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On social media, dominance, and authenticity

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Sometimes when I spend too much time on social media, I start questioning who I am. Should I be more like this? Should I do more of that? Am I too happy? Am I too sad? Who am I?

I’m sure all of you have had that experience. Social media can be, after all, an endless feedback loop of emotional masochism. Be more attractive, be more successful, be more everything, and of course, be much better than who you are.

I get this way a lot with my Pro-Domme peers. I’ll spend a little too much time on Twitter, and soon enough, I’ll be down a rabbit hole of validation-based immolation. Here are a couple of thoughts that regularly pop up for me:

  • “I need to wear more leather and rubber.”
  • “I don’t look intimidating enough.”
  • “I should try to be more of a seductress.”
  • “I’m too fat.”
  • “My ass isn’t big enough.”
  • “I’m not as successful as her.”
  • “Does she not want to be my friend?”
  • “Do I do too many hand jobs in videos?”
  • “I should dress more ‘domme-y’.”
  • “I need to be meaner.”

I dwelled in it for a bit and felt bad for myself. And then I snapped out of it, reminding myself that I am very happy the way I am.

It has taken me some period of time to reach this place. I used to have complete breakdowns based on my very limited perception of who I was versus how my peers represented themselves. Some days, I snap out of it faster than others. Other days, I mope in self-pity for a while, truly feeling not good enough.

Social media makes it a little too easy to doubt one’s self. Spending time on it can be so confounding for me, because on the one hand, Twitter is an endless well of kinky inspiration. On the other hand, I find myself comparing myself with other Dommes, taking notes on what I lack and how I need to be better. And ultimately, I begin to dismiss my own Dominance. I truly begin to feel as if I am not good enough.

And here’s the thing: there is no one form of Dominance. Sure, there are archetypes. There are disciplinarian leather Mistresses, glamorous rubber fetishists, sultry three-piece lingerie vixens – the list of attributes goes on and on. BDSM creates a multitude of archetypes to represent Dominance, and we in turn, as Pro-Dommes, are expected to embody them. But these are heightened fantasies. They’re meant to be extreme, and they’re meant to be out of this world and unattainable. They are all wonderful and divine…and they also aren’t always me. (Which is not to say anything less about the rare Women who naturally carry this energy throughout their daily lives. They are rare and magical creatures. Hold on to them tightly.)

Sure, I can and have embodied these roles. If you catch me on a good day, I might even get into a full rubber catsuit for you. But just because I am not glamorous 24/7 (or even 9-5/7) does not mean my dominance is any less diminished. Dominance is complex, and ultimately, so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. What is Dominant for one person is submissive to another. What is sexy to one person is repulsive to another.

Here is the example I like to use the most: in my lifestyle D/s relationships, I am both bossy and lazy. I spend enough energy micromanaging people in session that I’d rather kick back and do nothing on my off days. I like getting spoiled. I’m sometimes quite petulant (just because I can, not necessarily because I am). Now obviously, between me and my slaves, I am the Dominant one in this scenario. But one could entirely flip the situation around and say that I’m a brat or little girl type of bottom. After all, brats in BDSM like to talk back. And little girls are often spoiled and taken care of by their Daddies. Really, the thin line separating me and a submissive is that I know I am not submissive, and my slaves know the same as well.

External deciders like the outfits I choose, the personality I have, and the activities I enjoy do not impact who I am as a Dominant person. Dominance comes from within. (cheesy, yes)

When I first started domming, I had an entire idea of who I thought I was as a Dominant – and she was every bit the archetype that any layperson thinks of when they think of a Dominatrix. Cold, vicious, cruel, with cutting words and a Cruella de Vil wardrobe. A leather and latex Bitch with a perpetual sneer.

I loved being her, but something also didn’t feel right. It took me a couple of years to find my own Dominant persona, and I still am refining her each day. But more importantly, she changes from day to day. She doesn’t need to embody a specific archetype to validate her dominance.

Here’s one of the first baby Domme photos. I don’t have a mohawk anymore and I wear a lot less corsets now (turns out if I wear them for too long, I get irrationally angry…), but I still love leather.

Most Pro-Dommes know that it takes a bit of time to find your voice – both literal and mental – and I found this to be stunningly true with each passing year. And the thing is that this voice needs to be genuine, or why even bother? We’re not actually in the business of being actresses. We’re here to play. Domination is an outlet for creative and personal expression. It is something that is incredibly sacred to me, and having come close to burning out many times, I refuse to allow that to happen just because I chose to not be true to myself.

I’ve spent this year really thinking about who I am as a Mistress. What kind of Mistress am I? How would I characterize myself? How do others see me? And while I have gotten quite a few common descriptors, I still don’t fully have an answer to that. Because the fact of the matter is that who we are as people is so complex that to narrow that down to a couple of words would be a disservice to all those involved. I could tell you that I’m quite sweet in sessions, but I could also tell you about the time where I kicked a man to the floor while he was crying. I could tell you that I’m not that into slave training, but then my cleaning slaves could tell you about my laundry list of protocol I have each time they walk into my house. I could tell you that I’m not that into seduction, but I could also tell you that one of my favorite sessions ever was the time I gave a sub his first full body orgasm with my breath alone.

I could tell you many things about myself, and then I could tell you something to immediately disprove it. And regardless of all of that, what I can tell you in 100% full confidence is that I am Dominant. The outfits, the activities, the persona – those are all fluff. They are cultural signifiers to tell the world, “Hey, look at me, I’ve put some simplified and direct labels on myself to tell you that I am Dominant.” These labels are fun and easy, but they are not the whole truth of it. The truth of the matter is that if I want to dominate someone in pajamas, no make-up, and a friendly smile on, I am not diminishing my own dominance in any sort of way. And neither are you (to any Dommes reading this)!

Sure, the Domme archetypes are magical and delightful to wear for a day (or a year). They’ve taught me a lot about who I am and who I am not. I draw on a little bit of each whenever I play. But I also want you to know that you and I, we are all perfectly Dominant the way we are, and we don’t need to concede to a simplified ideology to show that. Don’t worry about what social media, porn, or other subs tell you what you need to be in order to be Dominant. Just trust in who you are, and let that guide you along your kinky path. Be authentic about it. Be your own goddamn, authentic, fabulous, Dominant self.

So who am I today? I am currently in T-shirt and shorts. My phone has been blowing up with slaves begging me to make them eat cum and poop. I’ve been sitting on the couch all day. I’m planning out my next corporal punishment and latex maid shoots. I made dinner. And I still feel sexy and Dominant as hell, all hiccups aside. 💋

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Can I be your slave? AKA the various types of bottoms in BDSM

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TLDR: No, and also, you probably aren’t actually a slave.

(Before you get too excited about the title, this is not a blog post about derrieres.)

Here’s the set of recent tweets that inspired this post:

And here’s the long-winded explanation. Are you ready? Ok, here we go!

As a professional Dominatrix with a not-that-small following, I get asked this question every. Single. Day. I’ve decided to embark on this blog post largely so that I can direct fawning would-be/could-be subbies to an answer that I do not need to repeatedly type over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again…you get the idea.

I think most people have an idea of what a slave is within BDSM, correct? We imagine a naked bitch on his knees, crawling around on the floor on leash and collar while being led around by a delightfully dominant women in patent leather thigh high boots and a corset, perhaps being whipped or perhaps cleaning her boots with some humiliating tongue service. Maybe he only drinks water out of a dog bowl, or maybe he’s all tied up in bondage while the Mistress has her way with his body. The variations are endless, but ultimately the basic premise is this: a submissive man enacts kinky fantasy ideals with the hot Domme who is way out of his league.

Sounds great, right? What a wonderful idea for a slave! You get to do all these perverse, nasty, kinky things with a Woman you might not otherwise be sexually affiliated with, enacting out all your deepest, darkest, dirtiest secrets!

However, while the Domme may be calling you a slave in the scene, this does not necessarily mean you are a slave.

Confused already? Let’s back up a minute and go over the various designations of bottoms with BDSM.

First off, I am defining bottom as someone on the receiving end of the fetish activity, be it bondage (rope bottom), spanking (spankee), Dominance/submission (submissive or slave), sadomasochism (masochist), feeding (feedee), humiliation (bitch – I’m joking, I don’t actually know the official name of one who gets humiliated) and the list goes on and on. Not all bottoms are slaves, but all slaves are bottoms. More on that in a bit. Bottom would then be the wide umbrella category for those recipients of the activity or object, whereas the direct opposite would be a top – the facilitator of said activity or object. Rope top for bondage, spanko for spanking, Dom(me) for Dominance/submission, sadist for sadomasochism, feeder for feeding, humiliatrix for humiliation, etc.

As you are beginning to see, there are innumerable types of bottoms within BDSM and also probably more growing every day! (If you can think of it as a fetish, it probably already exists…) However, it’s crucially important to understand that there is a difference between all these categorizations. Just because I am a Dominatrix and Mistress does NOT mean that every person I play with is a slave. In fact, far from it – I would argue that the vast majority of my clients are not slave-material.

“But he likes to get beat/tied-up/fucked! Surely he must be a slave.” Not necessarily so. Perhaps he purely enjoys the adrenaline rush of pain but micro-manages the top to beat him precisely how he wants to to be beaten. Is that Dominance and submission? (This is a masochist.) Maybe he loves the sensation of being fully suspended in shibari but doesn’t really care who ties him up. (This is a rope bottom.) Or what if he just really enjoys seeing the image of women in strap-on and loves being taken from behind but doesn’t really like being told what to do? (This is a fetishist, and also a slut, ha!) Are any of these scenarios actually D/s? Just because they contain a fetish activity does not mean that there is an actual power exchange in the intent. In actuality, the bottom is the one directing the action in order to fulfill a specific fetish.

Do you see yourself in any of these? Do you find yourself trying to top from the bottom in order to fulfill a very specific fantasy of yours? Do you not care about who is doing said activity as long as they are hot and you have an ass/nylons/cock/feet/(your specific fetish here) in your face? Then the likelihood is extremely high that you are not actually a submissive nor slave.

But what if you find yourself wanting to obey under very specific situations? For example, you find yourself absolutely weak at the knees when you see a fit woman in workout gear and will do practically anything she says. As another example, you put on a sensory deprivation hood and immediately fall under subspace, pliable and willing to do whatever it takes to please the one controlling your vision. And yet another example, you automatically obey anyone who takes on a stern-yet-nurturing Mommy-type role with you. And as a final example, during sex, you always let the woman take control.

In all these situations of obeisance under specific criteria, I would then define you as a submissive (perhaps with fetishistic/masochistic/whatever leanings). You are willing to submit to the right person at the right time with the correct environmental or social impetus, an impetus that is defined purely by your personal preferences. For the first example, the impetus is workout gear. For the second example, the impetus is sensory deprivation/bondage. For the third example, the impetus is a Mommy. For the fourth example, the impetus is sex (and your dumb boner).

Are you starting to get a feel for where I’m headed? No? Ok.

Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty of how I personally define the difference between a submissive and slave. A true slave exists a little further down on the spectrum of submission. A true slave does not need any impetus outside of the pure joy of serving a Mistress. Sure, you may be submissive, but if your submission comes with conditions – conditions that are not conducive towards me or whichever Mistress from which you are requesting attention – then is that truly a Total Power Exchange (TPE)? A mistress cannot be expected to live out her entire life under your conditions just to have your submission. You cannot expect to see her dressed up in fetish gear and enacting your specific fantasy 24/7 just so you can feel all lightheaded and woozy in desire – because once she’s no longer a figment of your fantasy, would you serve her? Would you be willing to do “whatever she wants” when she’s in her sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt sitting on the couch watching cartoons? Would you be willing to do “whatever she wants” when what she’s asking for does not align with your idea of a sexy fun time, like scrubbing the bathroom tile with a toothbrush? And would you be willing to do “whatever she wants” even if you know you have to actually work hard and dedicate actual time (like – gasp! – a job!) to do it?

If your answer to all those previous questions is yes, then congratulations! You are a slave. You are submissive under your Mistress’ personal specifications, even if they don’t give you a boner. You understand that the Mistress has a life of her own that does not exist within your specific fantasies, and you still adore and obey her nonetheless. You are happy to submit to her even when the going gets rough because you know your happiness is truly your Mistress’ happiness. You are far and few, and I enjoy you quite a bit.

A caveat: a person can be submissive to one Mistress and slave to another. D/s is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Everybody’s personal interactions are unique and different throughout time and space. Maybe you’ve found a Mistress (Let’s call her Miss A) whose personal fetishes – the things she is naturally predisposed to in her private life – are truly your personal fetishes and you are a match made in BDSM heaven. Say it’s foot worship – you’ve always needed foot worship to feel submissive, and Miss A genuinely gets off on a good foot rub. In which case, you might be the ideal slave for her! After all, she always has your impetus at hand (or foot 😉 ), and to her, she’s not catering to you at all but rather fulfilling her own fantasies. Both party’s desires are perfectly compatible and conducive towards a blossoming power dynamic. But say you approach another Mistress (Miss B) and tell her that you served Miss A. Miss B takes you on, but it turns out she absolutely hates foot worship and finds you a reprehensible slave because you insist on worshiping her feet each time. Turns out that you have always been on the more submissive side, but with the right relationship with Miss A, you were a slave. Go figure!

Now I’m not telling you to go out and be a slave for every Mistress. Far from it. Attraction and respect are important, and if you were a slave for every woman you met on the street, I would probably call you a pushover with poor standards 😂😂😂 An inherent attraction and connection to your Mistress is important because it develops rapport and trust – and only through that can true growth happen. (And you do want true growth, right? Did you expect to be the same person you were at the end of a D/s relationship?) It’s perfectly alright to not be a slave for everyone, and I won’t think any of less of you for it. Different strokes for different folks, after all.

Additionally, despite being a true slave, you are also allowed to have boundaries (…depending on who your top is). I mean, we do live in reality, and for most, 24/7 slavery is a pipe dream because at some point we’ve all got vanilla obligations. Only when your “boundaries” are actually defining factors for how the scene runs (IE: asking your Mistress to be in leather at all times is not a boundary but a preference) do you stop falling under the category of a slave. Make sense?

Another caveat: these designations are not hard and fast because we are all (for the most part) multi-faceted people. A slave can also be a fetishist , a power bottom can have submissive leanings, etc. You get the idea.

In fact, if by the end of this, you realize that you are not a slave, that is totally fine as well! BDSM should be inclusionary and we all have different niches that we fill – there will always be someone whose needs may align well with yours, be they slave, submissive, power bottom, fetishist, masochist, whatever. I personally hold no ill will to anybody who doesn’t identify as a slave, because sometimes I don’t feel like being purely a Dominant (I know, gasp gasp – but don’t get it twisted, I am always a top). Everybody goes to fetish providers for various reasons, neither being particularly better than the other, but it is helpful to know where you stand within the wide spectrum of BDSM designations so that you may better inform the Dominatrix with whom you’d like to play.

So what did we learn today?

Not all submissives are slaves. All slaves are submissives. All slaves and submissives are bottoms. Slaves are those who will submit to their Dominant in full (or as full as reality lets them), regardless of whether it gets their personal rocks off or not. Submissives are those that have criteria towards what makes them feel submissive to their dominant.

Got it. Good. Now that you’ve got that all settled up, you’ll be fully prepared to answer your designation should anyone ask this of you! (And if you are applying for a session with me, it’s right there in the form, so shame on you if you are still lost after reading this…)


Did something about this article pique your interest? Want to learn more about me?

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xoxo Never yours,
An Li