Attractive Male Submission: What does it look like?

So, I’m recovering from some (planned) surgery, which has left me sore, tired, cranky, and somewhat incapacitated. I can’t exercise, can’t walk much, and bike riding is out of the question. And instead of catching up on finishing drafts I’ve started months or years ago, I’ve been hanging out on web groups where I can read, leave a sentence or two, and move on. My well-known supply of patience has to be carefully rationed for a while.

Anyway, I was reading a particular web board, and somebody wrote a question about popular depictions of male submissiveness in the mainstream media. This subject being one of my hot buttons, I responded to the effect that while I can think of a lot of characterizations of male submissiveness, I only remember ones that have been portrayed for laughs or for outright humiliation. But acknowledging that I’m not up to par lately, I thought I’d toss this out to the handful of my readers who used to remember when I wrote a sex blog instead of a fitness blog.

Note that Ms. Ferns did a wonderful job of depicting images of sexy, desirable, submissive/bottoming men a few weeks ago, but those were solicited images, and not likely to be seen by many people not frequenters of our little corner of the sex blogging world. Similarly, Maymay hasn’t added to Male Submission Art in a while, but again, those are already depictions from porn or fetish shoots, and not typically seen on, say, network television.

Also note that there are many non-negative images of femdom or simply strong women in the media, but that’s not at question here. What I’m looking for are movies or TV shows (or any other media, advertising, literature, etc.) that depict submissive men in a positive or even desirable fashion. The men don’t need to be obviously sexually submissive; that is, I don’t expect to see men dressed like exotic dancers or wearing fetish gear. I’m looking for characters that are portrayed in a manner in which their partner sees them as sexy or desirable, or even appreciates their devotion.

If you can think of anything, please leave a comment. Hell, if you’ve given this some thought and you can’t think of anything, leave a comment saying so. At least I’ll know it’s not just my imagination (or lack of it) at work.

And as a reward for reading this post, here’s a nice image of femdomme and malesub that’s not based on cruelty or humiliation.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Culture, Manliness, Sexuality & Relationships, Submission. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Attractive Male Submission: What does it look like?

  1. TemptingSweets99 says:

    wishing you a speedy recovery.


  2. Peroxide says:

    I’m really just getting in a comment early because I’m hoping your readers come up with fun new examples I haven’t seen.

    This is something I’ve written about a bit, and if I had more/better examples I’d be writing about them. It’s interesting/irritating that while occasionally there will be a mainstream depiction of a sexually dominant woman (again, often for laughs) for the most part you sexually submissive men. Even male characters who are depicted as submissive to a female character while often valued and useful are usually strangely sexless, or perhaps a little pathetic. The best exception to the rule I can think of is Wash and Zoe off of Firefly other than that attractive male submission in mainstream media seems to be non existent.

    However, not infrequently one might come across devoted men who are submissive to their partner’s authority is some manner, but not necessarily sexually submissive in the romantic aspect of the relationship. Lots of order taking during the day, but nothing interesting in the bedroom.

    It’s one of the reasons I don’t care much for Princess/knight analogies for F/m relationships, because it seems like all the effort of service submission with none of the delightful sexual submission that pushes my buttons.


    • Tom Allen says:

      Even the Princess/Knight portrayals are okay because we can at least imagine sexxytimes between them (depending upon the context). But media depictions of service submission otherwise come across as being henpecked or pussy-whipped, and not necessarily done out of love or appreciation.

      I realize, too, that I’m somewhat out of touch with a lot of the newer shows because I don’t (i.e., almost never) watch television. My TV is pretty much limited to whatever Mrs. Edge happens to be watching, as I’m in the same room reading or surfing on my laptop.


  3. I also can’t think of any positive male sub in films or TV.

    I’m surprised that the terms Princess & Knight are being used above for service submission. A Knight is in service to his Princess (I’m thinking medieval) but this is pictured as a strong man kneeling in front of her. So service as in honour and protect and do her quests. I can’t see how this becomes service submission.

    I use these terms in my writings about Devotional Sex. In Devotional Sex the female power is only over sensual and sexual activities – so no housework or other service. I chose the word Princess to indicate a women who has power but is not dominant. And i chose the word Knight not only because it is a good match to Princess, but because it gives the impression of a strong man.

    Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted what you both mean by service. Or perhaps this is just another example of how words can mean different things to different people.


  4. Unrepentant says:

    The opening scene of the movie Phat Girls is an F/m fantasy with a gaggle of hot guys. Also, does Princess Bride count, with the whole “as you wish” thing? I suppose Exit to Eden should be on the list as well.


    • Seconding The Princess Bride. Wesley is portrayed as brave and smart and strong and devoted and the actor was fucking HOT. The only thing that sours him for me a bit is that at one point he threatens to smack Buttercup. Not cool. But I try to forget that one small hiccup and focus on the rest of the movie.

      The Sweetest Thing had a dream sequence in which Thomas Jane was catering to Cameron Diaz’ every whim (mostly via cunnilingus and serving dessert). It was played for laughs, but the laughs came from the over-the-top-ness of the fantasy. The character himself was not portrayed as ridiculous or pathetic.


  5. Tom Allen says:

    Okay, I can see Princess Bride – of course, there’s that “Knight/Princess” thing, again, but sure, that’s what we’re talking about.

    Haven’t seen Phat Girls. Exit to Eden is a tough one – the movie was such a horrible adaptation of the book that it was difficult to watch in the theater. Plus, Rosie O spent most of the movie making a joke about the entire concept, and Dan A had some humiliating scenes – both of which offset the neutral/positive spin that Dana D tried to give.


    • Unrepentant says:

      In regards to Exit to Eden, I was thinking specifically of the Eliot character (’cause I don’t remember much else about the movie, honestly). Even with the ridiculous comedy crap they added to the story, Eliot is still obviously a hottie and he at least starts out being submissive, though I can’t remember if that changes over the course of the film or not. At the very least, there is a brief portrayal of male submission as a sexy thing.


  6. Ferns says:

    Thanks for the positive comment on my ‘Beauty of submissive men’ project, but you are so right. That’s never going to be seen beyond a tiny demographic. Ditto *any* sites set up specifically for that. So they are useful for people *looking* for it, but not for the general population.

    I didn’t go through these to pick out items, but both of these Fetlife threads aim to point out mainstream representations:

    Positive Representations of Submissive Men

    Positive Representations of Dominant Women



  7. Hedone says:

    Good question. I am thinking long and hard on this one…

    Wishing you a speedy recovery.



  8. endymion says:

    One TV couple that comes to my mind and has an F/m dynamic, with the male being depicted as attractive are the Ponds of Doctor Who. No mention is given about their sexual preferences, but clearly Amy is the dominant in the couple and Rory is actively submitting to her will. While he is not exactly depicted as an alpha male and often avoids the spotlight in favour of his wife, he is depicted as intelligent, brave, devoted man who is obviously desirable (not only) to his wife.


  9. Michelle says:

    My two favorites have already been named, Princess Bride and Zoe and Wash.

    I know that this will not please you, I adored the movie Good Dick and perhaps had a more than slight crush on the submissive male character. Yes.. he is a fucked up individual. But so is she. And he is fucked up in ways that help her get better. It is a grittier F/m version of The Secretary.

    Also, I felt like the main character of the new movie “Magic Mike” was submissive. As was the main character in Nottinghill. I will post again if I think of any others. Male submission doesn’t have to be blatant to count.


  10. Michelle says:

    Ok… another one. The Notebook. Maybe you are looking for “sexy” submissive men and are overlooking the “romantic” ones.


  11. Dev says:

    I agree with the above posters that Wash and Zoe’s relationship on Firefly and Princess Bride are my favorites. I’d like to add that the Canadian television show Bliss which ran from 2002-2004 was an awesome softcore porn show aired on cable tv that made the idea of dominating a man seem less foreign to me as I came into my sexuality. Each episode would explore a different sexual fantasy from the woman’s perspective. Some of them are explicitly femdom, some more subtley so, and then of course some are more vanilla. Wish I knew where I could buy the boxed set of these!


  12. deviantlyromantic says:

    The only movie I’ve personally seen that I can recall is The Princess Bride.

    I’ve always enjoyed watching the servants on Downton Abbey. They’re just so very devoted to their Lord and Lady and the good of the Abbey. Well, the good servants anyway, but I suppose there’d be no plotline without some kind of friction.


  13. Aarkey says:

    Tom, great post as usual. And I hope you have a speedy recovery. I know how much exercise is important to you (me too) and being stuck unable to work out can be a real emotional drain.

    Aside from the aforementioned knight roles in films (and I can’t say that I’ve seen much Firefly, nor The Notebook) but I have to agree that Leslie from Princess Bride is probably the most solidly flattering depiction of a male submissive that I know of, of course, it is a Knight role (as mentioned above). And granted, its definitely not a BDSM or even an overtly FemDom movie, but the message for me at least was clear.


  14. Tomio Black says:

    I’ve never seen Firefly and I have to squint a lot to get Princess Bride to be F/m. I’ve held off commenting in the hopes that someone would come up with something I’ve missed.

    “Strong” and “submissive” seem eternally separated in mainstream understandings of masculinity.


  15. cawtibunny says:

    Feel better soon.

    And I can’t come up with anything that hasn’t already been mentioned. Hmm….


  16. Sweets says:

    I always found it adorable how Cliff Huxtable always defaulted to his wife’s opinions and decisions, on the Cosby show. When they argued, she won. He worshiped and adored her in his own ways. She could lean her brow and purse her lips and he knew he was in trouble. She was smart, quick of tongue and yeah, I remember watching it when I was young and thinking “yeah that’s how it should be!” If you think about it in those terms, it’s sort of a common plot. The men act like bumbling fools and the wife comes in and fixes everything. Lots of eye rolling and sighing… George Lopez… no way he was winning even when he did a lot of barking. Newer shows, Cougar Town, New Girl… those are a couple I’ve watched recently… I don’t really watch much TV. I think it’s more prevalent in sitcoms than theaters because of the comedy value. They have 23 minutes to make you laugh. Put the women on top.


  17. In the US, “Elementary” on CBS has been portraying Sherlock Holmes as a sub without it being played for laughs ( Though he’s not in a relationship, it’s refreshing to have that portrayal. There’s a fan blog that “ships” his character with Joan Watson, interpreting her as his dominant:


  18. Mrs Fever says:

    Christopher Reeves’ Superman/Clark Kent to Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane. That’s definitely a F/m relationship, yet our superhero remains desirable throughout. I suppose, also, the argument could be made that Superman’s a Switch. Hmmm…

    And I *really* like that photograph.


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