I've loved reading the reactions to the question I posed last week (and, hey, debate and controversy are good! I'd love to see more of that on this blog). So feel free to keep posting comments to that thread...or maybe this one will inspire you to say something.
More food for thought: do you think men and women agree on what a "real" man should be? I know it's difficult (or maybe impossible) to speak for all women or all men BUT...do you think one sex is more wedded to the old concept of "real man' than the other?
One of the most common themes I hear from submissive men is that they can't/won't tell their vanilla wife/gf/lover about their fantasies of being controlled and sexually dominated by a woman. Or, in the case of fetishists who may not be looking for domination per se, that they can't admit they crave a scenario in which they are doing things (or being subjected to things) that fly in the face of our cultural perceptions of what a man is supposed to want or be.
The most obvious examples are cross-dressers (real men don't wear dresses), infantilists (men shouldn't be so vulnerable and helpless and needy), but really almost any kind of male submission (men are supposed to be in charge!). Less obvious and more complex are fetishes which, by their nature, put men in a vulnerable or humiliating situation. Enema fetishes probably top that list, at least in terms of guilt and embarrassment (though, in fairness, I note that enema fetishes are further complicated by taboos about shit and the anus).
Other fetishes work more subtly to undermine men's confidence in their masculinity. They are troubled by sexual fantasies about chastity belts (real men want to have sex all the time, right?); about craving anal penetration (they wonder, isn't that gay?); about worshipping a woman's feet or being physically overwhelmed by a woman who is bigger or stronger (aren't men always supposed to be the most muscular, powerful ones?); about being spanked (shouldn't men be the spankers, not the spankees?) and so on and so forth, ad infinitum.
Time and again, I've heard submissive/fetishistic men lament that no grown woman can relate to a man who is subservient or wants to be treated as the more vulnerable, more helpless member of the relationship. "She wants a real man," they'll tell me.
But what the hell is a real man? It seems that for a lot of the sub men I talk to, their idea of a real man is one whose sexual fantasies line up with the stereotype of the always-in-control macho guy. That millions upon millions of men do not, cannot and never will fit the stereotype is of very little comfort to them.
Also -are women of today the same as women of the 50s, who perhaps did see relationships more in the context of the old 'Father Knows Best" or Tarzan/Jane paradigm: man as big daddy or super-macho male who has all the solutions to everything, never cries, always acts rationally or, as in the case of Tarzan, simply doesn't think about silly feminine things (like lingerie) and instead sweeps a woman off her feet to carry her through the jungle, howling triumphantly?
Seems to me that in the post-feminist age, where women want equal pay for equal work, expect marriages and relationships to be egalitarian and not necessarily male-dominated, and have grown accustomed to seeing themselves as socially, politically and even economically competitive with men, more and more women have abandoned their old ideas of the "Father Knows Best" model and have adopted more of a "Father Knows Stuff but Mother Knows at Least as Much if Not More" model. Have they abandoned the old model, though, when it comes to the bedroom?