Ethical Submissive

“But I’m not a sub!” you say. “All we do is enforced chastity.” Enforced chastity is a consensual power exchange where the male surrenders sexual control to his keyholder. That surrender is submission. I don’t usually pay much attention at all to labels, but in this case it is important we do. Let me start at the beginning.

In the 1990’s, Janet Hardy, author of The Topping Book, The Bottoming Book and other very helpful works about play and power exchange, coined the term “ethical slut” to describe someone who is sexually free but at the same time protects their partners physically and emotionally. That’s an over simplification, but you get the idea.

The concept of an ethical submissive centers on open and honest communication. That implies a lot. In the case of enforced chastity, it means that when asking someone to be a keyholder, the male discloses his minimum expectations and makes sure that his keyholder understands what he wants. The potential keyholder must know what is expected. Once that information is on the table, negotiations can take place and both people can make informed decisions about going forward.

An ethical submissive pays close attention to how his keyholder is feeling about the power exchange. An ethical top always puts the welfare of the bottom first. Safety and emotional security come before everything else. An ethical submissive has a similar responsibility. He has to be aware of how his keyholder/partner is reacting to his chastity. Is she feeling guilty because he says things that makes her feel she is making him unhappy? Is she feeling overwhelmed by the activities he wants? Believe it or not, some women don’t want sexual attention all the time. The keyholder has to feel free to limit her sexual activity to levels she enjoys.

The first responsibility of an ethical submissive is to do everything necessary to assure his keyholder is happy and fulfilled. While he may be obsessed by his enforced chastity, chances are she doesn’t share that enthusiasm. If she loves him and wants him to be happy, she may try to live up to his expectations and in the process, lose some of herself.

There is a popular misconception about power exchanges. Some people believe that since the dominant partner is in charge, they can control the activities to keep them on a level they like. That’s not often the case. Dominants are people too. Very often they love the person submitting. The dominant wants to please her submissive. That may sound odd, but the truth is that dominating someone is hard work. The reason most people accept it is to please the person they dominate. Well, another reason is that they paid to do it.

My point is that very often the keyholder will do more than she really wants because she knows it makes her submissive happy. It’s up to the ethical submissive to recognize this and to make sure that his keyholder isn’t doing more than she should. The concept of ethical submission is not that the submissive accepts (takes) the actions of the dominant. The ethical submissive is an active partner who protects his keyholder and works to make her happy with the power exchange.

1 Comment

  1. Author

    This is all so true, and a good example of how different a situation can be on the inside compared to how it looks from the outside. Especially with enforced male chastity, it seems that the “dominant” woman is not only working to keep her man happy, but also – perhaps unconsciously – to buck a lifetime of societal direction on appropriate behavior for a woman.

    If one is in a loving relationship, it’s of course important to be aware of how your partner is feeling; if it’s a *good* relationship, I think this is something that each partner wants very much. It gets complicated when one partner (the female, in this case) tries to spare the feelings of the other by playing a game she that doesn’t particularly interest her.

    This is the situation I found with my wife, but fortunately, with a lot of patience and especially good communication, she has come to enjoy teasing me quite a lot, and has also come to like some subtle – not dramatic – changes in my behavior when I’ve been locked up for a while. Often they’re changes I’m not even aware of. The proportion of time that I spend locked up continues to grow, and seems have become pretty much the norm, now.

    She’s also becoming rather enamored of receiving oral sex in the morning, which is happening more frequently now. This is another area where it took quite a long time for her to “grok” that I truly do enjoy doing that for her, and I enjoy it the most (and so does she) when she simply relaxes and lets it take as long as she likes. There are always very nice snuggles in the afterglow, too, and of course she doesn’t need to feel any pressure to reciprocate, so she can just doze until we’re ready to get up.

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