Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Believe to Understand

My submissiveness is something that I have to some extent always been aware of. I didn’t discover it as some sort of epiphany. To be sure I didn’t explore it, never wanted to explore in fact until well into my middle age years. Nevertheless I always knew it was there. I was raised in the normal way, conditioned with the societal expectations for a male, pressed into that stereotypical masculine mold, but over the intervening years, more and more I pondered the undeniable conflicts that were evident to me in how I behaved and how I felt, especially as I related to women. In the beginning I tried to make myself believe that I was simply a little more in touch with my feelings than other guys, the sensitive type who was perhaps just wired to express and feel my emotions on a different, deeper plane. In some ways I admit I was actually a little fearful to acknowledge, much less look at in a serious way that part of me which I now define as “submissive” because early on I associated the little I did understand about it as being something feminine rather than masculine.

Society puts a great deal of pressure on us as people to conform to gender roles which are the collective expectations of behavior based on one's gender and that is just as true for females as males. Most men feel pressured to act masculine. To behave in a way that might cause a man to appear weak, emotional, or sexually inefficient to others is a major threat to his self-esteem. To be comfortable, men need to feel that they are decisive, self-assured and rational. It is very stressful when a man is made to feel that he has behaved in an “unmanly” fashion, or sometimes even if he feels his thoughts have been “unmanly”. And conversely, acting “manly” we believe results in increased social validation. Men learn to appraise situations using the schema of what is an acceptable masculine response rather than what might be objectively the best response. As a result men often limit themselves to a certain range of "approved" responses in coping with the stuff of life. We feel compelled to repress expression of tender emotions and instead to show our emotions only according to traditional masculine customs because being perceived as emotional by others will be interpreted as acting feminine. We feel obliged to conquer in regard to sexual matters and work.

These are some of the reasons that explain my reluctance to delve into the disconnects that to me were imminently apparent, between how I felt about things and how I behaved and why for a good part of my life, I refused to acknowledge much less explore my submissiveness. Perhaps it is simply a function of aging, that in time we grow more secure and self-confident and slowly but surely, the opinions of others, the expectations of society become less important in comparison to our own perceived needs and our desire for contentment. I happen to know that many submissive men do not come to truly understand and embrace their submissiveness until mid-life and sometimes even later. I understand this because questioning one’s gender identity is scary stuff, and exactly what is required before a man can explore much less come to understand and ultimately embrace submission. You must first believe and only then can you understand.

I’ve reached a point in my own life where there is no longer any plausible deniability when it comes to that part of me which is defined as submissive. I have not only come acknowledge it but to some degree to both understand and embrace it which has in some measure contributed to personal contentment. Yet believing, understanding and even embracing is only a part of the equation. Once you believe your submission and have embraced it, in a real way a type of the mythical “Pandora’s box” has been opened for you. Now you deeply feel the need for an outlet to express your submission, a person to whom you submit. In this alone, will real contentment be found.

In some ways, “discovering” and embracing submission has for me only resulted in the substitution of one kind of stress for another. Instead of the stress that resulted from forcing myself to stay “inside the box” with respect to behaving in “manly” ways, now I face the stress of “being” submissive without an available continuum for submissive expression. For me submission is not about the availability of a kinky sex partner. It is about finding a confident, assertive, deliciously dominant woman who shares my own interest in having a committed, intimate, female led relationship. The sexual aspects are of course a part of that and if she happens to enjoy the spice of kink, so much the better. But the issue is for the most part the availability of someone to whom I can submit, serve, pleasure and empower.

Since I first came to grips with and gained some understanding of submission and dominance and relationships involving the dynamics of power exchange from the perspective of SM, I quickly learned that dominant females were in that environment, in relative short supply. Finding one for a relationship such as I envision seems actually a pretty daunting task. However I do feel that surely albeit slowly society seems to be changing. The old gender role models are now being called into question. While still far from perfect, I think that more and more doors for women are being opened which were for so long wrongfully closed to them. As women assume greater leadership and fill roles in industry and government, formerly reserved for men, perhaps more and more, women will begin to question the antiquated gender roles impressed on them by society. To some degree I think this is already happening as many women I meet are no longer willing to accept anything less than parity in a relationship. Perhaps the next logical step for them will be the desire to lead in relationships. Yes, I do feel that as patriarchal society continues to slide, a transition to a more matriarchal society seems imminent. For submissive men like me, that would be a welcome change and hopefully will make it easier in the future to find women who not only accept our submission but will desire and embrace it. In the meantime, I will continue to search for the special woman that I desire. To believe is to understand, to be certain, yet to act is the precursor to having the object of one’s desire and needs.

Artwork credit: Talantbek Chekirov

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