What is Ethical Findom?

A boy contacted me this morning and asked me, “I’m just curious here. What is ethical findom?” The boy has an established presence on Twitter as a cashslave, so he wasn’t just wanting information about findom–he already knew what it was. He wanted to know how ethical findom differed from findom as it’s commonly practiced on Twitter. And that struck me as a good subject for a blog post.

Findom, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is the use of money as a tool for power exchange in an erotic context. A ‘cashslave’ or ‘cashfag’ will give money or presents to his ‘cashmaster’ as a way of expressing his inferiority to his cashmaster. While the practice is ancient–it goes back at least to ancient Greece– in recent years it’s exploded online, and a lot of people who are not particularly kinky have used it as a form of sex work to make money. This has given rise to a wide range of seriously problematic practices, such as findoms pushing their cashslaves to ruin themselves financially, blackmailing their subs into continuing a relationship against the cashslave’s consent, encouraging subs to get high so they lose control of their tributing, and intentionally seeking to damage a sub’s mental health, for example by making them feel that they’re so pathetic that the only way anyone will pay attention to them is if they send money.

As a result, there is a burning need for the establishment of a basic standard of what is and isn’t acceptable in findom play, the same way the rest of the kink community has developed standards of play (such as making informed consent the bedrock of kink play). Since I come to findom as a kink, not as a form of sex work (which, to be clear, I am not condemning), it feels absolutely natural to me to approach findom from an ethical perspective, and I’m rather appalled by some of the crap I’ve seen and heard about in the online findom community.

So what is ethical findom?

Ethical findom is doing findom with ethical standards intended to protect the sub’s basic financial well-being and mental health.

It’s helpful to look at the basics of ethical kink in general. Take impact play–using crops, canes, floggers, and so on to hurt a boy. The goal of impact play is to create hurt, not harm. I want the boy I’m beating to feel erotic pain, but I don’t want to actually injure him. So I only want to beat a boy who consents to be beaten. I only want to hit him in places where it’s safe to hit him. I need to provide the boy with safe words or other ways to slow down or stop the play when he feels he needs that. I need to look out for him as I beat him to make sure that I’m not potentially harming him even if he’s not telling me to stop (for example, a boy being flogged may go into subspace, a euphoric state where he can no longer feel pain, which means I might be injuring him and he wouldn’t use his safe word). When the scene is over, I provide him with aftercare, to help him come back from his submissive headspace (unless he indicates he doesn’t want that).

The same basic standards apply to findom play. I only do play with boys who are willing to sent tribute. So things like blackmail are unethical (not to mention highly illegal), unless the boy has requested a blackmail dynamic (consensual blackmail is still legally risky for the dom, but some subs crave it).

I want my cashslave to feel the sexual charge of tributing (that might be humiliation or the thrill of talking to a hot dom or the satisfaction of serving me well), but I don’t want him harming himself financially, for example finding himself unable to pay his rent or falling deeply into debt just to tribute. So unless a boy just wants a brief one-off tribute moment, I always discuss the budget he has to work with so I can stop the play when he hits the limits of his budget. If I know that he can only afford to send $100 a month, I’ll stretch out the play over the course of the month, maybe only demanding $10-15 at a time. That way he can have the thrill of me pressing him to tribute but knowing he’s safe because I won’t push him beyond what he can afford. The focus becomes not the amount of money I’m taking but how we get there. Do I seduce it out of him? Do I humiliate and verbally abuse him? Do I use hypnotism so he feels like a literal ATM dispensing money from my “account”?

If my cashslave indicates that he’s got an unexpected expense, I adjust my demands instead of trying to force him to send what he can’t afford. During the Covid lockdown, I reviewed my boys’ budgets and adjusted expectations accordingly. And I reassured the ones who had to sharply reduce their tributing that they were still important to me and continued to chat with them without taking tribute, or taking only very nominal tributes. One of my most memorable sessions involved taking half an hour to demand $1; the boy literally got so worked up that he spontaneously orgasmed hands-free when I finally allowed him to send it.

I provide aftercare. Literal aftercare usually involves cuddling and things like that, but obviously that doesn’t work very well online. So my version of aftercare is simply talking to the boy after the tribute is over, demonstrating that I care about him as a human being and not simply as a wallet. When my boys are feeling frustrated or scared or angry about something in their lives, I listen to them and offer support and advice. I often ask them about their goals in life and then start pushing them to meet their goals. One of my boys recently expressed interest in setting up his own business–basically taking what he did professionally and doing it more as a freelancer than for a company. So I asked him what the first steps in that process were and then told him that I would be expecting a progress update in a few weeks. I had another boy who wanted to lose weight, so I ordered him to tribute me the cost of the coffee-drinks he said he was consuming too often, helping him reduce his calorie intake. Since subs are generally eager to please their doms, that allows me to help encourage them to achieve their goals.

In other words, I try to build a dynamic that fits my needs and my cashslave’s needs and makes him feel valued and cared about. I seek to be more than a financial parasite, helping the boy grow not just as a cashslave but as a human being. Of course, every boy is different in terms of what he wants and, in my opinion, what he needs. One of my boys likes to do ‘silent sending’, where I don’t acknowledge it when he sends money to my account. It makes him feel small and unobtrusive, which feels right for him. But I make sure that every couple weeks I reach out to him and demonstrate that I do see his tribute. When he sends gifts, I always post them on Twitter.

In my mind, ethics are what separates findom for ruthless exploitation of a sub. As a superior man, it’s my job to let a sub explore and indulge his desires while protecting them from the more destructive tendencies they can often have. It’s common for subs to fantasize about financial ruin, so I’ll sometimes incorporate the idea into a scene, boasting about how greedy I am and how badly I’m going to ruin them, but that’s the findom equivalent of a sadistic dom boasting about how much pain his masochist is going to be in. I enjoy letting a boy worship my greed, the same way I enjoy letting my cruel urges come out during a humiliation or pain play scene, but as a dom, it’s my job to know how to restrain those urges so I don’t actually cause harm with them.

I’ve had a couple of boys who had the resources to tribute very substantially, and we’ve discussed ways for the sub to sacrifice for me, for example by cooking at home and not going out to an expensive dinner so the boy can send the money he would have spent at the restaurant. But I’ve always made it clear that there are limits to what I’ll allow the boy to send, and when I discuss budgets I always make sure the budget includes money for savings and money to buy friends birthday presents and so on.

Obviously there are ethical grey areas in findom, just as there are in other aspects of the kink scene. Another findom might draw his ethical line a bit more broadly or a bit more tightly than I do. There are ethical questions about the use of intoxicants during play, about things like consensual blackmail, about what sorts of things a cashslave should or shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice, about how much he should let his tributing restrict his socializing, and so on. These are issues that each findom has to resolve for himself and on a case-by-case basis with each boy. But I think the broad outlines of ethical findom are fairly easy to discern once the findom starts thinking about them. And I think the parallel with other forms of kink play is extremely important, because it allows us to isolate the ethical issues for consideration.

The discussion about ethical findom is still, I’m afraid, in its early stages. The idea that ethical findom is an actual thing is not as wide-spread as it should be (which is one reason this kink has such a bad reputation among those not in the scene). There isn’t a consensus yet among ethical findoms about what the basic standards are, although I know it when I see it. So if you’re in this scene, I definitely want to hear from you. Feel free to post in the comments! And look for the #ethicalfindom hashtag on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “What is Ethical Findom?

  1. i enjoyed this article very much, i have engaged in findom in a number of different ways, i always considered tribute whether as an in person gift or online as a form of findom, often i will tribute without being required just to show enjoyment, i have had a Dom who previously did not ask for tribute demand tribute during an intense session and this was constantly demanded until I had a tremendous orgasm and the amounts each time were not huge but did end up somewhat substantial (for me) and it was a very thrilling engagement…

    Like

    1. Sounds like a very fun scene! Obviously without any sort of discussion that can get out of hand, but as a one-off with a dom you knew and trusted, it sounds satisfying

      Like

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