When I was about 11, my best friend and I would talk about the masterful men we wanted, in great detail. Interesting that this urge to be mastered came long before any urge to have sex. Later on I learned that I shouldn't want that. I shouldn't want a man to be stronger than me; I shouldn't want him to provide for me; and I certainly shouldn't want him to correct my bad behavior over his knee! I stuffed all these desires into a box and labeled it “outdated desires that belong in romance novels, not real life.” But the desires kept seeping out of the box.
I grew up strong, smart, and independent, yet I always harbored the secret wish that I would meet a man who was even stronger. I never wanted to hold myself back, to pretend to be less than I was to make a guy feel masculine. And yet, when I felt a strong sexual attraction to someone, I immediately wanted to submit to him and be disciplined by him. I never got more than a threat or two, which just left me wondering what I'd have to do to make him carry out that threat.
I remember one guy I was dating saying that he liked me because I was so independent, and how it annoyed him that so many women wanted to be taken care of. My desire to date him died that moment. But part of me agreed with him, and was ashamed of my desire to be taken care of.
The crux of the matter is that we don't need to be taken care of, but we want to be. We're not helpless weaklings, but we want a man who can stand up to us. We're not generally submissive people, but when we meet the right man, we want to submit to him. And it is difficult and confusing to grow up with these desires in a women's lib culture.