are polar opposites that need one another to subsist. Different does not mean deficient; it only means that the two objects are not the same.

    2. Empowerment – A woman that submits to her mate empowers that mate. However, that mate must first prove himself worthy of her gesture.

  • leonard smalls

    Interesting comment; however, allow me to add the following:

    1. Diminished Returns – The “strong and independent” desires that the 21st century Colored woman wraps herself in returns to her independence. Unfortunately, such desires leave her alone (read “independent”) where she laments about having to support herself emotionally and physically (read “be strong”).

    2. Cats – You can be “strong and independent,” but realize that such desires will leave you in a house full of cats.

    3. Girlfriends – Your girlfriends will not always be there like on “Sex and the City.” Some will eventually have families and get married. Others will grow more bitter towards men and seek to pull you in to their vortex of mistrust. Put your relationship and family first, for it is they who will take care of you in your golden years.

  • sogone

    “what is “let a man be a man”? ”

    EXACTLY. Excuse-making. Perhaps there is only one true way to be a man and therefore by defining manhood allows “true women” to be defined as the opposite. The way I see it, it denies women their agency and allows for women to ONLY be define by a man/in relation to a man. Else, why do people continue to throw the word “emasculated” around–as if it is doing men (or women) some type of favor. Manhood is defined by the roles structured in society. We all participate in what “manhood” is…and unfortunately, many haven’t realized that it isn’t immutable.

  • oneAfricanGirl

    @ Maladjusted
    Your ideas are just that – Ideas. You make very logical points but not all realistic.
    Are you married? If so for how long? Do you have children within this marriage?
    If unmarried, are you in a committed relationship? If not, do you even want to ever be married?

    The point I am really trying to make is that there is no formula for relationships. This article made a point, but is not the Formula for getting or keeping a man. There just simply is no formula because at the end of the day, we can analyze all we want but as humans, we are so different and unique, there is no way we can expect that what works for person A will work for person B.

    Great insight to the article and great insight to your views @ maladjusted.

    But thats all it is – views, opinions and ideas…not fact, not formula.

  • Joan

    The last time I check the Bible says “wives submit yourselves to your husbands ” not your boyfriends, fiancee, baby daddy, but husbands. It also say husbands love your wives, just as Christ loves the church and give himself up for her and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ and other scriptures that explain the roles for husbands and wives.

  • Brielle

    Submission is a great thing. We could all learn to be more submissive. And, no, it’s not a woman-only thing.

  • Brielle

    It also says (just before that “Wives …” part) “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. And it repeats, elsewhere, Yes, all of you, submit to one another. Other parts of the same Book say, “Clothe yourself with humility…” “Regard others better than yourselves” “Whoever wants to be the greatest must be the least”

    Submission is not an opportunity for men to be bossy, arrogant and proud. God resists the proud. Pride goes before destruction, the same Book says.

    Sumbission is to be mutual and a choice.

  • Brittany

    If you believe in God, and you believe he created marriage you should believe in submission. The bible is very clear about roles in a marriage. It’s as simple as that. If you are obedient to God in your marriage and His will for how a marriage should look, your marriage will flourish! :)

  • http://www.akashaweb.com/forums/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=25673 Markus Schnack

    You lost me, friend. Come on, man, I imagine I buy what youre saying. I am aware what you’re saying, nevertheless, you just seem to have forgotten that might be some other folks from the world who view this trouble for what it is really and will perhaps not agree with you. You will be turning away numerous individuals who had been lovers of your website.

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  • Jessica

    This sounds like a lesson in going from being independent to being learning to be in a healthy relationship, not from being dominant to being submissive. We are taught in our culture to value independence, and it sounds like that is what you were taught. To be open and vulnerable is to leave independence and embrace relationship, not to go from being dominant to being submissive.

    In every relationship, both parties should be submissive and humble, as well as being assertive and bringing his or her own strength. To relegate those behaviors to just one party in the relationship is setting it up for abuse and dysfunction.

  • http://Google Lisa

    My partner has been saying for years now that he needs me to be submissive. Now that I e read your comments about the relationship and how being submissive can actually be more exciting and loving… This is something that I want to be for him. Thank you for your help.

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