sex worker self-care: ebony edition, part two: #GiveYourMoneytoBlackWomen
exploring domming as self-care
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The first part of this series briefly explored the inclusion of Black sex workers in the Black femme self care movement happening right now. Similar to the unspoken disinclusion of ghetto/hoodrat Black girls from the “carefree” movement, Black sex workers are often left out of this discussion. Respectability keeps many Black women and others from engaging with us, so we are often erased or figuratively barred from entry into “their” spaces. It has taken me a long while to synthesize my meandering thoughts into a cohesive whole for this article, because it touches on so many different areas. I want to explore the idea of choosing specific types of sex work as a form of self-care and survival within a misogynoiristic (see glossary tab) society. I also will explore the connections between D/s, sugaring, and financial domination. I will begin by defining these terms.
What I’m Talmbout
Sugaring=a form of sex work, which is an exchange of sexual services for money or goods at its simplest. Usually hetero, an exchange between an older wealthy man and a young woman.
Financial Domination [findom]=a form of Domming/Domination, wherein the objective is to “drain” the wallet of the consenting submissive party. In some situations there is degradation involved. Degradation is also a fetish, as is wanting to be “taken for all you’ve got.” i.e. “drained.” These men (usually powerful cishet men) derive pleasure from feeling like they were taken advantage of financially.
Gifts vs. Mutual Exchange
I wrote a thread on a kink/sex work term and Black men are up in arms in my mentions. It was about Daddies and dominance and explained what I feel makes a good Daddy-dom.
A lot of men were upset because they either didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand that I was speaking on a kink/sex work and a specific situation. They didn’t understand that, as a sex worker and an occasional practitioner of D/s, I was conflating these two things as they apply to my lifestyle. In no way is this an offshoot of womanism, though there are some connections because I am a womanist. The connection is made via “The Rules of Consent.” In BDSM, everything is based around consent. Two or more adults consenting to certain behaviors for a certain amount of time, or whatever they have agreed upon. Being able to choose submission or dominance, rather than assuming gender roles, can be freeing and therapeutic for some. As a womanist, I can choose whether or not I want to be submissive. And that’s really important. Being a Baby (a sugar baby) does not exempt one from this. Usually a Daddy/Baby relationship is consensual and mutually beneficial.
A lot of men phrased it as a “gift,” or asked “what does SHE do?” They whined about being used by lazy, gold digging women. Making it a “gift” implies that the woman did nothing to earn the money, and puts the control back in the man’s hands. Making the man a victim implies that women oppress men and see them as nothing more than walking wallets. It also implies that the work women do in these situations — providing emotional support, sexual pleasure and company, bare minimum — is not as valuable as the work men do, which tends to be outside the mind and home.
Some suggested that there should be more “Suga Mamas” to even things out — except that wouldn’t even anything out because it ignores the fact that Black women and Latina women make less money than all men of color [MOC], white men[WM], and white women [WW]. Promoting this idea of “reverse sexism” is the result of simplistic thinking and disengagement from the reality of intersectional oppression, gender oppression, and economic oppression. The idea that women supporting men as Babies is evening things out is laughable. Women have always supported men, and it has mostly gone unrecognized, particularly when discussing Black women’s contributions.
Sugaring, like findomming, is a form of survival, or as @so_treu (juju jones) phrased it “HARM REDUCTION.” I encourage you to read her thread along with the one I will mention below, because they are imperative to (for?) your understanding.
What Does This Mean Within the Context of Sex Worker Self Care?
I would like to get back to the idea of sugaring and financial domination as possible forms of self care for black women. @XIOTHETERRIBLE wrote a very crucial thread on the findom hashtag #GiveYourMoneyToBlackWomen [#GYMTBW]. I encourage you to read it. One of @XIOTHETERRIBLE’s tweets from 24 Mar 2016 (at 1:40pm) states:
“#GiveYourMoneyToBlackWomen monetizes the not-so-radical concepts of intersectionality and misogynoir. It recognizes racism AND sexism.”
She goes on to say:
#GYMTBW is an important ideology and gives us a lot of insight into the world of Black findommes. There are a few people who consider it an offshoot of another popular findom hashtag, #GiveYourMoneyToWomen, which was created by two non-Black women of color, Yeoshin Lourdes, Lauren Chief Elk-Young Bear, and a WW named Bardot Smith.* This is very similar to how people will often write off womanism and Black feminism as offshoots of “mainstream/white feminism,” instead of recognizing womanism as its own philosophy. They assume it must have been created in opposition, rather than focusing on the need for differentiation when it comes to varying modes of oppression. #GYMTBW is its own thing.
Black sex workers deal with so much abuse from pretty much everyone else within and without. We are shunned and shamed not only by non-black people, but Black folks as well. We are either patronized or condescended to as victims or penalized and denigrated as failed members of society, who had to resort to “immoral” behaviors to survive. So how do we find peace?
Perhaps we seek out small ways to assert ourselves within a world and a profession which deems us worthless. Perhaps we decide to wear our hair natural on camera. Perhaps we become dominatrixes. Maybe we seek out wealthy white men and deal with their fetishization while they spend their hard-earned cash on us. And maybe some of us become findommes.
Findomming as Self Care
Findomming is unique, and it is hard, hard work. Especially in a society where you are told that your worth is less than everyone else’s. I have observed the work of findommes and I am amazed at the emotional fortitude most seem to have. Not like they never get tired or frustrated, but there is a certain amount of joy I feel when I watch them post their donations or content. I know that, as a baby domme myself, there is a pure joy associated with setting up and maintaining hard boundaries. Fuck bending to the will of customers for a measly $20. Fuck begging. Gimme. Because I deserve it. Because I am worth it. Because I am a goddess. Because you will never, ever find a woman like me. It is not just about sex. It’s about power. These are affirmations. Imagine repeating these everyday, falling in love with yourself. Internalizing it. Of course some days will be better or worse than others, but still.
White women make a lot more money findomming, because they are seen as inherently worthy, and are universally coveted. While Black women are usually pigeonholed into the “Ebony” category, white women are seen as more marketable, more palatable, than Black women. Racially ambiguous women and non-black WoC are fetishized and are also seen as a “spicy” (Latina), “submissive” (Asian), “exotic” (mixed/multiracial/light skinned) alternative to brown Black women. A white woman being Dominant is usually seen as transgressive — a somewhat feminine presenting white woman will always be desirable. Whereas Black women, particularly darker-skinned Black women are saddled with racial stereotypes and the burden of proving our worth to white, non-black, and Black customers. Trans Black women are also burdened with proving their womanhood, and are highly fetishized/dehumanized. Findomming and sugaring can be viable forms of self-care for some of us, but we must be careful not to erase the fact that we are still performing these services within a misogynoiristic system which cares not for us. We also must be careful not to be lulled by the idea of easy money — findomming and sugaring are difficult professions, especially for Black women.
juju jones also addresses the idea of reducing Black men to capital.
This is a legitimate concern, but again, placing this into a sex work context and as an exchange between two or more consenting adults, if a Black man engages a Black woman’s services, he is a client just like the rest. Black women are not oppressing Black men by demanding funds in the same way we demand from other non-black clients. If they engage our services the same rules apply. That being said, findomming is not a womanist ideology. It its own thing, and while it can be discussed in conjunction with womanism, one also must have an understanding of, or relationship with, sex work to fully grasp it all. However, I do think it is important to think about our position in a Capitalistic society as Black men and women, trans or cis, and to figure out what that means for us. @XIOTHETERRIBLE emphasized that #GYMTBW was not created as an opposition to another hashtag #GiveYourMoneyToWomen, which was created by a cis, white wealthy findomme. While it may not have been created to oppose it, it most definitely does. #GYMTBW places Black women findommes and sex workers squarely in the center, though civilian Black women borrow the hashtag often. This is what happens when kink terms, queer theory/slang, and sex worker terminology go mainstream.
To see queer* Black women create a hashtag which addresses this void is awesome to witness. #GYMTBW because we deserve it. And it goes for everyone. Black women have often played the role of maid or sacrificial lamb to everyone else. We are what everyone and no one wants to be.
Originally this article stated that “#GiveYourMoneyToWomen, which was created by a cishet WW findomme.” Here is an article which refutes that information: https://modelviewculture.com/pieces/giveyourmoneytowomen-the-end-game-of-capitalism. I encourage you to read it so that you can fully understand the critiques that were lodged, namely about it being headed by Bardot, who is (allegedly) a wealthy able-bodied cis white woman, and it being pushed as a social movement. Many of the critiques seemed to hone in on the fact that there was not enough discussion of the effect this would have on BW, who are seen as inferior to WW and NBWoC. This article is NOT meant to be a critique of that hashtag/movement, and is only meant to explore the idea of #GYMTBW and findomming as self-care for some sex workers.
Apologies, what I had sourced only zeroed in on Bardot Smith, and didn’t mention the other two creators, who are NBWoC.
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