The critical response to femdom literature has been largely positive. Scholars and readers alike make a distinction between its authors and the conventions of literature which encourages the proliferation of corporate-published, mass-marketed, heteronormative, heterosexual sex novels. This alternative literature, at its best, has provided narratives that explore the power dynamics between people – usually, but not always – of the same gender.
Although the narratives presented within femdom literature are not new, the genre that emerged in the late 20th century was mostly overlooked by mainstream media. It has, however, become an increasingly popular trend within the queer community and those exploring non-traditional gender roles.
The most commonly accepted definition of femdom is found in the words of author, scholar, and activist H.C. Lillibridge: ‘Femdom – which stands for Female Dominance – is about the exercise of power in same-gender relationships by one partner over the other, usually characterised by the use of ritualised, consensual practices.’
The critical response to femdom literature has been predominantly positive, with scholars noting its ability to ‘encourage and foster openness, pleasure, and sexual self-determination’ in traditionally marginalized populations. Femdom literature has been widely praised for tackling ‘the difficult question of negotiating difference within relationships based on power.’
In addition to the literary criticism, there has been a high political impact due to the work of femdom authors. Many authors have experienced hate speech and censorship due to their work, while also receiving great respect from fans for the positive themes promoting sex and sexuality. Femdom authors are also bringing a voice to issues of representation in BDSM literature, which is currently dominated by male authors. In a way, the genre has proven to be a safe and respectful platform for female authors to explore their sexuality and experiences.
However, some critics have argued that there is a disconnect between the larger BDSM community and the femdom literature scene. Non-feminist writers have been accused of escapism, creating a fantasy world with little connection to reality. Likewise, there has been a tendency to portray protagonists as perfect; unblemished by their own flaws and desires. In this sense, femdom literature has been criticized for failing to fully engage with the complexities of real-world power dynamics and leaving readers with overly optimistic accounts of relationships
Overall, the critical response to femdom literature has been mostly positive. Scholars have lauded the genre’s capacity to bring a non-traditional outlook to BDSM literature, while also providing a platform to discuss representation and power dynamics in relationships. That said, there is still room for improvement, with critics suggesting that femdom authors should engage with the complexities of real-world power dynamics and create more realistic narratives. Resource.
How do you make sure that everyone involved in the session provides their full consent?
When working with larger groups, ensuring everyone’s full consent should always be a priority. In order to guarantee that everyone involved feels comfortable participating and respected in the session, it is essential that every aspect of the session — from the topics discussed to the style of communication used — is agreed upon by everyone in the group.
One of the most important things to do to ensure this is to introduce rules of behavior and communicate them clearly at the start of the session. This includes any ground rules or limits that the group decides on together from the outset — such as respecting each other’s time, refraining from sensory overload, and so on.
It’s also important to practice active listening and avoid any assumptions about anyone’s feelings or responses. Make sure everyone has the right to their opinion and respect their right to stay silent if they’d rather not participate in certain topics. Make it a priority to facilitate a collaborative — and not confrontational — atmosphere.
To further ensure consent, it’s a good practice to regularly check in with the group to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Create opportunities for the group to speak openly and share their thoughts authentically by having everyone take turns speaking and summarizing their individual perspectives on the topics at hand.
It’s also beneficial to incorporate tools such as signal cards to make sure everyone feels comfortable and able to express their feelings without fear of judgement or interruption. These cards — which participants can raise to indicate their level of comfort — allow people to provide their verbal or non-verbal consent before continuing the discussion.
Finally, in order to provide a safe space where everyone feels confident expressing themselves, make sure there is a clear boundary between the roles of the facilitator and the members of the group. Explain that the facilitator will lead the session and ensure the discussion is focused, while providing everyone in the group the space to express their individual opinions.
Creating and maintaining a culture of mutual trust where everyone involved in the group session has full and informed consent is essential for a productive and meaningful discussion. By following the steps above, everyone is guaranteed to feel comfortable participating without any fear of judgement or feeling like their opinion isn’t valued.