Within the kink community, there are all types of dominants and submissive roles, each with their own layer of nuance. While the mainstream 50 Shades stuff might conjure up an image of a male dominant with whips and handcuffs and lots o' Red Room sex, another dom/sub relationship might involve no sex and focus more on role-playing as a nurturing mother or teacher.
The latter form of dom/subbing is referred to as "gentle femdom," a kink that unfortunately, doesn't always get as much ink as it deserves. Thankfully, we found two experts to help breakdown and explain a beginner's guide to gentle femdom.
So what IS gentle femdom?
Think of gentle femdom as female domination without the elements of pain, harsh punishment, or humiliation. It can be sexual, only BDSM-based, or role-based. As Carol Queen, PhD and resident sexologist at Good Vibrations says, gentle femdom is more infused with love and nurturing.
"It will often focus on roles that have power (like mommy or teacher) but also have nurturance and care built in," Queen adds. The erotic component of gentle femdom can be pleasure-focused, or it can just be about dominance without pain and intensity that is often associated with non-gentle kink play.
How does it differ from regular femdom?
Femdom as a larger umbrella term can refer to domination ranging from gentle to very fierce and intense, depending on the domme (the female spelling of dom) and partner's interests and limits, says Queen.
Is it *just* between a female domme and a male sub?
Not at all! "Gentle domming is for everyone, no matter what gender expression or sexuality they identify with," explains Mistress Couple, a professional dominatrix and author of The Ultimate Guide to Bondage.
What are some reasons people might be into it?
From the sub's perspective....
Queen says that while the classic armchair psychologist's analysis of a male sub might bring to mind a CEO with too much power that he needs to feel subservient, you don't have to be a powerful exec to want to be dominated by a woman. There are dudes out there who just want a partner to exercise power over them (and this doesn't automatically mean it has to include pain or rougher play.) "Some subs feel that it is easier to feel loved and cared for in such a scene," she also adds.
From the domme's perspective...
If you don't love the idea of inflicting pain on your partner, but do want to play with a power dynamic, this can be a great kink to experiment with, Queen adds. With gentle femdom, "it's a very easy kind of play to slide into," and allows new-to-kink couples to ease into things.
Not to mention, for some women who have never really been encouraged to take power, this can be an extra exciting dynamic to try out, says Queen. "It can be based on roles that are already coded female, even feminine, and that is appealing to some."
Couple also says that she personally finds that the "love, care, and empathy that are involved in a gentle femdom dynamic really help to create a safe container for the more violent or taboo activities that a couple might want to try. These qualities also contribute to deepening devotion—a key aspect of any BDSM dynamic."
Is there a male version of "gentle" domming?
Totally. Just like how there's mommy play seen in gentle femdom, there's also daddy play in the gentle form of male domming.
What are some examples of common gentle femdom activities?
Couple says that of common BDSM activities: teasing and denial, sensation play that utilizes different temperatures (think a glass or steel dildo that can get warm or be cooled down to the touch), and leash walking could be used in a gentle femdom dynamic. Roleplay is also big, according to Queen.
For non-sexual activities, Couple suggests starting with pre-date night activities, like picking out your partner's clothes for the night, instructing them on how to strip for you, using sex toys on them, or directing them to use toys on you.
Dope, I'm in. Quick q though, how does one go about bringing up gentle femdom to their partner?
Definitely make sure you talk about it before you just bust into bossing them around—even if it's not sexual in nature, changing that dynamic can be super jarring and fucked up to your partner if you don't both consensually go into it!
If you've dabbled with kink play before, Queen recommends just asking for it up front. You can say, "I heard about this kind of play, do you want to try it with me?" Queen says that trying this super sweet version o f BDSM might not be as big of a risk as you think.
If you've never dabbled in roleplay before, Queen says you can also try asking "If we tried roleplay, what kind of roles do you think you'd be into?" For more roleplay tips, you can also check out the chapter in Queen's book Exhibitionism for the Shy.
And as always, make sure you have a safe word at the ready!
Any other tips if my partner and I want to try gentle femdom?
"Domination is mostly about control and lack of control," says Couple. She recommends kicking things off by teasing your partner. Tie them down so they can't move, and then you can slowly begin to kiss or caress your way around their body and get them worked up. "Make them beg for more attention", says Couple, and have them do so for a while before you give in. Since this type of domination is gentle and nurturing, "the only pain they should feel in this activity is the overwhelming torture of wanting to be close to you."