A sub is a sub is a sub

Mykey said, in regard to Sarah Jameson’s new book and my little review of it:

What’s more I find her somewhat lacking in self knowledge. Her claim not to be a domme? She likes being in charge of many aspects of their life including their sex life. She is in most peoples vernacular a domme, albeit not a full blown control everything one. Her husband is submissive. Maybe not in all areas or even most but handing over power to your cock and sex life is an inherently submissive act. Regardless of how macho he is elsewhere in his life in that respect he is in most peoples definition submissive. Her dislike of the image of sub and Dom in her mind blinds her badly and that comes across in her writing.

And I agree with him, to a point. I also think that Sarah and John are in a D/s relationship and her steadfast refusal to acknowledge that is based on her particular definition of “male submissive” which is, in turn, based on her apparently limited exposure to all the various types out there. Mind you, I also have limited experience. I’ve just been into this stuff for about the past two years and have only met, in person, a few people like myself. My entire worldview on the subject is based on the internet and personal communication via email and the like.

That said, I think Sarah and I have a similar point of view with regard to what’s “good” male submission versus what’s “bad” (all the usual disclaimers about not judging others and only wanting consenting adults to find happiness apply – if what your’e doing floats your boat, screw what I think). To me, there is no value in submission if it’s being given by someone who feels they’re inferior to their partner. It’s only because I am not inferior to Belle that subjugating my sexual expression to her is sexy. The same thing could be said, I’m sure, for Sarah and John. She describes him as “strong, assertive, confident” etc., and she has no attraction to the he-slime-not-worthy type. Me either. How different, really, is what I’ve given to Belle when compared to what John’s given Sarah?

In her newsletter from today, Sarah said this in response to what I said yesterday:

I’d also say we might have different definitions or models of what we see submission as actually being. My control of John is strictly confined to the bedroom.

Does that make him submissive, sexually submissive, or sexually surrendering?

I’d say the last of these, especially as when we make love he’s as aggressive and lead-taking as ever, unless I’ve taken it into my head to be. The only difference is he doesn’t orgasm – EVER – unless and until I say he can. He’s not forever asking me if he can do “this” or “that”. He’s just like he always was, but sans orgasm.

That sounds a lot like what Belle and I have. Yes, we’ve played around with taking it to a higher level, but we seem to have settle not much further along than Sarah and John. Belle gets to boss me around a bit more than Sarah does with John and she controls when I’m sexually agressive, but not that I am. Otherwise I’d say we’re 87% the same.

I find it interesting that she makes a distinction between “sexually submissive” and “sexually surrendering”. To me, that sounds like semantics. They’re the same. Later on, she says, “It’s just that I don’t find submissive men attractive sexually. And that’s about all we can say about it, really.” I think she doesn’t find the idea of a sexually submissive man attractive. In fact, she finds John plenty hot. If a thing runs like a horse, sounds like a horse, and in all other ways resembles a horse, it’s probably not a zebra.

She finishes up by saying:

I suppose it all comes down to labels and they’re never very useful when you try to examine a continuum. We can see the extremes easily enough, but at which point does one become the other?

I agree! My only wish would be for her to stop using one big label – “submissive men” – to describe one subset of that group.

Lastly, I want to say this disagreement I have with Sarah doesn’t mean I still don’t wholeheartedly recommend her book (and blog and newsletter). I have lots of friends with whom I share significant disagreements (mostly political) but I’m still able to appreciate the rest of them. We may never see eye-to-eye on what constitutes submission, but the fact remains that she’s produced one of the best resources available on the subject of male chastity.

32 thoughts on “A sub is a sub is a sub

  1. Mykey, I love it… you say I lack in self-knowledge and you presume to know me better than I know myself. And you presume to know John better, too.


    Plus, you say “She likes being in charge of many aspects of their life including their sex life”.

    Many aspects? Since when? Show me one other aspect. Just ONE. I swear, you make this shit up.


    1. It’s a perfect example of what presses my button in regards to chastity – self-proclaimed “voices” within “the kink community” deciding what labels everybody else should be classified under. What a bunch of nonsense!

      If Sarah says she’s not a domme, then she’s not, no matter what someone else has written in their rulebook with the red crayon. She doesn’t strike me as being a domme, although you can argue that she has many aspects of what *makes* a domme (besides a vagina).

      Neither do I agree that John seems submissive. The two of them seem like a very equal couple, with each more or less in charge of some areas of their combined lifestyle. John seems to be the one ultimately in charge when it comes to work-related matters. Sarah is in charge when it comes to sex. Is that “submission”? What if John were to say, “Honey, you handle the checkbook (or ‘chequebook’) from now on. I don’t want to be responsible for that”. Would THAT make him submissive?

      Not in my book. Not in John’s either. I think “being submissive” and “ceding control in one area” are two totally different things. But when the one thing is sex, then suddenly one is labeled “submissive”. If it has feathers like a duck, and a bill like a duck, but doesn’t fly, then it’s an Emu.

    2. So…we’re wrong in trying to put her and John’s peg into a certain shape hole. Fine. I’ll buy that. But isn’t it just the same as defining an entire group of people by the affectations of certain subset? Like saying all Italians are mobsters or something?

      1. I agree that it’s wrong to say all Italians are mobsters; I think what I’m trying to say is that I will go by the definition that the Italians give me of themselves, rather than a third party. Being dictated to about who or what we are is probably the second-biggest problem around here (right after “How do I make my wife do… this!”).

        Your definition of “queer” is probably not the same as mine, but it’s the label you’ve chosen for yourself. Okay, fine. But when someone else comes along and say, “Oh, no, you’re not queer! You’re… [insert label]”.

        That’s my beef. Unless you pick labels that are physically not options, like being a black female dwart (and I know you’re not, unless you have a body double). I’m against being dictated to about how I view myself.

        As Franklin put it, “Your rights end where my nose begins”.

      2. Unless you pick labels that are physically not options, like being a black female dwart (and I know you’re not, unless you have a body double).

        You’d be surprised what some well-placed lighting can do for you!

  2. Thumper:

    You say “I also think that Sarah and John are in a D/S relationship”.


    Because one element of it has D&S overtones. So what about all the NON-D&S overtones?

    Let me put it another way… if someone has a D&S relationship with a single non-D&S element, does it then become a non-D&S relationship?

    If not, why not?


    1. I say that because you and John have entered into a power exchange agreement whereby you control his orgasm. For me, that’s enough. I think for most, that would be enough. That’s not to say you’re in a female-led relationship or that you’re exercising female domination. Those dynamics contain D/s elements but require an entirely higher level of participation that do, in fact, bleed out of the bedroom and into other aspects of your life. But do I think you and John are practicing D/s? Sure, you betcha. At least in the bedroom you are and we both know that’s a massive part of any romantic relationship.

      But who cares? I don’t get to decide what you call yourself and any debate about that is beside the point I was trying to make. My one and only issue with your otherwise excellent work is that you define male submission very narrowly and in the most negative and socially unacceptable way. To the extent that I *was* defining what you and/or John are or do was only to highlight the fact that male submission comes in lots of colors and shapes. *I* am a male submissive and look and act nothing like your stereotype. I am not weak, I am not servile, I do not wear pink frilly undies, I do not consider myself to be beneath or less than Belle. Hell, I even drive a full-sized pick-up truck! But submissive I am. I’m not about to put on a “submissive pride” shirt or anything, but I will point out when I think a prominent voice is misrepresenting what that means.

      1. “Ppractising D&S” in one single aspect of one’s relationship does not make the entire relationship D&S.

        Or if it does, then “practising vanilla” in one single aspect of one’s relationship then makes the entire relationship vanilla.

        Which is clearly silly, because you then have a case where you have a relationship that’s entirely both, and that simply cannot be. Your logic falls apart, Thumper.


      2. You’re not applying my logic at all.

        I don’t think there’s any use in trying to spit the hairs your splitting – practicing vanilla in certain parts of one’s relationship vs. practicing D/s. Whatever. So, according to how I read what your saying, the only way one could be in a “real” D/s relationship is by playing a master/servant game 24/7? If that’s true, 95% of us aren’t really what we say we are.

        What I said was, “do I think you and John are practicing D/s? Sure, you betcha. At least in the bedroom you are and we both know that’s a massive part of any romantic relationship.” So I’m not sure where this vanilla over here, D/s over there distinction comes from (or what use it is). And in any event, it’s not the main thrust of my criticism.

  3. I guess I came late to this party and thumper has pretty much said what I would have said, and probably taken more words and been clearer about it than I would. Do wish I had more time to write 🙂 

    The gist I get from the blog is more control than just orgasms. If I am wrong in that interpretation then so be it, I apologise. It doesn’t take away from the fundamental point though. You do seem to be unable to separate what thumper calls ‘weak’ submission from the label submissive man. I, thumper and mayday despite the odd long winded disagreement are coming from the same page. Submission is often an inherently strong act. Many submissive men are neither weak nor lacking in self worth. I am more often considered arrogant in real life, at least when I was younger and less tempered. I grant you my first comment could be construed as that lol! Without confidence in my value I would never offer it in submission, why would anyone want that? Yet I’m further down the road than you or thumper. Sandy loves to humiliate me, will occasionally make me wear her panties to do it. I use this example because it’s the closest we get to the classic ‘sissy’ viewpoint.  It’s humiliating ‘because’ I am a man. I am strong, muscular, proud. I know I look ridiculous. Her fun comes in making me do what I am not. And it is fun, my submission to her may be serious but these other things are just games. If she really saw me as  weak she would have been out the door years ago. If I was hurt or hated it one word from me would end it. 

    Ok having laboured the point about what I am, as has thumper, then why do i care? Partly because I consider a world with many limited minds in it as a sad thing and hope in my small way to encourage people to be more open minded, accepting, live and let live. Partly because sub men get a very bad rap, especially because of so much on the Internet, in porn and even including our own writing. The worthless worm genre. If I as a woman was told by my man that he wants to submit and try to learn what that means, I find a lot of shit that scares me silly. Now that relationship has a mountain of preconceptions to climb. Suddenly I find your resource. It written by a sane woman in a sane way. Finally something I can trust, something to identify with. I can relax my guard and learn something more from a safer resource. Only it contains the same harmful preconception as the others but written better and therefore much more likely to be believed. Now the mountain got much bigger. See what I mean? If you offer a resource as the ultimate guide, and you write in mostly sane sensible style, there will be many who buy your words and hold them deep in their mind. They can’t recognise the flaw in the definition of ‘sub’ and end up thinking their man is weak or unsexy. 

    So to a great extent my strong reaction to you is a measure of the greater value I see your work otherwise has. 

    Ps. I don’t judge sissy as a kink. I rather like the transvestite men I’ve met on the scene. I use this example because online it’s so often associated with weakness, not because I think it necessarily is. Lord knows how hard it is for a submissive transvestite to come out to their partner!

    Pps. Sandy hopes to write something on her view of this later today if she finds time.

  4. As I said about labels, they’re not entirely useful when you’re talking about a continuum.

    Mykey, you ARE unarguably and objectively wrong when you blithely claim I control “many aspects” or whatever it was of the relationship. There is no “if” about it.

    Now, do you fellows think “submission” is defined by an act alone, or do you think there’s an emotional aspect to it, too?


    1. For me, it started with the act and that opened the door to the emotional aspect. They’re intertwined. I don’t know what anyone else practicing chastity really feels in their head and heart, but I do have a pretty good idea what I feel and I’ve read what others have written about it and I think there is a strong submissive quality to the experience. Are all men in chastity subs? That would be a silly thing to say. Of course not. I would guess a lot are, some more of them are switch and just acting the sub for the duration, while others are…what? I don’t know what to call them. They’re clearly submitting (or surrendering, if you prefer, though it means the same thing). This is where it gets all fuzzy and indistinct.

      One key passage from your book, for me, is when you relate that John is interested in corporal punishment. I don’t remember what you say he’d be punished for, but allowing oneself to be punished in such a way by their partner is a deeply submissive act. Then there’s the topic of cuckoldry. Your contract with John specifically allows it, though you say you have no interest in doing so (for the moment). Note, when I hear “cuckold” I have a very different vision than, say, hotwifing or swinging. If John wants to be a cuckold, then you get other men and he gets nothing whatsoever. Again, wishing to become a cuckold is an extraordinarily submissive desire.

      BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT. You guys can blithely go along calling yourselves whatever you want. If it floats your boat, who the fuck am I? I only mention all this to help illustrate my main criticism. Even if you’re not in a D/s relationship and John’s not submissive, you carry all the trappings of those who are and, somehow, you look nothing like the stereotype you portray in the book and on your blog. Neither do I. Neither does Mykey or Maymay or a huge swath of submissive-identified men.

      I DO NOT ask you to redefine what you call yourself. That’s arrogant and beyond acceptable. I only ask you to acknowledge that, as in most things dealing with human sexuality, submissive men live on a continuum and that your narrow portrayal of them as sissified weaklings is detrimental to the rest of us, especially those of us who are trying to grapple with the idea that they’re submissive but only see your kind of stereotype in front of them. The road to submission for a man in our culture is hard enough without having to deal with that crap.

  5. BTW, MyKey when you say “I consider a world with many limited minds in it as a sad thing and hope in my small way to encourage people to be more open minded, accepting, live and let live”, did you consider it’s possible to surrender one’s orgasm to a woman without submitting to her?

    Clearly not.

    YOU, Sir, seem unable to understand that surrender is not the same as submission. Motes, beasms, eyes, thine, etc.



  6. Maybe off topic a bit but…. For example – “humiliation” is what you make of it. Some couples do this “Dress in my panties” to induce humiliation and while US and maybe UK styles of men’s underwear are all pretty “Straight” go anywhere else? Its silk or speedo or thong and it “looks” like female underwear (Its not) and so its must be humiliating (Its not) Now, if a UK or US male decides to start wearing SIlk, Speedo, Thong etc. Is that humiliating? It “can” be but its all up to the person wearing it. If he decides that wearing it is and gets all worked up about it? Fine… Is it important or is it debatable to others? Uh? Who cares?

    Ditto how you define what people do in the bedroom. I totally get what Sarah says about the “typecast” subs that are into feminization, humiliation, cuckolding etc. And that this aspect of Male Chastity is not her cup of tea. Having a male “slave” that lives in a cage in the basement and eats out of a dogs dish etc. Maybe mega Femdom and all that is someones idea of the “ideal” but…. That is just one opinion.

    I think that how you decide (or not) to do this is open to unique expressions. And I don’t think that once you do one your obligated to follow through and do other things that someone else might feel are the “standard”

  7. Lol, I see I hit a nerve. 

    First off, fair enough not if. This is clearly the only area you control, My apology stands. 

    Having said that you’ve not responded to my main point about misrepresentation on a resource that will affect peoples lives, but chosen to get personal instead. It does not win your day. 

    Yes I have considered chastity without submission. In fact I’ve lived it. Long before I started my blog I was a Dom who played with chastity. I gave the key away purely for the fun of it. I have had a real life sub, a play ‘sub’ and a couple of long distance email/text subs. I would ask you to remember that some of us have had years of experience in multiple roles, and have a large network of friends and acquaintances on which to base what we write. I made my first chastity belt when I was 22, 15 years ago. I still have the second one I made. I agree surrender is subtly different from submission, but what you write about, how your blog comes across is I’m afraid more submission than surrender to my ear. .  As thumper said you have all the trappings. If indeed all you have experienced is surrender that leaves you less than qualified to write the ultimate guide. Ultimate for those men who use chastity without submission perhaps. 

    Finally, and I realise this comment will rile you but I will ask anyway. Have you considered if John is deep down more submissive to you than you realise, that your distaste limits him from being completely honest with you or himself? Because some things he likes sure suggest that (cuckolding and punishment for example). Again I have experienced this, when I started to submit to my wife I was afraid even to admit to myself my ‘sub’ side since she was so uncomfortable with it. 

    Food for thought anyway. 


    1. …when I started to submit to my wife I was afraid even to admit to myself my ‘sub’ side since she was so uncomfortable with it.

      Same here. That’s why I think it’s do important to kill off this crap stereotype that all subs are one way. They aren’t.

  8. In answer to the first question. I think there is an emotional aspect to submission. It’s not just an act. I believe that you can play in a bedroom on occasion and enjoy the sensations without it being anything deeper than a game. The emotions will last for the period of play. I think longer term though, that even if it starts as play it eventually draws out deeper emotions. Amplification of submissive desires is common, the opposite also, that as it goes longer the false submission causes a backlash which can be anger or just a quick switch out of the game. I find it hard to believe that long term chastity or play submission can be entirely limited to only one area and perfectly compartmentalised. I don’t deny that it could though, subjectively I can’t imagine it lasting without having an effect. Objectively I concede it may exist but occams razor makes me think that what appears to be compartmentalisation is actually more likely a hiding of the emotions from oneself.

    I may well be wrong.

  9. Jesus… I go away for a nap and look what happens… the boys think they can just do as they like!

    Thumper said and I quote: “I also think that Sarah and John are in a D/s relationship”.

    No we’re not – for reasons I’ve given.

    You also say: “Again, wishing to become a cuckold is an extraordinarily submissive desire”. No, it CAN be. Perhaps it’s just really fucking hot for some people, as John says. What leads you to believe it has to be submissive?
    MyKey: correct, there is an emotional aspect. And if those emotions don’t include both feelings of dominance and submission then it cannot possibly be D&S. Unless you’te telling me you know us better than we know ourselves.

    You haven’t hit a nerve at all – my indignation is at your just making shit up.

    Religious peeople find it hard to understand evolution, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Argument from incredulity is not a valid method (nor is making shit up!).

    As for John being “more deep down sumbissive”, no, he isn’t. Or so he says. But let me guess: you know him better than I do or even better than he knows himself.

    And everyone, please note the difference between sexually submissive (say in the bedroom) and generally submissive (everywhere else, too).

    Sorry if it’s incoherent. I’ve just woken up and feel like shit.



    1. We will never see eye to eye on this. You and John are, of couse, free to identify any way you like.

      The issue remains: Your characterization of submissive men is stereotypical, narrow, and damaging. That is my main point and has been from the beginning. It’s the only thing I wish you’d change in your otherwise excellent text.

      1. I don’t characterise ALL submissive men like that at all. And the reason I’ve focused on the extreme, I’ve made clear – it’s the #1 fear expressed to me by men and women (and the one they write to me and are glad I’ve quashed for them).

        Maybe I’ll add something for the 2nd ed. Not today, though.



  10. Argument through incredulity is not necessarily invalid. Life experience shows most people the most probable outcome. An apple will fall, it’s unlikely to rise. I’ve never seen it rise. There may be a black swan event but until I see one all I know are White swans, and believing in black ones is to believe in the improbable. 

    Hope you are feeling better.


    1. Arguinng through incredulity is arguing without evidence – you effectively say, “I don’t undertand it therefore…”. Unless you have supporting evidence – like gravity and your past experinces with it – is to accept emotion as an objective yardstick.

      And there are black swans, too… and the argument, “I find it hard to believe there are black swans” ia and always was invalid in the sense of trying to argue for the existence or otherwise of this rare breed of bird.


  11. This smacks of several old issues. Lesbians who loathed Strap On sex because it was too much like Straight sex. *Its not! How can it be? Two women are doing it.

    And on the topic of homosexuality those that felt people who claimed to be Bisexual were just deluded about their “real” sexuality.

    Is it possible to not be a Sub and be into chastity? I dunno. I’m not either (At least not so far) but I’ve also not been everyone either.

  12. There are indeed black swans. The lesson is that you need to keep an open mind, not that you need to believe in them until such time as you have evidence.

    My life experience contains many kinky people, none played with sonnany elements Of d/s without feeling it at some level. Hence the evidence I’ve seen overwhelmingly supports my view. I do keep an open mind about your non submissive lifestyle but require more evidence to fully change my view.

    1. The trouble is, MyKey, you have all the evidence you’re going to get but you won’t accept it because it doesn’t conform to the view you already have.

      The evidence from me is every bit as valid and strong as the evidence from others: it’s what you’re told about someone else’s state of mind. You believe what they tell you; you doubt what I tell you.

      But you simply choose not to believe it – you certainly have no objectively verifiable independent evidence to back up either what I say or what they say.

      A bad case of confirmation bias you have there.


  13. Yes you are correct. I can’t expect more evidence from you realistically. I therefore remain doubtful but openminded. Too much on the Internet is not as it seems, and I am a doubting Thomas. Faith is not part of my make-up. So I wish you well, and though it may not seem so I am more convinced than I was about your lifestyle.

    I do reiterate thumpers request to be more positive about submissive men, to separate from the stereotype. It does us no favours but More critically could make acceptance Of a sub by a partner reading your otherwise good resource that much harder.

    Excuse the capitals. Damned iPhone doesn’t like wordpress comments.

  14. I think the issue is that you guys are offended by Sarah having an opinion about (some) submissive men. Or at least the stereo type that is being promoted. Are we living in such a PC world that someone can not have a negative opinion?

    1. Sure, and I’ll go ahead and say all blacks are in gangs, all Italians are in the Mafia, all gays are effeminate, all lesbians drive Subarus, etc., etc. We *are* living in a world where negative STEREOTYPES are a bad thing. At least I hope we are.

      1. There is a difference in having a personal preference and delcaring objective facts.

        Saying “blacks are muggers” is perhaps a bigoted negative stereotype; saying “I don’t find submissive men sexually attractive” is not. It’s a personal preference. I make the fact this is all my preference absolutely plain.

        Besides, it’s a bit rich you complaining about stereotypes when you’re saying John “must” be submissive because that stereotype fits some of your preconceived notions of what John “must” be thnking and feeling.



      2. Ok, let me rephrase that. If we take your example “All Blacks are in Gangs” or “All Italians are in the Mob” Do you think by the same logic you use that Black Gang Members must be given a free pass because we don’t want to promote a stereotype? Can a person who has been beaten up by an Italian Mob member have a negative opinion about “Italian Mob Members”

        I think Sarah is very specific with her comments on the types of Subs she is not “into”

        And as one of those folks who is a tad freaked out about the extremes that Chastity (Stories, Blogs) etc all seem to lean to I am pleased that someone is promoting her own style.

        She has often talked about the Chastity Taliban…

        Nuff said.

  15. I think Sarah is very specific with her comments on the types of Subs she is not “into”

    There’s also the subtle but important distinction between what you could argue is sexual submission in the course of a game in the bedroom and a man whose entire nature and attitude is submmissive.

    The former is fun and the latter, to me, a real turn off.

    And they are NOT the same.



  16. Sarah Jameson :
    Besides, it’s a bit rich you complaining about stereotypes when you’re saying John “must” be submissive because that stereotype fits some of your preconceived notions of what John “must” be thnking and feeling.

    I don’t believe I did say John “must” be submissive, only that he carried the trappings of many otherwise submissive men and still was able to fit into your definition of what an attractive man looked like. You, yourself, said he was a surrenderer (or whatever one who surrenders is called). When I look up that word in the dictionary and compare it to “submission”, they’re essentially the same thing. Which, of course, accentuates the pointlessness of this conversation. You and John are more than free to call yourselves anything you want. Think about yourselves anything you like. As long as you’re happy, you can say you’re the king and queen of Persia for all I care.

    The fact remains, however (and you continue to dance around this), when you refer to submissive men in the text of your book (and blog, as far as I can tell), you use just one subset of them to define the entire type. Just as when I said all blacks were gang members and all lesbians drove a Subara, for you, all malesubs are obsequious panty wears. THAT IS WRONG. Not only wrong, but as in the case of most stereotypes, damaging and insensitive and driven more by ignorance than ill-intent.

    Now, after 32 comments, I think this is enough. If there’s more to be said by anyone, I’d appreciate it if they either 1) Do it on their own blog, or 2) Wait until the next time I criticize Sarah for too narrowly defining the male submissive experience.

    In the mean time, my advice still stands. Read her book (just ignore whatever she says about submission).

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