Submission and Masculinity: Part 2

Since I talked about the way we conflate submission and femininity last week, let’s talk about some more of the consequences of that idiocy this week.

If submission is fundamentally feminine, then acting more feminine is both a way to make a person more submissive and a way to display how submissive you are. I think this is one of the reasons the whole sissy thing is so common. If the only way you know of to be submissive is to be feminine, of course you’re going to assume you need to be more feminine. Just ignore the details of what I actually want, as a straight woman attracted to masculinity. Not that I’m bitter about the stupid gender roles that convince submissive men that they should dress and act in the way most likely to turn me off.

Of course, there’s more going on there, like the idea that fetishes can come from fears. What’s scarier than not being manly enough? In some ways sissification is just another form of small penis humiliation or cuckolding, an eroticized fear. It’s probably not a coincidence that those three kinks so often go together.

Speaking of cuckolding, one of the things that makes that such a common trope in the female dom, male sub world is the idea that a submissive man isn’t a real man, therefore a dominant woman needs a “real” man to sexually satisfy her. Humiliation and an intense demonstration of how powerless he is for the sub, a good fuck for the dom, what’s not to love? Lots.

For starters, I’m hugely offended by the idea that all women are sexually submissive at heart and can only be satisfied by being dominated in bed. Also thoroughly offensive is the idea that submissive men are too weak and girly to provide a woman with a good hard fuck. Newsflash: being submissive doesn’t mean your muscles magically atrophy. What is so goddamn complicated about the idea that giving it to your woman in whatever position she likes until she’s good and done with you is a submissive act? If you’re doing it exclusively on your dom’s say so, it’s not a dominant act. I’d rant more about the idea that any act is fundamentally dominant or submissive, but that’s a separate post.

Back at the issues with submission being equated with femininity, it seems like a common part of being submissive is the desire to be desired, as in these quotes:

Axe“Maybe that’s why I respond so strongly to being objectified as a sex-object. Something wanted and desired so badly that she can’t help but just fucking take me. “

Peroxide“One of the big draws of D/s for me is that I see Dominance as an expression of desire, hand over all the control to my partner and she still wants me, wants my body, that’s incredibly hot.”

(To give credit where it’s due, I swiped those quotes from D‘s awesome post about how desire works in her relationship, which I highly recommend reading.)

It makes total sense that submissive people of any gender would want to be desirable. As I understand it, to be submissive is to want to be pleasing to your partner. It’s a lovely idea, but it gets all twisted and rotten where an interest in power exchange meets our culture’s deeply fucked up ideas about gender and desire.

If women are the only ones who can ever be desired, then to be desirable you  have to be feminine. Given the lack of any examples of male desirability, it makes sense to assume that the only way you’ll ever get to hear about how hot you are, how delicious you look, is to make yourself feminine. It’s just heartbreaking to me to think that so many submissive men believe the only way they can be seen as beautiful is to force themselves to be something they’re not. It’s especially sad given that for me, masculine submission is the hottest thing there is.

Thanks to our fucked up ideas about gender, submissive men get to think they’re not real men, that they’re unfuckable, unlovable, pathetic, and good for nothing but being humiliated about their lack of manhood while their partners fuck other people. Gee, I can’t imagine why submissive men would have so much trouble accepting the fact that they’re submissive.

17 thoughts on “Submission and Masculinity: Part 2

  1. Amen and also amen.

    Hell, I’m bisexual. I like femininity, mostly the dominant sort but I’m good with submissive femininity sometimes too, And I *still* don’t want my submissive men to try to be femme as a way to be submissive!

    It’s a little different when it’s someone who clearly is naturally femme, and also submissive, and also male. Not always my thing, but it doesn’t have this weird skeevy vibe to it.

    I wish more sub guys knew that they don’t have to be an alpha male to be beautiful and desirable, but that a lot of us love their masculinity for its own sake. Like a fine racehorse under rein, or a motorbike between your thighs, you know?

    • Not always my thing, but it doesn’t have this weird skeevy vibe to it.

      Yeah, the whole self-loathing, trying to force yourself to be something you’re not is kind of an anti-turnon.

      Like a fine racehorse under rein, or a motorbike between your thighs, you know?

      Exactly! Restrained power is so very very hot.

    • This is wonderful article! I am a woman in my 30’s, and especially now I really find a thought of a very masculine and receptive, submissive man very, very hot! That comment about a horse or a car or something is exactly what I would describe it.. When I was young teenager I trained a very difficult, even dangerous stallion, he was a beautiful, strong minded horse and very hard to bend under control, but when I succeeded, he was wonderful to ride. Not easy ever, always like a Ferrari under you, ready to get out of hand, but controlable force of nature. Sorry my English, I’m from Scandinavia.

  2. It’s easy to think that female dominance and male submission are a sure-fire way of subverting patriarchy, by ‘queering’ it inasmuch as femdom violates so many of the tropes that are central to various patriarchal narratives. But as you rightly point out, it’s far more complex and paradoxical than that.

    The conundrum is a difficult one, particularly for dominant or indeed submissive women who are also feminists – namely how to express their dominance or their submission fully and fulfillingly without unconsciously introducing patriarchal ideology through the back door.

    As you point out, many of the F/m tropes are a throwback to some of the most reactionary patriarchal gender assumptions about ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ which are richly reflected in the iconography and practice of ds.

    Getting out of the ideological jail in which we find ourselves is not going to be easy. Fifty years of feminist struggle has demonstrated that. It would help if we could start by recognising that the ideological notion of immutably fixed gender roles is a vast edifice of lies upon lies that alienates us from our own rich humanity.

    Maybe finding alternative, non-stereotypical D/s play scenarios would be a small step in the right direction.

    • It’s easy to think that female dominance and male submission are a sure-fire way of subverting patriarchy

      Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy?

      Maybe finding alternative, non-stereotypical D/s play scenarios would be a small step in the right direction.

      Oooh, that’s an interesting idea. It would be great if there were so many other examples of fun and fulfilling ways to play that people didn’t feel like they had to fall back on the whole “worthless worm, not worthy to touch me” thing because that’s all they’ve seen.

  3. I never had any insecurities that being submissive meant I wasn’t a man, or was somehow less of a man. The only difficult part for me in acknowledging to myself that I’m submissive was worrying that people might get the wrong idea about me, based on all the stereotypes. I hate the stereotypes of female dominance and male submission. It doesn’t look anything like what I want. I want it to be loving, tender, and affectionate, even the S&M parts of it, and anyone who doesn’t think it can be that way doesn’t have a very good imagination.

    • The only difficult part for me in acknowledging to myself that I’m submissive was worrying that people might get the wrong idea about me, based on all the stereotypes.

      It seems like there’s no escaping that one, even if you are lucky enough not to get caught by the idea that submission isn’t manly. The stereotypes are pretty awful, no wonder so many people are completely put off by them.

      anyone who doesn’t think it can be that way doesn’t have a very good imagination.

      Damn right!

  4. Bravo! Bravo! Great post. My wish is that some day those stereotypes will be crushed but alas I feel not in my lifetime. It took me years to get past them myself and accept that my submission does not make me less of a man. I even came out to my wife after 25 years and although she accepts that I am, after 7 years she is still quite uncomfortable with the idea. Mostly because she still can’t get past them.

    • I even came out to my wife after 25 years

      Eeep, that must have been terrifying.

      after 7 years she is still quite uncomfortable with the idea. Mostly because she still can’t get past them.

      That sucks. On the one hand it’s unfortunate that after 7 whole years someone wouldn’t be able to get past the stereotypes, but on the other hand a lifetime of being trained to be a good girl who doesn’t do things like that has got to be awfully hard to get over.

  5. I think that a lot of submissive men or men with a submissive side can’t or don’t really believe that many women will find them desirable if they see that side of them (of course, things get even more complicated when you’re trying to find someone whom you desire who desires you back). Not only does it go against the grain of hegemonic ideas about what makes each gender desirable and what each is attracted to, but certain dynamics within the scene don’t make it any easier. The perennial demographic problem means that most sub guys aren’t going to have an easy time finding someone interested, and those that do are going to be “the picks of the litter” (probably some other guy who is hotter, richer, funnier, smarter, taller—i.e., more of a man—than you are). And women who identify themselves as dominant or switch whose only serious romantic relationships are with dominant or switch men (whom they never top) and who always keep their relationships with sub guys on a desexualized, play partners level (because we’re really all into cuckolding and sexual denial and frustration by sneering ice queens, rite?) is common enough that I often wonder if it’s more common than dominant women who have actually have real relationships with sub men. This is all on top of a broader cultural narrative too that suppresses the idea that women want in general and teaches them that it’s not safe to express or demonstrate desire.

    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.

    • And women who identify themselves as dominant or switch whose only serious romantic relationships are with dominant or switch men (whom they never top) and who always keep their relationships with sub guys on a desexualized, play partners level (because we’re really all into cuckolding and sexual denial and frustration by sneering ice queens, rite?) is common enough that I often wonder if it’s more common than dominant women who have actually have real relationships with sub men.

      It’s sad, but I wouldn’t actually be surprised if that were true. If submissive guys didn’t have any kind of complex around their submission before, being treated like they’re good enough to play with but never to have a relationship with would certainly give them one.

      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. The awful stereotypes are bad enough, but then you poor bastards get into the scene and find out that not only are you considered a dime a dozen (which is stupid, really great subs are not common), but everyone seems to think you’re some kind of lower life form too. Anyway, if submissive men don’t feel undesirable before they get into the scene, they sure do afterward. I’m planning on going into more detail on that in another followup 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

      I hate that, but I don’t doubt it’s true.

      • 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.

        Like I said, self-perpetuating. Enough time in the scene will leave most sub guys with enough loneliness and anger that we have to learn to swallow it and wear a mask at least long enough and well enough to not scare everyone away if we want any hope of finding a potential partner. Gender presentation aside, one way or the other you are going to be forced to at least appear to be something you’re not most of the time around most people.

  6. “it seems like a common part of being submissive is the desire to be desired”

    That is exactly the case for me. It’s very satisfying to feel that your domme actually does what she does to you out if desire. Cruelty (the bdsm kind, not the seriously hurtful kind) driven by lust is probably the hottest thing in the world for me.

    I’m not used to the feeling of being desired though. When my domme (or anyone else) tells me I’m attractive I get a feeling of immense gratefulness, as if they are doing me a favour.

    Even though f/f femdom porn does nothing for me, I sometimes watch it because the domination seems driven by desire rather than disgust as I so often find in f/m femdom porn.

  7. I’m working a lot of this out for myself. I have a couple posts up on my blog right now talking about my side, and feelings, about being a Male sub and having a big interest in the Feminization aspect of my kinks.

    Long story short; I’m finding myself not enjoying what FemDom content I can find online having to do with it. A lot of it is intensely sexist, and just not triggering into what I find sexy. When the reactions of the Dommes is disgust, it doesn’t feel like something I want to be part of as a fun sexy time.

    There is so much bullshit sexist gender expectations in kink it makes me wanna tear out my hair -_- why can’t it just be sexy fun and fuck the shitty porn versions of it.

  8. Like Tashi above, this issue is one I’ve long struggled with myself as a submissive man.

    I’ve been aware of the whole feminisation thing for some time, but for a long time I had a dismissive attitude towards it. My logic was that of the post here: “It must be for men who have such a limited idea of gender and sex, they equate ‘submissive’ with ‘woman’, and the only way they can accept a man being submissive is if he’s pretending to be a woman. Poor them.”

    Eventually, I was honest with myself and came to accept that, dammit, it’s nonetheless something that turns me on. It’s not a must-have in my sex life, but I find it a nice addition. And the anti-sexist side of me still finds that somewhat troubling.

    I’ve tried to justify it to myself a few ways:

    “Really, it’s just because I find women more attractive than men, hence I find two women more attractive than a woman and a man. And in the absence of two women, a woman and a man dressed as a woman is the next best thing. Nothing wrong with that, right?”

    Or: “Anyway, it’s not that I inherently associate women with submissiveness – it’s just that much traditionally female clothing also tends to be restrictive and submissive. Corsets, skirts and high heels appeal to me for that reason more than because they’re gendered female.”

    But in the end, it just is what it is. Maybe it was caused, as posts like this one suggest, by the influence of culture, and a lack of images of submissive men; none of us forms our sexuality in a vacuum, after all. But even if we can explain where it comes from, that doesn’t necessarily help in learning to live with it.

    (Sorry if this reads as a pity-me post, by the way; it isn’t meant as one. This isn’t something I lie awake worrying about, but sometimes you just have to vent, and this seemed like a good place to do so.)

  9. And, I found very hot to fantasize when I watched Godfather movies recently, deliciously intense and dominant Al Pacino as Michael Corleone to submit to me 😉 I’m not going to tell what exactly I fantasized, but the thought that he would not easily could submit, was huge turn on..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *