Guest post: I am Submissive Man, Hear Me RAWR!

My good friend Torthal wrote this fantastic rant that was very widely shared on Fetlife, and was gracious enough to allow me to reblog it here so even more people can see it. Feel free to comment either here or on the original Fetlife post.

Right then, let’s straighten this shit out.

If you’re a submissive man, you’re saddled with a shitton of stereotypes. Most of them damaging. I like to rage against the stereotypes. It’s like Rage Against the Machine but with less power chords.

Yes, I am a submissive man. No, I am not weak. I find your correlation of “submissive male” and “weakness” disturbing (and furthermore the association of submission in general!).

No, I am not a cuckold. No, I am not pathetic, nor am I snivelling, a worm, or any other value-decreasing adjective, and I refuse with enthusiasm the conjecture that these are requirements for male submission. The entire point of me and my submission is that I have fucking value. How else am I appealing? I have strength. I’m comfortable in my masculinity and in my submission, and boy let me tell you but society had a fun time telling me the opposite to that one!

How can you have a power exchange without the power? It’s like a paraphrase without the phrase. I want to build myself up, not build myself down, and I’m writing this as a call out to others, male or female, who feel this way. There’s something seriously wrong with the popular conceptions of all of this, and I want to help change it.

I don’t want to have to sacrifice one aspect of my personality to adhere to a certain set of expectations, a sort of “twisted” rulebook quietly set up to go about our business without forcing society to actually re-evaluate what it means to be dominant, what it means to be male and/or masculine, or any gender, really, so I’m not going to.

This is me standing up and calling out. I’m a submissive man, and I’m comfortable in that. I have strength, I enjoy that strength, and I’m looking forward to the day where I find someone who enjoys it too. Until then (and even after then), I’m just gonna be here, standing up and telling those stereotypes to fuck right off. Because they’re damaging and they need to change, and if I need to demonstrate that by example, then hell yes will I do so.

mic drop

Submission and Resistance

In the Submissive men and women who love them group on Fetlife, someone recently asked an interesting question, which I’m going to paraphrase here for convenience:

If you enjoy it when a man submits to you, is it better if he automatically gives no resistance, or if he fights back a little bit/legitimately resists you?

This is why I ask, in case it gives a more clear picture: I am a sub, but the way my spirit is, I cannot give control to someone who cannot prove to me that she deserves it, not just based on my desire to be dominated.

Like others in the thread have said, I think there are really two questions here – whether it’s reasonable to expect your dom to earn your submission, and whether any doms out there enjoy resistance play. My answer to both of those questions is yes, but stopping there would make for an awfully boring post 🙂

Personally, I have no interest in a sub who acts like his submission isn’t valuable. Self-loathing and/or the lack of any sense of self-preservation is just not attractive to me, and neither is the implication that there’s nothing special about me, that this guy is just submitting at the nearest woman who will tolerate him. I want someone who knows that he is awesome and isn’t about to throw his submission at just anyone. I want someone who will get to know me over time and submit to me because he thinks I’m awesome and knows that I can be trusted to take care of him. For me, kink only works if it’s personal, and as soon as someone submits to me because “she’ll do” it’s not personal anymore.

I think it’s absolutely reasonable for a sub to ask a potential dom tough questions when they’re getting to know each other. If you’re going to put your safety in my hands, you’re damned well entitled to ask how I’d handle it if you were dealing with sub drop and needed me when I was busy. While I don’t want to be interrogated, it’s not terribly difficult to ask questions respectfully. And honestly, if a potential dom freaks out about you having the unbelievable gall to ask her a few questions, you really haven’t lost anything by scaring her off.

However, there’s a difference between a bit of rational self-interest and an exhausting power struggle. I like a little resistance play as much as the next person, but when it comes right down to it you either want to submit to me or you don’t. If you don’t want to, what on earth would I gain by fighting you? Just like submission isn’t worth anything to me if all I have to do to ‘earn it’ is have tits and come within 10 feet of you, it’s also not worth it if you make everything into such a power struggle that my life would be easier without you in it. I have a certain amount of sympathy for people who need to push the boundaries to be sure they’re there, or who are new to submission and still struggling with it, but those people are just not right for me. This may be unfair, but you are in fact a grownup and as such you should have a basic handle on your issues with authority before you come around asking for me to dominate you.

Also, it’s not as unusual as I would like to see some jackass online talking about how tough he is and how he’s had such a terrible time finding a woman who is strong enough to make him submit, and is anyone here brave enough to take the douchebag challenge? Shockingly enough, that doesn’t generally go over well. Being a pain in the ass is not exactly a selling point when you’re looking for a dominant woman. If that’s what we wanted, we could get it from any vanilla guy who’s overly impressed with himself.

Resistance play, on the other hand, can be super hot. It involves a certain amount of play acting, given that I have the upper body strength you’d expect in a sedentary female nerd, but so does a lot of what we do. It’s something I would most likely make me drop afterwards, and I’d only do it with someone I really trusted, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun to think about.

I guess the short version is: for me resistance in play = fun, but resistance for real = come back when you’re ready to submit. What do you think about resistance, readers?

Limits from the top

Today in ‘Things I can’t believe I haven’t already ranted about”: tops have limits too. We tend to talk a lot more about how bottoms have the right to set limits, which makes perfect sense when bottoms are the ones more likely to be physically or psychologically harmed when someone crosses their limits, but I think it’s worth talking about tops’ limits too.

First of all, there are plenty of things I just don’t have the physical skills to do. For example, I can’t throw a long (over 2 feet) whip without hitting myself on the ear, let alone being able to aim for any particular spot. I don’t feel particularly limited by that one since I don’t particularly want to be out of arms reach of my partner while we’re playing, but it is a thing I can’t do. Needles, on the other hand, I would like to try someday, but I don’t have the skills to do a needle scene on my own yet. I’d feel comfortable putting a few needles in someone if I had an experienced needle top spotting me, but I wouldn’t want to go jabbing someone all on my own. And of course my endurance is limited. If you want an hour long flogging scene where you go deep into subspace and just stay there, you’re going to need to find someone whose shoulder is up to it 🙂

There are also things I can’t do and feel good about it afterward. With verbal humiliation, I can tell someone they’re being such a good little slut, but I can’t tell them that they’re stupid, worthless, pathetic, or anything like that. I don’t mean to imply that people who enjoy being called stupid and worthless are doing kink wrong, but it’s just not something I have to offer.

I also have a hangup about no-win situations. While I can intellectually understand how giving someone an impossible task to carry out, then punishing them when they inevitably fail can be a fun way to play with power, I would feel like an asshole if I did that. The idea of putting someone in a no-win situation just reminds me too much of times I’ve been stuck in a situation like that (for example, an ex of mine always used to complain that I wouldn’t open up and talk to him, but every goddamn time I tried to talk with him about anything, everything I had to say was always stupid and wrong), which fills me with rage and is the opposite of fun for me.

Speaking of anger, I am not at all comfortable with the idea of playing while angry, or using play, no matter how well negotiated, to vent anger about anything. Unlike verbal humiliation and impossible tasks, I would advise other people not to do this either. Even if you don’t have the hangups I do around anger, it’s just too easy for a scene based on anger to get out of control. For myself in particular, I have a vicious temper (right here people who really know me are nodding along, and people who only know me a little bit are going “Aw, that’s cute that she thinks she has a temper”) which means I can’t ethically put anyone in a position where I could really hurt them if I lose my temper. I also firmly believe that if I’m going to hit someone in anger, I need to have a much better reason than “I was angry and they were there.” My kinky rule of thumb is that I do things joyfully or not at all.

Finally, I don’t play very hard with people I don’t know well. If I’ve just met someone at a party I’m willing to give them a relatively light flogging, but I’m not going to do anything that leaves much of any bruising. Once I have a better idea of  how much someone can take and how clearly they can communicate mid-scene, I’m willing to go harder, but that always takes a little while.

The point I’m trying to make with all of this is that it’s normal for tops to have limits too. We are not in fact all knowing, all powerful beings who never feel uncertain or squicked out by a certain activity, and it’s unfair to expect us to be. Especially if you’re new to topping, there are going to be all kinds of things you’re just freaked out by, or are interested in but not ready for, or are waiting for just the right person to explore that particular kink with. You get to have limits too, so don’t forget to discuss them too when you’re asking about your bottom’s limits.

Stealth Submission

I was reading an interesting blog post this morning about why stealth submission doesn’t work, and wanted to expand on one of the points AlphaDomme made. To quote from the post, regarding suddenly doing much more housework than usual in hopes that your partner will magically become dominant in response:

After a few weeks of this, you are starting to get tired of doing this work with no “benefit”. Your partner is not even thanking you for what you do around the house yet. And she is not at all turning into the domme of your dreams.

It’s possible there are a few completely selfless people out there who serve their partners out of the kindness of their hearts with no need for anything in return, but the vast majority of submissive people need to have their service acknowledged and to feel appreciated. Without that acknowledgement, the symbiotic exchange that makes kink so awesome can’t happen, and without that exchange, stealth submission is just free maid service.

I think one of the fallacies the idea of stealth submission rests on is the belief that simply being useful is enough to make a submissive person feel satisfied, and that if you want anything in return for your service, even just a pat on the head and a “good boy”, then you must not really be submissive. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Having needs doesn’t make you a bad submissive, it makes you a human being I can connect with. For me, and I suspect for many submissives, kink is about intimacy. If the person on the other end of the dynamic represses all of his needs in the name of being a “good” sub, what he’s really doing is shutting me out. The “perfect” submissive with no needs of his own would be a terrible submissive for me. I get nothing out of feeling like I’m interchangeable, like there’s nothing special about me that inspires his submission.

While it’s unfair to expect the dom to do all of the work of inspiring someone to submit to me, it’s just as unfair to expect the submissive to do all of the work of keeping a power exchange dynamic going. As much as some s-types enjoy feeling “taken advantage of” in a negotiated and mutually satisfying way, a truly one-sided dynamic can only last for so long before the submissive realizes they really are being taken advantage of and leaves. Again, without the dom holding up their end of the dynamic, there’s no connection, no symbiosis.

That’s not to say that the poor woman being submitted at (who is probably wondering if her husband is being so nice all of a sudden because he cheated and feels guilty) can in any way be blamed for not holding up her end of the dynamic, just that it’s impossible for one person to make a dynamic work. Which is exactly why advice to “stealth submit” is a cruel joke – by skipping the all important “talk to your partner” step, it guarantees that the stealth submitter will not get the acknowledgement and appreciation that make submission satisfying.

The sooner we drop the idiotic idea that submissive people shouldn’t have needs, the better off we’ll be.