Hello, Lifestyle Community! So what is a lifestyle domme? And what is the difference between a lifestyle domme and prodomme? Why would one choose to be a lifestyle domme over a prodomme? Okie dokie! I don’t have any of the answers, but I know someone who does. However, Before we get started, I asked Miss Pearl to write a little introduction.
Hey there! I’m Miss Pearl (Pearl O’Leslie when it’s my pen name), lifestyle femdom. That’s on top of the aforementioned writer, blogger, group moderator, munch organiser and all the other interconnected BDSM related things I have done, over the last decade or so. I live in Vancouver, Canada, when I am not commuting to Washington to visit my beloved submissive. For me, it’s been a lifelong project to help people discover themselves, and make the kink community a little better for everyone.
1. For the uninitiated, what is a lifestyle domme? And what is the difference between a ,”lifestyle domme” and a “prodomme”?
A lifestyle domme is generally what we call someone who is dominant, but not when she is working in the capacity of a sex worker. The caveat here is that lifestyle VS pro is a messy false binary! The need for a distinction exists only because all dommes, as a category, are largely marginalised.
A metaphor I try to use to understand this is the concept of cooking. Think home cook VS professional cook. Neither has a monopoly on delicious food! While they both might have some differing norms of how they expect to do what they do, there’s going to be a lot of cross pollination, with plenty of restaurants getting very into capturing the essence of supper served “just like mama used to make”, and plenty of home cooks trying to explore stuff that originated in a professional setting.
The question of whether professional dommes are more or less authentic is unfortunate. All women and femmes face unique pressures to show sincerity and passion at all times, or to be assumed to be up to shenanigans. Additionally, as women, regardless of our kinks, we are generally assumed to be just less interested in sexual things than man as an inherent quality of who we are. For example, male porn performers in straight porn are never really questioned if they are actually enjoying things or if it’s “just a job”.
Most of my past subs have been with professionals too, in the past, and while I would rather eat glass before participating in the “who is betterrrrrr” game, the experience, via polling these fellows, is that it is *different*. Lifestyle interactions can centre more of the whole woman, and involve significantly less curation.
On the other hand, a long term relationship with a pro-domme can rival that level of depth, because again, lifestyle OR pro, how much of the whole you that you know in a BDSM dynamic is also a factor of trust and time!
2. What are the pros and cons of being a lifestyle domme?
I suppose that sort of question has to be followed up with me asking you “as opposed to what?”. 😉
Ferns, probably the biggest name in lifestyle only femdom, has a great answer to the benefits in her “why BDSM” elevator pitch. But, talking about me, the biggested benefits of being a lifestyle domme are that I wouldn’t get sexual or emotional fulfilment if I didn’t!
The biggest cons are that I buck the expectations for my perceived gender. Any sort of non-normative sexual behaviour, particularly female, is heavily policed. Dommes get attacked as threatening, and stepping outside the idea of what a dominatrix is can be further seen as unpredictable, and thus extra disconcerting.
On the other hand, much of the discrimination that pro-dommes get also hit me. For example in an effort to block “Sex trafficking” sites like instagram hide more hashtags that have to do with femdom than male dominants. But, speaking more globally about the issues we deal with: all the problems with being (socially) perceived as both a slut AND bitch apply here.
Additionally, as a dominant, many of my possible partners, particularly men, carry a lot of shame around their own desires. This isn’t something I experienced personally, but a common experience is guys resenting that they feel their fetishes stand in the way of the sort of relationship they want, or doing the madonna/whore thing of wanting to have both a normative vanilla relationship and getting their kink needs met on the side. This is not because they are horny liars who want to use me, but because they see anyone who is a domme as a barrier to that complicated integration of domestic partnerships and the larger society they have to live in.
The biggest “con” as a lifestyle domme is my blatant invisibility! Even to the extent of the way I am asked about myself once people know I am a domme, it’s very clear people who have put a lot of thought into imagining a version of me haven’t put any thought into the idea of the whole me.
On the other hand, because people find women and femmes so non-threatening, I can be pretty out. If I say something like “I like to be in charge” people read it as “rah rah girl power” instead of “obvious predator”. And, in the niches where femdoms can express ourselves, like on twitter we get to say a lot of stuff out loud that we otherwise wouldn’t.
Anger and showing you have a great sense of self worth are both typically denied to women at large. Sometimes even just not having to be sweet constantly, and being around other women who are that open about their feelings is a relief in its own right!
Inversely, submissive guys who can accept their whole desires as a part of themselves are very special and admirably brave. I don’t think they realise how often the positive stereotypes of masculinity other people internalise also frame vulnerable men as sexy. For us dommes, if we are into dudes a good male masochist is a rare delight.
A big bonus of being a domme is getting to know the whole part of a sub, when he often hides that part from others. I think, with so many guys being kinky, it means that relationships can be way deeper than all the ones out there where guys are pretending to be vanilla.
There’s also some extra stuff that’s very gendered, largely springing from bigger issues in heterosexuality. All dommes talk about getting unsolicited constant sexual come ons, but the folks pushing for immediate emotional intimacy can sometimes be even more upsetting.
Getting sent unsolicited dicks, assholes and poorly written sexual fantasies is a sort of low grade harassment that is easier to deal with than the shockingly common number of guys who beg and plead with you that they are just so painfully lonely you need to own them right now.
3. How do lifestyle dommes go about finding their own subs?
We generally find partners the same way vanilla women do, in our larger lives. Some of us participate in the BDSM community to one degree or another, but relationships tend to happen as an organic, mutual process. Kink is very common in humans, so it’s fairly safe to assume that even if one individual human thinks this is weird, most won’t.
Seriously, I met my submissive, Silver, through LARPing. It’s a creative hobby, so it was very easy to see safe little hints he was kinky. Once I knew that, I flirted with him a bunch to find out if that was subbie and then (consensually) pounced. When I see lonely lifestyle dommes, generally they are either folks who rarely have chemistry with others (not a bad thing, it just varies) or are shy about rejection.
In the latter case, I generally advise lifestyle dommes to take the lead, not because domme, but because if you pick the guys you reach out to, you are slightly less likely to get the firehose of stupid and pushy that waiting around gets you. Honestly I would tell femsubs the same thing! Any man who is put off by a woman being overtly into him is self selecting out of the dating pool.
4. What are some of the biggest misconceptions about lifestyle Dommes?
Mostly, the biggest things people assume about us is that we don’t exist in significant numbers, or that we replicate a very stereotypical dominatrix shtick, but for free. This former issue gets particularly obnoxious when people talk about the “femdom ratio”. They generally say they are way more male subs to female dommes. I have a huge argument for why this is not just an exaggeration, but actually very toxic. However, cliff notes:
When people say there aren’t any dommes, one of three things has happened.
1) They assume the environments they frequent are equally attractive to lifestyle only dommes as they are to them.
2) They only count dommes who are interested in finding partners.
3) They assume it is as equally sensible and easy for women to flag interest as men.
There’s also a fourth big misconception tying the belief in the “femdom ratio” together. People assume a firehose of sexual harassment and non-specific come ons count as getting more real interest. I don’t think a lot of guys realise that most of the unsolicited messages or lewd nonsense (or even pleading) won’t actually come up to snuff.
From personal experience, most of the guys who send even solicited responses to ads aren’t actually interested, either because the act of asking is the means to an end, or because they feel it’s worth it to ping everything and discard choices later. Think of it like gaming tinder by swiping right on everyone. They plan to be picky *after*.
(and a lot of guys who send stupid messages)
Points 1, 2 and 3 intersect. People in groups dedicated to porn images of femdoms are actively bewildered that dommes don’t devote their primary masturbation/hang out time to images of themselves. They tend to discredit the presence of other dommes if we aren’t open to subs- even if we are actively participating in a community to share content with each other. This has the knock back effect to point 3, a stream of guys saying we don’t exist, so all the dommes there know he thinks we are invalid unless we serve his needs.
The other biggest misconception I mention particularly for the benefit of the subs reading this. We do not all have a natural dominant aura. I can’t speak to the experience of femsubs, but men looking for dominant women will generally figure that women with these fetishes need to be a particular way: imposing, confident, naturally magnetic, and so forth. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth- having the fetishes that make you dominant could happen to anyone.
Lastly, I mentioned this coming in, but a common thing both professionals and lifestyle only dommes can agree on is that people with very limited real life experience tend to think that all dommes stepped out of the pages of an Eric Stanton sketch book, tight corseted and bristling with a flamethrower of indiscriminate sadism.
5. Is there a lifestyle D/s community?
The mainline (hetero first) BDSM community is lifestyle oriented, and actually more than a little discriminatory towards sex workers. But, in addition to that they tend to discriminate against lifestyle F/m. It’s common to find they treat dommes as secondary to male dominants, and male subs as unpleasant. This creates a tension that femdom, as a subculture that separated from BDSM at large, has to juggle the overlapping needs of both professionals, male subs and lifestyle only dommes.
Most “domme” spaces cater to professionals first and their lifestyle capacity second. These tend to take a very niche way of expressing things, and I guess you might call them very oriented on the domme-as-dominatrix? Noneless, these norms make a lot of sense from a safety-as-a-sex-worker perspective, and the work to build the attached spaces was the effort of some very marginalised people. I don’t really think it’s necessarily helpful to ask them to expand to include more lifestyle only femdoms.
And yet, we are, ourselves, pretty much still in the infancy of finding our own stuff. It’s been only a decade since the conversation considered things were perhaps not ok, and the internet has been super helpful in forwarding that conversation. My blog, O Miss Pearl, follows in the heels of the OG disgruntled femdom blogger, Bitchy Jones, but I am not the only person out there worth checking out- I usually send people off to read Domme Chronicles by Ferns.
6. Why would one choose to be a lifestyle domme over a prodomme?
Caveat: I am glad this is getting addressed here, but my answer might be a bit spicy. I am not mad at you, I am passionate that this a problem, and it’s good to be able to address it on a popular blog!
The question of why I am not a pro is as bizarre as asking a vanilla woman why she isn’t a sex worker. This is not to say being a sex worker is bad, but it is incredibly sexist in so much that the same question is never asked of male dominants. On the other hand, I don’t think people realise how offensive the question is, both in framing my sexuality primarily as something to be consumed by someone else, and assuming, due to my gender, this is a logical default path for me.
There’s so many reasons one might not want to, but I think the most obvious would be the enormous risk to life, limb, and social and legal censure. Nonetheless, asking is also built on the assumption that all dommes are poly enough to want the plurality of partners needed to sustain a business. It also tends to be framed in terms of the demand – there’s a lot of subs who would like that kind of access to me, so why not take advantage of that?
Ultimately, it’s just not fulfilling to me. Not because money cheapens things, but because how I do it doesn’t make a good business model. For me, I need way more intimacy, and the act of domination has too much personal vulnerability to trust with just anyone, except in a very limited sense.
I think it’s always important to emphasise that being desired is not the same thing as being able to be pleased. I will definitely buy and consume porn, and enjoy creating erotic writing to share and sell, but the head state through which I feel free (almost flying!) as a domme isn’t really compatible. I am not wired for juggling the needs of customers, compared with a singular lover.
7. What advice would you give to Submissive Men who are looking to find a lifestyle domme?
I did a longer form guide on how to find a domme on my own blog, but here’s the cliff notes:
Get really good at figuring out how to explain your sexuality outside of the limitations of the “dungeon” script.
You are going to have to learn to flirt-like-a-sub, which is all about flagging in a subtle way. Seek the same women you would normally date if you were vanilla, and learn to banter about the stuff you find sexy in a socially reasonable way. Luckily for you, chaining people up, cross dressing and even pegging are all topics that come up enough in pop culture! If you take your time and toss out hints, you are more likely to find people whose eyes light up a bit and start reciprocating in the usual fashion of human chemistry.
Your goal here is largely just to make sure you can pop the question in a non-threatening way. If I were to suggest a bias as far as women most likely to respond either naturally or positively, this probably means leaning to the more open minded and creative subcultures. Still, keep in mind she may not know the word for what she is, is domme, either! Be prepared for an enthusiastic baby domme, she got even less information than you did, who at least has porn tailored for you!
And under no circumstances open with talking about how terrible pro dommes are. If we know anything about being a domme, it’s usually a pretty good warning sign that guys are going to see us as a free service.
8. Interestingly enough, prodommes seem to outnumber the lifestyle dommes. How can we raise visibility for lifestyle dommes?
End sexism? Ok, that’s a big ask, but the largest challenge is to recognize that prodommes have every encouragement to be as visible as possible, because they are running a business. A lifestyle only domme is probably only pursuing her own gratification, and any effort to raise the profile of lifestyle side stuff has the bias that it doesn’t really make the money to sustain the work AND she is going to attract some serious aggro, nearly the equivalent of the pro. A lot of the barriers to lifestyle femdom are just the usual sexism that punishes male submission and weakness, and female aggression, strength, self advocacy, etc…
Ironically, decriminalisation of sex work would help significantly. For example: sites like instagram ban tags like #domme and #femdom, but not things that tilt towards M/f. This is labled as trying to stamp out what they see as soliciting for sex work. It becomes impossible to talk about femdom as a matter of women’s pleasure when people are trying to destroy it being a matter of her livelihood. Bans of porn and erotic content also have a chilling effect on sex education conversations.
My most controversial belief is that we also have to demand that femdom pays their male bottoms in its porn. Content routinely does not compensate or even charges male subs from participating in commercial clips. This stops them from developing as viable, sustainably supported talent in their own right. As a result, lifestyle dommes are less likely to see their own pleasure represented as viable. You can vote with your dollars- buy porn where it is clear the male sub, regardless of his kink, is equally valued as a performer. This is more likely to cause women who are attracted to male subs to also stick around.
If you are a male sub, mentor other male subs. Shame filled, huddling and hiding boys do not make for a thriving subculture. Functional lifestyle D/s relationships are an act of exchange between equals, and it’s much easier to respect dommes as whole people when you also respect (and accept) yourself.
If you are a female dominant in particular, you need to find your cohort, and in this capitalist hellscape, vote with your dollars. Pay for your media, review it and take a little time to rep it in fandom circles. Stuff we enjoy lives and dies on the recommendation of our peers.
Some sort of conclusion:
Wow, that was 8 questions, and maybe it got a bit spicy there for the last two! Thanks for reading, though, and if you liked what I shared, consider checking out my lifestyle femdom blog or maybe some of my free femdom stories! I’m also active on twitter, instagram, and occasionally even on youtube!
There we have it, Lifestyle Community!
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview blog about lifestyle dommes. A ginormous Shout-Out to the wonderful – Miss Pearl! I thank you tremendously for taking time from your hectic schedule to answer my questions.
So, let’s show love and appreciation to the lifestyle community AND support each other Kinksters! Please feel free to SHARE this interview with others. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @podofeleus and Instagram @Podopheleus.
Much Kink Love,