Balance in F/m voices

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.

Loves: 34
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  1. This is fantastic writing. I see the same things all the time and I’m glad you’re writing about it. It is a massive problem. When I was first getting in the scene, I definitely was guilty of believing some one true wayisms. Luckily, I didn’t get swindled and met lovely people who helped me learn all about my faults. Hahahahaha.

  2. It’s a bit like the fact that young men learn about sex through porn without realising that it’s just pure entertainment. There isn’t much promotion of real sexual relationships, in the same way that lifestyle dommes don’t really promote their lifestyles because they’re not trying to sell anything. The more thoughtful pros will explain (although in private and probably not to their clients) that they are just normal women who want to (usually) have real relationships where the dynamic is not as extreme as the dynamic between pro and client. Having said that, some of them admit to me privately that their clients have ‘ruined’ them for real dating. In real dating, they don’t get showered with gifts, and sometimes they even have to pay for their own coffee! Blogs like yours are a rare glimpse into the world of lifestyle dommes. And lifestyle dommes are a rare breed!

    1. You make a great point about porn: People will understand that porn is not how *relationships* work, but I it IS almost certainly the primary way many young people get input on ‘how sex works’ :/.

      I’ve heard professionals also say that many of their clients treat them better than potential partners, and I guess that’s the ‘fantasy scenario’ from the other side. As long as they embody the fantasy, they get treated as the untouchable Goddess they are and lavished with the attention that such an ethereal being is entitled to. Actual three dimensional women with their own desires and needs and foibles and flaws and emotions and etc etc are… not that.

      I think lifestyle dommes seem to be more scarce at least in part because many of those who stick their head above the parapet see and experience all the bullshit and go ‘aw hell no!” and are never seen again :/.


  3. One of my fav books is a fav because it’s got the F/m dynamic *and* it’s as sweepingly romantic and normalized as I could possibly want. I don’t rec the books anymore because some of the other content has made about half the people I recced them to hate them, but the whole fact that these books are basically the only satisfactory representation of the kind of dynamic I love is. Frustrating. So frustrating.

    So somewhat tangentially to your own point, all I want is the kind of stupid romantic bullshit that conventional m/f gets without the trappings that either 1) simply don’t light my fire or 2) actively make my skin want to crawl from my body at the overbearing wrongness in the dynamic.

    1. Ha! I rarely recommend books and movies for that very reason (well, except for my own and I’m sure there’s a fair share of people who hate them also :P). I’m curious if I’ve read it/them though, so even with the problematic bits, I’d love to know the name/s: ferns at domme-chronicles dot com if you’ve a mind to forward :)).

      “all I want is the kind of stupid romantic bullshit that conventional m/f gets without the trappings”

      Me too!!!


  4. Yea i have doing this for years. When i first got involved with the western scence about 6 years after marrying my slave i was told many funny strange things.

    A. Islam/shariah law and femdom are compatiable
    B. Dommes have to be poky
    C. Real domme share their subs
    D. If you wont let me shake his hand than i guess you wont let me f**** his a***
    E. Real subs are house husbands they work and tribute all income to domme
    F. Subs cant teach you/ help you with classes budgeting kids etc
    H. Male subs have to be bi

    Etc etc

    1. I imagine there is a whole extra layer when you bring faith into it (almost regardless of what faith it is).

      I’m surprised and disappointed that you heard that sort of thing in the scene you got involved in (well, unless you mean ‘online’, that’s a whole different thing!). Most people out in the real world know the truth, have had LTRs, many are married etc, so I see this tosh only ever online.

      I hope you sorted them out and/or have found a better community.


    1. We need hallmark cards for F/m.

      “I’m sorry to hear that you’re not allowed to come. Ha ha JK.”
      “Aww baby, did the bad Domme hurt you? Hope you get better soon.”
      “Congratulations on taking that beating! Well done you!”
      “Happy collaring day! Congratulations!”


  5. I think from the perspective of my relationship, my wife and I kind of bumbled through and figured out “How it works” over a period of years. Some things you keep, some things get jettisoned. At the core however was/is a shared desire the “Want each other’s highest good”, and in so doing find the truest versions of ourselves. After 21 years we’re still learning, still evolving, and still making some surprisingly new discoveries about what keeps the fires burning. We kind of figured that our relationship works best when she has the reigns, and I’m my best self when I yield to her. For me, to speak of “One true way” seems lack any nuance, and it sounds trite and cookie cutter. BTW, you write beautifully. Mesmerising.

    1. I’m so sorry I missed this comment. That’s so lovely!! Congratulations on your 21 years together <3.

      And thank you for the beautiful compliment :).


  6. The official Scene isn’t very helpful either. Several times over the years I went to check out the local Scene, but something always seemed off. I realized later (partly through the online posts of lifestyle dommes) that the Scene is based on M/f. Femdom hardly seemed to have a presence.

    1. I think most ARE skewed towards M/f, yes. But at least if they tell anyone that ‘M/f is ‘how it is” at least you know that ain’t so.


  7. > we have no widespread representations of ‘normal healthy F/m relationships’, so there is no balance being shown

    This, very much. And, there’s an extra hurdle sometimes because of the attitudes of people in “BDSM circles”. In the NE, for example, it’s about evenly split: 50% think that any kind of D-type/s-type relationship outside of a clearly defined scene is just abuse; the other 50% can see the value in an “unequal partnership”, a relationship with a slant.

    I am thinking this may be because of all the fantasy sloshing around, where D-types are “strict” or “cruel” – I’m sure you’ve run into that. If that adversarial model is all that people know, then of course they don’t make the leap to a cooperative, team-based relationship model that still encompasses some form of power dynamic.

    1. Yes to all of this!

      It’s a very vanilla way of looking at D/s, so it’s surprising (and disappointing :/) to hear that you see it in BDSM circles :/.


  8. As for representations of healthy F/m relationships, there seem to be a very few books and a handful of blogs.

    BTW, I once came across a lifestyle blog in which the author made an important point. With no customs/conventions to conform to, an F/m couple is free to invent their own custom made relationship. So who should say what is the right for a Femdom lifestyle?

    (The blog, however, seems to have disappeared).

    1. Theoretically, yes.

      But the truth is that we as humans are heavily influenced by what we see, which is a reason why representation (of all kinds) is so very important.

      When there’s very little representation, you take what you DO see as ‘how it is’. And this is a wider social problem than F/m. Lack of representation of minorities in various media is a huge issue and it has huge impact.


  9. I have to wonder if the Pro Dommes have skewed ideas. Their clients would be play acting in a bottom role, and the Pros would be play acting in a top role.

    Genuinely submissive men-looking for a lifestyle Domme-would find this unsatisfactory and move on.

    My first contact with a Domme. (who I found on a list of “Dominant Women”) was actually with a Pro-Domme. But at that point I hadn’t heard of Pro-Dommes. I was disillusioned when this person, who seemed encouraging at first, demanded money. I broke off contact.

  10. At its core, a healthy F/m relationship would have these attributes:

    1. The relationship is one of mutual affection.

    2. The male submits to the woman.

  11. Ferns, do you think that the pro-dommes are confused? That they see very little of a lifestyle F/m dynamic, and therefore think that the pro/client thing is what F/m is all about?

    1. No. Pro-dommes are not confused. That’s an odd takeaway.

      I think many new dommes and new subs are confused by the ubiquitous presence of findoms and pro-dommes in online spaces, and by (very effective) marketing of the same, and by femdom in porn and even in popular culture, and THEY think that’s what F/m is all about.


  12. Have looked at the blog Femdom 101. I understand that Mistress Kathy has an FLR with her husband.

    She has commented that FLR is an acquired taste for women. Doesn’t seem to think that any women are naturally inclined towards a dominant role.

    1. Hi Grok (And of course Miss Ferns.. Maybe, just maybe.. there aren’t many natural inclinations toward anything within the spheres of sexuality and relationships? Recent neuroscience has highlighted the similarities in male and female brain wiring. (Which is curious, because the *differences* were highlighted when I studied neuro 20 years ago. But anyway.) Perhaps our ideas of what types of behaviors are available to us, our notion of what a healthy relationship is, and how we go about negotiating that space are just part of enculturation, watching our parents- and our TVs. Our decision making essentially comes down to the luck of he draw when you consider your baggage of past experiences and life lessons. We are essentially “moist robots”, and our behavior isn’t *influenced* by chemicals- but rather our behavior *is* chemical behavior, a self-similar echo in a chemical reaction that goes through organizational phase changes, and constantly centralizes power and resources while realizing “arms races” through different scales over about a hundred thousand years.

  13. I thought for sure this was gonna be about Female/male voices in the community.

    I’d really like to see some pros comment on this article, because there are many who claim to do lifestyle BDSM at home and with their primary partners, I wonder how they draw these lines.

    1. There ARE many pros who are also F/m in their personal lives, yes. And I definitely see some clearly making the distinction and who talk about ‘if you want to engage my services…’, and I am so very grateful for it.

      But on balance, the voices clearly making that distinction are quieter than all the rest everywhere all the time.


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