Not All Femdoms Are Sex Workers

Once again, an innocent question from a redditor reminds me of one of the problems that comes with being a non-professional dominant. Or really any conversation about femdom. I get messages from people in my inbox (I guess I seem authoritative) of various sites and this is not an unusual occurrence. Sometimes it’s a guy trying to book a session. In this case, he was neither impolite nor unpleasant, but it’s my daily reminder that the thing that I do is not perceived as functioning the way I do it – to the larger world, femdoms are sex workers by default.

Random Reddit Dude:

Hi, I stumbled upon your reddit domme post and Im abt to go to my first domme in a few weeks and am really excited I have a couple questions on how to tell if its a legitimate dome or not. [ad from back pages] This is the domme im going to and so far so good been emailing her a couple days she requires a screening process in which i have to refer to two dommes before but since this is my first time I couldn’t do that so instead her other request for new subs is for 100$ gift card (which is the cost for half the session) be sent in advance and I give her the other 100$ in cash. We talked a few days and I think she is legit but what are your opinions?

Me:

Okay…

You know not all female doms are sex workers? I couldn’t possibly tell you about this because I don’t sell sexual services. Sorry, I could no more advise on this than a vanilla woman knows how to choose escorts.

Random Reddit Dude:

its not a sex worker, shes a domme though? Its not an escort I was just asking since you are a domme.

Me:

If you are paying her, she is a “sex worker”. Although the laws of your region may vary about what is and isn’t considered prostitution, and she may only sell beatings, lifestyle dominants do not charge any money, not gift cards, not Paypal, not cash in hand.

And thus went the conversation, with me patiently explaining that indeed *anyone* you found out of the “backpages” was going to be selling a service, and that sex work includes a broader range of activities than explicitly getting to come. I’m very pro-sex worker’s rights. I want complete legalization, and training for law enforcement to protect them, and supportive social programs that affirm their choices while keeping them safe, as they are a commonly exploited and endangered population. But I can only be an ally- shilling erotica, while next door to sex work, carries none of the stigmas and risk so I’m not going to define myself as a spokes person for people who take on this challenging profession.

But as a female dominant I am SO FUCKING FRUSTRATED. Both at the assumption that I don’t really exist and that professionals are the norm, and that my relationship with my partners, even as a non-pro, follows the guidelines of a professional- a session in which a male partner provides some sort of compensation in exchange for the parts of my dominance he actually wants. If it’s not cash, he’s cleaning my floor. Never mind that dominance experienced is a reward in and of itself.

I admit when I first started writing and thinking about this, I suffered from a bit of whore-phobia, not at sex workers, but to their clients. I guess I was frightened that guys who availed themselves of the services of sex workers would see every interaction as transactional. In practice, not so much, in one’s personal life the distinction tends to play out more the way a massage at home VS a massage from a therapist do. But in the global picture, non-professional (and I still chafe at calling myself ‘lifestyle’) dominants are eclipsed by the attention paid to professionals to the point that femdoms are sex workers in the default of popular imagination. You also tend to get this weird idea that selling dominance gives you different independence- the professional dominant, rather than being a person playing a character, shows up in popular media like that’s the entirety of her personality and she has figured out the secret of getting paid to do what she loves because she is just so amazing. Sherlock’s Irene Adler was a typical bad cliché of this theme, a stomping one dimensional psychopath who used people, who couldn’t actually just have real power but needed to be a professional to give her sexuality legitimacy. Other than that, female dominants who aren’t doing the thing as some sort of job (you might also get wicked lady police or bad guy characters in leather) are invisible, or it’s a punch line, or at best doesn’t extend as far as her sexuality. Unsurprising in a world where female orgasms are censored as more dirty by film boards, and one major romance publishing house historically refused to publish anything that didn’t have M/f overtones, but still a very annoying thing to experience.

It’s gotten a bit better- media is a lot more open about pandering to a broader range of female interests, but nonetheless, here we are, female dominants who have no interest in treating their partners like clients scraping around the edges of our own kink. “Just asking, since you are a domme!”

And because female dominance is laced with this stereotype, women who would otherwise be into BDSM style activities are turned off- not only do the majority of the guys who identify as submissive (or as a switch) getting their information from a world that thinks F/m is #givemoneytowomen writ large, but even among those who don’t want to pay, the attitude is that they’re still booking a session. I don’t want to follow the script of an 19th century gentleman hiring a “governess” to pretend for a couple of hours that she is his superior, I want sexuality that takes more than my need to feed myself into account. Instead I get guys who think I exist on the same continuum as people who are incredibly skilled at getting him off as a vocation.

Fuck that noise, we desperately need our own space that is not about appreciating porn stars and professionals. We need room to develop our own tropes and expectations outside of someone who charges by the hour to act disgruntled in highly specific lingerie. Yes, among our tiny minority of F/m women, some of you genuinely like acting like Mistress Whiplash as your power fantasy, but until this is more about us and less about the exchange of good, cash and serves for services, we will remain invisible and hide in the #whump communities on tumblr and other little pockets that pander to us.

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14 Comments

  1. I HATE dealing with this, and it’s so difficult not to be openly hostile. NOT because I’m against sex workers or their clients, but because the pervasiveness of ‘dommes as pros’ negates my sexuality as a set of desires that actually exist. And fuck me if that doesn’t hark back to a gazillion years of having my sexuality devalued or declared irrelevant.

    Ugh. I could so rant about this.

    Agree times a gazillionty.

    Ferns

    Reply
  2. While I agree that it is a bit annoying to have to explain myself as “Kind of like a Dominatrix except I don’t do it for money,” it doesn’t infuriate me that many people just don’t know about lifestyle Dommes. It doesn’t negatively impact how I see myself or how I feel about how others see me. Pros are out their marketing themselves. We are not. We cannot be upset that people know more about them than us.

    Reply
    • Male dominants don’t need to advertise. Female subs don’t need to advertise. Male subs don’t either. People literally believe I don’t exist, of *course* I’m pissed off.

      Hell, I literally advertise right here what I am. And it still does nothing compared with the sheer volume of people who write me off as a low rent version of a sex worker.

      Reply
  3. are you referring to this reddit:”r/femdom A place to enthusiastically indulge in your favorite fetish! Dedicated to discussions, FAQs and experiences related to female domination in BDSM” ? I appreciate the admin work of Miss Pearl (is this you?) and TiffanyValentine21 that has kept the sub from deteriorating. Since it’s a main sub, the questions of the naive come with the territory. Maybe a sub such as “lifestyleFemdom” or something similar to limit posts for those who prefer the non-pro posts?

    Some of my friends & acquaintances are pro-dommes & I don’t think there is anything wrong about how they make a living. Guys who don’t know much about lifestyles might get a limited view of femdom from commercial porn and the pro-domme industry. The lifestylers need to articulate their views more.

    Reply
    • No, we’re not going to advertise more, because this is literally turning ‘lifestyle’ dominants off of ever trying and participating in the first place.

      The idea that ONLY professionals do femdom is one of the key reasons why many women look at this whole thing and avoid it, even if the cluster of fetishes they like would technically fit. When your potential partners all expect you to act like a sex worker without the benefit of pay (or while taking on all the draw backs of it) and when you try to speak up about your concerns and a pile of people leap on and are like “but I LIKE professionals!!!” as if this was ever their fault (you know whose fault this is? Other than the nebulous collective sexism we all live with, male subs, the ‘clients’ who are too attached to being pandered to, to consider one of the reasons why so many of you can’t figure out how to find a real life partner is because you’ve chased non working women out of your sexuality).

      Yeah, I participate in /r/femdom as a moderator, but the contents of that forum is largely not actually meant for me, it’s a place curating mostly commercial porn meant for *you*. If you don’t understand why it’s depressing that all the things with the names of what you are effectively belong to other people, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do to reach out in a way you can understand.

      Seriously, I am articulating my views and your response was to tell me this is my fault and imply I was picking on the pros. And then you wonder why most of us don’t bother?

      Reply
  4. It’s as pervasive and frustrating for a submissive man who doesn’t identify with the ‘Mistress Whiplash’ stereotypical portrayal of female domination.

    From the common ‘men are worthless and must be crushed’ imagery and videos, to the prevalence of the findomme ‘you are a pig’ type attitudes through to scratching under the surface of general social awareness to fetlife and fetish parties and so on and so forth, the vast majority of information, imagery and cultural conditioning is very much towards the ‘male subs are worthless’ style. At the same time, dommes must be the bitch-queen in latex (and leather at the same time) wielding whip, crop, gigantic dildo and smoking a cigarette while trampling 50 men beneath her 20 inch heels.

    This really isn’t meant to be a ‘but what about the menz’ reply, just an agreement that from my perspective more positive, femdom relationship examples, such as blogged about by you, Ferns and Dumb Domme would be amazing. All three of your blogs and writings helped me understand and come to terms with what I was looking for, rather than think ‘it’s just not out there’ because of how hard it was to find reassuring, positive examples.

    So on the one hand I think professionals are giving a lot of people exactly what they want, and are paying for, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what they do or how they want to present themselves at all, However that common image of the ‘dominatrix’, which is essentially a stereotypical male fantasy image of the corsetted busty domina who’ll do everything he wants (while he pretends he doesn’t want it), feels like a very one-sided view of female domination, it just happens to be the most immediately identifiable one.

    Reply
    • What about the menz here is okay, because as much as femdoms get stuck playing out Service Provider/Client based dynamics, it’s a lonely place to only be attractive in so far as you have money.

      Reply
      • Do you really feel you’re “stuck playing out the Service Provider/Client based dynamic”? I’ve never let anyone make me feel that way.

        Reply
        • Thanks for pointing this out. It’s all about your personality & how you come on to others. Pro-dommes personalities are not just limited to transactions with clients. Many guys have non-transactional relationships with PD’s; it’s not business, just friendship.

          Reply
          • A transactional relationship does not imply fakeness- you can have a good relationship with a professional, much like you can also be friends with your bartender or your massage therapist might enjoy touching people for its own sake.

            All that asides, the norms of client satisfaction are pervasive in F/m because the most visible part of it are the sex workers doing their job. And as a effect this chases non-pro women away from femdom.

        • Do you really feel you’re “stuck playing out the Service Provider/Client based dynamic”?
          I feel like the expectations of kink as a cultural trope and the information my potential partners are given both weight things towards client pleasing kink.

          I’ve never let anyone make me feel that way.
          That’s like saying it’s not cold outside because you’re wearing a sweater. I’m glad you don’t have this problem, but it’s still a thing.

          Reply
  5. Based on the comments I see from submissive straight men online, I get a sense that a high percentage of those men have had few or no sexual relationships with women. In lots of cases, sub men come across as having had few platonic friendships with women either. If my (admittedly unscientific) impressions are accurate, it wouldn’t be surprising that many sub men would base their ideas of femdom almost entirely on porn clichés and pop culture stereotypes.

    Although somewhat understandable, this situation is really unfortunate: unfortunate not just for those socially clueless guys, but also for other sexually submissive men (who get lumped in with their socially inept fellow subs) and for sexually dominant women (who get flooded with inappropriate solicitations and who see their sexuality devalued, caricatured, or ignored).

    At the risk of sounding depressing, I suspect that this state of affairs is likely to worsen over time. Younger sub guys have spent more of their lives online than was the case with their older peers and are therefore even more likely to have had fewer real-life social interactions with women and to have developed their ideas about sexuality from porn that caters to all their whims. But I hope my predictions are wrong; in any case, I’m glad to see sites like this one providing more balanced views of what femdom relationships can be.

    Reply
  6. fallsdeep

     /  December 30, 2016

    I’m a guy, and I knew early on (too early to mention here) the difference between pros and lifestylers. I would like to visit a pro, just to experience some things I haven’t before.

    Many people might not consider me a “true” submissive. I’m not looking for a FLR or a 24/7 dynamic. I prefer little power exchange and only occasionally being submissive. I always enjoy bottoming, or a hybrid of both sub/bottom if that’s even possible and makes sense. BDSM stays in the bedroom for me, I’m open to sometimes expanding my role out of it.

    I was on Fetlfe for a year and was almost heartbroken when I discovered I wasn’t into being a true sub. I’m not willing to give up that much control to anyone.

    It was freeing for me when I realized I just want to explore BDSM on my own terms… To find a woman in the vanilla world who is kinky and who likes to have fun. Most of my girlfriends in the past have been open minded, which was amazing. I want to be with a woman and to fulfill each other’s fantasies, kinks and fetishes.

    I am not going to lie, I want kink fulfillment. I like specific things but my tastes are not extreme at all. I also like the porn-Femdom persona to a degree (not the mean attitude, just the outfits) BUT I also crave the tenderness of feeling taken and loved much like the male subs in the drawings on your tumblr.

    Then I like switching and topping, being in control, and always, just being 50/50 equal partners. I still love vanilla sex, even though I’m kinky a lot of the time, and I like to blend varying amounts of kink. I just don’t like to define myself, other than I was born this way- kinky and with fetishes, and I’m just ‘me.’ I have a pretty good idea so far of what I want, and how I like to do it.

    I feel like bottoms/part time subs are looked down upon in the BDSM world and labeled as “do me” etc.

    I don’t want to be with a truly dominant woman, just an assertive and adventurous one. Maybe some men don’t realize that and are false advertising in a way.

    I also realized I don’t want to be a part of the BDSM community other than what goes on in my bedroom with a woman who I can love.

    BDSM should be whatever people want it to be. If a husband wants his wife to service top him, and they call each other Mistress and slave, then that is just as legitimate as 24/7 TPE couples.

    Reply
    • Oh yes, I am very much pro sex work. And honestly I think the over emphasis on 24/7 in lifestyle is pretty unfortunate too.

      I probably need to write a companion piece “not all femdom is total domination”. 😀

      Reply

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