I really, really love the No True Way writing prompt. Lillith does a great job of choosing salient and relatable quotes that, without context, are easy to respond to because they illicit such a reaction, or at least they do for me! The current prompt is just begging for discussion on sexism in D/s, a topic that I have much passion and rancour for …

Dominants tend to be the “Alpha Male”, and that is why “Dom” is always spelled with a capital, while “sub” is always lowercase. 

Spoiler Alert: Alpha Male means nothing
To me, the term “alpha male” is so ridiculous, outmoded, and pathetic. If a man ever described himself as an “Alpha Male” I would laugh in his face. To call yourself an Alpha Male is like saying “I’m superior for reasons that are inconsequential and based on a very specific and limited version of what it means to be a ‘real man’.” Yes, some men are more assertive or direct and show better leadership qualities than others, but those are absolutely not inherently better qualities than those of men who are quiet or cautious or soft spoken. I absolutely believe that any man who needs to qualify himself as alpha is anything but. Men of strength and character don’t need the label.

“His gentleness was uncompromising; because he would not compete for dominance, he was indomitable.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

“Alpha” is a huge red flag to me because I have never known a man who saw himself this way, to be anything but an insecure ego maniac, i.e.: the least qualified kind of man to embody the role of Dominant.  Full stop. This is toxic masculinity at its finest, folks.

Welcome to the 21st Century, not all Dominants are men
As a Switch, this is the BDSM rhetoric that really grinds my gears. Not only do Doms not need to be “alpha” they don’t need to be male. Nor do they need to be female. Folks of any gender identity or sexual orientation can be Dominant, submissive or Switch. The above quote implies that there’s a certain biological determinism to BDSM which is unequivocally not true. Men are not dominant by nature, women are not submissive by nature and not all D/s relationships are heterosexual. Placing D/s rigidly within a heteronormative gender binary excludes all sorts of people, and it grossly misrepresents the spirit of D/s.

Written protocols: The Big D
I do write “D/s” the ‘old fashioned’ way, but it has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with respect. I capitalise the D the same way that I would capitalise “Doctor So-and-So” or Ms/Mx/Mr. Dominant is an honorific that denotes respect and authority, therefore it is capitalised. The ‘s’ is not capitalised in order to denote the difference in power within the dynamic. To me, this is perfectly reasonable because a huge part of the D/s concept is creating clear separation and difference between the two people involved. My Daddy uses he/him pronouns, therefore when I write about Him I tend to capitalise He/Him. Not only does this clearly denote the relationship, it also works as a stand-in for His name. He’s not just another pronoun, He’s a person in my life, and therefore a character in my work. If He wasn’t the Dominant in our relationship, I would use a pseudonym for him just as I do with other people I refer to here. If I were writing about Him outside of a D/s context, I would write he/him. If His pronouns ever changed, I would use the pronouns that were appropriate. Whether He is male or ‘alpha’ has absolutely no bearing on His dominance in our dynamic.

Obviously there’s ‘no true way’
Write D/s with the little s and the big D, or don’t, but I urge you, beg you, if you don’t already, to reconsider the idea that D/s fits neatly into the gender binary and is a heterosexual practice. D/s is for anyone who wants to explore it or live it, provided they are adults making safe and mutually consensual decisions. I would also strongly suggest that anyone, but especially cishet men, who claim “Alpha” status are more of a liability than a leader. If his biggest selling point as a dominant is his self identification as ‘Alpha’, you may want to look for a D/s partner that brings a bit more to the table.

The Blog Days of Summer

Violet Fawkes

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.