583. The Wild West Era of Femdom

Originally Posted on Fetlife

I’ve been wanting to write about this subject for a while now for a myriad of reasons. Some of them are personal, and some are because I feel that this will help explain things like the shortage of both subs and Dommes that surface within local communities and the types of messages that women (both dominant and submissive) receive from random sub-classifying men that never have and never will set foot in the community.

My apologies to those who identify with genders that are not represented here. I am not trying to exclude them, but gender identities such as non-binary, gender-fluid, gender-queer, and the like did not exist as well-known concepts back then and the understanding of and views on transgender was from an older, less evolved era. People who identified in these ways back then would have been forcibly lumped into categories that did not adequately describe who they are.

I consider the era involving the mid-90s up to the mid-00s (pre-50 Shades mainstream exposure) to be sort of the Wild West of Femdom. Available resources were sparse. You could count the number of non-fiction books published on the subject on one hand. You could count the number of fiction books published with a heavy Femdom theme on one hand. What’s interesting is that as a whole, there were far more extensive and accurate internet resources for learning about BDSM than there are right now. The downside is that many of them primarily wrote as if M/f was the only applicable target audience (with a handful of exceptions that focused on M/m).

I found this to get very tiresome when reading them. There’s only so long where you can pronoun switch the genders of what you read before it gets old. They would usually promote themselves as not being just M/f, but roughly half of every guide included dozens of special cases that were only a factor in M/f. Similar cases that were specific to F/m were excluded completely.

BDSM-community groups varied greatly by region, if they had leather scene influence or not, and if they did, if they were more influenced by Old Guard principles or not.

In many areas, switches were frowned upon, dumped on, and frequently treated like they were just pretenders who wanted to be the center of attention and weren’t dedicated enough to embrace a role.

How groups treated the idea of dominant women varied greatly from region to region, but it was fairly common to be able to count the number of active Dommes in an area on one hand. Depending upon the area, it was also very common for dominant women to be treated like a small child pretending to fit in with the big kids, and once they found a strong enough man that they would fall into their true place. When that sort of attitude was accepted or even promoted as the norm, it meant that sub men were truly the lowest life form there was. It was fairly common for them to be disrespected by both dominant men and submissive women, and their presence would ramp up the toxic-masculinity as a form of bullying: “Real men are ______.” “Real men do ______.” “Real men take ______.” Submissive men, who did not do those things, therefore weren’t real men and should be ashamed of themselves.

(I should note that this sort of behavior still exists today, but how much of a problem it is depends upon the area and the attitudes of the members of the groups and it is rarely as overt as it once was.)

Knowing this, it isn’t a big shock that most Femdom occurred during that era happened outside of the BDSM community. There was no sheriff. There wasn’t active monitoring or support. For those who started before the internet, it was kind of a free-for-all of trial and error. It wasn’t until the mid/late-90s that the first Femdom books were published. While the first two commercially published Femdom instructional guides were written from a BDSM-perspective, they also were basically M/f guides with reversed pronouns and didn’t include much about the differences, struggles, and hardships that are/were unique to F/m.

This gap was supplemented by other authors who began as grass-roots websites and slowly built a following. A few of them used the correspondence they had received over the year as source material for their theories and would regularly update their sites with new writings and ideas.

These authors were VERY different than the others. They did not write about how to safely navigate a BDSM community and find ways to get your needs met in a consensual way. What many of them did write about was how a woman could exploit a man’s sexuality and use skill to enslave him, with or without his consent. The techniques were designed to be effective regardless of whether or not the man was a sub. If he was, great. If he wasn’t, no problem.

Use sex as a weapon. Twist him up. Condition him to respond in certain ways to certain things. Limit his freedom. Punish him if he gets out line. Train him to need what you are giving him and then control its supply. Once he is helplessly under your control, use him to live the lifestyle you have always dreamed of.

There weren’t negotiations. If the man said no, there were repercussions that would condition him not to do that again. It was pretty much a system of the woman saying, “here’s how it is and how it will be” and the man following suit, without the ability to challenge it or change it.

It was these philosophies that led to the FLR movement (but even the principles of FLR have changed drastically over the past 10 years).

By today’s consent-culture standards, these methods are basically seen as predatory, abusive, manipulative, toxic, etc. Back then, they were sort of… how things were if you weren’t one of the lucky few men who happened to be with one of the handful of Dommes who were a part of the BDSM community. In most cases, male subs weren’t really taken seriously unless they were willing to go “that far.” In many cases, it was expected that you shouldn’t have needs beyond serving a dominant woman. Don’t ask for anything that she doesn’t already love to do. Offer much and expect little in return. If you were lucky enough to be given a chance, you might be allowed a handful of hard limits, but beyond that, choosing to be in the relationship was your consent to everything else. Power exchange was at the core of it to such an extent that everything else was minor in comparison. The population disparity between submissive men and dominant women is still so great that in many ways, that the courting process in many cases still closely resembles this.

I definitely feel the current ways are far more progressive and accepting than things were in the past. If a group craps on you for being a sub male, you can find another group that won’t (and probably meets later in the week). It’s strange though, I do know that most of the Femdom relationships involving extensive D/s has again moved outside of the BDSM community and into other movements that try to distance themselves from kink. Also, I find that most of the resources available for people doing research into Femdom outside of Fetlife are once again most likely to find resources that are rooted in the similar principles as the “Wild West” era with an emphasis upon meeting the Domme’s needs while basically ignoring the sub’s.

To the people who receive mountains of messages in their inbox full of requests from submissive men with unrealistic fantasies that seem to fall outside of the moral/ethical boundaries that you abide by, it’s probably because their expectations and desires have been shaped by the Femdom sites that promote those as they way they are supposed to be.

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