Masculine Submission

No greater love has a man than to live his life for the one he loves

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Smile when you say that – are you challenging me to a submissive-off?

I have to take issue with a bit of pseudo-science. The “study” showed about a thousand people a set of pictures showing men who were “happy” (with a big smile); men who were “proud” (heads up, chests expanded); and men who were “shamed” (heads down, eyes averted). With these asinine definitions, they found out this:

The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed.

So I already have a problem. The “heads down, eyes averted” thing isn’t acting shameful – at least from my perspective – it’s being submissive. This is going to be important later, but for now, I’ll just point out that this group of “scientists” has, from the beginning, pathologized submissiveness in men. A man, apparently, can’t lower his gaze out of respect for a woman. No, he must be ashamed of something he has done.

For example, past research has associated smiling with a lack of dominance, which is consistent with traditional gender norms of the “submissive and vulnerable” woman, but inconsistent with “strong, silent” man, the researchers said. “Previous research has also suggested that happiness is a particularly feminine-appearing expression,” Beall added

I would really like to see some evidence that smiling is seen as de facto submission. I’m a guy who actively seeks a submissive role with my partner…and I have never once smiled at Her as a way of demonstrating that I accept Her authority over me. Oh, I smile a lot when I’m being submissive, but that’s because it makes me happy. She happens to smile when She is being Dominant for the same reason – it makes her happy. So if these guys are right; then She is actually challenging me to a submissive-off when She is trying to convey pleasure.

Right here we see to major examples of the problem with “evolutionary psychology.” One group starts with the idea that submissiveness is shameful and another one starts with the idea that it is feminine. This is simply personal bias passed off as science – and it’s bullshit. Even evolutionary scientists dispute the “principles of evolutionary psychology.

It isn’t just that the source material is slanted, but the reporting on it is, too. The Yahoo news article on the “study” was titled, “Dating clichés that are actually true,” and the teaser on the front page said, “Women are scientifically drawn to bad boys because they display surprising traits.” But the article doesn’t say anything about “bad boys.” All it says is that women preferred men who were “proud” or “shameful.” Men who behave badly are not either proud or shameful, but simply not behaving like adults.

This kind of personal bias in reporting and science leads to the already rampant bias already seen culturally concerning men who don’t want to act like overly-muscled lumps of testosterone. This type of sex/gender role bullying actively hurts both men and women. If it is somehow wrong for a man to do something that pleases a woman, just because it pleases him to please her; then there is no basis for actual relationships.

I guess that’s what disturbs me the most about this “research.” It is promoting the worst behaviors and giving them the cover of being “natural.” Meanwhile, it’s pushing personal bias as fact. Not only does it make actual human progress more difficult, it also makes it easier to target and oppress those who don’t live up to cultural expectations.

Submission as a cure to hyper-individualism

So how is it that we end up with a culture that looks at the quality of submissiveness as a sign of weakness, if not downright pathology? I think part of it is that one needs someone to be submissive to if they are going to be actively submissive – in other words, you can’t do it alone and therefore you need someone. Our culture teaches that we should not need anyone to make us complete or fulfilled. We are complete and just need to apply ourselves to be truly happy. If you need someone to be happy or to complete your life; then you must be co-dependent…at best. This hyper-individualism is, in my opinion, not only wrong-headed, but dangerous to our mental health and to our sense of community.

The fact is that human beings are biologically herd animals. We actually do need each other. People kept in seclusion for too long go crazy. It isn’t a sign of weakness or sickness for me to say that I need Mistress Delila. It is true that my life would go on if She were tragically taken away…but it would hurt – a lot. I would survive, but it would not be living by a long shot.

If solitude were healthy; then people emerging from solitary confinement in prison would be the models of mental health. In fact, quite the opposite true:

[Solitary confinement] creates its own set of psychological pressures that, in some instances, uniquely disable prisoners for freeworld reintegration. Indeed, there are few if any forms of imprisonment that produce so many indices of psychological trauma and symptoms of psychopathology in those persons subjected to it. My own review of the literature suggested these documented negative psychological consequences of long-term solitary-like confinement include: an impaired sense of identity; hypersensitivity to stimuli; cognitive dysfunction (confusion, memory loss, ruminations); irritability, anger, aggression, and/or rage; other-directed violence, such as stabbings, attacks on staff, property destruction, and collective violence; lethargy, helplessness and hopelessness; chronic depression; self-mutilation and/or suicidal ideation, impulses, and behavior; anxiety and panic attacks; emotional breakdowns; and/or loss of control; hallucinations, psychosis and/or paranoia; overall deterioration of mental and physical health.

That is what physical isolation does…but why should mental isolation be any better? More to the point, why would it be considered more healthy?

This is (obviously) an attempt to reduce the argument for hyper-individualism to its most absurd level. I know there is a distance between trying to be absolutely solitary and having a healthy sense of independence. My point is that there is a limit to which independence is healthy. Because that is true; then it is also true that there is such a thing as a healthy amount of interdependence. A person can acknowledge their need for another person and not be a pathetic piece of work.

I’m not suggesting that D/s is for everyone. I’m merely trying to show that it is healthy to need other people, to acknowledge that need, and to become a functioning partner in a relationship that validates and affirms us as individuals. For me, submitting to Mistress does this. Submitting is not a sign of weakness, but, for me, a sign of health and awareness.

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