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Male Dom Female Sub

Please note: This post, and the post it links to, discusses my personal sex life — or to be more accurate, my tastes in porn — in a certain amount of detail. Family members and others who don’t want to read that, please don’t.

This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.

Has anyone else noticed a drastic shift in kinky porn in the last few years?

Bettiepagewhip7It used to be that the most common trope in kinky porn was the dominant woman. Madame Cruella, Mistress of Pain, Kitten with a Whip — these were the themes and images that dominated, if you will, the world of SM porn, both in writing and in visual art. It was a cliche, even: everyone knew the cliche of the powerful business executive who paid to get beaten and humiliated once a week — or who built a library of fem-dom porn to help him fantasize about it.

Carries_story_2But in the last few years, I’ve been seeing a definite shift. In the kinky porn that comes across my path (and a fair amount of kinky porn comes across my path), I’m seeing less and less porn starring dominant women, and more and more starring submissive women and dominant men.

I’ll admit that I haven’t studied this trend with any scientific rigor: this observation is very much anecdotal, and I could be talking out of my ass. But I really don’t think so. I was actually so used to the prevalence of dominant women in SM porn that it took me a while to realize that they weren’t nearly as prevalent as they used to be.

And now I’m wondering: What’s that about?

Born_to_obeyYou could argue that this trend is sexism at work. Most porn is still aimed at a primarily male audience, after all. And while men were happy to fantasize about powerful women with whips back when it was overwhelmingly a man’s world, as women have been gaining more and more power, men are fantasizing more and more about taking that power away.

Hes_on_topI suppose there might be something to that theory. But it can’t possibly be all there is. Because women are having these fantasies, too. In droves. Women writers and artists are creating a lot of this male-dom female-sub porn — and increasingly, a female audience is sucking it up. Myself included. I eat it up like popcorn.

In fact, you could argue that this dynamic is happening because of the opposite of sexism. Women have had submissive and masochistic fantasies for ages, and porn is finally starting to cater to our goddamn fantasies of being the helpless, vulnerable center of attention/ object of desire — not just men’s.

But I think there’s something else going on here, something that’s key. Again, I haven’t studied this with any kind of rigor, so I’m just going to speak for myself, on the assumption that what’s true for me may be true for others as well.

Hawaii3I think that we fantasize about what we don’t have. Stressed-out city folks dream of tropical paradises and bucolic rural getaways; bored small-town folks dream of the excitement and glamour of the big city. Unhappy single people dream of true love; unhappy married people dream of being footloose and fancy-free. Etc., etc., etc. That’s the whole point of a fantasy, isn’t it? Even if your life is generally good, you’re still not going to fantasize about the things you already have.

So what does this have to do with male-dom female-sub porn? After all, we still live in a sexist world where women have less power than men. Wouldn’t women and men alike be fantasizing about men in shackles and women with whips?

In the much broader and more obvious sense, of course that’s true. We’ve made a lot of advances, but the world is still very sexist indeed. But — again, speaking only for myself now — in a more immediate day-to-day sense, the reality that I want a fantasy escape from isn’t sexism.

It’s the fight against sexism.

BacklashIt’s the constant vigilance against the stupid sexist indoctrination that’s been sunk into my head since I was an infant. It’s the constant struggle to be assertive when I’ve been taught to be compliant, to speak up when I’ve been taught to be a good listener, to argue when I’ve been taught to be agreeable… all without turning into an asshole. It’s the constant half-second arguments I have in my head every time a guy says or does something sexist — is this particular battle worth fighting? Do I respond, or let it go?

Lucy_needs_a_firm_handIt gets exhausting. Not just for women, but for men as well, who’re contending with the flip side of gender indoctrination and changing roles and expectations. And I think a big part of the appeal of the male-dom female-sub fantasy is that it offers a break from the fight. It offers an opportunity — whether in a role-play scene in real life or a masturbation fantasy in your head — to take a vacation from the battle, to briefly
wallow in the familiar roles, in a safe place that’s separate from your everyday life.

VacationAnd like most vacation spots, for most people it isn’t the place where you’d really want to live. Sure, there are people who do 24/7 male-dom female-sub relationships, just like there are people who sell their houses and move to Tahiti. But for most people, part of the pleasure of a good vacation is how happy you are to come home from it, the fresh perspective it gives you on everything you love about your everyday life. The indulgence in a fantasy of a masterful man and a compliant or helpless woman gives you a break from the struggle against sexism in your everyday life… so you can emerge rested and refreshed and ready to do battle once more.

Comments

  1. Noxx says

    I’ll defer to your expertise on porn, but I too have noticed that trend. I’ve had male-dom/female-sub fantasies since before I knew that’s what they were – as far back as I can remember. It has been nice to have my tastes catered to these days.
    Now, I’ll try to be patient about the ever decreasing hairiness of the participants. What’s so wrong with genital hair? I don’t need the uber hair of the seventies, but a nice trimmed bush on men and women alike would be most appreciated.

  2. says

    I’ve gotta say that I never understood the dom-sub relationship in porn and sex, one way or another. I’ve never felt disgusted by it or something, like I’ve heard a lot of people say, but I just…
    I could never DREAM – scratch that, I couldn’t ever IMAGINE of whipping or humiliating a woman. I’ve got three sisters and was raised by a single mother; it would go against everything, all the respect I’ve ever learned to direct at women. On the other side of that, I could never submit one iota of my own independence and pride and self-resect to ANY other human being.
    So I just don’t understand it, it doesn’t do it for me – which is why it’s really interesting for me to read these pieces, it gives me insight into something I can’t know, otherwise. I like it and I thank you for it.

  3. Shannon E. Wells says

    You touch on a bunch of things I’ve also been thinking –
    It’s not realistic to lump these folks into a few tiny pigeonholes, of course. One of my (maybe it’s not mine and I forgot about reading it somewhere) favorite theories is that some people sexualized traumatic abuse they experienced (or witnessed) as a child, as a way to control their fear, or reclaim their power in the situation. After reading The Red Queen, I seriously suspect some people are just hardwired that way. Unfortunately since I never watch porn I can’t begin to say if or why there might be a change in the trend. There are so many variables in the equation that it would be pretty hard to nail down: more women consuming porn, more amateur porn, easier access to porn, higher political and social status of women, more women in the workplace, etc. All of these could influence a change in the market.
    (off topic, I’ve read 3 of your posts so far and really like them so I think I’ll be subscribing to your RSS feed. thanks)

  4. David Harmon says

    Greta: I tend to agree with your interpretation — social expectations most certainly can be something burdensome, not to mention self-imposed standards of “goodness”. Such play, of course, is generally a matter of pulling something out of the Jungian “shadow” — but what we find in there can and does vary over time, both for individuals and masses!

  5. says

    Hi Greta,
    I really enjoyed your post, also. As a BDSM author I’m always interested in what readers are saying. I write both Femme Domme and Male Dom depending on the inspiration I find in the environment.
    As a 32 year member of the Community, I do see a lot of abuse cases within the Lifestyle. Whether we’re hard-wired that way or not has never been studied, to my knowledge. I see many people who don’t consider themselves abuse cases, yet the scars are in their personalities.
    They, true to form, become the abusers.
    However, I think this Lifestyle attracts the abused, not because of unresolved issues – issues that will never be resolved – rather because of the intensity of the interaction.
    Within the Lifestyle there is a particular protocol to which one must adhere, or find one’s ass on the floor – NOW! We don’t have to wait or wonder what may happen, we don’t need to think we can get away with it, because Dom/me is on it.
    Secondly – simply the intensity of the physical contact. In a vanilla sexual exchange, there may or may not be foreplay, and not every one acheives orgasm, necessarily. The intensity in even a low-level Scene is trumps the nervous system stimulation of ‘normal’ sex.
    I believe that because those with abuse issues were raised, or have subsequently suffered such high-level intensity, we require something even more intense for it to even register, both physically and mentally.
    That would be the BDSM Culture where everything is straight forward, and in-your-face intense.
    My Femme Domme work is about abuse cases, how we interact with the world, and some of the really screwed-up ways both males and females come to conclusions.
    My Male Dom work tends to chose a Lifestyle theme like multiple-slave households, body modifications, office slut, The Scene with a Heart.
    However, if the purpose of a D/s relationship is to give one party the opportunity to express Dominance, and the other submission, gender is secondary.
    What I see happening is a backlash to the Feminist Movement. Women who are submissive and desire to submit to a Dom, don’t care to feel ostracized by the wider world, anymore.

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