I Before E, Except After BDSM: Lifestyle BDSM Vs Professional Domination

During this month’s adult sex education Twitter-fest, I’ve met a number of sex positive folks and read some damn good articles. (You should too.) However, as always, there are some articles which require comment past the 140 characters.

This is especially true when it comes to relationships ~ including those of professional variety, i.e. those involving the paid services of sex workers. After all, other than the golden rules of respect and consent, there are not as many hard and fast “rules” or “facts” when it comes to the ins and outs of human interaction as there are to the more physical ins and outs of screwing. With relationships, it’s even more like “I before E, except after C”. …And with D/s, it can get even weirder. (That’s a play on the spelling rule, not a judgement!) Be that as it may, I’ll try to clarify some of the rules of BDSM engagements based on the articles I recently discovered.

In Lifestyle VS Pro and The Male Sub Loot Grab, Pearl O’Leslie responds with criticism to Cara Sutra‘s BDSM & FemDom Advice: Lifestyle versus Professional Domination article. Oh, where to begin…

submitting maleMy first issue is that the term “Lifestyle Domination” is used. I may be old school (or even just plain old), but the term “lifestyle” is a sociological term referring to how an individual’s world view shapes the way they live every day. It’s not like the Christians who only go to church on Sunday, but rather the term would be most accurately applied to those who walk the path of The Bible every day. And in terms of a BDSM, “lifestyle” is reserved for folks who consent to BDSM as a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, way of living. That sort of dedication to a way of life should immediately be seen as distinct from using the services of a professional domme. For no matter how rigorous and firm her control, whether you meet in the flesh in a Dominatrix’s dungeon or employ a phone sex Mistress, there are obviously limits to this being a lifestyle. (Not the least of which is the male submissive’s bank account.) In any case, there aren’t as many lifestyle, 24/7, D/s folks out there as some would have you think. (No matter how strong the turn on, there are other facets of life, other responsibilities and realities that conflict with such consistent roles of dominance & submission.)

Regardless of whether or not you wish to quibble over the accuracy of lifestyle D/s versus some hot sex involving BDSM or role play featuring power exchanges, there are a lot of other issues to address here.

In the most simplistic sense, what separates the professional female dominant from the rest of the pack is the matter of pay. This, technically, would make any domme who is not paid an amateur. While the amateur ranking may be accurate, I don’t think any of them would like that label. *wink* But it does bring up one of the issues Sutra raised, that of experience. At least that is what I am hoping Sutra intended when she wrote:

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.

It does sound a bit, well, classist, as if a sex worker choosing to incorporate BDSM into her bag of tricks isn’t approved of. But says who? That may be just what the client and sex worker want. Anyway, this does raise other “your mileage may vary” issues of satisfaction. Including *sigh* the oldest one in the book.

As with any professional services involving sex workers, there are many who feel that the very fact that it’s a paid service means the acts and interactions are “less than” the free variety. Some even go so far as to find professional services void of the proper emotional components. And when it comes to BDSM, there are many who feel the pay to play angle ruins the power exchange dynamic for the femdom. From years of personal experience as a sex worker, I can tell you that a lack of emotional integrity is not an inherent part of sex work; often it is quite the opposite. However, even with the larger data set, my experiences would be as anecdotal as the experiences of anyone else. But this is a fact: It is not only possible for a professional femdom to enjoy her kinky BDSM sessions with a client, but it is very likely that she will. She may not orgasm then & there; but then, he may not either. It depends on the type of session & service, and how well the service provider and client are matched. This requires honesty & communication from all parties involved.

Nevertheless, in all this talk of emotions, needs, and fantasies lies subjective truths for each individual to consider before they make decisions to partake of professional services, become a sex worker, or even move from BDSM fantasies to actual BDSM acts.

Onto my next point.

Like O’Leslie, I too take issue with Sutra’s declaration that “Professional Dommes are not prostitutes.” The first problem is use of the outdated, whorephobic term “prostitute” which negates the fact that sex work is indeed work. The second problem is lies withing the denial of the sexual component of domming. This is nothing but an attempt to distance oneself from the stigma of sex work. Or, as O’Leslie puts it, “it’s trying to distance the penis touchers from the people who just do hit & bossy.” Amen.

Overall, O’Leslie’s main issue with Sutra’s post is that Sutra suggests that male submissives should offer their Mistresses gifts. O’Leslie calls this “male sub loot grab” and, as it sounds, she finds it problematic:

  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.

Any relationship has the opportunity for exploitation. Any fears of it being worse with BDSM are undone with the “safe, sane, and consensual” rule (SSC); even Risk-aware consensual kink (RACK) avoids exploitation. As long as a subbie consents to the parameters of gift giving necessities in their D/s relationship, even in context of financial domination, I don’t see the problem.

In fact, I can defend the mere expectation of male subs giving gifts to their female dominant partners.

foot worship stockingsGift-giving is a sign of adoration, respect, and worship. What male submissive isn’t to display those attributes to his Domina?

Also, there is a long tradition of men lavishing their ladies ~ ladies of love or lust ~ with gifts of all sorts. This has special power in our patriarchal world and works on many levels, even if a gent isn’t a true submissive into BDSM or D/s of any sort. Call it “courting”, call it “generosity”, call it hard-core “financial domination”; the only difference is the intention and the thrill. And what both parties agree to.

But we should not ignore the fact that gift giving or other expectations are tools used to make a submissive feel worthless. On purpose. Sometimes feeling worthless is itself the very thing sought. Humiliation of the male submissive can be just as much a part of the D/s turn-on as rape fantasies are for some women.

As for the notion that giving gifts “perpetuates the idea that a femdom is a service provider filling the male sub’s fantasy, rather than two or more equals coming together”, that would equate, again, to the notion that a professional dominatrix isn’t capable of satisfaction and getting her kink on simply because she is paid.  Again, that’s simply not true. And that is why Sutra goes to great lengths to discuss the feelings of the pro domme (or those women considering becoming a pro domme). Sex workers have feelings too. Especially when they are serving up their own favorite kind of kink. As O’Leslie says, “relationship failures suck!”

Overall, I agree with many of O’Leslie’s points. I especially agree that Sutra’s article is a disservice in terms of educating or informing anyone about the intricacies and expectations involved in prodom work. Anyone interested in more regarding femdommes and male subs should also read O’Leslie’s Why I Make A Big Deal About Not Being A Pro Femdom post.

4 thoughts on “I Before E, Except After BDSM: Lifestyle BDSM Vs Professional Domination

  1. Oh hey, links! Thanks! :)

    Okay to clarify, for me the problem with the loot expectations is a couple of things:

    Findom is a valid vehicle for humiliation and helplessness, but it’s problematic when it gets treated like the default expectation for male submissives as Cara Sutra did.

    For example CBT is a not uncommon sex act performed in F/m. I like it, because my sexuality includes a high amount of sadism. However if someone said it was good BDSM etiquette to be punched in the dick and you should let a woman punch you in the dick when you’re first getting to know her to prove your submission and that subs who don’t do CBT aren’t as inherently submissive or should push past reluctance because they will be skipped over in favour of more willing subs… and there was also rampant fraud around women announcing they were doms and thus dick punching is mandatory… then you’d have a problem similar to the way that findom/wishlists are currently being handled in kink at large.

    That and there remains enough confusion that people actually need to write articles on ‘lifestyle VS pro’ which is about as absurd as needing to explain as ‘the difference between a stripper and a girlfriend’..

    Now as far as gifting being equivalent to a rape fantasy, I would have presumed that actually a rape fantasy is the equal to a rape fantasy, Lots of guys with sub leanings like the ideal of bodily integrity violations on the same spectrum of female rape fantasies, from outright violence, through to the sort of aggressive uh… codpiece shredding that would not be out of place in a gender swapped bodice ripper but would probably better be characterized as ‘reluctant’ than ‘con-non-con’.

    Now as far as professional dominants being more skilled… well, there’s not exactly a governing board handing out ISO certifications and all I need to do to qualify as a pro to to tell people I am and take money for it. I think the distinction is probably that *successful* prodoms have to be skilled. ;)

  2. Hiya Miss Pearl (aka Pearl O’Leslie),

    Thanks for stopping by & clarifying your stance. Again, I agree with most of what you wrote; just had to add my two cents. :)

    I would imagine even defining what is “successful” in terms of being a prodom would still get varied responses. So many would attack even a domme with high ratings, piles of money, etc. as “pandering” and letting her clients top from the bottom etc. Her “success” would be defined as a sex worker and not as a “real mistress”. It is annoying as there are many reasons a person opts for pro services of anything. Just as there are many valid reasons a person opts to be a sex worker ~ and decides what kind of sex worker they will be. Oh, I could go on forever. ;)

    One other thing I would like to note: there are a number of distinctions in terms of rape fantasies ~ we should totally work on something together about that. Interested?

    With much affection,
    Gracie

  3. Pingback: Rape Fantasies Are Normal, Even If You’ve Been Raped | Sex~Kitten.net

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