Self-Respect, Shame, and Submission: A conversation with Mistrix Sade and Goddess Faustine Cox

Self-Respect, Shame, and Submission: A conversation with Mistrix Sade and Goddess Faustine Cox

This post is adapted from a 2 part conversation between Professional Dominants, Mistrix Sade and Goddess Faustine Cox a few months ago concerning their mutual interest in dissecting the topics of self-respect and shame as they relate to being a submissive. Please enjoy reading and visit their respective websites for more sexy and stimulating information!

Sade: I’ve long admired your unique, holistic approach to BDSM (as well as your killer aesthetics!) and felt particularly inspired after your recent Twitter postings concerning your boundary of only playing with subs who exhibit self-respect and have strong energetic boundaries. It really resonated with topics I had been tossing about in my head as of late concerning the types of clientele I want to foster in my BDSM practice. I thought it would be wonderful to expand upon that topic in a more in-depth fashion via one-on-one conversation and wanted to know if anything in particular lead you to start that dialogue on Twitter that day?

Faustine: Sure! So I am a Domme who is highly motivated to facilitate BDSM and D/s involved kink in a holistic and healthy feeling way because I am actually quite sensitive physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically. So being very sensitive comes with positives and negatives, it means that I can operate in a very intuitive way and meld with and monitor my own and my clients emotional/physical/sexual energy, which can be very powerful in informing my craft, but it also means that I must be continually cultivating and maintaining healthy boundaries lest I leave myself open to being negatively influenced by the unregulated emotions and energy (narratives and traumas and so forth that sway the psyche) of my submissives and clients.

Over the last decade of practicing lifestyle and professional bdsm, I have learned from past D/s scenarios and relationships the importance of recognizing from the outset when coming into relationship with a sub, that it is incredibly helpful in preserving my health and my boundaries if I can be selective about who I engage with based on where they are in their healing journey and that involves how they respect themselves. I feel like cultivating self respect is a huge sign of personal growth and integrity, and in a submissive, I have noticed that it will also signal that they can have a healthy respect for other people too, including ME/their” Domme” if they can first and foremost display a genuine sense of respect of self.

“Goddess Faustine Cox, a San Francisco based Holistic Dominatrix and joyful Ecosexual Sadist, has been exploring the edges of presence and perversion professionally since 2011. She delights in facilitating extraordinary, liberating and transformative acts of radical somatic and psychological self discovery.”

I’m curious if you have also noticed any correlation such as this in your time as a Dominatrix, or something different?

Sade: I really resonate with all of that as I consider myself to be a very sensitive and intuitive person as well. When I was younger and earlier into my kink explorations/career, I didn’t have the language or finesse to determine where these particular delicate boundaries needed to exist (or how to establish them). It was something that slowly emerged over time as I played with and developed relationships with many different people and learned what was and was not working. When I was younger and I had many submissives who were just not engaging with kink (or me) in a healthy way. Kink was a negative thing to purge out of the system or they had poor self-esteem regarding their particular kinks and/or submissive desires. I feel like I spent a lot of time dealing with the fallout of that lack of respect for themselves, me, and BDSM as a whole. The fallout often looked like seriously flaky behavior, emotional manipulation, and just a whole lot of heavy emotional lifting just to get the baseline of, okay, this thing we are doing is okay! It’s not an aberration. In fact it’s healthy, beautiful, and something to be celebrated. I realized I didn’t want to be starting from a place of deficit with my BDSM relationships. Establishing that boundary, generally speaking, has lead to much more joyful, nourishing, healthy relationships with my core submissives and clientele.

How does your BDSM practice and relationships feel now that you make a concerted effort to filter out those who lack self-respect?

Faustine: I absolutely agree with your realization that you no longer want to start your BDSM relationships from a place of deficit, I realized at some point not too terribly long ago that I’d had enough of taking in people who want me to fix them or wallow with them. Now that I make a concerted effort to screen out people who harbor some sort of unresolved and unconscious internal emotional toxicity or dark and burdensome baggage that weaves around their BDSM inclinations or kink narrative, I feel that my BDSM relationships can start off on this really light and transparent feeling foot. I feel that they get the chance to have a running start rather than starting off with some really horrible boundary pushing and continual boundary reasserting slog, which then allows me to enter into the relationship feeling really happy, hopeful, and excited about what we are going to build together in terms of our cocreated kink exploration journey.

So I feel like a healthier and more powerful person, I feel more alive and less emotionally burdened, energetically drained and physically inundated with psychosomatic manifestations of fatigue and poor mental health. I mean, we are Dominatrices right? These “submissives” should want us to feel powerful, truly powerful, not just because it can allow them to enjoy the space of submission they experience while we play the role of Dominant for them, but because we as Dominants can then experience the real joy of feeling like a liberated, powerful, healthy Dominant entity, and THAT is incredibly sexy because it is sustainable and creates the potential for thriving long-term D/s and kink exploration!

Have you noticed shifts in your practice as well since implementing new boundaries? And I’m curious what kinds of things cue you in to noticing that a potential submissive might not be right for you in this way, how do you sense or experience self respect in your subs/clients?

Sade: Great answers and questions! I love what you describe regarding wanting to create a dynamic where your Dominant truly feels powerful and healthy. That’s so crucial. I would say that I have experienced similar shifts. When I am exercising these boundaries and culling my potential relationships in this way, everything does feel so much lighter. I can inject my energy into actual exploration (instead of clawing for baseline) and my relationships feel far more mutually nourishing. Enacting these boundaries for myself is also how I reinforce my own self-respect as a Dominant. I know that what I am doing is positive (and nothing to be ashamed of) and I can avoid carrying the very burdensome weight of unprocessed shame. Energy that was spent “building up” or “fixing” a submissive is now freed up to be poured into mutual creative exploration, growth, and just plain old shameless fun.

Some of the cues that I pay attention to now start with the intake application or initial phone call. I pay attention to how they describe the relationship between their kink explorations and their vanilla lives. I look for indications that they seem to have reasonable boundaries between their fantasies (particularly if they involve the realms of humiliation/degradation/heavy masochism and some other heavier types of play) and their actual selves/lives.


“Mistrix Sade is an NYC based Professional Dominatrix with over 9 years of industry experience. Deconstructive and experimental in approach, Her BDSM practice aims to facilitate holistic and transformative experiences.”

I would also love to know what are some of the cues that help you discern who is someone that you would like to take on in your practice. Is it something you sense from the get-go or is it something that takes a little while to feel out?

Faustine: I would say that I also notice cues beginning with the application process and there is a positive correlation between the potential clients’ respect of themselves and their ability to properly find, fill out and support my application, screening, and deposit process. It seems that any deviation in following along in my simply laid out booking protocol can honestly indicate that a person might potentially try to make ME do more work to help them get what they want without any sense that they’re needlessly and selfishly burdening me. This is going to cause the opposite affect from what we usually say we want from a Ds relationship. This is going to mean that they are already negatively serving me, not positively serving me, and if they can’t sense that or wrap their head around that then I don’t want to have to take on the burden of educating them on how to not be a bad submissive from the very outset. I don’t have time for free educating anymore as my business and lifestyle take on more momentum and growth. So I ignore people who can’t figure out how to read and research to get what they want first and foremost I suppose.

Then there are the signs that come in over time such as in initial discussions and sessions, and these signs seem to include things like any projections of problems that they are having or baggage that they are carrying. I have had clients in the past try to project problematic relationships that they have with their boss or their wife or even their other Dominas onto me, and I won’t have any of it. It feels inappropriate, highly disrespectful, and belies an unconscious wound that the submissive might have that they are not addressing on their own time, which means they aren’t being clean with their relationships with other people such as myself, and are unconsciously trying to sort out these problems that they have by utilizing me non-consensually (in an uncommunicated way) for this purpose.

There seems to be some lack of self-respect here, because these submissives don’t have the consciousness and self-awareness to even understand the negative emotional games they’re attempting to play with Me, someone they are paying TO RESPECT, or the emotional baggage they are trying to unpack all over me, and therefor they don’t have the wherewithal to understand that they need therapy to process these issues, not a professional or personal D/s scenario or relationship. It signals a lack of self-respect when a submissive isn’t taking the time to improve themself in terms of addressing mental and emotional distress with the professionals who are designed for that, mental health care professionals, or especially if they don’t feel they deserve it. (In the case of submissives who simply lack access to mental health care due to finances, it’s forgivable and understandable for them to not be working with actual mental health practitioners, but that means they also wouldn’t be able to afford to play with me either so it’s a non-issue in terms of the situation I’m discussing here, but want to clarify this anyways. There no shame in financial hardship but there is if your priorities rank seeing a SW as higher than seeing a mental health professional when you’re clearly needing support mentally and emotionally.)

Sade: Dominating a humiliation submissive who has self-respect and understands that exploring their desires exist within a carefully negotiated container feels liberating, thrilling, and positive. Reclaiming the psychological/emotional loss of control and associated pleasurable feelings that occur with humiliation enacted in a safer space (meaning a space that is well defined and negotiated) brings a certain levity to the experience. It also makes me feel comfortable really engaging with the kink on the deep or dark level the submissive might be craving, knowing that we can return to a more level engagement at the end, outside of the scene. With humiliation, I’m here to tear a subs ego down for pleasure and as a healthy exercise in loss of emotional control. If the sub didn’t respect themselves, there could likely be a lack of demarcation between the scene and their actual sense of self-worth and that doesn’t feel like a healthy place from which to be engaging in such potentially heavy play. I’m here to foster net positive interactions and never to cause actual harm and being mindful with how I approach humiliation is a huge part of that. Emotional sadism/masochism needs to be explored with as much care as physical sadism/masochism as the risks of causing actual damage are just as real.

Faustine: I love how you phrase “fostering net positive interactions” that’s my goal as well, and I resonate with the way you described the liberation created by simply having clear boundaries and containers for psychological play. It’s true that having a start and an end to the humiliation is important to foster that net positive impact with our interactions with submissives. If they have a healthy self-respect outside of session then you are able to create clarity for yourself and your sub around the psychological spaces that we make to step in and out of ones personal power. Since it is never truly abandoned, merely set down for a while, it can become a healthy practice to to let go of ones ego. Thanks for exploring this illuminating and very important topic with me, Mistrix Sade. I hope that this discussion can shed some light on this very tricky issue that rests between the folds of the light and dark aspects of BDSM facilitation and exploration.

Sade: Thanks so much for sharing your incredibly nuanced thoughts on this subject. It has truly been a pleasure to have this dialogue with you and I hope informative and enlightening for those who seek to serve and submit to us.

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