No-Date Dominatrix

Friday, September 29, 2006

Question

For many years, I have fantasized about becoming a dominant/sadistic woman. I'm bisexual. I went to BDSM clubs and chatted on the Internet, but I couldn't find slaves that I liked. Most of them refused to let me dominate them. The chats were nice, but when I met them in person, they refused to get into a session. I don't know, maybe my beginner's low confidence shows? Maybe my appearance isn't tough enough? I'm very frustrated. I'm careful to be safe, sane, and consensual, but maybe I need to force them to obey me? Help! I'm getting older and frustrated every day. Just kidding—I'm 26.

Answer

Given the preponderance of bottoms in the BDSM world, I am flat out amazed that you can't get a submissive man to put out his wrists for your handcuffs. Something big is going wrong here. I firmly believe that social skills can be learned, outfits can be improved, and communication skills can be beefed up, so I hope I won't offend you if I offer some frank possibilities.

When you go to clubs, pay attention to the way other dominant women are dressed. Study the way that they relate to their slaves. Just give yourself some time to observe. Every local community has slightly different tastes and standards. These are in part determined by what local craftsmen and -women are designing. Go window shopping at fetish marts.

Take stock of your own public image. Are you dressing in a way that is becoming to you, which also communicates your dominant intentions? Some women can pull off a pair of jodhpurs, some high boots, and a riding crop. Others go for latex dresses and big studded dog collars. Think about what your best physical features are and how you can emphasize them. If you've got great tits, put yourself in a corset. If you are a masculine and direct kind of person, get a pair of leather jeans and a studded belt. It goes without saying that you need to pay attention to personal hygiene. Mouthwash and a good deodorant are as important as how high your spiked heels are.

Then think about your dating record in the vanilla world. How lucky were you at connecting with the men you found attractive? If that wasn't working well for you, then perhaps you have some communication problems. Maybe you come on too strong and rush things. You don't sound like a shy person, but some dominants go dateless because they are not extroverts. If there is an expectation in your community that submissives must be the ones to approach dominants, you may be sabotaging yourself by making the first move.

This is a delicate matter, but I have to bring it up, and that's the question of how attractive you are, period. If you are very beautiful, people will be envious of you and hate you and want you and assume you are unavailable. If you are average, some people of low intelligence will pass you by, determined to pursue a popular community star who has little free time for new acquaintances. If you are below average, your chances of getting a date go down no matter how well spoken or expensively dressed you are. If you are trying to hook up with people who are out of your class, so to speak, you are bound to be disappointed. I'm sorry to say that human beings are just stupid that way. Some of the best long-term S/M relationships I've encountered are between average people who were smart enough to see the unique and special qualities each possessed. They didn't waste their time with unrequited love for a superstar or an egomaniac who was only interested in getting as much attention as possible. They are happy, while the Great and Terrible Beauties often spend their weekends looking into a cocktail glass.

Instead of looking for dates, go to some BDSM support groups and make some friends. You need somebody to go to parties with you and help you cruise. We are often bad at spotting the people who are interested in us, but we can tell in a minute if somebody is repeatedly eyeing the person standing next to you. This is a community where we pimp for our friends. If I go out with a friend who gets performance anxiety and can't speak to somebody they like, I can go up to that person and invite him or her to join us. Since I am not trying to set up a play date with that person, I don't have the same chilly willies wreaking havoc in my tummy.

A friend can also be quite helpful for critiquing your outfit and your mannerisms. This is a fashion-conscious community where details matter a lot. I have often seen people who go to a club in a getup that is almost correct, but not quite right enough to get the kind of attention that they clearly want. You can't wear cowboy boots with a uniform, for example. Or tennis shoes with a leather miniskirt and bustier. If you've put the wrong thing on, a friend can tactfully tell you that something else would work better. Friends are also good company for those nights when no date appears, funny critics of the scene, sources of new information about community events or a hot new kinky graphic novel, and they last longer than many romantic relationships, so treasure them.

If you are prepared for a real trial by fire, pick someone whose opinion you trust, someone who seems to have the kind of social life you would like to have. Muster your courage and ask that person to give you a frank critique of what you are doing wrong. You may have to put a lot of energy into persuading them that you won't retaliate or be an asshole if what they have to say is upsetting. (And keep that promise or else, buster.) Then brace yourself. You may have to hear that your hair looks greasy or your voice is loud and annoying or you stand too close to people and spray them with spittle. You can't spell, you wear tie-dye to hardcore clubs, you are flaunting your Star Trek regalia in places where it is not, um, well, let's say valued. Unfortunately, we just can't be objective about ourselves. Once you've gotten your makeover advice, call your friend for consolation, because your feelings will be hurt, and wait until the next day to make a plan to use the precious information that someone was kind enough to give you.

Finally, I'm going to address the possibility that your status as a beginner is off-putting. Don't take the route of trying to "force" someone to submit to you. You are offering a lucky bottom the gift of your time and imagination. If they do not have the discrimination and good sense to recognize that gift, they simply don't deserve to have it given to them for free. It's no fun playing with someone who is ambivalent about getting into the session.

When I came into this community in the 1980s, there were only a handful of books that mentioned S/M. Larry Townsend's durable classic The Leatherman's Handbook was the only instructional manual. Its gay male focus made it of limited value to heterosexual players. We learned how to do various S/M techniques by being trained in them by more experienced tops or bottoms. (Yes, many a good top has been trained by a more experienced bottom. This is a great way to win your stripes.) Many aspects of BDSM are still learned best by person-to-person training. There is no substitute for having somebody who knows how it should be done taking you through play piercing, an enema, suspension bondage, or interrogation under their supervision.

Who has a topping style that you like? Politely ask for their attention. Explain your situation—you are very eager to learn, you've done all you can via the Internet, but your real-world experience is meager. See if you can become a junior S to a more experienced dominatrix (or master, even). Offer to be someone's extra pair of hands during a scene. Make yourself useful. This may take some time. There are a lot of phonies out there, voyeurs who don't have real dedication to creating the demonstrations at meetings or the attention-grabbing scenes at play parties. Be dependable, available, and low-key. Sooner or later someone will recognize your good heart and take you under her wing.

I hope this is helpful to you. Just remember that everybody in the BDSM world has trouble finding compatible partners. We are a sexual minority. That means there are fewer of us. BDSM interests tend to be quite specific, so we have to winnow the grain and hope there's something in there besides a lot of chaff. I'm not sure why I reached for an agricultural metaphor when BDSM is largely an urban phenomenon, but the image of being surrounded by a lot of tiny, lightweight, no-account fetish icons who are then blown away by a stern wind tickled my fancy.

Enough of that. We are supposed to be focusing on your troubles, not my rich inner life. Maybe I need a little help to find some more play partners myself. I know how tough it can be to win a modicum of acceptance in this cliquish and arbitrary little world. Just keep at it, and I'll be thinking of you and sending energy toward your happiness and success.

If you only knew how many meetings or parties I've attended where a large group of single, straight, submissive men milled about, depressed, with no one to tell them what to do. Poor dears. They are the ones who ought to be writing to me. The thought of you not being up to your elbows in asses that need a spanking just flummoxes me. Now I really have seen everything. Blessings on you, dear colleague.