Doms can be abused too

I spend a lot of time yelling about how easy it is for s-types to be abused, and while I want to be clear that in general people on that side of the slash are much more vulnerable to abuse, it’s also important to talk about how being a d-type does not magically grant you immunity to abuse.

Take this woman (link goes to a Savage Love article, for those who aren’t fans) for example, a former pro dom who has been blatantly emotionally abused by her partner, a former client. After they had been together for some time (the letter doesn’t specify exactly how long), he pressured her to give up her job as a pro dom because “he didn’t want to be with a woman who was still practicing this kind of physical intimacy with others”, then “his jealousy flared” when she went out for lunch with a male friend she had played with before, and again when he snooped on her computer and found a photo of her physically intimate with an ex. And finally, the issue that prompted the letter writer to ask Dan Savage for advice: “But the latest and most bitter pill is that he no longer wants me to write anything about my experiences-not because it might cause professional fallout if people knew about him dating a former pro domme (notwithstanding the fact that he was a client once), but because he doesn’t want me to think about the experiences I’ve had.”

Due to the stigma sex workers face, the letter writer is particularly vulnerable to being pressured to give up a job she reportedly loved. As she said in her letter “It seemed like I needed to give that up to have a marriage and family” which is not at all an unusual thing to think. I’m sure there are many people who have left sex work for that exact reason. However, her job really doesn’t matter that much. No matter what you do for a living, no matter how “respectable” it is, an abuser will find a way to object to it. If she were still a secretary, like she was before she became a pro dom, he would just complain about her dealing with strange men all day or accuse her of flirting with her coworkers. If she worked as a goddamn kindergarten teacher, he would find some way to make her feel bad about her job and by extension herself.

The truly ridiculous thing is that if her partner didn’t want to “be with a woman who was still practicing this kind of physical intimacy with others,” there’s an extremely simple solution. Don’t date her. She’s not the only kinky woman in the world, so if her job is a deal breaker put on your big kid pants and leave her.

There are many, many things in the scene that make it terrifyingly easy to abuse submissive people – the idea that having fewer limits makes you a better submissive, that 24/7 TPE is something you should aspire to, that saying no to your dom means you’re just playing at submitting just for starters – but doms can be abused too. We’re only human, after all. If your partner makes you feel bad about yourself, if they control your life in ways that you don’t enjoy, or that you didn’t agree to or that don’t enrich your life, you are being abused. Whether you’re a dom or a sub simply does not matter.

Leading with your kink

One of my many, many pet peeves is people (okay, mostly men) leading with their kinks. That is, instead of messaging me saying “Hi, I’m interested in what you said about ____” as if I’m a human being, they say things like “I’m into pegging, spankings, and being told I’m your bitch” as if they’re placing an order at a fucking drive through.

Shockingly enough, that’s more than a little off putting to me and many, many other women. Guys who I might have played with if they had approached me as if I had any value outside of what I can do for them, instead ensure that I will never, ever lay a hand on them. That’s where leading with your kink gets you.

I understand that people who really, really want to play can get a little obsessed with the idea of finally getting to do the things they’ve been fantasizing about for so long. That’s a tough position to be in, but it does not excuse treating people like recalcitrant vending machines. If you can’t be bothered to show the slightest interest in me as a person, why should I have any interest in what you want?

Aside from the snark, that’s a question you really do need to think about if you want to find someone to play with. Why should I care what you want?

Fortunately, the answer to that is very simple. I care if I like you. And despite how much of a bitch I am on this blog, it’s not that hard to get me to like you. All you need to do is have a conversation with me and not sound like a complete asshole. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the bar is just not that high. Help me like you, and even if we don’t play I’ll introduce you to my friends, sit with you at events so you don’t have to feel awkward and alone, give you advice (in the event you’re interested what some jerk thinks :)), and, you know, generally be a friend. If my friendship isn’t good enough for you, you can fuck right off.

I also understand worrying that you’ll never find someone compatible, but if the first thing you do is try to figure out whether you have kinks in common with someone, you will alienate the vast majority of people who might have liked you if you hadn’t been such a douchebag. Sure, you can argue that you don’t want to “waste your time” talking with someone who might not be interested in your favourite kinks, but given how many women hate being treated like kink vending machines, you can’t argue that’s actually a good strategy. Very broadly speaking it seems like men want to establish kinky compatibility first and women want to establish if we can stand you as a person first. If you want us to reply to your messages, do what we want, not what you want.

Honestly, what is so complicated about that? You say that your kink is all about making women happy, about learning what we like and doing that, and you can’t even manage to send an email without pissing us off? Either get it together or admit you don’t actually give a shit what we want.

Personal responsibility, it’s not just for bottoms

I came across a really interesting writing on Fetlife the other day titled On Personal Responsibility. The author has said some thoroughly problematic things about consent in other posts, but in this particular one she makes an excellent point:

But here’s another question, because in general, I prefer to be hated by both sides wherever possible.

Shouldn’t those upstanding members of the community also take personal responsibility for judging whether they are about to stick their figurative and/or metaphorical dicks in crazy, and choosing not to engage with those who qualify?

I’d have a lot more respect for the ‘personal responsibility! everything that happens to you is your fault!’ crowd if they put as much pressure on tops to be ‘personally responsible’ as they do on bottoms. While I can’t claim to have read everything ever written about personal responsibility in kink, what I have read seems to be all about pushing bottoms to take all the blame for everything that happens to them.

If the writing I quoted above had gone Kinky&Popular (the Fetlife equivalent of featured, for those who don’t spend much time there), I expect the comments on it would be full of domly doms whining and crying about how they aren’t mind-readers and it isn’t fair to expect them to be. But somehow it’s fine and dandy to expect bottoms to magically divine that the d-type who is being so lovely and charming right now, who has such a good reputation in the scene, is actually grooming them for abuse.

Fuck that noise. If bottoms have to responsible for everything that happens to them, then so do tops. Have a scene go badly? Should’ve done a better job of reading your bottom. Somehow run into the largely mythical malicious bottom who cries foul after a scene they seemed to enjoy at the time? Should’ve gotten to know them better before you played with them. Have a messy breakup that involves your now ex submissive screaming at you at 3 am? Should’ve dated someone with better control of their emotions.

When I put it like that, does the whole personal responsibility thing start sounding like an unreasonable standard to hold people to? If it does, that’s because it’s not actually about responsibility, maturity, or owning your shit for you. It’s about doms not wanting to take responsibility for their actions.

Maybe that sounds harsh, but think about it for a minute. Who benefits when bottoms are told that its their responsibility and only their responsibility to prevent themselves from being victimized? It’s certainly not bottoms. In fact, blaming the victim is a classic tactic of abusers.

Once more for the cheap seats: blaming the victim is what abusers do. You are not responsible for what other people choose to do to you, full stop.

Personal responsibility is great and all, but you’re got to apply it to everyone equally. For example, doing kinky things involves a certain amount of risk, and you probably shouldn’t play if you can’t handle things going wrong. No matter how carefully you prepare and how well you negotiate, there is always a chance you will suddenly discover a trigger you didn’t know you had, or equipment will fail, or you’ll misunderstand something your play/partner told you, or something that worked just fine last week will end with you crying your heart out this week. Shit happens, and the more you play, the more chances it has to happen to you. If you’re not at a place in your life where you can handle potentially feeling shitty for a few days after you play, it’s probably a good idea to play very carefully.

See how I’m not singling one group out to blame them for everything that happens to them? That’s how you talk about personal responsibility without grooming people for abuse.

Making friends on Fetlife: You’re doing it right!

I spend a lot of time bitching about submissive guys doing it wrong, so for a change let’s talk about somebody doing it right.

Quite some time ago now my friend some_guy27 started a thread titled “questions from a newbie” in the Submissive men and women who love them Fetlife group.

I’ll be honest, when I saw the title I cringed a little. Most of the threads I’ve seen with titles like that were either questions that could have been answered in five minutes of reading the stickies, or thinly veiled personal ads. Some_guy27, however, really surprised me. Here’s the part of his original post that I found the most interesting:

I’ve been reading through some of the stickies and did some searches and found a lot of very helpful info, but a few of my questions weren’t really answered. For instance, this whole lifestyle is very new to me, and some of the suggestions you give are a bit intimidating and what not. Personally, I’ve always been the dominant one in my relationships. (Not really because “I” needed to be, but because “she” needed me to be) I kind of want to be the submissive one for a change, but I’m really not even sure that “submissive” is the correct word. (I’ve been bombarded with a whole new vocabulary since I joined the site) The standard advice is to know your limits and be up front with them. As a nOOb, I really don’t know what they are. I mean, realistically, I might actually REALLY like something that is currently off limits in my head right? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t even know what it is that I don’t know?

Did you see that? He read the goddamn stickies! For once, somebody did their own research before asking the same question a thousand other people have and boring us all to tears in the process. Not only that, but he asked an interesting question. It’s sadly rare for people new to the scene to even be willing to question whether they’ve found the right label for themselves, or to realize that they might end up liking something that they have no interest in right now.

In case you don’t understand how rare it is for someone to actually read the stickies, have a look at that thread. If you scroll most of the way down the first page of replies, you’ll see dominant women play fighting over him. Many submissive guys seem to have trouble getting a single dominant woman’s attention, given that the most common questions I’ve seen in the submissive men and women who love them group are “why is it so hard to find a dom?”, “where do I find a dom?”, and “how do I get a dom to answer my messages?”, and somehow this guy has multiple women fighting over him! All it takes to get that kind of reaction from us is putting a tiny bit of effort into doing your own research and being friendly and pleasant to people who try to answer your question. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the bar is just not that high.

Just starting a good thread is impressive enough, but another thing that some_guy27 did right was sending me an entirely adorable thank you note for responding to his post. Because he reached out, we’ve been corresponding off and on for the last couple of years. Come to think of it, that’s another point in his favour – we live in different countries, and while we both travel now and then, we may never meet in person. And he still acted like I was worth his time! I can’t tell you how many whiny posts I’ve seen by men who went to one event, one time, didn’t instantly find a hot dominatrix who shares all of their kinks, and decided in person events are a waste of time and they’re never going back. It’s a nice change to talk with someone who has an interest in you as a person, independent of your ability to directly fulfill his fantasies.

Now, I don’t expect every new submissive man to be as charming as some_guy27, because frankly that’s a pretty high bar to clear, but you absolutely can read the stickies, ask questions that haven’t been done to death, and be grateful to the people who respond to your posts. Yes, it’s a little more work than just asking “wherr all the domz at?”, but you too can have a thread full of dominant women excited about you if you just give us something to work with. We want you to be awesome, but we need you to meet us half way.