Passiveness is the absence of own activity. In humans, it usually refers to body movement and/or speech. The opposite is activeness.
A person can be passive through his/her own choice, through inability (e.g. at sleep, health problems or under alcohol/drug/medical influence), or can be forced to passiveness (verbally or physically).
Welcome and unwelcome passiveness
Depending on the case, passiveness can be welcome or unwelcome.
Examples of unwelcome passiveness:
- At any kind of work
- Wherever initiative and activeness is wanted
Examples of welcome passiveness:
- In meditation and prayer
- In situations that ask for quiet (e.g. at school, church, meals, during a speech or presentation, when watching a movie, when one is spoken to, etc.)
- Speaking only when one is prompted/permitted to do so
- Holding still while someone is doing something to you (e.g. changing clothes, washing, doing the hair, inspecting for cleanliness, or giving a punishment
The erotic aspect of passiveness
Passiveness by itself (e.g. sitting in an armchair watching TV) has no mentionable erotic aspect, unless it is combined with specific physical or mental erotic stimuli. A noteable erotic effect is found in two cases of passiveness which are closely related to the erotic aspects of helplessness:
- being temporarily forced to passiveness (e.g. by a person in authority), i.e. not having the option of action or reaction, and being aware of this fact
- being voluntarily passive while someone is doing something (pleasant and/or unpleasant) to your body
- "Hold still"
- "Stand still"
- "Sit still"
- "Lie still"
- "Don't move"
- "Don't touch ..."
- "No fidgeting"
- "Be quiet"
- "Don't speak"
- "No talking"
- "No noise"
Since active action often involves the hands, when a person is told to be passive, that person is also often instructed to put his/her hands up (where they are far away from potential action and can be seen). See also hands on head.
In BDSM play, there is traditionally a strong separation into an active and a passive role: the top is active in the play and does something to the bottom, who is passive and suffers/enjoys what is being done to him/her. Any activities that are wanted from the bottom are usually done on command. Apart from these, the bottom is expected to remain passive so that the top is not obstructed from doing whatever he/she chooses to do. The bottom's passiveness is also important for safety: the top is to have full control and responsibility over the play so that the risk of injury etc. is minimized.
The bottom's passiveness can be based on cooperation, or can be enforced by physical means such as bondage and/or gagging, or a spanking position that facilitates the spankee's helplessness, making it easy for the spanker to control the spankee, and difficult for the spankee to move out of position.
The passive voice in grammar
In grammar, the passive voice of a verb is used when something is being done to the subject. For example:
- "He ties her wrists to the bedpost." (active voice)
- "Her wrists are tied by him to the bedpost." (passive voice)
- "She pulls him over her knee and spanks his bottom." (active voice)
- "He is pulled over her knee and his bottom is spanked." (passive voice)
In English, the passive voice of a verb is generally built by "to be" + past participle, but it should be noted that the passive is grammatically different from the past tense - it actually exists in any tense:
- "I was spanked."
- "I have been spanked."
- "I had been spanked."
- "I am spanked."
- "I will be spanked."
- "I will have been spanked."
Some native speakers of Asian languages (which often have no such thing as a passive voice) find it difficult to use the passive voice in foreign languages such as English.
When doing a Web search for certain keywords, it is a good idea to try both active voice forms such as "spank"/"spanks", the gerund/present participle "spanking", which in this case is identical to the noun, and passive voice forms such as "spanked".