by Peter Vogel

"I have been married for 16 years. For the past 6 years my mistress/wife has kept me in a chastity device. She can have sex and an orgasm any time she wishes but I have to wait for her permission to climax. I often have to wait for months as she doesn't think I need any more climaxes than that although she is pleased many times a week.

Until recently my job was a supervisor with 33 people working under me. I am very capable of leading others but in my private life I much prefer to be dominated by a capable female. My wife is very capable. She is stern but fair and will administer punishment when needed. That usually consists of spanking with her nasty little paddle or being locked in my dog cage all day while she goes out to have fun with friends. It's a day of ecstasy for me since I love being in the cage knowing she is having a wonderful time on a boat, the beach, shopping, or out to dinner."

"Slave" Gene.

To most men, Gene's obvious joy at being totally dominated by his wife might seem to be a serious psychological disorder. But is he, and the many other men who enjoy a "dominant/submissive" (d&s) lifestyle, really so different from the rest of us?

Dr David Schnarch, who runs the Evergreen Marriage and Family Health Centre in Colorado says: "The traditional male/female role is that the man is the initiator and he is supposed to bring his partner to orgasm and turn her on. And what we point out is that it's no fun to go out to eat with somebody who always insists on paying the cheque... And so we change the roles, or at least raise the possibility that the couple might. And as the wife starts to, for instance, stimulate the husband and bring him to orgasm instead of him always being the doer, what it does is, it challenges men's identity and their roles. And it isn't always comfortable, but what begins to happen is, the man has to confront who he is and what he is as a person when he is not performing."

According to sex researcher Nancy Friday, one of the most common male sexual fantasies is of "sexually secure, dominant women who invite, take or even force the man. One of the major themes in male fantasy is the abdication of activity in favour of passivity. Role reversal... The woman is assigned the sexual initiative; and God, doesn't it feel good!"

I am fascinated by the idea that, in an era when equal sharing of power is the accepted ideal of relationships, people like "slave" Gene are positively revelling in the apparent power imbalance of a d&s relationship. But as David Schnarch says, "one of the tyrannies is the tyranny of political correctness. There may be a need for addressing issues in the social sphere, but unfortunately most of us are having sex the way that we think other people expect us to... what the people find satisfying [in d&s relationships] is that it can be an intimate relationship for them because they are exposing themselves... getting into bed and really saying "this is who I think I am and this is what I would really like. That takes a lot of strength. That's the process of self-validation in intimacy".

To deliberately establish a relationship founded on a profound power imbalance flies in the face of modern "political correctness". Nevertheless, when I spoke to a number of submissive men, I discovered that their "different" relationships are remarkably intimate, deeply satisfying and enduring.

What drew you to a d&s lifestyle?

Mike: I like women who really get into sex. Women who make you feel like you're using an inflatable doll are a real turn-off. Also, women who make men feel like they are only submitting to sexual intercourse because it's what the man wants is a major bummer. When a woman makes me feel like she really wants it for herself, and uses me as a tool for her pleasure, that's the ultimate! It's so refreshing to feel so totally wanted. Women are accustomed to that feeling , but most men never get to experience it.

Alan: I like this cliché: "Life isn't a rehearsal. This is it!". I want to come to grips with who I actually am; not what someone else or some inner motivation says I have to be. The thought of my final days in a rocker not having done those things which I want to do or of not being what I am mortifies me.

When I was in my mid twenties, I dated a woman five years my senior. She was not a Domme, but she was assertive, outspoken, candid and intelligent. I learned a great deal about life and attitude from her. She taught me so many things about myself and the world around me - and about women. It didn't take me long to realise that lithe young ladies weren't simply my personal playgrounds. There was far more substance than met the eye - and in this case plenty met the eye; this woman loved her high boots and her black leather shorts. Between her brain- power and her presentation-power, well, that was a lot of power.

Bob: I am a great admirer of women too. It's not so much that I'm in awe of them, it's just that I like who I am when I'm around them. They bring out the softer, loving side of me. I think there is nothing more satisfying than contributing to the happiness of another.

Max: I have been experiencing a need for submission my whole life. My wife is extremely smart and practical. She manages my money and gives me an allowance as I am not good at budgeting my money. I am happy to do things the way my wife wants it. I am respected and I am not slavish, but when it comes down to major decisions, she has the final say. As a result, there isn't the usual power struggle to be found in a typical relationship. That's cleared the way to develop an incredibly fulfilling and loving relationship.

Many men use prostitutes even though they are in a relationship, and one of the most popular things they ask is that the prostitutes take the active role in sex, which is not the norm in most relationships. In your d&s relationship, are you expressing the same need, but more honestly, by doing it with your wife?

Thomas: Although our interest began as sexual, it became a more general philosophy within our relationship. I don't think of it in the same way as a male seeking to be dominated by a prostitute. I would never engage in that behaviour, either morally or spiritually. However, within a fully loving marital relationship, the domination/submission lifestyle suits us very well as both a sensual play activity and an accommodation of personalities which keeps our relationship loving and exciting. In our case, we are deeply in love with each other and have brought in d&s activities as a marital enhancer and as a way to keep our sexual and sensual aspects of our relationship active, close, and interesting. We've been married for thirty-one years and living in this lifestyle for almost five years now and it remains exciting and stimulating for both of us.

Bob: It's not a purely sexual thing for me either. It's spiritual and emotional. I have known since I was six years old that I was submissive by nature, but until a couple of years ago, I never pursued it. After three failed marriages (I'm now 49), I realised that in order to be happy in a relationship, I had to be able to express this part of myself to my partner and have her enjoy it. I could have gone to a professional, but I wanted a relationship, not someone to whip or abuse me.

Steven: There always seems to be a shortage of women who understand or explore dominance of males and this sometimes drives men to seek out dominance from professionals. Once their curiosity is satisfied, they don't return to the scene. More serious d&s players in loving relationships actually maintain the roles in their day to day lives. These men almost always describe a "spiritual" feeling in serving their Mistress and many times they feel that this service has filled a void in their relationship. In most religions self-sacrifice and service are prominent, so it is easy to make the spiritual connection. Most people would say equality is something to strive for in a relationship. How do you reconcile this with striving to be dominated?

Gene: To tell you the truth, I don't give equality much thought as I kneel before my lovely mistress -my wife- and do her bidding. In a way there is an "equality" since the quid pro quo in a mistress/slave relationship is the true pleasure the slave gets from serving his mistress. It's a pleasure a submissive male can't find any other way. So, while my mistress is having her housework done, car washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed, ironing done, cooking and dishes done, I am very fortunate in that I have her to serve. That is the best example of equality I can think of!

Alan: On a day to day basis my relationship with Rachael is an equal partnership. It has to be. That's our life with all its agendas: work, volunteerism, community work, social activities, and so on. I often defer to her because she's usually right. When she's not, I express my opinion. Bless her heart, she doesn't go into a hissy fit or hold it against me.

She expresses her superiority in daily life through subtlety. When we are in full "play" mode, all such subtlety disappears.

If you think women are superior, you must feel inferior. Some people would say that feeling inferior is a psychological disorder.

Mike: I think it's healthy to admit that the female is naturally superior in many ways. In the case of sex, she is obviously the one who calls the shots. Women are not controlled by their sex drives; men are. It is the woman who decides when sex will happen, and what will happen, not the man. This is even enshrined in the law. Why not stop pretending that equality is even possible, and enjoy it the way it is?

Steven: Society does frown on inferiority. The paradox is that many of us submissives actually experience an improvement in our overall well being by submitting, because it fulfils something that has previously been missing from our lives. It's a real interesting feeling doing the opposite of what society pushes, in submitting to a gender that is often characterised as weaker. Am I inferior to womankind? I would say yes because I make the choice to assume the inferior position. I would never seek to force any other male into this but would certainly recommend that any male be open to the possibility. It means bliss for many men and women. It has really enhanced my life and in a business world in which I must be aggressive, has really improved my overall self-image.

Can you explain how feeling inferior can help your self image?

Steven: A d&s lifestyle provides balance in my life. The business world requires that I be aggressive and in charge, to be submissive and under control at home is a welcomed relief.

Does your d&s lifestyle extend beyond the bedroom?

Steven: For me this has gone way beyond sex play. I am monogamous to my dominant mate but serve other dominant women in house cleaning or odd jobs. There is some erotic imagery involved in this interaction, but my only rewards for this service amount to kind words, friendship, a pat on the head and a kiss to the foot of the lady. Definitely not service rendered for sex. I have made a few very good dominant women friends in this way.

How do "outsiders" perceive your relationship?

Steven: The d&d lifestyle does not really enter into my career time, other than a symbolic article of clothing, most often women's underwear or jewellery. In social gatherings family and colleagues simply sense that I am very polite to my wife and others. People make comments like "you two seem extra close, how long have you been married ?", or "your husband is very well behaved, you have him trained right". If they only knew!

Why the women's clothing?

Steven: My wife uses a feminine symbol such as lace or jewellery as a reminder that I am under her headship. It gives her a certain control over me when I am away from her. It also adds a certain potential "embarrassment" or humiliation factor that is often present in d&s relationships.

Do you like being controlled by people other than your wife?

Gene: Being "controlled" is a state of mind. For example, there is a huge difference between some sergeant in the Marines screaming in your face and serving a wonderful female "boss." Why? That's a bit like trying to figure out why a shoe fetishist has a sexual reaction to seeing shiny high heels on a woman. All he knows is he loves what he sees and physiologically he reacts. So it is with male subs. We love to serve a woman. It brings us the highest pleasure to be controlled by a woman, even when she rations our sexual releases and contacts. It's all part of her right as mistress and we willingly accept that. To try to explain it all in scientific terms would be extremely difficult. We can't fall back on that old bug-a-boo "low self esteem" either. Most slave males are successful in the outside world and love nothing more than to submit to a woman in their private lives.

Alan: I am submissive to Rachael. That does not mean I am submissive to anyone else. If another woman who knows of my behaviour with my wife assumes that because she's a female she can dominate me, well, she's in for a quick and mighty wake-up call.

Does your wife ever get bored and feel the need to occasionally be submissive?

Max: There may be times when she needs to be comforted or taken care of. That is natural and poses no threat to our female-dominated relationship.

Do you think you will ever get bored with being submissive?

Max: I know people who are in their seventies practising d&s. This is a life long attraction and I don't expect it to go away.

Quotes from David Schnarch are taken from interviews with ABC Radio National 25th September 1995. Nancy Friday quotes are from her book "Men in Love" published by Arrow Books Limited.

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