Brace yourself, I may bloviate a lot here. After a discussion on fetlife about malesubs being irked at all the scammy women demanding money just for declaring themselves to be dominants, or to consider a guy’s submission. If you’ve been living under a rock, this is a thing. It’s a thing far more than the minority of male subs who fetishize handing over cash for whatever reason. So, why is it a thing?
Well, outside of the fact that humans are inherently scammy sometimes, there’s a number of factors going on here, which I’ll do my best to unpack.
The jist of the problem boils down to 3 things.
- The popular perception of femdom as a vocation, not a sexual orientation has re-enforced the idea that asking for money is the norm. I talked about this problem already here, regarding the confusion between pro and not pro.
- Female desire is being presumed to be either identical to whatever the sub wants, or to be absent from the interaction by default, part of what feeds into cause #1.
- There is limited information about kink, so people looking to become active this way have to deal with the challenge of sorting through all sorts of different norms, some of which are based entirely on fiction, and/or contain attitudes that re-enforce cause #2.
I’m not personally opposed to sex work, but the specific problem of findom-as-a-scam thrives because there isn’t really a clear separation of expectations that presume that a female dominant is not serving male desire. The barrage of ‘sex me this way plz’ messages are the other side of the same coin that allows women to announce that they deserve cash for absorbing oxygen- it’s one where female desire has otherwise been taken out of the equation. Or, to be exact, female desire is still there, but a little bit of ‘lifestyle’ polish on a professional is like a porn star having an orgasm- the desire exists only as it conforms to the package-able script.
Precisely speaking, findom scams are also the cousin of the beatings-for-housekeeping deals. By these, I don’t mean people who enjoy service, which is glorious good fun, but the all too common case where men feel like they’re making a trade of service for what they actually want- and I don’t doubt that some of the women are enjoying the inherent power of having a houseboy, but I’ve read all to many accounts from women ending wryly with that they’re going to end a session feeling vaguely used, they can at least get a clean kitchen floor out of it.
You just don’t see this in M/f, where female subs complain, just as we femdoms do, of getting barraged with messages and demanded to perform in highly specific sexual ways that don’t take into account their specific desires. In an M/f dynamic, male dominance is treated like something the dom gets inherent satisfaction at performing. I’m trying to imagine a bizzaro world male doms routinely complain about the female subs who expect them to have their own rope and lube and gear. On the contrariwise, a guy who is all gear and no action is a punchline in popular parlance. And yet, female doms will often justify they deserve cash for precisely the same reason- they invested all this money into building a fantasy, so of *course* a guy kicking in a bit is just fair, right?
Mind you, as far as the ‘scam’ aspect, the problem is not just people announcing they want to be paid to exist. Hell, findom as an actual fetish generally involves either shopping that emphasizes the recipient as a sexy lady (I fuck my boyfriend in the panties you bought for me!) or complicated bank account draining blackmail faux-peril that harms nobody. The small minority actually into the fetish do just fine.
Findom *scams* are generally more than just someone laying out a shingle that says “I am Dominate, pay Me” and thrive in an area where the people doing the scam can say with conviction that they deserve it just for being a dom- it takes an audience that thinks this is just how doms work. So, to be fair, scams are not a byproduct of a professional with good professional ethics, who is up front about her services. They are the byproduct of that fuzzy attitude where stuff-to-dom gets normalized, so women may bill themselves as dominants- and then bill the recipient of their dominance and hide under the mantle of just deserving it because power. Meanwhile sub guys experience it as a scam, because they are participating in an unequal transaction- either they expected a different outcome, like her becoming their full time dom/’owner’, or it was sold to them that this was how D/s had to work, alongside emotional blackmail about proving themselves.
There is that education problem here- submissive men and dominant women are both having to weigh professional dominatrix expectations against the reality of trying to do this when you are not a professional fantasy fulfillment expert. I emphasize again that fulfilling fantasies is not an inherently bad thing, as much as the fact that if you are not paying for it, what you will be exchanging is basically fantasy-for-fantasy.
Then there’s a controversial possibility that stuff-to-dom demand is also an attempt on the part of the female dominant to actually feel, y’know, somewhat dominant. That, unfortunately, requires a segue into another part of BDSM, the cloud’o kink problem. If you’re a long time reader or at all kink aware, you’re probably familiar with the idea that not all the fetishes that get packaged with BDSM are direct doorways into D/s- pegging and cross dressing being popular examples of things that can exist independent of power exchange. Female doms get really used to messages asking for highly particular fetish scenarios and the current fashion is to declare that men who do this are not True Submissives (TM). Or they use softer language like “you’re just a submission fetishist”, which amounts to the same thing. Some of this is helpful, when you get a huge list of Me Me Me style service topping demands, a reality check is in order, but on the other hand it can move into the opposite problem- expecting to automatically only get your needs met because the dom is magic and just meeting your needs is supposed to be inherently fulfilling, right?
As you can imagine, just expecting everything to work out because you are dominant works about as well as the “do me” subs sending lists, or the people in “vanilla” relationships that get told to just stealth submit (because apparently kink is completely indistinguishable from vanilla behaviour or all vanilla women secretly want submissives, um no, oops). Kink is distinct, and more to the point it takes active and consenting participation- imagine how people would howl and scream if someone advised a dom of either sex with a vanilla partner to just arbitrarily take charge of their relationship and do less around the house?
It’s a tricky problem, because once again I feel like 99% of the issue is that female desire is being left out of the equation, not that something is or isn’t proper submission. When JT (a malesub) wrote about enjoying the dom look, something I generally write about not liking, this didn’t make him somehow a bad sub for having an aesthetic preference. The sexy leather goth look is just one of those fetish things that is a problem when it becomes a uniform without any consideration for the person in it. Plenty of the things male subs get yelled at for wanting are enjoyed by women- I like to peg. Other women like a man in lace who gender bends. Some women like the traditional black corset dominatrix look.
But dominance is clearly more for most subs than just doing whatever someone says, much like masochism is more than stubbing your toe. Indeed we generally wander into the territory of wanting partners who make us feel dominant or feel submissive. This challenge is coming up a lot in online conversations- as kink continues to normalize as far as entering into standard sexual behaviour for couples, it becomes less about people meeting sub-cultural specification and more about individual satisfaction.
It’s telling that this is a particular problem in femdom, because this is one of the places where you are going to run head first into an actual inequality. It’s the point in which power is not being exchanged that lets the scam run rampant. With all the pop culture images of dom women that sell them as objectified whipping props, less diversity in popular perception of socially dominant women (hence part of the absence of a mainstream femdom 50shades), and many sub men genuinely thinking that no woman is *really* into this and don’t really think of themselves as sex objects to women. Hence they are simply not used to the idea that women might have visual requirements, or if they are it isn’t a matter of being a good- the guys presume that women are inherently socially and sexually submissive but can be bribed into tolerating them.
So male subs don’t think they add anything inherently positive to the lives of female doms just by being there, where as female subs actually end up with considerably more control over their sexual narratives. This is not to say this is perfect, but it’s kind of unsurprising that James Deen, darling of the kink.com male dom stable, gets so much props from women- Everything ever written about him talks about how gosh darn *nice* he is to his co-stars and he himself puts on a public persona that says things like his favourite sex toy is whatever the woman he’s sleeping with likes. Hallo sex object!
Femsubs put up with a lot of bullshit in the pursuit of sexual satisfaction, but they are organized and have numbers and porn that caters to them. Female dominants, regardless of how well represented they are in the packaging of kink, do not have the same market share- they are the product being sold, whether personally or simply the idea of their sexuality. Scams are simply a manifestation of the underlying challenge and would simply not be feasible on the same scale if guys believed that women wanted them for their own sakes.
So, what can be done, between men who want to submit and women who want to dominate, to both get what they want?