Monday, May 27, 2013

Our Greatest Source of Sexual Creativity

The central importance of domination and submission in sexual arousal

by Ogi Ogas, Ph.D

It's a lot like life
It's played between the sheets
With you on top
And me underneath
Let's play...

There are two fundamental sexual cues, mostly innate, that do more than all others to define our sexual identity and fuel our sexual imagination: (1) which gender we find attractive, and (2) whether we prefer to be dominant or submissive in the bedroom. There is abundant scientific scrutiny and political controversy focused on the gender cue (our sexual orientation), but regarding the dominance/submission cue there is only political controversy. Science, unfortunately, has been slow to recognize and appreciate the central neuropsychological importance of dominance roles in our sexlives.

If you open any contemporary introductory textbook on human sexuality you will not find a chapter on sexual dominance and submission. If you find a discussion of the topic at all, it's inevitably treated as a fringe paraphila--in Rathus' textbook Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity dominance is only found in a chapter titled "Atypical Sexual Variations," as part of subsections on "Sexual Masochism" and "Sexual Sadism"--exceedingly rare and atypical sexual interests that reflect scientists' misunderstanding of dominance/submission rather than actual paraphilas. In LeVay's Discovering Human Sexuality, we once again find dom/sub limited to a discussion of masochism and BDSM clubs in a chapter titled "Atypical Sexuality."

The cross-cultural online behavioral data of a billion men and women reveals there's nothing atypical about getting turned on by wanting to be dominant or submissive in the bedroom. The most common sexual theme in mainstream romance novels, female-authored erotic romance (including Fifty Shades of Grey), and erotic fan fiction is male dominance/female submissiveness (or in slash fiction, male dominance/male submissiveness). Gay porn contains a clear and universal demarcation between tops (the true superstars of gay porn) and bottoms (who most gay porn viewers identify with). Straight guys mostly prefer male dominant porn (sleep porn, drunk porn, exploitation porn, sell your girlfriend porn, gangbang porn, bukkake porn), but a very large minority of men prefer male submissive porn (CFNM, CBT, forced feminization, dominatrix porn, diaper porn, men-raped-by-women-with-strapons porn).

There is more creativity, inventiveness, and variation in dominance and submission themes in human erotica than in any other sexual theme. Women's erotic literature is mostly variants of submitting to a sexy, worthy, dominant male. There are more subgenres of domination and submission themes in male erotic cinema (both gay and straight) than in all other male themes combined.

What about phone sex? You might be surprised to hear that people still pay for phone sex in this age of PornHub, but there is a population of men who still regularly pay to talk dirty with women. So what is the most common theme in a sexual medium without any pictures or videos, that's limited purely to voice? Submission. The single most popular request in phone sex is for the male caller to be dominated by the female operator.

I am a regular guest on the Tampa area radio show Real Sex on the Morning X, where callers describe their various sexual interests. What interests are most common? Far and away, domination and submission. Women describe how they enjoy being choked, how they enjoy their boyfriend to dress up and behave like a caveman, enjoy rape fantasies, enjoy being examined by a doctor, being cut during sex, pretending their boyfriend is their daddy, like their boyfriend to wear a bandana, enjoy being tied up with seatbelts, enjoy boyfriends to dress up like a monster, enjoy boyfriends calling them mommy, enjoy pretending to be a cheap hooker. Men describe how they enjoy their girlfriend dressing up like a marine drill instructor, enjoy having sex with their girlfriend while she pretends to sleep, enjoys having their girlfriend wearing horse hooves and behaving like a domestic animal, enjoy slapping girlfriends in their belly, enjoy being punched in the face, enjoy getting stapled in the thigh, enjoy pretending their girlfriend is a lion who he must tame.

The venerable erotic subculture of BDSM is not an atypical variant of human sexuality. Rather, its enthusiasts intensely focus on one of the most basic and universal--and typical--components of human sexuality. They were the first to identify the primal dominance/submission cue in the neuropsychology of the humanbrain and hold it up to the light. All contemporary textbooks rightly include a prominent chapter on sexual orientation. Perhaps future textbooks will afford dominance orientation the same attention, instead of relegating it to the status of unorthodox paraphilia.

Published on May 25, 2012