Oct 182014
 

Today’s reader question comes from Tumblin’ Taylor of Tahoka, TX.

Want to ask a question? Use the contact form on the Q & A page.

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Do you think there is a double standard for female/male submissives?
Male Doms (rightfully) explain in media (like tumblr) that the submission of a woman is a gift and a privilege (it is) but I don’t see that sentiment from Dommes towards male submissives. Or am I just being blinded by stereotypes or crappy representations of Domme/male sub relationship?

One question; three different topics: 1) double standards, 2) Tumblrs, and 3) submission a “gift.”

tumblr dom reblogsDouble Standards

I’m not sure “double standard” is the best language here, but I’ll go with it. Are there double standards? Fuck yes. There are gender-based AND role-based double standards all over the place…

But seeing ‘submission as a gift and a privilege’ isn’t one of them. In my experience (which is limited, but well-informed), male doms don’t value submission more than female dommes value submission, nor do maledoms value femsubs more than femdoms value malesubs. I suspect it’s an issue of representation more than of reality.

(See note on lifestyle D/s vs. professional D/s, and note on gender and role binaries… jesus… I’m longwinded as FUCK.)

Tumblr Dom/mes

Have you seen Tumblr? It’s not exactly a resource for thoughtful, nuanced discussions of D/s relationships, and it’s certainly not a repository for thought-provoking or complex visual representations of D/s roles.

I mean, that stuff exists on Tumblr, but honestly, the majority of D/s Tumblrs are porn, porn, more porn, a couple of attention whores, and a few porn collectors who know how to work the “reblog” and “favorite” buttons (without ever generating original content of their own, and without providing any thoughtful comment about others content).

There are some brilliant exceptions, of course, like Submissive Guy Comics. SGC posts original (mostly single panel), beautiful comics of dominants and submissives that span a broad spectrum of D/s emotions, activities, and styles (for lack of a better word).

But on the whole, learning about D/s relationships from Tumblr is only slightly better than learning about D/s relationships from porn. I have a hunch about the phenomenon you’re witnessing… but I won’t go into it here.

Anyway, don’t use Tumblr as any indication of what’s out there… unless you’re looking for porn.

Submission As a “Gift”

When it’s superimposed on an artistic black and white photo of a nekkid woman wearing a collar and kneeling, as a platitude, “submission is a gift” is about as useful as those inspirational posters of kittens hanging onto tree branches reminding us to “hang in there!”

hang in there BDSM posters

But, whatever… submission as a gift. Let’s go with it.

Sure, ideally, submission is a gift you give to someone who is worthy of receiving it. But so is dominance. I wouldn’t be in a relationship with a submissive if I didn’t think he was worthy of what I have to offer — what I have to offer is dominance, along with the myriad other (and more important) things that make me who I am. Submission is a gift, and so is dominance, and so is love, and friendship… and a bunch of other stuff, too.

They’re gifts in the sense that they’re given and they’re valuable, but that’s where the similarities end. Submission and all that other stuff are unlike gifts in that they should be earned, they require constant, reciprocal effort, and they can be taken back

TL;DR

Tumblr sucks. Platitudes aren’t worth much. Complexity, depth, and reality are rarely communicated in reblogs.


“Just hangin'” by Paddy and Dushi, (2009). Work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).
“Ornate cyan bow for gift wrapping” by Christmas Stock Images. Work licensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0).

 

Notes:

On lifestyle D/s vs. professional D/s: For the record, my thoughts above refer to “lifestyle D/s” people — those who engage in D/s in their primary romantic/sexual relationships and those who engage in non-romantic play for sexual/physical/personal fulfillment (without the exchange of money or material gifts). I don’t include pro dommes, their clients, “fin dommes” (financial dominatrixes), or financial “slaves” in that statement. In my mind, those are more of a business arrangement than anything else (while business arrangements can bring other, non-material, forms of fulfillment, if it weren’t for the exchange of payment, they wouldn’t exist). I also exclude professionals because it would be impossible to compare gender-based differences here — male pro doms are rare and nearly invisible, and I’ve never actually heard of a male “fin dom.” [back to text]
On gender and role binaries: It’s important to acknowledge the question (and therefore, my response) is grounded in gender and role binaries that ignore the incredible diversity of people, genders, and roles. There are roles besides ‘dominant’ and ‘submissive,’, and more importantly, here are genders between, beyond, and outside of ‘male’ and ‘female.’ [back to text]

  14 Responses to “submission as a gift?: maledoms vs. femdoms”

  1. You have a hunch about the Tumblr phenomenon of male doms calling female subs a gift? I’m dying to hear what the hunch is!

    • And yes I did see that you said you won’t go into it here. Still dying of curiosity.

      • I started writing it out as part of the post, but then I realized two things:

        1) while my theory is probably true in a lot of cases (to varying degrees), it made a bunch of gender assumptions (that again, are probably true in a lot of cases) and generalizations. Even with a caveat to that effect, I’m sure someone would yell at me for generalizing, and I do not enjoy getting yelled at. :)

        2) my post was already way too long (which no one has yelled at me for, thankfully)

  2. Excellent conclusion.

    If you believe Marcel Mauss, then the basis of the gift is the principle of reciprocity, even if, on both sides, there is a degree of self-interest.

    Granted that he was talking about social rather than individual relations, Mauss’s theory still has a ring of truth about it.

    • I thought of Mauss, but figured that if I included him, I’d end up extending an already longwinded post by another few hundred words. (Plus, I’d end up in a research hole — I’m only superficially acquainted with Mauss through Derrida and Levi-Strauss.)

      Aside: I just realized I’m probably mispronouncing the name. It’s /mus/, isn’t it? I’ve had it in my head as /maʊs/.

      I prefer /maʊs/ — Marcel Mouse sounds like an adorable cartoon character. :)

      • I assume the name is of German origin (or possibly Alsacien?) in which case Marcel Mouse is how it would be pronounced and you would get your wish. But the French language is allergic to diphthongs so they pronounce it as if it assonanced with ‘most’ or ‘coast’.

        So he’s Marcel Most (without the ‘t’).

  3. I think most bloggers feel the same way about Tumblr. No space for contemplation or complexity or even feedback.

    F

  4. Not unlike your example of Tumblr…..most erotica and porn is male created and male driven towards male fantasy. So the notion of submission as being a “gift” based on sex is simply false.

    Genuine submission is always a gift regardless of gender or sex. This is not to be confused with the “Do me subs” aka topping from the bottom……of which there seems to be many more that are male than female. So its misinformation coupled with lies and fantasy and when someone attempts to dispel those myths, we often get shot down as being a “buzz kill” for infusing some reality into guys unrealistic sexual fantasies. :)

    • most erotica and porn is male created and male driven towards male fantasy.

      Male gaze — it’s fucking pervasive.

      So its misinformation coupled with lies and fantasy and when someone attempts to dispel those myths, we often get shot down

      Yeah… I have a hunch most of it is just boner driven, ego driven bullshit.

      as being a “buzz kill” for infusing some reality into guys unrealistic sexual fantasies.

      Srsly, Vanessa. U R TOTL BONERKILLER. My boner… it. is. gone. Boner = dead.

      • Can it be revived with mouth to……cock?
        A massive dose of Viagra?
        Should we play Taps at the “Reposed Erectile” ceremony? :)

        Seriously, isn’t living a life of reality better than fiction? I mean there are no shortage of kinky dominant women alone, bored, willing and wanting to play and use and abuse a worthy make submissive.

        Why someone would spend time whacking off viewing caption photos and cartoons rather than being with a living breathing female is beyond me. :)

  5. *heads back to store to return the “Hang In There” kitten gift poster I bought for you*

  6. “In my experience (which is limited, but well-informed), male doms don’t value submission more than female dommes value submission, nor do maledoms value femsubs more than femdoms value malesubs. I suspect it’s an issue of representation more than of reality.”

    YES. And that probably has more to do with representing messaging that appeals most to each target audience.

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