The BDSM, adult, and sex work communities are outliers to the big vanilla world. We are society’s dirty secret, and we are reminded of that at every turn. Porn stores have to fight their respective cities to exist, credit card payment processors refuse to give us merchant accounts, and the people whose past includes porn outright lose their jobs.
According to Yahoo finance (2018), the porn industry generates billions of dollars a year. Ask a person with an internet connection whether they have viewed porn and you are probably more likely (if they are being honest) to get a yes than a no. Yahoo states that porn could have a bigger economic influence than Netflix. But still, we are the world’s dirty secret.
While porn movie studios and strip clubs have regulations to follow, the rest of us are wildly unregulated. This means, for example, that anyone can set up shop and call themselves Dominatrixes, Financial Dominatrixes (FinDoms), or even a sex coach. This lack of regulation means that you will come across some amazing individuals in the field of sex work, but it also means the industry is rife with bullshitters and con artists.
Some people love the Wild West feel of this segment of the internet, while others grow frustrated that they have been taken advantage of by people who call themselves professionals. There is a virtual tug of war between the purists who insist that certain titles should represent a specific way of doing things, while others insist they can do whatever they want and still use the title. For example, the old-school FinDoms chide those whose idea of Financial Domination (FinDom) is to shake their naked asses on Twitter, and while yelling out “Pay me now pig.” The women who have been present in the FinDom realm since its inception insist that it is so much more than this.
What is an irritant becomes an actual problem when one of these ass shakers starts ripping guys off. When dozens of these pseudo-Dommes rip people off it reflects badly on the entire community. As a result, FinDom is now a joke to some and a place to steer clear of for others. It makes it difficult for the good FinDoms to be taken seriously and for the Finsubs (financial submissives) to find someone they feel they can trust and safely engage in their fetish with.
However, this phenomenon is not limited to those whose fetish revolves around financial fetishes. More and more there are people online claiming to be sex therapists, sexologists, sex coaches, and BDSM life coaches. These are people who have zero training or certification in said fields. Because these titles are often unregulated, any Tom, Dick, or Jane can claim to be an expert (or rather, a sexpert). Some of these individuals use the title as part of an online role play persona and do no damage. Others are actually dispensing advice, shaming people, and claiming to be the one-stop source for all things sexuality-based. Some have years of experience in the sex industry while others only claim it with no actual proof of the claims they make. This has the potential to cause serious mental and physical harm to those who believe they are speaking to a real therapist.
There are many cases in the past where someone pretending to have a professional level of BDSM knowledge has landed someone in the hospital. In one case, a Dominatrix in a New York City dungeon hung a guy from his arms which were tied behind his back. He requested to be tied up and left alone. Long story short, his high heel slipped off, and he was ultimately found to be unresponsive and had turned blue (Wilner, 2008). This landed him in the hospital with brain damage, his wife found out, and the media had a field day. The aftermath of this was that law enforcement was on high alert and sessions dropped off for many professional Dominatrixes in the area. Professional BDSM is legal in New York State provided no sex acts take place, but an event like this could have changed that. The Mistress in the story said she checked on him every twenty minutes, but a knowledgeable Mistress would have never allowed this in the first place - regardless of what the client requested.
These are but a sampling of the effects that faking it can have on the community. Some believe in calling out those they deem fake, while others fear that it would be abused by those who have a vested interest in the failure of their competitors or the sex workers who refused a client for some reason. Both are valid perspectives. One thing is certain, the field of sex work already has a bad reputation within the wider realm of society, but people who pretend to be what they are not stand to make that reputation even worse. This only serves to strengthen the negative stereotypes that already exist for sex workers.
Benes, R. (2018). Porn could have a bigger economic influence on the US than Netflix. Yahoo Finance. Retrieved from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/porn-could-bigger-economic-influence-121524565.html
Wilner, R. (2008). Hangy spanky. New York Post. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2008/02/09/hangy-spanky/