When I arrived in Italy, I wrote off a car. It was the first time I’d driven a right hand drive vehicle. I was following a guy who was showing me the way to the castle.
But though I’d said he should go slowly he set off at a pretty fast pace down narrow, winding back-country roads. I was trying to be careful by keeping to the right side of road.
Anyway, I managed to catch the tyre on a tree, and the rubber flew off and the car dropped onto the rim. The chassis was absolutely undamaged. It was just a glancing clip that took off the tyre.
Life being what it is, this happened in front of a carload of cops, carbonieri munizipale. Though at least they took a look at it, decided I hadn’t broken any road rules, and fucked off. Anyway, I’ve listed the extenuating circumstances, but the fact is, I was at the wheel and it was my fault.
The thing cost me 900 Euros. Worse, it took a huge chunk out of my self-confidence. I don’t like feeling a complete idiot and incompetent, and yet that was exactly the way I was feeling. A man, in particular, isn’t supposed to make mistakes like that.
I know that’s stoo-pid, but it’s what I was taught growing up. And I’d never had to confront that part of my upbringing before because I’ve never hit anything with a car before. So I felt an idiot, and I felt unmanned.
Then my love arrived to join me. She’s a good girl and my support, and I need her. So I got my shit back together.
But it reminded me forcefully of another fact about domming. Sickness will leech away the energy and the certainty of will that makes me able to do it. So will considering myself to be an idiot.
A dom is supposed to have his or her shit together. She or he is supposed to be competent, and therefore reliable and trustworthy. I don’t think my girl felt the worse of me, but I did. It took real focus to lift myself up to the psychological state in which I could could dom.
We doms need certainty that we know what we’re doing and are competent. So, therefore, doms should not be idiots.
No, I certainly didn’t think any less of you, and I did my best to reassure you because I knew you were feeling bad about it. I didn’t see the accident as being relevant to us or me except for the way it was bringing you down.
I agree that competence is a trait that is traditionally assigned to “masculinity”, and this is a way in which patriarchy harms men: if a trait is arbitrarily assigned to masculinity, then a man who doesn’t display that trait experiences not only personal disappointment but also suffers a blow to his masculinity. And you know I think that’s bullshit.
I do know that you think it’s bullshit, and I think, or rather know, that you’re completely right about that.
I think that it was a part of my conditioning I hadn’t confronted before. So when I suddenly had to deal with all that feeling, which goes back to childhood and adolescent “training in being a man”, it was still as strong as it ever had been.
It was like it was a passenger that had been coming along with me, most of my life, but inert: nothing “triggered” it. So when I had to confront it, it was still strong: atavistic, completely incompatible with most of the things I believe now, but still part of me. That was the reason, I guess, I thought it was worth writing about.
If there were a big button somewhere that switched off patriarchy, I’d push it in a heartbeat. And I’d still enjoy various positive things about masculinity, and I’d still be a dom.
What surprised me about this was that it roused up feelings that I thought I’d got rid of years ago. But with the right trigger, it turned out they were only dormant. Anyway, I processed it, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me manage.