Is it possible to be a submissive man without being a feminist?



Alright, alright, I guess I could elaborate. First of all, by feminist, I mean in the sense of Rebecca West’s quote that “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Actually identifying as a feminist is entirely unnecessary, particularly given the many problems with mainstream feminism such as racismtransphobia, and whorephobia (which I’m calling whorephobia because that’s what sex workers themselves call it). Second, it should be blindingly obvious that a man cannot in any meaningful way submit to a woman without believing she’s a person.

Here’s an example: recently on fetlife a disgusting sack of shit who obviously hates women started a discussion called Rawlsian Ethics and BDSM: Should femdoms be required to be kink dispensing machines? The title pretty much says it all, but here’s an excerpt in case you still had any hope for the human race.

How (from this viewpoint) would you feel about a law requiring dominant females to spend, say, an hour a week dispensing kink to random sub males?

For example, you may be thinking: well, if I turn out F, it may be a little creepy to be whipping random guys’ butts or having them lick my boots, but I guess I could live with that. And if I turn out to be m, maybe I couldn’t find a kink partner at all, and being allowed to lick a femdom’s boots once in a while would be at least something and would vastly improve my happiness.

The question again: from this perspective, knowing that you might be m after birth, if you could vote, would you vote to enact a law requiring femdoms to dispense kink? Would total world happiness, in a Rawlsian sense, be greater with such a law?

Wow. Where the fuck does this asshole get off calling himself submissive when he thinks women ought to be enslaved for the greater good (of his boner). Literally enslaved! Oh, but don’t worry, this monument to entitlement acknowledges that it “may be a little creepy” to be forced to do things you don’t like to people you would never share a room with if you had a choice. Or, you know, go to jail, which is obviously where those heartless bitches belong. What kind of black-hearted hag thinks her rights matter when there are neglected penises in the world?

Believing that women should be enslaved for your pleasure is not only reprehensible, it’s the exact opposite of submission to them. People, this is not complicated. The word submit means “To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.” There is no bizarre parallel universe in which forcing people to do things for you even vaguely resembles surrendering yourself to their will. Just admit you’re a dominant bottom and a terrible human being, then go home and never interact with the outside world again. It’s better off without you.

There are subtler forms of this hateful bullshit as well. The expectation that of course a “real” dominant woman is going to dress in the exact kind of outfits that get your dick hard is also the opposite of submission, it’s just not quite as disgusting. If you want a woman who gets off on being told what to wear, you need to find yourself a submissive woman. Oh, I’m supposed to conveniently happen to really enjoy dressing up in whatever fetish gear most does it for you? Well that’s completely different! You know, if you’re a complete fucking moron. If you’re too stupid to see how dehumanizing it is to assume that I only have needs that conveniently dovetail with yours, there’s just no hope for you.

And there’s the expectation that a “real” dominant woman just happens to like whatever kind of play the so-called submissive man does. If you expect to be told to do only things that turn you on and only when it’s convenient, you’re not submitting to anyone. At best you’re going through the motions of submission to a fantasy I’m acting out for you. Stop kidding yourself that any of that bullshit is about submitting to anyone at all or to me personally and we’ll both be a lot happier.

Guys, you can have the belief that the world revolves around your dick, or you can have meaningful submission to another person, but you can’t have both without deluding yourself. It is very simply not possible to be submissive to women in any meaningful way without believing that we’re people.

No wrong way to do kink?

Most critiques of ‘One True Wayism‘ point out that as long as no one gets seriously injured or traumatized, there’s no wrong way to do kink. There are certainly far more right ways to do kink than there are wrong ones, but to quote Mistress Matisse:

There actually is such a thing as a bad personal choice.

She was talking about One-Penis policies in polyamorous relationships, but I think the idea applies to kink just as well as it does to poly. Along with Mistress Matisse’s original article and further comments, this post was also inspired LegallyBinding’s post about “Insta-subs”: The Issue Everyone Loves to Ignore, which recently went Kinky & Popular on Fetlife.

While I mildly disagree that everyone is ignoring the issue of people making poor decisions while in sub-frenzy, I think it’s worth talking about the fact that some personal choices are simply not good ideas. I’m not saying that people don’t have understandable reasons for making poor choices, or that they don’t have the right to do what they like with their lives, I’m just saying that you’re kidding yourself if you think that all choices and all ways of doing kink are equally likely to turn out well for you.

So just what do I think are bad ways to do kink?

1. Not figuring out why you like what you like. Not in the sense of some unachieveable deep understanding of exactly why being spanked turns you on, but in the sense of understanding whether you like the physical sensation or how it makes you feel, and why you like one or both of those things. For example, if you like the physical sensation of being spanked, and you play with someone who likes giving spankings as a form of humiliation play, odds are good that the the two of you will leave that scene unsatisfied and annoyed with each other.

It’s absolutely fine to not have everything completely figured out before you ever even meet another kinky person, but if the answer to “What is it you like about spankings?” is “I don’t know”, be honest about that! It’s very common for kinky people to enjoy giving each other new experiences, so don’t be afraid that someone will turn you down because you aren’t an Olde Guarde Master with 25 years of experience.

2. Making assumptions about why you like what you like. This is one of my big pet peeves. I’ve seen far too many people assume that enjoying bondage and pain play means that they’re submissive. No, it really really doesn’t. You can enjoy the physical sensations of bondage and pain play without having even the slightest interest in submission. In fact, you could be dominant and like those things. There is such a thing as a dominant bottom!

Giving the people you play with inaccurate information about yourself will lead to mismatched expectations and bad scenes. You should not be surprised when a dom declines to play with you again once they find out that you lied about being submissive.

3. Assuming kinky compatibility is the only thing you need to make a relationship work. Hot scenes are great and all, but there are only so many hours a day you can spend tying someone up and hitting them with things. Even if you’re only going to spend a weekend with someone, it’s a good idea to think about what you’re going to do when you’re not playing. And for the love of god don’t move in with anyone before making sure you get along with them outside of the dungeon.

4. Getting all of your information about kink from one source. Sure, it sounds romantic to have your shiny new master be the one to teach you everything about d/s, but that’s just fucking dumb. Nobody knows everything about kink. Your new master could be the most honourable and trustworthy person alive and still be wrong about some things. Her last three subs could’ve had much higher tolerances for risk than you do, you could have physical limitations or phobias or triggers she’s never dealt with before, there are a huge variety of things she could be wrong about without having any bad intentions.

5. Giving up control or giving out rules before your partner has earned it. It’s great to have a new sub who says he’ll do whatever you say and is excited about being given new rules, but what’s going to happen when he has to actually live with all those rules? Or when you have to remember all of them and catch it if he messes up? I don’t actually have a huge amount of experience with d/s, but I’m pretty sure that’s more likely to be overwhelming and a huge pain in the ass than fun and satisfying.

I’m sure there are many more bad personal choices people can make, but this post is long enough already. If there are any huge pet peeves of yours that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments.

If you do any or all of those things, you’re not stupid or a bad person. Everyone was new once, and like everything else, kink takes time to get good at. However, if you do these things over and over and act like no one could’ve seen the trainwreck coming, don’t be surprised if no one comes to your next pity party.

“Oh, just stop worrying about what other people think”

It’s not at all unusual for submissive men to have a little trouble coming to terms with the fact that they’re submissive. A depressingly common piece of advice I’ve seen given is to “just stop worrying about what other people think”. That’s not advice, that’s a goal. The men looking for advice want to be able to stop worrying about what other people think. If they knew how, they’d already be doing it!

It’s seriously insulting to act like submissive men asking for advice are all too stupid to realize that they should just stop caring what people think. If your problem is that you’re worried people will think less of you/that you’ll lose friends/that no one will ever want to date a submissive guy, then it’s pretty fucking obvious that you’d be happier if you somehow didn’t care what people think of you. The problem is that it’s not a simple thing to do, which is another thing that makes that advice thoroughly unhelpful.

Humans are social animals. Even the most misanthropic cave-dwelling hermit who only visits the nearest town once a year to stock up on supplies still needs to worry about what people think of her for the duration of her supply trip. If she’s enough of an asshole, she may get thrown out of town before she picks up everything she needs. If she acts weird enough around other people, they may decide she should be hospitalized whether she likes it or not.

Or for a less extreme example, people do lose friends and partners when they come out as kinky, particularly if their kink is especially hard for people who don’t know anything about the scene to accept. It’s considered normal for men to be dominant, so it can throw people for a loop when they find out a male friend or partner is submissive. People also tend to have a lot of stupid assumptions about submissive men (and submission in general) which can lead them to look down on submissive guys in particular. Even if you’re able to educate them, that can put a serious strain on a friendship. Sure, you can argue that it’s silly to even want to be friends with the kind of close-minded jerks who would look down on someone for having a harmless kink that doesn’t involve them, but what good does that do someone who’s worried that everyone he cares about will abandon him? Seriously, you’d have to be a sociopath to just not care if your friends stop having anything to do with you.

Outside of the kink scene, people tend to assume that submissive men are failures at being men, weak, pathetic, and undesirable. Inside of the scene, they’re still often seen that way, plus they get to worry about being lumped in with the thousands of self-obsessed submission-fetishists who’ve made dominant women extremely cynical about every man who says he’s inexperienced but eager to learn. The idea that “just not caring what people think” will fix those problems is ridiculous. Accepting yourself will make things easier, but it won’t magically make all your problems go away.

Unfortunately, all I have to tell submissive guys who are having trouble accepting themselves is that it’s totally normal to be a bit freaked out, and that you shouldn’t feel bad about having a little difficulty throwing out everything you’ve ever been taught about how to be a man. If anyone has any real advice on accepting yourself, I’d love to hear it.

Safewords: they’re just words

Safewords get held up as this magical talisman that will protect you from all harm, which is ridiculous and actually less safe than not having one at all.

A safeword is only as safe as the person you’re using it with. If they don’t stop when you say “Hey, my hand is going numb”, why would saying “rutabega” make a difference? There are people in the scene who will do whatever they think they can get away with, and these people do not give a shit about your safeword. There are also people who aren’t outright malicious but are kind of clueless. They’ll probably stop when you say stop, but five minutes later they’ll go back to doing what you just told them wasn’t working for you. There are also people who will tell you stupid bullshit like “A safeword is only for serious call-a-doctor medical distress”, which is complete and utter idiocy. Unless you have psychic powers, you simply cannot know whether someone really needed to use their safeword. And there are people who will pay lip-service to the idea of a safeword, but they’ll make it clear that if you’ll regret it if you ever try to use yours.

A safeword will not protect you from any of those people, but believing that it will can get you into trouble. If you believe that your safeword will save you, that everyone everywhere at every time will absolutely always listen to a safeword, you might end up taking much bigger risks than you meant to. BDSM is never risk free; the idea is to mitigate the risk or take calculated risks.  That doesn’t work so well if you’re kidding yourself about how risky a given scene is.

Safewords can be risky from the top’s side, too. Assuming that a bottom is willing and able to use their safeword may make the top feel more comfortable, but it’s just not true that everyone will call “red” when they need to. It’s not uncommon for subs to try to prove they’re tough enough to take it (I believe this is more common with male subs, but feel free to correct me in the comments), or to refuse to ask to end the scene because they don’t want to disappoint their dom. It’s also quite possible for a bottom to be flying high on endorphins and simply not know how hard that whipping really is. Ending a scene while the bottom still wants more may disappoint them, but it’s a lot better than getting a call the next morning from someone who is freaking out about how bruised they are. Finally, some people get nonverbal when they get into subspace, and may not be capable of any kind of safeword or signal. To be clear, that’s neither better nor worse than being able to safeword no matter what’s going on, but it’s a good thing to tell your top ahead of time.

As a top, I firmly believe that if my bottom needs to use their safeword (outside of a scene that’s specifically negotiated to find out how much they can take), I’ve failed to read them as well as I should. Sometimes you do hit an emotional or physical landmine with no warning, but in general if you’re surprised when someone uses their safeword you either don’t know them well enough to push them that hard, or you just aren’t paying enough attention.

The reason the concept of a safeword exists in the first place was to allow people who enjoy resistance play or consensual non-consent to yell “Stop!” without worrying that their top would actually stop. Unless you’re doing a scene where “stop” means “I’m really into the role I’m playing” and “no” means “Keep going!”, then plain English will probably do you more good than a special safeword. “I think I’m losing circulation in my foot” gives the top a lot more information than “yellow” does. I’m not knocking “red” as a convenient shorthand for “something is badly wrong and I need the scene to end right now this instant”, but in general saying what you mean is clearer than using a code word.

Safewords can be useful, but they are absolutely not any sort of guarantee of safety.