Monday, August 11, 2008

What is a utopia? Why do we seek it?

After a lengthy hiatus from this blog I felt motivated to post something today. Perhaps more out of consideration for those of you that have done me the past kindness of reading what I have written rather than from inspiration. During my absence I have done considerable thinking and once again I am in what lifestyle people would term a “vanilla” relationship. While not perfect, it does in many ways meet the basic needs of the human experience and I find satisfaction and contentment within it.

Perhaps my desire and search for a dominant female partner interested in pursuing a female led relationship was a bit too utopian. The roots of the word “Utopia” in the ancient Greek actually mean “no place” or “a place that does not exist.” And yet, it is a timeless, relevant human desire to find such a place. Sir Thomas Moore conceptualized “Utopia” as the name for an ideal society, in his book written in 1516 describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean, possessing a seemingly perfect socio-politico-legal system. “Utopia” is sometimes used pejoratively, in reference to an unrealistic ideal that is impossible to achieve.

After much thought and research, I have come to conclude that my expectations at least for this day and time are simply not realistic. There is too much evolutionary conditioning to overcome on the part of both sexes. Society continues to raise male offspring to be dominant and female offspring to be submissive. Even those women who possess natural dominance I think succumb to the perpetuation of the species “prime directive” I have written about previously and are inextricably drawn to strong, dominant, take-charge men rather than sensitive, submissive types. Even among the more enlightened females, I think submission continues to be equated with weakness even if on an unconscious level.

Matriarchal society may at some point in the future develop and thrive, but I have come to seriously doubt I will experience that in my lifetime. Better I have decided to suppress the submissive side of my nature and knuckle under to the expectations of society and be the “normal” assertive, dominant partner in a relationship than to long for an unrealistic ideal.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Is There Really a Point to This?

An email from a friend I received the other day prompted me to turn my thoughts to this blog and whether it is actually in any measurably way meeting the intent behind its creation. Primarily I intended this to be an exercise in throwing out my own ideas about things I am learning about D/s, submissiveness among men, female led relationships and related ideas associated with these particular concepts of an alternative lifestyle, and hopefully to spark discussion about them so that I could benefit from the perspectives of others.

Almost from the beginning I have been chagrined by the lack of comments from readers. Occasionally I do get very wonderful well thought out comments which I have deeply and sincerely appreciated. I don’t often respond to comments because I have already stated my own opinion and don’t wish for people to feel I want to re-direct the discussion back to my own stated position. Nothing couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m trying to learn and figure things out myself and I know I don’t have all the answers. So my desire for comments is not motivated by ego or any other selfish motive beyond wanting to know what others who share an interest in the things I write about think. On the best day to date, five people took time to make comments about an essay of interest to them but on most days, no one comments.

Yes, I do understand that some people come here just to read and participating through commenting is just not something that interests them. Yet when I read other blogs, as I do on a habitual basis, I rarely see a post with no comments and many posts have several each day. Based on the average number of daily visitors to this blog, one could assume that there must be those who are interested in reading what is posted here or the numbers would it seem decline over time yet they remain fairly constant. But I have to believe that number of comments really is the criteria I should be using to judge whether this blog is or is not a success as far as my intent for maintaining it.

My friend suggested that my posts may be too lengthy and given that many of us these days have rather short attention spans or are pressed for time, some simply can’t devote the time necessary to completely read the posts much less think about the topic and formulate a comment. I admit I do tend to be wordy and when I’m thinking about a particular topic I tend to write almost everything that occurs to me about it. So perhaps there is some truth to my friend’s opinion.

It was my decision to create this blog and to continue posting to it so I’m not of course looking for sympathy. But to be honest it requires a good bit of time to research a topic and then create what I hope is always a cogent essay about the topic that people will find interesting to read and consider. Time I could easily use for other things like working on my own relationships, trying to complete my novel or any number of other worthwhile endeavors. If by and large this blog does not reflect ideas you consider worthy of considering and discussing then there is really no point to it or to the expenditure of time I give to it.

I’m not begging for comments here nor am I asking anyone to step beyond their comfort level and comment when that isn’t something they find appealing. But more and more I am considering whether the time and effort in finding topics, researching them and posting essays daily is really an efficient use of time, a resource we all have in limited supply.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The New Breed: Alpha Female?

Recently I came across an interesting article pitching the idea of the “Alpha Female”. I do think from considerable reading combined with real life experiences, that women in general are more “take charge” and assertive than in times past when it comes to their professional and public lives. In some respects I think this has resulted from a basic survival need. With the pervasiveness of divorce these days, one of the largest demographic segments is the single mother. A woman who must provide for her own living, support her family (often with no assistance from the biological father), and in the meantime try to carve out some degree of happiness for herself.

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention and I think it is an accurate observation that many women have found it necessary to re-invent themselves with respect to their role as a woman in society and as far as their interpersonal relationships. This phenomenon is not limited to only “single mothers” as the divorce rate has been spiking for at least a couple of decades now and many of the female children produced from divorced families have now grown up observing their mothers and learning the lesson that a woman does not need a man to complete her. Advances by feminists have opened doors to the extent that today more than at any previous time, there are opportunities for women to choose practically any career path hat appeals to them. Statically, it is a fact that more and more, women are waiting until later in life to choose marriage and having children as many of them choose to get their education and firmly establish themselves in their chosen careers before turning their attention to these matters. So I do think it is fair to say that perhaps there is some truth to the idea of the emerging “Alpha Female.”

On the surface this would seem a boon for submissive men. But the jury remains out on one important issue. Does the “Alpha Female” in the office and in public life translate to the “Alpha Female” in the context of female led relationships? Within the context of historical perspective, a couple of decades is little more than the proverbial blink of an eye and a large supply of women who desire and embrace the idea of filling the dominant role in the bedroom and within their romantic relationships may still be something still on the distant horizon of human experience.

It has been several years now since scientists first proposed that human beings likely possess a degree of “genetic memory” in that we unconsciously retain the conditioning effects of thousands of years of evolution of our species. One example that comes to mind is the “flight or fight” instinct which has arguably has been with us since the dawning of time when early humans faced human enemies or other predatory animals. Even though we now live in a much more civilized environment and have sadly accomplished quite efficiently the destruction of most other animals capable of challenging our supremacy at the top of the food chain, we still retain this basic instinct.

Think of the past hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of evolution during which women were conditioned to fill the submissive role in relationships, especially from a sexual perspective. I think it will take a lot of determination on the part of females to challenge this idea and escape from it for those who find themselves having the desire to live life according to a dominant female model. Previously I wrote a couple of essays examining the concept of “nice guys” and why women seem to find them less attractive as potential relationship partners. Since writing those essays I have discovered several scientific sites that seem to provide one possibility as far as an explanation. Some suggest that even now in the twenty-first century, a woman’s choice as far as a mate is still largely ruled by evolutionary conditioning based on the historical primitive primate mate selection strategy. In other words she will choose a male she perceives as the strongest genetically. Since nice guys tend to be viewed in unflattering and unappealing ways like spineless, weak, milk toast and potentially passive-aggressive, clearly they seem genetically weak and not a good bet as far as a dependable choice to ensure the survival of a woman’s offspring. Others suggest that given their conditioning, the average women to feel sexually satisfied must feel submissive to her sexual partner which is why most will choose a dominant rather than submissive male. All of this occurs not as a result of conscious but unconscious thought. The dictatorial nature of evolutionary conditioning demands this even in circumstances where a woman is not even interested in pro-creating. Still unconsciously, “survival of the offspring” has a major impact on male mate selection.

Will some women ever escape this apparent “prime directive”? Yes, I think so but when is the real question. Human beings have proven to be a very versatile and adaptable creature. Perhaps the “Alpha Female” of today will in the future develop beyond the office and public persona to the domestic front and will actively seek out men willing to submit to her dominance in all aspects of a relationship. Still despite the adaptability of the species, such a quantum leap in behavior does not occur overnight. Sadly, I have to conclude we are still a good distance away from a society pre-dominantly matriarchal.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Your’s for the Peeping

Recently I started a new blog for the purpose of exploring the possibilities of an online D/s relationship with a close dominant female friend. With this blog, while intended solely for adults I give careful attention to what I write about and what kind of art I post in hopes that people who visit it will not be put off or offended and will take time to read what I write with an open mind. The other blog exists for a different purpose and because it will in time be a bit more edgy and include photographs that might be offensive to some, I chose to designate it as an “adult content” blog which notifies visitors upfront of what to expect and requires them to acknowledge with an affirmative mouse click that they understand and accept that before the are allowed to proceed to the actual blog content.

Today I noticed to my surprise that in less than two weeks of existence, my new blog has received over 25,000 hits as compared to just a little more than 5,000 hits for this blog. Actually I don’t believe the content of the other blog justifies its apparent “popularity” as at least what I have posted there thus far likely would not have great appeal to anyone other than myself and my friend for whom the blog was designed. While I don’t know this to be fact and if it is I certainly don’t know how to do it myself, but I rather suspect there must be some means of “googling” adult content blogs and that is the explanation for why so many people have visited my new blog.

The reason I mention all of this is simply to explain why today, it occurred to be to write on the topic of “voyeurism”. In general, voyeurism is defined as human sexual behavior involving achievement of sexual arousal through viewing the sexual activities of others, usually strangers, who may be naked, in the process of disrobing or even engaging in sexual activity. To some extent voyeurism is widespread and various types of sexual display are a normal part of sexual attraction and mating behavior in most animals, including humans. In current society a certain amount of voyeurism is considered normal, such as watching sexually explicit movies or perusing sexually graphic magazines. Even if masturbation occurs during, or shortly after, these accepted types of voyeuristic activities, are still considered to be normal, not deviant behavior. Even if a person found himself sexually aroused when unintentionally noticing by accident someone who was undressing, naked, or having sex, it wouldn’t be considered a deviant behavior. A variant form of voyeurism involves listening to erotic conversations; e.g. telephone sex. Another variation could involve visiting “adult content” blogs or web sites.

Generally voyeurism is only considered a paraphilia or a psychosexual disorder when a person engages in activity with the specific intent of observing unsuspecting, non-consenting individuals who are naked, in the process of undressing or engaging in sexual acts and the act of looking or peeping is undertaken for the purpose of achieving sexual excitement. The observer generally does not seek to have sexual contact or activity with the person being observed. If orgasm is sought, it is usually achieved through masturbation. This may occur during the act of observation or later, relying on the memory of the act that was observed. Frequently, a voyeur may have a fantasy of engaging in sexual activity with the person being observed. In reality, there is no intent of actually consummating this fantasy. Voyeurism is considered a deviant behavior when a person actively seeks out such experiences and when observation ceases to be merely one factor in sexual attraction and becomes the sole or primary source of gratification. The risk of being caught is an additional element in the excitement of the voyeur.

Thinking and reading about voyeurism has caused me to conclude that there is a little bit of voyeurism in most of us, in modern society. Many of us have a fair bit of curiosity about the sexual activities and intimate thoughts and feelings of others which I think could explain the popularity of “adult content” blogs. This argument is supported too by the popularity of social web sites like YouTube and Flickr. While these sites enjoy steady web traffic and heavy, they were designed for the purpose of helping users share photos, videos, and knowledge with each other but only small fractions of overall users actually use the services to upload content. According to published reports, only 0.16 percent of YouTube's total traffic is made up of users who upload videos. Similarly, only 0.2 percent of Flickr's regular users are there to upload photos.

The raging popularity of such web sites as YouTube, Facebook and My Space, as well as blogs imply there may be a definite connection between voyeurism and another paraphilia – exhibitionism. There seems a behavioral connection with the consciously “for show” lives of those spending more and more of their time online, where domestic activities are recorded in achingly specific detail. In modern society people use the Internet to gradually open themselves up, first at very superficial levels of their personalities, and then they carefully move on to more intimate areas, feeding some felt need to feel exposed, or open, to perfect strangers - a sly commentary on a culture that continues to find new ways to display ever more intimate, and mundane, details of domestic life.

There is no scientific consensus concerning the basis for voyeurism. Most experts attribute the behavior to an initially random or accidental observation of an unsuspecting person who is naked, in the process of disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity. Successive repetitions of the act tend to reinforce and perpetuate the voyeuristic behavior. But as long as the behavior and resulting fantasies or urges do not become the cause of significant distress in the individual or become disruptive to his or her everyday functioning, it seems to be a rather benign thing.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Female Sexuality More Fluid?

Sex is a powerful factor behind why people do what they do so of course the topic of human sexuality is a subject which interests me a great deal. Recently in view of writing an essay on the topic, I have been researching the demarcation between the concepts of sexual arousal and sexual desire for both women and men. This had led me to discover two very interesting things; 1) That using “Female Sexuality” and Female Sexual Desire” as search terms, returns are dominated by the topics of sexual dysfunction and low libido; and 2) The rather remarkable differences between what women and men find sexually arousing under laboratory conditions. My article today is concerned the second item listed, but I will be writing an essay on the first item in the near future with stress on attempts at understanding the causative factors behind the alleged sexual dysfunction and low libido believed to be such a prevalent condition among females.

A good many sexuality research studies have been conducted where researchers measured the psychological and physiological sexual arousal in homosexual and heterosexual men and women as they watched erotic films, a typical scientific model of research using a stimulus (erotic films) and measurement of response (sexual arousal) experiment. Generally three types of erotic films are shown to participants - those featuring only men, those featuring only women and those featuring male and female couples. Consistently it has been observed by researchers that men generally are more specific in their sexual tastes: straight men are physically turned on only by heterosexual porn, gay men only while watching gay porn - a very "either/or" proposition, apparently verifying the idea that a man's cock is his compass. In contrast, both homosexual and heterosexual women showed a bisexual pattern of psychological as well as genital arousal. That is, heterosexual women were just as sexually aroused by watching female stimuli as by watching male stimuli, even though they may have reported a preference for having sex with men rather than women.

Based on these studies it appears that female sexuality is more complex than that of men. Measuring physiological sexual arousal by blood flow to the vagina or vaginal pulse amplitude while women viewed various videos, researchers found that women were physically aroused by almost anything with sexual content, whether straight, lesbian or even animal, regardless of their professed mental arousal or avowed sexual orientation. It seems that on a genital level women are likely to respond to a certain degree to almost anything that has sexual content, whether they're mentally aware of it or not or even if mentally it leaves them cold. Women's sexual orientation is apparently more fluid and less clear cut than men's and the inference is that their potential for bi-sexuality greater.

Actually I don’t find the research results to be terribly surprising based simply on my own life experience. Over the last decade I have more and more frequently become acquainted with women who have told me that they perceive themselves to be bi-sexual. Also, I personally know very few women who deny that they sometimes meet other women for whom they feel a sexual attraction for and/or have frequently had sexual fantasies involving intimacy between themselves and other women, even though the majority of them state that they have never had a same sex encounter and were unsure whether they would actually engage in sex with another female.

The sexual orientation poll I am currently conducting does not at least in the early stages seem to correlate with the findings of research that there seems a greater potential for bi-sexuality among women than men. Out of the initial 45 responses received, four women (8%) have identified themselves as bi-sexual and two others (4%) have identified themselves as bi-curious. In contrast, six men (13%) have identified themselves a bi-sexual with an additional two men (4%) identifying themselves as bi-curious. There are a number of possible explanations for this. First when taken as a ratio of the number of hits this blog receives on a daily basis, 45 responses could not be considered a statistically valid sample and so the results may change over time as more responses are received. Yet since I have been watching the poll closely thus far it appears to me that the percentages are remaining relatively constant. Another issue I have identified is the fact that based on my own observations, it appears that the potential for bi-sexuality among men who are involved in D/s and BDSM is greater than that for men in general. I actually attribute this to the fact that men involved in these alternative lifestyles are generally more sexually enlightened and less inhibited than men in general. This in theory at least would infer that they are more open to the idea of same sex intimate encounters even though they may have a decided preference for females as sexual partners. Finally based on the results of the gender identification poll, a much larger number of the readers of this blog are male than are female, so that may have some bearing. Hopefully before the current poll closes, a similar number of responses will be received as were received on the gender poll and I can at some point make a correlation between the percentages of readers who are men versus women and who are bi-sexual men versus bi-sexual women.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Venus and Mars?

A recent five year study examining the reasons why people have sex conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that young men and women get intimate for mostly the same reasons. UT researchers studied the often overlooked "why" behind sex, while others generally spend their time exploring the "how."

Researchers first polled 444 men and women ranging in age from 17 to 52, asking them to compile a list of distinct reasons people have sex. The result was a rather lengthy list of 237 reasons. The researchers then asked 1,549 college students taking psychology classes to rank the reasons on a one-to-five scale according to how they applied to their individual experiences.

The results were quite surprising and revealed that for both women and men; lust rather than a love connection is the primary motivator for having sex. Here are the top ten reasons for having sex that college-age men and women gave University of Texas researchers:

What Men said:

1. I was attracted to the person.

2. It feels good.

3. I wanted to experience physical pleasure.

4. It's fun.

5. I wanted to show my affection to the person.

6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.

7. I was "horny."

8. I wanted to express my love for the person.

9. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.

10. I wanted to please my partner.

What women said:

1. I was attracted to the person.

2. I wanted to experience physical pleasure.

3. It feels good.

4. I wanted to show my affection to the person.

5. I wanted to express my love for the person.

6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.

7. I was "horny."

8. It’s fun.

9. I realized I was in love.

10. I was "in the heat of the moment."

Interestingly, 8 of the top 10 reasons were the same but simply ranked slightly differently by the sexes. “Forget thinking that men are from Mars and women from Venus, the more we look, the more we find similarity," said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego. Dr. Goldstein, who wasn't part of the UT study, said the Texas research made a lot of sense and adds to growing evidence that the vaunted gender differences may only be among people with sexual problems.

"It's refuted a lot of gender stereotypes - that men only want sex for the physical pleasure and women want love," said UT clinical psychology professor Cindy Meston, the study's co-author. "That's not what I came up with in my findings." "None of the gender differences are all that great," she added. Dr. Meston conceded that among college students "hormones run rampant" and allowed that results might be different when older groups of people are studied in a similar way.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sexual Fantasy

What was the subject of your last sexual fantasy? For some of you reading this, in response to this question even now your mind is recreating the steamy, erotic and perhaps illicit scene last played out in your head. Yet, despite the fact that you are simply reading a non-threatening question posed on the page of a blog that you know you needn’t answer, others of you are even now forming a denial, a claim that you don’t fantasize or a claim that you only fantasize about your current partner.

Sexually fantasies are something we rarely discuss, even among good friends. Our deepest sexual thoughts are often considered too weird, perverse, or just plain wrong to be shared in polite company. Many people suffer shame and guilt about the perverse nature of their fantasies, even though what they think of as “perverse” may actually be quite common and normal. Some see an admission that they fantasize as possibly indicating that there is something wrong with their relationships, or worse, themselves. However, chances are everyone reading this do have erotic fantasies, and have them on a regular basis. We just rarely, if ever, want to talk about it.

Comprehensive research studies indicate that almost everyone fantasizes. While researching his book, Who's Been Sleeping in Your Head: The Secret World of Sexual Fantasies, London psychotherapist and clinical researcher Brett Kahr, anonymously surveyed 18,000 people in Britain and America. He asked them questions about the frequency and content of their fantasies and found that nine out of ten people have sexual fantasies. What’s more, he believes the remaining tenth person has them too, but is too embarrassed to admit it. Though a typical and unremarkable fantasy for both men and women is dreaming about sex with their current partner, Kahr also found that bondage, incest, sadomasochism, and voyeurism are also part of the varied fantasy life of “normal” people.

Shame regarding sexual fantasies may stem from earlier notions about the role of fantasy in our lives. In the 1900s, some psychoanalysts interpreted “kinky” sexual fantasies as being caused by “kinky” desires or wishes. Fantasies were often treated as pathology. But we now know that fantasies are no more pathologic than masturbation. They allow us to think about doing something and find it arousing that we would neither be willing or capable of doing in real life, or about things we’ve done before and would like to do again. Furthermore, sexual fantasies help our sex lives by increasing our desire and arousal. Those who fantasize frequently also tend to have more sex and of course fantasy has helped untold numbers of masturbations end in orgasmic success.

Research into the area of sexual fantasies has also revealed that men and women’s fantasies are qualitatively different. Male sexual fantasies are generally more explicit than those of women and men tend to see themselves as more dominant in their fantasies. Women, on the other hand tend to view their role as submissive in their sexual fantasies. They may entertain fantasies of scenarios where their attractiveness and desirability is so overwhelming that every man is rendered helpless in his desire for them. And the more irresistible they perceive themselves to be, the less activity is required of them. Others, less courageous in assuming this ravishing beauty, may see themselves as a victim of the man’s sexual domination of her, perhaps imagining a scenario not unlike rape. Even those women, who reportedly fantasized about being sexually dominant, did so with primarily focusing on their partner’s sexual pleasure rather than on their own pleasure. Women may fantasize about being taken and used sexually by a stranger against her will but this doesn’t mean she actually wants to be raped. In the context of fantasy she is able to control the action. Our minds are a safe place to try new and risky sexual deeds without ever getting hurt. Safety is the concept that functions as the key to unlocking the meaning of our fantasies. Being bound and gagged by a dominating partner may not seem safe, but somewhere in the unconscious, submission is desired.

All this is somewhat reassuring. Rather than feeling guilty about thinking about another person while having sex with your partner, we can see it as a way to help spice up the sex, without committing any transgressions. Research indicates that having sexual fantasies is an absolutely normal, if not necessary, part of being a sexual being. It’s not having them that is aberrant.

Sugasm #134

The best of this week’s blogs by the bloggers who blog them. Highlighting the top 3 posts as chosen by Sugasm participants. Want in Sugasm #135? Submit a link to your best post of the week using this form. Participants, repost the link list within a week and you’re all set.
“Tantra is hard work and is not all light and orgasmic play.”
“She smiles wantonly, but says nothing.”

“But when you’re really attracted to someone, and part of that attraction is to their dominance, it almost gives you a second wind for pain.”

Mr. Sugasm Himself

Editor’s Choice

More Sugasm

See also: Fleshbot’s Sex Blog Roundup each Tuesday and Friday.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sexual Fetishes

We all have our unique proclivities with regards to what turns us on sexually. For men it might be a preference for blondes or girls with body piercings. For women it might be having a guy with tattoos or rippling muscles in the bedroom. Others find cross-dressing, sadomasochism play or even anal stimulation rev up their sexual arousal and desire.

From the smallest sexual preference to the most outlandish obsession, sexual fetishes are more prevalent and enjoyable than you may think.

“Fetishistic interests fall on a continuum,” psychologist, marital therapist, sex therapist, professor and author Guy Grenier explains. “For example, engaging in cross-dressing fetish can be as simple as a man wearing colorful clothing, or so extensive as to fool sexual partners.”

Grenier says BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) is among the most common sexual fetishes. “BDSM brings together themes of power and domination and combining them with sexual interest.”

“BDSM is the forbidden fruit,” a London BDSM community organizer, Dark Angel, known to friends as DA, says, “It’s like the Garden of Eden. The problem with it is, once you have a taste, it’s hard to go back to living without the thrill.”

Both Dark Angel and Dr. Grenier say there are many different flavors of BDSM, beyond the borders of “vanilla” sex. Although leather, latex, handcuffs, whips and ropes are among the most common paraphernalia, control and power are the most essential characteristics.

Dark Angel, a practicing dominant, says there are ground rules within the BDSM community. “What it really boils down to is everybody is consenting.” To ensure mutual satisfaction, he recommends using a safeword. “You really have to trust each other,” he adds.

For some there is a stigma attached to BDSM fetishes due to misunderstandings about what is really involved. In Hollywood, sadomasochists are portrayed as vicious and brutal, even mentally disturbed. 88 Minutes, a recent film starring Al Pacino, is a good example. In the movie a psychotic serial killer uses suspension bondage to restrain his victims before murdering them. With the people I’ve met in the lifestyle, there’s a healthy mix of affection and various degrees of SM, depending on the personalities and the individuals engaged. From my own experiences with BDSM I have come to learn that I very much enjoy anal play and sensual spanking which is something I did not know about myself before. Although many BDSM practitioners choose to role-play in the bedroom only others incorporate dominant and submissive protocols into their everyday lives.

Another genre of atypical sexual behavior has a softer, cuddlier side. Plushophilia, a sexual attraction to stuffed animals or people dressed in animal costumes is yet another flavor of sexual fetishism. This is not so much about power and domination, but about combining innocence with non-innocence. Participants in “plushie play” have a fuzzy fixation on toys with anthropomorphically human characteristics. A plushie doll might have big doe eyes, a cutesy smile, and human-like breasts and vagina. Plushie play juxtaposes the cute and cuddly with the down and dirty. Some plushophiles, more commonly known as “furries”, dress up as animals during sex. Rabbit and kitten costumes with “trap doors” for organs and orifices are sold and traded at fetish conventions.

Voyeurism and exhibitionism are more common and less prop-intensive fetishes. Voyeurs derive sexual pleasure from being watched while having sex or from watching others have sex. Exhibitionists, meanwhile, enjoy nudity or engaging in sex in public places, either with the specific intent of being seen or perhaps just incorporating various degrees of risk in being seen.

Worldwide, the number of developing sexual fetishes is expanding. Acropomophilia (sexual interest in amputees), somnophilia (fantasies about sex with people who are sleeping) and formaphilia (sexual obsession with ants and snails) as some of the rarer emerging fetishes. Having a fetish for women's panties is more common, more common in fact than you might think. Men wearing female panties, smelling panties, trading panties with others who enjoy this fetish and even having sex and climaxing on a pair of woman’s panties bring immense sexual pleasure to those that explore and enjoy this fetish.

When someone chooses to engage in fetishes or other alternative lifestyles there are often social repercussions. Perhaps as a shadow of our Victorian past things sexual are sometimes considered perverted, dirty or something that needs to be controlled. It seems the farther you move from normative sex, the more concern people have about being judged. A man might not be afraid to acknowledge he enjoys wearing silk boxer shorts but if he wears silk panties he may worry about being ostracized if he admits that.

As for the cause of fetishes, experts remain unsure. Some researchers believe that fetishistic interests are conditioned. For example, if for some reason as a child, a person learned to associate sexual arousal with feet or footwear, a fetish could develop as a result. Other theories are based on societal conditioning. Men might be more inclined to cross-dress because they are subjected to rigid gender roles in North American culture and cross-dressing allows men to explore and escape that rigidity.

Most fetishes are benign in that they don’t harm anyone or impinge on the rights of others. They seem simply another means of exploring and enjoying a person’s unique and individual sexuality. Fetishism is regarded as normal variations of human sexuality by psychologists and medical doctors as long as all involved persons feel comfortable.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Continued Evolution as a Feminist

Feminism is a concept that for many holds a very negative connotation. There is for example the stereotype that comes to the minds of many whenever they hear the term of angry, hairy, man-hating lesbians. The man-hating part I think is predominantly a myth constructed in order to foster a negative view of feminism and to promote the idea that feminism is actually nothing more than reverse sexism. It's also partly the fault of women who go around saying things like, "All men are bastards," which frankly is usually because they only go out with bastards. In general the myth has little if anything to do with feminism. I’m sure that there are women who hate men and probably for good reason but being a feminist does not per se imply a hatred or rejection of men.

In general feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms. As with any political movement, there are extremes and some women who identify with the feminist movement have some pretty radical and extremist views. Like many groups who have historically suffered discrimination, exploitation and victimization, I think it only natural that some women might feel that after thousands of years of oppression it is high time that they were on top of the food chain and held the position of supreme gender. Yet female supremacy is not really mainstream feminism which seeks not supremacy but simply equality and freedom from gender based discrimination.

I believe women and men must share a common understanding and a basic knowledge of what feminism is and what it is about if it is ever to be a powerful mass-based political movement. By defining feminism broadly as a movement to end sexism and sexist oppression both women and men could work toward a common and what I believe to be a desirable goal.

There are two basic underlying tenants of feminism; 1) men and women are entitled to equal rights and respect, and 2) women are currently disadvantaged with respect to rights and respect, compared with men. While it is true that in recent years progress has been made and women are in a somewhat more advantageous position than in times past, to say that in all cases women are treated with equal rights and respect and enjoy all of the same advantages as men would be na├»ve. There are still many jobs in the workplace where women and men perform essentially the same tasks or very comparable ones and yet men receive higher salaries. There remain in certain occupations “glass ceilings” which preclude women from the same promotional opportunities enjoyed by men. While especially in the last decade, certain careers that traditionally excluded women altogether or at least severely curtailed equal opportunities have been opened to women, yet it is relatively easy to find examples within those same career fields where qualification standards still exist with the unmistakable design of discouraging or preventing women from applying for or advancing in them. Any fair minded person would not be able to deny that discrimination against a person based simply on gender is just wrong.

In addition to discrimination, women are also subjected to other forms of oppression simply because they are women. For example, Iris Young, author and former Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, affiliated with the Center for Gender Studies describes five “faces” of oppression: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and systematic violence. Oppression exists where women, and those who appear to be women, are subjected to wrongs and/or injustices at least in part because they are or appear to be women.

One of the most insidious forms of exploitation in my opinion is the sexual objectification of women. Sexual objectification occurs when a person is seen as a sexual object and their sexual attributes and physical attractiveness are separated from the rest of their personality and existence as an individual. They are reduced to instruments of pleasure for another person. The concept of female sexual objectification plays an important role in the inequality of the sexes. When a woman is subjected to sexual objectification she is often figuratively dismembered by men and instead of being viewed as a person, with feelings, needs, hopes, dreams, fears and valid opinions, she is instead viewed as a pair of shapely legs, a pair of breasts, an ass or a vagina; and all of those parts viewed solely in terms of their usefulness for the sexual gratification of men. In its most extreme form, sexual objectification results in victimization – rape and physical assault. Objectification of people makes violence against them seem acceptable and legitimate. To understand objectification, simply contemplate how American soldiers viewed adversaries throughout the history of our armed conflicts; in the Civil War Confederates were seen as “Rebs” and Unionists were seen as “Yankees” – in World War II Germans were “Nazis” and Japanense were “Japs” – in Vietnam, Vietnamese were “Gooks” and in the Middle East wars, Arabs were often referred to as “Rag Heads”. It is always easier to commit violence against another once that person has been de-personalized and reduced to an object. Sexual objectification has also resulted in a myriad of debilitating issues for women. Many women suffer from extreme body image dissatisfaction because they are constantly bombarded with images of thin, busty, beautiful and flawless, air-brushed and unrealistic images of females portrayed by the media and in film. This has resulted in eating disorders on almost an epidemic scale as well as unhealthy diet regimens, unprecedented demand for cosmetic plastic surgeries and depressive disorders. Clearly, sexual objectification is one form of oppression that women are subjected to.

While I’m not a woman, I still think it very possible for me to consider myself a feminist because I support the ideals of equal rights and respect for women and the eradication of all forms of sexism. As I’ve said before, I feel submissive men and feminists are natural allies in the sense we do share a common views and beliefs about equal rights and gender roles that are diametrically opposed to those held by patriarchal society. I think submissive men should not be silent, but should stand up and be counted as supporters of women and champions of feminist ideals.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sexuality and Gender: Social Constructs or Biological?

The debate continues about whether sexuality and sexual desire are social constructs or are biological and genetically determined. The more I read on the subject of social constructs the more convinced I become that the answer lies with the former rather than the latter.

Anne Fausto-Sterling, Ph. D. is Professor of Biology and Gender Studies at Brown University. She participates actively in the field of sexology and has written extensively on the fields of biology of gender, sexual identity, gender identity, and gender roles. She contends that the act of labeling a person a man or a woman or heterosexual/homosexual is a social decision. Fausto-Sterling acknowledges the importance of scientific knowledge, but considers our beliefs about gender to be the foundation that defines sex and sexual behavior.

A social construct is defined by Webster’s as “a social mechanism, phenomenon, or category created and developed by society; a perception of an individual, group, or idea that is ‘constructed’ through cultural or social practice.” A social construction or social construct is any phenomenon invented or constructed by participants in a particular culture or society, existing because people agree to behave as if it exists or follow certain conventional rules.

Emile Durkheim first theorized about social construction in his anthropological work on collective behavior, but did not coin the term. The first book with “social construction” in its title was Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality, first published in 1966. Since then, the term found its way into the mainstream of the social sciences.

The central idea of Berger and Luckmann's Social Construction of Reality was that actors interacting together form, over time, typifications or mental representations of each other's actions, and that these typifications eventually become habitualized into reciprocal roles played by the actors in relation to each other. When these reciprocal roles become routinized, the typified reciprocal interactions are said to be institutionalized. In the process of this institutionalization, meaning is embedded and institutionalized into individuals and society - knowledge and people's conception of (and therefore belief regarding) what reality is becomes embedded into the institutional fabric and structure of society, and social reality is therefore said to be socially constructed.

The stereotypical gender roles prevalent today that mandate “masculinity” means that that males should always be dominant and that “femininity” means females are always submissive are nothing more than a social constructs. Ideas invented or constructed by participants in a particularly patriarchal culture, the perpetuation of which is completely dependent upon people agreeing to behave as if the ideas are valid and further agree to behave in accordance with these predetermined roles. A submissive male or a dominant female are judged to be outside the “norm” by those who subscribe to this “conventional” construct.

Logically we have to ask ourselves this question. Is there anything immoral or illegal about a man choosing to identify with a submissive relational and sexual role or with a woman deciding to identify with a dominant relational or sexual role? Is anyone hurt by this? Are the rights of anyone infringed or trampled? The answer to all of these questions is an emphatic no! Submissive men and dominant women have simply chosen a fresh, new social construct that better fits their own perceived and individual sexuality rather than continue to be coerced into fitting within the old construct which makes them feel unhappy and unfulfilled. History is replete with examples of enlightened people rejecting outdated and outmoded social constructs and embracing new ones that make more sense. The dominance/submission lifestyle is just one more example. In a real sense those of us who have embraced male submission and female dominance can accurately be termed social deconstructionists. I for one think that is quite cool.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Paying for Sex

In my previous post I mentioned the fact that “I have always considered paying for the services of one (professional dominatrix) to be on the same level of paying for sex.” By inference I am certain that readers were led to surmise I viewed that to be a negative thing. As a result two readers posed the same question in comments on the article, “What is wrong with the idea of paying for sex?”

First I wasn’t making a moral judgment about those who do pay for sex or those who offer sexual services for a fee. What consenting adults do that results in no harm to anyone should be no one’s business but that of the individuals involved. Certainly I have neither the right nor inclination to sit in judgment of them. In fact in my twenties I paid for sex a number of times simply because I wanted to have sex and there were times when that was the most utilitarian means of obtaining it. In part, those experiences are responsible for why I do view paying for sex in a somewhat negative sense for me as an individual. For me sex has always been much more than simply inserting tab A into tab B. Sex far transcends the simple notion of genital focused pleasure. In addition to the arousal and desire I also feel the need for connectedness and intimacy. Having sex with someone who makes herself available for it solely on the basis of turning a profit simply doesn’t offer the connectedness and intimacy of which I speak. It is a rather pale substitute for having sex with a woman who herself is also sharing with you the arousal and desire and is allowing you to share her body and passion because she feels attracted to you and wants to have sex with you.

Beyond those reasons, there are a few others that come to mind in response to the question, “What is wrong with the idea of paying for sex?” As we all learned from the recent highly publicized story of “Client 9” and “Kristen”, not all prostitutes are streetwalkers trolling dark corners for $20 encounters. Some very intelligent women choose this life and even find it empowering in some way. They surely knew what they are doing and are happy to rake in big bucks by spending time with and providing sex to wealthy, powerful men. They are classy, independent women, not victims of brutalizing pimps who drug them, rape and beat them, indeed, who own them. Surely the glamorous women sent to the best hotels in New York, Paris, and London or wherever their fat-wallet clientele travels, are nothing like those destitute girls from starving, distant villages sold by their families or lured by promises of a better life in America only to find themselves sex slaves.

Still if you followed the story at all that I mentioned above, you learned that from all available evidence, “Kristen” was abused in her youth, quit high school before her junior year, fled her troubled family, used drugs and spent time on the streets without a home. She fits the profile of any class of hooker, from streetwalker to high priced call girl. Abused as a child, homeless, undereducated and destitute, she was not an exception but actually quite typical. Given this I have to conclude that when a man pays a woman for sex he is in a very real sense trafficking in human misery for personal gratification and that is something in good conscience I could not do.

Another issue is the fact that when you pay money for sex, the woman is sexually objectified. If you doubt that clients willing and able to pay $5,000 for an hour of sex don't turn those women into objects, too, consider the marketing techniques employed by one well known high-priced call girl provider. Their web site rated the women they employed from one to seven diamonds, charging from $1,000 to $5,500 per hour according to rank. When men called in, one of the club's bookers asked what body type they preferred, the model look or a little curvier; a brunette or a blond. I suppose the rationale being that it makes perfect sense if you're paying for sex to select your favorite fantasy, right? It's like picking out a car or a suit. Women have been subjected to objectification for far too long and I for one am just not comfortable with extending the practice to any woman because it is just plain wrong.

"Women engaged in prostitution face the most dangerous occupational environment in the United States,'' concluded a study of prostitutes in Colorado Springs, Colorado, published in 2004 in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Prostitutes are far more likely to die at an early age than the average woman, mostly from drugs or violence. The average age a girl enters prostitution is 14. Not surprisingly, prostitutes are more prone to suicide. Even if he's not paying to ruin a teenager, to support a pimp who enslaved a drug addict, or to snatch a girl away from her family, a john is supporting the system that encourages all of that, and more.

So those are just a few reasons why I feel that the idea of paying for sex is wrong. As mentioned in the earlier post, I only see some slight similarities with the ideas of engaging a prostitute and paying a professional dominatrix, who are not prostitutes. Much of the negativity I feel is inherent in prostitution is of course not applicable to the pro domme – client relationship. Still I do have pause for thought when it comes to how meaningful I would find submitting to a woman who was accepting my submission from a purely economic motive. But recently I have read a good deal of information that suggests that even though professional dommes are paid for their services, many of them do in fact seem to genuinely understand and appreciate male submission and profit is not their only motive for offering the services that they do. This is primarily why I am attempting to evaluate the potential of this when I have been unwilling to do so in the past.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Case for the Professional Dominatrix

While it hasn’t been that long since my submissiveness was awakened and I began to seek a relationship with a dominant woman, at times I find myself admitting that the possibility of me landing in a real life, day to day relationship with such a woman is actually rather bleak. I base this not only my own personal experiences to date but also on the reports I read in the blogs of other submissive men. Perhaps finding a confident, assertive, dominant woman interested in having a relationship with me is something of a pipe dream. As one of those men who came to understand and embrace my submissiveness in the middle age part of my life, with each passing month, I feel less optimistic about my chances.

There was the point for me when I decided that I was not going to get involved in another relationship with a vanilla woman who subscribed to patriarchal societies’ norm that it is the woman who is expected to fill the submissive role sexually and relationally. I have had two such relationships since my divorce and neither turned out to be meaningful or sustainable for me. Regardless of how open the women were to kink, the absence of an outlet for my submissive nature simply made both relationships untenable. Yet now I find myself in that all too familiar circumstance where I am craving intimacy and desiring sexual expression beyond what I can provide myself in ex parte. Fortunately for men, we can experience through masturbation a degree of sexual gratification quite comparable to that we receive from copulation. Yet after a period of time of going solo, a man begins as I have to crave intimacy with a woman.

These feelings have made me start to seriously contemplate something I have never really seriously considered before. I have never experienced much of a problem with finding vanilla women to date and become involved with. Actually I already am acquainted with two such women at this very moment who have made no secret of their willingness to explore a possible romantic relationship with me. For whatever reason I have always seem to get on well with the female gender and women seem to like me and enjoy my company. And of course, there is so much about women that I find agreeable and interesting. What I have started to give consideration to is finding a vanilla woman to get involved with in the context of a traditional relationship so that I can experience the intimacy I crave and then address my need for a submissive outlet by finding a professional dominatrix. Conceptually I do understand that professional dominatrices are not prostitutes. Yet realistically I know I have always considered paying for the services of one to be on the same level of paying for sex. Perhaps this is something I need a new perspective on. On the one hand, I know I can’t find true contentment without an outlet for submissive expression while on the other hand I miss intimate involvement with a woman within the context of a committed relationship. Perhaps, at least for me there is simply no alternative to seeking what I need from more than a single source so to speak. Unlike a man who was fortunate enough to come to terms with and embrace his submissiveness in say his mid-twenties, I am not free to pick up and move to a location where there are women more D/s friendly and aware. To do so would require sacrifices that I am unwilling and actually unable to make at my age. Besides that based on the experiences of another submissive guy whose blog I read regularly who has done that, it hasn’t appeared that he has experienced much success as a result and he is a good number of years younger than I.

I do understand of course that seeking to have my cake and eat it too so to speak is not without obstacles. Finding a professional would I think be comparatively simple and I am at a place in my life where that would be easily affordable. But in the interest of the kind of honesty required for a committed relationship, this would not be an aspect of my life that I could in good conscience hide from the vanilla woman I might seek out for an intimate relationship partner. I do feel it would require an incredibly secure and open woman to accept me seeing a professional dominatrix on a regular basis while simultaneously being involved with her. Part of the problem is of course that vanilla people simply don’t have an accurate perspective of D/s. To them it seems purely sexual and they cannot understand that while the sexual is involved to a degree, it isn’t really about sex it’s about the need to submit. She may understand sexual submission from a lifetime of filling the traditional role of the passive sexual partner in the bedroom expected of women in our society. Yet I know that would do little towards helping her to understand submission as I speak of it. Still there is a possibility that I might find a woman willing to accept this arrangement and perhaps that is a much more realistic possibility than me finding a dominant woman with whom to have a female led relationship.

The part of this idea that bothers me the most I suppose is the fact that in no small way, I will still be engaging in a bit of deception and dishonesty. I can perform in the role of the “typical” male as society defines that gender role, and on the basis of past experience, I can successfully fill the role of a sexual top. Yet in my heart of hearts I know that masquerading as a typical dominant male is not at all something I find meaningful or fulfilling and so by doing what I propose I will simply be indulging in a role play to get my needs for intimacy met. The question that remains is whether or not I will be able to rationalize that over the long-term.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Breast Obsession

I've never really been a tit man. Admittedly I am appreciative of a pair of all natural nicely shaped breasts when given the opportunity to see them. During intimacy, I never skimp on giving them the attention they are due. Yet still I don’t consider myself to be overly obsessed with this part of a woman’s anatomy. So for example, I have no preference for large breasts appreciating smaller breasts just as much. Actually the breasts I found most satisfying from a purely aesthetic perspective and most sexually arousing to give my attentions to were the small "A cup" size breasts of a former girlfriend. Also I am not one of those men who a woman finds staring at her chest when she is talking with me, because it is generally considered rude. I know some women feel similarly about the size of their breasts as many men feel about the size of their penis so I do understand why some women have their breasts enhanced. But for me, mostly I suppose because I am not obsessed with breasts, I actually find the “enhanced” versions something of a turn-off, preferring the natural.

I think it was at about the age of nine that I saw my first photograph of an adult woman’s breasts when I stole a look inside a Playboy magazine from a convenience store rack. That was in the days before they started stocking them behind the counter to keep them out of the hands of kids. It did feel a little naughty and arousing looking at them but I think it had more to do with looking at something I knew wasn’t intended for juvenile consumption rather than the photograph itself. I saw my first set of naked adult breasts at the tender age of twelve when I accidentally walked in on an aunt during an unguarded moment while visiting in her home. I do still recall that because I was so completely embarrassed as I’m certain she was as well. She was in her forties as I recall and had very large breasts over which gravity had long since taken its toll and I remember that they hung almost level with her navel. Again that was not a terribly arousing experience. My first erotic experience with breasts was at the age of seventeen when I persuaded a girl I was dating regularly to remove her top and bra during an amorous encounter in my car while we were at a drive in movie. Looking at and touching them was my very first arousing experience involving female breasts. I liked very much the softness and was enamored with the nipples and the areolas. She wasn’t overly large but her breasts were quite attractive.

Still lots of men are obsessed with female breasts and I do understand that as I have my own favorite girl part. The part I find most compelling is simply not the breasts. The socially and intellectually accepted wisdom concerning breast obsession for some men is that a man's appreciation of the female breast is a social construct. It grows out of a media-generated ideal that shifts from decade to decade. There is another theory that men derive their sexual ideals from their mothers. They learn to sexually crave the breasts they suckled as infants. But there's a whole generation of men (and I'm one of them) who were primarily bottle fed yet I'm guessing that there are many men of my generation who are as breast obsessed as any other generation in history so I’m doubtful of the veracity of the particular theory.

There are lots of other theories about why many men are obsessed with female breasts. Some say men are drawn to the breasts because they're warm and soft and comforting. Still another theory suggests it is because breasts represent forbidden fruit. We tend to sexualize the parts of the female body that are hidden from view. There's some truth to this but it's far from the whole truth. Perhaps the most satisfying theory comes to us by way of evolutionary psychology. The reasoning here is that breasts, especially young nubile breasts, signal fertility. This makes a lot of sense and goes a long way to explaining why we're drawn to plump gravity defying breasts. Men who had a natural hankering for such breasts produced more surviving offspring. Evolutionary psychology may go a long way to explaining why men like young breasts, but it doesn't explain why so many men like big breasts. Personally my own theory is that men who are obsessed and sexually attracted to large breasts feel that way simply because they find them sexy. End of story.

I can appreciate a woman’s breasts and of course I always give them attentive focus during lovemaking because I know most women enjoy that. Yet I remain firmly in the camp of those men who most love a woman’s bottom. To me that is the sexiest part imaginable. I love the shape, the feel and actually everything about them. Breast obsessed? No. Ass obsessed? Yes, guilty as charged.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dare To Be Yourself

A sense of authenticity is one of our deepest psychological needs, and people are hungrier for it than ever. A hunger for authenticity guides us in every age and aspect of life. It drives our explorations of work, relationships, and play. In our teens and twenties we tried out friends, fashions, hobbies, jobs, lovers, locations, and living arrangements to see what fits and what's “just not me.” In mid-life many of us deepen our commitments to career, community, faith, and family that match our self-images, or we feel trapped in existences that seem not our own.

“Americans remain deeply invested in the notion of the authentic self,” says ethicist John Portmann of the University of Virginia. “It's part of the national consciousness.” It's also a cornerstone of mental health. Authenticity is correlated with many aspects of psychological well-being, including vitality, self-esteem, and coping skills. Acting in accordance with one's core self, a trait called self-determination is ranked by some experts as one of three basic psychological needs, along with competence and a sense of relatedness.

Just what is authenticity anyway? The first, and most fundamental, is self-awareness: knowledge of and trust in one's own motives, emotions, preferences, and abilities. Self-awareness encompasses an inventory of issues from the sublime to the profane, from knowing what food you like to knowing whether you're feeling anxious or sad. Self-awareness is necessary for clarity in evaluating your strengths and more importantly your weaknesses without resorting to denial or blame. Authenticity also turns up in behavior: It requires acting in ways congruent with your own values and needs, even at the risk of criticism or rejection. And it's necessary for close relationships, because intimacy cannot develop without openness and honesty.

Researchers have found that a sense of authenticity is accompanied by a multitude of benefits. People who score high on authenticity profiles are more likely to respond to difficulties experienced in life with effective coping strategies, rather than resorting to drugs, alcohol, or self-destructive habits. They are more likely to have satisfying relationships. They enjoy a strong sense of self-worth and purpose, confidence in mastering challenges, and the ability to follow through in pursuing goals.

Considering all the benefits poses the question, “Why, then, is not everybody authentic?” One reason we're not always true to ourselves is that authenticity is not for the faint of heart. There is a potential downside of authenticity. Accurate self-knowledge can be painful. Behaving in accordance with your true self may bring on the disfavor of others if your behavior is seen to be outside accepted norms. Opening yourself up to the possibility of criticism or rejection can be a scary thing. It can sometimes feel better to be embraced as an impostor than to be rejected for the person you really are.

This is especially true when it comes to things like gender identity. Many people find comfort in the feminine and masculine gender scripts dictated by social norms. Many other people are made uncomfortable by them. Many people accept their gender roles. Many people don't. They may become sexually inhibited by their conflict about gender identities. Each of us is so unique that we may feel conflict between the gender norms of our communities and some of our own sexual desires. For example, facing serious emotional struggles because of the sexual norms of our culture many women may not feel that it is okay to be dominant and sexually aggressive, and many men may not feel that it's okay to be submissive and sexually passive. These conflicts between our culture's gender norms and our desire to behave in accordance with our true self can result in us carrying around a heavy burden of not feeling authentic. Living our lives with a haunting sense of in-authenticity can be problematic. It can be very difficult for us to develop intimate relationships with our sex partners. It can also create such anxiety that they will go without sex or force ourselves to have frustrating and disappointing sexual relationships with others simply for the sake of fitting into societal sexual norms. This can lead not only to failed relationships but to feelings of depression and acute anxiety.

Perhaps it is time for a “coming out.” Coming out is the process of accepting and being open about one's gender identity. It is also the process of challenging and resisting social norms about sexuality when you realize those norms simply don’t square with your own self-awareness. I don’t suggest that it is necessary that you have to come out to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, but that you simply accept and embrace your own unique sexuality and embrace the fact that it is okay to be submissive if you are male or dominant if you are female. The coming-out process helps build self-esteem and a capacity for intimacy. Real fulfillment and real contentment comes from authentically grappling with the possibilities inside you, in a disciplined, concentrated, focused way. Dare to be yourself. Live life, express your sexuality and explore intimacy in keeping with the unique person you are.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chivalry and the Submissive Man

Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. It is usually associated with ideals of knightly virtues, honor and courtly love. The word is derived from the French word chevalier, meaning one who rides a horse. Duties to women is probably the most familiar aspect of chivalry and contained what is referred to as courtly love, the idea that the knight is to serve a lady, and after her to treat all ladies with gentleness and graciousness. Today, the terms chivalry and chivalrous are still used to describe courteous behavior of men towards women. Once a radical change in mores, the code of chivalry now lingers in such common practices as men holding doors for women or rising when a woman enters the room. Many scholars trace the Western desire for an all-consuming passionate romance to chivalry.

With respect to the concept of chivalry as practiced in medieval times, courtly love is to me a most interesting aspect. Courtly love was an acknowledged relationship between a man and woman which involved a marriage-like ceremony with the gift of a ring to the man from the woman. In the poetry and romances inspired by this relationship we see the idea of love as a requisite to bonding. Courtly love was the beginning of women's liberation in the western world, at least insofar of women’s hearts and bodies, though not directly the economic and political status of women. Women were given the central role in the relationship and given freedom to express sexual feelings and ponder their own hopes and their destinies.

The courtly love relationship had certain rules, similar to the vows exchanged during a wedding ceremony. The knight pledged certain things to the lady and he was expected to woo, or pursue, her, which is the source of our modern courtship behavior. It evolved into such courtesies and gallantries as opening doors, writing poetry, observing formal manners, and asking for a lady's hand on bended knee. Women were treated with honor, not as property. The knight pledged always to be passionate but she controlled his “virtue,” that is, whether or not ejaculatory release was permitted. He underwent ritual testing to see if he had the discipline of restraint necessary to love. The woman was not required absolutely to forego her own pleasure, but she was in full control and could veto the advances of the man at any stage when then engaged in intimacy.

Women sought a man of passion, but with self-control and the ability to be unselfish. Under the rules of courtly love, the woman “gentled” the man and used his passion to create their bond, bonding that occurred as a result of the natural male biological response to delayed gratification. If the knight passed his tests and the lady accepted him as her lover, he pledged obedience to her rule in the realm of love. Such obedience sounds very much like the male submissive role of today. By submitting the man was acknowledging that men should not be in control of women or their sexuality. Chivalry freed the woman to assert herself in the realm of love, assuring her satisfaction. She set the pace and the mood, directing or redirecting the man's attention as he deferred to her.

While not expected to be passive in love, waiting on her every word, a knight was expected to offer complete obedience and his sexual advances were expected to be tempered by moderation. The relationship was fundamentally Tantric in sexual expression in the sense of sharing a spiritual connection and sustained intimacy.

Interestingly, men seem to have provided the original courtly love inspiration but it was women who later refined the inspiration into the practice of courtly love. Men were seeking their own liberation probably for spiritual reasons, influenced by the monks and the heretical cults steeped in older Gnostic traditions as spiritual quests fill the literature of courtly love, the search for the Holy Grail being one theme.

The concept of courtly love I think has relevance for men and women today as they seek to form new relationship paradigms. Courtly love seems to embody most clearly and fully a dominant female, submissive male archetype that over the ages has refused to die and now in modern times seems to be seeking rebirth.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sex Roles: A paradigm shift

In the fifties and sixties we definitely lived in a patriarchy and it is fair to say that it was a man’s world. The roles for men and women were relatively well-defined and non-changing, but the last 20-30 years have brought about dramatic changes in male and female sex roles. The changes have forced many men to reevaluate the traditional notions of manhood and masculinity. While many men welcome these changes, this redefinition of roles has caused confusion and frustration for others.

One approach to understanding what is going on is to recognize that whenever any issue heats up, when old beliefs and attitudes begin to be debated and challenged, it is a good bet that we are on the threshold of a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift occurs when there are fundamental changes in thought about some previously accepted aspect of society which comes under scrutiny and begins to be rejected. A paradigm shift is more than a change in thought; it also means a fundamental change in personal behavior. We can get some clues on where this paradigm shift is going by focusing in on the basic structure of the current paradigm.

Under the patriarchal paradigm, the masculine stereotype emphasized the importance of males being strong, independent, inflexible, and emotionless. In relationships the male roles were clear; be the provider, be the “boss” and don’t get too emotionally close to anyone. Not showing any vulnerability was central to this role. Male sexuality was characterized as genitally focused, detached from other parts and conditions of our lives, and performance oriented. For men sex was not so much a sharing of intimacy but a conquest to provide for our own gratification and to prove our manliness.

Patriarchy is under attack. The liberation of the sixties heightened the sexual contradictions of the typical Western view of sexuality and sparked debate about rigidly defined male and female sex roles. The Feminist movement has shaken the foundations. As one very perceptive bumper sticker states: “Feminism is the radical notion that males and females are equal.” This statement very nicely captures the present-day paradigm shift. Shifting sex roles in this country now encompass more equality for males and females. Whereas older, more traditional, notions of sex roles emphasized the superior power position of males, more recent formulations of sex roles emphasize equal power for males and females and even in some instances empower females to assume the dominant role. Gay liberation has also raised profound questions about sex roles and behaviors.

Like it or not, though scary and confusing at times for many sex role expectations are changing in this country. Newer definitions of being a man are much less rigid and clear. Males are now expected by their partners to be open emotionally and to be able to communicate effectively. New role models of masculinity stress both strength and vulnerability; the ability to be strong and the ability to be vulnerable. Simply put, we are in the process of redefining sex roles in our culture. Today’s culture requires males to expand the traditional notions of masculinity. It is important to know how to be strong and vulnerable, independent and dependent, logical and emotional. Clinging to old notions of what being male means will not solve the problem. New roles are evolving and it is important for males to experiment with these new notions.

More and more males are beginning to see the advantages of these new sex role expectations. Embracing the notion of equality with females or even the more “radical notion of submission to dominant females can actually be freeing for males. No longer having to be the “provider”, males now have more flexibility in their careers and work life. No longer having to be "strong and silent", men are seeing that their health improve and their relationships becoming more satisfying. In short, equality gives men options they didn’t have before. Are changing sex roles sometimes confusing? Yes. Are they freeing? Yes they are definitely freeing for both women and men. Improved health and less stress, more satisfying relationships, and more lifestyle options are but a few of the advantages.

Along with acceptance of the new sex role expectations, the basic structure of the way men think about sex must radically shift. First, men must learn that the new male sexuality engages the entire body in a diffused experience and is not just a genital experience. All forms of touch could be considered sexual in themselves, not just “foreplay.” Men could learn to have orgasms (no longer synonymous with ejaculation) that become a total body experience. Sexuality might be integrated into all other parts of men's lives. We could begin to see how a certain sexual glow can actually enhance our effectiveness at work and in our relationships, rather than be an impediment to healthy functioning. Sexuality might be pleasure-oriented rather than performance-oriented, a relaxing experience, energizing instead of depleting. Sexuality might become a multifaceted range of experiences, not just a single experience (intercourse) repeated over and over again, more or less successfully. This image, upon reflection, has many elements of a more feminine view of sexuality but it is also the new image of male sexuality.

Ultimately, the future of male sexuality and the dominant image of male sexuality will be the work of all of us men who decide to tackle this question in our own lives. We will start with what we have: our doubts, our fears, our sense of inadequacy, as well as our hopes and our best intentions. We will work towards gaining a sense of responsibility and integrity about sex that we may not feel now. We will learn about it together. What we need is a little courage to give up the old paradigm, to recognize that it doesn't fit in our lives anymore, and to start embracing a new one that fits us more comfortably.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Vision of a Mistress

Above all she would recognize my submission to her as something intrinsically valuable and desirable possess. A fair exchange or equivalent to the dominance she gives in return. She would be exacting, taking full advantage of the power given to her, but would be capable and willing to share the pleasure from my gift of submission. Submission is in a real sense a gift, not in the sense of something that is transferred by one person to another without any expectation of receiving something in return, but in the sense of something that is freely and willingly given. I choose to submit, it is not something that another can demand or take from me by force.

She would first and foremost, be firmly in control of her own life and emotions, otherwise how could she inspire confidence in me that she could control mine. She would possess the capacity to be stern and demanding when it was called for, even to the point of provoking me to cry real tears. But she would also have the capacity to act as the consummate lover, able to kiss those tears away, without stepping out of character. In times of trouble she could easily step outside the role of Mistress to be a supportive friend, lover and partner, never forgetting that above all else we were together joined in a loving relationship between two caring human beings. She would be quick to grasp the differences between fantasy and reality and would never demand that I put her before my career or family, simply to satisfy capricious needs.

To win my mind, body, spirit, and love she would understand that she must first win and then continually nurture my trust. She would manifest humor, intellect, kindness and warmth. She would demonstrate wisdom in her guidance and training inspiring confidence in me that she was knowledgeable, deserving of my devoted attention and that she is a woman I can learn from and whose direction I could always implicitly trust. She would be romantic and protective making me feel that our relationship was something she jealously safeguarded and considered precious. She would demonstrate to me that she is someone I can lean on and depend on.

She would nurture and nourish my submission by instructing me in her lessons of obedience and would be a strong and unyielding teacher. She would accept no flaw, nothing less than my very best efforts at attaining her ideal of submissive perfection. She would never discipline without good reason or in anger. When it was necessary she would always discipline with a knowledgeable and careful hand.

She would always be open to communication and discussion, always willing to hear my wants, needs and desires, even if ultimately she decided that they were not things she considered to be in my best interests. She would be patient, taking time to learn my limits, fully aware that as my trust in her grows, so would my willingness to have my limits stretched and challenged.

She would fully comprehend that I submit to her out of my deeply felt desires and need to please her. My compliance comes from the wanting to please, not the fear of punishment. She would understand the fragile nature of the mind and body and would never purposely violate the trust given to her. She would be secure enough to laugh at herself and the absurdities of life, open-minded enough to explore and learn new things, and strong enough to grow. Her tools would be mind, body, spirit, and love. She would understand that each partner in a relationship gains most from pleasuring the other and that in the final analysis trust and love are the only bindings that truly hold.

Artwork Credit: Paolo Grossi

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Clitoris: A Users guide for submissive men

Back in the early nineties, actress Margi Clarke, went out on the street for The Good Sex Guide and asked men to identify the clitoris on a diagram. Almost all of them failed, spawning a generation of jokes about men's ineptitude when faced with the female anatomy (What do a clitoris, an anniversary, and a toilet have in common? Men always miss them). I know that personally, I had been having sexual intercourse for many years armed with only the very vaguest understanding of what the clitoris was and where it was precisely located.

Dismissed and misunderstood for hundred of years, the clitoris is the one part of the female body whose sole purpose is pleasure. It is vitally important that men understand not only where the clitoris is located but fully understand the extent of the clitoris and how all of the parts of the clitoris work together to produce female orgasms. Armed with this knowledge a man will be in a much better position to help his partner explore and enhance her sexual response. In reading about female sexuality, it became clear to me that the reason that so many women are disappointed in sex is that their sexuality is defined according to male standards. By this I mean that sex is intercourse-focused, which works very well for men, but not reliably for women. Especially submissive men, whose prime directive is to focus on providing sexual pleasure to their dominant female partners, the challenge I believe is to help transform society’s male-centered model of sexuality and work towards the development of a more equitable ideal. Accomplishing this requires, in part, reclaiming information about women’s bodies and sexual response that has been lost or ignored under the antique phallyocentric model. It also demands a broader understanding on the part of men about female sexual plumbing and how a woman receives pleasure.

According to Rebecca Chalker, author of The Clitoral Truth: The Secret World at Your Fingertips, for 2,500 years the clitoris and the penis were considered equivalent in all respects expect their arrangement, but all that changed after the eighteenth century with the advent of the patriarchal posture when this knowledge was repressed, ignored and forgotten. It was not until 1559 that Real Colombo, M.D., re-discovered the clitoris and its role in female sexual response.

Even today, the clitoris is still very confusing to both men and women and largely misunderstood and that is why men would be well served to step back and take a broader view of sex than just to focus on the heterosexual intercourse obsessed version that’s so popular in our modern culture. Even many doctors and sex therapists, still think that the clitoris is a teeny pea-sized bump, and that women's sexual response is not as powerful as men's. What many people call the clitoris is just the tip (or glans), and is only one of many parts-that all have corresponding parts in the penis-and work in a similar way to produce orgasm.

The preface of Chalker’s book is that the clitoris is actually far more than that little nub of nerve endings above the entrance of the vagina. She contends that the clitoris is actually quite a large and complex organ and that the better understanding of its structure within the female sexual organs will bring better understanding to both men about the female sexual response. From the introduction Chalker writes: “The clitoris has 18 parts some of which you can see-like the glans or tip, inner lips (called labia minora in medicalese) and the hood, which is equivalent to the foreskin in men. Then there are parts that you can feel, such as the shaft a cord about an inch long that is attached to the glans, and the urethral sponge which you can feel through the roof of the vagina. Then there are muscles, blood vessels, and nerves which you cannot feel, but which are essential in causing orgasm.”

For centuries the clitoris was described as a nerve-rich nub about the size of a pea. And indeed, it is dense in nerves, with over 80,000 of them. But it wasn't until 1998, when Dr Helen O'Connell challenged the “pea-sized” theory with her study of the clitoris, reported in New Scientist. O'Connell discovered it was wishbone shaped, with erectile tissue surrounding the urethra on three sides. Rather than being the size and shape of a pea, O'Connell reported that the clitoris actually has two legs (or crura) which extend between five and nine centimeters into the pelvis, as well as two bulbs (called “the bulbs of the vestibule”) which lie to either side of the vaginal opening within the labia minora (inner labia). She followed up this research in 2005, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) rather than dissection to study the clitoris, and reported similar findings.

The visible portion of the clitoris, the glans clitoris closely resembles a little penis and both organs function in similar ways. Both are full of tiny cabernosal arteries lined with smooth muscle. During sexual arousal, that smooth muscle relaxes, allowing the arteries to fill up with blood. Unlike the male penis, the clitoris is the only organ in the human body built solely for pleasure, and that in some women it is up to 14 centimeters long. Different women have different textured clitori and like it played with differently. Often women who have the large hard rubber like clitoris like when the man bites it or sucks it forcefully. Other women with a more sensitive clitoris like when the man flicks it with medium force. Some women have an extremely sensitive clitoris and only enjoy very gentle play focused on it, so softly that the stimulation is barely touching it. In general, women find stimulation of the clitoris to be uncomfortable and unpleasant when the surface is dry. When stimulating a woman’s clitoris with his fingers, the male should ensure that his fingers are well lubricated, using either the woman’s own natural lubrication if she is aroused, or a lubricating product until she becomes wet. The need for lubrication makes the giving of oral sex an excellent choice for a method of stimulating a woman’s clitoris as the man’s own saliva provides the needed lubrication.

In vanilla encounters, the burden is often on the male to learn through experimentation exactly how his partner enjoys having her clitoris stimulated. Often dominant women are quite comfortable in telling the man exactly what she likes. But there are a few basic guidelines that can be followed by a man on his own which most women would find pleasurable.

  • Lick from the stem of the clitoris to the inner labia and back up again in soft sweeping strokes.

  • Slip a finger inside the vagina and press on her G-spot as you gently lick the tip of her clit.

  • Suck the whole of her clitoris and labia softly with your mouth, lapping in between her labia as you do so.

  • Some women enjoy getting onto all fours and sliding a finger or toy inside their vagina from behind teasing her G-spot while the man licks her clit from underneath.

Sexuality is a part of who we are as sentient human beings, and it varies from person to person, culture to culture. So what does this mean for you? Well, to start with, you can have a lot more fun if you explore a woman’s clitoris in all its glory discovering how to turn her on in new ways. Additionally, helping to construct a new sexual model requires a thorough evaluation of the psychological, social, and biological facets of sexuality. That is why I decided to write this article about what every submissive man should know about the clitoris.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Reader Comments

Recently I did a follow up piece to The Submissive Male Construct and Nice Guys after receiving a thoughtful comment from a reader. The follow up piece, Revisiting: The Submissive Male Construct and Nice Guys
also drew reader comments and today I would like to focus in on one of those comments.

“As a woman, I hear a lot of men whine about not being able to find partners. This rant sounds almost exactly the same, with just a couple words changed here and there. They are all self-described "nice guys" or "submissive guys". Then they attribute the single fact that prevents them from romantic success. They ignore their choices, their personality, their lifestyle, their emotional and mental state, their cock size, their hygiene, their hair color, their dating habits, their finances - everything. If he can't find a woman to date it's because he's so "nice/submissive" and women secretly want "dominant/macho/jerks" men. Isn't that pitiful?

I have also found that there is a species of "nice guy" who seems to be remarkably emotionally manipulative. I think men can find themselves self-identifying as nice, when the truth is they are unable to assert their needs and boundaries in an honest, direct, and healthy way. When their unspoken needs are unmet, they can become passive aggressive.

This is the single most common reason I choose not to enter into relationships with "nice guys". I *like* submissive men. I do *not* like whiny passive aggressive guys reeking of desperation. I'd often rather date an honest "jerk".

(I am not trying to say that all nice/submissive men are like this. Just that there are reasons women put "nice guy" in quotes.)”

This reader does make some very valid points, points which I touched on in the original essay and in the follow up and points that were brought up in comments by other readers. Certainly there are men who wish to project themselves as nice guys, who perhaps even sincerely believe that they are nice guys, but who are as this reader states are, “emotionally manipulative”, “…unable to assert their needs and boundaries in an honest, direct, and healthy way”, and “whiny passive aggressive guys”.

From the beginning, my intent for this blog has always been to offer a forum for the open and honest exchange of opinions and ideas free from censorship which is the reason I choose not to moderate comments. Every person is unique and a product of both unique world views and opinions. People are welcome to disagree with the ideas I present here as much as they want as someone disagreeing with my ideas is never taken as a personal attack on me. In fact I value the opinions and observations of others because quite often I feel I learn something and in some instances my own opinions are sometimes changed by a well thought out and intelligent argument that proposes an alternative view. Of course in return I do reserve the right to comment on the comments with which I find myself in disagreement, and that is the reason I have chosen to address this one. The one statement I take issue with from this comment is “As a woman, I hear a lot of men whine about not being able to find partners. This rant sounds almost exactly the same, with just a couple words changed here and there.” In fairness I don’t think either essay could be fairly categorized as a “rant”. A rant at least according to Merriam-Webster is “a long angry speech or scolding” and certainly that was not my intent in writing either article. By dismissing my opinions as a “rant” I suggest the reader missed the entire point of what I have written. While she tempered her initial comments with “I am not trying to say that all nice/submissive men are like this” at the end, it seems to me that “This is the single most common reason I choose not to enter into relationships with ‘nice guys’ ” makes it rather obvious that she does in fact view all nice/submissive men in the same negative way. This makes as much sense as the argument, whales are mammals and whales live in the sea, therefore all mammals live in the sea. In the parlance of logical argument construction, this is what is called building a valid argument from false premises, and arriving at a false conclusion. Yes, whales are mammals and whales do live in the sea but that of course does not mean that all mammals live in the sea. Only some mammals do. In the same way, the argument that some men who self-identify as “nice guys” are actually manipulative, relationally dysfunctional and prone to blame others for their own short-comings, all men who self-identify as “nice guys” are manipulative, relationally dysfunctional and prone to blame others for their own short-comings, is equally false.

The true facts are quite plain, some men who self-identify as “nice guys” have some or all of the negative traits listed by the commenter, but there are in fact legitimately nice guys who do not have any of those traits. Equally true is the fact that some women ignore nice guys as potential relationship partners simply on the basis that they have a decided preference for relationships with men who are bad boy types because they find this type more interesting or challenging. I doubt very much that I would ever convince women of that type to give consideration to exploring the possibilities of a relationship with a nice guy. My only issue with such women is that quite often nice guys are more than acceptable to them as friendship material; they simply aren’t interested in having a romantic relationship with them. My intent in writing the articles was simply to appeal to women who may have held negative opinions about nice guys but don’t have a decided preference for bad boy types, to keep an open mind about the possibilities of a relationship with an authentic nice guy.

Even though I found things to disagree with in this comment, I do appreciate that this person took the time to express her opinion and I respect that a great deal. If she finds meaning in dating “honest jerks” then I see nothing wrong with that as we all have our own unique proclivities when it comes to relationship preferences.