Or, yet another followup on the subject of submission and masculinity.
This post will make much more sense if you’ve read my last two posts, where I talked about how we tend to conflate submission and femininity and the horrible consequences that has, particularly for submissive men. You might also want to have a look at this post by Rachelcq, this one by Peroxide, as well as Bitchy Jones’s and maymay’s entire blogs, as they’re already said everything I’m going to.
Now that we’re more or less on the same page about all the shit that submissive men go through outside of the scene, let’s talk about what happens when they get into the scene.
The BDSM scene likes to promote itself as a utopia where everyone is welcomed with open arms. That’s a nice idea, but how young, female, and attractive you are makes a lot of difference in your reception in the scene. Whether you’ll like the (quite possibly predatory) attention is a separate issue, but in the kink scene some people are more equal than others.
Submissive men are definitely some of the ‘less equal’. They post in a group on Fetlife or another forum, or come to a munch or a workshop or a party, and discover that the welcoming committee they were told to expect has no interest in them. Whether you’re a top or a bottom, if you have tits everyone in the scene wants to be your new best friend. If you’re a male top, you can impress people with how hard you play or how intricate your rope work is or how strict of a master you are. But if you’re a male sub, you’ll slam right into everyone’s discomfort with men who don’t fit neatly into the man box. Rather than deal with their own issues around gender, it’s not at all unusual for people to either avoid dealing with male subs or to subconsciously push them away.
That’s bad enough, but male subs are also considered a dime a dozen. Like I’ve said before, I don’t believe for a second that there are that many more submissive men than there are women who could enjoy dominance if it didn’t have such a horrible image problem, but that doesn’t stop people from saying that there are tens or hundreds of submissive men for every dominant woman, or make it easier for any particular submissive man to find a partner. Hear enough stories about how hard it is to find a woman who actually likes submissive men, especially when those stories line up with everything you’ve ever been taught about what a man should be and how you’ve failed, and of course you’re going to believe you’re destined to die alone.
Then, like TomCatoNineLives commented on my last post:
The point is that these ideas, rotten as they are, aren’t out of accord with the lived experiences of many, if not most, sub guys. And one of the worst parts is that they’re self-perpetuating, because when you can’t believe that someone would be attracted to you, if and when it that does happen, you’ll easily find ways to screw it up. (Not reciprocating for fear that I’d look stupid; getting jealous, possessive, needy, or suspicious; or having a fatalistic “it won’t last so I won’t get too attached” attitude are all things I’ve done in the past in those circumstances.) When that does happen, it only becomes further confirmation of how undesirable you are.
Tell someone enough times that they’re worthless, that they could be replaced by any hundred other people, and of course they’ll start to believe it. Then it comes true, thanks to self-loathing being such an incredible turn off (at least to anyone who isn’t a predator). And blatant scammers like “fidoucheiary dommes” (to use FelixSulla’s term) being the only ones to show an interest in male subs can’t be helping matters.
Another horrible consequence of the idea that there is such a surplus of submissive men is the “submission olympics”, the need to prove that you are the most submissivest of them all if you ever want to find a real live dom of your very own. Given the issues I’ve already talked about with submission and masculinity, this seems to result in this awful race to the bottom with men competing to display the most self-loathing possible and do everything they can to turn off women who actually like submissive men. When that inevitably fails to attract a partner, it’s just more proof that being a submissive man proves you’re unlovable.
To quote from my own reply to TomCatoNineLives’ comment above:
I hate to say it, but one of the things I really like about how my boyfriend doesn’t identify as submissive but acts submissive toward me is that he hasn’t been chewed up and spit out by the scene.
As much as I love submissive men, the idea of being wanted just because I’m the first real live dom to pay attention to them does nothing for me. Desperation and self-loathing are also huge turns offs, as understandable as it is that submissive men would end up that way. I just want someone who likes me, not someone I have to convince that they’re a worthwhile human being. Sad to say, it was easier for me to find that outside of the scene than within it.
God only knows how much more damage I’ll do by saying that, but there’s no use lying about it. The kink scene can damage submissive men so badly that not even dominant women find them attractive. It’s not fair, it’s not their fault, but it happens. And without a magic wand to wave to get people to let go of everything they’ve ever learned about gender roles, I have no fucking idea how to fix it.