A couple weeks ago on Twitter, Serenity of At a Kinky House posted about my novel Cait and the Devil. She said it affected her because her own relationship was built so much on safety, just as Duncan is charged with looking after Cait. That got me thinking about the connection between submission and feelings of safety.
There is also safety to be found in obedience. Obedience is so simple. You can't do the wrong thing, or the inappropriate thing, as long as you do as you are instructed. There's no apologizing later or feeling like you screwed up. As long as you obey, you're a "good girl" or a "good boy" and to a submissive, that's a very heady feeling. It certainly feels safe.
For me, it goes a step further, not just being safe, but being saved. I've always fetishized peril and rescue. My favorite romance novels were the ones where the hero saved the damsel in distress. I was so confused when I learned that some romance readers are turned off by this trope, that it speaks of female weakness and helplessness to them. I guess I never saw it that way--I saw it more as male strength than female weakness. In most cases the damsels in distress were otherwise strong women who couldn't catch a break.
Cait and the Devil, Duncan rescues and avenges her, with the help of Cait's priestess mother. In Cirque du Minuit, Theo rescues Kelsey at the same time he puts her in danger. In Deep in the Woods, Sophie's rescue comes via Cerberus, the dog, although our hero Dave is an integral part of it too. And of course, Kyle rescues Nell in Comfort Object at a very high personal price.
I think feelings of safety will always go hand in hand with submission for me. I'm sure people submit for a plethora of reasons, but at the core of my submission is appreciation for a caring and protective dominant. If he didn't make me feel so safe, I wouldn't feel comfortable giving him so much.
It's power exchange, totally. Submission in exchange for safety. To me, it's a great trade.