There's been a thread at chastityforums.com about whether wearing a chastity belt is "Unmanly". I've found it an interesting topic, in particular from the point of view of the women responding.
I personally struggle with the notion of being outed as a chastity belt enthusiast. In fact, being outed as a submissive / bottom / masochist gives me pause. As a baby boomer, the men of my childhood were macho, hard drinking, cigarette smoking, war veterans. There wasn't a whole lot of talking about feelings goin' on! lol. I guess that's what the alcohol was for! In retrospect, with them as role models, I find it miraculous that I don't smoke, and drink very infrequently.
As a high school kid, I was a total geek. I wasn't athletic until after I left college, and got into martial arts. I've always thought of myself as rather passive and sensitive. I remember my surprise when a girl I dated in those days said to me "I never expected to date someone so.... macho." That was SO out of line with how I viewed myself that it shocked me. We didn't talk about it much, but after a hard look at myself, I came to realize that, especially back then, I had a lot invested in being perceived as a macho, tough guy. It all seems rather comic to me, now, but back then it seemed so important. I think it had a lot to do with how I perceived the men of my youth, whom I so respected.
I'm middle-aged, now, and hopefully wiser, but still threads of that desire to be perceived in a "macho" way persist. My friends know me as a loving husband, very sappy animal lover, and generally light-hearted friendly guy. Still, if you don't know me, my appearance can be intimidating. I'm 6 feet tall, relatively muscular (for an old fart), bearded, and generally carry a stern face that belies that I'm probably daydreaming about the latest cat video on cuteoverload.com that made me tear up. I don't know that I'll ever overcome the subconscious need to be perceived as a "Manly man" to strangers. It's hard-wired into my consciousness since the crib that men are these aloof, burly, insensitive creatures. Even worse, it's hard-wired into my lizard brain that such behavior is what is attractive to women.
Oddly, I don't feel that need to be perceived as "manly" in the online forums. Outing myself in forums or places like Fetlife is easier, since it offers a bit of anonymity. In that context, I really don't have a problem. I've met many of my online friends from chastity lists and forums in person, and now have many on my Friends list in facebook. Since we know each other from the kinky context, the inner need to somehow be perceived differently doesn't seem to be there.
Still, I've considered attending the local BDSM munches in my small town. I find it very difficult to do. I once got as close as the parking lot, and didn't go in. The thought of strangers knowing about my submissive and chastity related fantasies is bad enough, but what if I ran into someone I know from my other "context" .. the one in which I may be perceived through that "macho" lens? I would truly feel "unmanned" to be outed in such a way. It's silly, but it's true. The thought of being unmasked in such a way makes my stomach churn with anxiety.
So, as I read that thread on chastityforums, imagine my surprise as saw the sentiments of several women, who basically felt that wearing a chastity device did nothing to "unman" their partner. If anything, it gave the more respect for them. If I was to surmise, I would guess that the act of willingly giving up such control had an aphrodisiac-level impact on the women.
This so runs counter to the reptile brain part of me that insists that women are attracted to the big guy with the club who can conquer the mastodon and bring it home for dinner.
Will my intellect ever retrain my ego? I don't know. I'm an older dog, but I still sometimes learn new tricks.