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!