Two things. This piece needs editing. It's long and it rambles. And there's an explicit-ish pic at the..sic, as you'll see..bottom.
Admit it or not, the Alpha Male is the classic male. But manhood is in reality a communal enterprise. Individual men become men. QED. But only in relation to other men (and women). So there are different kinds of classic males in the constellation. This does not dissolve the hierarchial nature of masculinity; on the contrary, it is the hierarchy which guarantees...diversity! Guys have to find their place...but there are a variety of places within it to find.
The Alpha Male is the dominant male, the pack leader, etc. But he has to have guys to dominate and guys to form the pack for him to lead. It's a group effort and most men...most men...are not Alphas. How could we be? So...submission to a stronger male is essential to the masculinity of most, almost all, real men. Submission is a classical masculine value.
My usual example: those paragons of masculinity, the Marines. Whoever they are commanding or leading, they are all, all, submitting to a higher Alpha Male. Even the Commandant of the Corps reports to higher-ups. So although exercising hierarchical power is classically masculine, included in it is submitting...within the hierarchy...to stronger power is also classically masculine.
(There is a commonplace that if you have sex with a Marine, he will want to bottom. The only two Marines I know both top most of the time, but they do not disagree with the rep. I do not see this anecdotal opinion as a disconfirmation of their masculinity. If my thesis has merit, for them, submission is their normal masculine enactment!)
And for most it is on a spectrum. The sergeant demands obedience from the PFCs but must in turn obey the lieutenant, etc. A constantly moving combination of domination and submission skills and attitudes is involved. This is the nature of hierarchy.
Dominance can be easy or it can be rough. Submission smooth or bumpy. But often there is a distinct element of dignity involved in the act of submitting with the hierarchy. Anecdotally, the dignity of a young man who leaves home and then returns to his town as a soldier, but with a new style of giving respect to others, an increased use of "sir" and "ma'am" is definitely not the result of enslavement or humiliation, but of a submission-purchased inclusion in a male hiearchy.
An Alpha commanding a Beta is one thing. An Alpha or Beta commanding an Omega, the lowest guy on the totem pole, is another. And then dealing with males outside the pack...that is another story altogether.
The Un PC archetypal truth, though, is that in relation to women...mothers and other reigning monarchs aside...all males seek to be Alpha, regardless of their intra-hierarchical role. Hence, the too-quick assumption that enacting submission to another male instantly unmans you and puts you in the woman's role. Possible, but not required.
Behind this set of thoughts is my previous post about total tops, guys who never take the receptive role in male-male sex. Which led me to think about bottoms, guys who do. As I think I have mentioned before, I have never personally met a top who did not happily engage in oral sex from both positions, though they certainly exist. But I do know guys who never get fucked. And guys who rarely or never do anything but.
What about them? What about the manhood of the bottom man?
Here's a fragment of a thought. If the connection is an Alpha-Omega one, then the sexual act could be a (consensual or not) enactment of sheer dominance and submission, with only the thinnest energy of affiliation, of common belonging to a group, even a group of two. Beyond that boundary, it can be the most violent form of dominance behavior, feminization through rape.
But if the connection is an Alpha-Beta one, then the nature of their relationship already includes a great deal of affiliation and sense of belonging to a group, even, or especially, their group of two. Two men I know who are lifelong tops have spoken to me of how "honored" they are, that's the word, "honored"...one even said "awed"..by the experience of having a man they respect, a desirable Beta male, allow them to top him.
When that kind of submission is freely given in an underlying relationship of male respect, the top experiences both his own phallic power and the offered-up power of the bottom. For the articulate tops I've discussed this with, that merging is at the heart of the erotic magic of male/male sex. For the bottom, either in regular or temporary Beta-mode, it is a kind of service, for some an almost religious service, a kind of sacrifice happily given to a man who represents something in himself but more strongly.
The submission is not a humiliation. Not at all. And it is not painful (if consented to and done right) but excruciatingly pleasurable, both physically and psychologically. (The placement of the prostate is one of Nature's master strokes.) It contains both release from self and intimacy with another that celebrates the self.
And that sacrifice makes for communion...for both...just as most male hierarchical submission of the non-sexual kind achieves affiliation with and within the masculine group. The love that commanders have for their men, both the subordinate officers and the "grunts"...a love which can be returned in kind by the very act of obedience, submission...is legendary. I would add, it is archetypal.
Male/male sexual intercourse of this type is not the operation of oppressive power on a humiliated man without power. It is the exchange of two forms of masculine power and both parties give and receive in powerful measure.
[There is something here related to the fragment or idea of alchemy that I mentioned recently in trying to think through the goal of male/male sex in a sort of theological context.]
Call this projection if you want, but think I see in the picture below something of the Alpha-Beta relationship I have been talking about. The bottom, physically, lacks no masculine power, either in animal beauty or agility. To put it mildly. But the look on his face is what is telling. Calm, very calm, but full of anticipation. And focussed on the other man, who could even be "his" man. The dynamic of free sacrifice and grateful honor, of exchange of powers, of dominance and submission within the goal of pleasurable, even ecstatic, communion...I detect it here.
This kind of sexual connection, anal intercourse, can be nothing more than the connection of body parts. A cock and a butt. That is plenty attractive enough. It can, in its shadow mode, be the shattering of one male by another. Or...common enough in all of sex...if can be the satisfaction of a desire using another body. Hey, it beats doing your taxes. But it can be something much more. It can be a powerfully magical and deeply masculine exchange of power and identity that serves and deepens the Alpha-Beta bond between men, one of the strongest forces on earth.
Perhaps I am being obtuse or mystical or reactionary...or all three...but when I lament the lack of love for manhood among gay men, part of what I feel is lost is the alchemy of masculine love in this most intimate form of sex. For actual men who understand what they are doing, the Alpha-Beta energy serves and intensifies the dignity of both in the very ritual of submission and domination. Both offer, both are honored, both receive, both give, one by entering, the other by welcoming.
But if you don't love and honor the man in yourself, how do you give or receive the physical offering of self of another man?