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Lithium What I learned from the findom community on Twitter

Sep. 21, 2020
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Twitter has become a hub for the modern-day sex worker over the past couple of years. No matter who you follow, you're bound to run into someone in sex work—whether they're promoting their content independently or have an OnlyFans link in their bio. In my five-year Twitter lifetime, I've dabbled in some casual sex work—selling some tasteful pictures of my chest and behind. Not enough to make it a full-time job, but just enough for me to splurge on groceries or skincare from time to time. But amongst the many DM requests I’ve gotten, asking if I sold "content," there were a few that stood out to me.

"Could you please dominate me?" lit up my phone screen. A somewhat doubtful "yes" on my end granted me entry to the world of online findom. 

Financial domination—findom, for short—is a fetish that involves the humiliation and punishment of the submissive, commonly known as "pay pig" or "finsub," in exchange for money or gifts for their "findomme," the dominant. Each findom relationship has different rules and boundaries; for example, some finsubs enjoy orgasm denial while others enjoy blackmail roleplay, but they all have the same end goal: consensual extortion. 

“In the past, the classic BDSM scenario has been a woman, the dominatrix, dressed in body-hugging leather, wielding a riding crop and degrading a man… [but] with the advent of the internet they can play a similar game but with no physical contact,” sex and relationships therapist Joe Kort, Ph.D. wrote. These women demand “ [to] send them gifts, money, and even turn over their credit or debit cards and allow [them] to decide how much allowance the subservient male (‘sub’) will get for his living expenses… she may even... threaten to expose his fetish to his wife or co-workers if he doesn’t comply,” Kort added.

At the time of my findom DM request, I was completely unaware of the fetish. I had heard some stories here and there about men who would get off on women taking money from them—which seemed attractive when I was in college, knowing how my bank account rarely reached triple digits. But I never would’ve imagined it would become my reality. 

Like any other job, for you to get the most out of it, mentally and financially, you have to thoroughly enjoy the work you’re doing. This was the part that I found to be the most difficult. Sure, the money was nice, but successfully dominating someone takes a lot of effort and dedication. I was aware that my short-lived pay pig enjoyed being insulted and humiliated, but I didn’t have what it took to do it. In retrospect, making a stranger’s life a consensual living hell seems like an easy task, but I made the mistake of humanizing the relationship a little too much—which made it unpleasant for both of us. The most I made him do was wear lip gloss and women’s underwear to work, with my name written in Sharpie across his chest. He’d send me pictures as “proof,” but I never cared for them. I didn’t enjoy them because, although I was getting decent pay, it wasn’t one of my kinks. Not to mention, I was far too empathetic toward his financial situation and he wanted me to “drain his bank account.”

My career as a findomme turned out to be a failure, but that didn’t stop my fascination and curiosity regarding the women who were promoting their findom services online. I’d type “findomme” into the Twitter search bar and scroll through countless posts from “goddess” this and “princess” that. Some would post breakdowns of their monthly bills, demanding their pay pigs cover a portion of them. Others posted screenshots of their PayPal, Venmo, or CashApp receipts, praising their submissives’ loyalty. Who exactly are these women? I’d ask myself with a sprinkle of envy.

“[There’s a misconception] That we’re abusive and manipulative,” 20-year-old findomme @Miss_Kyrptic said. “[Findom] is one of the things that helped me love myself again after being in two abusive relationships back to back for almost five years. It’s empowering. I feel like I have control again,” she added. Still, she mentions how “people jump into it thinking it’ll be easy then [they] think it’s not what everyone claims it is when they fail.”

To be successful in the field, you need to be prepared for the unexpected. All findom relationships have their rules, yet they sometimes veer into taboo territory. “[You] have to be dominant [and] you have to be open to some of the nastiest stuff you'll ever see… I’ve heard some men say things that you wouldn’t believe,” @s_weetcarolina, a 24-year-old findomme whose monthly rates rack up to $2K, said. This factor was one of the many reasons why I chose to step down from the lifestyle. I never witnessed anything vile, but my pay pig’s need for constant reassurance and punishment was enough for me to give up that specific salary. But from my conversations with these women, I learned that in findom, the darker the act, the better the paycheck. 

“[Pay pigs] don't seem to get off on handing out money to just anyone—there has to be a mutual understanding that they serve you and in return, you will form a dynamic that suits their emotional needs,” said Reddit user @fairnessisntrealness, a full-time escort with a couple of findom clients, on an r/SexWorkers subreddit thread titled “How difficult is it to get into findom?”  

Findom might seem like a fairly easy way to make some quick cash, but this is far from the truth. “It's a delicate balance and not as easy as saying ‘PayPal me, you filthy pig’… [it’s] hard to break into and it's definitely helpful to have practice in BDSM dynamics,” @fairnessisntrealness added. Women who are interested in taking part in that lifestyle should research different kinks, average rates, and even safety protocols. Going on fetish websites or forums, such as FetLife and r/SexWorkers, to ask questions is not only advised but necessary. 

There’s always been an erotic aspect of money—it empowers some and wounds others. Findom wasn’t exactly my cup of tea and I doubt it ever will be, but it’s still a world I’ll forever be fascinated by. “The community is extremely loving,” @Miss_Kryptic said. “[If you’re just starting,” don’t be afraid to reach out for help!”

Illustration by Jared Behl for Dazed