Submission: The Ugly Duckling
I got into a bit of a dust-up this week with multiple people over a rather badly worded request for information from a submissive man. Basically, he identified himself as a submissive man and asked, “Where do I go to serve?” Given that this question was asked on a website that exists entirely as a social arena for those in various fetish lifestyles, and it was in a forum specifically dedicated to submissive men, the only legitimate way to interpret this statement is, as far as I’m concerned, “Where do I meet dominant women who might allow me to serve them?”
Of course, it would also be perfectly fine to have responded with something along the lines of, “You are being really unclear about what you want. Can you clarify?” Honestly, that’s pretty much a good response to anyone who asks a question that is overly broad or vague or simply worded badly. That is, in fact, the way such questions are normally answered. Instead, what was offered was along the lines of, “You should look for places to volunteer – like a soup kitchen.”
After a LOT of back and forth, I was able to get one woman to say that the reason she had given that advice was that she would be more interested in a man who was interested in his community and wanted to make the world a better place. That’s fine…if she had also said, in her original answer, “I volunteer at the homeless shelter (as an example) and there are probably other dominant women who would like to see a guy with community interest, plus there are a lot of non-kinky benefits to volunteerism.” Without that context, the exchange of “Where I can serve?” (when asked in a fetish website and a F/m forum) and “Go volunteer at the soup kitchen!” is simply dismissive and insincere.
It would be similar to this exchange:
HE: “I really like peanut butter. Where can I get recipes?”
SHE: “Have you tried “1001 Uses for Pasta?”
For the most part, I don’t think the women who rallied to the soup-kitchen answer were trying to point out that they, too, volunteer around town and that it’s a good way to meet women who are dominant. Even if that WERE the point they were trying to make, I find it difficult to believe that dominant women are any more or less likely to volunteer for community service than any other type of person. In other words, if Domina1 said, “I know of dominant women who volunteer – perhaps you should try that!” because she was ACTUALLY trying to be helpful; then the advice would be no better than saying, “I know dominant women who shop for groceries – perhaps you should try that!” What’s more, unless she has a list of other dominant women who volunteer, then it’s a bit disingenuous to send people off to the soup kitchen in their area because of someone who works at the soup kitchen in your area – in other words, unless she is offering to place him in the soup kitchen where she works so they can try and work things out; then it’s simply not decent advice at all.
I will finish that story in a minute, but I want to tie it into a different kind of question that I see often. Often I will see something to the effect of, “I know I’m submissive, but my wife/girlfriend doesn’t know. How do I get her to dominate me?” The answer to that question is – obviously – talk to her about what you want and need and what she wants and needs. It’s scary and it means a guy has to be vulnerable and, honestly, it could be the end of the relationship. It’s risky, and when it comes to the heart, guys are risk-aversive (see also: why guys won’t commit) – and no matter what they will say, sex is a matter of the heart (which is why they learn to be dismissive of it).
Once in a while, however, someone will answer that question with the advice of, “Just do what your wife/girlfriend wants done. It’s basically the same as submitting to her.” Well, it is – in exactly the same way that serving soup in a soup kitchen is submissive. That is, it looks like it from the outside. But I don’t care how many times Dan Rather says, “If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck – then it’s a duck!” there are times when a duck is a swan (see also: The Ugly Duckling).
I’ve been married and divorced twice. I have a bit of experience in being in a relationship where no one gets their needs met. I’ve been to marriage counselors and been told, “If you do things that make her happy; then she will do things that make you happy.” This, as it turns out, is not always true because sometimes the person you are doing things for is simply not interested in doing the things that you need. Let me explain this in two different ways:
First, I want to adapt traditional Transactional Analysis for a direct application of D/s relationships. Instead of the Parent, Adult, and Child states, I want you to think of Dominant, Equality, and Submissive states. “Doing something for someone else” is a range of actions that can be initiated from any of the three states.
A Dominant state can say, “I have made dinner for us to share. Will you please have a seat so we can begin?” The Dominant state is not really asking anything. It is a low-key power way of issuing a command. The expected response is from the Submissive state to either sit-down-and-eat or to say, “Yes, I will sit and have dinner as you command.”
An Equality state can say, “I have made dinner for us to share. Will you please have a seat so we can begin?” The Equality state is actually asking a question, and is expecting an answer from another Equality state. They are equals. The dinner is there and it is offered, but there is no requirement that it be accepted (although it would be a nice and decent gesture).
A Submissive state can say, “I have made dinner for us to share. Will you please have a seat so we can begin?” The question is not only a question, but a restatement of the expected Dominant state for reply. Not only is there no requirement for the offer to be accepted, and, in fact, there is every expectation that the Dominant has the right to choose some other action. There might still be hurt feelings (people are human, after all) but the power lies entirely within the hands of the Dominant to determine if it is actually time to eat or not.
Using this adjusted type of TA, just “doing what your wife wants” as a form of submission has the man operating from Submission and aiming to please a Dominant state. But the wife is in an Equality state and expects her husband to respond in kind. This is a crossed transaction which leads to games:
A game is an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome. Descriptively, it is a recurring set of transactions… with a concealed motivation… or gimmick.
Telling a man who is seeking submission to “just do what his wife wants” is actually prescribing a game instead of a relationship. It’s important to understand that, in TA games, both partners generally end up feeling rejected, ripped-off, and justified in hating their partner. They are not prescriptions for happily-ever-after, or even happy-for-now.
The same thing is true for working the line is a soup kitchen. The server is working (in the spirit of actual charity) from an Equality state (helping a fellow human being) and expects an Equality state response (acknowledgement or perhaps gratitude). To initiate it from the Submissive state again creates a crossed transaction. It attempts to force someone into a Dominant role when they are more concerned with simply getting by.
Second, I want to explain submission as being a purposive action. Submission, simply put, isn’t submission unless there is also someone present who is dominant. I have cooked food literally thousands of times in my life – for my kids, for my ex-wives, for friends and extended family, and sometimes for strangers. The ONLY time that cooking food has been an act of submission is when I did it for Mistress Delila. I cooked for Her because I wanted to reinforce the F/m dynamic between us. It was service in the specific context of BDSM. The actions themselves were exactly the same as cooking for anyone else. However, the intention on my behalf and on Hers made it something it wouldn’t otherwise be.
There is no way to fake this dynamic. There is no way to substitute something else in its place. It is, to be brutally honest, the reason why I have been divorced twice. The actions I take because of my love for Mistress Delila are, quite often, the exact same actions that I took to please my ex-wives. And, just as honestly, the motivation on my part was the same. The problem was that I didn’t understand my motivation and my personality as being inherently submissive with regards to my primary romantic and erotic connection. Without meaning to do so, I did exactly what I outlined above. I turned my life with another human being into a game.
Most of the people I have met who are involved in F/m relationships understand this at a basic level. They don’t need this explained. They just feel that F/m is different and right for them (otherwise they wouldn’t flock to websites that are dedicated to F/m as a lifestyle). So I don’t buy the innocent proclamations of “I just took what he said literally.” To experience F/m and then make off-the-cuff suggestions that lead elsewhere (when someone expressly is asking in a place dedicated to that exact experience) is not just nasty, malicious, and selfish. It’s downright mean. It’s the equivalent of playing “keep-away” with someone who isn’t able to comprehend the game (or maybe they comprehend, but don’t want to play).
THIS is why, when I speak of Mistress Delila, I capitalize the pronouns and references to Her and what She does. It isn’t different, I suppose, from what other Dominants do with their submissives. It is, however, different from every other relationship I’ve ever had. To set it apart, I use unconventional orthography. I write it differently because it is different. Without Her, I would not be who I am, because I would be a submissive who cannot submit. My life would be full, but it would be incomplete. I would still be a submissive man but without Mistress Delila I could not simply be submissive.