I’m a hardcore feminist and have been for my entire adult life (my lesbian feminist mother saw to that). One of the things that bothers me the most about the gay community is the amount of misogyny that circulates in it. We adore drag queens but we make lots of little mean jokes about lesbians and women in general. They’re ‘fishy’ and ‘gross’. But that’s not what I want to talk about right now.
What’s bugging me right now is the equation of women with submission. This turns up a LOT in what I used to call ‘TUMBLR porn’. You know what I mean–the photo of a kinky image with some text on or below it. The place you see misogyny the most is with the idea that submitting to a man is an emasculating act and therefore a sub must be feminine. The sub is referred to as ‘she’, ‘princess’, ‘baby girl’, and so on. His dick is called a ‘clitty’. He’s shown in lacy underwear or stockings that we normally associate with women. And so on.
Here’s why this bugs me: It implies that being a woman is automatically to be submissive, to be less than male. It assumes that gender functions as a hierarchy with men above and women below. So if you’re below a man, you must therefore be a woman. It denies the possibility of equality between men and women, and it denies the possibility of female dominants. It also positions male submission as being inherently unmanly, as a loss of masculinity. And it also denigrates transwomen, because they’ve moved from the inherently superior position to the inherently inferior one in terms of sex and gender. There’s also a whiff of internalized homophobia in doms who think this way–”I’m a man, and real men only fuck women, so when I fuck a guy, he must be the woman.” It also denigrates gay men whose gender presentation is less than fully masculine (and we all know how many Grindr guys insist on ‘no fems’–it’s right up there with ‘no fats’ in terms of stigma). And when you uncritically accept this binary thinking, it quickly starts to feel ‘natural’ that men should be in charge and women should just obey.
This stigma of gay men as ‘failed men’, as ‘sissies’, ‘nellies’ ‘pansies’, and ‘limp-wrists’ was something gay men had to fight against in the 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s, so I find it sad to see how many gay kinksters seem to have embraced this idea in their erotic lives today.
What’s going on here is a whole lot of rigidly binary thinking. We kinksters are used to thinking about the dom/sub binary and the Sir/boy binary and the top/bottom binary. Those three broadly line up: dom/Sir/top vs sub/boy/bottom. (Let’s leave aside the fact that there are switches and dominant bottoms and service tops.) What’s happening is that we’re grafting on a fourth binary, the male/female binary and assuming that the male part naturally goes with the dom/Sir/top end of the scale and the female part naturally goes with the sub/boy/bottom end of the scale. Ergo, if you are a boy, you must be feminine in some essential way.
But that’s a false parallel. Submitting to a man doesn’t make you a woman, any more than a private submitting to a sergeant becomes a woman. When King Arthur’s knights swore homage to him, they didn’t become Gueneviere, they became Lancelot. When Robin teamed up with Batman, he didn’t become a girl, he became a junior Batman (and yeah, we all know they were fucking…). You don’t become a woman just because another man hires you to work for him. A cock locked in chastity doesn’t become a vagina any more than a man locked in prison becomes a woman. There are literally dozens of examples of social hierarchies that we accept as entirely masculine activities. But somehow, when it comes to sex, we assume that the person a man fucks has to be a woman.
When I fuck, I don’t want to fuck a woman. I want to fuck a man. He might be a man who is accepting his subordinate status to me, and I may reinforce that status with verbal abuse, pain play, and so on, but I still want him to be a man. I want to feel his muscles under me when I’m making out with him, and I want to admire the masculine lines of his body as I sink my dick into his ass. When I torture a boy, I want to see that masculine struggle to manage the pain. I want to feel like I’ve conquered another guy when I use him.
Obviously, everyone has their kinks. If your kink is getting off on feeling like your dom is feminizing you, more power to you. We don’t get to choose what gets our dicks hard, and I don’t want to kink-shame you if your kink involves being sissified. And maybe your gender identity is less than fully male and you like it that way and it lines up with your submission. If so, great! You be you.
But I encourage you to take a deep look at the assumptions you’re making about submission and the place of women in society and see if there aren’t other ways you can conceptualize your power exchange. Don’t be one of those gay guys who builds his identity on denigrating women.