sub space (noun):
- A feeling of active submission, often in response to a random act of domination. Can be accompanied by weak knees, blushing, or giggling. Ex: That domme can always put me in sub space just by grabbing my arm and growling something sexy in my ear.
- A feeling of euphoric abandon during or after heavy physical or psychological play. Can be accompanied by a lack of verbal or intellectual faculties. Necessitates a high degree of trust and previous communication with the dominating partner, or else Bad Things can happen. Ex: I slipped into sub space while being flogged the other night and I’ve been all floaty ever since.
Let’s talk about this.
Of course, I just pulled the above out of my ass. We don’t have one unified kink dictionary yet. Your definition will probably vary, and it seems like many local communities use similar words or phrases to mean vastly different things. Like all ambiguous, sceney words out there, the idea of ‘sub space’ could be improved with a little examination, so when we throw around words with our partners or potential play partners, we have a better chance of being on the same page, and thus having better/safer/more fulfilling play.
And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
So why take on sub space at all? Unlike the other words out there with questionable/changeable definitions, this one hope to the top of my personal pet peeves for unclear language because it is important for Sub Safety.
Public Service Announcement to all the other subs, slaves, and sluts out there: Saying you can’t be trusted to consent/express your own boundaries/say when you’ve had enough while “in sub space” does not absolve you of your responsibility to the safety of the scene.
A vague heads-up is only likely to frighten the pants off the potential domme of your dreams, as well it should. And not in a sexy way, either. Here’s what is more useful: “Hey, sexy top… Can we do a little more negotiation about my boundaries now, before we start the hot and heavy stuff? When I’m all worked up, I know I’m less great at communicating. Here’s what it looks like when I’ve had enough, here’s a secret signal we can use to pause the scene if needed, here are some things I know I’ll regret if we get into, so please don’t do them no matter how much I may beg and plead in the moment… Does that make sense? Okay, thanks, hottie.”
Yes, that takes a little more time and forethought and maybe it’ll be awkward the first time, but this is your job: to communicate your boundaries in a way a reasonable human can understand them. If you know you will be less likely to be able to express them well in the heat of the moment, while gagged and bound and being singletailed (and who could blame you?), it is your job to express them upfront. Period.
Not every boundary ever, mind you. Your casual date probably doesn’t need to know about your hard limits around bestiality and scat play. But saying you have “no limits,” is unhelpful to your top and, frankly, untrue. I am a 24/7 owned slave who has agreed to do anything my Master requests, but even I have limits. My job of protecting my own body and spirit and mind comes first. It’s just part of taking care of Master’s property.
Everyone who plays with submission has this responsibility, regardless if it’s for an hour or a weekend. Dominants who don’t read your mind or pick up on your subtle, mixed, euphoric messages in the heat of the moment are not abusers, they are human. They should not be shunned from play spaces, they should be sympathized with.
It is your job to express your limits. It is the dominant’s job to respect those limits.
Both sides of the slash sometimes fuck up in this. Dear submissives of the world, my community, my people: do your job. We will all have more safe, sexy times for it.
We play with dangerous stuff sometimes. We dance ballet around psychological landmines and put our bodies into compromising positions every day. For fun! Because we are awesome, strong, confident, capable, adventurous individuals. Let’s do it with eyes open, and abandon the “sub space” excuse for (what is, frankly) bad behavior once and for all.
I mean, I’m all for Risk Aware Consensual Kink, and if you decide you do want to go blindly into a scene without safewords or negotiation and let yourself go swimming in the deep end of your sub space without a capable lifeguard on duty inside your own brain, that is your body and your choice. But please, for the sake of your dominant, make sure they are on board with the risk you both are taking. After all, if your [unexpressed] boundaries do get crossed, they share the psychological burden of the effects, through no fault of their own.
After all, we’re not actually victims (though many of us are survivors). We have agency here. That’s what makes kink kinky and not abuse. We are a team with our dominants to create exciting, ecstatic experiences, and it’s about time we took a little more responsibility for our role in maintaining our own wellness, both in-scene and after.
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Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode #188, Valentine and Ember.