Friday, June 3, 2011

Leather Bear Tails: The Invisible Woman: In Defense of Pro Dommes

When I first heard of the discrimination Pro Dommes faced when they enter into the BDSM, leather, and kink community, I thought, “This can’t be.” And even though I was told that this type of treatment is very wide spread I still felt that maybe these incidents were isolated. So I set about interviewing a group of Pro Dommes individually to try to round out my own understanding of what was happening. What I found surprised me, sometimes confused me with contradictions, and quite frankly completely challenged what I thought I knew and understood about this branch of the BDSM world and the women who exist within it. I realized many of my own biases. Upon reflection I realized that although I have never believed choosing to become a sex worker or a Pro Domme should be illegal, I have noticed that when I found myself in conflict with someone in the past who happened to be a sex worker or Pro Domme, I found it easier to look down on or dismiss them. Through these interviews I have begun to deal with my own sense of self-righteousness, and although I am not all the way there, I find that I am beginning to unpack my own attitudes on this topic and towards the people who classify themselves as sex workers and/or Pro Dommes.

I conducted interviews with numerous Dommes along the spectrum. Some were completely out and had websites and contact information readily available, others were very discreet. Some had spouses and children; others were single with no children. Some had clients that went back between 10 and 20 years and dealt only with a set client base; others had newer as well as older clients and continued to expand their client base. Some openly ran events, held titles, and taught classes while others refrained from engaging with the BDSM community at all due to prior experiences of outright aggression and hostility from it’s members. Some included sex with their clients, others did not.

While each Pro Domme had her preference of how to run her business, what revealed itself during these conversations were four commonalities on which they all agreed.

Every Pro Domme I interviewed agreed that the two most prevalent misconceptions about Pro Dommes are 1) they have sex all the time, and 2) they have no BDSM skills. To address the first misconception, what I found is that quite simply, some Pro Dommes choose to include sex with their clients and some do not. Some possess a strong sex drive in their private lives and some do not. And just because a woman is a Pro Domme does not automatically mean that sex comes with the package. Also, every interviewee agreed these misconceptions stem from the shift that occurred when sex workers of all types started picking up whips without knowing how to control and use them safely-- the result being they would sometimes hurt their clients in unintended ways. Unfortunately, the reputation of Pro Dommes was injured as well. As stories seeped out about inexperienced and uneducated sex workers hurting clients, it became widely believed that any sex worker or Pro Domme simply possessed no BDSM skills and was a danger or threat. In short, instead of looking at these as two different parts of sex work, as the highly skilled and unskilled, it became easier to lump everyone together.

Many of the Dommes I talked with were told either outright or through the grape vine that they could not possibly know anything about the lifestyle or BDSM because they did it for money, and that their very presence was a scourge and tarnished our leather and kink society.

So, let us take these attitudes apart.

I ask you, do people assume that I know nothing about my job because I do it for money? Let’s not forget here. Being a Pro Domme is a JOB. A job where quite frankly these women have more autonomy, higher pay and more flexible hours than many of us will ever know. They have a skill, a knowledge base and an ability that keeps their clients happy and coming back for years. Don’t you expect to get paid for your job? Sex workers compartmentalize their job the way we all do, we all have a professional self and a home self. Pro Dommes are no different.

As far as tarnishing our leather and kink community, I found that quite to the contrary, Pro Dommes by their very ability, are able to reach out to a section of the population that people in the lifestyle will never be able to know. There are many who will not become part of the public kink or leather community for their own reasons but still long for connection and a chance to safely explore. For these people, Pro Dommes help expand understanding of self, desire, BDSM, leather, and kink in ways that others simply cannot.

If you have a boil on your butt do you go down to the local carwash and ask for a wax and a lance? No, you go to a doctor. When you are being sued do you go down to the 24-hour drive through and order a burger and a consult with the head cook? No, you go to a lawyer. When you have deep seated psychological issues that get in the way of your daily function in life do you go to the guy who sells burritos out of the back of his van? No, you see a therapist. And when you need understanding, release, and privacy to expand on your own fantasies or desires that you yourself may not fully understand, and you have no one you trust to explore with, and due to your job, your life, or your family you cannot be seen in public you see a Pro Domme.

What is most revealing here and what we need to pay close attention to is that every woman named the same two misconceptions and cited the same root for these misconceptions. And in addition, every woman I spoke with identified with and practiced BDSM, leather, and kink in their private lives, and they all agreed that part of the discrimination against Pro Dommes stemmed from the conflicting attitudes regarding sexually empowered women in our culture. Also cited as a part of this discrimination was the social hierarchy that we are not immune to in the leather, kink, and BDSM culture. Some people are simply considered more “respectable” then others.

I would like to take this moment to say thank you to all the Pro Dommes out there. Thank you for fulfilling a need in our society, for touching a section of our society that many of us, myself included, cannot and are not qualified to do. Your work is both important and very real.

At the end of each interview I ask each Pro Domme to give me a message that they would like everyone to know. Here is what they had to say:

v “I apprenticed with two pros for a year before I worked on my own. One of my mentors told me early on to never let anyone convince me that what we do is not important; we often save people from decades of desperation and self-loathing. We help people judge themselves--and then hopefully others--with more compassion.”

v “Be yourself and stop worrying about what others are.”

v “Listen and ask questions of professional women before you judge them.”

v “It’s about the SM and not the sex.”

And finally, I would like to personally thank with my deepest gratitude, the Pro Dommes who took their time, effort, and energy to let me into their lives as they answered my questions with patience and candor. Mrs. B, Sera, Mistress M, and Mistress Sky, sincerely thank you.

If you are interested in power munches, play parties, or hands on workshops in the Albuquerque area please contact:

If you are interested in a very active online community find:

Group name

New Mexico Fetlifers


suska said...

Awesome entry!

Sky Fiske said...

Thank you for being our voice and our friend.

Master Bear said...

Thank you both so much ,and to Sky it was an honor to interview you! thanks for being a part of this project!