When I describe myself as “submissive” I mean something rather specific: I mean that I really enjoy being conquered by a strong, masculine, dominant man, and being forced to surrender to him. But I don't just submit to a man if he is not able and willing to actually conquer me. I don't even quite know what that would mean.
I find it hard to relate at all to the idea of submission without conquest. If the man is just going to sit there like a lump of jello and not actively dominate me, then why in the world would I submit to him? I might as well “submit” to the sofa.
That doesn't mean that I would always put up active physical resistance to the man's authority; it just means that he has to be willing to use his strength on a regular basis to physically reinforce and emphasize his dominance over me. I do enjoy play fighting, and if I didn't get “conquered” at least a few times a week, then I'd start to wonder just who this guy thinks he is, trying to boss me around. Without some forceful physical conquest, I would just resent him giving me any orders.
The forceful conquest is what moves me into surrender and bliss. There's that sweet moment when my challenge and my resistance suddenly crumbles under the erotic thrill of fear and being overpowered; where I suddenly become incredibly weak and melt in a puddle of submissive desire. I guess maybe that's what swooning is. If so, it's a wonderful thing. :)
But I couldn't begin to figure out how to melt into a puddle on my own. Nor would it be any fun, of course. That wouldn't be the same thing at all. The man has to learn how to make me do that.
So “submissive” to me has more to do with how submissive I feel, and not so much to do with how readily I obey a man's commands. That latter criterion is what I might call “obedient” and I suppose I'm not really very obedient at all; unless the man brings that out as well.
So I guess maybe the order that things go in for me is: Tension/challenge/resistance —> his physical force —> his conquest —> my surrender —> my submission —> my obedience. (But, of course, sex also fits in there somewhere too; at least sometimes.)
Notice that in this Taken In Hand model of submission, the man is the one doing most of the work. Attaining conquest over a spirited woman is not an effortless thing. Whereas in another common view (I'll call it the “Lazy Boy” version of submission), all the man has to do is just say what he wants and then the woman does all the work of “serving” him and catering to his whims; and that's considered “submission”. Umm, no thanks.