Gone are the days of blood-thirsty conquistadors, savage cavemen and Herculean heroes. Because according to large swaths of the internet, the hottest thing you, a man, can be right now is submissive and perhaps breedable.
Yes, there’s a new meme in our midst. Users across Twitter, TikTok and Instagram are using the phrase “submissive and breedable” to compliment and thirst after men (often cis-men) they find attractive, to the degree that men are now co-opting it themselves, boasting about qualities like acquiescence and fertility to highlight their desirability.
According to Know Your Meme, the language refers to a viral tweet posted by user @T4RIG on July 23 of this year. The tweet bluntly encourages men to “normalize platonically telling your bros they look submissive and breedable” with a bunch of clapping emojis interspersed between each word. Over the next few days, the phrase became a copypasta, with internet users applying it to various images — like this one of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.
But according to a recent article by Morgan Sung for Mashable, the term “submissive and breedable” actually comes from an even earlier copypasta, one that circulated on TikTok back in March. In it, user @yeahthataintme captioned their video, “feelin petite right now maybe a lil vulnerable in this cardigan, perhaps breedable.”
The copypasta then became popular in internet stan communities. Notes Sung: “Fans would describe photos of their favorite K-pop idols, anime characters, and other hot men as ‘petite and fertile, perhaps breedable.’” Now, with the popularity of the phrase growing, more internet users are using the verbiage to express to men both real and fictional that they’d like to impregnate their fine asses.
Of course, the terms “submissive” and “breedable” also have roots in kink.
“Saying someone looks ‘submissive and breedable’ is a bit of a subversive take on the reclamation of female sexual domination,” explains certified sex coach and sexologist Gigi Engle, who adds that for a cis male person, breeding (which often refers to “trying to impregnate”) would occur through anal play, sex or pegging. “It’s a part of a sub/dom roleplay at its roots.”
As Engle explains, when applied to cis-men, the terms cleverly uproots and upends its historically misogynistic usages. “It’s submissive language that subverts misogynistic language that’s been geared towards cis-women in the past, now towards a cis-male person (or any male person, really). It’s usually geared towards someone who enjoys humiliation in BDSM and prefers really strong, punishing Doms,” she says. “Also, women aren’t ‘supposed’ to say such objectifying things — we’re meant to look pretty and be objectified, so I’d say there’s a lot of power grabbing in that respect as well.”
Historically, the term breedable — at least when applied to women — has been used in the offensive and completely terrifying Handmaid’s Tale sense. Its traditionally dark connotations, as Sung writes, can expose those unfamiliar with the current meme/copypasta and its popular usage in various online spaces, like queer fan fiction circles, to harassment.
“Fan fiction is celebrated as an outlet for exploring one’s sexuality and gender expression, but the ‘breedable’ trope also exposes people to harassment from those who don’t understand the context, particularly those who aren’t cis men,” Sung writes. “In very online fandom circles, referring to men as breedable is a subversive acknowledgment of their physical appeal. When applied to women, and taken out of context, it’s fodder for unwelcome interactions because of the word’s misogynistic associations.”
Moreover, some internet users have already expressed concern that the “submissive and breedable” copypasta could be weaponized by some users to sexually harass others under the pretense of a harmless joke or meme.
Overwhelmingly, though, the meme as it currently stands is being used in a playful, tongue-in-cheek way to lightheartedly degrade oneself or a man one finds attractive.
It could also be another example of how the younger generation is redefining traditional gender roles, particularly in heteronormative relationships. Lauding a man for being docile is quite different from stereotypical notions of male desirability. Rather than equating strength and dominance with male sexual appeal, calling a man submissive and breedable is, as Engle notes above, a way of reclaiming and asserting female domination. After all, Gen Z women are apparently dying to peg their boyfriends. The self-proclaimed “submissive and breedable” men on the other end of that equation might just be up for it.
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