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Why I Revile the Memory of Arthur Pendragon

November 1, 2008

Today, when thousands of children in this City will go out to collect candy from neighbors, is initiation day for two major gangs. At least two people have already been stabbed. I watched eight police, two of them undercover, jump a young man while I was inside a store getting food. I don’t know if he had a knife. This is why I hate civilization.

But on to the more inspiring subject of submissive men, because this City is so fucked everyone has to go on with their lives while people are marked for death so some teenage boys can prove their loyalty to their toxic mimic of community.

This should probably be two separate posts (or three, or four), but I’m going to mix all up and sacrifice a little coherency.

Several posts by various sex bloggers, as well as past ponderings got me all tied in a knot and trying to articulate what is wrong with how “femdom” culture and mainstream society socialize submissive men to believe that they have to be weak, and creepy, and passive, and spineless in order to be submissive. Which means both fewer whole, hale submissive men for me, but more importantly fewer whole, hale submissive men for themselves.

The only thing good about this is that he is her table.

The only thing good about this is that he is her table.

When I was first doing internet research on “femdom,” I couldn’t seem to find anything but Elise Sutton and the kind of woman who had “taken the reigns of her marriage and put her man in his place and now everyone’s just peachy.” I wondered if I was really dominant after all, since I had no desire to be called “Goddess,” “Mistress,” be worshiped, wear very tall shoes, or have those shoes worshipped by a soft, greasy man. Surfing, searching, I read a blog by one such woman who equated male submission with Arthurian chivalry, which profoundly offended me.

The reason “knight in shining armor” is such a romantic archetype is because the concept of romance is so deeply rooted in Arthurian mythos. Add corporate marketing to the equation, and you have Valentine’s Day, chick-flicks, Harlequin Romance, and generations of men who think that the only way to treat a woman well is to write her a song, give her flowers, hire someone poor to play music or push a boat, or create a goddamn fire hazard around her food.

Now there’s nothing wrong with writing songs to people you love, or giving them flowers, or enjoying some candlelight with or without food. But it is not the only, be-all-end-all way to court a woman.

I have no problem with courtship. Courtship is the way you prove to a prospective mate that you’re worthy. I plan to court my mates. I will court them with my skills, my wit, and my body to prove I can provide for them. But if someone wants to court me, then they better lay a deer at my feet, knit me a sweater, or be a certified wilderness medic. Anyone holding a bunch of pesticide-soaked roses imported from Ecuador will be left standing in the rain he frantically ran through to get to me. (Do you sense bitterness? This is what happen when boys decide you are the answer to their romantic yearnings and panacea to all their problems).

Chivalry, and I will go so far as to say romance, though many people will doubtless disagree with me, not only hurts men, submissive or otherwise, it hurts women, dominant or otherwise. Chivalry (and romance, which always seems to be monogamous) puts Woman, The Object of Desire, shiny, “pure,” “virginal,” and “good,” on a pedestal, only to be taken out by a man to sing odes to, to lay flowers at the feet of, to make promises to, until he no longer needs her and locks her back in her bower. I say this as someone who loves Tolkien, a man who loved to put shiny-pure-virginal-good women on pedestals and leave them there forever and ever into eternity. Literally.

But supposedly the woman is in command of the man’s love and knightly skills, but she doesn’t seem to get to do anything except give him things he wants… masochistic quests, handkerchiefs for him to idolize, an object to project his unrequited lust on, a pretty flower-wreathed-head to worship… Wait! Where have we heard this before?

So we have generations of men, at least the ones who aren’t trying to rape us and beat us and murder us in gang initiations, trying to “submit” to us, to “love” us, by making us fulfill their own needs. To make us their cause, the focal point for their energy, to remake us in the image of something to be unworthy of because they can’t believe they’re worthy by themselves. There is a degree of backlash, I believe, and you get dominant women who only want to dominate dominant men, like Axe describes here.

It get why they want it, or think they do. The idea is hot. It provides lots of fantasy fodder for me. I wrote a long, inadequate comment on Axe’s post, which I will now quote from extensively.

I understand why some women might resort to the arrogant demand Axe describes because when I dominate someone, I want there to be something to dominate. I don’t want fragile, indecisive, passive, weak-willed men. That’s not being submissive, that’s being fragile, indecisive, passive and spineless. Not sexy.

I like strong, assertive, scathingly sarcastic men with willpower. A lot of people would say I’m describing a dominant man.

Fuck that.

To be strong (physically or emotionally) is not an inherently dominant trait, just like being assertive isn’t inherently dominant, and being strong-willed isn’t inherently dominant. Those things are just good. Those things complement submission, they make submission delicious.

Submissive does not mean passive.

Being passive is being passive, not submissive.

The prevailing archetype for submissive men, however, is what Jones describes here.

Oh hell no.

Knowing what you want and being brave enough tell someone is sexy. Being able to take care of yourself is sexy. Being able to make decisions is sexy. Being perfectly able to make good decisions and then letting me make them for you is even sexier.

Maymay emphasized on a thread I started on Fetlife that being an assertive submissive is not just a plus, it’s essential. I maintain that it is both very possible and very sexy to be assertively submissive.

“Would you cane me on the ass this time because there’s still a lot of bruising on my thighs, please.”


I wait for the day when I hear a man say, “Any dominant who thinks they can just have have me drooling for gracing me with a look in my direction can kiss my beatable ass.”

Oh, sorry, was I drooling on you? I didn’t mean to scoot closer quite so fast. Or latch onto your arm. No, I can’t let go.

Similarly, it is possible, and extremely desirable, to be a strong-willed submissive.

“No, it is not okay that you did that. When we negotiated I explicitly said I wouldn’t do that, and you cannot intimidate me into letting you off the hook.”

Yes. You’re right. I’m sorry.

“Uh, no, I won’t lick your goddamn boots. Do I even know you?”

Now that she’s stormed off in an offended huff, can we get to know each other a little better?

I will even go so far as to say that it is possible to be aggressively submissive.

“No, I will not let you up, you have not eaten all day and that gives you headaches and I will continue to sit on you until you have eaten this soup I made you.”


“I know you didn’t ask for a foot bath, but you have been neglecting me lately, and I know you’ve been very busy, but you’ve also been very grouchy, and by God I will give you a foot massage.”

I accept.

I may even beat you afterward, since you put it that way.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2008 4:47 am

    For almost 5 years I have said something very much like this on many of my profiles. (,, etc., you know, the crap sites that used to be the only sites.)

    Your words:

    Any dominant who thinks they can just have have me drooling for gracing me with a look in my direction can kiss my beatable ass.

    My words:

    Messages from men that contain one-liner, cock-assured egotism get deleted without a second thought. Interacting with overly-presumptuous women who think I should feel privileged to be talking with them is a waste of my time, too.

    Anyway, (obviously) good post.

  2. ranat permalink
    November 1, 2008 12:28 pm

    Yaay, someone gets it! Now go forth and spread your sane submissive germs (please). I’ll be in the woods looking for a masochist who’s tied himself to a tree.

  3. November 2, 2008 4:24 pm

    Quite possibly the best thing I’ve read on the subject of submissiveness in the relatively short time I’ve been exploring the subject. It so perfectly captures the way I want to approach it. This link will quite shortly be emailed to my wife.

  4. ranat permalink
    November 2, 2008 5:05 pm

    @Thumper – I’m glad you enjoyed my incoherent ravings. I’m just trying to put all the thought-jumbles “on paper” to set them in my brain.

  5. devastatingyet permalink
    November 4, 2008 11:32 pm

    Very nice. With tiny reservations, I agree. (Tiny reservations = “some people kink for chivalry and that’s all right”.)

  6. ranat permalink
    November 5, 2008 5:55 am

    @Devastatingyet – It’s true, some people just kink on chivalry, and it’s not that I think we have to try to erase it all from human history (impossible), but I do believe we have to be aware of the power structures we live in, ritual or otherwise, and their ramifications. Chivalry, and derivatives of chivalry (ie, romance) are the absolute default for intimate non-kin relationships in the industrial Western world. It’s not okay for a culture to force people into tiny, narrow little holes (romance, monogamy, heterosexuality, binary gender, career etc).

    So if people kink on chivalry, fine. But I think it’s important to be aware of what chivalry means in the wider socio-cultural context in addition to one’s personal take.

  7. November 5, 2008 4:47 pm

    I agree, this is awesome. :)

    Though, guilty pleasure alert, I have to say that when I first found SM-related anything it was the Sutton kind of stuff. And I loved it — not because it was really what I want out of SM or D/s, as it isn’t at all — but because at a time when I thought I was totally alone and weird and women weren’t “supposed” to be dominant, here was stuff that tried to reconcile the social role I chafed at with the sex I needed.

    While I’ve long since become way too queer in all kinds of ways to be comfortable with that kind of femdom or even with most femdom at all, there’s a part of me that has a teeny weeny soft spot for those people just because they told me “yes, men do want this too.”

  8. November 5, 2008 4:52 pm

    Well, not THEY told me. But “their websites told me.” You know.

    And… my only quibble is that I think there are times to be strong-willed and times not to be. I mean, if I’m all fuzzy and headspacey, “No, I won’t lick your boots for *list of reasons*” isn’t likely to make me like someone, it’s likely to make me wonder what exactly is going on.

    If it’s someone telling me, “Hey, wait, that really bothers me” about something that matters (which, yeah, may be the bootlicking even, if he’s really dramatically opposed to it), then yeah.

    But I don’t think there’s this dichotomy of… spineless or pushy. I think submission is about surrendering at the right time, and not surrendering at the wrong ones. And the right time generally has to do with fun. :)

  9. devastatingyet permalink
    November 5, 2008 8:33 pm

    I totally agree. I wrote about this recently, if you’ll pardon the self-serving link.

  10. ranat permalink
    November 6, 2008 12:24 am

    @TrinityVA – I experienced that moment too, where upon finding the Elise Sutton junk I was all, “Oh my God I’m not crazy I’m not sick oh thank God there are people who actually want to do this.”

    However, having finally come into my own sexually and finding out that shit is still fucked up, I do have a problem with Elise Sutton being the face of my sexuality. Her books were the first ones on female domination I cam across on Amazon, and all my many internet searches led me to her. The only reason I ended up finding some good female dominant/male submissive blogs was because I got them off Bitchy Jones’s blogroll, and I had to have *her* blog recommended to me by word of mouth. No matter how I scoured the internet I never came across her with a good ol’ search engine. I can’t think of female supremacy femdom fondly just because it was the “gateway drug” for my exploration of my dominance; the reason it was the gateway at all was because of fucked up, *still patriarchal and sexist* marketing. I do have a lot of problems with the ideology of Sutton’s popular femdom, and how dogmatically it is presented.

    As for anti-bootlicking men, I just have a thing for sharp-edged, knifey guys. I like them to be able to give as good as they can take. *shrug*

    I think “surrendering at the right time, and not surrendering at the wrong ones” is a really good way to put it, btw.

  11. October 14, 2011 12:53 pm

    Wow !!! it is just limitless. Once we think it is all on the verge of fading away……..then kink comes back stronger xxxx

  12. Shamus Joy permalink
    June 13, 2013 12:56 pm

    When chivalry was created in the twelve century at the court of Queen Eleanor of Aquataine it was the feminist project of its time. It was a partly successful attempt to moderate the oafishness of the male elite by providing role models of ideal men. The raw material was drawn from bardic sources,(Cornish,Welsh and Armorican minstrels). These old stories often put to music contained fragments and scenarios from ancient cultures with a more matriarchal world view. These stories were updated and polished at the “Court of love” i.e. Queen Eleanor and her friends.


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