Given his experience of bullying, I was beginning to think that his current sexual contacts served the purpose of not only attempting to master the trauma of the abuse by identifying with the bullies, but it also constituted a fantasy of masculinity based solely on aggression, rapacity and disregard for the other. The sum of his experiences of rejection by those men he regarded as real consolidated this conviction. It was tempting but rather facile to jump to the conclusion that his desire consisted of taking up a masochistic stance and inviting rejection from others and that the cycle of rejection was based on this dynamic. Butler summarizes this argument when she writes:

The insistence that a subject is passionately attached to his or her own subordination has been invoked cynically by those who seek to debunk the claims of the subordinated. If a subject can be shown to pursue or sustain his or her subordinated status, the reasoning goes, then perhaps final responsibility for that subordination resides with the subject. Over and against this view, I would maintain that the attachment to subjection is produced through the workings of power, and that part of the operation of power is made clear in this psychic effect; one of the most insidious of its productions. (Butler 1997: 6)

D was himself keen to close his narrative with this, making me even more suspicious, although this left him feeling hopeless, stuck and depressed. He wanted something more, something different, but this was apparently unavailable to him.

I had in different ways over the three years shared all these thoughts and speculations with D, including his own passionate attachment to subordination/suffering, sometimes as direct interpretations to his material, at other times as repeated attempts to take apart/deconstruct the recurrent terms-masculinity, defectiveness, respect and disrespect of sex and his conviction of the impossibility of sexual pleasure-enjoyment outside of a romantic bond. So when he said, ‘They want me to be like that, that’s all they want, to be abused, to be disrespected. That’s all I can offer’, this seemed to me warrant a response. I began by saying, ‘there is so much in that’ to which he gave a reassuring nod ‘for instance you confuse performing and playing with being powerful or submissive in sex with being a powerful or submissive person .For others it may be an act. For you it is as though it becomes the very truth about your being.’