‘Women aren’t visual’? Like Hell We Aren’t


A lovely picture of a hot, tied-up man, graciously provided by Pandora Blake.

Supposedly, women don’t like porn because we “just aren’t visual”. Clearly it’s women’s mysterious inability to get turned on by pictures that keeps us from enjoying porn like this or this or this. Or you know, maybe the vast majority of straight porn might as well be intended to turn women off, because it certainly doesn’t turn us on.

First of all, straight porn is almost universally focused on the woman (or women) in the scene. The men are treated as a necessary evil, to be kept out of the frame as much as possible. If you want to both bore and annoy me, show me pictures of women and act like that’s supposed to turn me on.

Second, straight porn, at least the porn I’ve seen, shows really terrible sex. Seriously, do you people have the slightest fucking idea what a clitoris is? You goddamn well should, since only about 1/3 of women are reliably orgasmic from penetration (to quote Emily Nagosaki, whose blog you really should be reading). How exactly am I supposed to get turned on by women having sex that would never get me off in positions that give me a leg cramp just looking at them?

Finally, straight porn tends to be all about the almighty penis. Scenes end when the man has an orgasm, not when the woman does. It treats women’s pleasure as an afterthought, something that’s supposed to just happen as a side-effect of getting the man off (and then we wonder why women “don’t like sex”, but that’s another rant entirely).

Now, let’s compare and contrast everything that’s wrong with average straight porn with the pretty pretty picture up there at the top of the post.

First, it’s a picture of a man. A man! Yes, I’m a little overly excited, but have you seen Kinky & Popular on Fetlife? It’s basically a wall of tied-up submissive women. Boring! If kinky people are so special, why can’t we show a little creativity? And he’s the the focus of the pictures, not just a prop. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have my desire to look at pretty tied up men validated. Honestly, I’d be almost as excited even if Will Savage, the model, wasn’t my type. As it happens, I really, really like the muscular man in bondage look. If Pandora had deliberately set out to create a photoset just to mash my buttons, she couldn’t have done a better job. Which brings me to the third thing I was bitching about, the way the straight porn is so focused on what turns men on (I’m skipping point two as this set isn’t explicitly sexual, although there are some photos that invite all sorts of fantasies about what might be happening where I can’t quite see it).

I don’t know whether it’s just Pandora who makes the decisions, or whether she and the model, rigger, and/or photographer all sit down together, but whoever decided which photos were going to end up on dreamsofspanking.com has an eye for what a dominant woman wants to see in a photo. If you buy a membership (which you really should. Judging by just the Musclebound set, Pandora creates amazingly high quality content), you’ll see that in the whole set there are quite a few photos of my very favourite pose (the one up top, as it happens). In that kneeling pose, Will just looks so deliciously open and vulnerable. His gorgeous creamy skin would look amazing marked up a little, and oh I love the way muscular men look in bondage. I hate the myth that only weak, pathetic men ever submit, so it’s especially nice to see someone in bondage who looks like he could pick me up and toss me around.

Speaking of the bondage, I love that it’s so simple. I’ve seen entirely too much rope bondage done by riggers who were terribly impressed with themselves and looking to show off. It’s really nice to see bondage done by a rigger who seems to have set out just to make an already awesome model look amazing. I couldn’t honestly say that I know the first thing about photography, but someone clearly did a good job of making Will look great, and I like how uncluttered the set is.

Have I mentioned that I think Will is unreasonably hot? I would bang that boy (or at least my fantasy submissive version of him) like a screen door in a hurricane.  If there were more porn like this, no one would say that “women just aren’t visual”.

Pro doms vs Lifestyle doms

First of all, it’s not a fucking competition. Even if it were, you’d think pro-doms would be the ones pissed at lifestylers. We’re the ones who play for free while pro doms have to worry about booking enough sessions to keep their rent paid.

Pro doms and lifestyle doms have such wildly differing things to offer that the idea that we’re in competition with each other is really kind of ludicrous. That makes about as much sense as assuming that women who want husbands have to compete with prostitutes. One of them is offering lifelong (well, hopefully) companionship, and one of them is offering a no-strings-attached sexual experience tailored to your wants and needs. Gee, it’s almost like those are completely different things!

Same with lifestyle doms and pros. With a pro, you get domination more or less when you want it (I understand that the good ones are generally booked up at least a few days in advance), more or less the way you want it (if you really want a heavy impact play scene, odds are quite good you can get that from a pro) without having to take the time to build a relationship with said pro. With a lifestyle dom, you get companionship, more day to day d/s (not that pros don’t do d/s, but there’s only so much you can do with someone you may not see very often), maybe a romantic relationship (many but not all lifestyle doms want a submissive man for a life partner), maybe a family, etc, etc.

If what a guy really wants is a dominant girlfriend, he’s not likely to have a lot of interest in seeing pro doms. Not getting to build a relationship with them would be a deal breaker, not a selling point. On the other hand, someone with an extremely demanding job who just doesn’t have time for a relationship but wants to get his kink on isn’t likely to get what he wants from a lifestyle dom.

Given that we’re both so different, where does the animosity between pros and lifestyle doms com from? I think it’s caused by men who are too stupid to tell the difference between a lifestyler and a pro ruining it for everyone else. If a guy expects me to dress up in fetish wear to play with him because that’s what all the pros he’s seen have done, the problem is not the pros. The problem is a man who is too stupid to realize that people behave differently at work than they do at home. Nobody is surprised when a girlfriend, unlike a call girl, is not always perfectly groomed, wearing sexy matching lingerie, and happy to see you, so why would anyone be surprised that lifestyle doms aren’t always perfectly groomed, wearing fetish gear, and ready to play?

Not being a pro I’m guessing at the frustrations they go through, but I imagine it’s pretty irritating to offer sessions at a  simple hourly rate and have to deal with people who think that they’re your personal slave now and therefore should get hours of attention for free. Or who insist that if you were a *real* dom, you’d play with them for nothing but the joy of doing so, rent and bills be damned. Or who think that because they’re paying you, they can now script your every word and action in a session.

It’s easy to end up with a warped view of dominant women when the only place you see them is in porn, but about 15 minutes on fetlife will fix that up for you. It turns out dominant women are actually a lot like non-kinky women. We don’t roll out of bed in head-to-toe latex, we’re not here solely to fulfill your fantasies, and we actually have wants and needs of our own. I know, it’s terribly inconvenient of us.

There’s really no reason for pros and lifestylers to fight, we don’t want the same men anyway. It would be great if the idiots of the world would stop setting us against each other, though.

Dominant + Submissive = Happy Ever After

All you need for a happy d/s relationship is one dominant person and one submissive person, right? Silly little things like mutual interests or compatible values aren’t important, what really matters is that on the surface your kinks appear to match up.

Ridiculous, right? Sadly, I’ve gotten message after message from people who seem to think that because I’m a dominant woman, I must be interested in any submissive man who crosses my path. It would be great if that were true, but I’m afraid that real compatibility takes more than a shared interest in any given type of play. Play actually has very little to do with it, from my perspective. To paraphrase from a blog post by Andrea Zanin (go read her blog, it’s awesome), if I really like someone, odds are good we’ll be able to think of something we’d enjoy doing together. If, on the other hand, I just don’t click with someone, it really doesn’t matter how much they like biting or face-slapping (two of my favourite kinks), I’m still not going to want to get involved with them.

On my FetLife profile, I only have two ‘fetishes’ listed: being more complex than an anonymous list of fetishes could show, causing people to have to actually converse with me, finding out if they like *me* and not just what gets me off, and smart-assed masochists. Those two things actually tell you something about me as a person. I like to the think the meaning of the first one is fairly obvious. The second one is a little more subtle. My intention there is to signal that I’m a very low protocol person who doesn’t take play too seriously. If, on the other hand, I listed more specific kinks like biting, flogging, hair-pulling, or caning, all you would know about me is that I like a few particular activities. Also, I’m actively trying to discourage people who think that if they like flogging, and I like flogging, obviously I’ll be interested in flogging *them*.

Aside from the fact that it’s dehumanizing to reduce me to a collection of kinks, that’s simply not how the world works. If you really, honestly believe that any dom who likes bondage should be compatible with any sub who likes bondage, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time being disappointed. Shared kinks are great and all, but even ignoring non-kink compatibility issues (you know, hobbies, interests, career ambitions, values, and all that) you still have to worry about whether you’re both interested in any sort of power exchange, if so how much (bedroom only, weekends only, control over only some areas, control over most areas, things that are off limits, and on and on), what style of dominance/submission you both enjoy (just for starters, doms can be strict, sensual, dispassionate, playful, affectionate, uncompromising, or patient. Subs can be meek, smart-assed, high protocol, low protocol, bratty, sweet, reserved, service-oriented, fuck-toys, and much more), how often you want to play (every night, a few times a week, weekends, a couple of times a month, once every month or two, or something else entirely), how hard you want to play (some people like to have a nice spanking and some cuddling on a weekend morning, other people like to plan intense, hours long scenes that leave everyone involved in a sweaty, crumpled heap on the floor, other people like both of those things at different times), what specific types of play you both like (bondage, for example, can be sadistic, artistic, purely functional, the focus of the scene, a small part of a larger scene, inescapable, heavy, light, and more. Saying you like bondage doesn’t actually tell me very much), whether you like to mix sex and BDSM, whether you want to be play partners only or romantic partners too, and that’s just what I could think of while trying to get this post done more or less on time.

Given how many compatibility issues there are to worry about when you’re only taking kink into account, and how obvious they become if you’ve ever actually thought about what you want in a play/partner, assuming that any dom is compatible with any sub tells me just one thing about you: you have no fucking idea how kink actually works. Here’s a hint: kinky people are still *people*.

“I need someone to *force* me to submit”

So, Lily Lloyd wrote an awesome comment that got me thinking, particularly this part of it:

When I hear “force me to submit”, I think someone’s looking for some kind of D-type Ubermenschen who’s so completely confident and knowledgeable that it makes submitting effortless.

The idea that the fantasy of being forced to submit is really a fantasy about submission being easy makes so much sense to me. This is just guessing, since I’m not submissive, but I’d assume it would be a lot less scary to submit to someone if you could somehow be sure they’d never fuck it up. Not to mention, it’s a scary thing just to admit you want to submit – if you’re a man, well clearly you’re not a real man, if you’re a woman, you’re a traitor to the feminist cause, and if you don’t fit into the gender binary, you’re buying into heteronormative power dynamics. If someone conveniently forces you to submit, you don’t have to admit you want things that you’re not supposed to want.

So, if from the submissive side fantasies about force aren’t really about force (or at least not solely about force. Let’s be honest, force is hot), is the same true from the dominant side? I think it is.

When I fantasize about forcing someone to do whatever I want, sure, it’s partially about having the power to that. But it’s also about not worrying that I’m going to screw up. Sometimes I think the most attractive part of that fantasy is not having to worry about my partner’s happiness. Just like no-one actually wants to be forced to do things they don’t enjoy on any level (having your submissive buttons pushed by being forced to do something you don’t like, to heavily paraphrase a comment of Ferns’, counts as enjoyment on some level), I would never actually want to force someone to submit to me. If someone needs to be “forced” to submit, I’ll wish them well and find someone who can demonstrate that they really do want to submit to me. Consensual non-consent is hot for the space of a scene, but if I have to fight you to get you to submit every bloody time, I’m going to start wondering if you really want to submit to me at all.

In a fantasy, on the other hand, I really enjoy not having to worry about anything but my own enjoyment. I may have to hand in my control-freak badge for this, but it’s actually kind of nice when not everything is my problem. Taking responsibility for making a scene work is deeply satisfying for me, but it’s not effortless. It’s also a vulnerable place to be. If I try something new and it falls flat, I’m going to feel pretty stupid. It’s nice to imagine dominants are all-powerful, but every time we ask for something there’s a chance we’ll be told ‘That’s just weird and I think you’re kind of a freak for wanting to do that’. Maybe not in so many words, but nobody wants to see that ‘I’ll never see you quite the same way again’ look in their partner’s eyes.

Having taken my argument this far, I just figured out that we’re pretty much all fantasizing about the same thing we fantasize about “force”. We all just want to feel safe, whether that’s safe enough to submit or safe enough to ask for anything we want.

What do you think, readers? Am I completely out to lunch here?

Tops need aftercare too

I’m hardly the first person to mention it, but tops need aftercare too. Quick disclaimer: not everyone, top or bottom, needs or wants aftercare. That said, needing aftercare as a top is actually really common and we should talk about it more. 

First, let’s talk about physical aftercare. Topping often involves a lot of physical effort. Hitting people with things is tiring. I’m not a rope top, but I hear that rope work can be tough on the hands. What I need physically after a scene is to sit down, have a drink of water, and a snack (in my case, something savory with protein and carbs). Once I’ve cooled down, I might also need to put on a sweater.

Emotional aftercare can be a bit more complex. From the time we’re tiny children we’re taught not to hit, not to call each other mean names, not to be bossy or rude or selfish. While violating those taboos can be super hot during a scene, they also make it easy for doubts to creep in afterwards. “What kind of person would treat someone like that?”, we ask ourselves. Or “Oh god, what if my bottom hated the scene, hates me, and never wants to speak to me again?” What I need emotionally after a scene is to cuddle with my bottom, and to check in a day or two later to make sure they’re okay. Physical touch is one of my most important love languages, it goes a long way to reassuring me that my bottom had a good time and still likes me. Checking in a day or two later helps me squash any doubts that might have crept in – I often feel great immediately after a scene, then in a day or two I start wondering if my bottom really had a good time (even when I know perfectly well that they did, I’ve played with people who are really great at giving feedback and setting boundaries) and need a little extra reassurance.

Conveniently enough, my aftercare needs get met by providing my bottom with aftercare. It would be so easy for me to pretend I don’t need aftercare at all, that I’m just giving my bottom aftercare because that’s what decent human beings do. Talking about having needs and feeling vulnerable kind of ruins the illusion that tops are effortlessly in control of all of the things all of the time, so I understand why more tops aren’t shouting from the rooftops about their aftercare needs. However, that’s a big part of why I think it’s important to talk about aftercare for tops.

I really, really hate the idea that ‘real’ doms don’t have emotional needs, never doubt themselves or need reassurance. I’m a person, not a life support system for a whip. I will not deny my own needs just because they don’t fit your fantasy. While I’m venting, I’m also not going to try to measure up to some fucked up ideal of stoic masculinity just because dominance is seen as masculine in our society.

Not only is it obviously cruel and unfair to try to shove me into a tiny, airless box like that, but letting that expectation stand puts an extra hurdle in the way of people trying to get into domination. Just trying to accept that you want to do ‘unacceptable’ things to people is hard enough without also being told that if you ever need someone to hold you and tell you they still like you, you’re a failure as a dom.

How many people have you heard of who looked at the stereotype of the icily perfect bitch-goddess and thought, “I can’t measure up to that, I guess this whole kink thing just isn’t for me.” How many more people would be willing to try adding a little kink to their lives if they knew it was not only okay, but common to need some reassurance afterward?

Readers, let’s talk about aftercare. What kind of aftercare have you or your tops needed? Did you always do aftercare or did it take some time to figure out you needed it?