Why I prefer femdom's culture

Defining (A Distinct) FemDom

Credit for the topic here goes to Natasha Strange of kittenwithawhip, who started a blogging project themed as “FemDom Society” (no not that one!) I’m not in the official roster, but I thought I would throw in my support with this.

Why Femdom As A Niche (VS BDSM as a Whole)?

I no longer believe you can define femdom as being just a dominant who happens to be female. To use kink dominance in men as the norm is to ignore that there is no reason to make women the other. In over a decade of practical activity, I can say that given the options, I think “Femdom” as a niche, is not only distinct enough to deserve clarification, but the most likely of the collective approaches to being kinky to give me what I want.

True, I’ve written a bunch about feeling like the stereotype of the domme doesn’t suit me over the last decade. As with anything with a decade in tenure, even just looking over my blog, some parts I’ve argued are very insightful and some parts are pure cringe. Criticisms of the niche are correct, that it is not, as a whole, any escape from a gendered restriction on how women are allowed to express power, and much of Femdom still focuses on what men want as a priority.

But, for all my contrary streak, I have never felt Femdom didn’t have a unique face, flavour and aesthetic. I am glad I kept at my picking, because contrasting the more universally framed culture of BDSM VS this more explicitly gendered part, Femdom is a heck of a lot more welcoming to dominant women in particular. Yes, male fantasies and desires do put a lot of pressure onto my behavior. Nonetheless, I do not believe Femdom is just a manufactured façade that excludes women from their own self representation. Further, I do not feel that the BDSM community as a whole gives me more voice than femdom, and in a lot of ways, I am significantly more invisible in the former.

Thus, if I am in the business of pursuing orgasms and emotional satisfaction, femdom has the largest chance of providing it to me. Not all parts, of course! For example I am not particularly enthusiastic about the female supremacy fetish version, and I don’t find much gratification in the full rejecting men except as beta eunuchs shitck either. But, I really like guacamole, but have the cilantro taster gene, and that doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive either.

More than that, I believe that rejecting femdom, as a dominant, skirts awfully close to the same “not like other girls” style misogyny that attempts to escape the oppressive parts of gender by attacking the feminine.

I did not always notice this. I think the moment I realized that I had to reconsider how I was choosing to approach my identity was when a regular fetlife mod of domme groups, Carolyn, commented that she had an easier time connecting and getting along with male dominants rather than equivalent peers. It was an innocent observation: Femdoms just seemed to have more in common with her and her approach to her sub.

Whoops. I can’t call it malice, but I grew up with a very parallel problem. I’m a nerd, and historically that has made me a minority in the gaming and fandoms I like. And it is extremely common for one of the reasons my female peers to cite for not having more female friends are that women are not only boring, but typically some version of crazy and competitive. I don’t think Carolyn meant that she generally doesn’t like women, but it made me deeply suspicious of rejecting anything domme coded just because.

Sure, there’s things, for me that are more typical in male dom culture (like feeling your sub is incredibly sexy) that click with me. Nonetheless, it really made me reassess both my own behaviour and how I perceived other dominants like me. I couldn’t go around assuming nobody has anything in common with me if I don’t try to understand them. So I did, and I have largely come to conclude there are enough femdoms like me in my desires and outlook to make the stereotypes of first impressions irrelevant.

The Accidental Femdom Exclusion Problem In Hetero BDSM

Identity is complex. We are different things in different places- I am a non-binary woman, but I am also dominant, and mainstream BDSM handles these aspects with different skill, but both are inseparable parts of who I am.

In my perception, the desires of women, as a group, are evenly laced through out kink, in its different possible subcultures, even via a sort of queer creator overlap handshake, into M/m. Femdom isn’t particularly unique in its inclusions of these wants, but obviously some women are subs, and by function straight female subs will understandably not be catered to. And, for all its faults, the mainstream hetero BDSM community does a pretty good job of catering to the desires of submissive women. Nor is this place an island of impenetrable borders. Nonetheless, mainstream heterosexual BDSM isn’t welcoming to dominant women in particular.

Of course BDSM culture’s short comings are never some grand conspiracy to deny me what I want, or a sense of inclusion. It’s just that no matter how uniquely you dress yourself, or how many extraneous rituals you add, whatever you build will still be constructed with the tools of your culture of origin. Thus we have a lot of weird racist ticks in kink porn because the larger culture is racist. We tend to do sexist things because we are informed by the sexism we are immersed in, day in and day out ever day of our lives. And while this is not because we are bad people, it can be hard to see past that. One of the biggest places the BDSM community at large stumbles with is greatly de-prioritizing femdom over the default that all women are submissive.

This immersion into femsub, for women, is so generic that romance novels spent decades banning heroes that weren’t “Alpha”, and any peruse through the romance novel section of a library will find all sorts of kink dynamics, often justified by plot or setting, just hanging out. But, I cannot fault these writers, nor Gor and Story of O, or its derivatives, because they are products of what their culture of context thought. And they are not alien to female desire- with female subs making up an aggressive presence in pursuit of their own needs, any criticism on my own lack of inclusion can’t be made by assuming their situation is objectively worse than femdom for all women.

And yet, because of the external culture, femsub is the path of least resistance. It’s easiest, as a woman, to explore those desires, so in mainstream BDSM, M/f will be the default you meet. Warm, welcoming M/f, for the most part, but not particularly likely to provide much in the way of identity role models, so the self selection perpetuates. When your way of being is not favored it can make you feel poor at things. For example I have many memories of people only wanting to watch me bottom, not top, at play parties. Since, as a top there’s a certain unavoidable performance based hierarchy, this again sorts anyone who cares about being admired into the things that get the most attention.

Unfortunately the default of BDSM also bleeds into the framing of the conversations around it. From guide books to casual conversations, as much as most people are familiar with the Dominatrix as a stock character, there remains the assumption- this is normal, F/m is the other. This can go as far as a stripe of the population who argue that I do not exist, or that my desires are fundamentally an aberration against a biological imperative. Hence, the need for Femdom as a niche, a space of our own.

Femdom, as a community, is not free of sexism, but it lets me escape one facet of it. When I am in the niche I do not feel like I am unusual, nor expect people to try to impose social dominance by inserting me into a submissive role I wouldn’t enjoy. My existence might be cause for speculation by ratiocels, but the validity of my identity is unlikely to be questioned by my dominant peers.

The Physical Aesthetic Isn’t As Oppressive As You Think

Probably the biggest knee jerk response to femdom culture, is the heavy fixation on very specific scripts. There is a Mistress, she wears sexy clothing, dramatic makeup, and it is likely black, corseted and high heeled. She sneers angrily at her quavering male submissive and doesn’t particularly want to touch his penis, except with an instrument of torture.

On its face, I would be annoyed if I had to dress in a thousand dollars or so of fetish gear to be taken seriously. Women have a long history of biting back, for our own freedom and comfort, on dress codes and on the policing of our conduct. But, whoops, again, here’s that fucking devil “Not Like Other Girls” again.

As a non-binary woman there are days I fantasize about having my breasts smoothed off and my hips and ass planed down into something sans outwards gender. Just occasionally I would like older men to not chat my ear off, or people to assume I am inherently sharp, not soft and bubbly. No woman has a simple relationship with the hoops she is asked to jump through to justify having authority. And yet…

Good gracious, is the smarmy “looks better without makeup” and “just ask for a raise/be more like a man” anti-femme option completely awful. Yes, generations fought to not have to wear skirts, but it did not remove the problem of being taken less seriously when you wear them, even today. Indeed in some ways the amusing part about the vintage high femme aesthetic of the last century is that now that we don’t *have* to, the most prominent groups doing it are largely counter cultural and very, very queer. It defies the taste of the average guy to dress like a Bletchy Park Computer or a cupcake confection of ruffles. So things that are feminine are not the problem here.

Sure, I shouldn’t need to be one particular kind of look to have sexuality, but inversely male doms simply lack options. Likewise perhaps it is a bother that I live in a world with less untempered queens than kings, but my political science degree tells me that the way women typically characterize their power (team rather than me) is more realistic to how power actually works. Likewise when I am going to fetishize the limited power of being a femdom, it’s a lot easier to tailor it.

So I can’t chuck the dominatrix aesthetic out just for existing. And, beyond that, I don’t think it’s fair to pretend this was something only a man wants a woman to wear. Yes, previous century fetish porn seems to have been bottlenecked through male publishers and collectors. And yet, its looks are exaggerations of the hijinks in couture and home sewing women, largely unsung and unrecognized, made for themselves. Can it be hobbling in many versions? Sure, but history is full of monarchs in ridiculous power costumes they chose for themselves. And it’s another sort of erasure to pretend women don’t get turned on by the paraphernalia we tend to see as fetishwear, too.

Yeah, but what about the pressure of the commercial part?

He who pays the pegger picks the pipe. Yes, there is a definite insertion in what men think I should look and act like, and the norms of safely extracting a living from men all tangled up in the aesthetics. BUT!

An unfairness in the larger world is not going to make me erase the work of all the women who are dominant and modelled, performed and for the most part, have ever increasing creative freedom in the manufacture of modern porn. As any yutz with a camera can now make content, while certain things are still bottle necked, we are increasingly free of the era when the only femdom porn most folks could get was a few furtive “bizarre” illustrations and photos from a tiny niche of male artists.

Of course I don’t think it benefitted me that skirting around sex work laws favoured dommes claiming they didn’t fuck by dint of their role. I don’t like that my sexual orientation is still taught as a job to get good at to manipulate men as a first goal. There’s a whole other post sitting in drafts noting the odd tells it gives all your partners if before you they only ever did the pro thing. All these can be true, but it isn’t like het M/f doesn’t also take a “princess academy training montage” approach to getting $$$ and attention by learning to push men’s buttons. And if we are being fair, about once a month someone in M/f land wails that BDSM doesn’t necessarily have to involve some sort of vanilla coded sex act, or sexuality at all.

Given the choice, I would rather have flamboyant clothing by default, than fight to have them at all. Likewise I won’t shut up about how beautiful and fuckable submissive men are. But I will credit that Femdom culture, via the pros is very, very big on saying the quiet part out loud when it comes to gender roles.

The Anger of Women, and the Noise

Femdom is mixed in with the same dull fantasy supposes, from the idea that being a domme is a free lunch, to the perfect charity whip mommy half the idiots in my inbox seem to believe in. Sure, these are stupid, but there’s so much trite shit and fap in any other sexual subculture, that I don’t think this makes it particularly unusual. What is refreshing is the permission to be angry.

There are only a few other places that let you be selfish, mad at things, and not act with careful care of seeming not-nice, if you are female: activism, policing honour (eg externalizing it at those other awful people in defense) and being Bad. While all forms of sexual promiscuity and libertine behavior give women some license to be a bitch, by stereotype, passing beyond the pale is a place where I get to see women nakedly say shit I am required to live with, but am supposed to ignore, like a turd on the carpet:

  • Fuck you, pay me.
  • I deserve better.
  • I deserve more.
  • I don’t have to care.

No more dancing around who picks up the cheque, you either lay out you pay or tell him to. No more apologizing for being loud, opinionated.

And you get to break all sorts of other taboo. You get to love softer, more quiet men. You can be the experienced one to his virgin. Either making him feel less like a man is a feature, not a bug, or he isn’t that fragile and all that handling does is makes him feel more alive.

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4 thoughts on “Defining (A Distinct) FemDom

  1. Furbob

    I am new to submission in the femdom scene so I’ve been looking for more writing on the subject from actual practitioners as opposed to stuff I’ve seen in popular media. It was very enlightening to read your essay and I will say that I approached my domme because of her agency and how she freely expressed herself. I’m glad you were recommended on The Gentle Domme’s pod as I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  2. I love the clarity and comprehensiveness of your thoughts. Thank you for that.

    As a male observing femdom, I find several issues often translated into prickly barbs by the fairer sex. First, it’s a buffet. You pick what you want. Why must history, subculture, or anyone else’s perspective bear any weight at all on what you choose? It seems inherently disempowering to contextualize personal choice as belonging to some other context.

    Second, The Dom part of FemDom suggests there is, in fact, an Other being dominated. And insofar as that other has particular hooks and vulnerabilities to exploit, the consequently effective domming can always be toned as contrivance at best, or scripting at worst. Yet nobody gets in their car and argues about the multidimensional implications of the steering wheel and gas pedal. It seems delusional, at some level, for some to argue against using what works in application for the sake of abstract empowerment arguments. With whom exactly is one winning this debate?

    Similarly, third and last, there is vast diversity of coloration between the philosophical/theoretical, and the mundane realities of a committed relationship. Identity politics are always machinations of a keen mind, smashing like waves against the rocks of the material world. One’s identity functions (meaning the inner and the outer align) within relationship contexts, whether they be abstract communities or a real world partner. The question, then, seems which context is ultimately more satisfying to the dominant? Arguments for any other pursuit sag impotently, as the truth – with ecstatic gratitude – finds its mark.

  3. Wellington

    LOL, I read your link with “fundamentally an aberration against a biological imperative”, it was pretty funny. These people have no idea what they are writing about.

    They talk about “bride kidnapping,” but which of the extant hunter-gatherer societies have such customs in LOL? That’s right, not in one. Why am I talking about hunter-gatherers? Well, because most of the development of anthropogenesis took place before the Neolithic revolution, before the transition to productive agriculture. Hunter-gatherer societies are often egalatar, and have nothing to do with “the right of the mighty.”

    LOL, even our closest relatives – the Bonobos monkeys, despite their sexual dimorphism, have a matriarchal society. And of course, any person who has studied evolution will tell you that it is women who have a decisive voice in choosing a partner.

    This EvoPsych knows nothing about evolution. They talk about some societies living after the Neolithic revolution, although the entire evolution of man by that time had already actually taken place.

  4. They talk about “bride kidnapping,” but which of the extant hunter-gatherer societies have such customs in LOL? That’s right, not in one.
    Why am I talking about hunter-gatherers? Well, because most of the development of anthropogenesis took place before the Neolithic revolution, before the transition to productive agriculture. Hunter-gatherer societies are often egalatar, and have nothing to do with “the right of the mighty.”

    LOL, even our closest relatives – the Bonobos monkeys, despite their sexual dimorphism, have a matriarchal society. And of course, any person who has studied evolution will tell you that it is women who have a decisive voice in choosing a partner.

    This EvoPsych knows nothing about evolution. They talk about some societies living after the Neolithic revolution, although the entire evolution of man by that time had already actually taken place.

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