Friday, February 27, 2009

Submission ... Part Two (Nature vs. Nurture)

Read Part 1 here

Nurture versus Nature

One school of thought about submissive and dominant personality traits is rooted in the nurture versus nature debate.

The “nature” advocates assert that it is all about basic male/female dynamics; men are larger, stronger, the warriors, the protectors and (in my opinion) the berserkers! The females, smaller, weaker, more vulnerable – needing protection and help when bringing up young. To me that is just not a valid argument.

To begin with, there are MANY examples of larger, stronger females in nature so it is not a legitimate argument to make a blanket statement that the male is naturally dominant. Then again, even in many apparently dominant species, it is actually the ‘smaller’, ‘weaker’ female who directs the relationships (again, google if you want to confirm this).

Also, pure muscle power aside, from a physiological perspective, this “nature” argument is seriously flawed. Females are the ‘original’ sex and continue to remain the ‘stronger’ sex in terms of genetics so in that sense we ARE the stronger sex. We are more hardy in the womb; more premature girls survive than premature boys; boys have FAR more genetic defects than girls, and women, while `carriers`of many other genetic problems, do not actally get the disease which will show up in the males in their genetic pool.

Therefore, arguing "nature" as the basis for the dominant/submission dynamic IS seriously flawed from both an academic and scientific perspective.

So what about nurture?

We live in a very male-dominated society – both in the Western and Eastern hemispheres. Largely the construct of artificially imposed religious doctrine, a trickle effect into almost every stratum of society has ensured there is a continued emphasis on the secondary stature of females and a persistent belief entrenched in law, more and belief, that females are less capable.

As pointed out above, we are inundated with pressures and strictures in our society that perceive women as the nurturer, the mothers, the caregivers and the helper. Conversely, the male is “naturally” the head of the home, the ‘do-er’, the powerhouse, the mover and shaker.

Little girls and little boys are moulded and influenced from birth about their roles, what acceptable behaviours encompass, career choices, even the types of toys they play with. for god's sake, childrne are even segregated according to the COLOUR of their clothing! As if pink will somehow emasculate or blue create a masculine mindset!

The resultant individuals are sometimes fine and sometimes not. Certainly, there are MANY individuals out there who end up with a lot of confused thoughts, heartache and self-hate when they find their natures war against artificially constructed societal imperatives.

In short, throughout our entire lives, each of us is innundiated with imperatives inextricably caught in our concept of our femininity and masculinity. Sadly, even the lexicon in which we commnicate is rife with negative and positive words, many of which have masculine or feminine constructs (calling someone a "cunt' outside of a scene is pretty well universally considered an insult, for instance).

Based on the "nurture" concept therefore, all women should be naturally submissive and all men naturally dominant ... which just isn't the case! Because people WILL be people and invididual characteristics, no matter how fiercely denied or fought, will eventually come out.

Basically, the entire "nurture" debate tries to bring female and male down to simplistic terms and people are just too unique, too individualistic for that to be successfully accomplished.

Keep in mind also, that for a dynamic to work, there is a very individualistic spark that occurs between TWO people - submissive feelings are not engendered by someone merely because they happen to have a penis!

Part Three to follow


Buffalo said...

Question. What long term damage does a person sustain by making a choice that isn't necessarily a viable choice - especially a choice that subjugates that person's nature?

M:e said...

I've never seen the nature v nurture debate as being one which divides along gender lines. I'm sure we all can think of women we know who are dominant and who might say if they were asked 'its in my nature, I was like this as a child'. Equally, I'm sure we can think of men who have more submissive natures than the stereotype of 'dominant male/submissive female would suggest.

I do think our natures get skewed by both the stereotype and society in general. All the 'softer' traits that many would automatically think of when they think of submissiveness are seen as 'weak' in a man. Equally, all the 'stronger' traits associated with dominance are often seen as 'butch' in a woman.

Most of us have both sides to our nature, though I think those in D/s relationships have a natural bias towards one set of traits. In my professional life, I have no choice but to be 'dominant' (though I like to think I exercise 'gentle authority').

I commented recently (I think on Shannee's site) that it isn't a natural trait for me though and I'm sure that's why I (and many others in that position) find my job exhausting. Yet my colleague (same grade, same responsibilities, also female) thrives on it.

love and hugs xxx

selkie said...

Buff, that is the question, isn't it? Only time will answer that one.

M:e: I see your points - but I know that in my professioanl life I have and remain fairly dominant - not in a bossy, overbearig way, but there is no gainsaying I LIKE to be the boss and when I was in that position in my life, embraced and loved it.

Yet, in my feelings toward D. I am fully submissive - and always have been - he always found it amusing that many people who didn't know us intimately, saw me as the "dominant" one - when in every respect he was served absolutely!

So there is that dichotomy in me: I feel so 'right" when under his hand, yet conversely, had no issue being a leader, organizer, boss in other apsects of my life.

Kes said...

Selkie, I am so glad you commented about situational dichotomy. That is the area which fascinates me in all this. Like M:e I felt an unquantified yearning throughout my more vanilla relationships. I fantasized, but did not believe that an empowered, enlightened woman should want to submit, to yield, to surrender. It was quite a conflict within me when I came into relationship with the Falconer. I found being with him transcended all my worries, and I am happiest now when actively serving him. I continue to enjoy taking the lead in my professional life and in other recreational pursuits, yet my richest emotional and spiritual fulfillment comes in my submission.

I do not believe this desire for submission or mastery is solidly written along gender lines, as there are many strong, masterful women - gay and straight, and many submissive men - gay and straight. I do find it fascinating that the rising current in popular romantic fiction and romantic-erotica is that of being possessed by the alpha male. I wonder what societal shifts are shaping this trend in women's fiction to encourage straight D/s relationships as the desired outcome of romantic liaisons?

Perhaps it is like Kinsey's scale of sexual orientation. That within each of us is the potentiality for submission or dominance, and many of us fall at different ends of the spectrum. Yet the expectation is that most coast along in the relative comfort of societal norms - somewhere near chocolate chip, rather than pure vanilla.

And it is only those for whom the instinctual yearning is strongest that rouse their need to full expression. I wonder if that will shift as we continue to have popular support (as least in romantic fiction, and movies) for an increase in M/f D/s relationships?


selkie said...

Kes, I really like your take on this - I think it has a lot of merit and definitely deserves some more thought ..... I agree that I think everyone carries both dominant and submissive pieces in us, and it is to a greater or lesser extent.

I have also noticed a plethora of books and literature with the alpha male/submissive female theme (mainstream in particular)- it think this partially might be a reaction to the pressures and stresses of today's life; but sorta feel it is along the pure "fantasy" lines; it is quite common in times of econoimc downturn like now. "feel good" and 'escapist" literature and films are common - whether or not it is a 'secret' or 'not so secret' true desire I would venture to guess in most cases, NOT. I think people just like to escpae for a bit - I know that I find the whoel thought of being able to take a deep breath and let go and let someone else deal with things enticing ....