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And, don’t get me wrong, I love good, old fashioned alpha males. There is a undeniable appeal about them, which is why the trope has lasted the test of time.
But, as someone who has sat down and talked to many of these alpha male Doms—and plenty of alpha Dommes, for that matter—something you start to realize is...they’re just people. Beneath the leather and outside of the pages of fiction, they are just people. With the same insecurities and fear, the same hopes and joys, as everyone else.
As Dan Savage is wont to say, “BDSM is cops and robbers with your pants off.” It is a role we, as kinksters, put on and take off as needed. I’ve said it before, “Often, we talk about the roles in BDSM being something that (...) we can step into and step out of. And that is true. In a practical sense. BDSM is highly stylized, highly dramatized, highly intensified play. You can’t do it 24/7. It would tire you and stress you out past the breaking point fast. Because the world isn’t built to sustain a 24/7 BDSM role. No one can be Dominant all the time, in complete control, without doubt; the first, last, and only word on everything. Just as no one can be submissive all the time; you have to think on your own and put yourself first sometimes. A kinky person wants a partner who can slip into that headspace as well as slip out of it when appropriate. Who can be a fully functional person in the real world as well as a freaking awesome partner in the crazy, sexy times. But, even though the roles come off and on at will, the inherent kinkiness—the ability to slip in and out—is permanent.”
And, personally, I think it’s important for our fiction to acknowledge that. To make the distinction between the role and the person.
And, to be fair, we do. We talk a lot about submission and what that means for submissives, particularly female submissives. Earlier today, I talked about how submission can mean different things for different people and that’s okay. That there is no one real submissive and that’s important to note.
I believe the same is true for Dominants.
We love the idea of alpha male Dominants. And, while there’s nothing wrong with that fantasy, untempered by a healthy dose of reality, it can foster the idea that that’s all that’s out there. That to be a Dominant man—or even a kinky man—that is what you must be. You must be always in control. You must always be strong. You must always be overwhelming. You must always be sexy and a little scary, just not too scary. You must fit the fantasy.
And, for a kinky man, that’s a lot to live up to. No one can be the fantasy. And no one should have to.
There are so many wonderful men in kinkland. And every one of them is unique and deserves to be celebrated. Each one of them have stories and sides of themselves that deserve to be told.
Something that I am truly proud of, probably more so than anything else about this whole publishing/writing process, is that I get to hear from fans of all kinds, from vanilla people to submissives to bottoms to tops to switches to Dom(me)s. I get to hear from everyone. I’ve heard so many stories from people who’ve read my work and related to it. And some of the messages I cherish most are the ones from men. From male bottoms and male tops who are so grateful that, in a genre that so often features them as fantasies but so rarely caters to them as people, they got to read a story that didn’t. That recognized them as a person, with strengths and sexiness but also flaws and the all too human triumph over those flaws. Where they got to be characters—with real development and growth—and not just plot devices or fantasy-fulfillment.
I believe that, as a kinky feminist—who believes not just in female empowerment but in the true equality of people of all genders—part of my job is to give that gift to these men. And to their partners. To portray them as honestly as I possibly can. So we, as a whole, as a world, can see them more clearly. As more than just fantasy.
But as the reality they are.
You can read M. Never’s full piece, “What is BDSM?”, here.