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Monday, 24 February 2014

Sex, Housework, Domesticity: Is Domination and Submission "natural"?

One of the surprising things about our Femdom Sabbaticals is that we experienced the non-eroticized aspects of the temporary Female Led Relationship as utterly natural.

I mean that it felt perfectly right to let Xena control the intimacy and the housework.
...it felt perfectly right to let Xena control the
intimacy and the housework.
 

This phased me somewhat.

In the past, whenever I read that kind of statement online, I immediately assumed that the author's feverish imagination was at work either justifying a kink, or creating a thrilling trap for themselves.

But, no, it really just feels natural. I didn't have a constant hard-on while deep-cleaning the kitchen, I was just relaxed, focused and industrious. Similarly, in the bedroom, though I did get delicious feelings of panic at not being able to get off, mostly my experience of one-sided sensuality was comfortable and warm.

I can think of several explanations for this, all of which might apply.

Do Submissives train ourselves to submit more generally?

I've had BDSM fantasies for years, but it's only in the last couple of years that I discovered the tranquility available through non-eroticized submission.

Sure, we start off with fantasies of erotic submission, but perhaps we're training our brains to submit in general, either by a kind of fallout, or because the comfort associated with the act of fantasizing transfers to some of the subject matter... when I see sexy boots, I am in my happy place.

Is MLR and FLR an emergent property of relationships (and cultures)?

...the FLR couples over on the At Her Feet
forum claim unparalleled levels of
domestic harmony
Last week we simply did not argue at all. Similarly, the FLR couples over on the At Her Feet forum claim unparalleled levels of domestic harmony. I am sure the same goes for MLR couples.

As relationship self help books tell you, the lower desire partner controls the sex. The opposite seems to hold for housework; the person with the higher standards generally sets the standards. In both cases, the other partner chafes against the control, wheedles, negotiates and generally puts stress on the relationship and on themselves.

It's also possible that one partner is always going to be more "dominant" than the other, leading them to second guess while the less dominant partner feels the urge to push back. Another cause of stress.

One response to this stress is resignation, either to giving up goals or embracing those of your partner.

As soon as that resignation includes a narrative - a positive spin - to make you feel good about it, then you have submission in one aspect of the relationship.

If all those submissions line up in the same direction, then you have a vanilla D/S relationship: the "surrendered wife" or the "henpecked husband" stereotypes.

If the couple are self aware about the dynamic, then you have MLR or FLR. However, it's the same dynamic as in the vanilla world.

(A shared pool of similar narratives becomes part of a culture, and in doing so each particular narrative becomes more comforting.)

Is Domination and Submission hardwired?

Humans aren't all about "who's alpha?" We're also good at cooperating, and there have been and continue to be societies which emphasize equality between the genders.

Even so, Patriarchy is very pervasive and ancient. It would be odd indeed if it were not in some way hardwired. The snag is that though Patriarchy "explains" MLR, it does raise the problem of FLR!

It would be fine if male subs were like those fetishists who cross dress for the transgression and humiliation. However, many of us just feel comfortable in FLR circumstances.

There would seem to be two obvious possibilities:

First, perhaps the D/S roles are not gendered. Perhaps we are adapted to feel happier taking leadership from somebody more dominant; it's more efficient if somebody is in charge, and submitting is better than being killed or cast out. Perhaps we are also adapted to feel happy in the matching dominant roles. If so, then MLR and FLR are just gender specific ways to get at these feelings.

Second, perhaps the D/S roles are gendered. MLR mirrors Patriarchy. What does FLR mirror?

Looking at human culture, I wonder if FLR is a courtship behavior that switches on in certain circumstances. We see it at work in traditional Western courtship styles, in exaggerated stories of chivalry and knightly love (this one was an eye opener!), and the men who meekly stay in the "friend zone" for months or even years and those women who let them.

Perhaps FLR switches on when a desirable
low status male comes into contact
with a desirable high status female.
I find it interesting that boys mature sexually two years before they do so physically.

In other words, our male ancestors had two horny years in which they could not take the sexual initiative without a higher status male ripping off their heads.

Perhaps FLR switches on when a low status male comes into contact with a desirable high status female.

I wonder if there are cultures where adolescent males habitually form relationships with older women.
(NB A couple of things now we've strayed into the dreaded Evolutionary Psychology.
First, saying something is "natural" is not the same as saying it's how things should be. Nor does it imply that there aren't equally natural contrary forces at work.
Second, Evolutionary Psychology tends to see behaviors evolving out of genetic self interest, as strategies for (i) reproduction or (ii) resource gathering. This stark vision sees only exploitation and exchange. However, that's not how these behaviors feel. The emotions associated with vanilla FLR include: chivalry, gallantry, playfulness, being flattered, romance... not cynicism and cost-benefit-analyses.)

Conclusion: Are MLR and FLR "natural"?

They feel natural, but there's simply not enough evidence to prove that they are. Given that our most compelling drives are our natural ones, I would be very surprised if D/S was not a natural human response to particular scenarios.  However, I am uncertain as to whether MLR and FLR are distinct behaviors.

While pondering this, why not introduce some part-time FLR to your relationship?

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