I was recently on the Erotic Awakening podcast where Master Dan interviewed me on the topic I’m having a hard time accepting myself as a male submissive. Since I am a much more eloquent writer than I am speaker, I wanted to add to my thoughts here.
Like many male subs coming into the community for the first time (or simply exploring online), I struggled with my identity as a sub. In my first year on FetLife, I switched the role on my profile many times - submissive, switch, primal, exploring, etc.
Through my explorations, I experienced different kinks and generally set my role to whatever interests I was specifically interested in that week. Throughout it all, however, power exchange, D/s, and other such descriptors always stayed there as my primary interest, even when I wasn’t actively pursuing it.
For instance, I am undoubtedly a sadomasochist. I enjoy receiving pain and I enjoy doling it out. Throwing a cute boy up against the wall and making him squeal is just as hot being tied up and flogged until I can’t think straight. But this has little to do with long term relationship dynamics. While I think I would make a good dominant, it wouldn’t be satisfying beyond a night or weekend of temporary fun. What you enjoy in bed or in a scene does not have to match up with how you structure your relationships.
Now, I have an academic interest in gender theory, having studied it both broadly as well as specifically in the media portrayal of gender. You don’t have to work on cars to be a man, you don’t have to have a beard to be a man, you don’t have to be the breadwinner to be a man, and you don’t have to have a penis to be a man. I’m not here to define manhood and masculinity for you - there’s a plethora of writings on that topic by people much more knowledge than I.
My experience shows that where most new submissive men have trouble is in reconciling their submissiveness with the stereotypically and culturally enforced gender norms that are taught and forced upon us in a patriarchal society. So that’s what I intend to tackle here. When we look at power exchange dynamics, I often see newly minted male subs talk about how they are “Alpha” in “real life” and thus don’t understand why they’d want to submit to their partner’s authority.
First, a so-called “alpha male” wouldn’t be going around saying it. It’s the equivalent of telling people you are “very smart”. All it shows to others (and the potential dominants you want to date) is a lack of self-confidence. Confidence and authenticity through your words and actions is incredibly attractive. Show, don’t tell. Lastly, what is “real life?” D/s relationships are real life.
Do you have a job? Then you report to someone. You are responsible to them in some capacity. Whether it’s your boss, your clients, or your Board of Directors, you submit to someone. Military service is another example. In all of history, soldiers and warriors defending their tribes have been considered the pinnacle of manhood and masculinity. Yet they report to others; they serve others - their country, their tribe, and/or their family. They submit to the authority of their superiors.
Taking a look at historically masculine traits as our cultures have defined them, there’s no question that masculinity and submission are excellent pairs. Strength, courage, stoicism, and any number of other traits work here.
Many dominant women love the power D/s affords them over physically stronger partners. In a world where men get socially punished for acting in any way outside the ‘man box,’ it takes an incredible amount of courage to accept your desired relationship style internally as well as by putting yourself out there for play and dating prospects.
The philosophy of stoicism has long been associated with masculinity. This might be one of the first things I’d tell new sub men to work on. Specifically by not making a big deal out of, throwing a hissy fit about, or being a rude fuckboy when a woman rejects you. Follow this simple rule and you are already well ahead of your “submissive” peers. It’s a really low bar to step over. If you can’t take rejection gracefully, you best not be calling yourself a decent human, much less an “Alpha Male.”
So how do you come to terms with your submission? First, relentless introspection. Make sure it’s what you want. Make sure your not just a masochist or bottom, but actually want to serve another and give authority to them.
Second, realize that self-confidence and living authentically are seriously fucking hot. You want a dominant partner, right? You want to step into a real-life D/s relationship and serve the woman you love, right? Well, let me tell you, without self-confidence and authenticity, you won’t make it far. Fake it till you make it, if you have to, and with time, it will come.
Third, ignore porn. Femdom porn is a almost universally terrible resource for lifestyle power exchange. Very little of it shows functioning D/s life partners. Degradation, sissification, and chastity are common themes in Femdom porn that can be culturally associated with losing one’s masculinity. None of these are required of you.
Now, I’m personally a fan of orgasm control, the intimacy and trust required by both parties being incredibly stimulating. Degradation and sissification, however, are not fetishes of mine. But so what if they’re kinks you enjoy? Own that shit, man. You enjoy it, right? It makes you feel good during or after, right? So do it and don’t apologize for your kinks. Wear those panties and enjoy every minute of it. Getting spit on gets you hard? Fuck yeah it does! Enjoy it, my dude.
I get that it can be difficult to accept yourself (which is not at all unique to submissive men, by the way). Your whole life culture has told you to be dominant in every aspect of your life. It also tells you should love eating pizza, but no one’s concerned if you don’t eat pizza. Be you. The real you, however that manifests. Find joy and pleasure in the confidence of bucking societal norms. Take a dick up the ass (silicon or otherwise), crawl on all fours to your whip wielding tormentor, make dinner for your girlfriend and for fuck’s sake clean up after you’re done.
None of these things make you less of a man. So go out and enjoy your kinks you manly man, you.