This post was originally published on Eroticaforall, in the course of my release tour.
Giving a Sub Agency
In the real world, the sociological term of human agency defines the ability of humans to make choices and to enact these choices upon the world. In this way, a person with agency can change or influence the conditions of their institution or society. We all know some of the great examples where a single person has changed a lot about the world in which they live – from Alexander the Great to Henry VIII all the way to Rosa Parks. But it doesn’t have to be something quite as large. Human agency can be found in choosing where to live, what to do with your life and who to spend time with etc. In societies, secularist democratic models afford humans agency where strict religious or totalitarian models reduce human agency, i.e. limit their choices and the ability to affect the world in which they live.
In fiction, a character’s agency is their ability to influence the plot. Characters who only react, do as they are told and never come up with ideas, just follow the lead have very little agency, whereas those who make choices, come up with plans and who shape the plot through these choices and ideas have a high degree of agency. Usually we find the highest degree of agency in the protagonist(s).
Now, this is where the obvious problem arises when we’re writing or reading about submissives. Their very nature, the very thing they crave is to be led, to not make decisions – and so they are often left with hardly any agency and are perceived as weak, sometimes even pointless. Even though this desire to submit may be shared by the reader, most of us still find it intellectually difficult to truly enjoy and like a character with no agency.
So how can we give submissive characters agency without taking away the fantasy of being led?
– Making it very clear that she submits because she WANTS to submit, not because he wants her to or because she is expected to.
– Giving her an emotional and intellectual thought process about submission, and the ability to express them to reader and dominant alike. In this way she can shape the experience with him.
– Showing that the dominant’s agency is also absolutely limited by her limits, consent and willingness to submit to him.
And that’s it really. Personally, I like to stray away from scenarios like clubs or auctions in which a sub’s agency is further limited by not being allowed to choose her partner, but even there it can be employed quite easily when we remember what agency is and how it works. Happy bdsm’ing everybody! 😀
Remember my big New Year’s Giveaway, go enter now or it won’t be much of a contest . And if you bought or received a free copy of Driftwood Deeds (or downloaded one somewhere lol), I also have a giveaway for those of you kind enough to leave a review of it.