We’ve looked at subs who were supposed to be taken seriously in the stereotypical masculine role, from fantasy lead, Richard, to the original super hero, but that’s hardly the entire picture. male submission is no limited to performance in traditional roles. This next sub, very explicitly in an Owner/pet relationship and the work deals with loving someone despite not measuring up to the assumptions about what a man should be.
You’re My Pet: Momo
Momo is the name picked out for the male lead in a manga and live action television show (Kimi wa Petto/Tramps Like Us) about an explicitly Owner/Pet relationship between a stressed out career woman (Sumire) and a dance prodigy (Takeshi). After finding Momo homeless and sick on the streets, Sumire rescues the diminutive young man. As he recovers in her apartment, he begs to stay, and her joking suggestion that he can only stay as her pet gets met by enthusiastic barking.
She names him “Momo” after her childhood dog, and the two set up living together. But, she declares that it won’t be a sexual relationship, she only sleeps with men with higher height, higher income and higher career/education. This is part of her challenge as a character. Sumire is non-conforming with gender expectations, with (for Japan) stereotypically masculine hobbies. At the story’s opening she had just gotten a demotion for hitting a sexual harasser. Frustrated in love and picked on by female coworkers for her unemotional demeanour, Sumire hides a very fragile heart inside a shell of hard hitting professionalism.
Momo provides her with the unconditional love of a pet. His challenge is dealing with his own career, as a modern dancer. Unable to continue as a ballet prodigy because of his height, Momo has turned his talents to modern dance. As well as proving the stereotype of dancers being kinky, for him, being a pet lets him feel safe, loved and wanted. Sumire looks after him, providing him with food, shelter and bathes and cuddles him. sometimes he acts more dog like, especially to amuse her, and sometimes he’s more human, although she generally has to look out for him and he’s goofy and a little derpy about his responsibilities
Momo’s boyish exhuberance is undimmed by Sumire’s controlling tendencies. But, don’t take my word for it, check out an english language translation of the manga!
Although they are perfectly happy together, much of the tension comes from hiding their relationship from nosy people, and the fact that Sumire cannot reconcile the bliss she has at home with what she should want. The reintroduction of her college crush kicks off the main challenge of the story, where she attempts to date someone who is everything she thinks she wants. In practice she has a lot of trouble opening up and relaxing with Momo’s rival, and although she finds him hot, everything is depicted as stiff and awkward. Faithful Momo allows her to lie and claim her pet is her brother in order to not scare his rival away, going along with her explanation and being supportive of her stated goals.
Meanwhile of course, Sumire and Momo develop some healthy romantic tension. For Momo of course, this is forbidden and for Sumire, incredibly confusing. She’s only initially able to accept having a boisterous young man bouncing around the place by making it as unsexual as possible, and she also has to deal with redefining what she considers attractive.
To be a bit circumspect in the name of spoilers, resolving the conflicts of the story, mean reconciling who people really are. Momo is able to be the most honest, and his subplot is pretty much just figuring out his dance career and how that might take him away from his beloved owner, while Sumire must come to terms with the fact that she doesn’t really want a guy who outdoes her in everything and that she likes who she is and likes that he likes who she is.
It’s a romance comic/show aimed at women, and it’s a conflict that’s not unfamiliar in femdom, when you first set out to try to make sense of what works for you. While M/f has to reconcile explaining that it’s not some sort of reactionary right wing abuse excuse, F/m bumps up against gender expectations in a way that’s often a challenge for doms and subs alike. Although I’ve never personally worried about being gender conforming, this post is a bit personal for me, because I know that Sumire expressions of dominance are really very close to mine- wanting to look after my property, and liking playfulness. It’s also a good example of something that’s very blatant without ever really touching on the explicitly kinky nature of what’s going on in the story. Which is pretty valuable because not everything kinky that people do is dressed up with whips and leather.
Fiction often gives us the tools to discuss the things that work for us and codify them. The entire manga/show “Kimi wa Petto” is also charming in that the dominant is not a villain and she doesn’t have to stop being dominant to be able to love Momo, nor does he have to stop being her sub. There’s some aspects of “melt the ice princess” but she doesn’t stop being a pet owner in her thawed out state. And, Momo is presented as the one you want to root for in the comic. Cute, bratty, but above all loyal, Momo does not lose his sexiness just because he’s property, neither does he need to have a “hero” moment where he has to put his submissiveness aside to get things done.
Next week, we’re getting thin on content again. I encourage you to post in the comments about a pairing you’d like to see, and why you feel the male half is a good example of a sub. It can be subtext or explicit, porn or not. The only rule is that the male sub needs to be either hot or be awesome. Or both!