I saw a photo the other day at Tumblr: a lovely girl, obviously naked, bending from the waist in front of a shadowy male figure. The caption read, "Good Girls bend the knee, Bad Girls bend at the waist". Clever line, though I'll admit that it took me a moment to catch the prie-dieu reference, that "Good Girls bend the knee" was about kneeling to pray. That may reflect on my own experiences with lovely girls who kneel (yes, some of them in schoolgirl uniform) or simply be about how long it's been since I've been in a church. And males all through the Western world (and Japan) are programmed to think of lovely young girls in plaid-kilted uniforms kneeling for purposes that don't involve prayer--- that's just a given.
A friend--- a social-media maven and a fairly well-known sex blogger in her own right ---sent me an e-mail to say that "Kneeling should not be ignored as an essential component of sex. No position is more submissive, none more idolatrous." I can't disagree with her, though I think some distinctions have to be drawn. She grew up in a Peruvian patrician family, and her own teen experiences did involve both kilted uniforms and Catholic churches. And s/m has clear links to Catholic culture--- thus the author of "Story of O" consciously drew on "Letters of a Portuguese Nun" and on the idea of submission to a higher power, of yielding up the self. (So...is there an equivalent Zen colouring to s/m in Japan, or am I expecting too much of the idea?) Yet distinctions have to be drawn.
The lovely young girl kneeling to a lover is deliciously submissive, and I've certainly had girls (yes, sometimes in uniform) kneel in front of me. But I've never thought of it as a girl submitting to me. A young companion can kneel and still toss her hair or raise an eyebrow in a way that lets you know that she's submitting to the game, to the experiences that come with the game, and not giving up anything essential. And even in Catholic imagery, submission can be as purely instrumental as it is for sex games. Submitting to the older lover, submitting to God--- they're both instrumental: pleasure and salvation are both supposed to be waiting on the other side of surrender. I've had various girls over the years tell me--- sometimes with a shrug, sometimes breathlessly ---that they were "very submissive". I've always known that was about a role, not about me. Submissiveness was a tool to acquire experiences and, down the line, pleasure for themselves. Which is only fair, after all. I wouldn't think of not going through with my part of the exchange. Kneeling to a lover is never about giving up anything essential. But it is a powerful role and symbol--- a Good Girl proving to herself that she can be Bad.
The second half of the line--- "Bad Girls bend at the waist" ---is always a wonderful thought. A lovely girl bending at the waist and grabbing her ankles in one supple motion while she waits to be taken is something that I do love, an image that makes me catch my breath. So many things are encoded in that: transgression, submission, physical grace, a hint of risk. It's a pose I always hope young companions will strike for me.
The photo at the Tumblr site was lovely--- or at least the girl in it was attractive ---but it did lack the grace and power that a girl bending to grab her ankles should have. Still--- a caption that I did like, and one that brings back memories and offers up a Grail for the future.