“My husband dominated me,” she said, simply. That would be exciting. He is a strong man, a bit of a pain sometimes. I think of her playing her cello to him, in the evenings. The dominant man, and the wannabe, can be a curse, negging, gaslighting, hitting women. I knew two woman broken by their sons hitting them. One recovered, one did not. One of the most exciting, spirited, forceful and intelligent women I know, her husband attacked her, and the iron entered her soul.
I tried to be a Real Man- a “Christian gentleman”- and could not suppress the woman in me. The suppression damaged me. I want to hide away and not be noticed, and believe this comes from my parents and the fears they had, from trauma perhaps going back generations.
There is something in me that I have been terrified to manifest in consciousness because I fear, if I am like that, the world will crush me. At least in part, other people see it in me: suppressing it from consciousness just gives me a comforting illusion of safety, rather than making me actually safe from being like that. So my problem is, trying not to be like that. When I am inauthentic, I am more likely to offend or be hurt again.
Something quiet, suppressed in me, gained a voice, and I wanted to hear it, and especially to know its desire, because I knew that its desire was mine, perhaps my most fundamental desire. It said,
I want love.
I want to surrender.
A woman told me she could put a man in ecstasy simply by lightly holding his wrist. He surrenders to her. It fulfils him. I have been lit up this week, by a woman giving me instructions, and telling me her requirements. She will be gentle, she says. I melt. I have no resistance. It is what I want.
I wonder what other women do. There are role models, of equal partnership, and of Real Men. If you like the alpha male, you might just be broken. You might find ways of self-protecting. You might find a decent one.
Dominance and submission give a series of symbols, with rules and boundaries, to explore such surrender. I have been to two different BDSM clubs. In male role, I went as a tourist or voyeur, in a group, in evening dress rather than bondage wear. While exploring whether I would transition, I took a cane, and wore a cream linen jacket like a “school teacher”. I was bored, and went to sleep. Then a cross-dresser offered to allow me to beat him. I did, as hard as I could, then felt horror and contempt for myself as well as him.
I had my cliché ideas, of the repulsive male dom, the weird female, the male sub whom I thought disgusting and ridiculous, but a couple there told me there was no desire to hurt. The dominant man would use his whip lightly, to sensitise his partner’s skin. “I’m just a big, soft-hearted Dom,” he said.
A leather thong around the wrist symbolises surrender to another’s control for a limited time. After, the man can put his suit and tie back on, and go back to normal life at the office. He can explore. How does it make him feel? At the thought of being controlled, I feel delicious fear. I have a sense of complete vulnerability, which delights me.
There would be the game of surrender, and there would be ordinary life, carrying on.
I visited my widowed father a few times a year, and we would stay up late, drinking and talking, sorting the problems of the world, a loving, playful, creative conversation, riffing off each other, exploring, dancing together. After he remarried, the first Christmas I went to visit as usual, and we had almost the same conversation, while his new wife sat silent. After that, she made rules on when I could visit, and when there were the three of us Dad and I did not talk like that any more. Dad and I might go out for a walk, and have almost the same easy conversation. The last afternoon I spent with him, we went to the National Gallery and shared our delight in the art.
We were controlled. I think it pleased him. It distanced him from me and made me miserable. I don’t know how it happened that the conversations stopped, but they did, and it seems to have been because of her desire, his compliance, mine too.
Perhaps, the surrender I made in dominance and submission games would liberate me. I would know what I liked. I might relax a little, feeling less shame, and terror of being found out. I would be reassured. Rather than a cruel mistress humiliating me, the caring, supportive dominatrix would help me explore my feelings and accept them. Yes, it is alright to be like this.