The fear of one’s self

Surprisingly, Vix’s blog this morning touched a nerve. And even though I think I spend waaay too much time in this space reacting to stuff that Vix has posted, this one was bugging me. Not angering me or anything, just buzzing around in my head to the point that I knew I had to process it to get it off my mind and move on with life. So, start the processors. I’m gonna go someplace that I’ve never been before. You guys get to go along for the ride. Wonder how it’ll turn out?

(Hey, Kitten, remember how I said I hadn’t needed to delve too much recently? Well, never mind.)

Initially there was the “Oh, why oh why do the cocky guys get me all hot n’ bothered” aspect, which one might have expected would make me want to parry and riposte. But nope. It was her description of how it got her all worked up – that a cocky guy dredges up the urge to turn the tables, to wipe away the smug smile with a long night of sexual domination. (By the way, Vix, nice imagery. Very nice.)

And that’s what got the gears turning. Because I can empathize with that sort of feeling.

Y’see, part of the bane of moving through a small-town high school a grade ahead of your age level is that you’re, well, puberty-handicapped. I was always small for my age anyway, and when the girls in junior high started growing boobs and the guys started sounding like Robert Mitchum, I was still the short, spindly little geek that everybody hated for blowing the curve.  So, when the ol’ pubescent stirrings awakened, I was already playing from behind. By the time I grew four inches and gained thirty pounds between my junior and senior year of high school, it was too late. Every girl I knew already had that mental image of me in their head. Dismissed out of hand.

This does some bad things to an alienated adolescent psyche. Some of which may linger on.

Regardless of how I look on the outside now, and I’ve gone to great lengths to reach this point where I’m happily satisfied that I look fairly radically different to that spindly little geek (gaining seventy pounds helps), I still have an occasional tendency to assume that women look at me and see that pathetic little thing. And when that happens, a dark little switch in a cobwebbed corner of my brain gets flipped. The one that leads to the little suppressed part of me that is 0% Nice Guy and 100% AMP. And not even a reasonably acceptable AMP: nope, a deranged, black-horned lunatic AMP.

Somewhere deep beneath the surface the AMP voice starts to growl. “You have no idea, do you?” it says. “You see this mild-mannered little intellectual, but that’s not me. This wild-eyed, rippling-sinewed, titanium-erection madman – that’s me. You dismiss me at your own cost, or accept me at your own peril. You think you have men falling at your feet at any given moment, and you may be right. Maybe that’s part of your problem. But I could show you something different. I could show you just how wrong you are about me. I could play you like an instrument, I could test your limits in ways that would make your thighs quiver in your dreams when you’re an old woman.”

And then the real me kicks in and bitch-slaps the black-horned AMP back into the cobwebs, shakes it off, and goes about my meekly-appearing way.

See, I think everyone has unhealthy impulses from time to time. That’s fine. The difference is that sane people can control them. For me, it only took one friend being raped to know that I never ever ever ever want that lunatic AMP in me to come out. (Sadly, there were others to reinforce the point.) There are men out there who don’t have the desire or ability to keep their lunatic-AMP under control, and that fact not infrequently makes me ashamed of being male. Besides, as any reading of the above lunatic AMP rant should conclude, deep down it’s nothing but a selfish desire for an expression and recognition of power.

Many guys probably don’t feel the same way, and maybe this is the big difference between me and the garden-variety AMP, but my innermost personal definition of masculinity has nothing to do with selfish, outward expressions of power and everything to do with the cultivation of quiet, restrained, inner strength that can be and should be called upon only at need. Not with display, but with confidently knowing that the necessary power is there if I need it. As with many personal searches, this is more of an ideal than a reality, but I keep striving for it.

So this is where I occasionally get jealous of women, and I think it was that feeling of envy – combined with a hint of insecurity, and I’ll explain – that was the feeling that Vix’s blog engendered that was bothering me so much. I’m not 100% convinced that this is accurate, but what the hell, for the sake of argument I’ll throw it out there. As simply as I can put it, I feel that women have a right to claim and express their power that I deny myself for fear of hurting others, or of turning into the monster that I despise.

That doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong in any way for women to express that power in just about any (legal and/or moral) way they’d like. Actually, I think it’s fuckin’ hot in general. And as for the specific way Vix mentioned, yowza, smokin’. I think it just means that I sometimes close myself off too much for fear of opening the door a crack too wide and finding out that the black-horned lunatic can do quick and permanent damage before I can force him back inside. And I harbor a secret wish that I didn’t feel it was necessary. That I could tap into that primal core without fear or guilt. The insecurity referenced above comes from feeling as though I often compare myself and am compared by others-usually unfavorably-to men who lack the same impulse for restraint, and who seem to lack fear or guilt regarding their variegated displays of power.

Maybe sometimes I feel like a spindly, meek little guy on the outside who is nevertheless holding back a monstrous behemoth. And if my strength is more than adequate to hold back that beast, surely it’s enough to earn respect from others, at least as much as that accorded those who allow their own beast greater rein. That probably makes no sense, does it? In a strange way, it does to me. Again, it’s a selfish impulse, but fuck that, so is blogging to begin with.

The truth is that there’s a core of what the black-horned lunatic says that’s true. Nobody knows what I’m really capable of, for good or for ill, in any number of ways. Not my wife, not my past lovers, not even myself. And often I wish I could find out for myself, even if nobody else knew about it.

[Well, except for the sex part, of course, that kinda sorta requires somebody else, doesn’t it? Usually?  For the record, I’m not much into either submission or domination, although both can be fun in their own place. What I find most sexually appealing of all is really quite simple: two strong bodies and equally strong wills, challenging each other to find their own limits and those of their partner. To me, woo-hoo gawd-dayum, that’s the definition of some fantastic blazing hot sex!]

Hmm. Well, that ended up in quite a different place than I intended. I’m ashamed to say that it probably comes out as a little anti-feminist, what with the female-envy and a sort of chauvinist-pedestal must-protect-the-women-from-my-maleness vibe, which isn’t really what I want to convey, but fuck it, by throwing it out there and recognizing it as kinda fucked up at least I’ll own it. (I admit it, I’m a born and raised Southern man, so I can be a little old-fashioned that way. I’ll freely admit that my wife still says with a chuckle she had to break me of opening doors for her because I was freaking her out.)

If you made it this far, thanks for coming along. This has been fairly enlightening for me, I think, and I’ll be glad to mull it over during my workout this evening. In the meantime, I sincerely would love to hear comments, opinions, etc. on this – it might help me digest the thoughts a bit. Guys, can you relate, or do you completely disagree? (Or call me a pussy, I ain’t skeered.) Ladies, does this make any sense whatsoever, or is it a completely unfathomable facet of one crazy male mind? And I’m not afraid of (in fact, I could probably use) a good feminist critique of this whole thing. Don’t feel like doing it in public (heheh, I said “doing it in public”), drop me an email: taobikerblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

Oh, and by the way, if you came here from Vix’s blog, go back to it! This is all introspective and philosophical and stuff; too much of a downer. Hot chicks in dominatrix mode are much more fun!


5 Responses

  1. Yes, it makes sense to me. The same way Vix’s blog made sense to me.

    I have a type A personality. I am the alpha dog, without the whole workaholic tendency. In that regard I’m pretty lazy unless it’s something I’m really passionate about. Like photography or writing. Anyway. I’ve noticed that in an almost pathological way, I seek out other type A’s. It’s almost like who can out domniate the other. I could never be with somebody that was submissive. To me there’s a difference between being submissive and submitting. Maybe that doesn’t make any sense but it does to me. And I think it’s tres hot when you work somebody over like that and make them give in. Especially if they turn around and do the same thing to you.

    Chauvanistic? Anti-feminist? Nah. I wouldn’t say it’s you trying to protect us helpless flowers from your raving lunatic inner beast. I think it’s more protecting yourself against stupid and irrational women; those same ones that would dismiss you in a blink of an eye are also the same ones that would probably file sexual harrassment charges against you if you looked at them too long. I am one woman who says that ladies can’t have it both ways. Sorry. Maybe that makes me a little chauvinistic too, but what the fuck. I don’t care. Because by the same token that rapists make you ashamed to be a man, women who cry rape or sexual harrassment just because they didn’t the intended reaction they wanted make me ashamed to be a female.

  2. While I wouldn’t completely wave off the notion that I’m protecting myself against bogus sexual harassment charges from overly-paranoid women – and I’ll come back to that – it’s not really about that, at least not in my mind.

    There’s a line, you know, and while I may occasionally fantasize about rough sex, I never fantasize about real domination, and I definitely don’t have rape fantasies. But the kind of unwanted advances that the black-horned monster might put forth, while they aren’t coming from a place of sexual violence, could easily be interpreted that way. Possibly because real, genuine sexual assailants sometimes come on the same way. No thanks. To me, nothing is worth even possibly being thought of as a rapist, however momentarily or erroneously. And it’s fundamentally not about how someone else views me but about how I view myself. I don’t want to be that person, or even in the same area code.

    As for the harassment, I realize that it’s a knife-edge to walk. On the one hand, you never want to completely emasculate yourself, but on the other hand, it’s really easy to come off as a creep/stalker/rapist/etc. And it’s also true that women have to be mindful of what’s going on that guys never do. Well, outside of prison, at least. So I try to put myself into the shoes of women around me, and then play it safe. As I mentioned here, if I think there’s a remote chance that something I say will be taken negatively, I hold it back, even if it means I don’t compliment my female coworkers on their outfits or anything like that.

    A few months ago, a female coworker and several of our female student workers were having a very amusing discussion in my presence, more or less a philosophical debate on the vital question, “Does [particular student worker] have boobs?” At one point, they turned to me and made some remark about “What do you think [about the discussion, not specifically about her boobs]” and my reply was “I think this is a harassment suit waiting to happen so I’m keepin’ my yap shut!” And the girl went on to say “Yeah, I embarrass my boyfriend all to hell all the time, I just say anything.” My thought, but not spoken, response was that I could give all kinds of insights into the discussion that would be hilarious, and would make her laugh and blush at the same time. Everybody there might have really enjoyed it. But they might not have. And if there’s the least chance an 18-year-old freshman is going to be creeped out about a 33-year-old guy commenting on her boobs, then no thanks. It ain’t worth my job, certainly, but I also just don’t want to be the creepy guy down the hall.

    I feel bad for women, because sometimes it’s very, very difficult to make an accusation of sexual assault or harassment. But it’s also hard to shake off a charge of sexual assault or harassment if you’re a man. So often it comes down to he said/she said, and it’s all about who is believed. So depending on the people that hear your story, you could have been brutally raped or horribly sexually harassed and have the charge brushed off, or you could have been falsely accused and fired or sent upriver. Either is horrifying, but both surely happen. And I don’t have any idea how to fix the system to prevent either.

    Anyway, this whole fear-of-my-strength has been an interesting thing to ruminate on. And I don’t have any resolution for it yet, but it’s been good to give some form to what had been a nebulous thought, and drag it from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Oh, and a shitload of page views and only one comment. Kudos to you, Becca, for having the ovaries to speak up. The rest of ya: Whattaya skeered of? Wusses. 😛

  3. I’m not skeered. Even if I am a bit late to the party.

    You are not the first intelligent, sensitive man to try to have this discussion with me (I mean, I know this discussion is not specifically with me, it’s with the internet, but there’s no other grammatical construction that works) about this issue, but you have succeeded in not dancing around the issue at all, and for that I applaud you. My previous boyfriend of a few years and I did a lot of dabbling in S&M, from both sides. Sometimes he would scare himself, with exactly what you’re talking about, and sometimes I would scare him, with my intensity. No way could I have physically dominated my ex – he had me by about 200 pounds and six inches – but nevertheless, my intensity sometimes made him afraid of me. I guess the fear is realer somehow when the man is on top, but you couldn’t have gone by my ex. The only time our safeword was ever used, it was by him.

    Also, I would sometimes scare him with the hidden resentment that often came out when I was dominating him. Therein lies the point of this comment: perhaps it’s unfair that men can hurt in realer and more terrifying ways in the blink of an eye (or the opening of a door), but the emotional hurt that women can wreak has the potential to spend a lifetime in a man’s brain. Not that a man isn’t capable of saying precisely the most awful thing he could say to wreck his partner’s psyche, but you must agree that female cattiness has no equal in any plottings of men.

    Maybe I’m wrong about the above. But emotional hurt is the stuff that stays with you. The unlucky sexual experiences I’ve had have stuck with me emotionally far longer than the residual physical effects and the reflexive fear of sex did. And while men are obviously capable of emotional hurts, my experience tells me that women are the ones who use words, and emotional manipulation, to wound with permanence.

    “deep down it’s nothing but a selfish desire for an expression and recognition of power

    Is it? I’m not sure. The paragraph, which I am not afraid to admit turned me on a little, didn’t feel like a power play to me, so much as a “let me in, baby, and we’ll have some serious fun.” Does every masculine tendency have to be pigeonholed under the wish for power? I think it has to come from a place of “I am doing this to you, and you are irrelevant” before it becomes domination. I feel your rant comes from a place of “I am doing this with you, for both of our pleasure”, even if it’s expressed a little intensely, and is a little selfish about its desire for eminence (that is, being the best she’s ever had). But you also seem to be mixing the wish to be accepted by women who would have rejected you long ago (give me a chance) with chauvinism (I want to fuck you), and I’m not sure which one is really prevalent.

    I have a lot to say about women who are afraid of admitting it when violent rape has happened to them vs. women who falsely accuse bosses they don’t like of sexual harrassment, but I don’t know that I can add anything new to the discussion.

    I continue to wonder about the nature of the beast; being a woman, I just don’t have one. Is he always bad? Is he what drives men to compete and succeed in insane ways? Is there a way to let some of him out without ruining your life or your partner’s? It’s mysterious to me, especially with the little I’ve experienced of the beasts of men I’ve known and slept with.

    There’s so much more to this topic, including the unfortunate fact of the physicality of sex (something I’ve read and written about a lot), the way that nice men are forced to say nothing when they want to be honest (as you talked about), and how stereotypes screw up the capability of people to talk plainly to each other about sex. Plus stigma! Let’s not forget stigma. But I’ve obviously written enough for today.

    Holy frijoles, this one deserves a lot more time for a response than I have to give today! I may come back and answer this in a separate blog. We can open a dialogue, even. Thanks for this long and thought-provoking reply!

  4. […] feeling, I picked it up and wrote until something significant came out.  The result of that was this post on gender roles, sex, and […]

  5. honestly, power play i think has very little to do with selfishness. if you could see how many guys have been downright delighted when i started dominating them (like serious stuff… biting them, calling them my bitch, handcuffing them to the bed), i think you’d see that it’s just plain FUN. do i get off on it? fuck yes otherwise i wouldn’t do it. do they get off on it? ohhhhhhh yes, i promise. i think most guys enjoy seeing the girl take him by the balls figuratively and/or literally and doing what she wants to him. it’s nice to see a girl take control.

    then again it’s rare when a girl could physically overpower a guy to the point of making him feel unsafe, which is one of those sucky gender inequality things getting in the way of what should be plain old dirty fun.

    for what it’s worth, i don’t think a REAL monster has the introspection or consideration to wonder if he’s a monster.

    I think much of what you say makes sense. I’ve yet to be physically afraid of a woman, and so her “taking control” in that context could easily just be absorbed by my psyche as “She wants me enough to take charge! Woohoo!!” If I was easily susceptible to being physically intimidated…well, I could see that making it a lot harder to have fun with it.

    As for your last line – I’ve thought of that myself, and often use it in similar contexts (“asshole” instead of “monster” etc) – but in this case I’m not sure it’s 100% transferable. The way I conceived it when I wrote this post, it wasn’t the monster that had introspection – it was the monster’s keeper, the person trying to restrain it…

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