Thursday, 21 December 2017

Friendzone or Subzone? Femdom, Feminism and One-Way Romances

Friendzone. The classic description is something like this:
He provides emotional support, platonic companionship, helps her out with practical things, once tidied her apartment so she could host a party, gives her lifts in his car. One time he came into town specially just to rescue her when she got herself into a state. Sometimes she falls asleep on him while they watch TV together. She appreciates his friendship, doesn't have sex with him, but dates other guys...
Gosh, darn, doesn't that sound awfully familiar from a zillion Femdom blogs? Let me help you out by adding some more text:
He provides emotional support, platonic companionship, helps her out with practical things while she sits around in a silk robe doing her nails. Often he cross-dresses as a French maid and tidies her apartment. She keeps him focused by directing the action with a whip. He gives her lifts in his car when she goes on dates. One time he came into town specially just to rescue her when she got herself into a state. Sometimes she falls asleep on him while they watch TV together. If the show gets her horny, she has him go down on her. She appreciates his friendship  service , doesn't have sex with him, and holds the key to his chastity device. She dates other guys but if he's lucky he gets to clean up after. 
Seriously... DUH!

OK back up a bit.

The term Friendzone describes a real phenomenon I noticed well before it had a name.
However, the surrounding male-entitlement culture is unpleasant, let's call it a One-Way Romance (OWR), which is also a more accurate term.

The basic OWR is a situation in which you experience "unrequited love for somebody who regards you as a close friend". It's easy to go there when you're young and inexperienced. Thanks to patriarchy, he may read her culturally-mandated gentle rejection as a "maybe" or - worse - "playing hard to get", and then later succumb to male entitlement and feel cheated.

If that's your situation, you should do as Cara Sutra says and grow the hell up. Value and preserve the friendship but move on romantically. (It was Cara Sutra's great article that got me thinking about this.) You should also consider ceasing to profess friendship as a way of putting off the scary moment where you open your heart and make yourself vulnerable.

We can hope that, by empowering people to communicate clearly and by removing entitlement, Feminism will consign this kind of OWR to the dustbin of history.

However, it's not always that simple. How could it be?

What about people who keep getting themselves into an OWR? Or the ones who stay there for months and years? I've been there, and I've observed it with both men and women, but let's focus on the man-in-friendzone scenario.

If a man keeps putting himself in the same uncomfortable situation, or gets stuck there, isn't that usually because on some level that's where he wants to be? Aren't we really seeing vanilla Femdom hidden in plain sight?

To me, the full blown long-term version of the OWR is just the natural hazard of having an unacknowledged submissive streak, of being a Champion rather than a Commander.

The loud complaining is disingenuous, just the vanilla version of malesub tears:
"Wah wah look at the demeaning situation I'm in that however turns me on so much hang on I have to go and jerk off..."
What about the women?

For the OWR relationship to be stable, both partners must want to be there. What's in it for her?

I think it's also disingenuous to insist that adult women are never aware of men orbiting them since (a) the idea is really common, and (b) most people have enough emotional intelligence to read all those non-verbal cues. They're not evil exploiters. Most take the quite correct attitude, "He knows the score but seems happy to do stuff for me so why not?" (Or, "LOL men are silly.")

But why? Why put up with a man hanging around like an overgrown Labrador puppy? Surely his presence makes it harder to strike up a real romance?


Even now in the 21st century, there's a sense that women give up control when they enter a committed relationship and can no longer ration out their sexual favours.

Most women - most people! - want a measure of control. Those near the Commander end of my Champion-Commander spectrum - need it. Keeping a devoted man orbiting in the OWR while dating elsewhere seems pretty much the perfect solution to this.

I don't think Feminism alone will make this go away, though it may make men feel better about doing the orbiting. Women who need control will still balk at entering a peer relationship.

I do think that what both OWR partners really need is a way to have a hierarchical relationship that is sexual and probably monogamous (not necessarily with each other, though.)

We'll only really see the back of One-Way Romances - the Friendzone, if you must - when Female Led Relationships (or Male Led, if the other way around!) are mainstream enough for people to go looking for them explicitly.

Unfortunately, that means tackling the elephant in the room: that not everybody wants or needs an equal relationship.

Learn how to how to walk the same Femdom path with your partner! 

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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Ask Giles: Why Are Malesubs Crap (*Often* crap, that is)

Malesubs are often crap, especially the inexperienced ones: entitled, demanding, gross, weird, blinkered... I don't need to give examples. But why?

First, our culture still enables men to be crap about sex in general

Our culture still portrays men as the ones with sexual agency. Sex is still about men, and most men themselves approach sexuality in a wide-eyed boyish way that combines innocence with a lack of reflectivity: "Me... me... me..." In this world, female pleasure is a proof of masculinity and the female body territory to be conquered.

The unreflecting assumption is that Femdom will simply be an inversion of traditional male/female roles, hence the obsession with "serving" one's mistress by being penetrated, and hence unsolicited ass picks.

Couple that inversion with sexist assumptions about women's "naturally" subordinate role, and you explain why malesubs are so keen to emphasise their lack of masculine or high dominance traits: "I know you're a mere weak woman, but I'm a total loser with a small dick who likes wearing panties so you will be able to dominate me."

This exaggerated inversion makes sense when the sub is in boyish mode, but not after he's had a good orgasm. Hence the tendency to flip flop, overcommitting then retreating.

Second, Service Femdom is more visible than "Actual" Femdom.

Prodommes are disproportionately represented in mainstream media, and have a disproportionate presence on the Internet. (After all, this is their vocation. They are easy to contact, often look good on screen, have lots of cool gear, and - if articulate - have tonnes of practical experience to share.)

Meanwhile, the Internet is a good place to talk about the technical aspects of BDSM, so there's more online information about cool rope tying techniques than there is about kinky dynamics and emotions. This makes Femdom look like a service, even when it isn't.

So it's easy to regard dominant women as a cheaper alternative to a prodomme - the equivalent of the nymphomaniac of 1970s sex fantasies: all the convenience and lack of complications of a hooker, but free.

(And perhaps there lingers the assumption that women don't really experience desire anyway, so all straight sex is service; why should Femdom be any different?)

Finally, porn amplifies all this.

Not much to say about that one!

Malesubs are crap because: 
Patriarchy, highly-visible Service Femdom, 
and Porn.
(But not my porn!)

Learn how to how to walk the same Femdom path with your partner! 

CLICK HERE to download my Femdom Erotica (all written while chaste!)
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

My Three Big Ideas about D/s Power Exchange

(In response to useful comments on my last post.)

I have Three Big Ideas about D/s Exchange. I'm sure somebody else has already had them, but here they are:

1. In BDSM  Power Exchange, the Power Dynamic is Real

Not all BDSM is really power exchange. Sometimes the real control does rest with the "sub", or the couple are actually engaging in a collaborative scene. (See Skin Shallow's excellent blog post on this.)

However, where the dominant operates within permissive limits in order to please themselves and this is OK with the submissive,  then the power quickly becomes real. It's mentally hard for a sub to withdraw consent unless they hit a really hard limit:

(1) The submissive's need for the kink dissempowers them. They can no more casually call a halt because bored or irritated than a sports professional can walk off the field because they've had enough for the day.

(2) Humans quickly lose perspective making most role play quickly feel real, e.g. Stanford Experiment, and again, how people behave badly on the sports field.

(3) Submissives are caught in an undertow. Add a following wind, and we find it very hard to swim back toward shore.

(4) Hierarchical relationships seem "natural" to humans. Once we know who's boss, we tend to just go along with the arrangement unless something bumps us out of it.

Meanwhile, the dominant experiences something similar. They get used to being obeyed and quickly come to take it for granted.

Dominants might find this perspective uncomfortable - consent gets fuzzy if you look at it too closely! However, I think it's useful to distinguish between power exchange and play, especially because power exchange is the simpler and less demanding option for inexperienced or vanilla partners experimenting with a dominant role.

2. Power Exchange is the normal (BDSMers are just better at it and more explicit) 

This from observation of vanilla couples. There is usually a consensual power imbalance.

Psychology researchers have noticed this, but tend to treat it as a bad thing, even though there is evidence that having clear leadership in a relationship makes the couple more effective.

By "power imbalance" I mean something generally benign and even fluffy.

Typically, one partner tends to lead, the other facilitates or champions. They may each have areas they are in charge of - in a "traditional" relationship, the house is her domain - but the overall shape of the relationship focuses comfortably on one partner. This could, e.g., be the more professionally dynamic partner, or the one in charge of the domestic bliss.

The partners in question usually don't think of dominance or submission: "I'm a good provider, I look after my partner, I keep us on track, I get looked after, my work has to come first, my partner supports my hobbies...".

(Culture and humour suggest that this power has never automatically rested with the man: "She wears the trousers." Female Led Relationships are as old as history.)

D/s couples are therefore really just going with the flow but being explicit about it. For example, if your wife is in charge, it's a relief to be able to just admit it, rather than to feel the need to push back in order to maintain respect.

The kink just occupies the same place as romance does in vanilla couples. Both express dynamic. The romantic walks through the rain to buy a bottle wine for his lover, the submissive for his mistress. One wears a nice shirt she picked for him, the other a chastity device. Kink is just generally more intense and reliable than romance.

This is psychologically comforting because it means we aren't The Other. Xena and I turn out not to be so different from the couple next door - right now he's de-icing the family car while she watches from behind double glazing, drinking hot chocolate. 

It's useful because it shows that you can have a mutually satisfactory D/s experience by just following your inclinations in the context of power exchange. You don't have to be different people. This is particularly important for couples where one partner is no good at roleplay or acting, and quickly becomes self conscious or irritated when asked to do so.

3. Personality determines D/s role, vanilla or otherwise

Despite people's protestations to the contrary, I think people sit on a spectrum of Commander and Champion, and tend to pair up accordingly. I see this in vanilla couples, and in those couples I know with a strong element of BDSM power exchange.

Commanders aren't evil, Champions aren't weak. However, they are different from each other. This from a Psychology Today article on a collection of BDSM studies:
...doms were lower than both the controls and the subs in agreeableness. People who are low in agreeableness tend to be tough rather than tender minded, are willing to make hard decisions, and tend to be bossy and demanding in the way they relate to others. Thus it would seem that people who are into BDSM generally prefer the role that fits their own level of agreeableness. Tough, domineering people would seem to prefer the dominant role, while those who are more tender and willing to please naturally fit into the submissive role.
It's about preference, not status. In the outside world, each may equally well be a leader or a follower. Being a Commander doesn't automatically give you the skills to be socially dominant. Being a Champion doesn't automatically make you any good at nurturing or facilitating. Neither type entitles you to anything.

In long term relationships, a kind of feedback loop seems to move each partner away from the centre, intensifying the dynamic. Couples who resist this fight a lot - but perhaps they have great makeup sex.

This is useful because it suggests that you can infer potential kink compatibility from everyday personality. However this comes with lots of caveats. 

(a) The popular cultural service model of BDSM may put people off their corresponding rules. A Commander doesn't want to service top.  A Champion doesn't want to be the focus as a Bottom.

(b) Fetish, preference, trauma(!) and experience may nudge people into non-Power/Exchange kinky activities e.g. a Commander may enjoy being service topped.

(c) Actual type may be masked by cultural pressure, learned skills, or reaction to bad experiences. The Alpha Male manager may be "performing" alpha male to hide his Champion nature.

Well, that's where I'm at at the moment. What do you think?

Learn how to how to walk the same Femdom path with your partner! 

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Thursday, 7 December 2017

My (tentative) take on D/s and Personality Type

Determined by personality type?
If you float the idea that that D/s preferences might be a reflection of personality type, other kinksters have the urge to sandbag the conversation until it dies.

Nobody wants to be inherently evil, or weak, or have daddy issues, or be a cliched kinky middle manager. And, what little real research there is tells us that there's no correlation between social dominance and sexual dominance.

So it's pointless and divisive! Pile on the sandbags!

Except information about how relationships work is always useful.

For example, just as vanillas need to distinguish love from lust wrapped in romantic fantasy, kinksters need to distinguish D/s compatibility from kinkiness wrapped in D/s fantasy: "Is this me, or just me getting my kicks?"

And, yes, the waters are muddy making research difficult. The meaning of BDSM preferences - kinky activities we like -  depend on the context. Are people satisfying randomly acquired fetishes? Service topping?  Enjoying the physical sensations with a little fantasy thrown in? Messing around..?

However, things get clearer if you rise above all that and consider just the dynamic. Here's my take, and my prediction about what future research will show.

The most obvious question...

"What kind of people are drawn to hierarchical relationships?" 

...turns out to be the least useful, not because the answer is "Random people", but because the answer is "Almost everybody".

Hierarchical relationships are
the human norm.
Hierarchical relationships are the human norm.

It's like the way the "gay question" is dissolving into a realisation that almost everybody is at least potentially bisexual and that this has always been hidden in plain sight. (Duh.) Humans are wired for hierarchy. Our revolutions are about choosing leaders, not abolishing them. If we do abolish leaders, new ones emerge anyway. And so, quite naturally vanilla relationships tend towards hierarchal.

In every relationship I can think of, one partner leads - not dominates, erases, or abuses, just leads. And there's even a study that suggests that couples work better when one partner is in charge.

This is not about gender essentialism. Just as with homosexuality, as we strip away the cultural layer enforcing gender norms, we see a roughly 50/50 split between male and female leadership - and as with bisexuallity, that's always been hidden in plain sight.

Couples even eroticize hierarchy in vanilla ways. Romantic gestures and courtship usually express dynamic. It's perfectly possible to be dominant or submissive in bed without using whips and chains. And we all know apparently vanilla relationships dramatically skewed in the apparent favour of one partner.

This is all normal.

So, I hold that the only real difference between vanilla couples and D/s ones is that the latter express their dynamic using the BDSM toolbox. (Why? is another topic.)

It follows that Dominants and Submissives need have nothing to fear from scrutiny, because in all things other than the whips and chains, they're really very ordinary indeed.

Which brings us to the big question...

"Does personality type determine D/s role?"

If it doesn't, then the core compatibility in all those vanilla couples around you is random, none of them could infer that compatibility before actually dating, and people's most lifestyle-critical decision says nothing about their personality.

Logic and my experience of other people tells me that this is unlikely.

However - before you whack me with the sandbag - it's most certainly not about social dominance.

Social dominance is both situational and a learned skill. Wanting to be in charge is not the same as being any good at it. Also, it's not the Stone Age! Real world leadership roles are rarely about waving a branch and bashing other people into submission. A sexual dominant doesn't need to defeat a submissive partner - except perhaps in werewolf erotica.

(If it were about social dominance there would be a very limited number of dominants rather than one in most couples; or else dominance would be relative, so that Mrs Femdom would keep her husband in chastity, but yearn to go down on her CEO. Successful people would become more dominant as they grew older and gained status - midlife crisis subs wouldn't be a thing!)

Nor can it be about the tired cliches of strength and weakness: the saintly partner who cheerfully revolves around a physically or emotionally weaker spouse is (technically) submissive but very much a pillar of strength.

My take from observing other couples, including the kinky ones, is that people generally divide into Commanders and Champions. Quoting my own blog entry:
Champions are natural joiners, Commander's aren't.

Commanders lead decisively, Champions tend towards consensus building or else implementing/defending existing traditions or practices.

Commanders know what's good for you or an organisation, Champions are all about facilitating.

Commanders build empires, Champions run them. 
Guinevere was a Commander, Lancelot was a Champion.
I'm not claiming it's simple!

Good advice for a conflicted
female Commander 
Each type can learn the behaviour of the opposite type. At work, the Commander can do consensus building (or else). Driven by gender norms, the young male Champion may feel the need to strut around with a pocket full of Red Pills (being Alpha) and the young female Commander may cling to being a good girl (she should Let It Go). And kinky preferences may be in apparent contrast to D/s ones.

People aware of their type often manage it. I'm so easily sucked into clubs and organisations that I almost instinctively avoid joining them. When people unburden to her, my Commander wife has to hold back her urge to try to fix them.

Finally, it doesn't have to be about people at all. An introverted Commander might be most at home managing a network or designing interiors. An introverted Champion might be happiest renovating old buildings or gardening.

So I expect that careful studies will show it's down to personality type after all, but multi-dimensional type of the kind you might measure using the Myers-Briggs, not a single variable like social dominance. However, these studies will only be fruitful if they address the elephant in the room: the way most vanilla couples also have a power dynamic running.

Learn how to how to walk the same Femdom path with your partner! 

CLICK HERE to download my Femdom Erotica (all written while chaste!)
(For ebook format, 
Lulu or iTunes.)