Masculine Submission

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

Archive for the tag “masculinity”

Unexpected beauty

This…has become surprisingly hard for me to talk about.

When Ferns announced that She was putting together some mysterious art project involving submissive men, I retweeted her announcement, just to encourage guys to participate. It was a pleasant surprise when She asked if I would send a pic, as well. After discussing it with Mistress Delila, I sent the one She requested, plus one more. That, I figured, was the end of that.

Except it wasn’t. When Ferns announced the project was completed and ready for viewing, I quickly clicked over to Her blog to see it. Then I sat there with butterflies gnawing through my belly while it loaded. When my pics finally floated by, the sense of relief was nearly overwhelming. But as interesting as that was, there was more to it than that. Unexpectedly, I found myself on the verge of tears.

The thing is – I never saw myself as being beautiful until I saw how Mistress Delila loved me because of my submissiveness. I didn’t think I was hideous or anything, but for forty-one years I just didn’t see anything special when I looked into the mirror. It took three and a half decades to understand that I am submissive, and several more years before I looked into a woman’s eyes and saw…

I saw a lifetime of not quite fitting in fade away into memory. It took me more than thirty-five years to realize that I am submissive, and six more before I found a relationship in which that submissiveness could be fully expressed. It was like I had been holding my breath my entire life and I finally broke through to the surface. It was like I had just been released from solitary confinement – a sentence served entirely within the confines of my own body.

I saw that I am beautiful.

I don’t mean that in a haughty, “look at me now!” kind of way. I simply mean that it had never occurred to me that ANYONE would find pleasure in simply looking at me, even after I’d been married twice. I’ve never had a hard body or the chiseled features that makes women’s hearts (or lower parts) throb at first glance, and I never will. But seeing the glimmer in Mistress’ eyes showed me that I don’t need them.

I feel like I’m dancing around the subject, and I really don’t know how to describe it better. Either you’ve felt beautiful because of the what you see in someone else’s eyes, or you don’t, I guess. If you have; then I’m sure you understand what that feels like. If not; then I hope you do feel it – and soon.

But I think there is a difference in what a woman experiences when she feels beautiful and what a man experiences. Men are not, as a rule, told they are beautiful. They are handsome or good-looking or…whatever. But not beautiful. We generally do not achieve that pinnacle of human desire that “beautiful” denotes. On the other hand, because we are told over and over again (through gender roles) that we CANNOT be beautiful, we don’t feel like we are missing out on it…until it happens.

The opening of the floodgates of possibility are one reason why I wept in Mistress’s arms. And those floodgates re-opened when Ferns posted Her artwork. It’s one thing for someone who loves me intensely to find me beautiful. It is quite another for someone who I only know through internet banter to include me in a project She has promoted as celebrating beauty. It’s like I was pulled out of the crowd and stuck in line with the Ms. America finalists. (Yeah, I know I picked out the pics and sent them to Her and knew about the project…but part of me still suspected that I’d not make the cut, so to speak.)

I also understand that part of what makes this so emotional is the baggage from my childhood abuse and neglect. Those long years of trying to be invisible still mark me. I understand that those messages were – and are – logically and emotionally wrong. I think it is a sign that I’m in the last stages of healing that allows me to receive the kind of adoration in Mistress Delila’s eyes…and also the admiration in Ferns’ eyes (if I can read that into the project).

I also know that part of what I feel is the loss of isolation. Submissive men are too often told (through gender roles) that they cannot openly display who they truly are. When it slips out, we are often subjected to derision and the bondage of gender roles is forced back upon us so that our authentic selves are damaged and left limping in solitude. This is why I started the Submissive Men group on Fetlife several years ago: Because I needed to know that I was not the only one like this. The relief of belonging to that group has done multitudes of good in helping me understand and accept myself. Ferns, whether She knew it at the time or not, struck a blow against that sense of isolation and solitude.

So this little project has moved me to these words, and beyond them to a place where words simply cannot exist. It’s a place of pure emotion and belonging. It’s a place of home and of being owned and adored. For that, I have to thank Mistress Delila for the photos that showed me Her gaze…and for letting me share them.

And, Ferns…to simply say “Thanks” seems trite and shallow and insufficient. But there is no other word that can convey the depth of what it means to me. So I will close with this simple word:


A rather masculine closet, nonetheless, is a closet

I decided to write this because of this post written by Emily Manuel (and tweeted by Charlie Glickman). That post is about Anderson Cooper coming out as a gay man and the responses from non-gay people. Ultimately, it’s about identity and having to decide if one should be in a closet or not.

I have to start by admitting that I really didn’t see it as very meaningful. I don’t feel either way about Mr. Cooper and I think that people should be free to speak about their sexuality if they choose and not to speak about it if they choose. In short, they should be in control of how much they disclose because…well, because it’s THEIR life. I forgot, just for a bit, that no one lives their life according to their own set of rules. We each have to deal with the society in which we survive, and that means identity minorities have to deal with what it means to be a minority.

For example:

Even now, Americans like Mister Cooper still live in a country where there is no national anti-discrimination bill for such things as employment and housing. There are still parts of the country where it is completely legal to sack someone for being GLBT, or to refuse them housing, where parents lose custody of their children after coming out. Even in areas where there are local anti-discrimination laws, these are often still ineffective – it’s easy enough for a bigot to discriminate without being caught.

That part hits home. A while back, it was suggested that all I needed to do to find the right Dominant Woman was to start attending “munches.” When I pointed out that this was tantamount to publicly outing myself, I was ridiculed and my sincerity was doubted. For some people, being able to live openly and authentically as a D/s couple is simply not a big deal. They do it and they have either decided that the consequences don’t matter, or they found that there were no consequences. For some of us, those consequences are potentially profound enough that we are, essentially, obeying a societal gag-order.

Forgive me for not having my source at hand to quote directly, but a gay rights activist once said that no gay man lives in a closet that he has built. It was built for him by all of the people around him, and then they shoved him into it and took away the key. The same holds true for many submissive men and Dominant women – more, I believe, than for Dominant Male/Submissive Woman pairings (ummmmm – Fifty Shades of Fluff?).

I don’t want to throw my sexuality in the faces of those around me. I’m really pretty private about it. But I don’t want to feel like I have to keep it hidden, either. I don’t want to wonder if my career could be threatened by how I live in a consensual, loving, and supportive relationship.

Anderson Cooper is helping me because he’s challenging the sexual identity stereotypes that run rampant through our culture. He’s openly gay without being effeminate or threatening or consumed with crusading for gay rights. In a way, he’s a quiet revolutionary simply because he is in a position to be open about his identity and not let it interfere with his professional life. We need more people like that.

I need more people like that.

I want you to see me

First a short synopsis: In the movie Avatar, a marine is sent to live with a group of aborigines (it’s way more sci-fi than that, but that’s the core of it). While living with them, he learns that they see every living being as connected. I don’t mean connected in some abstract way, but in a direct and meaningful way. So when he kills prey to eat, it isn’t just an animal that is being killed – it is also part of him. Not incidentally, the way these natives say, “I love you,” is by saying, “I see you.”

There is a LOT of emphasis on the word “see.”

You can probably tell, from the title, where this post is headed. But let me pick up another diverse thread.

As far back as Plato (and probably further) there has been a conceptualization of the universe as being comprised of two realms. The first is the one in which we live – Plato called it a world of shadows, or shades. When we look at a table, we see a table – but it is not truly a table that we perceive. It is simply the shadow of what a table really is – it is the shade of an idea version of a table. The true archetype of all things exists in what Plato refers to as a world of Forms.

Greek philosophy isn’t really my forte, so I don’t want to go too deeply into that, but I want to borrow that idea and marry it to the Avatar example. There is, for each of us, an external person that the world sees. Maybe we are tall or short; fat or skinny, hairy or bald. But the world looks at us and see the same reflection we see in the mirror. That, however, is not the real us.

To truly see us, someone must know us. They must be connected to us in a direct fashion. It isn’t that they don’t see our flaws – that is simply a method of denial about who we are. It’s that they see our flaws, and see that those flaws simply cover what lies beneath. When they see us, they see our Form. They know who we truly are.

Mistress Delila sees me. She knows my Form. And She treasures it/me.

There is a feeling for the…relief of being truly seen and loved/treasured. It is a humbling and heart-warming feeling. It is so intense that it is terrifying. If I’d never felt it; then I’d never know it even existed; yet now that I do, I would do anything and everything to never have it taken away.

The last time Mistress Delila and I were together, I ended up crying in Her arms. I couldn’t explain why, I just exclaimed, “Don’t take it away from me!”

This is what I meant, Mistress. Please, don’t ever stop seeing me.

Approval given by Mistress Delila

Submission as a spiritual endeavor

I started out thinking about this:

…with my religiousness, “worshiping” anyone feels blasphemous and two, it seems like it’d be hard to maintain the sort of almost sycophantic adoration of anyone that you were living with. People are flawed, that goes for dominants the same as anyone else, prolonged exposure to anyone’s company will expose their shortcomings, soone or later you’ll be forced to confront the fact that your goddess is mortal, right? I’d rather acknowledge that from the beginning, and decide to submit anyway. To me that is a realistic fantasy.

And then came across this:

…until and unless there’s some evidence that they reflect something that exists outside our heads and bodies, I’m going to apply Occam’s Razor*** and say that the simplest explanation is that they are physiological responses to various stimuli, rather than something external to our selves. That’s especially important since you don’t actually need to believe in the doctrine in order to have the physiological effects. That seems to indicate to me that other than motivating people to practice, belief isn’t relevant. And if belief isn’t relevant, what does it mean to call it a spiritual experience?

Both of these authors are men I respect and believe to have arrived at their divergent decisions through careful thought and reason. But I think they share a problem of orthodoxy. Perhaps I should say that they share THE problem of orthodoxy.(* and **) Namely, their point of view really doesn’t have any place for divergent views.

To address Peroxid’s issue with the word “Goddess” as an honorific. I see a lot of people in a lot of places who echo his sentiments, and I certainly understand why a lot of Dominant Women roll their eyes at the idea. However, “Goddess” as a indicator of divinity is only one possible meaning – just like the word “Mistress” can mean “female master” or “extra-marital consort.”

Another way of thinking about the word “Goddess” is to consider that the creative process that envisions an entity as the embodiment of a certain characteristic. Athena, for example, was worshiped as a divine entity at one point in Greek history, but in later times Athena was seen as an ideal: that Athena actually embodied the concept of wisdom so that anyone who sought wisdom was seen, to some extent, as a follower of Athena. Seeking wisdom, in that it sought to emulate the character of Athena, was a form of worship.

This idea, without the divinity concept, is how I view Mistress Delila as my Goddess. She is the embodiment, for me, of loving feminine dominance. When I submit to Her, I am, in effect, worshiping Her. I am acknowledging Her position of power an am actively seeking to reinforce it, to place it in prominence in our relationship. I can do this without being blasphemous or ignoring Her humanity.

Beyond that, the two OTHER definitions of “Goddess” are “a woman of extraordinary beauty and charm” and “a greatly admired or adored woman.” Mistress Delila is most definitely the fulfillment of these definitions. Nor do these definitions have anything to do with divinity, and I doubt many women would mind being referred to in this manner.

There is an aspect of the honorific “Goddess” that does relate to the divinity issue, though, and it relates to the second quote. My relationship with Mistress Delila is spiritual – or contains a spiritual aspect, at least. But to get to it, I have to deal with Mr. Glickman’s problem with spirituality.

Certainly, one meaning of “spiritual” is “the incorporeal part of human beings.” Another way of thinking of it is:

[to be] concerned with the end of suffering through the enlightened understanding of reality.

. This approach can also be summarized as:

[striving to be] more connected to something larger than ourselves.

I understand that this drives atheists crazy, and I understand why. What is a “feeling” after all if not a perception driven by brain chemistry. My point is this: even if it is simply driven by brain (and blood) chemistry, it is still an aspect of our existence. In fact, that feeling of connectedness is one of the more pleasant aspects of the experience of being human. If it is delusional; then it is a pleasant delusion – and one which, unlike other aspects of religion, results in a lot of goodness in the world.

Submission is not the only way I experience this connectedness. I recently watched the documentary The End of Poverty? and felt, as a result, connected to people in various parts of the world that I rarely consider. That connection renewed my commitment to seek local food sources, not just as an economic issue, but as an issue of social justice. There have been times when I have also found this connectedness through a well-written sermon in church or a lecture in school. Some books, poetry, and movies spark this feeling.

As should be obvious, I separate “spirituality” from “religion” and thus ensure that religion does not hold any monopoly on spirituality. Far from making this less palatable, I find it actually raises more people’s hackles than it calms. As far as I’m concerned, this is not a problem – which may show a bit of arrogance on my part, because I think most people actually don’t think much about these things, and those who do often think no further than to conclude that they are correct.

As far as the non-spirituality of sex – which Glickman touches on – I have to weigh in on saying it exists. Watching porn and jerking off is an exercise of sexuality, and it is physically gratifying…but I’ve never heard of anyone who found it EMOTIONALLY gratifying. This doesn’t make it better or worse, of course, it simply makes it different. It simply depends on what someone is looking for. If someone wants quick physical gratification; then masturbation is fine (and healthy). Having sex with another person without that extra component of connecting to/with them is sorta like masturbation, with the addition of being physically touched by another person.

I honestly don’t see how anyone who has experienced having sex with that extra component of connectivity can claim that it is experientially the same as the same action without the connectivity. This is what makes “love” so amazing, even if it is just a prevalence of endorphins, pheromones, and neurotransmitters. It is a huge part of what enriches the human experience, and I would not ignore it or negate it for any reason.

I don’t know why anyone would. Especially for the cold embrace of orthodoxy.

*I understand that atheism, strictly speaking, doesn’t have a formal orthodoxy. However, it is a school of thought – a philosophy about how the world works (and how to explain everything within it). It holds that one way – the scientific method – is the correct and only way. Hence, it creates its own orthodoxy.

**I think both men are careful to say that theirs is not the ONLY way, and I appreciate that. This is a shift to a softer form of orthodoxy, not a move away from it entirely.

*** (late addition) As a completely different issue, I think Glickman is misusing Occam’s Razor. William of Occam did not say, as he’s often misquoted, “The simplest answer is best” (that would be Ptolemy). Occam’s literal translation means something like, “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” The idea was to cut away competing theories until the best explanation was found. The idea that the simplest explanation is true would completely undermine such things as quantum physics and even higher mathematics. As a heuristic, I think Einstein’s Constraint is better, “Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

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.

And on the other hand…

I couldn’t think of another dick-related pun to get to this post by Peroxide. The whole post is worth a read – and the comments are, too – but the point (or dangle) of it is this: Peroxide is a straight guy and yet there appears to be some sort of penis, real or artificial, in some of his fantasies…and he’s pretty sure this doesn’t make him gay – sure enough that he wants to stress that.

So, before I go further, hat’s off to Peroxide for starting a discussion that he was obviously uncomfortable having.

I want to start with the joke (I’m pretty sure it’s a joke) he closes with: “Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go do something manly for a bit.” It is such an accepted myth in our Western culture that it is all too easily missed. That myth is that masculinity is expressed primarily through penetrating a sexual partner. This means, conversely, that being penetrated is feminine. (There is also a power-play at work here, and I hope I can remember to come back to that.)

I hope I’m not projecting too much onto Peroxide, but he seems like a rather “normal” American male. This means he’s steeped in our cultural assumptions about what it means to be a man (gender) and what it means to be male (sex) – and not so steeped on how to separate the two. I think if we can unravel those two threads, then Peroxide might not feel so…uneasy (and his potential mates might be better able to understand his desires).

So let’s start with the male-female she-sucks-him type of oral. It’s a sexual act (even for Bill Clinton). As such, the performance of a typical blowjob tends to reinforce gender/sex standard assumptions. We could also toss in a power-play – because it reinforces standard gender/sex roles, it also reinforces standard patriarchy power structures. At least, it can, and some would say that it must. I think this is why some dominant women don’t like giving BJ’s and some submissive men don’t enjoy receiving – at least, it’s one reason.

The next most common way to think of a BJ is man-to-man. As stated before, Western culture views gayness as being less masculine than non-gayness. Part of the hyper-masculinity seen in gay culture can be explained as a reaction against this very idea. My understanding of gay culture (which is far from complete) is that the guy who is giving a BJ (being penetrated) is viewed as the more feminine partner, as well. In this, gay culture doesn’t seem to deviate far from straight culture.

Again, there is also a power-play, but because both partners are male, it is less easily discerned. At least, it would appear to me (with my incomplete understanding of what it means to be gay).

So let’s move on to Peroxide’s smokescreen: the Futanari (stylized depictions of hermaphroditic women who possess penises). Peroxide offers an interesting view of why straight men enjoy Futanari – that giving a woman a penis demystifies the female orgasm into something that men can understand on a visceral level. On one level, it kind of makes sense…until one realizes that men are generally able to enjoy a woman’s orgasm even if she doesn’t possess a dick.

I’ve watched my share of porn. I’ve known a lot of guys who watched their share of porn. I’ve never known a guy who spent much time wondering what it was like for a woman to have an orgasm from the woman’s perspective. A lot of guys are worried about “making her cum” but that’s a separate issue.

Here’s something to consider: with adequate lubrication, being penetrated (orally or anally) is a pleasant sensation (or it can be). What the Futanari do is allow a straight guy to ponder the feeling of being penetrated. But because it is a woman who is doing it, and because the woman is pleased, any masculinity lost through the penetrating action is restored ultimately through the woman’s pleasure.

Think about it, Futanari viewers: Which is more arousing, see a Futanari penetrate a guy and enjoy it, or just watching the Futanari ejaculate? Since I am not included in that group, I can only surmise that it is the former. Otherwise, it would simply be an endless stream of bukakki (and there would be no need to specifically use Futanari if that was the draw).

I think this ties into the discussion of forced-bi fantasies, as well. Again, I don’t qualify for that group, but from what I’ve seen of forced-bi porn, the emphasis is on the guy being penetrated. At least to my eyes, it seems like the “forced” part is generally on the guy who is either sucking cock or taking it in the keister. The other guy – the one doing the giving – is just kind of there to make it work. (I’m sure there are exceptions, I’m taking about the dominant ideology of this thing.)

In forced-bi situations, the man is forced to act as if he is gay – which is to say, his masculinity is stripped. But it is okay, you see, because it is actually a woman who is directing him and, in some way, deriving pleasure from it. So his masculinity can be restored – perhaps in a slightly humiliated fashion – through her pleasure and/or praise for being a good cocksucker.

The final scenario is where a woman wears a strap-on to penetrate a man. Peroxide admits that he sees no reason for a woman to enjoy this, since she can’t feel the strap-on, but if she enjoys it, then, by-cracky, he’s fer it! (Sorry, too many bad Western movies as a child.) Again, there is the loss of masculinity through receiving the penis/phallus, but it is restored through a woman’s pleasure.

The power-play is similar in all three situations. First, by reversing the typical gender/sex relationship, the patriarchy is up-ended and set on its, um, ear. Plus there is the physical power manifestation of pushing one’s hips into another’s face or putting a hand on the back of their head (or in their hair) to urge them (force them) faster, harder, deeper.

So let me get back to the first promise of this post – to unravel the gender and sex issues.

First, the sex – the purely physical aspect of it. Is it anti-male to want/enjoy receiving a partner’s penis (real or fake) into one’s mouth? In the absence of cultural cues, I would argue that it isn’t anti-male at all. In fact, oral stimulation can be seen in all manner of animals.

Second, the gender – the cultural aspect of it. Is it anti-man to want/enjoy receiving a partner’s penis (real or fake) into one’s mouth? The answer is an obvious “Yes,” if one simply looks at culture as the way it is. But if we reject the rigid gender boundaries that we have been taught, and define our manliness as something other than sticking our dicks into people; then we should be able to define our manliness in a way that allows us to have dicks stuck into us without being unmanly. In other words, it’s only unmanly (gay/feminine) if we accept it as being so.

Third, the power – both the gender-derived and the mechanically-derived. Is is submissive to want/enjoy receiving a partner’s penis (real or fake) into one’s mouth? Then answer to both, I believe, is “Yes, it can be.” There are ways to counteract the mechanical power and gender-derived power tends to dissipate when individuals agree that it isn’t valid. So I can’t say it is always a submissive act, but I know damn well that it can be.

I wanted to be taken anally for a very long time before I ever had the chance to experience. A lot of the cultural baggage I’m describing above made me spend years wondering if I was gay or possibly wrong-gendered. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was just submissive, and that being penetrated anally was one way to embody that. What I found out is that I love the sensation of it.

It was a while longer before I could openly admit that I wanted to be taken orally, too. The sensations are different. I enjoy the physical sensation less, but there is an even greater feeling of submission and powerlessness.

I want to emphasize, as well, that sometimes the same act – being taken anally or orally – can be either an act of submission or an act of love. In more “manly” terms, there’s “fuckin'” and there’s “making-love.” Either one of those actions, with the right person, can be in either category. Believe me, it’s a wonderful experience.

Since I projected so much into Peroxide’s post, I feel compelled to go ahead and address some of the same issues. Obviously, I do not feel gay or feminine when I am taken either anally or orally – and for the record, only Mistress Delila has done either one. I have never in my life felt sexually aroused by another male, but if She wanted to watch me either give or receive with another male, I would do it willingly (sorry, guys – She isn’t into that at all). And, even though it would obviously be gay sex, I wouldn’t feel the least gay, or less masculine, or less manly (trust me, guys – she isn’t into it at all).

Here’s another thing, just because Peroxide brought it up – when I am sucking Mistress Delila’s cock – by which I mean Her strap-on – I honestly don’t feel silly at all. First of all, I don’t think of it as Her dildo or Her strap-on – it’s Her cock. When She takes me anally, I take Her cock in my ass. When She takes me orally, I suck Her cock. Secondly, even if the silicone/whatever isn’t enervated and she doesn’t experience penetration the same way I do with my penis…it doesn’t matter at all. I can tell that She enjoys it, and I throw myself into it with gusto.

With Her, I’ve reached a point where the gender-based power stuff really doesn’t apply. I don’t see any of this as being anything less than masculine, and She has told me that She sees it the same way. The mechanical-based power, obviously, is still there, and I love when She leverages Her body so that it is maximized and I am ever more powerless. At those times, my masculinity, my manliness, and my submission are always in perfect alignment.

Why are malesubs (stereotypically) losers?

I’d like to answer this question (emphasis mine):

But there is a prevalent idea among the kink “community” ( and believe you me, that is a whole other post.) and indeed, within wider pop culture that submissive men are meant to be weedy, ugly, overweight and undesirable losers. Not only does this turn off many women from kink in the first place, because that is what is shown in porn, but it denigrates and isolates the ordinary, and yes, attractive men who are kinky. Why, as Bitchy Jones so brilliantly wrote before me, are submissive men not spending ages in the gym, wearing attractive flattering clothes, taking care of their personal hygiene and generally trying to look hot for women. Surely that’s their thing? Surely, if you’re into women you want to look sexy for them.

First of all, I’m sure that there are a TON of submissive guys doing exactly everything that was mentioned. But we have to recognize that there is a huge gap between guys who openly identify as submissive and guy who are submissive in a de facto fashion. In short, there are a lot of guys who are submissive, but they don’t say that’s what they are, for any number of reasons. As a bit of anecdotal evidence read this thread about how submissive men may not look submissive when they are out and about. (Edited to include this link asking about masculinity in submissive men.)

Beyond that, it is a bit of a chicken-versus-the-egg issue. Plus, some reasons are person and some are cultural. I’m going to address some of the cultural, because I think they heavily impact the personal, and there is very little interplay in the other direction.

The best tool I know for understanding this is the Act Like a Man Box concept. I strongly urge everyone to follow that link and look at the box Charlie Glickman produced that shows the words we use to describe men. Notice that the word “submissive” doesn’t show up there at all; but the words “dominant” and “leader” do. Now try and understand that every second of every day, waking and sleeping, exposes men to this message.

I don’t know how to explain how powerful this is – either you get it or you don’t. I believe that a lot of the homophobia we see among men, and a lot of the powerful social power in male groups, comes from the need to maintain status within this box. If a guy buys into that illusion of manhood – and it is an illusion – then he buys into a lifetime of feeding that illusion first and foremost in his life. Everything he does, everything he sees, everything he experiences, MUST uphold that illusion or it falls apart.

Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly were told that everything you know to be true about your self was actually not true. What would it be like if all of the things that make you you didn’t actually add up quite the way you thought they did? If you are like most human beings; then you’d react with disbelief and potentially anger. You might attack, verbally or physically, the person delivering that message.

Why don’t submissive men hang out in the gym? That’s like asking why fish don’t hang out in the middle of the Sahara. It isn’t a friendly place for submissive men (let me be clear – I’m talking about guys who are openly submisisve…there are TONS of guys who pass as macho but are submissive when no one is watching). That’s the reason why my Fetlife group doesn’t allow MaleDoms to participate…just including dominant men in the mix threatens many submissive men because it puts them (potentially) in a place where they must defend their existence.

Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If a man feels insecure about expressing who he is (security is the second level of needs); then he is incapable of achieving higher levels of existence. A submissive man in an environment that expects him to challenge for dominance is not going to be able to act authentically submissive…and that means he cannot begin to expose his needs for love and intimacy.

So that explains why malesubs aren’t hanging out (publicly) in male dominated places like gyms. So why aren’t malesubs out there on their own, jogging or doing push-ups or whatever? I mean, exercise is FREE!

Again, part of it is that doing those (stereotypically male) things is seen socially as jumping into that box. It’s a de facto announcement that a guy is “going macho” and challenging for dominance. Hey, I saw a guy do fifty pull-ups in the park this summer – and that is a hell of an achievement – only to be told by another guy, “You aren’t doing it right unless you go all the way down!”

I am going to go out on a limb and guess that social disorders and depression are probably higher among malesubs than the general population (I have absolutely NO evidence of this). The reason is that every second of every day, malesubs must decide whether to challenge society’s representation of masculinity or to go along with it. There’s no rule book or guide book for us – once the Act Like A Man Box no longer defines a man, then there is no telling what a man might want or need.

I absolutely LOVE being taken anally by Mistress Delila. It is simultaneously an act of submission and an act of love, and a greater expression of both (for me) than anything else I’ve experienced. And it was that way from the very first time I experienced it. BUT, I had to have Her assure me that it did not diminish my standing as a man with Her. Once I understood that it didn’t, I was able to embrace that aspect of myself.

Submission in men is heavily stigmatized, even more heavily than is dominance in women. As Gloria Steinem said not so long ago, we’ve taught our daughters that they can do anything a man can do, but we’ve not yet taught our sons they can do anything a woman can do. That’s one reason why I am writing about these things. This is the way illusions are destroyed – one myth busted at a time, one stereotype shot down at a time.

Submissive men – the word “men” is the noun in that term. Live up to it. When you do, I think you’ll find the Dominant Women you dream of are not as scarce as you think.

Depression and submission

I worry about writing this post. I worry about it because male submission isn’t far from being considered a mental illness by some, and masochism is still considered a mental illness in some circles. But if I want male submission to truly be de-pathologized – and I do – and if I want masochism to be accepted as a viable expression of love and affection – and I do – then I have to be honest about this topic. I have to be able to explain that I am submissive, I am masochistic, and I have depression. Plus, I have to be able to explain how they interact, how they sometimes pretend to be each other, and how I can tell the difference.

The short answer is: It isn’t easy to tell the difference. Depression is a mummer. It wraps itself in different clothes every day. One day it is a desire to listen to sad songs. Another day, I just don’t want to talk to anyone. Maybe I want to watch a sappy tear-jerker movie. Then I don’t want to get out of bed because I’m tired and can’t think of anything to do.

At one point, my depression became a desire to hurt. I inflicted pain on myself because…well, there is no way to make anyone understand why. If you’ve been there; then it makes perfect sense. If you haven’t; then it sounds sick and scary. It’s like the relief an obsessive person gets from double-checking the locks on the door – it’s relief…but it’s temporary, and the desire to do it again is almost too much to hold back.  And what else gives even that brief taste of relief? Nothing.

This knowledge was in my mind when I asked Mistress to  hurt me the first time. And the second. And the third. But after that, I began to notice differences.

First, when I asked for pain, I wasn’t seeking relief. I wasn’t suffering mental anguish that I needed to…process physically. What I felt was an overwhelming need to place myself under Her authority. The pain was simply a means of demonstrating that. It was a way of experiencing surrender.

Secondly, when I hurt for my depression, I never once became aroused by it. But suffering at Her hands nearly always gets me hard.

Self-injury was, by necessity, an exercise in being alone. I had to put everyone in the world out of my mind and out of my space. I created a micro-verse of one and took in all the pain of existence into my flesh. With Her, it is inviting someone in closer and more intimately than I have ever experienced.  We both experience my pain, our mutual excitement feeding each other and continually pulling us into each other.

When I hurt myself, I felt nothing but the physical pain. There was no emotion involved. When She hurts me, I am overcome with love.

It is not the same. Even when the actions are the same, the motivation comes from a very different place. One is destructive; the other is constructive. One is dark; the other is light. But they are the same injuries to my flesh.

(Aside: I’m adding this here, because I’m not sure where else to put it, but I think it needs to be said.  Unless things have changed since I was educated (and it doesn’t seem like they have), professionals are taught to ask about depression and suicide this way: “Have you ever thought about hurting youself?” It’s the wrong question, for both suicide and self-injury. “Have you made any plans or considered options for suicide?” is a much better screen for the first. “Have you hurt yourself for relief?” is better for the other. Don’t ask me if I’ve thought about it – I have. I can honestly say that I’ve thought about it enough – and been in a dark enough place – where I understand how suicide becomes a rational decision for some. But I never once considered it for myself. And, of course, I thought about hurting myself…but was it for relief or was it for sexual arousal? For me, self-injury was always about relief, but for some, it will likely be for arousal. Same action, two very different paths.)

My submission guides me to accept leadership from another. Mistress has filled this place in my life, but without it, I was incomplete. I could get up and do the things I needed to do. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, and in the face of no small amount of adversity. So it isn’t like submission is a need to be led or do nothing. It is a need to find being led fulfilling.

Depression can wear that mask, too. It looks like resignation. It isn’t fulfilling, but it gets a bit of distance between me and whoever I’m following. Understanding that distance is the key to discerning which is which.

With submission, I effectively say, “I choose to go with You. When I disagree, we can talk about it, but I’m giving You the power to decide our course of action. Then I will bend myself to Your decision.” With depression, it’s more like, “I might as well go with you. Go ahead and pick a direction. I’ll let myself be swept along.”

Submission is active. Depression is not. Submission involves choices. Depression does not. Submission is a journey for two. Depression is a destination for one.

I don’t have a nice little bow to put on the end of this one. Depression is more than a little scary for me because I’ve seen its ability to disguise itself. I know that it waits patiently to take what is the best in me and turn it into a dark beastly shadow of itself. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to allow that to happen. I can acknowledge my feelings, explore their origins, and act or not act as I believe is best for me. I do not have to submit to depression.

Meet your privilege

Tom Allen put up an interesting post a few days ago. More interesting than the post, though, is the comments that came afterwards. I started to go point by point to rebut them, but decided I wanted to use them as a launching point, rather than a destination.

But I have to start out in another direction.

I’ve taught at six colleges/universities in two states in the last decade. I’ve seen just about everything a student can throw at me, and most of it multiple times. What I never had to come face-to-face with, however, was my male privilege. That was brought home to me this semester when an office-mate of mine developed a problem with one of her male students.

He called her, “Darling,” and “Sweetheart.” This is not, in and of itself, humiliating language. But when it is a student addressing a professor this way, it is a violation of numerous social norms. It is an attempt on his part, whether he is aware of it or not, to assert his position in society as a male over her position in society as a female. It is an attempt to claim a closeness to her that is inappropriate.

As we discussed how she could handle it, and if it was worthy of greater paygrades than our own, she related to me how she was often challenged by immigrant male students in her own classroom. This is nothing I have ever experienced. As a male teacher, even if a person from a male-dominated culture walks into my room, I have the privilege of greater standing in his or her eyes than my female colleague would.

Perhaps I’m just not cute enough, but I’ve never had students diminish me with terms of endearment, either. I can’t imagine that the same student who did this to my colleague would ever think to speak to me like that. Why? Because I’m a man, and men don’t get spoken to that way.

I was uncomfortable when I realized this. My colleague is a very intelligent and wonderful person. She deserves every bit of respect that I get. But she will have to fight for it in a way I never will because I am male and she is not. That’s privilege.

So let’s take that understanding of privilege and unpack it with the message that Margot Weiss is trying to deliver. In her interview with Salon, she is quoted as writing:

These [sexual] experiments are more possible and more accessible to those with class, race and gender privilege: heterosexual men playing with sexism, white bodies at a charity slave auction, professional information technology (IT) workers with several rooms filled with custom-made bondage toys.

As a submissive man, I tend to avoid the word, “slave,” when I talk about my relationship. It isn’t because of any legal standing, though, it’s because I have an idea of what that term has always meant. A slave is someone who has no choice in their condition of servitude, and who can be punished without fear of legal reprisal for refusal to obey. That isn’t me.

But as a white man, I have a far different emotional attachment to the word “slave” than a black man might. I don’t have to carry the understanding that people actually died so that I would never have to be called “slave.” If I were to use that with respect to my standing in my relationship, there would be no further connotation of it than what I put into it. That’s privilege.

As a submissive man, I sometimes defend Mistress Delila’s power relationship with me. However, no one would ever think that I was forced into this relationship. No one would think that she physically overpowered me and I developed some sort of Stockholm syndrome. When I submit, everyone who knows it understands that I do so willingly.

What if I was a submissive woman? I’ve listened to enough BDSM’rs talk to know that much of what MaleDom’s do could easily get them in trouble with the law for domestic abuse. Much of their normal power relationship would be considered de facto abuse by a large swath of the medical and mental health communities. If anyone thinks that there is a problem with my submission; then they think the problem is in my brain, not in my partner’s overwhelming position of authority and brute strength. That’s privilege.

As a submissive man, I will get in a car and drive for a bit over two hours to spend a weekend with Mistress Delila. Why? Because I can afford to do it (barely). My social standing comes with just enough income to be able to afford such things. When I walk into the hotel, no one will look at me twice. They will assume that I belong there. The way I talk, the way I dress, the way I carry myself – these are things that mark my social class, and they tell the nice people at the hotel, “Don’t worry. He’s one of US!”

That’s privilege.

That’s the way things are in our society. I don’t have to like them – and I don’t like many of them. But I can’t deny that they exist. And any person like Weiss who looked at my situation would have to honestly explain how my privilege in society allows me the luxury to express my sexuality as is natural for me to do it. Just as she would then go on to explain how social mores work against me doing so. That’s the job of an academic.

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