Armchair Subs

One commonly given piece of advice to those who are new to BDSM is to read.  Go online, browse writings, blogs, fetlife groups, etc.  Educate yourself.  There’s one problem with this: There are built-in assumptions that the reader will be able to discern between the solid advice they’re reading and the total crap.

I hit that trap head-on when I was new.  As I read so many things online I told myself, “I thought I was a sub, but I guess not.  After all, I’m not willing to give total control of my finances, I don’t submit to just anyone who capitalizes their pronouns, and I have limits.”  I questioned whether BDSM was for me since apparently I wasn’t doing it right.  I almost didn’t get involved in the local BDSM community because I was worried I didn’t fit the mold.  Luckily I ran into a few people who told me it wasn’t like that in real life, and that provided me the encouragement I needed.

I run into this in lots of new people as well.  Quite a few new people have very, um,  misguided ideas of what the BDSM community is about and how it operates.  Many of them have the same reservations I had about getting involved because of that.  So I try to blast those fallacies out and replace them with some general ideas of how this works in the real world.

People give total garbage advice online.  One gem I saw recently was in regard to cuckolding.  Someone who was new was trying to understand how anyone can get off on cheating.  I explained the whole consent thing and that it’s only cheating if the sub doesn’t consent to that.  Some Official Internet Expert chimed in with (paraphrasing here) “Dominant women can do as they want.  They know what’s best for us.  It’s not cheating because she can do whatever she wants with no regard to the sub or the relationship.”  This guy, as is the case with most Official Internet Experts, was single and not involved in any kind of in-person BDSM community.

These are the kinds of people pro-doms often cater to.  They generally have this big totalitarian fantasy that they want to live for a short time until they get their rocks off.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, there is something wrong with pushing that on other people and telling them they’re wrong for not doing things the same way.  BDSM is an incredibly individual experience.  Telling someone they’re not doing it right because they have limits is a dangerous approach.  The people receiving that advice may feel pressured to push themselves well past a level of activity they’re ok with.  While many people are able to take the advice they read with a grain of salt, some are more prone to sacrifice to some degree their desires over to the will of another.  This is why education is important.  This is why I find myself countering the online wanker armies at every turn.  And I encourage you to do the same.

Porn is Ruining Femdom! All Shall Perish!

Occasionally people go on about how femdom porn is ruining submissive men’s ideas of what BDSM is “supposed to” be.  They talk about how submissive men usually want all this freaky kinky stuff, pain play, etc.  Often these people will mention how they think women should all be paid to engage in BDSM acts like that since they don’t enjoy them.  If a man expresses a desire to bottom to a woman, he’s frequently met with myriad replies of, “Go see a pro; real women don’t do that.”

I often wonder how much crack one has to smoke before that kind of thinking makes sense.

Yes, submissive men are often masochists as well.  And usually kinky pervs to boot.  But the nice thing is that there are people out there who are looking for exactly that.  There are women who (gasp) enjoy topping men.  There are also people called “sadists” who get off on inflicting pain.  I can attest that they most definitely exist.  Lots of women actually get turned on by doing all these types of play.  It’s not just something manufactured by the porn industry.

Being submissive doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have desires anymore.  We still have them, and we go after what we want just like anyone else.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to engage in things like pegging, toilet play, foot worship, or left-handed albino Nicaraguan clown sex.  People who try to shame submissive men for daring to have desires only show their own lack of intelligence with their attacks.

If someone can’t differentiate between porn and real life, they’ve got bigger problems that likely weren’t caused by porn.  Treating someone like a fetish vending machine is a trait of a less-than-high-quality person.  Rather than blaming porn, why not hold these people accountable for how they choose to be?  Being an asshole has nothing to do with viewing habits and everything to do with personal choices.  Don’t let them off the hook for their actions by blaming porn.  They had the same basic socialization we all did in school, and unless they’re completely agoraphobic, they continue to have some interactions with people on a regular basis.  They also have access to lots of resources online that cover all aspects of social skills.  If they choose to still be cockbuckets in spite of all this, that’s their choice, and they should be held accountable for that choice.

On the payment issue, if the woman in question isn’t into whatever type of play it is with a particular person, she doesn’t have to engage.  She can move on and find someone/something else she’s interested in.  If she doesn’t enjoy topping at all, no one is forcing her to pretend that she does; however, she has no evidence backing her if she says that all women in general don’t like topping.  If she only enjoys certain types of play (and who doesn’t?) that’s completely okay.  Likewise, if she only tops within a relationship or with someone she has chemistry with, there’s nothing wrong with that either.  If she runs into someone who wants to play, and she’s not interested for whatever reason, all she has to do is chalk it up to incompatibility and move on.

It’s a scenario that doesn’t happen nearly enough.  Usually, if person A wants one thing, and person B wants another thing, they can either compromise or just say “we’re not a good fit” and keep searching.  Instead, the reality that more frequently happens is a big chunk of ugly.  They yell at each other, sling insults, attack the other person’s character, accuse the other of being fake, and get into a huge huff over why the other person is wrong.  What’s so hard about just admitting that they aren’t a good match for each other?  Is it an ego-saving thing?  Is it a simple desire to go off on a rant?  Inability to see more than one side of things?  Or are people really just that stupid?

More Bumps in the Road

I frequently see female subs describing themselves as sluts.  It’s not uncommon to hear them describe kink in sexual terms and to desire lots of sex and/or orgasms along with it.  They can want multiple sexual partners (or play partners) without anyone questioning them.  They may crave to be “pimped out” to others by their dom.  This is considered normal, healthy behavior for a submissive woman, and many dominant men are more than happy to oblige.

Now flip that around.  Imagine it’s a male sub.  If he wants sex or orgasm, that supposedly makes him a do-me sub.  Multiple partners?  Getting pimped out?  How selfish!  He must think it’s all about him.  The nerve!  This isn’t all about sex, dammit!  How dare you desire sex with someone you have chemistry with!  You crazy kids with your newfangled sexification!!  I’m calling the police!!!

Likewise, brattiness is often condoned (and sometimes celebrated) in the M/f dynamic.  Contrarily, it’s looked down upon in the F/m crowd.  Any male sub who does this is “not really submissive” or is “topping from the bottom”.  Yet with female subs, “She has spunk” and “He must not be dom enough to keep her under control.”

Service oriented?  Another lopsided issue.  Female subs can be all about sex.  Bedroom submission is perfectly fine, and no one thinks twice about it.  But if it’s a male sub saying these same things, he is again considered a do-me sub.  He gets accused of thinking everything revolves around his cock.  A submissive man is apparently supposed to be perfectly altruistic, mindlessly deriving exquisite pleasure from doing all the things the dom doesn’t want to do.  Dishes, mopping, dusting, etc. . . . These supposedly bring “real” submissive men great satisfaction in doing them for a dominant woman.

Obviously there are a lot of double standards out there, both within the BDSM community as well as society at large, which affect everybody.  No one is immune.  This is by no means a comprehensive list; I wanted to touch on a few of those that affect submissive men in particular and don’t get voiced nearly often enough.  The only way to get rid of these or any other double standards is to be mindful of them and consciously fight their effects in the world.  These ways of thinking often happen because people confuse their personal preferences with some sort of universal standard.  Eventually, with enough vocal proponents, one way of thinking wins out and becomes prevalent.  Those coming into BDSM then think that’s the only way to do it, and either conform or go underground with their own way of doing it.   (Is it any wonder so many dominant women and submissive men have trouble coming to terms with their desires?)  Combating this involves voicing an unpopular opinion, standing up and saying, “This is me.”  So simple, yet frequently difficult for many.

Honing Your Submissive Skills

Submission is hard.  There are all these rules and codes of conduct to follow.  One wrong move and you are forever banned from the Canonical Registered Association of Certified Kinky Humble Enslaved Acquiescent Docile Submissives, or C.R.A.C.K.H.E.A.D.S.  How can you keep it all straight without losing your certification as a real true submissive?  Fortunately, the internet has all the answers.  Thanks to this wondrous resource, you can be kept on the straight-and-narrow by a bunch of morons who have no idea how this works in real life a selection of Esteemed Experts in the field of female dominance.

I present here for your perusal a portion of Article IV, Section 7, Clause D, Amendment 9 of The One True Way™ (Volume 13: Female Dominance and Male Submission)-

  • You are not allowed to have any needs or desires of your own.  You should be elated that she is lowering herself to spend any time with you at all.  Be grateful for the little bit of attention you’re given.  It’s not your place to have emotional needs.  Your joy comes solely from her pleasure.  Besides, you’re a man, so you should be stoic every moment of your life.  No facial expressions, either.
  • She doesn’t want to know anything about you, so don’t bore her with those insignificant details.  This is all about her.
  • Submissive women are allowed to have a sex drive and to want sex and/or orgasm with their scenes.  This is normal and healthy.  But you, as a male sub, are not allowed to have these same desires.   Doing so will brand you as a do-me sub.  You’re so selfish.  You must think this revolves around you.  This isn’t all about sex, dammit!  How dare you desire sex with someone you have chemistry with!  You crazy kids with your newfangled sexification!!  I’m calling the police!!!
  • All discussions about the relationship will be had in full d/s protocol.  You must agree to everything she says without exception and abide by whatever terms she comes up with.  Because you’re submissive.  It’s what you do.  If the terms she sets leave you unfulfilled or less than happy, then you must not really be submissive.
  • BDSM is all about housework.  You must always draw great satisfaction from doing someone else’s housework.  Never question her motives.  She’s ordering you to do her grunt work because she’s dominant, not because she wants to avoid doing the work herself.  No one would ever think of taking advantage of you.  Besides, service-oriented submission is the only real type of submission out there.  If you’re not service-oriented, you’re just playing games and wasting everyone’s time.  If you’re not doing more than your share of housework while she sits on her ass, you’re committing a grave sin: the dreaded Topping from the Bottom!  Unclean!  UNCLEEEEEAN!!!
  • Throw lots of money at her.  In addition to housework, BDSM is about money.  These two things are at the heart of it.  There is no better way to show your submission than to bankrupt yourself by buying presents from someone’s wishlist of trivial extravagances.  You may never be able to retire or move out of your parent’s basement, but on the bright side, she has that new designer handbag that she can take with her when she goes out on the town and doesn’t think of you for a single second.
  • It’s perfectly normal for her to have multiple relationships while disallowing you any contact with other women.  You shouldn’t think any less of her because she wants the benefits of poly without the responsibilities of it.  Likewise, don’t be bitter that she can’t handle the same emotions she wants you to live with.  Wanting one-sided poly doesn’t make her a hypocrite at all; rather, it multiplies her domly powers of domliness.

If you follow all this advice, soon you will be on your way to being the top online wanker in the universe!  The most real true subliest sub who ever subbed!  You can sit at home and tell everyone how they should be doing it if they want to be real like you.  You’ll have legions of followers… online.  None of it will actually translate into the real world, but the real world is overrated anyway.

White Meat? Dark Meat? Who Cares?

Even before cuckolding was on my radar, I’d noticed a prevalence of race play intertwined with it.  After having an experience with cuckolding (and realizing it really got me hot in spite of me wanting it to stop) I started digging around a little more.  And even after looking around in more depth, I see race is still a huge factor for a lot of people.  In nearly every cuckolding resource I’ve looked into, there’s a huge element of race play going on.  The consensus seems to be that when the other man is black, it’s more humiliating and thus a more powerful experience.  (I have a problem with that thinking, but I’ll get into that later in this post.)  A local friend (and cuckoldress) gave her thoughts on this recently, and her perspective made me think.  She was essentially saying that it was playing into the stereotypes of black men being more masculine and more of a threat to the sub’s masculinity.

Men in general are taught from a young age that we have to be hyper-competitive, never show emotion, always be ready for sex, know how to tear an engine apart, etc.  From talking with some black friends, this pressure is even stronger in black culture.  (Full disclosure: As a pasty white guy, I’m no expert on what it’s like to be black; this is just an outsider’s perspective.)  There seems to be much more of a push for black men to toe the line in this area.  So I don’t find it too surprising that they’re perceived as more masculine by some.  (In a way I pity the fact that they have to deal with that level of societal pressure though; I find the amount I have to put up with is already incredibly irritating, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for them.)

So I can somewhat understand the perception of added masculinity considering the way many black men are more heavily indoctrinated with these stereotypes.  However, cuckolding is infused with humiliation.  It’s one of the main reasons to do it.  In that context, I’ve always seen the racial element as insulting to the other man.  Why should the woman fucking a black guy make it more humiliating for the sub?  It always seemed a rather racist mindset to me.  Sort of a “She’s fucking someone else?  That’s humiliating.  Wait, he’s black?  Now that’s low.”  I just don’t get why the other man’s race should make it more humiliating for the sub.

Maybe I don’t understand it because I don’t perceive cuckolding in general as a threat to my masculinity. I’ve never gotten anything out of the whole “not a real man” stuff; I tend to laugh it off. Either that or I take the approach of, “If you have a problem with me, we can talk about it outside of a scene and work towards a solution. If you feel I’m a waste of your time, there’s the door.”  I feel that (for best results) the sub should be secure in himself before engaging in cuckolding.  And so I don’t feel threatened by it or by the other man.  If it’s someone who is perceived as more masculine than me, so what?  I don’t place much value in many of society’s measuring sticks.  I’ve got more important things in my life.

All that said, I feel it’s possible to have fantasies like that without it bleeding over into everyday life.  There are a lot of politically incorrect forms of play out there, and people should feel free to enjoy them as long as they don’t rub them in others’ faces or take any of those -isms to heart.  It’s a matter of personal choice as to whether one should risk doing (or talking about) certain things in the community.  Sometimes it’s worth it, and other times not.  Bringing things into the public eye will always invoke disapproval from some, especially when it’s a highly charged or contentious topic.  But it can be worth it in the sense that it unites those who do enjoy it, and it can be an educational experience for a lot of people.  It may even give someone inspiration to try something new.

I Was Into BDSM *Before* It Was Cool!

At FetFest, I was asked to sit on a panel for a discussion.  Also on the panel were Midori, undergroundsea, and one other person whose name I can’t remember because I suck.  People were asking lots of questions, but not so many that we couldn’t devote time to each.  Being held outside under some trees was an added bonus.  Very peaceful vibe, and lots of comfy inflatable camp furniture.

One question from the audience lit up my neurons though.  Someone had asked if the popularity of books like “50 Shades” and its ilk have impacted the BDSM community in a positive or negative way.

I personally have not seen an influx of people stemming from the books.  If we do start to see more people coming into the community as a result of the media, it could go either way: We could get a lot of people who are genuinely curious about BDSM, or we could get a bunch of gawkers who are only there to laugh at the freaks.  I think we have enough resources in the community to police the latter and make them uncomfortable enough to never want to return.  It’s too early to say whether this will be necessary.  We’ll deal with it if it happens.

One positive note on books like this is that they get people talking.  Many are afraid of bringing up kinky ideas to their partners for fear of their reactions.  Will they laugh at me?  See me in a different light?  Respect me less?  Leave me altogether?  Plus, lots of couples’ communication is severely lacking when it comes to sex.  They often expect their partner to know exactly what they like.  Rather than simply telling the other person what they like, some people fake orgasm, which actually trains the other person to do it wrong.  Plenty of couples just don’t do communication very well.  So if basic sex is hard to manage because of this communication barrier, how much more so would kinky sex be?  Books of this genre help nudge those gates of communication open.  They also make people more comfortable with alternative sexuality.  Instead of being in the realm of ridicule, certain activities can now be seen in a sexier, more appealing light.  This leads to more couples practicing BDSM.

I’m sure the safety police are horrified of that.  Yes, lots of people may jump into pervitude without educating themselves first.  They may not come to demos and parties, and they might not research their chosen types of play online.  Which increases the chance of injury.  But didn’t many of us start that way?  Just playing around privately with a partner?  If it works out for them, they’ll dig deeper.  And if not, they’ll move along.

Plenty of Popular Porn Posturing

Complaints are frequently aired about submissive men who confuse femdom porn with reality.  Understandably so.  It’s unrealistic to expect your partner to wear leather or latex every single day, keep you in a cage whenever she’s not beating or fucking you, and never have an off day.

But there’s another aspect to this that I see frequently with women who are new to dominance or topping.  They can also confuse porn with reality.

I saw glimmers of this with two different women last night at a party, and it’s something that has popped up many times for as long as I’ve been involved in the local community.  There seems to be an initial expectation on their part that they have to be Princess IcyBitch.  Maybe they feel it’s what’s expected or what they think the sub gets off on.  Or it could be that they’ve simply read too much of the wankery in message boards and watched some femdom porn.  Or maybe they feel that it shows confidence.

To the latter point I say that it actually shows more confidence to be oneself, to laugh and smile and enjoy the scene without putting on a mask.  (Role-play scenes can be fun, but if that aspect of the scene isn’t negotiated, it can be a little unsettling to the other person.)  When I see a top scowling, using a sharp tone, and trying to be mean, I see it as a lack of confidence.  To me, the confident ones are the ones who seem at home in the scene, the ones who are comfortable doing what they do without acting.  If I want to play with you, I want to play with you.  The you I know from munches and other events.  I want to play with you because I enjoy who you are and how we interact.  If you’re glaring at me and using a dismissive tone, it makes me think you don’t want to be there playing with me.  But a top who smiles and laughs and shows that she’s actually enjoying what we’re doing is a huge pleasure to play with.  (As an aside, laughter is also incredibly hot, especially when said laughter is caused by the bottom’s pain or humiliation.)  There’s no need to be anyone other than you.  Unless you’re a total crackhead, in which case you may want to work on that first.

I get that some bottoms enjoy that mean, cold I-don’t-care vibe.  They have every right to get into that.  But it shouldn’t be the default setting for everyone.  There are other options.  Finding one’s own style of dominance or topping takes time, and so a lot of newer tops fall into meanicybitch mode when they first start out.  It’s important to keep in mind that these women in femdom porn are usually actresses.  They’re acting.  Playing a role.  It’s what they do.  And many don’t engage in BDSM in their personal lives, in which case they have no idea how things typically go or what’s possible.  They do what sells.  The people who consume BDSM porn most frequently (especially pay sites) often don’t have much overlap with those who do BDSM.  So when people try to carry this fictional online erotica over into the real world, it doesn’t always translate well.