I have been in three dojos. Two that I have trained in and one that I was merely an observer. The one that I observed, the bowing seemed to have gotten over used to the point that it did seem subservient to the Sensei that was running the class. After every technique the entire class got on their knees to bow to each other and to the sensei, who, not only didn't get on his knees, but sometimes didn't bow back.
I have no problem bowing. I do it all the time in class, but what I saw in that dojo certainly would have turned me off of Aikido if it was the first time I observed it.