Conquer Me: Girl to Girl Wisdom about Fulfilling Your Submissive Desires by Kacie Cunningham was quite a satisfying read for me. I learned a few things, but mostly had things I already knew reaffirmed and validated.
Cunningham begins her book, naturally and predictably, by dealing with terminology and labels, so this book is perfectly suited to someone new to D/s and/or BDSM. Each chapter that follows focuses on a particular aspect of D/s in which Cunningham shares her revelations, experiences, and perceptions of the role of submissives and dominants, emphasizing how our roles are not only learned but are really a natural part of our make-up…characteristics that we cannot deny and still live truthfully to ourselves. Submission, she points out, is a part of a person’s nature…or it isn’t. And if it is, and a person chooses to shape, mold, and perfect it, then it’s going to take work and commitment – by both the submissive AND the dominant, as they are equal parties in the relationship and hold the same responsibility to make it successful. Even though it may appear that it’s all about the dominant, according to Cunningham, “…it is really all about the journey together, with the Master at the helm guiding and leading….” and the needs of one should not be met at the expense of the other’s. “[W]hile I am his girl, and not equal to him in terms of authority, I am just as much his partner in our relationship, with equal responsibility to it.” I agree with her when she says, “It is also crucial to remember that it is in no way un-submissive to have expectations of your master….” and that submissives should be direct and honest about her needs and wants and be open to those of her dominant.
I appreciate her focus on choice. Just because people accept their submission does not make them weak. They choose to give control to a dominant. They have the power to negotiate, and they most certainly have the right to expect that they have their needs met, just as a dominant has the same choice to accept control, negotiate, and have their needs met, as well. A successful D/s relationship should benefit both parties and help each to grow. The dominant’s highest goal should be to “exalt her in her submission, and use it to raise her up.” This means that a submissive must have the self-worth to accept that she is worthy of such exaltation. Cunningham spends quite a bit of time considering how submissives have a responsibility to care for their own needs and should not use submission as a self-punishment or as an excuse to let someone else think and act for them. I like her personal examinations of her own insecurities and how her Master would remind her that, since he deserved the very best, and since he chose her, she must be worthy of his attentions…”I know that the better I am, the more I have to offer Master. The more I grow, the bigger I become intellectually, emotionally…the more I have to offer him. I do what I do as much for myself, of course, but it has the benefit of appealing to my nature by pleasing Master also.” This focus self-improvement and self-fulfillment appeals to me, because I think it is important that we not lose ourselves in submission, but rather find ourselves. Sometimes a dominant needs to encourage his submissive to these ends…maybe even demand them…because he knows that it is what is best for both himself and his girl. But as much as a submissive needs challenges to grow, so too does a dominant. Dominants are not perfect – and communication, another of Cunningham’s major foci, is paramount to the success of a D/s relationship. Submissives need to, respectfully, and within the terms of the relationship, voice their concerns and need to be heard by their dominants. “He needs to know what is happening inside of me so that he can most effectively dominate me…and I need to open myself up and be vulnerable to him so that I can experience the depths of my submission.” Dominants also need to be able to question and seek information in order to improve the fulfillment of their role. Cunningham posits, “The paradox is that the needs of the master are not, in fact superior to the needs of the submissive. Rather they share equal importance.”
I also appreciate her focus on trust. “In order for a girl to release her submission into the hands of a dominant, she must know that he is strong enough to hold it, to keep it safe, to lift it up, and not to falter under the enormous weight and magnitude of it. Additionally, she must know that there is room for her to grown with the relationship. That knowledge must be proven, not just once, but consistently….this need for proof is not evidence of a submissive’s lack of trust; it is a simple human need.” A submissive must trust that her dominant has her best interests in mind and that he will challenge her and push her limits, but that he will also listen to her and consider her fears and concerns when they arise. According to Cunningham, “The moments when [Master] asks for those things which push me to my limits are the moments when I feel closest to my submission, because I can remind myself that I chose this. Also, the fact that he is willing, even eager, to ask those things of me, to demand those things of me, reinforces my feelings of being dominated. It’s a visceral reminder to me that I have given up that power, and it’s incredibly thrilling. Likewise, you have the power to choose. This power is sacred, in the sense that no one can take it away from you without your permission.” Limits, rules, and rituals need to be negotiated and re-negotiated as both parties change and grow. A contract may be drawn up…but that contract will need to be reviewed occasionally. In chapter 6, Cunningham lists “the essential elements without which my power exchange relationship would not work….”: ritual, structure (rules and discipline), consistency, strength and humanity, love, stability, growth, active dominance and active submission (which she defines in great detail – to the point where it really becomes another of the books major foci), acceptance, and trust.
Finally, I appreciate her focus on emotional confusion over her own “conquer me” feelings (she defines what this term means in great detail)…how, as a submissive grows and changes, she may question herself and may not fully understand her needs and feelings. When a submissive encourages her dominant to “conquer her”…it isn’t necessarily a challenge or a criticism of his dominance…but the submissive may not know how to request what she needs or why she needs this. This can lead to frustration, guilt, and a breakdown in communication. This may lead to behavior that can be seen by the dominant as disobedience or defiance and “…often results in a punishment cycle, because the dominant sees the disobedience, and moves to enforce his rule….she ends up feeling as though she’s failed and is a “bad girl” who deserves to be punished…” because she feels she cannot live up to his expectations. “Appropriate responses to “conquer me” feelings can really b growth tools as well as reassurances. Cunningham admits, “I often have ‘conquer me’ feelings in response to this sense of feeling ‘blocked,’ because it’s as if something in me is saying to Master, ‘If you demand it of me, I can let go of this and simply obey you as I truly want to….” She considers other emotions that can impact a D/s relationship throughout the book…anger, jealousy, insecurity, fear…
This mammoth of a book also touches on the subjects of “super-subby syndrome”, punishment and discipline, topping from the bottom, sadism/masochism, scene play, abuse, the 24/7 dynamic, fantasy vs. the reality of D/s, keeping up appearances in vanilla company, and saving failing D/s relationships.
She wraps up the book by pointing out that, “It’s easy to say you’re a submissive, but much harder to actually be one, and the journey in between is fraught with obstacles….the keys to overcoming those obstacles [are] to accept the challenges and have the willingness to work through them.”
I would definitely recommend this to submissives and dominants alike, regardless of their level of experience, though I think it would be most helpful to those just starting out on their D/s journey. This book was most assuredly worth the price.
Click HERE to buy the book from Amazon.