Tribute is the term used by Dominatrices for payment. The word creates an atmosphere and orientates potential clients to the world of Domination. It has become the norm to call any payment for Domination services, Tribute (to take the edge off paying for ‘taboo services’). Because of this generic use, the word has lost its power and significance. It has even become a bad word, but not in the good sense.
For Traditional Dominatrices, a Tribute is an offering. It is considered a gift from a potential submissive to express readiness to serve, and is presented upon initial contact. Tributes show gratitude, respect or admiration, and intention; they are not a transaction for services. Tributing is also a form of Worship, not Financial Domination (Findom), and in some kind of way, it is a part of most D/s dynamics, whether that be Professional or Lifestyle.
Tribute is based on an old custom of bearing gifts for the host, to express being at one’s service, or to demonstrate affection and love. It was a display of character, civility and upbringing from the giver. A quality of Nobility or noble-mindedness. Gentlemen knew to bring Tribute, and those who didn’t, were not gentlemanly, educated or raised well. As such, the act of Tribute identified those who were preferable and those who were not. Serious suitors brought Tribute. It has always been custom to offer tributes to Courtesans and Mistresses – the more a gentleman opened his coin purse, the more he valued Her. (Men value money more than anything else – it is a representation of their power. When they are generous to a woman, she knows her worth to him.) A man’s tribute was also about raising a woman’s status – an eight-cow wife gained status over a three-cow wife – Johny Lingo.
Nowadays, Tribute is mostly in the form of money, but can also be such things as clothing, equipment or holidays. It can be hard to know what to get a Dominant Woman who has everything, so many Dominatrices have Wishlists to help potential submissives or clients with Tributes.
However, Tribute has also become a necessary tool to signify that a potential client is serious and genuine about his interest in the Dominatrix’s services, and not just contacting her for the sake of thrill, with no intensions of ever being a client. Some men get off on the back-and-forth of making arrangements – talking about their kinks and having a Dominatrix reply to them – that it becomes a fetish. However, this is a consistent problem for Dominatrices, as it wastes their time and energy in responding to such. So, to deter such behaviour, Dominatrices require an entry fee at the gate to gain access – a Tribute – as ‘proof’ the client is genuine.
Unfortunately, Tribute has got a bad reputation, especially over the last 15 years, thanks to the rise of the ‘Insta–Findom’. Most online-Dommes practice Findom, but it is hard to tell them apart from the ‘content creators’ looking for easy money. The content creators are the ones who have thrown around the word ‘Tribute’ (aka, gimme, gimme, gimme your money just because I exist) turning it into meaningless and crude greed. Now, unfortunately, any Dominatrix online or in-person requiring Tribute is now seen as money hungry or a scammer.
However, Tribute, real Tribute, is never meaningless or grasping. It is a bona fide custom full of expression and intent. It is a precursor to establishing dynamic. Those subs who do offer Tribute tend to value traditional D/s protocols and relationships, and they demonstrate what kind of man they are – generous, appreciative and secure over being tight, ungracious and insecure.
Dominatrices like to create an air of prestige and unattainability – it’s good for business. But in reality, they are not only for the rich and affluent anymore. Most people have access to Dominatrices and Mistresses, thus, Tributes come in all shapes and sizes. Extravagant Tributes are a thrill, of course, though the quality and value of a Tribute isn’t necessarily the price tag. It is the thoughtfulness, willing generosity, and perhaps sacrifice, that makes a Tribute and sets up a dynamic.