Reading sexual writing viscerally pains me these days. For a supposed “sex blogger,” this is a huge problem. In order to write well, I need to read a lot, and when I can’t read others’ sex blogs I’m sharply hamstrung.
And why do I have this much trouble? Because the concept of eroticization itself has become a site of immense anguish. Every time something “swings my thoughts in that direction,” I hurt. And deeply. Read my archives and you’ll no doubt see I’ve become darker, more bitter, more jaded, meaner, more ugly. I’m scarred and scared and broken and horribly disfigured. And I’ve said all of this before.
To continue under the sabotaging influence of the epistemic abuse present in the euphemistically named “sex-positive” bubble in which I (try to) live, I’ve begun to tell pieces of my own story. I’ve dug up my own past experiences to use as inspiration because reading the experiences of others reliably sends me into a tailspin of outrage and jealousy and resentment.
What I’m trying to do in all of this is to get you—and everyone you know—to ask one simple question: “How did this happen to maymay?” If I’m really lucky, you’ll also ask the two obvious followups: “Is it happening to other people?” (the answer is yes, by the way) and “How can we make it better?” I’ve been staring at several drafts and struggling to make them coherent in order to lead my readers (and parts of myself) along that quest.
But in the meantime, Delving into Deviance published a post that I’ve been waiting to read from a self-identified dominant woman for a long, long time. Best of all, I could get to its end because it was mercifully free of the sexual triggers that so often make me “step aaawwaaayyyy from the computer!”
[P]ublic adoration (and objectification) of a male submissive is rare. As I’ve come to realize the fucked up state of femdom, I’ve concurrently become aware of the fucked up state of male submission – namely, it’s devaluation. While female dominants are made out to be some scarce resource, male submissives are depicted as a dime a dozen – common, and, even more disturbingly, weak and worthless.
What is it that makes dominant women uncomfortable with femdom? There are a lot of things. One of the biggest is the sexist attitude that is rampant in the BDSM community. It often seems like women have to remain ice queens, untarnished by actually having penile-vaginal intercourse with their male subs. However, if they want to they can become more male, and thus, more dominant by strapping on and becoming – duh duh duh – The Penetrator. This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with strapping on (I’m a fan myself), but a sex act does not a Dominant (or a submissive) make and we can’t just superimpose the male-female dichotomy onto Dominant-submissive and expect that to make anyone happy.
It’s not just female dominants who are getting a raw deal and are having to battle through a mire of expectations in order to engage in the kink they thought they loved. Male submissives find themselves in a community with very few potential partners. Of the potential partners, many will be professional dominatrices, and many (even non-pros) will expect their submission straight out of the gate because of a hidden assumption that if you’re a submissive man you must be willing to submit to just anyone. In defense of these Doms, the moment a woman signs up for any BDSM website she will get an influx of messages from men offering just that – men who want to be her “slave” who have never even had a conversation with her. However, after wading through these fantasists, a dominant woman will eventually find a man who fits her bill because she is valued, and thus, many men will be willing to try to do so.
Submissive men, however, have a much harder time. Because there is this perception of a ratio like 1:20 and because many submissive men either perpetuate the femdom icequeen-bitch ideal that no woman can or perhaps should live up to on a day-to-day basis, male submissives become devalued.
Some have suggested that female pro-dommes also devalue male submission (my boyfriend for one). I don’t think that pro-Dommes cause this problem, but I think that oftentimes they don’t help. Pro-Dommes meet a need. They are the supply to a demand. However, they contribute to the perpetuation of a picture of female domination that just doesn’t reflect real life. But they’re not the root of that problem. As a parallel, just because vanilla men have sex workers and porn doesn’t mean that they don’t know that they can’t expect the same look and sex acts from their girlfriends and wives. However, imagine a world in which vanilla men didn’t meet any women until they began encountering sex workers and porn. This could lead to a much more confusing dynamic for both those vanilla men and the non-professional women they might encounter.
It’s not only extremely validating to me to read these words from someone else, it’s also extremely important to me that these words were written by a self-identified dominant woman. An unpopular truth is the fact that it is because of the fucked up attitudes Delving into Deviance describes (and that Thomas Millar described more academically) that it almost doesn’t matter how long I, maymay, a submissive man have been saying this—and publicly—for almost half a decade now. People just won’t listen or will derail me (sometimes with their own de-contextualized categorical privilege arguments; “but you have male privilege!”) nearly as much as they’re going to listen to a dominantly-identified individual.
That’s the same fucked up bullshit happening elsewhere. The feminist movement needs feminist men not because women are in fact weak, but because men have a privilege women do not. Black people need White allies. Similarly, submissive people need dominants to speak the fuck up with—not for, with—us.
On a personal note, it’s worth calling my own writing out as vicious and angry because when it comes to the niche of the BDSM community and its interactions, I am an angry, bitter, broken man. I wish I were some kind of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, filled with nothing but love for all oppressors. But I’m just not that perfect. I’m sorry. I’m really, really filled with sorrow about that. But that’s who I am now—hateful and doing my damnedest to direct that hate where it belongs, rather than where it doesn’t.
Some in the BDSM community think I’m a monster, a troll, or a troublemaker. Well, they made me. So ask yourselves, dear BDSM community: How did this happen to maymay? Because for as long as you don’t, there’s going to be a whole lot more “trouble” to come. I’ll see to that myself.