In which we contemplate some insurmountable obstacles
Not every man is a good candidate for female domination, nor is every difficulty amenable to its beneficial effects. Let’s look at some problems we can’t solve, so that we’ll know better than to try.
Any man in sound physical condition can masturbate to climax in just a couple of minutes when he’s alone, but a few—a very few—find it difficult to reach orgasm with a partner. These men are said to suffer from retarded ejaculation. The details vary. Most have difficulty with one particular mode of stimulation—vaginal, oral or manual. Some can’t come at all unless they’re alone; others can, but take inordinately long.
There are two head trips that underlie retarded ejaculation; any given sufferer may be troubled by either or both. In one, the man perceives ejaculation as a defilement, usually of himself, sometimes of his partner. Men who worry about self-defilement see women as dirty. They won’t perform cunnilingus and are likely to vomit if forced into it. Their reluctance to ejaculate is most pronounced during vaginal intercourse.
Men who worry about defiling their partners perceive themselves as dirty; generally they have more difficulty with fellatio than with vaginal intercourse and more difficulty with vaginal intercourse than with manual stimulation, though it’s not readily apparent how much difficulty they have with fellatio because they won’t admit to trying to come in a woman’s mouth.
It may seem that the Loop ought to be able to coexist with such feelings, even predominate over them, but that’s not what happens. Remember, this isn’t your average man, but one so disgusted by his own or his partner’s genitalia and secretions that his disgust kills his ability to respond even after he’s aroused. That’s a lot of disgust, and it doesn’t leave much room in his head for anything else. Besides, ordinary arousal is half the Loop, so anything that inhibits it will shut down the Loop as a whole, even if the other half—embarrassment—is fed at the same time.
The other possible head trip may be a surprise. The man can’t come because he’s too embarrassed. Really! Some men are like that! Instead of being turned on by the embarrassment of being unable to control their arousal, they’re embarrassed into unresponsiveness, just by the awareness that a woman is present. Such a man can reach orgasm with a partner only by tuning her out—if indeed he can reach orgasm with a partner at all. Obviously you can’t lead him into the Loop. An attempt to do so will not only fail, it will make his problem more severe; and the damage will persist.
Retarded ejaculation is rare. If you’re young and unmarried, and change partners with ordinary frequency, you have about as much chance of encountering a case of retarded ejaculation as of winning the Utah State Lottery. That doesn’t help, though, if you’re married to a man who suffers from it. If the condition is already part of your life, that’s the reality you have to deal with.
My advice is simple. Don’t use the techniques in this book on a man who suffers from retarded ejaculation or on a man who has been successfully treated for it. Even if his problem is disgust rather than embarrassment, you’ll fail. If his problem is embarrassment, or a combination of embarrassment and disgust, you’ll make the condition worse. If he’s been successfully treated, you’ll trigger a relapse.
Because of the high emotional charge associated with the feelings that underlie retarded ejaculation, your partner may be less than truthful if you ask him its cause. He may tell you that the inhibitory processes in his head are different from anything I’ve described, or that his problem is physical when he knows it isn’t. You may then deduce, quite reasonably, that while an attempt to apply my techniques is unlikely to succeed, it can at least do no harm. Don’t try anyway. There’s a good chance that embarrassment is part of his problem, or even all of it, regardless of what he says. Maybe he’s too embarrassed to tell you. Maybe he thinks you’d be offended by his embarrassment because you’d take it as evidence of undeserved distrust. If his parents are religious fanatics, they may have raised him to be so chronically guilty and embarrassed about everything, he isn’t even aware that that’s what he’s feeling. No matter what he says, no matter how much you may like the idea of enslaving him, don’t take the chance. You’re sure to fail, and even if you might succeed, the risks are too great.
If you try my techniques on a man who was sexually abused as a boy, his reaction is likely to be extreme. In some cases, he’ll respond with uncommon enthusiasm. In others things will go just dreadfully. Your efforts may trigger flashbacks, panic and dissociation (a feeling of depersonalization and psychic fragmentation that’s difficult to appreciate if you’ve never experienced it). In the short term, such reactions inhibit your partner’s erotic responses. In the long term, they make him uncomfortable with you—wary. Not the sort of thing that builds a pleasant relationship.
If you have an intimate knowledge of your man’s history, you can judge whether it includes anything that will make for a bad reaction. The phrase sexual abuse by itself doesn’t mean much. The prevention, detection and prosecution of child sexual abuse, and the repair of its damages, have become such a growth industry, it now seems everyone is a survivor of abuse; if your partner is an exception, there’s a licensed professional somewhere who, for a sufficient fee, will open up his head and implant the necessary memories. I’m not going to argue this. I’m outnumbered and outgunned, and I’ve already made enough enemies by saying that gentle rape happens by mistake, so I’ll concede the obviously absurd point that every sexual transaction involving a person under the age of eighteen has a victim and a perpetrator, and I’ll go on from there to tell you what kind of childhood sexual abuse spells trouble.
Not what happened to Trespassers William alongside Beth’s pool. Not the masturbation or fellation of a nine-month-old baby by his mother to help him fall asleep. Not the enticement of a ten-year-old boy into a game of strip poker with his sixteen-year-old babysitter. The abuse that causes real damage is that which creates an irreconcilable conflict in the victim’s view of the world—abuse in which an authority figure secretly and coercively does something that, according to the belief system that that authority figure has always seemed to uphold, must never be permitted to occur.
Nadine is a single mother who lives alone with her nine-year-old son, Jeff. She’s kept her body hidden from him for the past six years and answered his few questions about sex so minimally and with such obvious discomfort that he’s stopped asking. She’s repeatedly cautioned him about the evils of alcohol and warned him against the potentially erratic behavior of people who use it. He’s seen and smelled a few drunks himself, so he’s pretty well convinced.
Then one evening Nadine goes out on a date, comes home drunk and alone, and forces Jeff to eat her. It becomes a pattern repeated six more times over a period of fourteen months.
If you try to enslave Jeff (years later of course), he’ll freak out terribly. Even if you don’t try to enslave him—even if you let him have complete control of your sexual relationship—he’ll dissociate and relive his abuse at least occasionally while making love to you, though he’ll manage to keep it to himself as the traditional male role requires.
If your partner was the victim of heavy sexual abuse as a child, I’d advise against trying to enslave him. I’d even advise against tying him up. If he was the victim of relatively light abuse, handle him with care. Be alert to signs of psychological pain and be ready to offer aid and comfort as needed.
Unfortunately I can’t give you a rigorous set of rules for recognizing flashbacks and dissociation, especially when they’re not severe. A man’s behavior changes when he’s sexually excited; it changes differently when he’s tied up; it changes still differently when he’s tied up and sexually excited at the same time; and it changes differently again when on top of all that, he has to struggle to control his responses. If you put a man through that much, and it’s all new, it’s unlikely that you’ll suddenly be struck by the clear realization that, Hey! That’s not embarrassment I’m seeing! That’s not the outward manifestation of a struggle for control! He’s dissociating! Still, if the two of you have become so intimate that you know he has a history of abuse, you’ll also know him well enough to tell if he’s having a rough time.
This brings us round to look at the problem from the other end. If your relationship is new, you don’t know your lover’s history, nor do you know him well enough to identify dissociation or a flashback before it becomes severe. If he was badly abused, your first inkling comes when you’ve tied him up and laid some heavy trip on him, and you suddenly find yourself confronted with a full-scale psychiatric emergency. He may become sexually unresponsive, shake, scream, cry, vomit, speak as though he were a child, address a person who isn’t there, talk to you as though you were someone else, or refer to events that aren’t taking place as though they were. These symptoms can occur in any combination. Shaking and crying, of course, usually express feelings within the normal range (given the intensity of the experience you’re creating) and therefore don’t signify by themselves, and screaming is a common response to sensory overload, but a major freak-out looks so much like a major freak-out that you won’t have to break it into its elements.
If you’re faced with such an emergency, you have to deal with it. The first thing to do if your partner is tied in place is release him. If he’s tied so he’s lying on his back and he vomits, you must release him immediately lest he choke. Under less pressing circumstances, you’ll want to consider whether he’s dangerous. If you’re scared of him, get help. Most major psychiatric hospitals have mobile teams they’ll dispatch on request, often without charge, and the members of the team are bound by the ethics of their profession to keep quiet about what they see. If you’re going to get help, do it right away. If you don’t need help—and normally you won’t—release your partner. Do that right away. If you find yourself waiting to see what develops, neither calling for help nor releasing your partner, you’re making a big mistake. Do one or the other, or things will get much worse.
Once your partner is free, take care of him. Comfort him. Calm him. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t try to explore the memories you’ve uncovered. Those can be dealt with another time—if indeed they’re to be dealt with at all (it’s properly his choice). Remind him that you’re you, rather than some ghost from his past. Remind him—show him—that you can be trusted, that you care about him.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary? Why would an exploration of his memories be necessary? I don’t want to get into that!
If he’s stuck in a flashback, reliving some past atrocity, you may have to talk him through it. How old are you? Where are you? Who are you with?—that kind of thing.
Nightmares like this don’t happen often, but they do happen. Before you try to enslave a man—before you even tie him up—think about how you would handle such a scene if it arose. If you don’t like your partner enough—don’t care about him enough—to help him through it, and help him lovingly, even when he’s just thrown up on your bed, you might not want to risk creating the situation.
Sex role insecurity
When we discussed brutes, we noted that many of them are insecure about their masculinity. Indeed they all are, except perhaps a few psychopaths whose violence is cold-blooded. The converse isn’t true. There are plenty of men who are insecure about their masculinity without being brutes. They’ve rejected violence but still see their gender identity as inextricably linked to one or more elements of the traditional male role (drive the car, pay the tab, light the charcoal—that kind of thing). The link, of course, is arbitrary and delusional, and the role elements by which these men identify themselves as male have nothing to do with masculinity per se, but telling them is useless.
The risk in such insecurity is that if you threaten enough role elements to which your partner is attached, or even just one that he sees as critical, he may find the situation intolerable and leave. When you undertake to enslave your partner, you threaten at least one element of the traditional male role. Tradition says it’s the male who initiates and controls all sexual encounters, and you’ll be saying something different. Your partner may have no problem with this even if he’s insecure about his masculinity. He may be attached to other elements of the traditional male role but not sexual leadership. If such is the case, you’ll run afoul of his insecurities only if you try to use your sexual power to pry him loose of his attachments. (If your partner is attached only to elements of the traditional male role that you have no inclination to threaten, then for purposes of your relationship he’s functionally equivalent to a man who is secure in his masculinity, no matter how insecure he may in fact be.)
Usually though, if a man has insecurities, you’ll bring them to the fore by seizing control of his sexuality, and this is what most often drives a man away when a woman introduces female domination into an uncommitted relationship. A committed relationship is hard to walk away from, but an exceptionally insecure man who feels that his masculinity is threatened may leave anyway. I’ve never known a marriage to break up over a woman’s attempt to enslave her husband when sexual control was the only element of the traditional male role she took from him, but I do have a sad story to tell, and it doesn’t even include an attempt at enslavement.
When Joanne married Paul, she was working as an elementary school teacher and he was working as a physicist in a research lab, as he has ever since. A few months before their son Kevin was born, Joanne quit teaching to take care of him. When he was twelve, she decided to go back to work. Rather than teach again, she applied for a job doing product support for a computer company. She’d take phone calls from customers having difficulties, offer advice off the top of her head if she could, and pass the harder problems up the line to the technical heavyweights. She had little relevant experience, but the support manager decided to hire her anyway. She spoke well, she listened well, she had a great deal of native intelligence, and she had the emotional maturity to defuse potential confrontations rather than try to win them. That was eighty percent of the job, and he figured she would soon absorb enough technical knowledge to solve most customer problems without help.
She surpassed his expectations, exhibiting an uncanny aptitude for computer technology as well as an uncommon understanding of the customers’ needs. After four years she was managing production and earning considerably more than Paul, who could sell his services only to the government and had to take what he was offered. Though Joanne wasn’t at all competitive and regarded her earnings as a community resource, Paul found the situation demeaning. He cultivated the delusion that Joanne was always taunting him. When she had to work overtime or travel, she was deserting him. When she tried to plan time alone with him, she was patronizing him. Even when she had their bathroom remodeled, her purpose was to make him feel inadequate for not having done so himself before she went back to work. He stopped initiating sex and rejected her advances with great hostility, accusing her of regarding him as a gigolo, bought and paid for. Like all insecure men, he refused marriage counseling.
They had been living in this unhappy state for a year when Joanne first heard about my techniques. As in the case of Nora, I wasn’t targeting her; rather I was proselytizing to another friend, Trudy, while Joanne was present, and Joanne tuned in to the possibilities.
She remembered that early in their marriage Paul would occasionally bring home some grass for them to smoke, and it always made him horny. Hoping for the same effect, she worked out a plan with Trudy to get Paul stoned while Kevin was off camping. The plan called for Joanne to buy half an ounce of the best and turn it over to Trudy, who would then drop in after dinner, rave about what great stuff she’d got, share some with Joanne and Paul, and leave some more as a present.
It went just so. When Trudy left, Joanne rolled a joint, lit it, and followed Paul around, feeding him as many tokes as she could. Soon he lay down on the couch and retreated into a magazine, then into sleep. Joanne, who until then had been thinking in terms of a moderately aggressive seduction, decided to tie him in place. She worried she would wake him, and she had no idea what she would do if that happened, but she went ahead anyway.
It turned out she didn’t wake him—not when she took of his pants, not when she took off his undershorts, not when she dragged one end of the couch out to the middle of the living room, not even when she rearranged his arms and legs and tied the knots. He wound up with his feet on the floor on opposite sides of the couch, ankles tied to two of its legs, elbows bent over the other end, wrists tied together and to the two other legs.
He made a muffled noise and went on sleeping.
She got an ice cube and rubbed it across his tummy.
The shock woke him instantly. He jerked at the bonds and discovered them.
“What the hell is going on?” he yelled.
“I want you. I’m sorry about the ice cube; it was hard to wake you. Let me dump it in the sink.”
“You’re some kind of psycho! Untie me!” he shouted after her.
“I’ve missed our lovemaking,” she said when she came back. “I want to do that with you.”
“You think you own me, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t own you. I just love you. Maybe you’ll see that.”
She positioned herself face down between his legs and went to work on his cock with her mouth, looking up at him as he watched her. His cock stiffened and she followed it upward, licking until it was hard enough to fuck. She got up on the couch and squatted with one foot at either edge. She took him inside her, leaned forward, kissed him.
He kissed her back.
“I’ve missed you so much,” she said.
She started moving her hips, fucking him. A few minutes and they came. Together. The most intense orgasm she’d ever seen him have. She cried. He looked “kind of lost,” is how she put it.
“I love you,” she said. “I just love you.”
She got up and untied him.
“Come to bed with me?”
He followed her and lay flat on his back, staring at the ceiling. She cuddled up to him. He didn’t resist or pull away, but neither did he reciprocate—just went on staring at the ceiling. They fell asleep.
A few days later, while Joanne was at work, Paul moved out. They agreed on a no-fault divorce.
Most people to whom I tell this story marvel at Paul’s stupidity. Joanne was impressed with it too. Many say Paul was no great loss, but Joanne didn’t feel that way. She remembered who he’d been before the insecurity took over, and that’s who she wanted. For a few moments that evening, she thought she’d brought him back—resurrected him—but then the insecurity reasserted itself and he was gone.
What can we learn from Joanne’s story? Not a whole lot; it’s just one story, and it would have unfolded differently with different characters, but it’s a good jumping-off point for some interesting conjecture.
One encouraging thing we can say is that Joanne and Paul’s marriage was over before she tied him up, and his moving out was just a matter of time. Most everyone sees it that way, including Joanne, but there are dissenters. The dissenters subscribe to the view that It ain’t over till it’s over. They argue that Joanne hastened the end by subjecting Paul to severe emotional trauma. If she hadn’t, they say, he would have hung around at least a few days longer, and during those few days the marriage might have been saved.
Maybe. Had I collected a thousand similar stories in which the woman never made Joanne’s outrageous move, the dissenters would surely be right at least once; one of the marriages would have been brought back from the brink, if only by the miraculously timed bankruptcy of the woman’s employer. Then again, out of a thousand stories that did include the kink, at least one man would have wound up falling in love with his wife all over again. I wish I could tell you how to predict which course will yield the best result, but I don’t even have enough data to tell you what happens most of the time with each approach; all I have is the one story.
The story suggests two more lines of conjecture. The first is discouraging but I feel obliged to explore it lest I lull you into false optimism. What if Paul’s insecurities hadn’t been tweaked by Joanne’s success? Suppose Joanne had never gone back to work and Trudy’s visit came about naturally rather than as the result of a conspiracy, but the rest of that evening unfolded much as it did. Would Paul have left just because of the kink? Based on what Joanne told me about what he’d been like during their first fifteen years of marriage, no. But some men would. And some men would leave even if they wanted to stay.
If I knew a man who left his wife just for tying him up while he was asleep and fucking him, I would say he had a really strange and unfortunate quirk. Obviously his view would be different. He would say his wife had violated the spirit of the marriage compact so profoundly as to make recovery impossible. And because the quirk gives him an idiosyncratic view of the nature of marriage, he would be as right from his side as I am from mine.
What this means is that before you try to take control of the sexual aspect of your marriage, it’s important that you know your husband well. This book is loaded with good advice, but it’s about men in general; I don’t know your man at all.
The remaining line of conjecture is more encouraging. What if Joanne had set out to enslave Paul a year before she went back to work? He wasn’t yet a shell-shocked paranoid holed up in a bunker, and we know she turned him on, so it’s almost certain she would have succeeded.
If that had been accomplished first, what would have happened when Joanne’s career took off? Most likely, Paul would have handled it well. In the process of getting used to being Joanne’s love slave, he would have taken on a different mind set from the one that allowed him to get so carried away with his insecurities. By the time Joanne’s salary became significant, he already would have voluntarily given up whatever it was he was trying so desperately to defend in their conventional marriage. To borrow Bart’s metaphor, Joann’s financial success would have been just bird shit on the bridle path. And besides, Paul would have been in love. Again, the best time to take control is when there’s no need.
I’ve known several wives of alcoholics who tried using the techniques of female domination to stop their men’s drinking, and one who tried to help her husband kick heroin. None succeeded. I’m convinced it’s impossible.
Before I explain why, I ought to delimit the scope of this discussion and define the word alcoholic as I’ll be using it. An alcoholic is a man in the grip of an active addiction to alcohol or any other depressant drug. Because the other recreational depressants differ from alcohol only in vocabulary, means of administration, theatricality and speed of the downward spiral, I’ll let alcohol stand for the lot. I won’t address non-depressant drugs at all; I don’t know even one woman who tried enslaving her man to get him to quit cocaine or amphetamines, and tobacco use is so divisive an issue that I’m unwilling to touch it.
We’ve already met two men who drank to excess, but they weren’t alcoholics. Bart certainly wasn’t, and he’ll probably never be one. As a young adult he learned that drinking was a social obligation; it helped him turn off his mind at the end of the workday (all good programmers obsess on their craft); and he found it useful for lubricating seductions. But at the age of thirty-seven he still wasn’t drinking at lunch and, given the choice between alcohol and me, he usually chose me. In fact he always chose me; when he spent an evening doing something else, it was never just because he wanted to drink.
Peter wasn’t an alcoholic either, though he was at significantly greater risk of becoming one. If he’d kept going at the rate he was, he would eventually have pickled his brain, lost control of his drinking, and wound up thoroughly addicted. It would have taken years though, and Ginny stopped him in plenty of time.
An alcoholic’s most important relationship is with alcohol. He arranges his life around opportunities to drink and avoids situations where drinking is inappropriate (or embarrasses himself by drinking inappropriately). He can’t consistently resist the temptation to take just one drink, and he can’t reliably limit his consumption once it starts. He denies all this, even to himself, at least until he’s sunk so low that the truth breaks through.
Peter wasn’t like that. He only pretended to be, because his reasons for drinking embarrassed him so. First, he drank to dull his lust for his wife, and he certainly wasn’t going to brag about that—not to her and not to anyone else. Second, he drank because drinking—and drinking enthusiastically—was part of the role that he thought his buddies required of him. He didn’t have the courage to step out of that role and be himself, even though realistically his buddies couldn’t have cared. His act was so convincing that even Ginny was fooled, despite the fact that sometimes, when he wasn’t horny and his friends weren’t around, he didn’t drink.
The reasons for Peter’s drinking were hard to see, but they were there, and I could figure them out from Ginny’s stories. When you try to account for the behavior of an alcoholic, only one explanation fits: Nothing matters to him as much as drink. He may be able to offer excuses for his drinking, but that’s because he’s arranged his life to provide them. An astute observer can almost always tell a reason from an excuse.
Let’s lift two sentences out of that little apology for Peter’s drinking: An alcoholic’s most important relationship is with alcohol. Nothing matters to him as much as drink.
That’s why alcoholism is impervious to my techniques. An alcoholic’s need for alcohol is much stronger than his need for sex, love, companionship—anything. Alcohol, to him, is a satisfactory substitute—no, a superior substitute—for all the things we humans normally need. Yes, all the things! An alcoholic may be frostbitten or dehydrated and not feel it. Can you imagine needing a whole quart of water and not knowing you’re thirsty? Alcohol does that to people, and there are some people to whom alcohol does that every day. You can’t compete with something that powerful. Alcoholics routinely sacrifice good marriages to their drinking. You don’t stand a chance.
When he hits bottom, you still can’t do anything; if he stops drinking, he goes into withdrawal and gets so sick that sex is meaningless. You have to wait until he’s detoxified—beyond withdrawal.
Alcoholics are notoriously defiant, and detoxification doesn’t change that. An alcoholic will overreact to any attempt to circumscribe his behavior. (That’s why the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous describe what the early members did, not what today’s members should do.) If you try enslaving a newly detoxified alcoholic for the purpose of forbidding him to drink, he’s likely to resume his drinking out of spite. Don’t risk it.
If an alcoholic makes it into recovery, you can regard him as a normal man who simply has the good sense not to drink. You might want to enslave him just for fun, because the two of you love one another and it would be a pleasant way to handle your sexual relationship, but certainly not to help him stay sober. Though this sounds like a good situation (he isn’t drinking and he loves you), I’d still advise forbearance. It isn’t a good idea to take any risks with a man newly into recovery. I would wait until he’s through A.A.’s ninth step at least, and he’s had a couple of months working the tenth.
To Chapter 19
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