Defining my own dominance

Posted in origin stories by Delilah Wood on November 19, 2009

Since Cal kicked us off with a post on shifting the discourse on female dominance, I thought I’d introduce myself in this space by talking about what my version looks like – and how I got there. As Cal points out, it’s an incredibly valuable thing for as many women as possible who have an interest in dominance to come out and speak about what that means for them – so that we can stop thinking of female dominance only in terms of corsets, thigh-high boots, sneering looks and withholding sex.

I come at this from a particular angle, since I was a dominatrix by trade for about four years, from my first terrified session until I gave it up about half a year ago. Being a pro-domme – a leather-corset-wearing, thigh-high-boot-sporting pro-domme – both informed and detracted from who I really was as a dominant and a switch, and while I had many reasons for giving the work up, one of the biggest was how inauthentic I felt in the part much of the time.

The interesting part was that I started from the place of being a submissive – a late-blooming submissive at that. My journey into kink was a long time starting, and was finally kicked off when I was 26 and met my first poly, kinky lover. He was one of those rare animals – a male dom who never switches and is not an asshole – and I enjoyed the hell out of letting him do as he wished with me.

A while into the relationship, I began to entertain the notion of becoming a pro domme. It looked like a great career for someone who wants lots of time to write, and happens to be six feet tall, pretty, and intimidating quite by accident. I didn’t really play that side of the fence, but I’d heard that a lot of pros are submissives in private. I personally know a few women for whom this stereotype definitely does not hold, but it makes sense: a submissive knows what those desires look like, and can be incredibly suited to fulfilling fantasies even if they aren’t her turn-ons – as a kind of service.

As I trained for the work, however, and as I got more involved in the kink scene, I began to notice that I enjoyed it on this side of the fence. Tying people up, yum! Flogging – delicious, especially on someone who likes it. At the time I was also exploring some of my first relationships with women, and with that came strap-ons, which I found I was more interested in wielding than being fucked with. I quickly began to fantasize about fucking a man in the ass. I had found my switchy side in what might be the unlikeliest of places.

It turned out that that relationship wasn’t a good place for me to be exploring that work, and I eventually dropped the idea. But the kink stayed, and I sought more opportunities to pull hair, grasp throats, scratch and bite and squeeze.

Then, a couple of years later, out of that relationship and into a new phase of my life, I entertained the notion again, and my professional life as a dominant began. Very quickly, I found myself in a world of kinks I wasn’t familiar with, apparently typical protocol I didn’t find sexy. I read a lot of Claudia Varrin and Mistress Lorilei, and while I found them fun they weren’t really my thing. I read them as instruction manuals for pro-dommery (yes, I was a professional asshat), and took on their ideas as my own. After all, I didn’t even know yet what kind of domme I was. I had to put myself out there in a way that my customers would like. (It mortifies me now to think of the crazy shit I wrote for my site. At least I didn’t use inappropriate initial caps.)

Naturally, that meant various personas and capacities: I could be the Leather Amazon to your captive hooded slave, I could be the Victorian governess to your naughty little boy; I could be the Goddess to your foot-worshipping votary; I could be the bitch Princess to your simpering sissy slut. I found that the leather role was the only one I liked, but I did the others with far more frequency. I found that I’d much rather singletail someone until they cry then have someone lick my toes for half an hour, but the latter was what they lined up to pay for. I also found that I wanted to fuck men in the ass – but not these ones. I didn’t do it in my sessions, because it was too personal.

I found myself doing a lot of things I didn’t like, in the context of something that I normally enjoy, with people I didn’t want to do them with. I mean, what kind of job is that? And what kind of way to express your sexuality?

During this time, my sense of myself as a top continued to evolve. I started seeing a man to whom I bottom most of the time, and the things he did turned me on so much that I would take them and use them on my clients – and on other lovers. He helped me learn to use my voice and my words, to use fear and intimidation, to use pressure points and simple force to make my point. I loved it. And sometimes, he even lets me do it to him.

But it wasn’t what most clients wanted. And for the most part, they weren’t the people I wanted to do it with anyway.

At the same time, in a lot of ways, I’m really quite traditional when it comes to what I like as a top. I love a boy at my feet, his head in my lap as I stroke his hair – or pull it until he whimpers. I love using my strap-on on a man who loves it. I like to flog and whip and clamp and tease and electrify and collar and bind. And it’s hard to explain how I like these things, and how the way I like them is so different to how they look in most porn, or in most of the scenes that clients expect.

Am I different kind of dominant? Maybe. I don’t think of myself as particularly extreme, or into things that are particularly odd. I even enjoy the fetish wear from time to time – though I hate its being compulsory.

But it was indeed Bitchy Jones that got me thinking about what was so dissatisfying to me about the pro domme world, and my place in it. It was different when I started, and the sexuality I was commodifying wasn’t quite my own. But as I started developing my top side, it made it harder and harder to keep enacting this fake, watered down, strangely dull version of it. I no longer wanted to perform this weird opera of mainstream female dominance: I wanted to find and explore my own.

So hopefully my voice here will be instructive in some way to those who are looking to find their sexual authenticity. Naifs, waifs, and late bloomers more than welcome.

5 Responses

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  1. Cal said, on November 21, 2009 at 12:36 am

    So, do you think your sense of yourself as a top would’ve been different if you’d found it without the pro experience along the way? Do you think it would have taken longer to find it? Pure speculation, I know, but I’m actually pretty intrigued by the way you managed to find your own top side through or despite your pro experience.

    • Ivy O'Malley said, on November 25, 2009 at 1:10 pm

      I’m wondering if it was in part just exposure — seeing so many new things can bring out unexpected reactions in one. There’s a fairly large subset of activities that I’ve tried because they were hot to my partners, and then later found out that I found them arousing as well. (That sort of thing makes me perpetually curious as to how many other things are out there that I don’t yet know I like.)

      • Delilah Wood said, on December 1, 2009 at 12:55 pm

        The exposure part was big, but it was as much a double-edged sword as the rest of it. I was exposed to a lot of things I found distinctly not-hot. Some things I found ridiculous but charming, and it opened my compassion for people who have rare kinks that are probably hard to find partners for. (Giantess fetish? Being hit with really big purses? Aww!) I think something in my brain went, “Wait a second. I’m finding a lot of this stuff weird and not-hot, and yet I find bottoming to a lot of stuff super-hot. So what’s the difference, and where are my top buttons?”

        Ironically enough, one of the reasons submissives make great pro dommes is because they can channel the feeling that the submissive is having – they know what’s hot to them and they can turn around and do it to someone else. Yet the irony is really that most of the things people wanted me to do weren’t things that turned me on.

    • Delilah Wood said, on December 1, 2009 at 12:45 pm

      It’s really hard to say. I love being submissive, and it’s possible that I would have just gone on enjoying that indefinitely without exploring the other side. But I kinda doubt it; during the time when I was first exploring, I definitely had my urges to top – and it helped that I was dating someone very submissive at the time. I also found I had a terrific urge to top my tops, which one of them even entertained from time to time.

      How the pro thing really influenced it is a tough question. “Through or despite” is right on. On the one hand, during the most active part of my pro domme life, I hardly ever wanted to top someone personally; it’s like the old gynecologist joke. And yet being a pro made a lot of people in my personal scene see me as someone who tops and tops well, and so I often found myself doing instructional sessions, or helping someone out who just wanted the experience of being tied up or flogged or caned. I cherished these opportunities – and the feeling of being a local “expert.” Both of these things helped to keep “who I am as a top” in the front of my mind, and so the reality of that identity began to form itself.

  2. Bigjay said, on January 26, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Interesting read. What I’ve found is that everyone’s dominance is different. I am now looking for the motivations behind mine, your piece may help me think in the right direction.


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