It’s hard to write about the issues I have with the lines blurring between professional and lifestyle Dommes without sounding like I’m anti sex workers.
But I’m not. I think pro-Dommes are amazing.
I think skilled, ethical real-world pro dominants do an awesome and valuable job. The good ones invest considerable time, energy, and money into their craft, their spaces, their equipment and into making sure their clients get what they paid for, both physically and emotionally. I think it’s a difficult job, and they deserve every penny of the money they make.
I think skilled, ethical online pros and findoms also do a great job. Those who deliver exactly what they say they will, hone their skills in different ways, build their persona, do endless marketing work, produce a ton of various kinds of content, build their customer base and etc.
A thing I hate, though, and that harms me as a lifestyle dominant, is when the lines between ‘for-money domination and not’ become so blurry that ‘truth for pros’ is touted and heard as ‘truth for dominants’, when it is declared loudly and often as ‘the way that F/m works’.
This is not new, at all. Pretty sure the idea that ‘dommes don’t fuck their subs’ has a long history of ‘pros don’t fuck their clients’ behind it.
But man, when I see proclamations about ‘what domination is’ from pros shouted from the rooftops and amplified by nodding heads and clicking buttons, and it’s unclear that they are talking as professionals about their clients, it grinds my gears because it’s often SO wrong from a personal relationship standpoint.
“I’m a lifestyle domme, here’s the services I offer” (no! that’s not how it works)
“I’m looking for a devoted slave” (no, you’re looking for a client, not the same thing!)
“A sub is not a boyfriend or a husband!” (yes, yes they often are)
“That’s what it is to be a domme, subs outgrow you and move on” (what? not even close)
“If you respect your domme, PAY HER” (nope)
“I love all my subs” (no, no you don’t, treasured client: yes. Actual-for-real love: no)
“A real domme would never have sex with a sub” *chews on an old chestnut*
“No good domme would give a sub access to their body” *cries*
“No dominant is going to talk to you if you aren’t willing to pay” (arrrrggghhh!!!)
And etc etc etc.
If I heard those things in a context where it was clear they are professionals, then that’s totally cool. That’s marketing and persona-development and role playing and world-building and business savvy. I get it.
But that’s not what’s happening.
What’s happening is that I’m seeing those types of statements (and many many more) from pros and their clients (and those adjacent to them) touted as ‘how F/m works’ with no clear indication that they are talking about professional or for-pay situations.
When I see a statement like those above, and think ‘wtf?!’, I will look to see if they’re a pro or not. Many state it clearly in their bio (that’s cool then, I get it, and that’s all it takes), but just as many do not, and clients of pro Dommes who parrot the same schtick really never do, so it’s often not easy to tell where these views are coming from. And a lot of the originating accounts are successful with large followings, so their statements get a lot of traction and likes and shares and ‘preach!’ and ‘you’re so right, Mistress’ing in response.
It bleeds out and infiltrates the spaces and minds of folks who actually want a for-real personal love-based D/s relationship, and that can have a serious and negative impact on those non-pros, especially if they’re new.
A lot of newbies come into non-pro F/m spaces with idiotic ideas because THIS is all they’ve seen, all they’ve been exposed to, the ‘one true way’ as espoused by professionals. I’d add also that it opens the door for scammers who take advantage of this fact (how many times do you see malesubs asking ‘do I have to pay tribute, is that normal?’).
When newbies step out into F/m spaces where it’s just us lifestylers, we blast them for those attitudes. I see the confusion this causes on Fetlife, reddit, in my inbox, in DMs from femdoms and malesubs alike, and I think it’s unfair not to acknowledge that they aren’t coming to these ideas in a vacuum. We quickly blame porn, but when I, a multi-decade old timer, can’t tell if all the voices spouting dubious ‘here’s how it is’ ideas are pros or not, what chance do newbies have? It’s often not newbies’ fault that they have no idea what non-pro F/m might look like (or that it exists at all, to be frank) because they’ve never seen it anywhere.
A big part of this is that we have no widespread representations of ‘normal healthy F/m relationships’, so there is no balance being shown.
This kind of imbalance doesn’t happen with conventional cis-het vanilla relationships and professional sex workers/porn/marketing etc. Porn or sex work has little to no impact on ‘how people see vanilla relationships’ because we are surrounded everywhere and always with models of ‘how a vanilla relationship looks’ (and those models have their own problems, but I’m not tackling that today). My point is that ‘how pro/client relationships work’ in the vanilla world are not EVER confused for ‘how non-pro relationships work’.
In F/m, the overwhelming visibility of relationships is pro/client because marketing is a thing, and there is no media that counters that in any meaningful way. And when the pro/client voices are the loudest and they start nudging into non-pro spaces with definitive declarations of ‘how F/m relationships work’, that hurts us.
And here’s the thing: Good professional dominants have a ton of great and valuable experience, many share their expertise with their local communities, many have personal F/m relationships, they have a good handle on consent and negotiation and safety, many have mad skills with toys and technique and etc, and their voices are important and valuable. I’m not suggesting AT ALL that they stop talking about their work or suggesting that their presence itself is problematic. It’s 100% not.
Just, maybe try not to present the tenets of pro/client relationships as some kind of definitive model of ‘how F/m relationships work’ without any context because that ends up harming people with its ubiquitous reach and repetition.