There are dozens of warnings in the BDSM community about fake doms* and how to spot them. They’re inexperienced, they’re physically or emotionally abusive, they ignore limits and safewords, they gain submission through fear tactics, and so on. But is it correct to call these people “fake” doms? Or are they bad, real doms? Is there a difference?
The No True Dom Fallacy
On the surface, calling abusive doms “fake” may sound right. After all, they violate basic BDSM principles and give the community a bad name. But labeling these people “fake” is both vague and slippery. It avoids identifying the specific problem behavior and allows the community to shirk any responsibility for these doms’ actions by painting them as outsiders who don’t play by the rules.
This is a perfect example of the No True Scotsman logical fallacy. This type of fallacy occurs when someone defends their position about a term or a group by excluding counterexamples that don’t fit their argument by saying “that person or thing isn’t a true example of X.” The classic example goes like this:
Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus is a Scotsman and he puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person A: “But no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person A changes the definition of what it means to be a Scotsman to suit their argument rather than addressing Person B’s point.
Similarly, saying no real dom ignores safewords, abuses their sub, etc. merely narrows the definition of what a dom is rather than addressing inexperience or atrocious behavior on the part of some doms.
Another way of thinking about it is in religious terms. Hundreds of Catholic priests have been accused of molesting and abusing children. This certainly isn’t very Christian behavior, but does it mean these men aren’t priests? No. It means they’re bad, abusive priests that the church should do something about.
Likewise, the BDSM community should acknowledge that some doms are awful and act accordingly by educating both doms and subs and ejecting doms who are outright abusive or refuse to change their ways. (There are certainly doms who have made mistakes—for example, misinterpreting limits while inebriated early in their scene involvement—who have reformed and are better players for it.)
On the other side of the coin, calling certain doms “real” or “true” can provide a sheen of authenticity that may be misleading. Just because someone is a widely known, experienced dom doesn’t mean they can’t be abusive. In fact, these people are often the hardest to remove from the community because they’re so established.
Rather than labeling doms as fake, real, or true, we should strive to be more specific. If a dom is conscientious, skilled, and empathetic, we should say those things. And if a dom is abusive, careless,, and callous, we should say those things, too. These are far more useful descriptors than “real” or “fake.”
The Real Fake Doms
There is one category of fake dom that really is fake: scammers. Some people disingenuously present themselves as doms to get inexperienced submissives into bed. But there are also scammers who pose as doms online in an effort to swindle money or identifying information from unsuspecting subs.
There are a few ways this can play out. These scammers may demand money up front. Or they may try to get people to divulge personal information, such as addresses or credit card numbers. They might also ask for explicit photos or videos that they can use to threaten blackmail. These people are not real doms (professional or otherwise) and are just another type of online scammer whose only goal is to get money from people in unethical and/or illegal ways. It’s absolutely right to call these so-called doms fake.
* For ease of reading, we’re using “dom” to refer to doms of all genders.