Final Thoughts on Two Kinkster Problem

This isn’t particularly femdom, but I think it’s interesting, so allow me to return one more time to the thought experiment I described previously.

It was actually inspired by a study Jonathan Haidt described in his book The Righteous Mind (which I’ve mentioned before). He came up with a set of scenarios that violated social norms in fairly disgusting ways, but didn’t actual cause any harm. For example, a man buys a chicken in a grocery store, takes it home and has sex with it before cooking and eating it. Is that morally wrong? Another one featured a family whose pet dog was run over, and rather than simply bury it, they cooked and ate it. He discovered that general disgust at the scenarios was universal, but that moral judgement varied. Wealthy liberal Westerners, brought up to believe in the primacy of the individual, tended to say nothing was wrong if no one was harmed. Almost everyone else outside that specific narrow group took the opposite view. They treated these major violations of social conventions as moral violations. Haidt went on to point out that the liberal western viewpoint of putting the individual first is actually the exception, both through history and in the world today.

I didn’t actually describe a scenario for Mary or Sam, but it’s pretty easy to come up with one that’d fit Haidt’s study. Imagine if they were roleplaying an actual lynching from the Jim Crow era South. I’d expect (hope) that people would find that disgusting but, assuming they never take it beyond the two of them in their playspace, there is no obvious harm to point at. From a purely Utilitarian viewpoint, they’re happy and nobody else is affected. Of course, the assumption that they can 100% compartmentalize their kinks is a big and questionable one.

Given that my readership skews to Western liberal (in the general rather than political sense) and given what I’d read in Haidt’s book, I predicted that most people would think Mark and Sam can’t do any moral harm in the original thought experiment. That did indeed seem to be consensus. I fit that mold myself. But it’s interesting to reflect that it’s an unusual viewpoint. The majority of people across the world and through history would not share it.

As I’ve said before, it’s tough to come up with an image for these kind of posts. Controversial activities tend to have controversial images. I’m going with an old shot from an ageplay scene in Taboo magazine. I’m not ageplay fan myself, but something about this image always worked for me.

The Two Kinkster Problem Revisited

Last week I posed a kinky thought experiment to consider. For clarity, let me restate it here, with a minor modification. The added italic text really should have been in the original version, as it closes a potential area of ambiguity.

“Mistress Mary and Submissive Sam, both risk aware consensual adult kinksters, enter their own deserted, well equipped private playspace and close the door behind them. An hour later they emerge sweaty, breathless and happy. They both tell you that they had a great time, and then go on their way with no ill effects or further interaction. Later you ask them what they did. At this point, is there anything they can say that’ll make you think they did something ethically or morally wrong?”

I suspect most of my readers would answer that there’s nothing they can have done that was ethically or morally wrong. That was certainly the gist of the comments I received, which didn’t surprise me. If you believe that, then you also must be ‘OK’ with extreme roleplays focusing on race, childhood, incest, Nazis, genocide, etc. Because in their hour alone, Mary and Sam might have indulged in the most heinous fucked up roleplay you can possibly imagine.

Note that by ‘OK’ in this context I don’t mean necessarily enjoying the idea of the activity, or wanting to try it yourself. Just that you’d say that no kink that can be done privately between consenting adults can ever be morally or ethically wrong.

I posed the thought experiment as a response to my ‘Pick a Side‘ post and the online debate I’d see about controversial activities. It seemed that the debate about specific activities was often muddied by the bad behavior of those who did them. I felt this thought experiment crystallized the issues more clearly.

In my original post I said that there was no wrong answer to the question, and I do believe that. While I lean to the anything goes side, I think it’s entirely valid to say that there are things that Mary and Sam can do that would be wrong. However, if you believe that, then I also think it’s incumbent on you to consider why you draw a line between activities and why your own favorite activities are OK in this situation. Kinky people are always keen to emphasize the difference between fantasy and reality. If you deny that boundary for some kinks, why not all?

It’s tricky to pick an image for a post like this. What Mary and Sam get up to in private isn’t necessarily something I want to broadcast to my readers. Nazi’s are certainly a controversial topic, but I think shooting a pair of them should be relatively safe, particularly when it’s done by the Lace Panty Commandos.

The Two Kinkster Problem

I’ve finally got time to get back to my post from last week entitled ‘Pick a Side‘. That was all about the morals and ethics of certain kinky activities. Is it reasonable to cast some kinks as wrong or bad, while falling back on the argument of ‘as long as its consensual adults, its OK’  for other kinks?

I got some interesting comments, which prompted me to think more on the issue, and come up with a thought experiment. Let’s call it ‘The Two Kinster problem.’

Mistress Mary and Submissive Sam, both risk aware consensual adult kinksters, enter their own deserted, well equipped private playspace and close the door behind them. An hour later they emerge sweaty, breathless and happy. They both tell you that they had a great time, and you ask them what they did. At this point, is there anything they can say that’ll make you think they did something ethically or morally wrong?

There’s obviously no incorrect answer. I’m just curious what answers or comments readers might have to the question.

When it comes to philosophical questions, I only know of one famous philosopher with a femdom connection  – Aristotle. I’ve covered the story of him and Phyllis previously. This particular image of them is by the French painter Étienne Jeaurat.

Pick a Side

Apologies if you’ve one of the tiny handful of people who follow me on twitter, as this post is going to be a rehash of a twitter rant I posted there recently. The tweets were an experiment to see if I could use twitter threads for thoughts longer than 280 characters, and if I’d get better engagement with them. The answers were respectively ‘not easily’ and ‘no’, so I think blog posts will remain my primary form of expression.

The rant in question was brought about by multiple social media arguments I’d seen on controversial kinky activities. Topics like race play, extreme age play, incest porn/roleplay and nazi outfits. All these arguments ultimately boiled down to two basic viewpoints. On one side was ‘as long as its consensual, adults can fantasize about anything’, on the other was ‘this activity has serious implications and you’re selfish/evil for treating it as way to get off’. I think both of those can be defensible opinions. What struck me as crazy was people flipping between the two depending how they felt about the topic in question.

The ‘as long as its consensual’ view is basically a get of jail free card. It’s a perspective that puts kinky play in its own little bubble, with no obvious relationship between what happens in the bubble and the outside world. If you believe it, then you can do a non-con sex roleplay, and not think you’re encouraging rape. Or beat someone and not spend any time wondering if you’re encouraging violence. That’s a valid viewpoint in my opinion, but it’s important to realize, it’s activity agnostic. You can’t logically claim your kinks live in a bubble where consent is all that matters, but arbitrary other kinks don’t.

On the other side, I think it’s also reasonable to argue that kinks very much interact with a broader social context. For example, one could discuss the intersection of race play and racism. However, if you’re going to do that, it means all kinks have to be considered in that context. That means a lot of kinks become potentially problematic, and require deeper analysis and justification. I typically don’t see anyone out there wanting to do that work for their personal favorite kinks.

In actuality, what consistently happens is that people play the ‘as long as its consensual’ card for their favorite kinks, and then try to withhold it when the activity in question gives them yucky feelings. Which seems broken to me. Either play the card consistently and let others do the same, or don’t play it at all.

In the femdom realm the combination of cross-dressing and humiliation is one of those controversial topics that can trigger a similar ‘consensual adults’ versus ‘this is wrong’ debate. The artwork here is by Voloh.

Differences in Perception

Mark left a thoughtful comment on my last post, emphasizing the difference between professional and lifestyle D/s relationships. The original post was about the focus on man’s pleasure and the male context as the default one at the expense of the female one. His point was that while that’s true for the professional context, it’s not necessarily true for the lifestyle one, where the negotiation, dynamics and goals can be very different. Oddly enough, I actually think we’re both right.

His point about the difference between lifestyle and professional interaction is undoubtedly true, but the latter part of my post was more about the common representation and perception of femdom. And I think it’s pretty clear that the professionals dominate (*ahem*) that sphere. They are who journalists turn to when they want a quote, an interview or a sex advice column on kink. They’re the obvious inspiration for high end fashion shots and for instagram celebrities looking to shock. They’re commercially incentivized to produce glossy appealing imagery, which gets posted all over twitter and websites like this one.

Any regular readers will know that I huge respect and appreciation for pro-dommes – they’ve literally changed my life. But I can’t pretend that they don’t have significant distorting effect on how society perceives femdom and male submission. Good non-professional representations of femdom are rare and hard to find. Certainly not something the average person will regularly encounter.

This is from a series called ‘Strong Women’ by the photographer Marco Tanaglia (found here). I think it’s a good example of my point, as it’s pretty clear what type of strong woman has influenced this image.

Working from Different Baselines

This article – The female price of male pleasure – isn’t femdom and isn’t even recent (Jan ’18). However, I found it thought provoking and it’s my blog, so here it is.

The basic thrust of the article is that men and women operate on very different scales when it comes to sex and pleasure. For men the range is boring to awesome, for women the range is painful/scary/coercive to awesome. That leads to very different baselines and different normal expectations. On top of that, society has conditioned us to make the male expectation the default one, to the point where people don’t even realize other expectations exist, which in turn distorts any discussion about it.

Although it’s  not about kink and femdom, I think the articles basic point is actually equally applicable to them. If you look around at the online representation of femdom, it would be hard to argue that male pleasure isn’t the primary focus of 95% of it. The dicks might be getting squashed, smacked, beaten, locked up, teased or laughed at, but the dick is still the primary focus. It’s ironic that in a realm where the purported focus is female pleasure and male pain, it’s typically still the women clambering around in the uncomfortable outfits while the men get to sit back and soak in the sensations they crave.

I don’t really have any wise words on how to address this. Hell, this blog is just as guilty of perpetuating the status quo. But if a discussion is going to be productive, all parties have to at least be operating with a shared understanding and a common context. So perhaps just acknowledging the different contexts and baselines that are operating here is a useful first step.

It was tricky to pick and image for this particular topic. I figured a dominant woman enjoying both a candle lit bubble bath and a bound silenced slave to drip hot wax onto was a pretty good representation of what should be pleasure for all concerned. This is Goddess Viper,  a pro-domme based in Manila, with the image taken from her twitter feed. My thanks to Lucy Sweetkill for the original article link.

Chemistry over Cash

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on the topic of pro-domination and the amount taken as tribute. In that post I argued that the number one factor that drove tribute was the local cost of living and property prices. However, that’s not the whole story. If you look just at a single city and take an average across tribute values, you’ll still find a non-trivial variance. I’ve occasionally seen as much as a two times variance in hourly rate within the same metropolitan area. So what gives with that? Is the experience offered by some pro-dommes that much better?

…There’s a slight pause at this point while I strap my flameproof pants on…

In my entirely personal and anecdotal experience, the answer to that question is no. Among the various well established and independent dommes I’ve played with, I’ve never observed a correlation between session quality and tribute rates. I’ve had lots of amazing sessions and I’ve had a few very average sessions, and which was which always came down to personal chemistry and all the other intangibles that  go along with great kinky play. The amount of cash I had to show up with never made any difference. It’s the same story with equipment and general professionalism. I know dommes with mad scientist levels of equipment stuffed into their play space who charge less than dommes who play out of hotel rooms.  I had one domme who was charging 50% over the average San Francisco rate show up two hours late to our session, where Lydia, who charged around the average for Seattle, was never once late in 100+ sessions.

Of course you should never ever haggle over tribute rates. A pro-domme, or a sex worker of any type, can set her rates at whatever she wants and absolutely have that rate respected. If you don’t want to pay it, then don’t contact her. However, don’t be tempted to think that higher necessarily means a better experience. If you’re budget limited, you’ll almost certainly be able to find an amazing domme who doesn’t charge more than the average for her part of the world.

Of course, everything I just wrote applies only to regular professional kinky play. If you’re into findom of the kind depicted by Sardax here, then all bets are off.

Money, money, money

When it comes to paying a professional dominant – the ‘tribute’ in the industry parlance – it’s said that you get what you pay for. My social media feeds frequently features this sentiment expressed in various different ways, both by pro-dommes and their clients. In other words the quality of the dominant and the experience she offers correlates strongly to the size of the tribute she demands. But is this true?

I can obviously only comment from my limited personal experience, which is entirely with independent and well established pro-dommes.  However, within that limited set, I’d say the number one correlation with the tribute amount isn’t the skill of the domme, but the cost of real estate in her location. High cost cities make it expensive to maintain both a playspace and a personal residence. They also tend to have a highly paid client base who can afford higher fees. So Manhattan has always had very high hourly tribute rates. San Francisco wasn’t too bad a decade or so ago, but has become a lot more expensive in recent years.  Seattle isn’t in San Francisco’s league yet, but is beginning to trend in that direction.

Keeping all this in mind, if there are any American submissives out there with cash on the hip, vacation time in the bank, and a kinky itch to scratch, my top recommendation would be to visit Los Angeles. It’s got a huge and talented pro-domme community, but its sprawling layout leads to a cheaper cost of living and significantly lower tribute rates. For example, Isabella Sinclaire is undoubtedly an outstanding domme, with the skills to match anyone in the world. Yet, her rate for 2 hours is (at the time of writing) $500, which is significantly below the SF average and way below the NYC average. She also has an amazing and well equipped play space.

I hated LA when I first visited it back in the 90’s, but it’s probably the one place in America I’d now consider living outside Seattle. If you’ve not been then I definitely recommend it. Just steer clear of the Hollywood tourist traps.

This shot is from Isabella’s instagram feed. Her contact information for scheduling professional sessions is here.

Gone but not forgotten

Spotting this image on tumblr brought a wry smile to my face. Those that have been around the femdom blogverse a while may recognize it. For those that don’t, this is Ms Marie with her husband in their basement. She wrote an excellent femdom blog 7 or so years ago, and I still occasionally see photographs from it surface on tumblr and twitter. One day her blog just vanished. As far as I know, she never posted or commented again.

Sex blogging is a strange form of interaction. With casual acquaintances we typically share a narrow and very shallow view of ourselves. It’s a personality puddle. With good friends we deepen and also broaden that sharing. Maybe a lake or sea rather than a puddle. By contrast, sex blogging is a dark water filled mine shaft. We share intimate personal details and yet retain this incredibly narrow focus. Readers know things that our closest friends aren’t aware of, but also don’t know things we’d casually drop into a conversation with a slightly annoying work colleague. It makes the transitions – when life changes and bloggers stop or move on –  all the more strange.

I often think of bloggers I used to read and (in some cases) swap comments with – Ms Marie, hmp, scott & Em, D from Dumb Domme, Saratoga, Suzanne, Axe, Bitchy Jones, Disheveled Domina and many others that have currently slipped my mind. In some cases I know a little bit of the context around why they stopped. In most I’ve no idea. I hope they’re OK and don’t regret what they shared with the world. I hope they know that at least one of their readers appreciated their posts and still reflect back fondly on them.

Protonmail vs Gmail

When the FOSTA-SESTA bill was passed into law there was a rush of sex workers and clients moving from Gmail to the enhanced security of Protonmail. Since then I’ve noticed a backlash to Protonmail, with complaints about its reliability resulting in some people moving back to Gmail. At the same time I’ve also observed some confusion about the security issues involved, with comments like “Gmail uses encryption anyway” or “I’m on a VPN, so why does it matter?” Obviously, everyone can make their own judgement call about utility vs security, but I’d like that decision to be an informed one. Hence, this post to dig into the issues.

When it comes to encryption, Gmail does use an encrypted connection between you and their servers. That’s nothing unusual. So does pretty much every internet service that carries personal data (banking, shopping, email, etc). That’s necessary to stop people in your building, coffee shop or  IT department sneaking a look at what you’re sending and receiving. Obviously this is a good thing, but pretty much irrelevant when it comes to law enforcement. Even if they could do it (which they can’t), they’re not going to try and hack your internet connection and reconstruct your emails from the data you send.

Similarly, while a VPN (virtual private network) is generally a good thing for privacy, it’s irrelevant when it comes to law enforcement and email. Normally, even with encrypted connections, it’s still possible to see what sites someone is visiting. With a VPN, a remote computer (typically in another country) makes all those connections for you, and you just have a single encrypted connection to the VPN. That’s great if you don’t want someone to be able to trace your interactions with sites like eros or slixa, but kind of pointless when it comes to Gmail. If you’ve got a public web presence tied to a known email account, there’s absolutely no value trying to hide the fact you’re connecting to that email service. The fact you’ve got the email address on your website proves that you must be using the service.

The key difference between Protonmail and Gmail is how the data is stored on the email servers. In Protonmail the data is encrypted so that even the people running Protonmail can’t read it. That is absolutely not true for Gmail. Google’s entire business model is based on mining user data. In some cases it’s even possible for third parties to access the data. As Google describes here, they will produce the content of your Gmail account in response to a search warrant. And, as they document here, they produced user data for around 80% of the legal requests they receive each month. So if a prosecutor has your Gmail address and a search warrant, he can read your emails. The bar for obtaining a search warrant is simply showing probable cause. That is not a high bar. In contrast, even if US and Swiss law enforcement cooperated to get hold of Protonmail data, it would be a jumble of meaningless numbers. They’d need the account password to make sense of it.

One could argue that there are easier and more likely ways for law enforcement to hassle sex workers than trying to access their email accounts. Or that if an investigation has reached the point of getting search warrants, it’s unlikely to be stopped simply by a lack of email data. However, in the current climate, I tend to take the view that safer is always better. Would you want to bet against the possibility of a prosecutor going on a fishing expedition after scraping the web for pro-domme and escort email addresses? Or getting hold of the data from sites like eros or slixa and then using some bullshit sex trafficking story to get a load of warrants signed off? No tech company is going to want to be perceived to facilitate sex trafficking, even if the trafficking story is a fiction with zero relationship to reality.

As I said at the beginning of the post, the utility vs security trade-off is a matter for individual judgement. But nobody should assume that there isn’t a trade-off involved here. Gmail and Protonmail offer very different levels of privacy. Personally, even though pro-domination is legal and I only engage in non-sexual BDSM activities, I’ve switched to Protonmail for my personal account.

If anyone has questions about any of this feel free to leave a comment. I’m absolutely not a legal expert, but I do know a bit about computers and networks. I also added some follow-up thoughts in a subsequent post.

This domme certainly takes security seriously. She doesn’t ever turn her computer on. That’s hardcore security.

As far as I can tell the website originally associated with this image has ceased to exist.