Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Musings on what we are

Reading through some thoughts on other blogs over the past few days, I noted that a number of individuals equate dominance and submission with a specific gender, an oft-repeated mindset that I find perplexing.

I had to really muse on why it irritated me and realized that it tweaks my feminist bone in that it is such a traditionalist and hidebound interpretation of the dynamic, not to say incorrect (there are many instances of female-dominated societies in nature). I also believe that many people cling to the CREATED myth of the stalwart breadwinner and stay at home mum which really only existed in the minds of mid-20th century television writers.

I am not a believer in the “me Tarzan, you Jane” school of thought. The reality is that I do not perceive dominance or submission as gender-specific. The assumption that because a human being has a penis dangling between his legs somehow makes him authoritative, capable, commanding and possessing that special something that makes an individual dominant is simplistic and simply trite.

To clarify, if for the individual, male dominance is what turns their crank, then more power to you. Each of us is entitled to create a dynamic which works for the needs of our own psyches. But what I object to is a wholesale assumption that ALL males are innately dominant and ALL females are innately submissive.

I’ve speculated before about the ethereal nature of dominance and submission and struggled with describing whether it is a need, a bred in the bone habit, or an intrinsic part of our psychological makeup. While I still don’t have a definitive answer, I know that my own personal journey has revealed my submission as an integral part of the complicated facets of what makes me, me. Not a choice in the sense that I ‘choose’ to be submissive but a compelling urge and one, when matched with the commensurate need of a dominant who ‘calls’ to me, provides an all encompassing, to the soul kind of comforting rightness.

Truth be told, there are times in my life I wish I COULD be dominant; the whole submission mindset sucks the big one at times and recently, I have realized how much it can permeate my outlook in its entirety – apart and separate from any sexual or BDSM-related issues.

I’m not speaking specifically of general actions – i.e. how I comport myself in work-related situations or in the public at large; I continue to be assertive, organized and capable and have no problem with establishing autonomy outside my personal relationship. However, there is no question that the submissive core of me is reactive – extraordinarily and at times, frustratingly so – to a certain dynamic.

I’ve never been entirely able to decode or describe why it is that a certain personality strikes sparks in the submissive part of me. I do know it is not gender-specific and it is HIGHLY unusual (in that, there aren’t a lot of people who “pull” me). While I learned a very long time ago, I was submissive and learned early on to laugh at those who denigrate, belittle or otherwise attempt to malign those of us who don’t immediately grovel before their Almighty Masculine (sorry, it is ALWAYS masculine) Dominance, I find myself intrigued and often frustrated at my inability to truly understand WHY a certain personality ‘calls’ to my submission.

I don’t even have a proper label for that.

But it is as if something awakens inside, something stirs deep within my soul, a resonance and vibrating awareness, a hyper clarity of thought and need, a yearning which sets the hair on the back of my neck quivering, which creates moisture between my thighs, hardens my nipples and creates a mindset that is uniquely different to the workaday face I show to the world at large.

Sexuality and submission are inextricably entwined in my psyche and I cannot experience one without the other. Where I submit, I desire, and I cannot desire without a commensurate need to submit. And the sex of the Dominant just is not an issue – it is the nature of the individual, the resonance that vibrates between us, the inexplicable tug created by the meshing of certain personalities.

The older I get the I begin to understand that our sexuality is simply another facet of the complicated creatures that we are. The gender we present as is not always the one we internalize and because of the intricacy of the human species I truly believe how we react to each individual is unique to that dynamic and as such, cannot be dependent on something as simplistic as genitalia.

I also truly believe that that there are levels and degrees of dominance, of submission and of a blending of the two. Thus, we have those who see themselves as dominant – entirely; those who perceive themselves as submissive – entirely; and others who see themselves as a blending of the two. Further, there are individuals in the world who simply do not present as either sex – that are in essence asexual.

I know that I have struggled at times to understand why I am the way I am; I have looked at upbringing, basic nature, nurturing and experience and have yet to completely comprehend the nature of the beast. But what I did ascertain is that even in the nature of what I am, there are degrees of intensity and intricacy.

On a former blogging site, some of the BDSMers were fond of using the term “alpha” submissive; often used in the context of a poly relationship wherein the Master had a number of submissives but the “alpha” remained his primary and was generally perceived to have greater status, to have strength of character beyond the others and an assertive and determined personality.

Truth be told, I’m not terribly fond of the term as I find it somewhat misleading and exclusionary. Perhaps without the intention of being so, it somehow delineates (in my mind) a “greater” or “lesser” than status that I find problematic and off-putting.

However, for lack of a better term, I do understand the context of the term... and would claim it for myself for lack of a better one.

For in truth, I’ve often thought that in the right situation, I could conceivably dominate another, less forceful submissive but ONLY under the hands of a strong Master. The gender of either would again be not dependent on what was between their thighs but on the essence of their personalities.

The point I guess is that in the end, simplistically dividing our BDSM world into Dominant OR Submissive simply doesn’t work in reality. It is, when all is said and done, the core values, abilities and nature of the individual who decides their orientation, not their gender.


Anonymous said...

Your musings, ironically, highlight some of the reflections I have had lately on the dom/sub considerations. Quite honestly, until I started reading you, I probably never gave it much more thought other than my own ill-conceived generalizations or reinforced stereotypes involving whips, chains and pain-seekers. Most of what I have learned has come from reading your blog and others like it. I find it all fasinatiing.

Generally I would say that I am dominant but I can see that in some relationship I would probably be more submissive.

The strong career oriented women I know (while I haven't been with them sexually)are tough as hell in negotiations and transactions, but I would place money that nearly all of them would probably response in a positive way to a dom partner. There is something about being "in charge" in professional life that appeals to me in some instances to be submissive.

Keep writing. Love hearing your thoughts and perspectives.

Buffalo said...

The argument that dominance, or submissiveness, is gender specific is redundantly specious. I suspect that men who further that argument may be more than a bit insecure in their role as a dominant.

littleone said...


This whole discussion of male = dominant has intrigued me for many a year...

when someone says to me "i could NEVER serve a female (or a male - depending on the sex of the sub)" i always reply - "what difference does it make who is at the other end of the paddle???"

i have been dommed by both sexes.. most of the women i served were harder than the males..... shrug.. personally i think they thought they had something to prove.. but who knows for sure....

like you i am drawn to many qualities.. not just the title... or the sex for that matter..

good article!!

morningstar (owned by Warren)

Loving Annie said...

label;s are always inadequate... There are so many variations and desgrees of similarities and differences with sexual preferences/waht rattles your cage. It's easier to say there is an inclination at the moment, than to be defined permanently one way or the other...

Anonymous said...

although I write as a dominant male I could not agree with you more that gender has nothing to do with it. I sincerly hope it has never come through in my writing that I think I am a dom because I am male.

cutesy pah said...

oh, dear selkie, I sincerely hope you weren't getting this impression from my writings. I certainly didn't mean it in that fashion if you did.

cutesy pah

selkie said...

honestly,wasn't attacking anyone - just on my forays about the net, I often see that mindset and it tweaked me ... which is not always a bad thing as it often makes me think too, both in terms of the bigger picture but also on a micro basis - how it affects me.

Annie- I like the way you put it - very apt.

TG - ironically, there are often far more male submissives than female in reality - for that very reason - often it is such a relief to let go for once.

buff, acbsoultely.

morningstar - again, another point on which we agree! So far, I am SO enjoying your musings and the only thing I disagree with so far is the clothing issue - and that's just a matter of choice!

Sir J - not for a MINUTE do I see you in any way chauvinsitic! Nothing I've read of your excellent blogs suggest that at all!

Liras said...

Very thoughtful.

No wrong with a measured attack. That is part of discourse and part of being a rational human being.

I retch at the whole notion of an 'alpha sub'. At what point does love begin and competing stop? (Maybe it doesn't??)

People need to quantity, to place, to label.

In my case, someone is always trying to push me into one space or another. Or yet another...

selkie said...

Liras, I agree about the label "alpha" I always feel like I'm in a Laurel Hamilton novel when that comes up - and have rejected it.

I don't like labels at all but then anyone who reads me at all knows that. We are far too complex to be placed neatly into little boxes.