Thursday, 6 February 2020

Growing Up Kinky: Straight Malesub as a Sexual Minority

Dommes have a much longer
road to travel thanks
Recently I was taken to task for commenting:
...I was thinking, "What would it be like if mainstream (liberal) culture was as affirming of young malesubs as it is of the rest of LGBTQ+?"
And the answer was, "Not much better" because dommes have a much longer road to travel thanks to gender roles and the way femdom is portrayed.
Roughly: Malesubs aren't actively persecuted, we can pass as normal, can safely hold the hands of our partners in public, and how dare I even think about calling for the same amount of support? (Which I wasn't; you'll see why in a moment.)

As mysticlez218 puts it, "Every minority faces their own struggles which are unique to them with no one being worse or better. They all suck in different ways."

I want to talk about the experience of being a straight malesubs and how we are a sexual minority, and in some specific contexts, a disadvantaged one.

This matters because, though we are low priority in the grand scheme of things, we still have to live our lives.

Agreed, our plight outside the progressive bubble is not remotely urgent compared to that of others: there are still places in the developed world where just being lesbian or gay is dangerous, and countries elsewhere where it carries a death sentence.

However, there is an expanding progressive bubble - perhaps oasis might be a better term - in which High Schools have LGBTQ+ clubs, and educational institutions have diversity policies with teeth, and there are increasingly mainstream places where it is unremarkable for same sex couples to hold hands.

Agreed, the bubble is always under threat, but there are people visibly fighting to preserve and expand it. A young gay man in the developed world, for example, might worry about the way things are going, but right now can realistically imagine finding a place in the mainstream without hiding who is.

How the world sees straight malesubs.
Not so a young straight malesub.

Yes, inside that progressive bubble, Straight Malesubs are very much a sexual minority, and disadvantaged in a number of ways.

For a start, we're invisible. This is great outside the bubble: I can safely hold my wife's hand almost anywhere in the world. However, there is precisely nowhere mainstream where I could unremarkably- say - wear a steel collar with her name on it.

This will never happen. (I write SF erotica, and even I can not imagine a realistic future where this would be possible.)

Invisibility comes at a cost. It's not just about authenticity, about growing up with a "dark" secret, it's also about the difficulty of having other similar friends. (We'll get to the dating issues later.)

That invisibility means we have no celebratory role models, no Ian McKellans looking rugged but civilised in their collars: the potential cost of coming out as a malesub of any orientation is too great and the benefits too nebulous.

Femsubs benefit from the shield of patriarchy. Female sexuality is generally not seen as seedy or threatening, and female submissiveness is often framed hyper-femininity. In the grand scheme of things, this is not good. However, it does make it less professionally disastrous for a female celebratory to be known to enjoy a good spanking or even have her own dungeon.

We are happiest serving our mistresses.
In contrast, Straight Malesubs transgress the laws of patriarchy. We are happiest serving our mistresses, we submit to violence and violation. Our sexuality is only really visible in the context of prodommes and sex workers. We're seen as seedy and weird. We are unmanned even if we present as masculine.

You'd think that transgressing normative gender roles would make us the darlings of feminism. I wear a chastity device 24/7, rarely get to penetrate my wife, devote most of my free time to supporting her. It's as if I've colluded in a local implementation of the SCUM Manifesto. It's certainly possible to argue that men like me fall under the "gender queer" umbrella, or would do if we were out.

However, this is not to be. The defining public image and most visible behaviour of Straight Malesubs is as clients seeking sex workers, or seeking women to provide that service for free. We're exploiters who compartmentalise our sexuality from our politics.

Historically, this is not entirely unfair: all those Victorian gents who went to brothels for a good spanking were hardly lining up to support Women's Suffrage. And today, some of the worst crap malesubs online are also the loudest supporters of "Female Supremacy", which seems to involve women dressing up in uncomfortable clothes and playing out complex male fantasies.

So, straight Malesub as Client obfuscates our surrender, and thus Feminism does not normally embrace us, and sometimes finds ways to frame us as enacting some kind of misogyny.

Worse, our straight maleness makes us problematic. The idea of Queer Hetrosexuality has been floated before, but remains controversial and provokes hostility (possibly quite rightly; I don't honestly know).

Then there's the BDSM scene. Seen from the outside, that has several issues for straight malesubs.

It's public verging on performance and emphasises "play". That's great if you like that sort of things - my RL kinky friends really benefit from it. However, for many of us it is at once a step to far - the intimacy we seek is private - and at the same time - as a by product of a safety culture to enable fun between relative strangers - offers only a nerfed version of our sexuality.

It's also not mainstream. The scene is obviously a good thing, but no more an answer than secret queer clubs were in the 1900s.

"We can't truly be ourselves without
a dominant woman to 'own' us."
Finally, the culture around Femdom seems to vary randomly depending on location. There's no assurance of not being a second class citizen. More importantly, there's often an assumption of Femsub as the default female role, and an off-putting swarm of client-acting malesubs defining domme in terms of male pleasure. No surprise then that judging from Reddit, Fetlife and various blogs, it takes a while for dominant women to discover their dominance...

Which takes us back to my original remark, and the biggest current downside of being a Straight Malesub, we can't truly be ourselves without a dominant woman to "own" us, and even after a century of Feminism, that is still a problem: in a hypothetical super tolerant world where a young straight malesub could pass the age of consent and start wearing a collar to indicate his orientation and that would be unremarkable, he'd still have to wait for the dominant women to make their own journeys.

Where does that leave us?

We still grow up not knowing who we are, in a private hell where we are the only ones to experience these dark urges to be bound, enslaved, mistreated.

When we do discover Femdom, via screen or porn, we pick up bad scripts and bad advice. We are framed simultaneously as both losers and entitled hedonists whose only hope for an outlet is to save up to pay a prodomme.

"Enjoying the darkness"
And when - if - we do make the leap and own our submission? There is often nobody there to own us, even temporally. We must either make ourselves vulnerable in the vanilla world, negotiating the icky paradoxes around teaching dominant women to be dominant, or else pluck up our courage to enter the Scene with all the randomness and overhead that implies.

That's not ever going to change. Ultimately, the penalty for enjoying the darkness is to have no place at the fireside.

What would I do if I was young right now?

I'd go to munches and clubs, but I'm not convinced I'd find what I needed.


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