The world of kink has many, many tropes, many cliches and many presumed “musts” and kneeling is definitely one of them. For many, kneeling in submission, or expecting a sub to kneel, is simply D/s 101. But there are lots of reasons to consider the question: to kneel or not to kneel because like all things kink: there’s no true way.

Kneeling: A profound act of devotion, the beginning of submission, the surest way to get my attention.

The No True Way prompt #7 reads:  Kneeling: A profound act of devotion, the beginning of submission, the surest way to get my attention. There is no “author” given for this quote, but presumably it is the sentiment of a Dominant, and one with some fairly traditional tastes. There’s nothing wrong with ‘traditional’ or ‘old guard’ D/s values and for many folks, the rigidity of tradition stokes their fires and is a big part of the appeal. Where that can get problematic is if it’s done without thought, context or consideration of the people involved. Every dynamic is unique and so long as things are consensual and everyone is a risk-aware adult, who kneels and how and why, are not issues. But when there’s an unthinking expectation that all subs should kneel and that if they don’t they’re less worthy, that’s a problem.

To each their own
Lots of subs love kneeling. For many it feels right, and good, and can be really relaxing or help them get into subspace or another frame of mind that works within their dynamic. The phrase “Kneel and Feel” gets bandied about a lot, suggesting that to kneel is to enter into a more submissive mindset, and for some, that is totally accurate and a positive thing. There’s nothing wrong with loving to kneel, or enjoying being expected to kneel, but like all things kink, you should do it because it feels good and works for both of you, not because a website told you to, a Dom bullied you into it or a someone told you that you were less legitimate if you don’t. Ask yourself how you really feel about it. Does it serve you or your dynamic? Is it valuable and worth doing? If you’re a Dominant and you expect it of a sub, are your expectations realistic or do you do it because you think you should?

What does kneeling say about a submissive?
In short: nothing. Subs who eagerly kneel are not more devoted than subs who don’t and Doms that require it are not better or worse than those who don’t. It’s simply a matter of preference and opinion. I have read commentary by subs that expressed a clear sense of superiority because of how often and for how long they will be on their knees for their Dom and Doms who believe that kneeling is a primary, if not only, way to show value and obedience as a sub. A bit black and white, right? But it’s surprisingly common.

Valuing submission based on kneeling is ableist as fuck
Not everyone can easily or comfortably kneel. For some folks it’s completely off limits and not a practical or possible thing to do. If a Dominant measures a submissive’s value based on kneeling, that is a rather narrow and questionable adjudication of submission. I’d go so far as to call it a massive red flag, but I do have rather strong opinions on such things. There are a million and one other ways to express submission and dedication if kneeling isn’t an option and any Dom that expects their sub to do something they aren’t physically able or comfortable to do is highly suspect and ableist.

You don’t have to kneel to be submissive
As a commonly held trope, kneeling has become ubiquitous with submission, so in case no one has ever told you this: you don’t have to kneel to be submissive. Not only are there other ways to express devotion, it’s just not something you need to feel pressured to do just because it is part of the aesthetic and notion of submission. Any reason not to is a valid reason – remember, kink is consensual, and not just the sexy bits.

Reasons you may not be into kneeling:

  • it hurts or is uncomfortable
  • you have a pre-existing injury or condition
  • it’s too easily conflated with religion for you to be comfortable with it
  • it’s not aligned with the needs or values of the dynamic
  • it feels old fashioned
  • it feels performative
  • you have had bad experiences with kneeling in the past
  • literally an other reason

In conclusion …
No matter your stance on kneeling as a submissive or having one kneel for you, let’s remember that kink takes two to tango and that we should all, always, have room and safety to talk about what doesn’t work for us. Kneeling doesn’t need to be a pre-requisite for submission and like anything else, should be fully negotiable and concerns should be heard and accommodations should be considered.


Hungry for more ‘Kink’ posts? There are many to explore here …

Or stop over at No True Way to read more perspectives on kneeling and other D/s topics

No True Way



Violet Fawkes

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.