When it comes to male submission, there seem to be a few models available. In Femdom circles, the “male slime” and “shining knight” archetypes seem popular; in gay leather, it’s usually about hyper-masculinity (beards almost obligatory), and in gay culture as such, I have no clue.
There is, in parts of the BDSM (sub)culture, a tendency to take labels way too seriously, to make them prescriptive rather than vaguely descriptive. Dictionaries have been known to be waved around. And when one trolls the web, as one does, one might get disheartened by the sameness of the role models on offer.
Rather than bemoan the state of affairs, which is not much different today than it was in 2009 when some of the above-linked posts were written, I thought I’d offer an alternative, defining male submission in an individual way.
I’ll make some assumptions: The idea that relationships come in layers, and that the basic relationship layer has to be rock-solid for any D/s overlay to work is an accepted given to me. That moving from a vanilla relationship to one that has a D/s overlay requires a certain degree of submissive paradox and submissive translation I will also take as a given.
Well, maybe submissive translation can be expanded upon a bit. It is a possible solution to the paradox: Say I suddenly discover a desire to have my nose cruelly attacked with clothespins. But I should have to suffer through it, it has to be his whim, not my desire, that leads to it. Well, if my partner is game for most anything, he may be willing to clothespin my nose. Expecting him to also have a deep-burning desire for doing this is taking things a bit too far. That’s where translation comes in: If my partner is willing to top me – that is, do things to me – then it’s on me to do some translation in my head to imagine he’s also dominating me – imposing his will upon me. Although, really, he’s just giving and game. And hopefully also good in bed.
Thumper suggests ((I may seem to have an obsession. Really, he’s just so damn convenient. He’s been blogging consistently for four years, which is extremely unusual for an orgasm denial blog. In that time, he’s touched on just about every topic that a burgeoning sub will encounter, and he blogs about hard stuff and emotions – the interesting bits – a lot)) that there is value in the pre-packaged, off the shelf definitions of male submission: One can try them on, and see which parts fit well. Keep those parts, discard the rest. Fair enough. I like Key Lime Pie, even pre-packaged. And my home-made Key Lime Pie is recognizably the same, just with fresher ingredients and tweaked to taste the way I like it. I even do something similar by reading through Thumper’s blog: I look at all the things he gets up to with his wife, and I can say “I don’t want that, and I don’t want that, and that’s a thing? I really don’t want that.” And now and then, there’s a part where I say “that’s intriguing” or “that’s frightening – and hot.”
Simply said, there are as many ways of living D/s, as many ways of being submissive, as there are people. And then some. Anyone who tries to define who you are for you is not worth listening to.
I love this picture, on so many levels. It subverts a lot of the dominant/submissive stereotypes. The submissive partner is larger, and more muscular, than his dominant. He’s also topping – but simultaneously leashed, and recently spanked, and the dominant is clearly taking his own pleasure.
Strength is important to me as a submissive. Strength of character, and of intellect, and strength in the form of skills, and strength in the form of emotional maturity, and just plain physical strength. The stronger I am, the more I have to offer when I submit. That’s the way I am wired. That’s one alternative to the model of the weak-willed male submissive. Which doesn’t mean I can’t be weak: I’d be a boorish person indeed if I approached my husband with an aura of bluster all the time.
My own path to submission starts with my desire – nay, my need – to obey. Above all else, I want to submit to my husband’s will. I do have my own needs, and I do communicate those. I do need to have my needs met ((how very meta)), so the model of “my own needs are completely unimportant, only his matter” does not work for me. My wants I can and do declare much less important than his. What I can do is have repeated discussions with him about what his needs and wants are. Start there. Then fulfill those, and in so doing, fulfill my own needs, and where I am lucky, wants. I’ve described some of that process in the previous post.
And that is, in a nutshell, it. It’s fairly simple, and yet it has taken me over a decade to get there. On the way, we had the “do(minate) me!” phase, rather than me actually submitting to him; we had the “is it still dominance if I asked you for it? Don’t you just do it now because I said something?” annoying sub-angst phase, we had the “it’s not a need, no, it’s just a want. It’s not important, really” ((Translation: “I am afraid I’ll drive you away and lose you if I admit to myself that this is really a need, not a want.”)) phase.
I’ll use the above picture, where I imagine the two players having a relationship, as a concrete example. Say the submissive in the picture, like me ((not that I’m fantasizing)) has a need to obey, to submit. And the dominant says “I want to be fucked doggy style.” This will push one, likely several buttons for the submissive. By complying, and topping his dominant, he is completely submissive, though the position may suggest otherwise, even if you take the collar and paraphernalia away. That fulfills his dominant’s want to be fucked, and the submissive’s need to obey.
When that path becomes too meta and convoluted and it’s hard to see where I stand, emotionally, it helps to sit and navel-gaze for a bit. Sleep on it. Remind myself of what I truly want. Maybe bust out the needs-and-wants mind map, so very geeky and so very flowing-emotional-artsy all at the same time.
When all else fails, throw all convention to the wind, blaspheme with abandon, queer the roles and see what bubbles to the surface.