In Diary of a Submissive, Sophie Morgan candidly explains what exactly an independent, 21st century woman gets out of relinquishing her power and personal freedom in a submissive relationship with a dominant man for their mutual sexual pleasure.
In the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey, here is a memoir that offers the real story of what is means to be a submissive and follows Sophie’s story as she progresses from her early erotic experiences through to experimenting with her newfound awakened sexuality. From the endorphin rush of her first spanking right through to being collared, she explains in frank and explicit fashion her sexual explorations.
But it isn’t until she meets James, a real life ‘Christian Grey’, that her boundaries and sexual fetishism are really pushed. As her relationship with James travels into darker and darker places, the question becomes: Where will it end? Can Sophie reconcile her sexuality with the rest of her life, and is it possible for the perfect man to be perfectly cruel?
Daring, controversial, and sensual, Diary of a Submissive is filled with a captivating warmth and astounding honesty such that no one – man or woman – will be able to put Sophie’s story down.
I decided to read this book because after finishing Fifty Shades of Grey I got curious about the topic of BDSM in literature and ended up reading quite a collection of similarly themed stories. I thoroughly enjoyed Cherise Sinclair’s works and wanted to get a deeper understanding of why a person, a woman in this case, would willingly choose to become a submissive. I had somewhat grasped by now the concept of relinquishing all control and handing it over to another person for the purpose of focusing solely on pleasure, but I was interested in other reasons behind this need. This book appeared to be perfect in that regard and I hoped that it would answer some of my questions. But you know what they say, be careful what you wish for. Reading this book has proven to be quite a task for me. 20 pages into it and I found myself reading it frozen in place, barely moving to flip the pages, tense and totally uncomfortable with what was being described. I decided then and there that reviewing this book was not going to be an easy task, but more importantly, I felt the need to stop reading it regularly and somehow purge the uneasiness that was taking over my entire body. So I decided to make it sort of a reading journal – I needed to put my thoughts down as they were happening rather than wait until the end.
27% read: I am intrigued by the sincerity of this book. I am surprised to find out that the main character, Sophie, did not choose submission as a coping mechanism for some horrible trauma in her past or an unfortunate childhood as I had expected. She came from a perfectly normal family, loving parents and a very average upbringing. I cannot understand her need to feel pain in order to feel pleasure; I cannot understand her willingness to bite back tears in order to achieve sexual gratification. I am going to continue reading this but I am starting to feel really uneasy about what this book is about.
34% read: I am questioning my sanity at the moment – it’s like watching a car crash and not being able to look away. We have met Thomas now, Sophie’s second D/s partner and I do not like the guy. At all. He is described as a natural Dominant but I suspect that all he really is is a natural a-hole. He goes against everything that I have read so far about Dominants and what they seem to enjoy. Thomas is a genuine sadist so I was inclined to dislike him from the get-go but my biggest objection about him is his lack of empathy towards Sophie. All he seems to want to do is break her even further, push her over her limits over and over again. He humiliates her, degrades her, debases her, hurts her both physically as well as psychologically and she just takes it. I am now even further from understanding Sophie and why her mind works the way it works.
47% read: I have a constant knot in my stomach and it is making me cranky. The “relationship” between Sophie and Tom is becoming more and more troubling to me. He is putting her through things that I can only summarise as torture. He shows no emotions towards her, not even those of a friend. Their interactions are lacking care to such a degree that I sometimes wonder whether Sophie is lacking a self-preservation switch in her head. She is constantly commenting that she is a strong independent woman who chooses to live this lifestyle, justifying her submissive side as only “one facet of her personality”. At the very beginning she even says:
“I consider myself a feminist. I’m certainly independent. Capable. In control. To some that might seem incongruous with the choices I make sexually, the things that get me off. For a while it seemed jarring to me. In fact, sometimes it still does, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are more important things to worry about. I’m a grown woman of usually sound mind. If I want to relinquish my personal control to someone I trust so that they can lead us somewhere which proves thrilling and hot for both of us, then as long as I’m not doing it somewhere where I’m frightening small children or animals I think that’s my right. I take responsibility for my actions and choices.”
Now, while I more than agree with a person being master of their own body (perhaps not the most appropriate expression in this case…) and anything occurring between two consenting adults being their own business, I struggle to reconcile Sophie’s initial statement about herself with what she is allowing Thomas to put her through.
“I obey in spite of every fibre of my being saying I don’t need to do this, for the small voice which whispers that I do.”
I don’t understand this ‘urge’ that Sophie feels to be dominated, humiliated and made to feel insignificant in order to “get off”. She is constantly saying that this is what she needs and wants but then she cries through it and feels terrible. I can’t understand how she seems to be able to ‘divorce’ what she feels while she is in Thomas’ hands from her everyday life. One moment she is crying from the physical pain and mental humiliation, and the next she is going on with her life like nothing happened, each time drawn to this world of masochistic submission like a moth to a flame. I am at a point in this book where all I want to do is take a cane in my hand and kick Thomas’ sadistic butt with it six ways from Sunday. I hate that he calls Sophie the s-word. I hate that he knows how much she hates it and he still does it. I am starting to question Sophie’s sanity at this point. But even more, I am starting to question my own sanity for continuing to read this book.
83% read: We are introduced to Charlotte, Thomas’ new love interest and sub? Not really sure what the dynamic of their relationship really is but I dislike her straight away. The whole leg-humping scene made me want to jump out of my own skin. I am getting progressively more confused about Sophie’s choices and I am starting to believe that she is a walking talking contradiction. She says, “In my mind my submission is a gift, something to be earned …”, and then she gives it to Charlotte, someone she has just met. That whole scene made me want to smash my Kindle! I was happy and somewhat relieved when Sophie finally moved away from Thomas and Charlotte and started entertaining the idea of actually meeting someone with whom she could start a relationship that would involve feelings.
“I knew I was fussy, but frankly I wasn’t planning on settling for anyone who didn’t tick a few of my boxes, not least being loving, thoughtful, clever, funny, holding down a job he cared about (…), liking children and animals, and not minding the smell of Marmite-y breath. Oh and had to have a penchant for hurting, controlling and humiliating me in as many imaginative, degrading ways as he could come up with, while not being an actual honest-to-goodness psychopath.”
So she meets James, a stockbroker. They are initially both unsure about each other’s D/s tendencies but, to Sophie’s delight, James proves to be a partner in crime. At this point what they do is similar to what she had with Thomas but at least James wines and dines her as well and he is showing some actual emotions around her. He is a true Dom in the bedroom unafraid of inflicting pain but at least he does not seem to be enjoying it as much as Thomas did and he offers her comfort after a particularly painful scene when she sobs uncontrollably. He does not “punish” her for the sake of hurting her, their dynamic appears to be slightly more similar to what I have read in the past, where a Dom’s main concern is satisfying his/her sub by providing something that they clearly or secretly need. James tries to understand Sophie before their D/s relationship even starts:
“You like being pushed to do things you find difficult because you enjoy overcoming them. It’s the challenge of it, the game for you.”
100% read: Needless to say, this is not an easy book to review. If you were looking for a romanticised insight into the mind of a submissive, like I was when I naïvely picked up this book, this is not the right book for you. This is really an honest and raw account of what it means to be a true submissive. Nothing is sugar-coated and there are no filters on what is being said or described. Sophie (the author) is genuinely stripping her soul bare to the reader in order to make us understand how her body and mind work. I can’t say that I liked this book, mainly because I need ‘pretty’ in my reads and this book bears no such thing, but I respect the premise of it and the honesty with which it was delivered. Having said that, it was difficult for me to feel much for Sophie (the character) as I just could not connect with her. Even after 300 pages of reading her thoughts, she is still as alien to me as any random person on the street. I am now intimately acquainted with what Sophie likes, does, needs, but I am still at a loss to understand the WHY of it all. I really struggled throughout this book with Sophie’s correlation between pleasure and pain. It made me uncomfortable and it made me sad for her. It made me sad that she not only enjoyed pain but she also believed that those who hurt her were in reality being kind to her that way – “Hurting someone who wants to be hurt is not only not a bad thing, it’s practically a cathartic kindness.” I just felt like saying, “Oh, Sophie…” I guess she did get her happy ending but it is truly HER version of a happy ending. We might not agree on it but ultimately we don’t need to.