Being a calm, rational, imperturbable sort of person, it is not often that the mere presence of another person has the power to do any more than make me recoil from the olfactory shock caused by their halitosis or their overpowering aftershave. But very occasionally (about once a decade) I have found myself intensely affected by the mere presence of a particular man – so intensely affected that it has taken every ounce of self-control to appear unmoved.
The effect is extreme, both physically and psychologically. Primal. Overwhelming. It feels as though the man has godlike power – the power of a man; masculine power. You feel totally held by this power. The desire to be taken by the man is so intense that it is frightening. It can be difficult to breathe, or difficult to remain standing, let alone maintain a conversation. Bone dry mouth, zero appetite, heart all over the place, the fear that you might faint, shaking like a leaf, body positively screaming to be taken, a reckless willingness and primal desire to do whatever that man wants. The masculine power of the man – you feel that power with every fibre of your being. Melting in a white-hot inferno of desire, out of your senses, so far out of control psychologically that you can't even imagine being in control, totally in his power. You feel owned by the man, totally his, totally submissive.
If at the time, you're at an academic conference unrelated to your own field, and you are trying to have a highly technical discussion about an arcane piece of research, say, being thus affected by a complete stranger can be a little disturbing. Just as well it only happens once a decade. And just as well I have iron self-control.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. What exactly is it that causes this extreme response? Do other women experience this too? (Yes!) Is it something that can develop in a particular man, or is it something that is either there or not there? What do these men have that others don't? Are they the legendary human alpha males? Why do some men have it and not others? Is there actually something objectively different about them, and if so, what? Or is it a subjective thing, such that a man whose presence would cause this response in me would leave another woman cold, and vise versa?
I once asked a man if he was aware of having masculine power (he was a very long way away at the time!) and from his answer, it seems that other women had felt it too, but he seemed to have no idea why, and assumed that all men naturally have this indefinable, mysterious quality that might be termed “masculine power”. But they don't. Or perhaps I am just blind to its existence in the vast majority of men.
Am I confusing psychological power with masculinity? I myself have psychological power and strength, so I do not think of power as being a masculine quality. And yet, this thing I am talking about feels to me overwhelmingly masculine, of a man, alpha male. What is it?
Possibly the following might be part of it, but I feel very dissatisfied with my analysis of it so far, so I am hoping for some discussion on this subject, some criticism, and some enlightenment.
The power to command, the quiet confidence to know for sure that he will prevail, and the daring to go for it and take what he wants. A commanding presence even if he doesn't know it. Faint heart never won fair lady. Fearlessness – or daring or courage even in the face of fear. He who dares, wins. Calm assurance. The absence of any hint of asking for a favour or appealing to pity. Directness. Activeness. Effectiveness. Not hiding behind a flirty exterior never daring to risk being direct.
It seems easier to say what it isn't than what it is. It is not directly related to appearance, or not obviously so to me, anyway. And whilst quiet confidence might be part of it, there are plenty of men who are positively brimming with confidence who do not move me at all. I alluded to the alpha male idea because it seems as though dominance is a part of it, but it seems to me to be the sort of unaffected, unselfconscious dominance one might call “natural dominance” rather than the theatrical, affected, dominance I see in many a BDSM ‘Dom’. It does not seem as though the man needs to be aware of the effect he has, and indeed, men who appear to think that they are God's gift to women tend to confirm me in my atheism. ;-)
On the other hand, men who have a victim mentality, or who appeal to pity, or who plead or beg for favours, or who grovel, or who are delicate, sensitive, mystical souls like Ayn Rand's “eminent young poet [who] was pale and slender… had a soft, sensitive mouth, and eyes hurt by the whole universe”, or who seem helpless, or who are endlessly sorry for themselves, or who have a bad temper that they can't control, or who otherwise appear weak, don't have it.
I assume that it is a quality that can develop, rather than being something fixed or something you are born with. Life's experiences and the will to make changes in yourself and your life surely can effect significant changes. I know that I myself have actively developed my own confidence and strength over the years, forcing myself to “feel the fear and [dare to] do [the scary things I passionately wanted to do] anyway”. And that this has significantly affected the way others see me – though as someone once pointed out to me, that in itself implies a strength of will that not everyone has.
I'd love to discuss this. Perhaps you have some fascinating insights to share – in which case, please do!
Very interesting topic you've started, Sarah. And it's really got me thinking (which, yes, probably means this will be long!). Where to start, though?
A quiet confidence is always more appealing to me than someone who is very obviously confident. The former suggests a comfort with it, the latter suggests the person is trying to hide something unpleasant - like a penchant for bullying. Assured assertiveness - by which I mean the quiet belief that what they ask for will happen if possible. Not being afraid to admit to having weakness, worries, fears - but without letting themselves be overwhelmed by them (most of the time, even the best person feels overwhelmed at times). Not being afraid to have a soft side, and a light-hearted side, not being afraid to have fun, not being afraid to laugh at themselves - taking yourself too seriously is offputting, at least for me. Not being afraid to show an interest in others.
I think all of these can be developed or brought out if the person is comfortable enough with themselves to do it - and/or willing to take the risk to change. And changing yourself is a big risk. The chances are, though, that most people will notice "something" different about you, and remark on things like how well and happy you seem (OK - basing this on a very small sample of people I know who've done it. About half a dozen or less), so like many things, once you've broken through the fear barrier, you find it'snot that scary after all.
I also think it can be turned off and on at will, or at least up and down according to need. B certainly can do that. He has a base-level of quiet confidence and assurance (which has grown since we slipped more into a Taken In Hand relationship), but it can become overwhelming at times - often in response to a situation that requires it. It seems, at least to me, a totally natural behaviour, and not "put on" (you know when you see some-one not getting their way in a shop and they run through all possible methods like they're trying on different clothes to see what will make them look big and important? Not at all like that). At that point - or at any point beyond it's base level really, I'm trying hard to retain composure.
It's a lot down to being comfortable with oneself, I think, or giving the appearance beyond superficial levels. And applied determination (ie knowing what to pursue and what to ignore).
And almost everythng Rudyard Kipling put down in the poem If.
It might be about realising that you've at last found your match - someone you can't get one over - and who won't neccesarily play weak just to let you.
And of course it might just be to do with pheremones ;-)
I absolutely agree that one either has it or he doesn't! I am forever attracted to men of this type. I am a strong willed gal and I am always turned to jello by a strong man – strong of presence, strong of conviction – whatever, but it has to come naturally or I see right through it. A man who is this type of man, god, you can "smell" him a mile away! Obviously, I don't mean that literally, but it's that commanding presence that can put you in your place with a glance. My husband is this way, and although we don't have a traditional "taken in hand" relationship, he has a way of putting me in my place like no other man has been able to do. We have been married 18 years, and although I am fascinated with this taken in hand lifestyle (that's why I'm being such a looky-loo), I'm not sure spanking is for us, although he's threatened a time or two ) Anyway, this particular subject really hits home for me, because this is the type of man I'm attracted to, and the type I respond to, even though I'm married, and happily so, I still notice this type of man right away, and I am moved by his mere presence. Fascinating!
I belive that you are not born with the 'masculant' gift, but rather earn and grow on it through success and truth of self. Most men that I talk to are very unsure and clueless. But there are a few great few that make you lose your breath by hearing their authoritative voice. I have only met one man like this and I am now currently with him. The boys my age - I call them boys because they are young - are very inexperienced and I find no attraction to them whatsoever. No boy that I have met has had even a glint of the 'masculant' quality, this is one reason I find that you are not born with it. It moves you and makes you wish to please, that dangerous power of masculinity. You either have this quality or not. There is no middle ground.
Oh, yes. I think there is a world of subject matter there. Everyone has a word for that power; I've often heard it called "machismo", but I personally don't like the sound of that word. So, yea, to begin with, "masculine power" is a great all-around term. Also, I have been in the presence of many such men; it goes without saying that, like feminine power, it can be used for good or evil. Men with agendas and masculine power are quite menacing. Consequently, a woman with very developed feminine powers will pick up such danger signals quickly through intuition. But there are men who manifest this power in good, quiet ways, without being "macho". They are the types of men you can trust to give you a good deal, pass fair judgement in legal matters, protect and serve as policemen and servicemen. I don't care how good a cop/firefighter/soldier a woman is- I would feel more safe in the care of a uniformed male.
I think there are very few men who continuously radiate masculine power. I think that nowadays, most men have it on and off. For instance, my own husband is authoritative, quietly strong, emotionally solid- but there are times when he is confronted with other "alpha male" types, men in financial authority like bankers and such, when he gets nervous and deferential. So, while my hubby has masculine power, he's definitely not an alpha type. He'd never lead a herd, but he would also not be the one at the back of the herd. That's what I want. Leaders often have too many responsibilities, and their wives end up under just as much scrutiny.