Male submission

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A submissive man bound to a bedframe

Male submission describes BDSM and other sexual activities in which the submissive partner is male. It generally refers to sexual activities and desires in which a male-identified person, such as a man, plays a subservient role to a dominant partner. The term "male submissive" and its abbreviation malesub are widely used in BDSM subcultures to refer to such a person. The female dominant counterpart is abbreviated femdom, while the male dominant counterpart is abbreviated maledom.

Variations of submissive expression[edit]

The particular activities considered submissive for men vary widely depending on local and cultural custom as well as the context for a particular encounter. For people whose sexuality is strongly heteronormative and "vanilla", merely breaking from traditional sexual positions such as having sexual intercourse with the female-bodied partner "on top" may be considered a form of male submission. Within the context of sexual power-exchange (D/s) relationships, male submission may take a number of other forms, including sadomasochistic sex.

Use of attributes[edit]

Often several attributes may be used to show that a man is submissive within an BDSM-play. Of a high symbolic meaning is the wearing of a leather or even steel slavecollar, whereas being locked up in a chastitybelt makes clear that a submissive has handed over the say about his own sexuality to the dominant. Muzzles, gags and headmasks may attribute further to demonstrate the unequal relationship existing between sub and top, which may also be enhanced by a lot of rules about behaviour as a kind of SM-etiquette.

A submissive man in an appropriate position, sitting on his knees, hands behind his head, and wearing the characteristic attributes of a heavy stainless steel chastity belt and a leather muzzle gag

Impact on feminism[edit]

The existence, motivations, and effects of men who wish to be sexually submissive to women is a topic of debate among feminists. The existence and arguable prevalence of submissive men[1] often challenge the dominant paradigm of masculinity as inherently dominant. At the same time, it has been argued by anti-pornography feminists to be evidence of a reification of men's patriarchal oppression over women since many venues for submissive men feature the buying of sexual fantasy from a professional dominatrix, activities that are seen as inherently degrading to women.[citation needed] These views have been criticized by sex-positive feminists as silencing or excluding the voice of sex workers from feminist discourse surrounding submissive male sexuality.[2]

Some feminists, such as Robin Morgan, view male submission in sexual role play as an expression of "envy" of "what they think women experience", regardless of the man's sexual orientation. In Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis, Morgan writes, "If they grovel to a male master they are mimicking (for fun) an experience all women in patriarchy are in some way or another forced to endure in reality. If they cower before a female 'dominatrix,' they are superficially reversing, and thereafter trivializing, real women's real oppression." A dominant FTM, meanwhile, would very rarely be accused of trivializing the male experience; thus alluding to the hypocritical, phallocentric sexism that radical feminism is often accused of. [3]

Relationship to chivalry[edit]

Some interpretations of male submission draw analogies to chivalry, in both positive and negative contexts. While some people believe that cultural incentives to promote traditionally chivalrous actions promote negative stereotypes of men,[4] others base their concept of male submission around the perceived strength of "the knight in shining armor."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Uebel, Michael. "Masochism in America". AMERICAN LITERARY HISTORY. OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Highleyman, Liz. "Professional Dominance: Power, Money and Identity." Whores and Other Feminists. Edited by Jill Nagle. (Routledge, 1997), p146
  3. ^ Morgan, Robin. "The Politics Of Sado-Masochistic Fantasies." Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis. Edited by Robin Ruth Linden, et al. (San Francisco: Frog in the Well, 1982), 117.
  4. ^ Ranat, Why I Revile the Memory of Arthur Pendragon