When I think about D/s things that creep me out, it’s easy to conjure up scenarios of nonconsensual (and “consensual”) domination — and so it occurred to me to wonder, is the reverse, nonconsensual submission, something conceivable? Isn’t that… kind of impossible? Is that a thing? Does that happen?
And then I realized that it’s kind of, sort of… already happened to me.
[cn: racial things, not racism exactly but pointed allusions to it, sorry I don’t know how to put a better warning on this…]
When I was in high school, I shared a science class with this guy. We’ll call him Kyle.
I didn’t know Kyle much better than anyone else in that class (it was a class I didn’t have any real friends in), but he was one of the people I sometimes shared conversations with. I viewed us as being on relatively good terms.
As you’re probably aware, I’m White. Kyle… well, to me he read as multiracial, and he never had any reason to tell me exactly how he identified, but the two things I can tell you for sure are that he was darker than me and that he had short tightly curled hair, the kind that looks very Black. This is important context.
So one day we were put in the same group for some classwork. Mundane, ordinary stuff.
This time, though, for whatever reason, he started acting… strangely.
I don’t know what exactly I’d done to provoke this. Probably something. I’ll never know, really. My best guess is that it was related to the fact that, during in-class labs in this class, I tended to be one of the few people who had any idea of what was going on (or the highest willingness to get the assignment over with and follow the instructions, I guess), so in whatever group I was put in, I had a tendency to take the lead and start doling out instructions just because nobody else was stepping up to the plate. Maybe he was trying to poke fun at me for being bossy. He was the kind of guy to tease and poke fun at the other people he got along with in class. Maybe this was part of that. Or maybe it was something else. I really don’t know.
But somewhere along the line, he had stopped standing at his full height (he was at least six foot & towered over short young me). When I delegated instructions (i.e. told the other group members what to do), he didn’t just carry them out. He made a point of saying, “Yes, master” excessively — only he pronounced the word with an exaggerated Southern accent.
And he said this, hunched and bowing and acting servile, at every opportunity.
So, as you can imagine, I was mortified. And I had no idea how to handle it.
I know I tried scaling back how much instructions I gave him, trying to be less authoritative, trying to phrase things more as observations and suggestions and avoid letting anything sound like an order, trying to abdicate the role he was mockingly placing me in.
It didn’t dissuade him any. He kept at it.
Like I said, I don’t know why he was doing this. Just because he thought it’d be funny? It probably was, for people who weren’t me. It’s probably hilarious. I just can’t really share in the humor myself without ruining what makes it funny. Anyway, at some point I figured there was nothing I could really do about it and might as well let him have his fun, even though I was still cringing and trying to back off as much as I knew how, trying to avoid or undermine his submission.
So because of that, I can kind of conceive of “submitting” to someone against their will. But in most contexts, I don’t know how much that’s feasible. In most contexts, when there’s no particular history to invoke, I don’t know if you could match the same salience. I feel like this is a peculiar fluke of an example, dependent on the both of our personalities, and not something that could be generally replicated. But even if it weren’t, it definitely doesn’t seem as though it poses anywhere the same kind of threat as nonconsensual domination.