BDSM references

In some quarters of the BDSM world, there is a penchant for references.

A lot of newbies are advised to ask potential D/s partners for references, and if they can’t provide any, that’s a red flag because anyone trustworthy will have ex play partners who can tell you all about them. And if they don’t have any exes who can provide references, it’s probably because THEY KILLED THEM ALL!!!

It’s ridiculous.

If you have mutual friends, that’s something different. That’s a pretty normal part of social interaction: “Hey, I’m going out with Dave next week, you know him, right? Good guy?”

But a reference from a stranger? About another stranger? I don’t get it.

Pretty much everyone can find someone to vouch for them, or can get someone to lie for them. Why would they give you the name of someone who wasn’t going to speak in glowing terms about them? And if you did speak to some stranger about them, why is THEIR word as a ‘referee’ more acceptable than the word of the person you are actually talking to? And why would that stranger’s judgement about the person be more sound than your own judgement?

My D/s relationships are romantic ones and they develop just like normal vanilla relationships. I’d no more expect to be asked for a reference by a potential D/s partner than I would expect it from a vanilla guy I was going to date. By the same token, I would rather stick needles in my eyes than contact one of my ex submissives and ask them to provide a reference to my new potential submissive. Seriously?! Fuck off!

But, I would say that, wouldn’t I, since I don’t have any references (red flag! red flag!) and if someone insisted that they can’t possibly get to know me any further without one, I’d happily pass.

If it makes someone feel better to hear from one stranger that this other stranger is a-ok, then have at it I guess. Me and the other serial killers will be over here in the corner.

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17 Comments

  1. Thank you, just thank you.

    Sometimes, in *those* threads, I roll my eyes too hard and have to go chase them from underneath the desk and stuff.

    It’s like, oh hi, I’m going to base everything and my own safety NOT on myself but on the word of random people.

    1. Your education is progressing nicely.

      Also, I hear your washing machine has filled up with kitten blood. I’d be getting that seen to if I was you…

      * For those of you currently going ‘wtf was that about?’, follow us on twitter and you will be privy to secrets never before shared with anyone (except other twitterers, and, um, the rest of the world…)

      Ferns

  2. I have never felt the need to ask anyone for references. I can’t see wasting someone’s time in making her find friends to tell me lies when she can easily do it herself.

    It’s worked out well for me so far… None of my kittens have been eaten yet.

    1. “I can’t see wasting someone’s time in making her find friends to tell me lies when she can easily do it herself.”

      *laugh* Touché.

      “None of my kittens have been eaten yet.”

      Aww, that’s so sad… one day you will meet the perfect Domme, and then there will be kitten-eating galore! Huzzah!

      Ferns

  3. This seems like it could have been critical advice at some point, but is becoming less and less relevant.

    I feel like people just out to get a kink fix, playing with strangers or hiring a dominatrix would still benefit from asking for references.

    1. “This seems like it could have been critical advice at some point, but is becoming less and less relevant.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this. At what point might it have been critical? And why is it becoming less relevant? What do you think has changed? Do you mean ‘in the age of the internet’?

      “I feel like people just out to get a kink fix, playing with strangers or hiring a dominatrix would still benefit from asking for references.”

      But why? References are *always* going to be the same (‘he/she’s awesome, wonderful, amazing’) and then… so what? At best it *may* prove that they have ‘someone’ who will say nice things about them. You have no idea who that other person is. Maybe it’s THEM with a different voice/email address. Maybe it’s their partner in serial-killing crime. Maybe it’s their mum. Where is the value in it?

      It’s a false way of ‘feeling safer’ and can actually be harmful if the person believes this stranger over their own gut instinct that ‘something is wrong’.

      “I feel like people just out to get a kink fix, playing with strangers or hiring a dominatrix would still benefit from asking for references.”

      I hear tell that you played at a party… Did you ask for references? Did she ask you for references? Or did you get to know each other some and decide that you were each reasonable people who would behave in an acceptable and safe manner with each other?

      While professional Dommes are a different case, I’d say that you would be *much* better off checking out their public presence, their involvement with the community, their reviews, their history, their local contacts etc and I would think that if all that lines up, your concern would be more about deciding if you are going to get your money’s worth than for safety. In that case, I can see the value of speaking to some of their former clients to get an idea of what their sessions entail, but the same thing applies. They are not going to give you the names of those who were not happy with their service. That’s just bad business.

      Ferns

      1. It seems like people who wanted to engage in BDSM when (or in places where) it was illegal… You make a good point obviously, that it’s false way of feeling safer. It just seems like people used to be able to trade on reputation, and that used to mean something, not just in BDSM but everywhere.

        I still think I (a hypothetical I, who isn’t broke and is interested in paying for it) wouldn’t pay a dominatrix without hearing from someone I trusted that she knows what she’s doing, and she’s doing it well. Something less falsifiable than a positive Yelp review.

        And my thing was a whole different deal, it’s not like a followed anyone into a dark alley based on a bit of conversation and the feeling that they were “cool.”

      2. “It just seems like people used to be able to trade on reputation, and that used to mean something, not just in BDSM but everywhere.”

        I agree, and maybe that’s where the *idea* started. Small communities where everyone knows everyone and a reference was always from ‘a known person’.

        “I still think I… wouldn’t pay a dominatrix without hearing from someone I trusted that she knows what she’s doing, and she’s doing it well.”

        Right, but references from ‘someone I trusted’ are not what we are talking about here. Of course those have value.

        “And my thing was a whole different deal, it’s not like a followed anyone into a dark alley based on a bit of conversation and the feeling that they were “cool”.”

        That’s the thing though, yours *wasn’t* a different deal (srsly, ‘dark alley’?!). You did *what sensible, mature people do*. They get to know someone well enough that they can make smart decisions for themselves versus relying on stranger-references as if they provide useful information.

        Ferns

    1. *smirks back* I think you are mistaking the term ‘references’ for ‘alibi’.

      “She was with me the whole time, officer, whenever it was that that terrible thing happened with the cattle prod!”

      Ferns

  4. Personally, I feel more inclined to see a new person if they volunteer ref’s from reputable Dommes and/or Dommes I know.
    I often offer myself as a reference but have only been asked a few times in all these years.
    Overall, I agree with what you’ve said though.
    Best,
    Mistress T

    1. “… from reputable Dommes and/or Dommes I know.”

      I think that’s the key phrase, and it makes perfect sense if you have the community network, *especially* if you are a pro-Domme or casual private player and you are not spending time getting to know the person in normal social environments.

      It’s the ‘reference about a stranger from another stranger’ that makes absolutely no sense to me, and the fact that this is pushed at newbies as ‘the done thing’… silliness.

      Ferns

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