The world of kink has many, many tropes, many cliches and many presumed “musts”, and kneeling is 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 one true way.
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. But tradition can be problematic 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 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. Likewise, Doms that require it are not better or worse than those who don’t. It’s simply a matter of preference and opinion. Avoid “Doms” who believe that kneeling is the primary, if not only, way to show value and obedience as a sub.
Not everyone can easily or comfortably kneel. For some folks it’s completely off limits and not a practical or possible thing to do. There are a million and one other ways to express submission and dedication if kneeling isn’t an option. Any Dom that expects their sub to do something they aren’t physically able or comfortable to do is highly suspect, ableist, and dangerous.
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 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 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. Your concerns should be heard and accommodations should be explored.