On Twitter Ferns asked:
Why is the idea of a submissive wanting to do something he doesn’t enjoy *for his dominant* such a hard concept to grasp? Baffling!
I interpreted this as being directed at submissives – why can’t malesubs understand that sometimes their Dominant is going to want them to do something they don’t enjoy. So my reply was: “One reason: Dominant Women saying they don’t like ‘doormats.'” She replied:
Actually, I see more *dominant women* than men who don’t understand this, I assume it reflects their experiences.
It seems to me that Ferns, like me, sees no problem in a malesub doing something for his Dominant that he doesn’t enjoy. For me, it seems pretty much self-explanatory, but I’ll give it a shot because…well, maybe it isn’t.
I’ll try a Venn Diagram (of sorts):
Everything is section A are things I enjoy – which implies that I both want them and give consent (it isn’t always that simple, but this is a simplification of reality). Section B defines things I do not enjoy and, in the absence of other designations, I do not consent to things in this box. Section 1 is an area of things I don’t enjoy, but want – like having the riding crop falling on my shoulders during cunnilingus (I’ll call this the Masochist’s Paradox – you want things that you don’t enjoy because they hurt). Section 2 defines things that I do not enjoy and don’t want; however, She has my consent to do these things. To me, Section 2 behaviors are where my submission is really tested because I do not derive any primary reward for that behavior – the only reward I have is pleasing Her (that, to me, is a BIG reward, though).
It is the existence of Section 2 that Ferns’ question addresses. There are a couple of ways to address that question, though
From one perspective, why is it that malesubs won’t let FemDoms operate in Section 2?
One answer is that the person in question isn’t operating as a submissive, but rather as a bottom. As a bottom, there is a much lower expectation on their part about moving into behavioral areas in which they are not comfortable. My experience is that there are a lot of bottoms who think of themselves as submissive because the difference isn’t really clear to them. The thinking may be something like, “I like to be pegged – and that is submissive – so I am submissive.” In reality, pegging can be submissive, but it isn’t always (and pegging can be replaced with practically any activity).
I think it’s easy to see why, if a Dominant Woman experienced several guys like this – saying they are submissive and then not willing to get into Section 2 – they would start to think, “Section 2 just doesn’t exist, so I’m not going to ask about it.”
I want to stress, however, that I’m not calling anyone out as being “not truly submissive.” Because, while this is one reason why a guy might not get into Section 2, it isn’t the only one. A guy can be as submissive as can be and not be willing to go into Section 2 simply because there isn’t a sufficient level of trust built between the players. If someone is going to do something he doesn’t like to a guy; then he has to trust that they are not going to stretch beyond Section 2 and get stuck in Section B.
Of course, it just may be bad timing, too. The boundaries for Section 1 and Section 2 are not hard and fast – the same action may be wanted or not depending on all sorts of things. A bad day or a passing mood can turn things on a dime. This is where the onus of communication lies with the guy – he needs to tell the Woman whatever is going on to make that behavioral area shrink temporarily.
Sometimes the problem is just cultural conditioning. In “traditional” gender roles, women are raised to take care of men. For women, this can come to mean that they do not push their men into doing anything that is too uncomfortable – or anything they simply don’t want to do. Men, conversely, are taught that women will take care of them and therefore they do not need to go into Section 2. In fact, Section 2 does not exist…at least for men. There is a reason why movies like Spanglish make money – it shows a regular guy who isn’t happy with his corporate wife, but is drawn irresistibly towards the maid that takes care of him (even though they have nothing in common). This is the personification of the traditional memes exercised against the modern woman trying to have it all (and failing).
You would think that this problem disappears with FemDom, what with the idea that woman have power and men don’t, but it doesn’t. BDSM doesn’t exist separate from culture, but rather as a microcosm of it. The same problems seen in the larger culture will be displayed in BDSM sub-cultures, as well. So some – not all – guys go into it believing that women are really fulfilled when they give a man exactly what he wants. To this view, the negotiation of limits turns into a laundry list of how the woman (who tends to become a faceless entity) can become fulfilled by giving him what he wants – what is known as the Do-Me-Sub™.
The problem is exacerbated when Dominant Women say things like, “I like men who fight back. I don’t like doormats.” Obviously, they have every right to want whatever kind of person they enjoy and to say so (I do take umbrage to calling someone who submits with a glad heart “a doormat,” but that’s another issue). The issue, for the problem at hand, is that it provides cover for Mr. Do-Me to look at any attempt to discuss things as being an attempt to ignore his limits.
Of course, there are also women who just don’t want to have men, submissive or not, do things against their will. Perhaps it is for cultural reasons and perhaps it’s just how they are wired. I don’t have census data on this, so I can’t say how many there are or which group they fall into. So long as they, and the men they are involved are satisfied; then everything is good.
But just because some people don’t want to get into Section 2 doesn’t mean that those who do are involved in abusive situations. It just means they have different expectations for their relationship. That, I suppose, is the take-away: It’s good to be aware of the possibilities of abuse in BDSM; but let’s not get crazy to where we view anything other than what we do as abusive. While there are some wrong ways to do things (ways in which people get actually harmed or damaged), there is no single right way. So find what works for you and yours, and go with it.