You iz doin’ it wrong!

There are a gazillion ways to do it, to have aspects of dominance and submission (D/s) in your life and in your relationship. Each is so different that you may as well be talking apples and gorillas when you discuss it with people with whom you allegedly have a fundamental commonality.

Mine is a very specific type of D/s. It is a romantic relationship with all that that entails in the vanilla world, but I am the dominant partner in all aspects of the relationship.  At its simplest, that means that I have the final say in things that involve ‘us’.  If I have a preference, for example, I will decide what we will have for dinner, what he will wear, when we will go out, etc.  If I don’t have a preference, there is no compulsion for me to make those decisions – he doesn’t *need* me to make them, but if I have a desire for something, I get what I want.  I also take the lead in sex – I am his top, his sadist, the aggressor, the do-er.

I want to talk (rant?!) in this post about fallacies around long term romantic D/s relationships where the submissive is the primary partner to a female dominant… I know many of you have a relationship that looks kind of like that, or at least you have something that fits, somehow, into that box, with maybe some bits sticking out the top and some bits squeezed tightly and uncomfortably into corners.

It’s still one of the abiding fallacies that female dominance (even in long term romantic relationships) is about ‘scenes’ and said scenes involve some complicated script with lots of equipment and toys and a dungeon-space with the right atmosphere and the right leather/latex/something clothes (for her, natch…!). Accompanying that is the idea that women put on their ‘dominatrix face’ to ‘be dominant’ for the purpose of enacting control, that they become someone else.

A young woman recently told a newbie Domme that if she is dominant with her domestic partner, she should get a wig, make up an alternative name, and create a whole new persona for ‘the Domme’ and then refer to herself in the third person… “MistressBitchyPants will *not* be pleased when she finds out what you have done!!!” Really?!!! Who lives like that? Who would *want* to live like that? Does this seem like something that would work in a real life, long term relationship?

I have the same reaction when Dommes say “It is expensive to be a Domme, I have to buy all these clothes and toys!” Really?! What assumptions are being made for a statement like that to be true? You don’t *have to* buy any of those things, or *have* any of those things to be a Domme. Sure, they are cute and fun, but it has nothing to do with dominance.

I also wonder about the concept of Dommes ‘being on’ all the time, about finding dominance exhausting… I am not sure what that means. How does it work? Is it because ‘being on’ means putting on the ‘mean bitchy dominatrix face’? Of course that’s exhausting! So then, why do it? Surely it must be obvious out of the gate that it will be a complete energy suck? Isn’t it pretending to be someone that they aren’t? It exhausts me just to think about it. When I want to lie around in bed and get cuddles, am I on or off? When I want to beat him, am I on or off? When I cry at sad movies and he comforts me, am I on or off? When I make a decision about what we should have for dinner, am I on or off? It is baffling.

The myths about what it takes to “be the Domme” in a relationship are ridiculous and I always hear (and agree) that they are perpetuated by the media, by submissive males who have watched too much porn, but I think that’s too easy. Women themselves perpetuate these myths every time they buy into them, every time they look at themselves and try to figure out how to act, how to dress, how to talk, how to “be”… every time they doubt themselves because someone said to them “You iz doin’ it wrong!”

To me, having those strange expectations of D/s in a relationship is analogous to saying that a female in vanilla relationships must slip into French silk lingerie, put on one of her many cocktail dresses, have her hair and make-up professionally done in order to ‘be the woman’ and fulfil her part in a vanilla relationship… if you equate ‘scening’ to vanilla bedroom games, she must always ‘prepare’ for it, set the scene with candles, perfumes, lace curtains, sexy music, she must have an elaborate plan for her part in it, wear an enticing costume, call herself Candy and put on her ‘slutty face’ to ‘be the woman’. Sure it’s fun once in a while, but who would take those sorts of statements about ‘how to be a woman’ seriously?

It’s really really irritating to me even though I acknowledge that I sound like I am totally going “You iz doin’ it wrong!” to all the people who actually DO any or all of the above. Ha!

To me, all the talk about what a Domme *is* and how she *should* behave in a relationship makes no sense as soon as it doesn’t fall along the lines of “just be you”. There are ways to help new dominants find their way, but it boils down to just that… figure out what you like, know what you want, be clear about how you want the relationship to be and assert yourself with him… oh, and have some fun!  Really, it’s that simple…

P.S. He just now asked me if he could have a glass of wine, I said no. I didn’t even have to put on a special outfit or anything…

P.P.S. If you really are doing any or all of the above and it works for you and yours, then go you! *smile*

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30 Comments

  1. Interesting post!
    I do not think that there is a right or wrong way. Some Dommes get paid to fulfill male fantasy scenes. Some Dommes live in LT relationships that are both romantic and D/s. Some get off on scenes with gothic trapings. Who cares as long as they are consentual and over the age of consent.
    I find your relationship so real and interesting in that it is a true LT D/s and so emotionally fulfilling for the two of you (from my understanding of it in your blog). You are trying very hard to show others a lifestyle that You are justifyably proud of and a proponent of.
    My circumstance is different and may be in part coloured by BSDM porn but it is mine and it serves my emotional and relationship needs.
    How can that be doin' it wrong?

  2. robert: Thanks for your comments – I am going to address them a bit haphazardly (and long windedly!)…

    I want to point out that my post title was ironic… the whole point is that people telling women “You iz doin' it wrong” is wrong… just as *my* view also has overtones of “You iz doin' it wrong” in it… so I am one of *those* people just as I rant about *those* people!

    “Some Dommes get paid to fulfill male fantasy scenes. Some Dommes live in LT relationships that are both romantic and D/s. Some get off on scenes with gothic trapings.”

    Yes, *this* is why I confined my post to long term romantic relationships with a primary partner… you cannot compare apples with gorillas. In the context of long term romantic D/s relationships, you have to let go of many of those 'ways of being' that might work fine for other types of D/s relationships.

    “I do not think that there is a right or wrong way.”

    To me, the “wrong” way is any way that makes the woman feel like she is doing it wrong, any way that makes her have self-doubt, any way that makes her think “I should do blah…”, any way that makes her second guess how she is within herself – and that influence comes from so so many sources, it's ridiculous and frustrating.

    “My circumstance is different and may be in part coloured by BSDM porn but it is mine and it serves my emotional and relationship needs.
    How can that be doin' it wrong?”

    I don't know what your circumstances are, but anybody who is fulfilled in their relationship is doing it right. But if you are not in a long term romantic relationship where you share your vanilla life with your primary partner, then my point doesn't really apply to you. My post is about laying expectations on women about how they *should* be, specifically in a romantic LTR with a primary partner.

    I think part of the difficulty is that people who have had very successful D/s relationships where D/s is the primary component (that is, they meet up *as* Domme/sub for dates, they always speak to each other ‘in role’, they play lots, they don’t live together, they don’t really ‘hang out’ in a vanilla sense) never have to deal with daily challenges (sick relatives, exhaustion, paying bills, doing laundry, work stress etc), and it can be quite the shock when this becomes the primary relationship and *gasp* she is in a bad mood and doesn't want to beat his arse, or she is tired and just wants to lay in the tub without him hovering about etc. The *expectations* of how D/s works are often not transferable from other types of relationships into a romantic LTR with a primary partner, and THIS is where the big challenge is.

    That uber Domme who always wore the fabulous outfit, 6 inch heels and blood-red lipstick, who spoke harshly to you (which you loved!), who commanded you imperiously every time you got together, who was always ready to tie you up and flog you is now just Mary Jane… what does that mean, really? It is surprising to see how many relationships falter with the realisation that she *is* just Mary Jane, and you know what? Mary Jane is frigging AWESOME and smart and funny and she gets sad and distracted and lonely and she gets hurt and is vulnerable, and she has doubts and she’s sweet and loving and she loves reading and drinking and acting silly and she enjoys cuddles and kissing and romantic comedies and she is demanding and stubborn and difficult and moody… she is not the uber Domme that she was when she was meeting up for play dates with her 6 inch heels and latex. She is a *real* person who has to get her needs met as a whole person, who has to be able to be comfortable in her own skin, who has her own way of being dominant, who has to be free to run her relationship in a way that makes her happy… all of that. To do that, she has to shut out the voices that yell over and over, “You iz doin’ it wrong!” (including mine!).

    Ferns

  3. Firstly, let me say that I truly have the utmost respect for you, the way you lead your live and the your relationship (as I perceive yu and it).
    I think we are trying to say the same thing. No one should judge the relationship between two people.
    I am in a long term loving relationship. So I do understand the everyday of life in a committed relationship . What I am trying to say is that I also embrace the creation of “scenes” with the lipstick and 6″ heels, the bondage and serving.For me they are as hot you seem to be in the “blur” blog you posted .
    Saying that, your intimacy and lifestyle are to me a source of wonder and joy. An example of a life well lived. That you are so open in sharing it is also a source of wonder and joy.
    I think that the difference is that I see D/s as play and you see it as an essential part of your lifestyle.
    Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying you is doing it wrong. You are going it very right. The sceners with the high theatre are also doing it right.

  4. Hear hear!!! I dont' have a primarily D/s dynamic, but leaving behind that “scene” mentality and internalizing the notion that it should be fun and natural for ME, as well as for the bottom/sub, has been so helpful. For instance, I went shopping with my partner this weekend and picked out every single thing and bossed the hell out of him and made him try on pants and walk around for me and it was the hottest thing ever. There was no PVC, no high heels, none of that – just my visceral need to control him. It was GREAT.

  5. While I have never actually HAD a D/s relationship, I would think that it should evolve it's own natural order. Just as in a vanilla relationship, both Domme and sub would fall into their respective roles and grow in them. I think that there are women who are naturally dominant just as there are men who are naturally submissive. As love and trust grow between them, so does their ability to fulfill their roles. This would happen completely apart from any “scene” or toys. It is not a matter of playing a specific part, but rather being who you are and striving to please your partner.

    Of course, there must be certain agreed upon “rules of engagement” that would help to define the roles of each. They would evolve over time as the needs of both partners dictate. The kinky play aspects of the relationship (aside from being LOTS of fun!!!) would bring them closer and build the level of trust and caring.

    I personally feel that I would need to have some emotional connection with someone before getting involved in a scene. I would much rather be seduced into submitting by a vanilla looking, but dominant woman than paying a professional Dominatrix for the “privilege” of being spanked.

    Of course, this is all just my personal opinion.

  6. robert: Thank you so much for coming back and explaining your situation a little further, and for being so sweet about it. I appreciate it very much.

    I don’t think we are disagreeing, we are, though, talking about quite different things.

    You and your partner have found what works for you, I love hearing that, I am a sap for happiness – it’s rare and precious. And goodness yes, full-on scenes with all the trappings *are* fun (god forbid I would ever argue against that!).

    My point is not about whether one type of relationship is better/more twue/more weal than another, I am not making judgements on that… my issue is with the pressure many dominant women feel to *be* a certain way in order to ‘be the dominant’ in a particular type of full time D/s relationship.

    “I think that the difference is that I see D/s as play and you see it as an essential part of your lifestyle.” [note: I would substitute the word ‘relationship’ for ‘lifestyle’ there, but the point is still spot on]

    Yes! Apples and gorillas. When I described the type of relationship I am commenting on (even in trying to be as clear as possible, it is *still* so difficult to point to it and go ‘that one!’), I am talking about the one where D/s is a fundamental part of the relationship, in daily interactions, in ‘normal life’. That’s where women get this awful pressure and ‘noise’ about how to ‘be’, that’s where there are expectations that she is ‘that scene person’ all the time, that she has to act a certain way all the time, speak in a certain tone, use certain words, look a certain way, behave in a particular manner, that she has to ‘be some particular way’, day in and day out, all the frigging time! That’s what makes me grit my teeth and go “Grrrrrrr….!!!”…

    Ferns

  7. seitzk: “…leaving behind that “scene” mentality and internalizing the notion that it should be fun and natural for ME, as well as for the bottom/sub, has been so helpful.”

    YES!! Hearing this makes me happy, thank you for sharing!! This is exactly it and beautifully expressed. Achieving this is very difficult for many women… for some it flows naturally, and is barely a blip, but some go through many broken and difficult relationships that make them feel like they have 'failed' before they can get to exactly this point.

    “For instance, I went shopping with my partner this weekend…There was no PVC, no high heels, none of that – just my visceral need to control him. It was GREAT.”

    *laugh* That does sound like *much* fun for both of you! I adore those vanilla-public D/s games… telling him what to eat, ordering his drinks, making him try things on etc. It draws him close to me and reminds him of his place.

    Ferns

  8. Slapshot: “While I have never actually HAD a D/s relationship, I would think that it should evolve it's own natural order… It is not a matter of playing a specific part, but rather being who you are and striving to please your partner.”

    I think you have described it perfectly in that paragraph. That is exactly how it would work in an ideal world, but we don’t live in a vacuum… there are so many influences on dominant women that that natural evolution of relationships is often railroaded by an avalanche of misinformation and *pressure* that is perpetuated from many many sources.

    ** Warning: more lengthy rambling follows…**

    If my boy needed me to get into full uber-Domme mode to do what I said (or, indeed, to get into the mood to play), then I would have seen that very early on and I would not have chosen him. For many new dominants, though, it can be very difficult to negotiate the muddy waters, and their first instinct is nearly always to think that they are doing it wrong (you aren’t!!! If you are being true to yourself and what you want, you *so* aren’t doing it wrong!!).

    Let’s say a Domme has met a submissive boy who she thinks is lovely, perfect, they get along really well, have a lot of fun together, the dynamic seems right, the play is fabulous, and they move towards a full time D/s relationship. She asks him early on one morning to get her a coffee and he cocks an eyebrow at her… she realises he wants to be ‘ordered’ to do it. If she hasn’t got much experience, she may think that she *must* do the uber-Domme thing just to get a cup of coffee. So she may play at it and snarl, “Go and get my coffee, useless worm-boy!” He trots off all happily and she gets her coffee. This pattern of expectations, action and reaction, ‘uber-Domme and submissive boy’ continues in all aspects of their lives. Fast forward a month or two later and she is exhausted, wrung out and dissatisfied that she can’t even get a cup of coffee in the morning without it being a big production, and he is disillusioned and disappointed that she wakes up in the morning and murmers “Coffee, please” at him, half asleep, because that’s not very dominant of her. When they have a chat about it, you know what he says to her, maybe not in so many words, but his point is “You iz doin’ it wrong!”

    He is not making her life better or easier in any way, he is playing out a fantasy in his head and she is his prop, and I actually don’t think he is a bad person, submissive men are just as badly bombarded with ‘how to be’, just as trapped in those roles, and just as bound by messages from a million sources, but that problem is not what I wanted to address here.

    The kicker in this scenario is that the dominant woman is likely to believe it… she is likely to believe that she is doing it wrong, that she is failing at ‘being a Domme’, and it may take her years and multiple bad relationships to go “Hoooolllddd on…! Isn’t this supposed to be making me happy?! Aren’t I supposed to be running this relationship they way *I* want?…”

    If I could fast track new dominants to that point, I would be pretty darned pleased!

    Oh, and slapshot… with your attitude, I think you are going to make the lucky dominant woman who gets to claim you very happy indeed.

    Ferns

  9. Oh this reminded me when I first heard the word *scene* in reference to the D/s. I thought, “what in the world??!!” LOL Oh, dear.

    I had struggled for years about my need to control my partner. I was raised by my grand-parents and a female led relationship was certainly not a part of their world. A woman that was making the decisions for a family was not spoken well of in many cases. Needless to say, Grandpa and I butted heads…a lot. I have only relaxed into my need in the past couple of years.

    Recently, with the help of my sub, I have relaxed even more. Almost always when I want something from him I say please, would you? etc. Behind that polite soft as silk language I firmly expect him to do Exactly as I have requested. He understands this. I believe that everyone should be treated w/ respect until they have proven themselves unworthy of it.

    It is so very difficult as a *new* Domme to find the correct footing and to realize that some of that footing is going to change over time and w/ relationships. For me it was Allowing myself to be dominant. Giving myself permission and recognizing that being a dominant woman does not make me a bad person. Perhaps even a better person than I was when I was fighting all my urges..because I'm happier.

    Faith

  10. Faith: “Oh this reminded me when I first heard the word *scene* in reference to the D/s. I thought, “what in the world??!!””

    *laugh* I know, funny right? My boy (a newbie) had the same reaction… “What? Am I in a movie now?!”

    “It is so very difficult as a *new* Domme to find the correct footing and to realize that some of that footing is going to change over time and w/ relationships. For me it was Allowing myself to be dominant.”

    This is a great point. People change and grow, and there has to be room to allow that change. I suspect that the challenge you faced in allowing yourself to be dominant is a common one for ‘nice vanilla girls’. I think if the ‘nice vanilla girl’ is also a sadist, that feeling of wrongness and guilt is exacerbated hugely and accepting that it’s okay can be very difficult.

    With the above, we then have the multiple pressures from the external sources (uber-bitch-Domme etc) AND from the internal sources ('but nice girls don't…'). It’s a wonder any of us make it into healthy relationships!

    “Perhaps even a better person than I was when I was fighting all my urges..because I'm happier.”

    I’m always so glad to hear about happy people and relationships… congratulations!

    Ferns

  11. Both Claire and me find its the most “normal” (not going to do the whole whatever that is bit lol) and everyday things and situations that provide the most enjoyment a lot of the time. Yes, toys and scenes etc are fun, but there is something much deeper and more rewarding about the day to day stuff :-)

  12. Some people emphasize the scene stuff, and build a relationship around it. Some people emphasize the relationship stuff, and build scenes around it.

    And some people say they have chateaus.

  13. herboypaul: “Both Claire and me find… there is something much deeper and more rewarding about the day to day stuff :-)”

    I am so glad you have found such goodness in the 'normal'.

    Since 90% of most relationships are made up of the 'day to day stuff', it's so important that it works.

    Ferns

  14. Vague: “…And some people say they have chateaus.”

    I was formally trained in Italy where I was one of a stable of slaves in the grand chateau. My Mistresses and Masters were from the oldest slave houses in Europe, and while I was there I was kept shackled in the dungeon and… oh wait… this was a porn story right?

    Ferns

  15. I think those scene trappings were what kept me from coming to terms with my dominance for so long. I dind't look, feel, or act like the 'dommes' I saw around me, and I didn't understand how this could work in terms of a romantic relationship.

    Now that I'm in one, it makes so much more sense. I'm not 'on' all the time. I'm just me. Or as my go-to stock phrase number 37 states 'I do what I want!'. We don't need to put on fancy outfits to have fun. We can eat some macncheese, watch tripping the rift, and then I can hurt him because I enjoy it, or have him draw me a bath, or say no when he asks if he can use the bathroom – all while wearing sweat pants. Its amazing.

    Though he and I both enjoy setting up more formal scenes as well – either ones that we collaberate on, or ones that I come up with and surprise him with. We're both ritual, woo-woo minded people, so that works for us.

    But yeah, thats just us.

  16. Wendy Blackheart: “I think those scene trappings were what kept me from coming to terms with my dominance for so long. I dind't look, feel, or act like the 'dommes' I saw around me, and I didn't understand how this could work in terms of a romantic relationship.”

    This. You have hit exactly my point about influence… and the choices when exposed to it are to either conform, reject the whole thing, or forge your own path. Of those, the first is the easiest and most logical when you are new and trying to find your feet… there are so many voices telling you what is ‘normal’ in this world that the natural thing to do is say ‘ok, well, I’ll give that a go then…’ And it can ‘work’ to an extent, because you get validation everywhere, from submissive men, from popular media, from other women etc. But it’s not at all helping you to feel comfortable with your own dominance or helping you to figure out who you are as a dominant in your own skin.

    “Now that I'm in one, it makes so much more sense. I'm not 'on' all the time. I'm just me. Or as my go-to stock phrase number 37 states 'I do what I want!'… Its amazing.”

    Perfection! Thank you (and congratulations on your amazing relationship!).

    Ferns

  17. P.S. He just now asked me if he could have a glass of wine, I said no. I didn't even have to put on a special outfit or anything…

    I laughed. You rock. I just told my boy he couldn't have anymore soda. He made a sad face and then smiled. I was wearing my pajamas. ^u^

  18. Phoray: “I just told my boy he couldn't have anymore soda. He made a sad face and then smiled. I was wearing my pajamas.”

    *laugh* Awesome! Pyjama domination is one of the best kinds!

    Ferns

  19. Oh, I love this. At age 38 I’ve only *just* realised that it’s possible to be exactly the kind of dominant woman I am, rather than the kind of dominant woman of the stereotypes which have turned me off from wanting to explore any further. When I met my husband we were aware of a D/s vibe, I tried putting on a Bitchy McDommeFace role and we hated it, so we stopped “doing D/s”, or so we thought. It wasn’t until nearly ten years later that I reconciled the part of me that has always luxuriated in his focus on my pleasure in bed, with the part of me which has always taken the lead in making day to day decisions, with the part of me that feels all warm and snuggly and loved when he makes my bed for me every day, with the part of me who can reduce him to helpless lustful begging while I’m comfy in my pink flannelette pyjamas and bedsocks, and realised that it’s all the same thing, because dominance is all about ME and what’s going on in MY mind, and has nothing to do with anybody else’s ideas of what makes a dominant woman. Thank you for being one of the people who helped me realise this :-)

    1. “At age 38 I’ve only *just* realised that it’s possible to be exactly the kind of dominant woman I am, rather than the kind of dominant woman of the stereotypes which have turned me off from wanting to explore any further.”

      I’m so glad you got there, for you and for your lucky husband!

      Your experience (of giving it a go and thinking, ‘well, this is kind of crap!’) is so very common, and it drives a lot of women away from getting what they want.

      “…dominance is all about ME and what’s going on in MY mind, and has nothing to do with anybody else’s ideas of what makes a dominant woman.”

      Yes!! This.

      “Thank you for being one of the people who helped me realise this :-)”

      That I helped at all makes me sooo happy! Thank you so much for your comment.

      Ferns

  20. You’re very welcome :-) Putting this kind of information out there as a counter to the stereotypes is an incredible gift, acknowledgement is the least I can give back.

    I figured I should probably add my name to the above accidentally-anonymous comment, too.

  21. Thank you so much! I had tried to dominate in the past and always felt it was SO exhausting and that I wasn’t “doing it right” so I gave up and went back to being unsatisfyingly vanilla. Recently I’ve gotten into a relationship with a lovely boy who has unknowingly helped me realize that it doesn’t take all of the facade of the stereotype. (He submits even when I wear my flannel pajamas or my holey jeans with the ripped sweatshirt!)

    1. Your experience is so common, and SUCH a shame!

      I’m so happy to hear that you found a lovely boy to help you get rid of those stereotypical pressures. Yay!!

      I wish you much more happiness and if you want to share a happy femdom story (no pressure!), I’d love it!

      Ferns

  22. I think that Carli stumbled across a way to undermine the stereotypes. Disregarding the costumes and wearing ordinary street clothes (or pajamas).

  23. “You Iz Doin’ Wrong”-to put it another way, a lifestyle Domme is expected to do the act that a Pro-Domme might put on for a client.

    Another form of erasure?

    I have looked a comments post online by lifestyle Dommes. Apparently, when they have mentioned that they are (lifestyle)Dommes , it is assumed that their experiences are, in effect, training for a Pro-Domme career. Training as a kind of sex worker.

    Another form of erasure? Explain away a woman’s natural dominance as a sort of prelude to sex work?

  24. If we dump the old Pro-Domme stereotypes, and embrace Romantic Femdom, we will be in uncharted territory.

    Quoting from the Femdom web site Female Controlled Relationship:

    “A female led relationship casts aside the assigned gender roles given by society and it creates a different relationship. For many men and women this is new and exciting…Changing gender roles makes both partners vulnerable because they are exploring new territory together. While exploring a female led relationship both partners find themselves in new roles that can be scary and exciting at the same time.”

    An implication is that we may enter a period of experimentation/innovation.

  25. I should explain my last post…when I quoted that web site, I had Romantic Femdom in mind.

    BTW, I feel that I should apologize to you Ferns. I have been doing way too much ranting on your web site.

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