On BDSM Advice that Does Not Work

(Or A Long Response to A Tweet by Simone Justice)

Trying to talk about the subject of BDSM advice includes the laughably bad, but also the zone of places that’s subject to more of a grey area. Sometimes you have the SEO spam femdom garbage where it’s content that’s little more than key words strung together (thank you Cara Sutra and your active effort to make the kink internet just a little more broken to make a buck), sometimes it’s wankery like Elise Sutton, telling people what they wish to be true to sell books. Sometimes, more rarely, it’s actively dangerous advice that could seriously hurt people like the rapey nonesense of Peter Masters “Control” book.

But then there’s the whole category of advice that is just not useful, being given out because it assumes a lack of distinction between professional dommes and non professional dommes. In most cases this advice is more tedious than will ever do immediate harm to anyone, but it’s still something to be flagged.

Stuff like this casual Saturday morning tweet from Simone Justice…

There’s a lot to unpack here.

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A Long Essay On The Lost Lifestyle Femdoms

The belief that the ratio between submissive men and dominant women wildly skews to have more of the latter is an incorrect hypothesis. Circumstances exist to hide the lifestyle femdoms, often in plain sight.

That’s a bold statement on my part, but I feel the perception of the ratio is largely a flaw in how we measure and look for sexual desire. Sure, studies of women describing their sexual fantasies show a paucity of dominant women. Studies also had a terrible time locating a bisexual man in a laboratory setting. The majority of the clitoris was only found in this century. We know both to be real.

Further, I think we are going about the pro versus lifestyle femdom question all wrong. The approach tends to be on if the “connection” of a professional and client is the same as a lifestyle couple. This is a problem in the limits of how we conceive of power and how it has been historically available by gender.

My argument is twofold: what a professional and client experience is no less “real” than what I do; and the frustrations with the system are the problem of one’s own relationship with power due to sexism. There is no real ratio imbalance on the basis of gender, just a really complicated mismatch between experiencing power for emotional and sexual gratification, and how women have access to power as a general thing.

Being dominant and enjoying having & using power are gender neutral activities.

Thus also is sadism, sexual teasing and exhibitionism, etc… I strongly suspect that paraphilia we more traditionally associate with men are also more evenly distributed. For example a man with 300 pairs of high heels is seen as a pervert, but the same collection owned and worn by a woman because it makes her feel sexy goes without notice.

I posit, all these kinks show up naturally in anyone, regardless of gender. In dominance, there is no reason to assume women are not suited to it. After all, women have demonstrated capacity and desire for real, non fetish leadership, both effective and despotic. Likewise, even within gender stereotypes, we cannot argue the potential for sexual cruelty is absent. Even if women were inherently kinder, the vast majority of people who experience sadism as a sexual kink can tell you that high levels of empathy are complimentary, rather than a barrier to it.

But, how we talk about women who lead, and women who lead conceive of themselves, occupies a different vocabulary set. The female dominants are here, they just don’t use the words we expect them to. And they probably avoid the leather bustier- although kink comes and goes in mainstream fashion, there is a paucity of cat suits in female heads of state, business owners, department heads, etc…

I think how we conceive of the roles naturally drives women away from identifying as dominant.

Discussing the protosexual (presexual?) evolution of desire, it is notable that, across the gender spectrum the fixation on who does what to whom doesn’t seem to show reliable correlation to where the person ends up. An overview of what we consume, as pornography, shows example such as cis-women enjoying m/m (including such targeting men), while the norm of kink development includes a plethora of anecdotes of random power set ups that stuck with us in age appropriate fiction or childhood games, playing captive, princess, etc…

Nonetheless, it is disingenuous to pretend that the current presentation of femdom in pop-culture is anything other than a male centred fantasy, but that doesn’t mean that women are only helpless puppets playing out crypto-slave roles, and are not part of the conversation as well.

It means gender and power are fucking broken, and this is naturally going to flow into every pocket of the world where both exist.

We did BDSM as a subculture a disservice when we obsessed over old-guard-leather and ignored the large contribution that femdom-through-sex-work provided in sustaining a “scene” of sorts. This wasn’t just pro-dominatrices, but all those nameless women who were the models for the fetish art, etc…

When de Sade penned his edgelord fantasy wankery, he was doing so in a world where S&M was already known to be a commercially available, a common part of sex work. He gets to name Sadism. Sacher Masoch, likewise, didn’t independently arrive on what he stuffed Venus in Furs with.

Sure, sex work in generally determined in service availability by he who pays the piper, but so also were the lives of wives. And nonetheless, women have, despite it all, actively and enthusiastically fucked. If women could manage vanilla sex of their own volition through periods when their ability to orgasm was itself in debate, why not dominance?

They say “Anonymous was a woman” to mean that a significant amount of things women say or do, when they get preserved, tend to lose their name in the copying process, like cropping the artist’s signature off the meme.

But we know women have always been there.

The problem is that over the last millennia, women have not been permitted to talk about sex openly, in a way that is celebrated and preserved, but we’ve definitely been having sex, talking dirty, inventing stuff, etc… And, as much as men have been recording sex from the narrations of their hand’s gratification on themselves, women have also been active partners, organizers, and so on.

Who really remembers “Anna” of the early 90s, organizer of the Boston Burger Munch? Or, in the Bay Area, just before that Vicki, Marcie? Laura Lee? STella? It’s recent history, but the Usenet BDSM communities that anchor our modern conversations of kink and make blogs like this possible. I digress because even today, there just isn’t the same emphasis on admitting that BDSM, as a community, functions under the labour and management of hundreds of women.

And the trick is a lot of these folks ID as subs, and there’s the loop back- there’s no connection with sexual dominance and social utility as a leader or mentor. Performing as a submissive woman, is the path of least resistance if you are a switch.

I can say, personally, that for all that people often imagine a dominatrix when they picture BDSM, the market, as a woman, caters to me as a submissive and is considerably more concerned with my gaze and common aesthetics there. Further, navigating the kink community, as a dominant you are fairly policed and limited by what you can do, and the most verbotten acts are typically the most typically associated with women.

Want my brains fucked out? Want to dress like a pretty pink pastel princess? Want to wander about in a cozy onsie or bunny slippers? Cry? Giggle? Love? Wait for the squinting in your general direction- all while some guy is still dictating what you can wear and do in your inbox.

Theatre preserved plays performed by Greek men, but not the active and lively mystery cults of women that ran in the same time. Likewise, we know about London spanking Madams of the Victorian period, but not the private bedrooms of the more ordinary married woman. And in our modern oral tradition, we remember gay male bikers in the late 40s, but have little love for newsgroup saavy women in the 90s.

That doesn’t make a good place to assert your sexuality, as a woman. Perhaps better than some, but if you have to play ball in a game you didn’t design, not only is it rendering you actively invisible by narrative, but it is punishing you for going out of bounds.

Economic Oppression Built This

A common conversation around the “fakeness” of pros is that they are just doing this “for the money”. The snap back of the past, on the allegedly shameful nature of taking money for sex work, is that the house wife does the same thing. That’s not an argument that ages well- the obligation for sex in marriage as a “duty” you assume for support is largely out of fashion, for all some world laws trail in archaic misery.

But the necessity of extracting money from the world to live means that women are still working on a system with underpinnings that assumed that you are an economic subsidiary of a male controlled household.

Bucking that system was a quick way to end up broke and even more powerless. The few women who clawed out independence still, more often than not, had to navigate the whims of a majority.

In the same manner that we don’t use leeches and antimony pills in medicine anymore, likewise, our ability to conceive of and grapple with consent has altered. Nonetheless, the whole financial and social system didn’t roll into a new format overnight. Regardless of if it isn’t actually a given now that women have a different financial situation than men, wages, etc… things just have not balanced across the board.

(Note: Get into a pay gap in a myth argument here and I will delete you.)

Therefore you have a paradox that your power is framed as a perception of your ability to extract money from men by performing traditionally female tasks AND that these tasks don’t need direct compensation and much recognition. You can hold a lot of soft power/social capital, but the hard power of being the origin part of the cash is generally just not given to women as much.

And our foundational archetypes often harken back to old role- in kink for women, rustling out the governess, nanny, mommy, goddess, nurse and so forth, of which frankly, I think a dominatrix, herself, is just part of that spectrum of power through roles.

As I said earlier, it’s not a closed loop of men- we women consume the same porn and inform our own identities based on what is available. The trick is that whatever fetish stuff that makes BDSM in us asks women to take on not just being dominant, but a dominatrix, by default.

A Dominatrix is to female power, what Drag is to being a woman.

It’s a caricature, one with an aesthetic that can, itself be fascinating, liberating or empowering, but a Drag Queen is not the same thing as being female (bio-queen or not). True, villains always have the best lines, and in practice the real professional dominatrix exists somewhere between highly useful sex therapist and immersive theatre, but nobody asks men to take on a whole vocation to get kinky.

Right, you might ask – you have argued why kink is hostile to women expressing overt sexual power at length, but how does this translate to the claim that femdoms are loose in the wild vanilla?

Maybe they don’t imprint onto BDSM that way due to lack of role models?

Look at what women do, not what they lable. Look at our attraction to men in distress in fiction, and our fixation on things like princesses in girlhood. Look at the perfectly evenly distributed desires in vanilla women to be sexually compelling and get what they want.

Consider how easily they accept the gender neutral parts of dominance, and how easily traditional masculinity can be framed as service. Make a partner feel incredibly horny and decide on who gets gratified, how? Get your way without a ridiculous fight?

Once you stop slamming women into leather bustiers and thrusting a client book into their hands, or coming at them like the french philosopher Rousseau did, so crazed to publicly expose himself to strange women in the hopes of getting a smack.

I think, as we get more social power, it may get better. I have already noticed the youngest cohort of female dominants embark on it with considerably more agency, carving themselves more feminine friendly, but gender not constricting identities.

I close this with the suggestion that if we are currently largely “lost” what we must do to be found remains a place for ourselves, and our own desires. And I continue to write under the stubborn awareness that just as art and writing that treated me as normal and worth catering to gave words to my own desires, so also will others find their way.

Things I Am NOT Saying About Professional Dominants

As a follow up to my last post on the subject of dominatrices VS non-professionals, I’ve also been trying to share more of other people’s writings on the subject and make this more of a conversation, including on twitter. And of course I’m getting pushback because people think I dislike or don’t believe in professional dominants. This happens every time you try to talk about the pro/non-pro distinction, so I’m going to try to make a definitive response to the subject right here.

Professionals are not fake. Please stop writing to tell me about how they are also all “lifestyle” and real and put their heart and soul into the job. This is not about bashing pros, it’s about making a distinction, and I’m going to use a metaphor to explain this.

When you go to a restaurant, the business employs staff who are (ideally) personable, friendly and enjoy the environment. It’s also perfectly possible to make real friends with a waiter, as well as them just being nice to you as part of the job. Similarly the atmosphere of the venue may be fantastic and fun. It may have been founded by someone who truly loves food. But the main purpose of a business is to generate revenue.

If you go to my house, you should NOT have the same expectations as you do for a restaurant, even if eating might take place there. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-eating out. However it is frustrating to be solicited like I’m a professional dominant, much like most people who enjoy cooking are not expecting someone to come to their home and expect to be handed a menu, tell them what to cook out of selection and send it back if they don’t like it. Both a professional chef and I want delicious food. Some chefs work really hard to replicate the home cooking experience, and some home cooks try to replicate restaurants.

But I don’t have the same concerns of mass appeal a restaurant does. My home is not set up with a little podium out front where a person seats you and tables laid out to place friends and strangers in a suitable level of sorting. It is not relevant in the least if in fact dinner is eaten in bed while watching Jessica Jones, or that breakfast for me was a little packet of tasty french chocolate cookies (or in Wildcard’s sake, an ensure meal replacement, because food and him don’t really get along until 10 AM). I *could* make an eggs and bacon and ham and beans and home fries like the little breakfast place we go to sometimes (albeit after 10 AM). But we do what makes us happy, not what the restaurant has to do to get people in the door.

Wildcard and I might cook for other people, but although we want them to enjoy our food, if you try to complain to me that Wildcard didn’t smile enough when he put your plate in front of you or forgot your water, shall we say that you can expect a very different response than if your waiter did either and you complained to the manager.

Now some professionals have the luxury of either naturally being what people want, or choosing their clients so selectively they don’t have to think about it. But this is not going to be the norm, anymore than most restaurants get to be that picky about who they take money from.

When I complain about being treated like a professional dominant, I am in the same metaphorical position as a person who has idiots banging on her door asking to be seated,  wondering why I’m not wearing an apron and a hair net, and who come to dinner expecting a menu and choice of soup or salad.

I know many people who work in sex work, and many of them, from escorts to dominatrices, enjoy the job. They picked that out of many options to make money as the best fit for them, much like some of the friends I know who work in food service are there because it suits them (hell, I know more happy sex workers than waiters). But I can confidently say that if any of their clients decided that paying them was not needed because they were such good ‘friends’ they would stop being friends at all.

Both professional dominants and non-professionals don’t want our partners to be jerks. We thrive when we like what we do. But professionals don’t just offer the option of being open to a wider range of people, the nature of the business is that they make certain concessions for the revenue side of things. They wear the clothes that get you off, they play out particular scripts that work well for the client.

And if you come to me expecting these scripts I’m going to be fucking pissed off, because as a non-pro, my fantasies and scripts are just as valid as yours. And i you’re one of these people, you’ve been trained by your expectations that I just want what you want (for a small fee).

B-but, Miss Pearl I don’t feel like she’s using me for my money! My dominatrix made me shoot rainbows out my butt! We have a connection!

You imbecile. She *earned* that money. She deserves it. How can so many of you nodcocks be so gungho about the whole pro thing and then turn mealymouthed and queasy at the idea of someone earning money? You have a connection because of your money and you are (I hope) compensating her fairly because you are not a cheat. Have some self respect.

When Wildcard wanted to know if he liked being spanked for real, on his terms, he had an experience with a professional rather than trying to coerce random women into playing it out for free. It was a super great thing all round- she created the atmosphere and wielded the implement- he got the benefit of exactly his fantasy. You’d have to be some sort of moron to think that this sort of polite, respectful transaction is the same thing as my home life. Do both activities push his happy sub buttons? Yes! But they don’t push *mine*.

And therein is the problem, the scripts and assumptions of professionals are chasing away women who might want to otherwise identify as dominant. When the world acts like you don’t exist, or that the distinction is to be an amateur with all the ramifications (or at best some sort of philanthropist) you create a world that marginalizes the sexuality that does not serve men, or to be specific, a certain subcategory of men who are prepared to pay for sex work (from dominatrix-through-to-porn). This is not something professionals are doing to non-pros. This is not something all male subs are doing to dominant women. Indeed there is more of accident than conspiracy going on here.

But it is a thing. And maybe if we worked on a solution there would be more porn and more female doms. And more happy people overall. Hell, imagine a world where male subs stopped being a default client. How hot would it be to be so good at serving female desire they paid you?

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.

Lifestyle VS Pro and The Male Sub Loot Grab

So I was recently reading the advice of the blogger Cara Sutra, on the difference between professional and lifestyle dominants. And I’m sorry, she got it wrong. Cara is an experienced and award winning sex journalist and I have nothing personally against her, but this post is rife with errors and the sort of general misinformation that is not helping anyone.

As far as what she said, initially she wasn’t too bad: one of them charges by the hour and the other one doesn’t. No big deal, right? Then she got into more detail and things went tits up.

There is a world of difference between a talented Dominant who is financially recompensed for her time and talents, and a sex worker who chooses to incorporate bondage and corporal punishment into the services she offers. Too many people make the mistake of assuming that the two are one and the same.

Professional Dommes are not prostitutes. Any remuneration is for her Domination skills and expertise, not for sexual contact or sex acts. Sexual contact will not be a part of any session with any Professional Dominatrix worth her salt.

No, not really- this has a problem in that it’s trying to distance the penis touchers from the people who just do hit & bossy while not considering the broader context of the differences. There are reasons why this makes sense (much like the efforts to convey that in strip clubs, there isn’t usually sex in the champagne room) but it’s a problem, which I will explain.

Sex worker is a broad continuum of people in a diverse industry, and includes everyone from porn performers to street walkers, but prodoms are part of that club. Like all people, professional dominants have their own personal comfort points and limits, but this is one of those things that’s more on a spectrum and heavily determined by your local vice laws. While professional dominants obviously focus on D/s and generally don’t do vanilla sex acts with clients (and get fed up with being offered an extra $20 for a happy ending), many also limit themselves to specific BDSM related things, for example no strapons or otherwise sexually touching the guy based either on what the local laws allow or what they feel is okay, VS professionals who are happy to snap on a glove and edge or finger clients.

But by trying to protect professionals from being asked to do things they are not comfortable with, Cara Sutra is perpetuating the idea that mixing sexual stuff with your D/s is bad, and that this is all about dom skill, when in practice, fucking your subs doesn’t make you less dominant. This is a particular sort of snobbery born out of frustration- when it comes to the pros I feel like a lot of the women with this attitude are pulling rank because claiming you are more dominant this way sounds better than explaining that the average client doesn’t get you horny, you don’t need that kind of risk in your life or that you have enough problems with the legality of your profession as it is.

But then Cara Sutra talks about lifestyle, which is where I fall, and she hits one of my pet peeves.

That is not to say that Lifestyle Domination equals “getting it for free”. The nature of FemDom shows that submissives would do well to recognise the value of their Mistress and show their appreciation of her time once accepted into her service. Not merely through obedience and submission, but regular gifts should at least be offered. If nothing else, it’s good manners and part of BDSM scene etiquette.

No. No. No. Arrgh, Fuck no. This taken for granted male sub loot grab is a marker of what I call “grey area prodoms”. These people bill themselves as ‘lifestyle’, but it’s said with palm extended, because as the reasoning goes, doms are scarce, so they decide they are worth it. It’s kink plus extras, right?

Look, I don’t care if you, in your own personal dynamic, give gifts to your lover- there are many ways to express affection. And yes, findom is a valid fetish. However, just being dominant and a woman in no way means I deserve to be compensated for my interactions with the opposite sex. Seriously, nobody tells lesbian subs to get out their wallets if they really want to show their appreciation. A male dom asking for prezzies would probably get laughed out of the dungeon. But somehow having tits and a desire to dominate means that male subs should presume gratitude by default. This is a problem because:

  1. It’s rife with exploitation, with newbie subs getting fleeced for trying to explore their kinks.
  2. It perpetuates the idea that a femdom is a service provider filling the male sub’s fantasy, rather than two or more equals coming together to do power exchange and kink for mutual satisfaction.
  3. It teaches malesubs they are worthless and opens them up to all sorts of abuse.

In discussion about this, a couple of times, the conversation has turned to the subject of how if he’s not gifting me, he’s exchanging something else, right? Like service! Like how femdom also assumes in a way that femsub doesn’t, that the sub has to bribe me for being willing to play along somehow.

Talk about being alienated from your own sexuality! While some of us are only doing it for the warm and fuzzies emotionally, I do this because it makes my cunt feel good, and I am in the majority of kinksters, not the minority. Look, seriously, this is not a rare gift I was given to play out on an audience of deserving men, this is what the fetish fairy handed me when the kinks were being given out.

When I spank Wildcard, it’s not because Wildcard drapes me in diamonds or folded all my laundry – the only compensation is his upturned ass, his willing and enthusiastic consent and his arousal. When I beat the shit out of my friend at a play party and he’s in tears, he doesn’t buy me dinner for the grace of getting a unicorn to kick him in the balls- getting to do that to him is as much a privilege as a dominant as it is a privilege as a sub to be doubled over clutching his candy. Because you know what? Without a partner, my dominance is just me, my hand and my fantasies in ForeverAloneVille. Just like a partnerless sub.

You could argue that if Wildcard walked under a bus (god forbid), the demand for femdoms is such that I could find a male sub, but the reality is that while there are certainly more men apparently identifying as male subs, he’s kinda irreplaceable. Much like how Dee over at Dumb Domme wouldn’t be so ripped up about her boy having to move, or Ferns of Domme Chronicles would not be on such a lengthy search if a good partner was something female dominants really could take for granted.

Cara Sutra is selling the idea that rather than being an inherently good match, you should expect to jump through thirty kinds of hoops, backwards with a wad of cash in your mouth. But really, this sort of blurring of lifestyle VS pro also pops up again in her advice to femdoms on how to decide which role suits you.

A good answer to the question of lifestyle VS pro is that the latter are sex workers, so you shouldn’t do it unless you are prepared to be a small business owner/independent contractor in a marginalized industry. Easy, right? Let’s see what Cara Sutra says:

Knowing whether you are a Professional or Lifestyle Mistress, or a submissive drawn to Professional or Lifestyle Domination, comes down to a number of factors. These include your understanding of and attitude to your own kink as well as your personal life circumstances.

For instance, you may be a woman with no desire to manage a submissive outside of a set session, or a submissive who cannot commit time beyond a session to serve a Mistress on a more day to day basis. Professional Domination would suit both of these cases.

Dafuq?Hmm… uh, I guess people who aren’t 24/7 don’t exist? I’m really surprised someone with Cara Sutra’s background appears to literally not know what the fuck she is talking about. If you don’t want to do D/s outside of defined ‘scenes’ you should go pro? Reeeeally. How did we go from “pro doms are skilled professionals” to this being the better option for women doing short haul D/s?

I really hope this is a typo, but again, it’s not really good advice to male subs that if they are not into round the clock D/s (eg bedroom only) a prodom is a better choice for them either.

Then she talks about some of the challenges of trying to figure out your orientation and spits out this gem:

In order to reduce the chance of psychological, emotional and sometimes even physical hurt, it is important to determine your orientation and Domination needs as early in your kink journey as possible. Investing time and emotion into a Dominant/submissive bond which does not combine the right facets for one or both people involved is a painful event which can potentially take years to heal.

Thoughtlessly experimenting with D/s relationships is no less hurtful than toying with a person’s emotions in vanilla relationships. Ensuring you are both on the same page will mean you’re doing your best to guard against any loss of interest, feeling neglected, getting hurt or hurting someone who is investing time and emotion in you.

I’m not entirely sure what this had to do with deciding if sex work is for you, but it’s still silly. it sounds nice and considerate- after all, relationship failures suck! It’s even the subject of my last blog post, where a couple discovered they had to renegotiate their relationship after it was already established. But you know what? That’s not the same thing as being a shitty partner, that’s a normal part of human sexuality.

I don’t know how you could get physically hurt by, in effect, breaking up with someone, but if you do, you are doing something wrong. Realistically, you generally need to try stuff to confirm you like it, and claiming testing this stuff and being wrong is the equivalent of being intentionally emotionally manipulative is unreasonable.

Assuming you are a new male sub or female dom reading this, or just someone curious about some kink ideas they have, Cara Sutra’s blog post is going to actively spread misinformation. Not only does it encourage taking up being a prodom without any sort of realistic look into what that involves, but it gives a very skewwed idea of what is okay behaviour in a non-professional relationship, as well as putting way, way too much weight on getting your feelings hurt.

It’s shit like this that lowers the quality expectations for women trying to make a living doing this, while discouraging women who are personally into it from indulging their curiosity and for male subs to lead with a huge pile of promises and presents that get in the way of getting to know the guy, while reflecting the deep shame he feels for being saddled with a kink that gets treated like a burden. It’s also stuff like this why I wrote things like “why I make a big deal out of not being a pro femdom“, and part of why it took me until my early twenties before I was confident enough to call myself a dominant.