Pandering (or, what are we telling new dominants?)

Why yes, I DID have a little rant on twitter about how we educate new dominant women about D/s in such a way that we seem to end up with a completely un-nuanced dichotomy: Either you pander to your sub completely, or you’re abusive. With nothing in-between.

Twitter link here (scroll up to see the conversation)

Text in images above:

@Dommextraordinare
Also, as like, a sub class of “feeling pressured to be put together” is the swarm of ‘educators’ on tiktok who are doing a good job, but always portray Doms as Infallible Caregivers Who Are Always Selfless and if you’re not then you’re Bad.

@Ferns__
I have BIG feels about this!!
Women traditionally socialised to be nice & caring & giving & sacrificing their own wants & needs for their partner/s
Dominant women doing the above also because that’s what ‘good dommes’ do. You don’t want to be an abuser do you? Well then…

Dommextraordinare
Theres so many messages from the kinsphere that are well intentioned, but end up sorta toxic… I spent the first year or so in kink terrified of asking my partner to follow through on the stuff he said he would do, because “the sub is in charge” or you’re abusive

Ferns
YEEESSSS!! I see this SO much
There is an implicit rule, then, that the only way to be a ‘good domme’ is to 100% cater to your sub’s every whim and choice and desire and be all about him all the time in all the ways so you aren’t that ‘bad domme’ everyone’s always talking about

Why yes sweetheart, let’s have another hour long conversation about why you didn’t want to do that thing we agreed you would do, it’s fine, of course you shouldn’t have to do it, or anything, can I give you a foot rub, make you some tea perhaps my liege?

Oh your dick is hard? How delightful, please let me service it in exactly all the ways you like. Not dommely enough? So sorry, of course I wasn’t. Allow me to dress up & put on my… oh you don’t like that outfit? How about this one? Is my tone of voice okay? Are you pleased?

Did I say I have ‘big feels’? YES YES I DID
:D

The thing is that I LOVE my sub being a mess of happy-joyful delight at being mine & I will work to make him so, to make US so
The choice is not ‘pander or abuse’
There is, of course, the choice of ‘This is what I want. Will this make you happy? Good. Let’s go.’


The upshot here is this: We teach new dominant women who are already traditionally socialised to cater to men to cater *even more* to malesubs because we add ‘responsibility for their wellbeing and happiness’ to everything else.

We are bad at encouraging dominant women to decide what they want, and to go after it. To hold their boundaries. To have expectations.

Instead we bombard them with messages that encourage them to pander to submissive men to the detriment of what they want.

If they’re ‘good Dommes’ they will shoulder the responsibility for the entire relationship, for their submissive’s behaviour, for making it work, for ‘performing dominance’ right, for ensuring their sub is happy, for fixing anything that goes wrong. They often measure their success as a dominant by how pleased their submissive is with their behaviour. And if they compromise their own needs and desires in the process, so be it.

The spectre of not being a ‘good domme’, of being abusive, of violating consent looms large, and there are perfectly good reasons for this (the main one being that it’s important!). But when we don’t teach responsibility and consent alongside strategies to bolster new Domme’s ability to advocate for their own selves in a D/s relationship, a lot of them will eventually end up at ‘wtf is this bullshit?’

And rightly so.

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26 comments

  1. 100%. It took me years upon years of getting involved in communication spheres to “unlearn” a lot of the “A Domme is there to care for their partner and make the hottest scenes for them and make sure the submissive is having a fantastic time – and all the sub needs to do is show up.” It was exhausting, it was horrid, and I was generally miserable and felt like the least-dominant creature ever – all the time.

    And it’s just gross. I generally find it just another way that women are expected to “serve” men (in our hypersexualized, gender-stereotyped society) – only now we’re expected to be in charge, in the hottest lingerie, making a guy “do what we want” – but only if it’s the exact same thing that he wanted to do anyway? It makes zero sense.

    1. Yes! That’s so tough: I’m so sorry you had to deal with that :(.

      I think there’s two types of unproductive messaging:

      1. Dommes are there to do all the stuff to their subs (and they better be super hot and creative with their scenes and have the right outfits/toys and speak in the right tone of voice and be domly in all the correct and true ways).

      2. Dommes are responsible for everything to do with the relationship and every aspect of their submissive’s happiness: If there’s even a hint of your sub being unhappy you better be sure you’re not being an abusive arsehole!

      To me, the first is easier to counter than the second. The first is straight out of fantasy land (that doesn’t actually make it less hideous, it just makes it easier to understand and deal with).

      The second comes out of well-meaning and necessary education about consent and responsibility and hoo boy, that makes it super insidious to discuss with any nuance because we (as ‘community’) are really not good at nuance. At all. Ever.

      We absolutely need be clear where the line is so we don’t cross it, but when the line is drawn so tightly that ‘anything you do that your sub doesn’t like is abuse’, we create a burden that dominant women will pick up and carry until it’s so heavy they just have to drop it. And when they get to that point, many will back out of F/m altogether rather than be thought of as a ‘bad Domme’.

      Ferns

  2. i get confused by these things, lol i mean slavery submission is about fulfiling duties and obligations yuour mistress assighns not ones that revolve around chasity or anal stuff lol.

    i vacum the house, wipe everything down, do all the dishes cook, rub the feet, help mistress bath, hold on to her for walks and hikes, mon tior everyones health every day. i get to cum as needed how she decides with kinky actvities she decides, thou petplay stuff in some form is going on 24/7, run the errands, budget her money to pay the bills, arrange trips, run our mosque, hawza and hussaynaia, we go about 40her/60me on our son who still needs bathed teeth brushed at 9, and iam taken care of emotional, finically, and kept safe and given a purpose. being owned has enriched my self.

    i get to walk 5 miles daily, 2 hikes a week, use the credit card for stuff, and read when there isnt something that needs done. alot of times i take an early morning nap after prayers and misstres gets our son up, but i never get to dicate.

    i am not saying subs should be tortured or abused but subs exist to take of and obey their domme, subs should not top from the buttoum or control the realtionship

    just my opinion

    1. I’m so delighted that you found something that works for you and yours :).

      I think that many folks DO find relationships that work for them, but the fact that they have to wade through a bunch of black-and-white bullshit to get there seems just an exhausting waste of everyone’s time and energy.

      Ferns

  3. As much as I identify with gentle or sensual femdom, (which is its own topic–what does that really mean, is it necessary to label that, etc…) I do think the “mommy domme” aspect of it lends itself to that caregiver role. I loved and miss GFD Tumblr porn because it often showed F/m relationships in a way where the woman wasn’t just what I call “harsh bitchmistress.” But there was also sooo much emphasis on ageplay, whether it was stated outright or not. And I think that easily leaked over into defining a domme as caretaking figure there to solve all of a guy’s problems.

    I feel like I currently sidestep this because I don’t see my entire relationship that involves D/s through a lens of kink. I also have an almost entirely vanilla relationship, and I have similar expectations in both for how I want to be treated and to treat my partners. The one involving D/s just has another layer to it.

    But my D/s is almost exclusively sexual. I only have an interest in exerting control in my relationship that involves kink in as much as my vanilla relationship, which is a lot, but is just because I’m a control freak.

    It all makes perfect sense to me, but I’m not sure if it will to anyone else.

    1. I think that makes sense: The ways to have these relationships is infinite.

      And funny you should say that about gentle femdom: I talk about that in my new podcast (‘what does that really mean, is it necessary to label that, etc’) :). It’s not up yet: Waiting for My Fabulous Man Who Knows Everything to do the transcript, but soon!

      But yes, I’ve seen a LOT of discussions about how GFD has morphed into ‘catering to men’, even though it really wasn’t the intent when people started using the term. Maybe all roads lead there, but then the question has to be: Why?!

      Ferns

  4. COSIGN.

    I’m fairly new as a Domme (about 3 years) and it didn’t take me very long to sift through the nonsense about constantly catering to my sub’s needs. That’s not the job description. If his submission doesn’t serve ME then what is the freaking point? Otherwise that puts me in some 1950s Housewife thing and if I wanted that, I’d be into it. My personal politics and worldview play a big role in how I process and manifest my Dominance, and catering to cishet men’s patriarchal socialization (even subby men’s socialization) is frankly NOT IT.

    1. “catering to cishet men’s patriarchal socialization (even subby men’s socialization) is frankly NOT IT.”

      Touché.

      I’m really glad that it didn’t take you very long to get past that nonsense. I think some folks can and do just go ‘nah’, but I think many struggle to navigate it. Like ‘this isn’t what I expected or wanted, but everyone keeps saying this is ‘how it’s done”. Rage-making!

      Ferns

  5. I can see an alternative to pandering or abuse-the woman as boss.

    By the word “boss” I mean in the sense that one can have a boss/supervisor at work.

    Perhaps a new domme could get into this mind set by wearing a suit? I can imagine a woman in a suit assigning tasks.

    1. I think anyone who’s been around a while can see the alternative: If we’re still around most of us have (hopefully) moved well past that bullshit.

      Not sure if you’re kidding about the suit thing there (I hope so!), but changing outfits doesn’t go any way to addressing this issue…

      Ferns

  6. Relationships are basically managing a continual crash landing. Two fat aircraft sliding along an icy runway trying not to force each other off into different dimension.

    I should know, I’ve watched all my friends crash land for years (best ones successfully I’ll happily add), while I glide around above shouting bad advice from a position of safety and ignorance.

    D/s like any relationship is about being a team.

    Don’t be in a team with anyone that doesn’t want to be in a team with you.

    /Glides off ignorantly into an artificially simple stratosphere….

      1. As an outside observer, it is kind of strange though that D/S relationships offer the greatest opportunities for honesty and deeply felt commitment, but that’s not really what many participants really want – they seem to want a fantasy service.

        Meanwhile vanilla relationships battle through with D/s elements (all of them, I swear – I’ve observed this as an amateur scientist) and the ones that make it through “as sound as fuck” understand that the other is as important – or more – than they are.

        I think there’s a paradox in our behaviour. You want to be dominated in a way you particularly like as a man? You find a woman who’ll do that or you leave, like a god damn casual no good shopper.

        Meanwhile, as a normal type of chap, you find a woman you want to be with and make happy and you’ll crawl over broken glass for her, no matter how much of a Chad you are.

        As always, nothing makes much sense. And one that note, a nice tune:

        https://youtu.be/y0C7ZoSCaiY

  7. Yessss, thank you for saying this! I’ve been unpartnered for many years, due in part, to potential subs expecting me to carry the relationship and do all the work. Nah, I’d rather be alone.

      1. was not supposed to be a reply to this (rather wonderful) comment.

        My god, if I was a cold war bomber pilot I should not be trusted.

  8. I have only been in one 5 month long F/m relationship as the sub so I don’t know how worthwhile my perspective is for this conversation. For that matter I’m still trying to figure out my submission which may be more confusing after that experience.

    I agree there needs to be a middle ground between the two extremes in femdom. I admit that I don’t know what that looks like. My problem is that I don’t know how to get my needs met in a style of relationship that is all about my partners wants and needs. Actually, it seems that even in vanilla relationships I end up doing everything I can to make sure my partners are happy while my needs are ignored.

    I’m a switch so it’s interesting that the two relationships I’ve had on the left side of the slash and the differences between the two. I really enjoyed learning what my subs desires were and how to press thier kink buttons and being able to control things so that we both get exactly what we want and need fulfilled. I don’t know if the level of interest I take in exploring my subs and thier fulfillment was catering to them; but I got just as much out of it as they did and I think I got to know them better than anyone else has ever known them which was a special privilege for me. I guess I am hoping to find a person who wants to have the same interest of finding what’s deep inside me and letting me be able to express, show, and give that to them. I don’t know if that’s a reasonable thing to think exists in the universe.

    I don’t know what my point is anymore but I think it’s that there should be more examples in femdom that exist between those extremes.

    1. There absolutely IS a middle ground, and it’s not uncommon at all.

      My point isn’t that an entire spectrum of relationships doesn’t actually exist. It does.

      My rant is about the fact that we aren’t good at educating new Dommes about that spectrum right at the start of their explorations.

      Ferns

  9. Regarding pandering….

    Unless a woman is being paid as a sex worker, what does she get out of it?

    If the answer is “nothing”, why should she bother in the first place?

    1. A wide variety of things:
      * The feeling of doing right by her sub
      * Validation from all the BDSM resources that she’s being a ‘good Domme’
      * Comfort in herself that she’s doing the right things, winning at being a ‘good Domme’
      * Seeing her sub get everything his little heart desires, which makes him happy
      * Her sub’s delight and affection in the relationship
      * Approval from the community for being a ‘good Domme’
      * Being comfortable because the relationship has a lot of traditional, familiar patterns
      * The warm fuzzies of always putting her sub’s happiness at front-of-mind
      * Knowing that she’s doing a good job caring for her sub’s well being
      * Strengthening the relationship with her endless giving
      * etc etc

      Ferns

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