This shit is what I’m talking about here, when I talk about the sexism that femdoms deal with, when it comes to being taken seriously as a part of BDSM.
This is the navigation menu for kink.com, which helps you find their sub-sites, sorted by 5 options. Gay gets its own category that excludes F/f, which is sort of scattered all throughout their content offerings. And Femdom… It’s not filed under general BDSM either. Because of course it isn’t.
I understand this is going to come across like I’m looking for something to be offended about that could be a happinstance accident. There’s obviously no malicious conspiracy and I suspect a huge part is an effort to seed common search terms for SEO/page rank purposes while still creating a functional site map. But this is definitely a symptom of kink as a wholes problem with excluding femdom from the idea of normal.
I do want to say I’m glad kink.com exists. They were a big part of pushing the Overton window, champions of BDSM AND sex in the same shoot, normalizing and mainstreaming kink. They’re a scrappy self made franchise that started in a guy’s dorm room. And they’re a living example of building what you love being a key component to making good art- as well as one of the strongest influences on modern BDSM as a subculture, and have done a great deal to popularize the role of consent- with their before/after videos providing a framing that is joyful and mindful of the well being of the bottom.
But here’s where I go tumblr about things, and I’m going to use this as a leaping off place as a wider problem.. There is a logic internally why kink.com did their menu like this- the artistic direction of their femdom work is sorted under slightly different leadership. But the way it is expressed sucks, and is the problem of femdom exclusion from the rest of kink in a nutshell, something they are perpetuating as educators.
As a female dominant, one of the biggest challenges with my kink is being taken seriously and not being overshadowed by the male sub fantasy version of yourself. Kink.com makes some effort to put femdoms in charge of making stuff they put out there, but they are still the product being sold with its own special fetishes attached, like female dominance can’t exist without a strapon. And unlike their gay stuff where the male sub is the main attraction and the treatment of the happy victim is very similar to a female sub, the dominant herself is getting the majority of the camera love and branding emphasis and the guy is depersonalized as much as he’s the victim. But even that’s not enough, for kink.com, femdom must be placed away from everything else.
This makes sense from a financial perspective, much like their (to me) excessive focus on anal. Men buy porn, so porn aims at a male lowest common denominator, so men buy porn. It’s a generally accepted truism that straight men don’t wanna look at guys except peripherally and if they do it’s going to fit into a very specific idea of what femdom is that is nothing like male dom. I don’t like it, but that’s a separate rant.
Where this sorting is irksome, and the point I’m making here, is where the website has also stepped into the role of kink educators- a worthy goal, but on that carries their porn based bias into what they are teaching. Note that Kink University is neatly sorted in amongst all the “BDSM” branded porn, where for a reasonable fee you can watch bad things happen to enthusiastically consenting women. And then when the victim is NOT a woman (or the dom is interesting subject at all really)- whoops it’s not normal, off to the Gay or Femdom box! We don’t want some wanking man to have his erection spoiled.
Think, for a moment, how this comes across if you’re into femdom and you’re trying to access this as an educational resource. Much of the advice, from safewords to bondage and hitting, is unsexed unless you are torturing or tying a sex specific body part. The psychology of it is fairly universal and they have female dominants teaching in their workshop. But there’s still this idea that both male homosexuality and female dominance must be sequestered.
And you deal with this in the BDSM community too, online and off.
It comes up in the endless whining about how the ratios of femdoms to male subs are fucked because, as these complaints boil down to, the person whining that they can’t find a person will tell you that being a femdom isn’t normal. You find it in the every day assumptions that when you mean a BDSM couple you mean M/f, whether on reddit or fetlife or out doing your thing. Even at my munches, people tell me how they don’t like femdom, because all they see is this ghetto-ized Femdom-as-a-Fetish for men or come to me and tell me they don’t think I am a femdom because I don’t fit this narrow version of what they think it looks like.
And I’m not asking for something unreasonable. Major kink toy retailer, “The Stockroom” went through this with their dual catalogs- one that featured a mixture of mostly female models and the other one that was focused on displaying their products on male bodies. And you know what? Someone pointed out to them that sorting Gay/Straight based on model was weird and they knocked it off. And it didn’t hurt anything to change up the lables.
So its not impossible to do the same thing for femdom. It doesn’t have to be a special extra thing that’s ancillary to the regular kink, like some sort of separate flavour. We can acknowledge that male and female dominants have more similarities. When i comes to porn aimed at men I can see why you would pander, but when it comes to education, we should expect better.
Get your shit together kink.com. As a kink educator, in this aspect, you suck at making femdom accessible as something other than a male fantasy and this is leaving femdom identifying or exploring women in the cold.