So, you've accepted you're naturally a submissive, and you've finally made the leap onto fetlife. It doesn't matter if you're a man, a woman, or another gender, what matters is that you've made your account and you're going to find your Domme. After browsing and contributing to the boards for a bit, you have some cheeky back and forth with a Domme who's into the same stuff as you are. You check her profile and she's both a lifestyle and a professional Domme. You're a lifestyle sub so you send her a message. You exchange a few messages before you build up the courage to ask her to play. She replies with her rates and her website.
"What the!? What kind of scam is this? I'm a lifestyle kinkster, I don't have to pay for it!"
Kink is an expensive hobby. It's even more expensive if you're a professional. I estimate between the cost of attending workshops and events, space rentals, professional quality equipment, clothes, cosmetics, marketing and income tax (yes, Dommes do pay income tax), it costs me about $100/hr to play. That cost is material and doesn't include the emotional aspects of this work such as setting a fair rate, maintaining professional relationships, replying to emails, sex positive advocacy, sex work advocacy, blogging and social media.
It can cost far less for lifestyle kinksters to play, but I need to maintain a certain level of quality, a broad knowledge of kink, as well as run a small business in order to support my play. So that in mind, even as a lifestyle submissive, you should still be paying tribute in some way, even if the tribute is much less. That could mean contributing to household chores, paying for your favorite toys, picking up the cover charge to get into a party, or some other way to show your appreciation and offset the cost of being a Domme in a fair and equitable way.
My lived sexuality consists of experiences that some men only dream about. I'm blessed to be able to make love with beautiful people in a way that I get to indulge every fantasy I have and explore every possibility I can think of. That's a gift that I only share with others who I choose. I'm also a dominant woman, so when I see someone who I want to make love to or play with, I initiate contact. Even with that caveat, my dance card is always full, but because it's so expensive for me to make love in the way I desire, I allow people to jump to the front of the list if they're willing to subsidize my sex life, my kink, my art. When you pay my tribute, you're paying for a look into my sexuality, and you're also paying to allow me to keep making beautiful art on the flesh of my partners.
Let me make this clear, the only time I'm absorbing some of $100/hr it costs for me to play or make love, it's because I have made the decision to do so. Even then, my partners often pay tribute in immaterial ways, such as introducing me to new connections, mentioning me on their Twitter, allowing me to practice skills, teaching me new skills, critiquing my style, collaborating on projects, or letting me take photos for marketing. Cash or ass, nobody plays for free.
You might say, "well this doesn't apply to me. I'm a trans admirer and I see both Dommes and escorts and I always pay for it." The fact is that even if you're more into the fact that I have a dick than you are into the fact that I want to tie you up and do awful things to you, it does apply to you. Sex workers, whether it's Dommes, escorts, or tantric masseuses, put a lot of thought into our rates and tribute. We look deep into ourselves, we examine every aspect of our body and our personality, we look at what other people are charging, we judge how compare and we set a rate or a tribute based on that critical examination. When you try to haggle our tribute, you're sending us a powerful message that we think too highly of ourselves, that we need to come down a peg. That's a horrible insult, so don't try to get a bargain on our time.