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The masochistic man (2021)

You can listen to this musing here, or read it below.

“When the devil possesses the sadist, the masochist sold his soul.”

Gilles Deleuze in Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty

I think there is a vast difference between feminine and masculine submission and surrender. And it is, in my experience, somewhat disconnected from physical gender but instead influenced by what it means to be a man in this modern society. Most of my musings and experience are of the feminine eros, so today, I want to write about what I know about the masculine, especially concerning submission rather than dominance.

We are living in a time where we like to pretend that hierarchy doesn’t exist. As a result, oxymorons like flat hierarchies are becoming buzzwords. And don’t even get me started on toxic masculinity. I think this is a reaction to a patriarchal society spinning out of control. But, instead of becoming conscious and consensual about our desire and behaviours, we label them as evil and try to sweep them under the dirty rug. The result is that they are bubbling up in the most unexpected situations, and hence my line of work is becoming ever more popular. But it creates a lot of confused men out there, so this text is for us.

When should a man be dominant and assertive, and when should he be serving and following? When should he express his knowledge about something, and when is it mansplaining? The most common answer I receive from women is; when it’s called for. And, yes, sometimes, it’s pretty apparent; other times, it’s not. So men (like many women) are stuck in competing in the patriarchal hierarchy and walking the slackline of dominance in social and romantic relationships. But something has changed from the 50ths traditional gender roles era; the rewards are no longer the same. No home wife is cooking dinner in sexy lingerie, ready to put her husband on the pedestal. Still, many women are asking for this dominant man, sometimes when it’s called for. She wants to be a warrior queen by day and a princess slut by night. That is partly a joke, but also somewhat true.

But there is a flip side to all of this. That is the masochistic man. I meet so many couples where the man is simply bored of being dominant. He perceives it to be only duties and doing and little flow and being. Knots to learn, floggers to manage, rituals to understands. And maybe, parallel to their bedroom life where he is asked to dominate, he questions the corrupt patriarchy causing much damage to people’s lives and the planet as a whole. Very likely, he has little experience of conscious and consensual dominance. Most workshops he attended or texts he read on the Internet were about yet another skill to acquire. Also, likely, coming into contact with me in a retreat or a private lesson, he is not a psychopathic or narcissistic asshole because he is investing in learning about conscious sexuality. So he very likely has a serving mindset from the start—one of the hardest things I have to teach when teaching dominance is how to be selfish.

I remember a man sharing at a retreat. He was both intelligent and handsome and hence very popular, so many women wanted to interact with him. To be dominated by him. But what he wanted was to submit, surrender and dedicate himself to masochism. So his solution was to role play dominant as an act of submission secretly. As a result, the others at the retreat experienced him as an alpha man. But all the time, he was trying to find satisfaction in knowing that he was fulling their desires.

So what are the desires of the masochistic man? Deep down, I think he is obsessed with the idea of a woman that can make him lose himself. Entirely. In many tantric teachings, the man should avoid ejaculation to keep his “masculine energy” and practice control. As a result, I think that many women want to make the man ejaculate to reclaim power in the endless balancing act of existence. But the masochistic man dreams about losing control over much more than just his seeds. In BDSM, where we turn up the intensity volume using powerful modalities, he dreams about being whipped, bound and chastised. To give up everything to be her beloved pet. In away to make her into his goddess. But, of course, this is not possible because she is just a humble and flawed human being, just like him. He dreams about the unconditional love of his life. And it makes sense, with today’s politics working to empower women. I think this desire is more conscious and consensual in the BDSM subculture than bigger society.

I see many men being masochistic today, but without owning it and honouring it, so they become martyrs. So they suffer and endure instead of submitting and surrendering. So the goddess becomes a tyrannic and abusive mistress. And what about the women? Do they want to act along with his fantasy? Maybe some do, while others like the traditional masculine and feminine concepts in the bedroom. But, as I’ve written about before, I think the masochistic fantasy very much is the submissive’s desire. There is this joke. Please hurt me, the masochist said, and what does the sadist reply? No. Here the fantasy is destroyed. Because for the masochistic, their desire is more important than the will of the dominant. That’s why so many people in the BDSM subculture complain about others topping from the bottom. In the classic book Venus in Fur, Severin constantly tries to convince his lover Wanda to become his cruel mistress. It is his burning desire, and she decides to play along. Maybe this is because men, in general, are used to dictate the course of action.

So maybe men are becoming bored with their traditional roles because so much shit is being thrown at them. And therefore, there is a rise in this masochistic desire. To step into it without remorse and put their goddess on the pedestal. And this is beautiful when it doesn’t come from a place of martyrdom or fear of being dominant in a selfish way. When his submission and surrender is something that he can be proud of and valued for. To conclude, I want to go back to the initial suggestion by Deleuze that if sadism is this possessive ravaging desire, and masochism is the conscious decision to sell his soul for his mistress. And if it is metaphorically comparable to a pact with the devil, what sinister thing does the masochistic man get in return? It certainly, must be something that our society and culture can’t provide on the shelf in the endless shopping mall.