Gender, Genres and Confusion

This is a rewrite from my blog at the Writers’ Digest Community

This year’s NaNo novel focuses on the “Warden” of a residential “penal institution,” a last-chance stop for repeat offenders. The interactions and relationships are all male, and since the warden has a male assistant/lover/legal slave, this should fit very nicely into the BDSM romance genre. It doesn’t.

One of the inmates is a natural submissive who doesn’t want to be rehabilitated and returned to a normal life. He wants to be legally enslaved at the end of his sentence, and is more than willing to train as a slave during his sentence. Another inmate is a self-destructive young man who’s been in trouble since his early teens. The warden knows that he’s heading for legal slavery at the end of his sentence, and wants to save him from that. The only way he sees that happening is to break the young man and treat him as a slave until he realizes there are better ways to spend the rest of his life.

In a nutshell, the warden has to treat three different men as slaves for three very different reasons. None of it involves sex (except with his lover) or any kind of kinks. The novel doesn’t fit neatly into any genre. It’s not a gay romance; it’s not a traditional Dom/sub or master/slave novel, and it’s definitely not BDSM. It takes place in the not too distant future. The problems of overpopulation and the increasing costs, and ineffectiveness, of traditional prison systems have forced a serious rethink about crime and punishment. That makes it science fiction, but barely.

I’ve been trying to research male submissiveness for the book and until recently, I found very little that’s useful. Web sites dealing with submission break down into two very large distinct groups — women in submission to men and men in submission to women, and most concentrate on porn and BDSM. There’s a decent-sized segment that is simply about power relationships, very often within the context of a normal marriage. The most helpful material is blogs by male submissives, but many of them are poorly written and concentrate on day-to-day details of life under a dominant woman.

My writing concentrates on getting into the heads of my characters, so I’m grateful to have finally found a couple of well-written and insightful blogs by submissive men. As usual, the internet contains gold hidden in the heaps of garbage. You just have to hold your nose and keep searching.

2 thoughts on “Gender, Genres and Confusion

  1. Wow, sounds like an intense story. I bet that is very hard to research, but I bet it’s allso very common. I think a lot of men like submission because of their relationships with their mothers.

  2. It’s going to be very intense, if it works out as I hope. As for relationships with their mothers, there really doesn’t seem to be much connection with upbringing. Submissiveness is apparently mostly an innate characteristic, like introversion or extraversion, or even sexual preference.

    The research has been pretty hairy at times, because there’s no way to avoid some really nasty stuff. But I have to say that my perspective has been broadened considerably.

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