RLS and FLR: a matter of genetics?

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One evening about 10 years ago when Goddess V and I had first begun seeing each other, it was late, I had driven over two hours to see her, I was tired and we were sitting in my car talking. I began getting “that” feeling in my legs. Only because she noticed how they seemed to twitch uncontrollably did if I think to talk about it with her.

Then in 2004 GlaxoSmithKline began marketing Requip® for the treatment of RLS. When I first saw their ad I thought, “I’ll be damned.” What I’d been experiencing for over 15 years actually had a name: Restless Legs Syndrome. Goddess V and I looked at each other in amazement as a 60-second television ad, in a sense, legitimized what we both had considered to be just one of my odd-ball (and annoying, if you ask the goddess) quirks. Suddenly I was no longer unique or strange. I was one of many, so many that a pharmaceutical powerhouse was targeting us with their marketing campaign.

GSK has fallen under heavy fire from the medical community and the mainstream media for “disease mongering”; for promoting a little-substantiated medical condition and for attempting to convince millions of people they could avoid suffering symptoms of this condition by taking a drug that GSK had conveniently invented. As it turns out, Requip (ropinirol HCL and marketed as Adartrel® in the UK), was already an obscure, approved treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. It wasn’t until May 2005 that it was successfully repurposed by obtaining US FDA approval for treatment of RLS. Successful indeed! Sales of Requip soared to nearly $500 million in 2006, further fueling debate over GSK’s motives—except that new research indicates that RLS is genetically encoded, which may end the debate once and for all.

Two recent studies have pinpointed three common genetic variations linked to RLS. Gene scans identify a variation in the BTBD9 gene, another in the MEIS1 gene and a third in a DNA sector shared by the MAP2K5 and LBXCOR1 genes that are linked with RLS and other periodic limb movements during sleep. Says David Rye, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine where one study was conducted, “We now have concrete evidence that RLS is an authentic disorder with recognizable features and underlying biological basis.” It is estimated that 65% of the population carry at least one of these gene variants and that one person in ten experiences RLS.

Also known as Ekborn's syndrome, RLS was described in the 1940s by Swedish neurologist, Karl A. Ekborn. And earlier descriptions can be traced back to the 17th century when English anatomist and physician, Thomas Willis, described the disorder. BTBD9-and-whatever-genes be damned, those of us who experience RLS didn’t need GSK, or genetic research, or even the government for that matter, to tell us the sensations we feel in our legs are very real!

But this post isn’t so much about restless legs per se—and it isn’t meant to infer that FemDom is a disorder in need of medical treatment. Clearly, RLS has been affecting people for a very long time. But for one reason or another, the afflicted didn’t talked about it much until it was brought into the mainstream of social awareness by GSK’s advertising. Many of us had been quietly laying awake at night half tempted to cut off our damn legs, when suddenly we discovered there were “other people like us” out there. It became a legitimate topic of conversation through which we learned that some of our friends and acquaintances also suffered from RLS. It was a bit like when Viagra ads hit the media, catapulting ED into the light of day—but without the performance stigma that makes men shy to fess up.

Likewise, those of us living FLRs didn’t need the IOWA study or the MSNBC poll I mentioned in my last post to prove to us that male submission to female authority is gaining momentum in our society. We didn’t need to be told how it’s now being considered by psychologists as a possible marker of a successful marriage. DUH. Submissive men already know what we know. So do the dominant women who have formally acknowledge their authority over their men.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if scientists were to discover a submissive male gene along with a corresponding dominant gene in the female. But short of that the recent studies and polls are helping to validate our lifestyle by providing evidence that there are growing numbers of people out there who are “just like us.” With or without a so-called proven genetic biological basis, the transition in society to female authority is happening.

Kings don’t rule the castle — Queens do

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A recent study conducted by Iowa State University shows that women are the deciders and the dominant ones in relationships. The study found that while men may still throw their weight around at the office, at home it’s a different story. Men are no longer bosses. Wives have more power than their husbands in making decisions and in dominating discussions.

According to lead author and psychologist at ISU, David Vogel, "The study at least suggests that the marriage is a place where women can exert some power. Whether or not it's because of changing societal roles, we don't know.”

The results of the ISU study contradict previous studies. “Most of the research literature in psychology,” said Vogel, “has suggested that women have less power. They have largely based that on the fact that traditionally men earn more money and so therefore would have the ability to make big decisions in the relationship.”

That wasn’t the case in the new study. Wives were more demanding, asking for changes in the relationship or in their partner, and were more likely to get their way than the husbands. As evidenced in video taped discussions among married couples, this held true regardless of which spouse had originally chosen issues for discussion.

The wives were not just talking more than their husbands. “It wasn't just that the women were bringing up issues that weren't being responded to. The men were actually going along with what their wives said,” Vogel explained. “[Women] were communicating more powerful messages, and men were responding to those messages by agreeing or giving in.”

This supports other research suggesting that “wife power” may signal a harmonious couple, that a marker of a healthy marriage may be how well men accept influence from their wives. Undoubtedly, academics will argue and debate this until the cows come home. And they’ll study it some more. But many of us already understand what’s happening. In a poll conducted by MSNBC in conjunction with a story about this study (shown below), 50% of over 8,000 people said that absolutely, the queen rules the castle.

"What we've got here is...

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…failure to communicate."

A well-known announcement to prisoners by “Captain” (Strother Martin as prison warden) about Luke (Paul Newman) in the 1967 movie classic, Cool Hand Luke.

I’m not a Doctor Phil fan (for those of you who know who he is) but last week I happened to see one of his relationship “tips for the day.” It made a great deal of sense to me. He said, “If you think that relationships require work, you’re right: the answer is YES!” He went on to say that the quality of a relationship between a woman and a man can be measured in how well that relationship meets the needs of both individuals.

It takes effort (work) to understand who your partner is as a person and to learn about her/his needs as both an individual and as a partner inside a relationship. It also takes patience and a willingness to compromise when the needs of two people don’t exactly match up. And THIS requires open, honest, continued communication.

During a late evening chat in our hot tub last night, Goddess V said, “I don’t think too many couples talk the way we do, about all the things we talk about.” Understand, it’s not that we are perfect in this regard. Sometimes it takes us a while to discuss something that might be weighing on our mind. Eventually it surfaces however, and we talk. In discussion with other couples we know, it is obvious to us that they do not communicate the way we do.

It wasn’t always this way for us. Goddess V tells me she seldom had long conversations with her ex, about anything. I on the other hand often talked long into evening hours with my ex, but about mostly the wrong things. Looking back on it, I suspect that in both marriages, none of us ever really understood each other in terms of our needs as spouses or as individuals. That’s a sad commentary considering that collectively, our two previous relationships spanned nearly 50 years of our lives.

Why it is different for Goddess V and me I am not exactly sure, but I’m not about to question it. It makes me feel especially blessed when I read or hear about couples who have a pink elephant in their living room and neither partner is willing to acknowledge or address it. In some cases, one spouse knows the elephant is there while the other has no clue. It could be that’s the worst scenario of all. When you consider this in terms of Dr. Phil’s advice, it doesn’t say too much about the quality of the relationship itself. And all simply because people don’t, won’t, can’t or are afraid to communicate honesty about what’s truly important to them.

I assume that readers of this blog are here because they are considering, beginning, would like to be, or are actually in a FemDom relationship. I’m not a psychologist, but based on my experience, I would urge you to open the lines of communication—especially if they are currently clogged with worries, fears, insecurities and the like. Having been in both situations, I can assure you that being in a relationship in which my spouse knows what’s on my mind, and I know what’s on hers, is infinitely more satisfying, even if we don’t always agree or fully understand.

Just for Fun

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I recently read where one submissive man sometimes sniffs his wife’s dirty panties to motivate himself to do household chores. Another commented he does the same but never felt comfortable enough to talk about it because he thought he was the only one to do so. I know I’ve touched on this before, but it got me to thinking about this once again.

When I was in college, Philip Roth had recently published his novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, which, along with another of his novels, Goodbye Columbus, was turned into a movie. I read Portnoy’s Complaint because one of my creative writing professors happened to be a friend of Philip Roth and so he often referred to Roth’s prose as part of his lectures. In the book, the main character, Alex Portnoy discusses with his therapist various props he uses during masturbation. The eventual movie was not so explicit as the book, but I remember a scene showing Richard Benjamin, as Portnoy, sitting on the toilet with a pair of women’s panties over his head.

As I recall, the scene drew laughter from the men in the audience, but it sounded controlled to a point where it left me wondering if they laughed because they found it wildly outlandish, or because they identified with what Portnoy was secretly doing in that bathroom. I thought about that a lot afterwards. I would look at other men and wonder. I knew I had something in common with the fictional character. I knew it was something I would do again—because I enjoyed everything about panties. I liked how they looked, on and off a woman. I liked seeing her put them on and take them off. I liked how they felt in my hand when I touched them. And oh, I so enjoyed sniffing the aroma that permeates the crotch after a woman has worn them. But it wasn’t until I read the book and saw the movie that I began to wonder if maybe I wasn’t the only “pervert” to find such pleasure. Lord, a person can be so na├»ve can he not?

Fast forward some thirty years and I now understand that good old-fashioned panty sniffing is nearly universal among men and has nothing to do with being submissive or otherwise. There just ain’t many a man who has not sniffed, and probably worn, his wife’s or girlfriend’s panties. He may not do it often, may not admit to doing it at all, but this is only because he thinks it’s somehow wrong or he may be perceived as being “perverted.” This was me, for many years, until I met the remarkable Goddess V. Perhaps it was because I found her so sexy, or because I fell so deeply in love with her, or maybe even because she became the best friend I’ve ever had, but I absolutely could not resist temptation. Especially because she knows about this side of me, anything having to do with her panties remains one of my greatest and simplest pleasures in life.

I think it could be the same for many men, in many more relationships than it currently is. It may stem from a preoccupation with women’s underwear in general. Let’s face it, compared to the vast array of panties women wear, boxers and tidy whities are BORING. More likely, it may be indicative of the power female sexuality holds over men. We’ve all heard men tell the joke about the blind man passing the fish market who says, “Good morning, ladies,” but the truth is, men are irresistibly drawn to the very female genitalia about which they concoct crude jokes. So it only makes sense they would be drawn to the garment worn closest to that part of the female anatomy.

Are women aghast at this? Do they find it disgusting, or at best, a distasteful male trait? Maybe so. One has difficulty imagining that many women sniff dirty boxer shorts, so why should anyone expect that women would understand why men do what we do. But so what? Isn't it enough to simply understand that men and women are wired differently--and let it go at that? Instead of regarding this particular difference as something that might separate a man and a woman in a relationship, why not embrace it and use it to bring them closer together? Whether in a FLR or not, it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see how a woman might use this as a tool that will work to her advantage. My imagination may be overly fertile, but it seems to me the possibilities are nearly endless. And when you consider how impossibly complicated life seems to be getting in today’s world, isn’t it remarkable that a woman might use something as simple as her panties to motivate a man, make him more attentive to her needs, and of course turn him on in ways that will make him a very happy, loyal and satisfied camper.

“Rules,” expectations, and real-life solutions

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First off, as we’ve said before, there really are no hard and fast “rules” per se when it comes to FemDom and a wife-led marriage. In fact, if we had to acknowledge there being even just one “rule,” it would be that a wife and husband must communicate honestly with one another on a continual basis. This only makes good sense regardless of what kind of relationship two people have.

There are, however, certain guidelines, or modes of thinking if you will, that distinguish FemDom from traditional relationships. Actually, these guidelines are nothing more than logical conclusions drawn from a different interpretation (and we think, a better understanding) of how Nature intended a woman and man to interact with one another-- based solely on their sexuality. These guidelines in turn can lead to building certain expectations in our minds, expectations over how FemDom and female authority is “supposed” to work. We all know what can happen when we hold expectations. Too often we end up being disappointed when something fails to measure up to expectations we had built up in our mind.

Generally speaking, it is a fact of nature that a man is more sexually driven than a woman. He masturbates more often. He thinks about and wants sex more often. When he has it, he thinks about what it was like long after its over. If he hasn’t had sex recently, he thinks about how long its been and how long it might be before he has it again. Being more visually oriented than a woman, a man is more attracted to the female’s body than she is to his. When he meets a woman, it’s typically not long before he imagines how she looks in the nude, and not much longer before he fantasizes about what it would be like to have sex with her. Granted, some men control this better than others, but ultimately, a typical male cannot help himself. It’s how he is wired.

One of the guidelines in a female-led relationship is orgasm management: the woman controls the man’s sexual release. She determines when, where and how he can experience an orgasm. Given the human male’s sexuality, one would think this would be objectionable for the average man. Yet the opposite is true. A man actually welcomes the opportunity to relinquish control of his sexual release to a woman’s authority. Perhaps this is because part of him knows he can never fully control it on his own, or because he intuitively knows he will be a better man when it is under the control of a loving woman. Nonetheless, this is why the majority of FemDom relationships begin at the suggestion of the male.

Except that the male psyche is such that relinquishing this control to a woman isn’t enough to satisfy him. He needs to be reminded of this exchange of power. The more often, the better. He needs to know that she is deliberately using her control to manipulate him in ways that suit her, in ways that bring her pleasure, and in ways that benefit their overall relationship. The more overtly she demonstrates this to him, the greater the control she maintains over him. It is the ultimate turn-on for a man. Ultimately it keeps him in a constant state of arousal (sexual and mental) that is focused exclusively on the woman in his life.

When a couple enters into a FemDom relationship, the man is more aware of this than the woman. Most likely, he wants it more than she. Thus he has certain expectations of how his newly dominant lady will use her authority; and thus, he sets himself up for frustration from the get-go. Critics of this lifestyle are quick to point out that it amounts to little more than the woman pandering to the male’s desires, playing the game just to satisfy his sexual fantasies (“topping from the bottom”). In a narrow sense, I would agree, simply because it seems the majority of women don’t initially seek out relationships in which they exercise such overt control over their men. So agreeing to try this dynamic could qualify as acquiescing to male desires. But when you consider a broader scope, the picture changes.

In the beginning it may seem like the woman is playing to her man to satisfy some kinky fantasy. But the fact of the matter is, when a man finally gets up enough nerve to confess his desires, he is sharing with her one of his most intimate secrets. And if you look past the sexual context, isn’t this what a woman wants most from her man? Doesn’t she want him to share with her his inner most hopes and dreams? Isn’t this a big part of how a woman defines intimacy in a relationship? Submissive men who read this know this to be true. So do the dominant women. But for the rest who aren’t in a FemDom relationship, once a woman establishes firm control over her man’s sexuality, he is powerless to resist it. The more she demonstrates this to him, the more he realizes he is powerless to resist, and the happier he is.

Who woulda thunk it?

This is where topping from the bottom ends and it becomes all about the woman. This is where a woman eventually comes to realize there is no reasonable limit to the power she has to shape her marriage and her man into whatever she wants them to be. If she isn't already, I think she can become more confident in her own sexuality as a woman--and also in all other aspects of her life both inside and outside the home.


Does a man fully comprehend this going into it? Maybe not totally but I think he does to a degree. I think by agreeing to turn over control of his sexuality, a man is saying that he wants her to establish authority over him and that he trusts her to use her authority wisely. It’s a damn good thing that most women have the smarts to do just that! My issue with this however, is that I thought, CRAP, on top of everything else, this is one more damn thing I have to be responsible for. Being a goddess is supposed to make my life EASIER-- not more complicated!

The way I see it is, if I’m the goddess, then I get to decide what we do and how we do it. So not long ago I decided that while orgasm management is a good thing, it isn’t something that I wanted to be totally responsible for. I told VK that I still will absolutely be the one to decide when and how he has an orgasm. And sex will still be primarily all about ME. But I don’t want to have to put up with any grumpiness if he thinks it’s been too long since we were intimate or since his last release. I’m usually well aware of how long it’s been, and I’m okay with teasing him—maybe not everyday—but often enough to keep the poor boy on edge. But there are lots of things going on in our life that intervene. I don’t want to always be the one to find the time to be sexually intimate. I don’t want to be the one who always has to set the stage. So I told VK, just come to me and suggest it. I’d rather he ask than mope around waiting for me to always be the initiator. Or get pissed off because he thinks I'm not holding up my end of the relationship.

If I’m in the mood, or I think I can get in the mood, we’ll go ahead and do whatever, even if its only allowing him to masturbate while I supervise. Geez, I'm not a heartless bitch-- its easy enough to take a few minutes to watch while he takes the edge off. If I think he should. This is not to say that VK has only to ask in order to receive. Not likely. That would destroy the management dynamic and the control I know he graves. But for me, our arrangement lightens what I saw as an added burden on me. And it helps eliminate expectations in his mind, and in mine too, of how our FemDom relationship "should" work or how often this or that "should" happen. To the point VK made at the beginning of this post, there are no set “rules” of how a wife-led marriage must work. As long as wife and husband communicate honestly with one another, they can find what works for them.