What Is Male Submission?

Author: elfin ©
Travels In An Enchanted Forest (elfin's web site)


All articles are used with the permission of the author(s).


I've heard the question from so many newcomers -- "what does a submissive do?", "what does a Dominant do and wear?" -- that it seemed time to write down my thoughts. If you're new to Dominance and Submission, and possibly looking for someone to play with, this page should be worth your time to read.

This is a new document, and a work in progress. Please email me your comments. I especially want to thank Lady Lilith for her valuable feedback on life as a professional dominant.

Control and service

When I look at another man and see him as a "submissive", I see someone who voluntary gives control of himself to another. (It's usually a female dominant, in my experience, but I think the same principles would apply in a man to man relationship. I'll write from the malesub/femdom perspective.) He may be kneeling before her, worshipping with his eyes. He may be tied to a wall, crying in pain as she applies the lash. He may be taking her places, opening doors for her, recommending the best dishes in a restaurant. In all of these cases, the focus is all about his Dominant and her needs.

That doesn't make him powerless or insecure. Morgan, of SM Odyssey, describes her favorite submissive men as knights, on bended knee, ready to slay dragons for Her. Another dominant, having named her favorite submissive men, wrote I can honestly say that what I like most about all these (non fictional) men is that they are comfortable in who they are, and in owning their inner strength. They are secure in their submissiveness.

The things men do

There are so many roles for men in BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Submission, and Masochism) that we should take a moment to wander through the major categories.

FYI: There's debate over whether bottom or submissive is the generic term for one who places themselves under the power of another. For my purposes, I'm describing bottoms as those focused on and desiring physical sensation for themselves, while submissives are focused on providing themselves for another's pleasure. (I won't try to define slave here -- it's just too contentious.)


Masochists are into pain. It's an endorphin rush and an erotic experience. Dominants often control masochistic submissives by offering intense experiences as rewards.

Stretching limits

On the other hand, non-masochistic submissives may accept and embrace pain as a way to demonstrate their surrender.


Service submissives are into "taking care" of their dominants. Depending on the person, this could involve cleaning, cooking, driving, or any number of other chores. They're rewarded by doing a good job, seeing the dominant's satisfaction and hearing praise.


Some men just want to be "put into their place". They feel most controlled when put down verbally, or made to do something embarrassing in public.


Fetishists get turned on by some object. Foot fetishists love the sight and smell and feel of another's feet. They may want to "worship" a woman's feet while she wears stockings and heels. Some men focus on breasts, others on wearing women's clothing to get aroused. A dominant can use a man's fetish as a handle to control him and as a reward.

Gender exploration

While some men find cross-dressing arousing, others find it opens up previously hidden emotions. Some men want to live in a "feminine" world (which is usually some mixture of fantasy and reality), others want to be "forced" to look and act as women.

Being trained

Many submissives, who live for the feeling of surrendering control, love being "trained" to live in new and different ways. Amity writes of training her new boy to worship her feet and breasts, only letting him act on her when he'd demonstrated his abilities elsewhere.

While this list isn't exhaustive (I've left out "ponyplay", for example, since I haven't seen enough of it or talked to enough people to understand it), it covers most of what you'll see on the net and most of what beginners do. I think many men move from sensation play into masochism and perhaps then into submission.

What dominants do

For everything a submissive loves, there's probably a dominant to match: controlling, sadistic, nurturing, etc. The question, especially for new submissives, is how do I find one and what can I expect?

If you're looking for a professional, they're all over the web. A prodomme's role is to listen to your hungers and fantasies, then craft a "scene" that is mutually satisfying. While all of them I've met are interested in having satisfied repeat clients, and work closely with clients' desires, they all dislike "playing to a script."

It's important to know that most professional dominants do not offer sex as part of the session. They are very careful, for legal and ethical reasons, to distinguish themselves from prostutition (which is illegal.)

Finding a pro
Try the web, looking for femdom, mistress, or words that describe your fantasies. If you have local newspapers for adult or alternative lifestyles (e.g. the Spectator), you can find professional dominants. Jane's Guide has a comprehensive list on the web.

Some professional dominants work out of their homes, while others work out of established public "dungeons" or clubs (e.g. the Scenery in the San Francisco Bay Area, or Paddles in New York.) There's also Fantasy Makers near San Francisco -- a "playhouse" full of ladies (and a couple of gentlemen) offering various services from wrestling to domination.

Contacting her
If you're going to see a professional, plan on talking with her first -- to communicate what turns you on, your limits, and to set mutual expectations. But be thoughtful -- don't make six phone calls for one session or take an hour on the phone to set a session up. A polite and respectful email is often a good start; if you've found a dominant on the web, her site will usually describe what she expects in a first contact.

This is also a time to determine if a certain lady is right for you. Prodommes also have limits and you might have to discuss your scene with more than one to find the right fit. If she tells you in the interview that she doesn't do something, she is not going to change her mind later. Always be honest about what you are seeking. If some act is important to your session, tell her up front. You don't want to find out when you arrive that she will not do it, or isn't experienced in it.

[Lady Lilith noted: I don't do humiliation, for instance, or at least, not heavy humiliation. You might be surprised at the number of people who forget to mention that heavy humiliation is important to them. ]

Negotiation is the most important part of getting a good session. Be clear on your likes, dislikes, wants, needs, and desires. Prodommes are aware and understanding, but they're not mind readers. Please don't just say that you "like to be dominated"; there are hundreds of ways to dominate someone. She needs to know how to dominate you effectively. Are you service oriented? A masochist? If so what implements are your favorites? Is forced crossdressing what floats your boat? Diapers? Spanking? CBT? Humiliation? Goddess worship? Foot fetish? Leather or latex? Don't be shy, she's heard it all before.

Experience is important -- you're trusting someone to take control of you, and they have to know what they're doing to make it safe and engaging. If you want an extremely heavy scene, make sure your prodomme knows how to do it (e.g. reading about catheterization on the internet is not likely to make her expert enough to do it safely.) And, caveat emptor: someone claiming to be 20 and very experienced is probably fibbing about one or the other.

If you're thinking doesn't a domme wear black leather, high heels, and a corset? you're probably picturing a pro. Some professionals advertise their wardrobes, asking you up front what you would like to see and factoring that in. They invariably wear what's going to help them feel sexy and set a mood, and understand they can get you into the right mood quickly by wearing the right clothes.

If clothing is important to you, make sure you mention it in your presession interview. Otherwise, she may not be wearing a corset, or latex, or thigh high boots, or whatever your fantasy involves. Remember: prodommes are not mind readers.

Pro dommes are used to seeing married clients and others who need discretion. They'll generally tell you on their web site about how they set up contacts, handle payment (e.g. if they take credit cards, how they're billed, etc.) But it's up to you to be just as discreet in your contacts and your comings and goings.

A professional dominant is doing skilled work (and it's hard work too); this is how she makes her living. Make sure you've negotiated the fee (which may be called a "tribute") up front, and have it discreetly available in an envelope. Also, if you want more then one person involved, you're paying for each person's time; don't expect to involve others in your scene without
paying for their presence.

If you are visiting a "house" of domination, then there may be someone available and willing to spend a few moments humiliating you, or watching you, but often, no one is available for that, and if you want someone available for more than a few minutes, you're going to have to pay for their time.

Even if no money is asked for, it's polite to offer a tip. Remember, these ladies sell their time ane experience.

Your first session
Arrive as if you're going on a first date with somebody important -- be clean, well-dressed, polite, and on-time. Don't show up too early. She might still be washing her hair, seeing another client, or getting dressed. If she says 4:00, don't arrive at 3:30.

She'll probably want to sit and talk with you first, both to get in touch with who you are but also to lay some ground rules and take care of money issues. If there's something that you need to get out in the open before playing, this is the time to do it.

At some point, the talk will end and you'll go into the dungeon. Take a deep breath and relax -- you're going for a ride. There may be music, there may be restraints, there may be a blindfold -- all of these will help you let go and fall into the sensations. This is where you get to trust, and let her have control. Be real about what you're feeling (saying ow!, purring, whimpering, and tears are her rewards for playing you like an instrument), but let her have control. You might offer fantasies that come to mind, but unless she asks, let her decide what to do in the moment. [Lady Lilith adds: Topping from the bottom can end the session with some dominants, or else they will tell you not to come back. Most dominants feel that what they are doing is like a symphony, and having you interrupt and demand that she do something different is like someone telling Mozart "too many notes."]

After -- there should be a time to cool down, to talk, and come back to earth before you go out the door. Aftercare is important. You've been in an altered state no less real than a deep trance or powerful drugs. Over the next day or so, she may also ask you to "check in" and let her know how you're doing. It also helps to tell her things that did and did not work for you. Let the thoughts and feelings replay gently over the next few days, feel them wind through your dreams, and dream of when you will see her next...

Dominants and relationships
If you want to be in a relationship with a dominant, it's not going to be the same as being with a professional. I've found that Dom/sub relationships are relationships first with dominance and submission as just one part.

What does that mean? To start with, the relationship is going to be a 2-way street. You'll need to understand her wants, needs, and dreams and be ready to meet those even as she comes to understand you and take control through your desires.

Finding a domme
To find, and get to know, a domme, you can go to munches, try on-line networks such as IRC (e.g. the #femdom channel on DALnet), or visit local BDSM organizations.

There's no real difference between going to one of these and going to a social function when you're open to finding a new partner -- politeness and awareness of the other person are paramount! Frankly, if you walked up to a random lady at a party, backed her into a corner, and said hey baby, wanna go to bed with me right now?, you'd be lucky not to get slapped. The online equivalent of that is entering a room and saying are there any Dommes here? (or in Ohio, etc.) then messaging privately and saying are you male or female? (Actually, any private messaging without permission is usually grounds for being thrown out -- you have no idea how many men "hit on" the ladies day in and day out.)

Let's say you're in a room, and you want to be successful. Talk with people, get to know them, and let them get to you know you (by more than just your physical characteristics and/or fetishes.) And while you're doing that, be honest -- too many Dommes have been burned by married men who won't admit it to anybody (including their own wives.)

In time, you'll probably arrange to talk on the phone, or to meet someplace "safe" in public. From here on out, it's a date and a courtship.

That first scene
Pretty much everything I wrote about the first scene with a professional holds true here, except that the domme's desires and interests take an even stronger role here. Be sure you've negotiated, including the words that will slow or stop the scene if needed. Relax, trust her, and be ready to give her as much care and nurturing after as you're likely to get. (Dominants need aftercare too!)

The relationship
From here out, it's like any other relationship -- communication, honesty, flexibility, and patience are all keys to making it work. Except it's also unlike any "vanilla" relationship in that you have to commit much more -- more honesty and more vulnerability than all but the closest relationships.

I think that male submission is a powerful and loving way to be in a relationship. I love giving the best of my abilities to my dominant, of opening up and letting her stretch my limits. I love being strong for her, and of feeling new sensations and living through new experiences that excite us both. If you've looked around this site, you'll see that I also bring a strong spiritual and magickal orientation to my submission. It's all to the same end -- to set all I am, and all I can be, to another who revels in having that power respond to her will.

I hope you will find what brings you joy, whether it be in a submissive relationship or not.





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