Jul 082019

Yesterday I received this message in my Fetlife inbox.

“Is Ethical Financial Domination even possible?”

I’m always a bit surprised to hear this from fellow kinksters, though I shouldn’t be. Can’t that question be applied to everything we do? “Is ethical [your favorite kink here] even possible?  Someone who doesn’t understand how consent and context is critically relevant could very plausibly ask this about impact play or suspension bondage or dominance and submission of any kind.  But as experienced kinksters we understand these things – and yet people still ask this question about financial domination.  

Money and sexuality are two of the biggest taboos in society.  And so what do you get when you combine them in the context of a kink relationship?  An incredibly misunderstood way to play; a remarkably versatile tool of (consensual) power, submission, domination, sacrifice, humiliation… and more!

So in a community of self-proclaimed rebels and rule-breakers, why does the intersection of kink and finance draw such a squeamish response?  Money is a tool. It can be a tool of domination or a tool of submission. It can be a practical component of a relationship or part of a negotiated dynamic of many kinds. Money can be used to humiliate or empower, it can be a sacrifice or a tangible way of caring for someone. It can be any of these things. It can be all of these things.

Money itself is not inherently good or evil anymore than rope is.  If you consent to be bound to a cross and flogged, there is no actual harm done, because you have consented.  The fact of the rope means nothing – it is a tool of power exchange. So now if you consent to be bound to a financial obligation, just like the rope, the money is a tool of power exchange, and again you have consented.  Nevertheless because it’s money creating the bondage, people give this power exchange a moral weight.  For many kinksters, sadistic rope or a hard-core spanking can make perfect sense, but offering up one’s wallet feels like a space too far.

A few years ago I taught a financial domination class at Dark Odyssey Summer Camp. Only three women showed up, which wasn’t surprising because it’s a lifestyle event and most kinksters think of financial play as sleazy and beneath them. We ended up having a really incredible conversation about the diverse ways of using money in their D/s relationships. The first woman had been thinking about becoming a professional dominatrix for a few years and wanted to let go of the misinformation and stereotypes she’d heard and learn how to start incorporating money while still feeling good about it.   Another woman had her male dominant “force” her to let him pay her bills. The third used financial domination to reinforce her submissives devotion by having them fund improvements to her home. Important though: the money here was part of the power exchange. In this case, it was not payment for kinky service; it was kinky service.  

Of course, it doesn’t help that #findom has become an online world populated with visibly unethical folks who push people into bankruptcy, demand the emptying of college and savings accounts, disrespect to spouses, “forced intoxication” and who threaten peoples’ livelihoods in the name of tribute.    This is not power exchange; it is power abuse. If a financial dom is demanding a sacrifice more than what was originally consented to entirely for their own gain, that slides into unethical behavior. And those unethical assholes are spoiling a great opportunity for the rest of us.  

Though to clarify, as a Risk Aware Consensual Kink player,  I don’t think that “forced” intoxication is an impossible fantasy to fulfill. But there’s no way in hell that the majority of folks pushing this play online have had a nuanced conversation about consent without exploitation with the people they’re playing with. It’s ok if your fantasy is to be exploited, but that should still be an active conversation.

Like my work with erotic humiliation and consensual psychological torment, I’d like to open up more kinksters to the thrill of using money to satisfy a variety of sexy uses.  Playing with social taboos and psychological triggers touches all my kinky buttons. The ways that ProDomme’s use money in their client relationships might seem more obvious to some, but it’s possible to explore in a lifestyle relationship too.  Not all financial domination is about blackmail or the “threat” of imminent bankruptcy – in fact far from it. It can be used short term (bring me a perfect coffee every morning or buy me a toy for the session we’re going to have) or it can be long-term (fund my start-up or invest in my 401k).  But however it’s used, if it can be used to induce (consensual) discomfort in my play partner, then sign me up!

I like to think of financial domination as having three broad categories that still leave a range of options depending on your interests, limits and the nature of your relationship. These elements (along with a couple of other influences) all come together to create a sweet spot of eroticisim you might be currently missing out on.

I’ll be talking about all of that and more in my upcoming webinar on July 13th. We’ll discuss the differences in dynamic and how to maximize the enjoyment regardless of whether you’re a lifestyle or professional kinkster (or both)! From the reasonable to the risky there’s probably a way to incorporate financial domination into your play that fits your style and desires.

Register here today and you’ll receive access to the live class Saturday July 13th, a downloadable recording of the class so you can watch it anytime (including if you can’t make it to the live class), plus you’ll receive a digital workbook that you can print out to take the class deeper with space for your reflective thoughts and notes to help you remember key points to come back to you whenever you need.


Did you miss the live “Ethical Financial Domination” class?

For a limited time you can purchase the workbook + access to the recording. 


Aug 312015

“But I raised you to be a nice girl….”

This is what my mother says when erotic humiliation comes up, and considering what I do for a living it comes up exponentially more than it might for others. Of course, the terms erotic humiliation or erotic embarrassment aren’t phrases that my mom use, to her it just looks like I’m “being mean”. To most people it looks like I’m “being mean” but that’s the biggest misconception about this taboo type of play.

Embarrassment and humiliation are simply different levels of the psychological experience.

First, the official definitions, from the oh-so-deep archives on Wikipedia:

1)      Embarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself, experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others.

2)      Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It is an emotion felt by a person whose social status has just decreased.

Now here’s the crux. There is a HUGE difference between the consensual erotic explorations of this psychological experience and someone truly just “being mean”. In fact, when it’s abusive it goes much, much farther than simply being mean.

Consent & Intent, those are the key differences.

When someone is abusive, the intent is to tear the other person down, to shame them into feeling genuinely, deeply bad about themselves. The feelings that come to mind are: oppression, negative, hateful, malicious and hurtful. Abuse comes from a need to feel bigger or stronger than the other person, to put others down is the only way to feel better about themselves. Abuse stems from insecurities and there are big red flags that you can look for, such as:

1)      First and foremost, if there’s been no negotiation, no expression of desire and no consent then it is abuse.

2)      If the experience feels violent and leaves you feeling negative about yourself.

3)      If you negotiated this type of play within a consensual scene, but your boundaries aren’t being respected.

4)      If the other person is disrespectful, rude, hurtful or outright vicious on a regular basis with no concern about how it makes you feel.

5)      Memories of the experience continue to make you feel sad or upset.

A person doesn’t have to be physically hit to be abused. When one partner non-consensually verbally assaults the other, that IS abuse. If it happens once, it is still an abusive experience. If it happens more than once then it is on-going emotional cruelty and is NOT erotic humiliation.

So now you might be asking, what IS erotic humiliation? To explain all of that would take a whole separate article, but here are the nuts & bolts:

1)      Erotic humiliation is similar to the army in that it seeks to tear certain things down in order to build them back up again. That “building back up” is a key component.

2)      Another important aspect is that erotic humiliation is, well, erotic. The response to erotic humiliation is being turned on, sometimes in the actual moment and sometimes during the memory. The fact that it is a sexual experience rather than a non-consensual experience separates it from abuse.

3)      During erotic humiliation or embarrassment, there is an inherent support or affection. Superficially it’s not likely to look like that, but it’s true. When it’s done between two consenting and understanding adults it is a form of “different loving”. Similar to a cultural ‘chiding’ between two friends, erotic humiliation takes that a step further and is overtly mocking, but is done because both people enjoy it on some level. I’ll repeat that, BOTH people enjoy it.

Watch out for red flags and be acutely aware of how the experience makes you feel. It can be helpful to have an outside opinion to keep an open perspective, but it’s important that the person is kinky (or understands kink) so those superficial assumptions aren’t made. Be honest with yourself about the motivations of your partner and whether you’ve negotiated this kind of interaction.

So just don’t assume that all humiliation is abusive but understand that it can be used as a structure for abuse. The most important part is how you FEEL after the experience. Was it sexy and embarrassing? Or was it shameful and violent?

Originally Published on KinkAcademy.com