Masculine Submission

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

To enjoy, or not to enjoy?

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):

 

Explanation:

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.

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8 thoughts on “To enjoy, or not to enjoy?

  1. Peroxide on said:

    I understand what you’re saying, and how the sections work, but I don’t get your graph.

    Anyway, I think it would be a good thing if more people were willing to differentiate between submissives and bottoms without treating bottoms as if they were less cool than the subs were.

    I think that would work out better for everyone, since presumably what a un-submissive bottom really is looking for if for a partner to top them and that strikes me as being an easier request than domination as it can be tit for tat and seemingly has less of a mental/emotional component.

    I’m going to puzzle over what my section 2 would entail and how willing I would be to engage it.

    • Re: the graph – Area A is “things I enjoy.” Area B is “things I don’t enjoy.” Generally speaking, the things I like I will consent to easily, so everything in that area is consensual. Within the Area B, I carve out additional areas of consent, and differentiate between “things I don’t enjoy, but want anyway” (Section 1) and “things I don’t enjoy and don’t want.” The rest of Area B would be “things I don’t enjoy, don’t want, and don’t consent to.” …I’m not sure I’m saying anything different in this explanation, but I don’t know how to put it differently.

      I agree with you with the subs vs. bottoms stuff. People are what they are, and as long as they know what they are and find someone compatible, it’s a beautiful thing.

  2. “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.”

    I talk about this a fair bit on my blog and on Fetlife. I’m a reaction junkie, and the reaction of “Oh god this is hot I’m so aroused” and “I’m doing this because she likes it, but I’m not turned on by it” are very different. The former I need, the latter just pisses me off. A submissive that does things for me that he doesn’t enjoy, that don’t turn him on, is someone that is (in my mind) just doing me a favor, and I don’t need any favors. That is someone I’d describe as a “doormat.”

    When I say I want a sub with a backbone, I mean I want someone that will say, “Look, I really don’t like Thai food. I’ll go there with you, but do they at least have something not-Thai to eat?” I’m not being told no, but I’m being told that he’s not going to be happy with what is about to happen if I choose to exert my control at that time. I can then make an informed decision on whether or not we’ll eat Thai. This applies to any and all activities we engage in. Don’t tell me no, but if your first thought was “I don’t want to,” I do want to know why. It’s a matter of making informed decisions for the BOTH of us.

    As a dominant, I really don’t understand the “I’m going to do this thing I don’t like and enjoy it because you enjoy it” mindset. I mean, not even a little. It’s a contradiction. It’s not like your Masochist’s Paradox (I’m a bit of a maso, so I understand that). How can you enjoy something you don’t like?

    Maybe that’s the difference between me and other dominants. I need mutual enjoyment or I’m not satisfied, and I can’t relate to doing something you don’t enjoy doing just because someone else enjoys it on any sort of regular basis. I mean, if Iris and I go to Europe and he wants to see a sight I’ve no interest in, I’ll still go with him, but that’s a one-time thing. Doing something you dislike over and over… yeah, I just don’t get it. I wish I did.

    Sometimes I think people like me need a bottom in the bedroom, and a submissive outside of it.

    • I have to say that it’s rather difficult to be called a doormat and not find it offensive. In my experience, there have been few, if any, relationships in which I didn’t have to do something or other that I really didn’t care for. I just don’t know how anyone can get through life without having to do things they don’t like somewhere. Given that, I don’t understand why the kink area should be any different.

      • deviantlyromantic on said:

        I wasn’t calling you a doormat, just to clear that up.

        Relationships are about give and take, even the D/s ones. I feel like… if I’m asking Iris to do something over and over again that he doesn’t like, then I’m just taking. What am I giving back? I’m not going to do something over and over that he doesn’t like in exchange for him doing it for me. I’m not the type of dominant that wants my submissive to do something he doesn’t like. I don’t enjoy that. I feel bad when I do that. I feel like an abusive jerk if I use the “but I’m the Domme and you signed up for this” card.

        Maybe it’s a product of being a new dominant. Maybe it’s just not in me to be demanding. Maybe I’m more of a service top. Maybe you wouldn’t be happy with someone like me, because I wouldn’t push you, and you wouldn’t feel submissive with me. Perhaps it just comes down to compatibility.

        • I know You weren’t calling me a doormat directly. However, I spent a few hundred words saying, “This is how I am,” and Your reply was, “That’s what I call a doormat.” I’m not saying You are wrong to use whatever terminology works for You within Your life, I’m just saying that it’s kind of a word that sets me off. I don’t know if we are actually friends, but we are friendly with one another, and I think we can be honest. At least, I hope so. I certainly don’t think You meant any offense, and I worked to accept it that way. But I also need to say that it was difficult for me to do so.

          if I’m asking Iris to do something over and over again that he doesn’t like, then I’m just taking. What am I giving back?

          I understand what You are saying, and it can easily be exactly like that. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Giving and taking doesn’t have to be in equal measure nor does it have to occur concurrently. To put it in vanilla terms, I may take out the trash every day because I know You hate it – and once a month You take my car down to have it detailed because You know I hate doing that.

          It doesn’t even have to be something he hates to do. To continue the example, I take out the trash every day to get a slice of cake at the end of the month.

          It’s a silly example, I know. I’m just trying to move it away from BDSM for sake of illustration. What You give back is going to be bound into the context of Your relationship. I could give an example from my relationship, but I fear it just wouldn’t make sense.

          I’m not going to do something over and over that he doesn’t like in exchange for him doing it for me. I’m not the type of dominant that wants my submissive to do something he doesn’t like. I don’t enjoy that. I feel bad when I do that. I feel like an abusive jerk if I use the “but I’m the Domme and you signed up for this” card.

          I understand Your position, and it’s the exactly right place for You to be. I’m definitely not saying You are wrong in this.

          It isn’t the case of “I’m the Domme and you signed up for this” – which implies a sort of consent being something-just-short-of-coerced. If it is something that has to be cajoled; then the consent becomes questionable and that abusive, jerk-like quality comes through more strongly.

          The thing is that I enjoy giving Her things that She enjoys. What She gives me is the opportunity to give Her what She wants…even if it’s something I don’t directly enjoy.

          Perhaps it just comes down to compatibility.

          I heard Ricky Gervais say once, “If you think a joke is funny; then you’re right. If you think it isn’t funny; then you’re right, too. It’s subjective. Who am I to tell you that something is funny or not.”
          That is kind of where I am at with this BDSM stuff, too.

  3. Hmmm: What a difficult subject with so many nuances. I suspect most relationships, D/s or not, come with a bit of codependency regardless of your role in the relationship. And having said that, let me explain that I don’t see that as a bad thing.

    As a submissive, I find enjoyment in pleasing my Mistress even if I don’t enjoy, to a great degree, the act itself. Her urine doesn’t always have a pleasant taste, but I drink it because my doing the act brings her pleasure and that enhances our relationship.

    She is not that found of pegging me, which I find extremely pleasurable, but she does it as an act of dominance because she knows I like it. I think that is the essence of relationship; a give-and-take for both parties.

    btw ~~ the graph makes perfect sense to me although I had never thought of things in those terms.

    Let me say, as well, I have gone through the archives and really do enjoy your blog and am watching closely for your additions. Keep writing as many of your thoughts parallel my own thoughts as well as those of others as we do our best to find our way in a somewhat murky fog.

    Thanks

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