Many of you reading this blog will be familiar with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, after whom "masochism" was coined. (By Kraft-Ebing in Psychopathia Sexualis
Sacher-Masoch is best well known for his novella Venus in Furs
(in German 'Venus Im Pelz'), which was published in 1870. The book has been translated and reproduced a number of times.
Venus in Furs inspired the song by the same name by the Velvet Underground in 1967 which much later became a cult classic. (Youtube clip:
Amongst the English book versions I particularly recommend to my students are the suitably academic edition which combines an essay by Deleuze with Venus in Furs in Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty / Venus in Furs
by Sacher-Masoch; and the other charming edition worth having is the illustrated hardcover edition of Venus in Furs
by UK FemDom artist Sardax. (The Sardax illustrated hardcover of Venus in Furs
is only available in the UK from http://www.sardax.com/extpages/venusinfurs.html
by emailing him as instructed on that page, or from Joanna Lark
or e-book kindle version from Amazon
.) Which to get? Both! I have 2 of each, in order to be able to lend out to my Mistress students taking my courses
, although I believe one of each book is currently not returned - cane strokes! (I'll have to run a book amnesty at some point for my naughty students to return borrowed books.)
One of the reasons Venus in Furs
is so well-read, aside from "masochism" being named after Masoch, is because it is a tale of "Female Domination" with themes familiar to BDSM-ers, in which Wanda dominates the character of Severin (who has much in common with the author himself).
However this was not Sacher-Masoch's first time exploring this subject.
In a piece of writing titled
"A childhood memory and reflections on the novel", he writes:
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch referenced the significance of 'The Emissary':"...strange scenes, other figures, in regal ermine, in bourgeois rabbit fur or in rustic lamb's fleece, produced new sensations on me; until one day this particular type of woman became crystallised in my mind, and took definite shape for the first time in the heroine of The Emissary'. (From Sacher-Masoch, "Chose Vecues" Revue Bleue, 1888, cited in Masochism: Coldness & Cruelty / Venus in Furs by Gilles Deleuze and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch p.276)
Sacher-Masoch makes it clear that The Emissary
Der Emissär in German language)
is the first of his writing to explore this theme of the Dominant woman. And yet where is it in English language? It was published in German in 1863, seven years before Venus in Furs
. A library search bears no fruit. Nor does a search of Abe Books, or any other avenue.
It appears that it was never translated into English. Yes you heard that correct. The first piece of Masoch's writing to explore the theme of the Dominant Woman, written in 1863 - seven years prior to 'Venus in Furs', is not available anywhere in English.
So the time has come - we must not forget Masoch's first. I have begun a crowd-funding campaign to have the publication sponsored into existence in English translation. People can sponsor 1 page of translation (US $40), or a Double-spread (US $80)
, and their names and an inscription to their Mistress will be immortalised at the back of the translation. (So there will be a list of the pages and who sponsored them, with inscriptions.)
Original copy of German Der Emissär (The Emissary) originally published in 1863, by
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
The original German of
Der Emissär (1863) was published in a historic cursive print, which will make it just that little bit extra laborious to clean up and translate. I commissioned several expert German translators to translate a sample of the first two pages so I could compare styles and approaches, and will be "Green-lighting" one of these tomorrow 16 September 2021 to begin work on the full translation.
Meanwhile, I am writing a piece of writing on masochism, from my research and getting out all my thoughts on the subject. And they will be delivered together to sponsors in time for Christmas 2021 by ebook and pdf before anyone in the world has seen it. And will make a lovely present and honour their Mistress, or themselves, and receive updates on the progress between now-and-then to keep them entertained.
For anyone who would like to support this important project for US $40 or US $80, to bring The Emissary to an English translation, and have your name immortalised as a sponsor with inscription, please go to: https://www.payit2.com/f/the-emissary/Goddess
To manage expectations, I don't expect this to be Masoch's best work; what is significant is that it was the FIRST and as such I expect it will be sketching out the ideas and figure prototype that would occupy Masoch for much of his life. And the fact we do we not already have this piece in our collective knowledge is a travesty. So please support this cause.
For any queries, email me at: email@example.com
As some of you reading my blog will know, I've had a fascinating period of stimulation and frustration in equal measures, being part of a US academic reading group who begin masochism in the 19th Century. Some of them refusing to really look at anything earlier materials - believing it to be a different "thing". (eg Flagellation as "merely mechanical irritation of the spinal centre" versus 19th Century masochism and into modern-day BDSM.)
I know this to not be the case, because of my research into primary sources, gathered for 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' as an assemblage, from which there is a consistency of:
1) Time-travel roleplays to childhood with roleplaying or rather embodying the Governess / School Mistress / Step-Mother / Aunt etc. Whether 16th Century or 17th Century or 18th Century or 19th Century or 20th Century - same themes and roleplays ad infinitum.
c1761 Fashionable Lectures Delivered with Birch Discipline... (ideas for roleplays with corporal punishment birch discipline in roles of Step-Mother, Governess etc)
2021 Mistress Iceni "Sessions" ideas from her website:
2) Cold Venus with whip / Goddess Kali Creator-Destroyer / demon-God / Lion-Woman or Human Tigress / Gigantess / etc, being invoked by masochists across time and culture. They keep landing on the same "kinds" of figures. These include accounts pre-dating Masoch, include Masoch himself, and those who came after him but in many cases were "in ignorance" of his work and were doing this at a young age before they stepped into BDSM scene or knowledge (in the pre-internet days).
3) Second skin / pelt / leather / fur / hair / membrane / toile / lace / silk fabrications coming up again and again, through time. Whether fur, leather, cashmere, hoisery stockings, latex, something strange was going on with this and how repetitive it was coming up. Yes this can be culturally codified and become fashion and identity-signalling, but its origins and consistency speak to something additional at its roots and going on as to why these fabrications / skins / toiles keep coming up as fetishised second skin.
4) Consistency of equipment for impact play / punishment predominant, authentic childhood school and domestic home discipline implements, bondage and suspension frames, clamps and screws, punctuation piercing or penetrating devices, cross-dressing and so forth, across periods and time eras. (I will go into this in further detail in my new book)
5) Linguistic form of particular words and verbs, with a consistency over time and place, and there is an energy transfer to them. I began spread-sheeting them and their etymology:
The "thewen" verbs (þēowan, þȳwan ) to press, impress, force, press on, urge on, drive, press with a weapon, thrust, pierce, stab, threaten, rebuke, subjugate, crush, push, oppress, check. (As already mentioned in earlier post)
Root * wer verbs to wrangle / wrestle / bend; Root * ttrkw verbs to torquere, torture, torment, twist; *ghend words to pry, prey, predator, prison; Root *(s)teu- (1) verbs "to push, stick, knock, beat" - used in toil, strive after, press forward, pressing forward, thrusting toward," "strive after; Root *peuk words to prick, to pierce, to punctuate; Root *klam to clamp, cleat; Root *fang / fāhanan for seizing, taking spoils, plunder; Root *sed- (1) use in equivalent Latin obsessus, past participle of obsidere "obsess, watch closely; besiege, occupy; stay, remain, abide" literally "sit opposite to," from ob "against" (see ob-) + sedere "to sit, etc.
Words that invoke a magical / supernatural / religiosity / Otherworld effect; spine-tingling / hair-raising etc, with a shift in perception of light glow and shine / halo- like effect, etc. (Related to fight-flight-freeze-fawn activation with awe and arousal driving trance effect, as also a feature in Venus in Furs' novella by Leopold von Sacher Masoch.)
Temperature and energy / electrical words - cold, hot, electricity, etc, and use in proximity to absence / ignoring / denial = COLD, and to presence / contact / proximity = WARM. (Structurally related in my view to a "Fort/da" operation from Freud, 1920)
WHY THESE ELEMENTS OCCUR & RECUR?
None of these above phenomenon 1-2-3-4-5 seemed "explainable" by historical-cultural specific phenomenon. I work with for example culturally-historically specific pottery and artwork in archaeology, with specific forms, materiality, functional use, production, names, iconography, style and fashions, status and consumer / audience, and I identify from looted artifacts and those lacking provenance from my encyclopedic knowledge across quite an array of cultures.
So for me, what I was finding in my search of primary historic sources of the Dominatrix craft profession through time, was perplexing and fascinating.
"What is this - the cause of the SAME THINGS and practices popping up again and again, across cultures and time?, I wanted to know. I didn't attempt an explanation in 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' because I knew it would take me years, decades, perhaps a lifetime to land on an explanation, and my lecturer advised me and reminded me what happens on archaeological sites when publication of digs is put off waiting on the perfect explanation final site report. Answer: It often never gets published years on, and the Head / Lead of the excavation team dies, with no-one other than those on the dig knowing clearly what was found.
I'd expected joining the CARAS group that we'd be bouncing around ideas to solve this.
I knew the cultural-historical model and Arnoldson's argument didn't adequately "fit" or "work" for masochism from my primary sources assemblage.
A few options / explanations seemed most likely:
Less likely - Option 1) Cross-cultural transmission, revival and fashion (alone). I didn't believe it was this, as an archaeologist specialising in Comparative Art and Archaeology (which is what my Masters degree is in). I would never shut down the possibility absolutely on such scant evidence of fragments from forbidden books, ephemera, sex worker advertising. While one can transmit culturally, as do Senior Dominatrices teaching young apprentices, and get ideas out by books and things becoming "fashion". I absolutely acknowledge and in my book showed evidence of where this has occurred, such as Fanny Hill, Fashionable Lectures and more modern-day 50 Shades of Grey.) To me this was only colouring the tips of something which went much deeper and my gut instinct was this wasn't the fully story "why" the above keep happening across time and culture with such consistency, and breaks, and sprout up again in the same essential form listed above of 1,2,3,4,5.
More likely but still unsatisfactory to me - Option 2) Jungian ? Question mark. I'm not myself yet totally convinced by Jung's "Collective Unconscious" claims.
Or some other explanation so far unknown.
Finally I feel like I have got there, and have come up with a theory of what I think is going on. The answer combines childhood development, adaptational survival strategies, a conversion of beating-down force energy into components (used for ego, esteem and emotional warmth energy) formed like a pendulum operation "fort da" play. And it's the "emissary effect" throwing up of transfigured Venuses from the subconscious / unconscious, and cast forward into life.
The Underground Tree, Kinky Roots, Magical Conversion & Throwing Up Venus
With huge thanks and acknowledgment to Gayle Rubin in my CARAS group, who I must have driven crazy with my incessant emails while I was juicing my thoughts out, (sorry Gayle!), and who is an amazing academic with whom I hold in highest esteem.
Her cultural-historical specialization which I understand in my own framework and head as a "talea" (twig) approach - she is a "splitter", helped me in bouncing emails back-and-forth to get "there" where needed to go.
My brain works in a bit of a nuanced way, sifting through huge volume of cross-cultural comparative artifacts and production methodologies, artifact types.
THE UNDERGROUND TREE
In trying to get to "why" this phenomenon was not sitting as one would expect as a cultural-historical phenomenon, based on my artifact assemblage, I was trying to scan through everything I know of the world across cultures, and I kept coming back to an "Underground Tree".
I was trying to communicate to Gayle Rubin - that the closest I could relate masochism to was something like pigmented tips of pyrogenic geoxylic suffrutices. (Poor Gayle and she must have thought I'm crazy.)
The pigmented tips of the plant - are shooting up and in the sunshine and cultural-historically contingent factors can act on them. However around 90 something percent of the tree is below the ground, with this vast and kinky (appropriately - wink) root system.
But why do you think masochism is like an "Underground Tree" shoots Anne? Why is your brain going to this image / plant system and its shoots?
Image: Parinari capensis Bart Wursten https://www.gardendesign.com/plants/notables/underground-forest.html
Answer 1: Because the masochist psychology appear to form predominantly in babyhood, toddlerhood, an age of brain development, attachment relations and "milestones" (of crawling, etc). These are not strongly contingent on any particular culture or time at the age we're speaking. The "sprout" hasn't come up far enough to be strongly affected by cultural forces yet. (Is not far off the ground, metaphorically and literally.)
Answer 2: Because the masochists appear to have a parental / primary attachment figure who runs hot and cold, and have to develop a coping mechanism / survival strategy. I speculate that the parental authority figure may be narcissistic Cluster B in today's available language psychology terms. They are alternating between hot and cold from the infant's perspective and experience. By which I mean they are getting "cold" emotional inattention and neglect. And "hot" spotlight shining on them suddenly when they are inadvertently or intentionally fulfilling the desires or offer "supply" for the narcissist figure, OR, when they inadvertently (or later intentionally) vex or annoy the narcissist figure and all of a sudden receive negative attention; are rebuked, put down, punished, beaten, reminded of their place.
KINKY ROOTS: SURVIVAL STRATEGY FOR EGO & EMOTIONAL SUSTENANCE
Why does my masochist have such a complex root system growing? The root system is growing so big is analogus to grape vines growing in shitty old riverbed soil full of stones from where the river used to run, so the plant has to work really hard to put down roots to get nourishment. The roots grow thicker than normal, go down deeper than normal, and have to navigate with kinks (an appropriate metaphor) around all the stones.
These are trying conditions. The plants are strained in fight for survival, to get nourishment. They are also needing to work out and around the stones - their shape, feel their way around them. And potentially other plants nearby vying for nourishment in terms of siblings, and uneveness of conditions / position.
And it in the case of Underground Tree varietals, they grow the way they do in challenging soil, and being regularly grazed and razed - pressed on from forces from above, that makes survival challenging.
Image: Xylopodium resprouter detail from: from https://jgpausas.blogs.uv.es/2018/02/02/types-of-resprouters/
In my "BDSM bottoms" large range data surveys, many masochists (and other identities) describe a childhood of "walking on eggshells" or feeling as if they are "treading through a minefield". Other masochists report a parent is so rarely "there" metaphorically (emotionally) or literally (present), and report that the parental figure is off getting their needs met outside the home, or locked off in their office or other space.
We have a poverty of emotional responsiveness to the child's emotional needs, and a lack of emotional warmth from the primary parental figure being reported. I'm seeing playing out also in Self-Interest indices. On a part of my data I asked people to rate themselves from 0-100 on Selflessness to Selfish slider bar scale; and 0-100 on a Giver to Taker slider bar, the masochists tended to have a higher rating of selfish-taker scores added together, by a significant margin.
I would argue that what tends to bump masochists up the Self-interest scoreboard favours a survivalist "I have to look after my own needs" because no-one else is / or will, or within a poverty of limited emotional sustenance availability. They have to "grab" what they can for their own self-interests and needs.
Image: Hands grabbing for the bread basket: get in while you can!
So what is the cause of this emotional poverty within the child's environment growing up? And an apparent regular triggering of the fight-flight-freeze-fawn activation system in their early childhood?
The question is beyond my specialization and lies in the realm of psychology. As an archaologist and art specialist, Dominatrix author and teacher, I see only the impression left behind from this - in masochist psychology, writings, and art, and how they operate "in play", and what they seek.
However I feel relatively comfortable to take a speculative stab at this topic given this is only my blog and not a formal academic paper, to shine a flashlight in the direction I think this trench or root system runs to - for others with greater expertise in this department to look into.
I think it is highly suggestive that the iconography of 'Venus in Furs' by Leopold von Sacher Masoch was based on a figure of a woman in furs looking in a mirror. (Titian 'Venus with a Mirror'). You'll recall that the term "narcissism" is based on the Greek figure of Narcissus who falls in love with his own reflection. If I lay those images side-by-side, the theme perhaps become clearer to readers.
Left: Titian 'Venus with a Mirror'. Right: Caravaggio 'Narcissus' (1594-96)
I think we are often seeing the after-effects of a childhood with a parental figure with narcissistic tendencies or even NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) under current conception terms. There are of course other possibilities - such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as it's presently conceived of, or Complex PTSD effects - whereby the parent is self-absorbed in dealing with their own issues and lacks capacity dealing with their own internal challenges to extend themselves to dealing with the child. Perhaps alcoholism and addictions may also be a factor in the poverty of emotional attentiveness and warmth.
However, I think it is also highly suggestive that masochist writings and emails requesting a specific dynamic or roleplay often invoke themes of the Mistress is to be:
Beautiful, callous, arrogant, vain, exhibit supreme confidence, callous laugh, wicked smile, magnificent, gloating, mocking, delightful, selfish, aggressive, brutal, dominant, pretty, sexy, evil, cruel, Goddess, cold bitch, angel-and-devil in one.
The parental figure feels hot-and-cold from the child's perspective. The child is struggling to get their emotional needs consistently met and attended to: to get metaphorical "warmth".
If there are siblings within the family system, there may too also be a reported unevenness of treatment. I would speculate that in some instances this is due to what the narcissistic parent wants and demands and gains "narcissistic supply" from, responds positively or negatively to, with attention or inattention, and explodes in rage from and directs it towards, who they see as an extension of themselves, and who they view as a rival, within the family system. Much has been written in popular "Pop" psychology on narcissistic family triangles and roles which commonly may emerge reported by therapists such as Golden Child, Scapegoat, Invisible (ignored) Child, Brainwashed Enabler Child, and so on.
I'm not even going to begin to get into any discussion of the validity or accuracy of any such terms, which is far beyond my specialization and pay grade.
However where it gets really interesting is how the masochist child emerging develops in relation to these challenges, various coping mechanisms to deal with the hot-cold effect, emotional survival strategies, and what I describe as a "magical conversion" method that distinguishes the masochist strategy to others.
MASOCHIST CHILD "DEFLECT" STRATEGY & THE MAGICAL CONVERSION (HOW TO SPIN STRAW INTO GOLD, OR HOT-&-COLD INTO WARM)
The masochist child in development is as discussed having to employ a higher level of survival strategies to their needs met in the childhood situation.
Masochist children gradually acquire a range of tools, and use whatever one "works" with trial-and-error, observing cause-and-effect.
However one of their chief modes - tends to be in the art of deflecting.
They take the energy coming at them and bounce it, return-serve, using the momentum to their advantage.
They may also start playing, tinkering, bumping, experimenting with the dynamic they're in, testing its limits, and what works to get the desired effect they want. They do this not only with the original Object-Other (parental figure), but others in the family system, and at school with Schoolteacher, or historically the Governess, sister's friends, or whoever makes a suitable target for such experiments.
The masochist tendencies flexibly employed as appropriate are:
i) carefully observing the other person (looking for chinks in armour, weaknesses, noting the person's routine, values how they operate pattern, in order to use this knowledge to gain an advantage etc)
ii) experimenting with spurring the other, bumping them, or being bratty or provocative, or deliberately naughty to get the desired-for attention, or indeed calculated attentiveness and offer of assistance, to gain proximity privilege.
iii) multi-play dynamic of others within system (family system) and outside the family system looking for other alternative sources of supply, and / or they may seek to "sure up" a source of supply if they find a good one.
Of course such strategies employed are familiar to those captives use to survive.
And then at some point they - the masochist - arrive at a kind of magical alchemical conversion trick strategy. They can take a force form of what may once have been "Negative Attention", split it into component constituents, and convert it into something that can feed their needs. (As if taking lemons and making lemonade, or from sour grapes making wine.)
MASOCHIST THEW STEW RECIPE
The ingredients are so versatile - you can use any form of "thewen" force energy coming at you. This includes but is not limited to:
Beating, Squishing, Crushing, Trampling, Caning, Whipping, Punching, Rebuking, Insults hurled, Ball busting, etc as you prefer the flavour of, or have readily available.
Separate out the energy force processing into the following by splitting and focusing in on the desired-for component, by where you place your attention:
i) A person has to care about or be invested in someone enough to want to beat them / rebuke them / punish them / push force at them and spend energy and attention doing so. Therefore they must really care about me or love me - even though you treat me coldly, for me to be able to impassion them or frustrate them or have them want to punish me this much. --> Their force and attention becomes PASSION / INVESTMENT (LOVE) FEED
ii) I must be a threat or vexing for this bully / person to put their attention on me; or I am very clever to be able to "bump" (manipulate) this person so effectively (if wanted) to beat me / rubuke me / punish me / push force at me with attention. --> Their force and attention becomes EGO FEED
iii) I am strong to be able to take it - to take anything they dish out at me, even with all their force and power coming at me, so there - ha! Or I focus on outlasting them. -->Their force and attention becomes "I AM STRONG" ESTEEM FEED
iv) I can manipulate them or co-produce the effect with them, (or alternatively find someone sufficiently skilled or who intuitively does it), and convert the HOT + COLD repetition into an overall satisfying alternation becomes EMOTIONAL WARMTH EFFECT FEED
How does one do this? By mixing the taps like a kind of Freudian "fort/da" game. HOT - COLD - HOT - COLD - HOT - COLD - HOT - COLD alternated with the right tempo frequency so that the overall mixed effect is WARM. (Like a tap mixer)
This looks like a pendulum swing, or a Freudian "fort/da" reel-and-thread game.
COLD - Withdrawal HOT - Contact (intensity)
Absence, withholding, induces longing Force Impact (beat, pierce, weight)
"Fort" (Object gone) "o-o-o-o" "Da" (Object returns)
stands for "mother gone" for Freud stands for "mother returns"
The dance of the two needs to be "right" for it to work to proper effect for the masochist. For example, if the impact / punctuation is to too quick-coming or too intense for adjustment to the sensation intensity level, it will be experienced as "too much". There needs to be enough time / recovery to adjust and/or process the pain or sensation at the level administered.
However, if the gap and absence is too long or not enough play intensity or passionate / invested engagement, then it will be experienced as unsatisfying, too boring, or tepid / lukewarm in effect by the masochist.
v) The higher the Other (Mistress / Dom) is in status and elevation, and the stronger / more force they are capable of, they more delicious the cake is. (So the masochist can ride on the coat-tails of the Dom's status elevation regard and drive extra pleasure from being dealt with by "Her" (Him / Them) by association.
Adding to the recipe is the delicious rush of adrenaline and endorphins, the sensation play impact, the psychological high, and emotional intimacy built with a play-partner.
THE BODY WORK OF BDSM
I want to add in, and this is a very unscientific claim (and I realize I'm now risking getting into the land of "woo-woo"), but I also think there is something going on with the particular bodily "beats", "hits", "punctuations", "piercing", "twisting", to do something energetically within them. It's roiling their internal waters, breaking up the stagnant settled and separated components. It's drawing particular things to the surface. I believe that the masochist in particular has a tendency to have opposites separating out within them, and there is some "body work" going on with these processes; whether one thinks of beating out dough, yeast rising, for example. I don't think it's for nothing that Meibom was considering activation of spinal column and blood flow to the loins - or however he worded it. (I'm stuck in a Level 4 Melbourne Covid lockdown away from my office and original texts to quote from, I'm sorry.)
However what I'm trying to say is I believe there's something also in the Bodywork component, and proponents of texts such as 'The Body Keeps the Score'. That the physicality of BDSM and its techniques and words I keep finding in the etymological roots, are "doing something" in particular, and there's a reason they keep cropping up time and time again in different places and locations.
The "thewen" category terms of pressing and impressing, beating, piercing, crushing, etc, after whom I am indeed naming the masochists; the *ghend root pry; the *peuk root prick / pierce; the *(s)teu root push on, stick, knock, beat, the *klam root to clamp, cleat.
The preferences some have for particular types of pain, mixing with their own body energetics. I believe in the future one day there will be a better language and framework understanding of this.
I also believe it is why Dominatrices have different types of equipment - like thuddy and stingy sensation beating implements, twisting items, clamping items, piercing items, stretching items, penetrating items, doing different things in sensation play and energetically.
WHY INSOLENCE: THE LAST BREATH OF EGO BEFORE DESCENDING
Many Mistresses have asked me why the masochist can be so insolent right before a (very much desired for) session / scene / play. (Not all masochists are like this or do this, but many do.)
The insolence is the masochist is pushing up like a whale out of the water, a last large breath of ego, before descending inevitably down down into the dark abyss of the ocean towards sea floor.
For Part II on masochists, I will be exploring why masochists keep throwing up (or vomiting up) Cruel Venuses / Dominatrix-like figures from their Unconscious,
and/or attaching and conflating their fantasy with other figures in life but within a particular familiar range and time travel drawn from their mind's available data set.
The answer involves the "emissary" (throwing up, vomiting up, pushing forward) of a transfigured "Ideal" (icon, Goddess) from the subconscious / unconscious, and casting figures in multiplicity. And I will discuss why I think this is so consistent across time and culture with the same figures thrown up, again-and-again - whether 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th Century.
I will be exploring in detail why the Venus figurines, the invocation of supernatural religiosity effect, trance state affecting perception of light, the fight-flight-freeze-fawn activation and default differences amongst subs, slaves and bondage fetishists, such as pleasing (fawn tendency) submissive, and the pugilist (fighter tendency) who appears as a different sub-type of masochist - using a Mistress with positive connection to discharge who I am calling a "baterie" from French. I will also discuss why again and again comes up the leather, pelt, fur, membrane, silk, toile; and lastly why alongside seeking a Venus the masochist also seeks out the antidote "cure" (from Latin cura
- meaning care).
THE CURE - TURNS OUT TO BE CARE
I know some psychologists and others reading my blog end up potentially concerned that masochists and BDSM-ers are re-visiting and playing at sites of what might arguably been interpreted as compulsion repetition to prior trauma or (narcissistic or other) abuse. To them, I would ask them to open their mind, and expand their heart. And I would thereafter say...
They are not merely revisiting the site (compulsion repetition) - but alchemising and finding jewels of self-knowledge, and finding the antidote - that the “cure” is care (from Latin). The masochist chooses a beautiful evil but caring Mistress.
They do so in order that they may safely visit places of magnificence and beauty and fear, play and dive and experiment, find pools of wonder, and where their pleasure bubbles. They ride waves of pleasure and pain, submit, surrender, find deep acceptance of Self and others, find corporeal ecstasy, or their soul’s deepest need, psychological release from social pressures, and resurface and be rebirthed with care.
It's interesting that indeed care and compassion are built into the BDSM language vernacular; we speak of afterCARE, and many use "Mercy" as their safeword or a system of Green, Orange and Red to know and symbolise when their limits are reached and set boundaries in that knowledge of those limits, which they inevitably begin to apply beyond session play and into their life.
Lastly, back to those complex underground root systems. It might be an appropriate time to mention to readers that grape vines putting down deep thick kinky roots in shitty stony soil in order that they survive and get nutrients, also grow grapes with great complexity and depth of flavour and which make the best wine. As any winemaker will tell you, good fertile soil makes abundant but watery grapes.
FOR ANYONE TRIGGERED
If anyone reading this blog post has been inadvertently triggered by its contents, I encourage you to reach out. You can call Lifeline or similar service offered in your country, there are Sexual and Domestic Abuse hotlines, counselling services and psychologists that you can seek out where you live.
I initially published this blog post as a piece of writing speculating on why BDSM to my interpretation is so frequently popping up with similar elements, and speculating on what I thought was going on, and I didn't realize at the time how on the dot so many of you have found this - that it has "hit" home. (Quite literally in terms of your childhood and household experience.)
I send you love and light. I ask that you take a deep breath, full of Mercy. And let her travel with your breath down into your lungs, and oxygenate your blood. From there to travel in your bloodstream, all the way down your limbs, into every cell, and into your heart. Everywhere deep compassion and Mercy. You are held and supported by the Universe.
x Anne O Nomis
Date of blog published: 13 September 2021
Note: I will be turning this raw material into a longer and more elegant and eloquently worded (I hope) piece of writing for a new book, which will feature alongside a translation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's 'The Emissary' (1863) which I've commissioned. This will be the first-ever translation of his first work of this kind into English language.
The knowledge chain from this blog post will continue in:
Part II "The Emissary: Throwing up / Vomiting up Cruel Venus figures".
and I welcome your feedback to these blog posts as I refine the arc trajectory and information within for publishing eventually in the next book. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Above: A print of a school discipline scene (with text narrating the scene) from 1752 made in London and held in Library of Congress USA collection titled "Flagellation": https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003675464/ (and also featured in my book 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix')
School Mistress / corporal punishment disciplinarian Mistresses
I have from time-to-time encountered people who are under the false impression that traditional Corporal Punishment school punishments and domestic discipline is no longer a "thing". I can assure you it is.
Corporal punishment sessions are most popular in places where corporal punishment was practiced in schools and in homes. And since corporal punishment has been outlawed in many places, this skews the average age and cultural background of clients to those who most typically received it in childhood. Some have noted the significance of English boarding schools which used to give out a lot of corporal punishment, of certain implements specifically used in particular places such as rattan rug beaters used in parts of Asia, and of Scottish tawses used in Scotland, and the martinet in France, and so on.
The disciplinarian female authority giving out school punishment and domestic discipline remains an enduring specialization of the Dominatrix craft around the world.
In fact, Mistresses to this day keep collections of authentic implements - school canes, leather belts, leather straps, wooden hair brushes, school slippers, and so forth. In some cases regionally specific implements such as the tawse in Scotland to cater for clients who require a specific familiar implement from childhood.
To honour this craft specialization of the Dominatrix disciplinarian, I have begun putting together a list of Mistresses who particularly offer this service. Some even have their own dedicated school room.
Photo: Courtesy of Mistress Servalan who has had a schoolroom in Australia for over 20 years and specialises in Scholastic Discipline. In the photo is Hannah Elliot and naughty S who she notes in the caption have distinct cane preferences.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA)
Anna Valentina based in Portland, OR, USA https://www.annavalentina.com/
She advertises: "If you have ever been left unsatisfied after a spanking, you need to see me. I specialize in hard, thorough, expertly paced spankings.
You will be secured firmly across my lap - you'd be surprised how strong my thighs are - and your bottom warmed to a solid red flush. I know all the angles and spots to guarantee you a tender sitting-down afterwards. And I will push you to the greatest heights of your tolerance: when you feel comfortable and trusting of your Top, it's amazing how far you can go.
- over-the-knee HAND SPANKING
- leather paddles, institutional straps and razor strops
- wooden hairbrushes, belts, slippers
- tawses, floggers, riding crops
- figging, mouth-soaping, hand-whipping
- lectures, corner time, written sentences
Mx Eve Minax based in San Francisco USA https://www.eveminax.com/
Mistress Simone Chicago & Saint Louis https://www.chicago-mistress.com/
Dominurtrix Miss Chris in Phoenix, Arizona https://www.missschris.com/ Twitter: @Dominurtrix
Mistress Shayne Atrophy in New York, USA https://www.mistressshayne.com/ Twitter: @MistressShayne
Mistress Elena de Luca in New York, USA https://nydominatrix.com/ Twitter:
"I love scholastic and domestic discipline. I even offer special rates for “Strictly Spanking” sessions."
The Empress Jasmine Wu in Miami USA & touring to multiple locations https://www.thankyouempress.com/ Twitter: @ThankYouEmpress
Mistress Melody Pond in Southern California, USA
https://www.missmelodypond.com/aboutme Twitter: @MissMelsPond
Miss Georgia Payne in Los Angeles, CA, USA https://overmykneela.com/ Twitter: @Georgia_Payne01
"I specialize in this genre in the USA."
Mistress Pomf in Florida, USA https://www.mistresspomf.com/
"After a hard spanking, She softly placed Her hand on my arm to reassure me everything was ok. It was a great gesture. However, every time She spit on me, She stared into my eyes to remind me She was the boss. i won’t forget Her beautiful eyes piercing my soul!"
Opehlia Margaux in San Francisco, CA, USA. https://www.opheliamargaux.com/ Twitter: @OpheliaMargaux
"No classroom/desk but I have vivid memories from Christian private school & enjoy incorporating etiquette in sessions along w/ caning, tawse, ruler, hairbrush"
Mistress Servalan, Sydney, Australia http://www.mistressservalan.com/ Twitter: @msservalan (Note: Mistress Servalan has her own dedicated school room)
Blog post: http://www.mistressservalan.com/2014/04/the-sensual-art-of-brutal-caning/ She writes: "Yum – so as everyone knows I absolutely adore administering the cane. When I first started at Salon Kitty’s as an apprentice many years ago my personal life experience meant that I was “authorised” pretty much straight away to conduct heavy discipline sessions – I was taught to flog and cane by an ex-professional Mistress who took me under her wing in my first tentative steps into the kink community back in the 90s. I believe that my previous experience as an ex-fencer (I competed in sabre to a National level) stood me in good stead when it came to using a cane!
...Interestingly caning is the one area where I’m happy to take direction – while I never appreciate a bondage sub detailing how he wants to be bound (apart from general information and preferences) certain masochistic caning fetishists may only be able to process the intense sensations of a severe thrashing under certain circumstances. This might relate to caning position, the diameter of the cane, timing, number of strokes at a time and so on. While the energy exchange is very different from a role play or a D/s focused session it’s still an amazing intense experience and being a part of it is so very enjoyable for me."
Hannah Elliot pro-sub & switch Mistress http://truesubmissive.com.au/ Twitter: @_truesubmissive
Hannah Elliot is recommended as "the ultimate Head Prefect switch. She’s an exceptional devotee of the cane on either side."
Mistress Electra Amore in Melbourne & Sydney, Australia (& tours) Twitter: @MzElectraAmore
"School punishment - It’s one of my favourite CP role plays, particularly when it involves the cane."
Mistress Violet in Melbourne, Australia http://mistress-violet.com/ Twitter:
Ms Chasey Devil in Melbourne, Australia https://fetishhouse.com.au/fetish-providers/chasey/ Twitter: @MsChaseyD
Mistress Misty in Melbourne, Australia https://fetishhouse.com.au/fetish-providers/misty/ Twitter: @Mistylatex1
Mistress Zoe in Melbourne, Australia https://www.zoedemure.com/ Twitter: @ZoeDemure
Corporal Punishment: Nothing pleases me more then a polite and well-behaved, genuine masochist! I take enormous pleasure from giving you that delicious agony your body craves. I will be your governess, your sexy principal, or your strict auntie who must punish you over and over for your naughty indiscretions. Whether you want a strict and stern disciplinarian or a sensual and loving Mistress, I relish in my role and delight in your reactions. I have a large collection of canes and other implements. With precision and skill I can measure my strokes to suit your level, whether light, medium or heavy. I also enjoy hand strapping, and Bastinado.
Mistress Mynx in Melbourne, Australia https://mistressmynx.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @Mistress_Mynx
"So much fun with this (school punishment) in the past. A particular naughty boy would bring me his collection of historic straps. Delightfully delicious times."
Georgette Delphine in Melbourne, Australia Twitter: @Domina_Delphine
Mistress Amara in Cairns, Australia http://mistressamara.net/ Twitter:
Mistress Dee Ville in Brisbane, Australia http://mistressdeeville.com/ Twitter: @MstressDeeVille
"I love giving an old fashioned spanking, and playing with textures, rhythm, and intensity, this can be very extensive if well deserved! I also enjoy harsher treatment as the situation at hand requires! (Such as caning, and specialty straps.) I have a school room set up at my GoldCoast Facility, and very much enjoy domestic discipline at my Brisbane Address."
Strictly Miss Brown, London, UK https://www.strictlymissbrown.com/ Twitter:
Miss Iceni, London, UK https://www.missiceni.com/ Twitter:
@Mistress_Iceni & she has a page here on her website outlining some possibilities: https://www.missiceni.com/sessions-1
Goddess Soria, South Wales, UK Twitter: @GoddessSoria
Mistress Lagerth, West Midlands, UK & Europe. Website: https://mistresslagertha.com/ Twitter: @MistressLagerth
Goddess Cleo in London, UK https://www.goddesscleo.co.uk/ Twitter: @Goddess_Cleo
Who notes: "I even live in a converted school 😉 "
Miss Svenson caning therapist in South East UK https://elsasvenson.com/
Mistress Ava Von Medisin in Norwich / Norfolk, UK (& International).
https://www.avavonmedisin.com/ Twitter: @AvaVonMedisin
Miss Amy Hunter in London, UK http://hellomisshunter.com/ Twitter @HelloMissHunter
"Having spent several years as a popular spankee both on websites and in sessions, my skills as a Domme were built from my personal experiences, and over the last few years I have honed them to become a very firm - but usually fair -disciplinarian, using my natural dominance and love of power interaction.
Having been on the other end of the cane, so to speak, I am in an excellent position to know how it feels, both physically and psychologically."
Mistress Kalyss Mercury in Oslo, Norway (and tours other locations) https://www.kalyssmercury.com/ Twitter: @kalyssmercury
"Yes, of course! Teacher student role plays are a lot of fun! Here in #Norway, we even have a "Girls Boarding School" weekend event a few times a year. Most school boys prefer private tuition..."
Note: This list is not "comprehensive" and skewed to those who happen to follow me on Twitter and responded to my shout-out on who is offering such sessions. It is quite time-consuming for me to list everyone and upload photos and links, so I've done the best I can for now and will continue to update when I'm able around my other commitments.
x Anne O Nomis
Photo courtesy of: SinaminSchnapps Twitter: @SinaminSchnapps
I was recently delighted to hear about an academic reading group on BDSM History (CARAS) in the USA, and excitedly joined. As many of you are aware this is an area I've been working in for years, undertaking original research and uncovering the original material wherever I can to bring it up from the "underground". Whether that's so-called forbidden books, artwork, letters and ephemera, beyond just the well-regarded and "classic" texts on BDSM (such as beyond Leopold von Sacher Masoch's Venus in Furs and Marquis de Sade's work for example which are already well-known of).
A few of those involved in leading the group are doggedly of the belief that masochism only came about with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Kraft-Ebing's term 'masochism'. Ignoring all other material to the contrary which pre-dates it by years and centuries, which are not included in the History of BDSM group, they locate masochism as if a highly specific historical phenomenon of its era. And while there are absolutely fascinating aspects to the era of 19th Century sexology, this is not where masochism as desire / psychology in people came about, but only the term "masochism" was coined for "it". (Just as Troth's Knavery of Astrology (1680) tells us that there is "a neat invention of flogging..." - it's not that flogging was only invented in 1680, but rather the term. Nor did Miley Cyrus invent bum dancing with her 2013 MTV Awards twerking, and one could look at New Orleans 1980s bounce music scene twerking or much further back to other "bum dances" in time.)
One can only hold such a position of masochism only existing from 19th Century if one regards only the "classic texts" of major male figures, and ignores all else. There are plenty of materials that evidence it is not a historically specific phenomenon only invented by Kraft-Ebing (Psychopathia Sexualis, 1886) from Masoch by his book 'Venus in Furs' (1870).
While I would agree that the term "masochism" and the book by Sacher-Masoch were influential on how those with particular desires and psychologies INTERPRETED / FRAMED their own desires, it didn't invent the desire/psychology but only the name it and frame it in a particular way.
Indeed I would argue that the psychiatrist and popular definition of masochism focus and skew on particular elements which misinterpret or misdefine what for me are the important characteristics of the psychology/desire.
HOW MASOCHISM DEFINITION MIS-DEFINED / MISUNDERSTOOD "IT"
From 12 years of professional and lifestyle exploration of the topic, and from now large scale survey data gathered from participants, keep bringing me back again and again to the pressing and impressing of weight, and overpowering / beating down / subjugating / piercing / rebuking with various specificities to the forms wanted by some to recreate the "thing" that made such impression on them in the first place (usually in childhood).
Hence my preference to now use a term "thew" in my new book (in progress):
noun - a bondsman, a slave, a servant
From Middle English thewen, from Old English þēowan, þȳwan
"to press, impress, force, press on, urge on, drive, press with a weapon, thrust, pierce, stab, threaten, rebuke, subjugate, overpower, crush, push, oppress, check", from Proto-Germanic*þewjaną ("to enslave, oppress"), from Proto-European *tūk- (“to beat”). Cognate with Old High German dūhen (“to press, press down”), Middle Dutch duwen, douwen (“to push, press, force”).
The pressing / impressing nature and enjoyment of weight (whether by physical body weight, impact play, trampling, strangulation etc) is well-conceived of by Leopold von Sacher Masoch himself in his invocation of the anvil. The person receiving is subject to the hammer (as-metaphor) coming at them.
Interestingly, fascinatingly, they (so-called) "masochists" do not merely "take it", the inertia of the anvil rebounds transferring energy. Time and time again in professional sessions and in writing by masochists, they talk of the action and reaction. Action-and-reaction. Listen to the words they write - they are telling us something.
ANVIL METAPHOR: Force applied - Action-and-reaction
The "clues" then were all there, in Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's 'Venus in Furs', but they were also there in numerous other materials predating him. However what fascinated psychiatrists was the apparent perversity of someone enjoying pain, (which goes against the "pleasure principle") and this became the inordinate (over) focus - on pain.
What didn't get enough weight of consideration, in my view:
* Piercing / stabbing (with penetration / punctuation effect)
Let's listen again to the words of Sacher-Masoch, he writes:
"I became aware first of the mysterious affinity between cruelty and lust, and then of the natural enmity and hatred between the sexes which is temporarily overcome by love, only to reappear subsequently with elemental force, turning one of the partners into a hammer and the other into an anvil."
(Emphasis my own, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch "Choses Vecues" Revue Bleue, 1888; reproduced in Masochism 1991 Zone Books, New York, p.276)
He's trying to tell you of the ELEMENTAL FORCE, and you dear theorists and psychiatrists are not listening.
The metaphorical (and I want to say universal ) masochist, or "thew" in my wording, perceives the powerful object/other and challenges them or bumps them to:
Do me. Thew me. Squish me. Crush me. Whip me. Hit me. Cane me. Trample me. Strangle me. Squish me. Torture me. Tease me. Pierce me. Fuck me. Spit on me. Rebuke me. Crush me. Ravish me. Vanquish me.
Some with particular specificity which goes to the original childhood impression characteristics, the original "ravissement". (Do it like this,
on me.) Other masochists more flexible in method of "thewen".
I came to this word today, frustratingly trying to refocus you on the "bit" that matters, to explain it to you (the hostile academic who believe in 19th Century masochism).
I didn't want to use just the term "trauma" as it's loaded and interpreted and associated with negative experience and with damage. It's not that this isn't true or possible but there is Wonder also, something that came through our daily existence; like a meteor shower streaming through the sky - streaming and sublime - that impacts - and leaves a crater(s) and fall-out.
And depending on where you put your focus; wondrous and/or sublimely powerful / destructive, changing the landscape of your life.
I played with word possibilities - discounted choosing "trauma", considered the term "peak experience"(s), and immediately I then went to "ravissement", in French. And it fit like a jigsaw puzzle piece, clicked together.
The word came to me from Marguerite Duras and her book "
Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein" (which I have only read in English).
Was "ravissement" used by my French slaves or masochists ever in session in Paris in late 2009-2010 era? I don't know and quite possibly, I don't want to discount that possibility.
I have just reordered the English out-of-print Duras book to remind myself of that moment and how it is portrayed by Duras for Lol Stein. I was going to write to explain it is not a BDSM moment, of a couple kissing at a ball - the character's partner for the ball night and it's effect on her, frozen and in ravissement, but then I realised it "IS" a BDSM moment. Shit it is (mind my language). It's an emotional cuckolding.
Action de ravir, d'enlever de force.
Fait d'être ravi transporté au ciel.
Le ravissement de saint Paul.
The action of "ravir" verb - to delight, to enchant, to wrest (from wrestle), to enrapture, to entrance, to rejoice, to rape, to torture, to abduct, to bereave, to elate.
Image: Ravissement de Proserpine (
1708-1733) Etching after François Girardon published by Bernard Picard, British Museum #
Remove all positive or negative connotations from this and approach all the terms with open mind and neutrality and pause to judgment.
Pause there in this place.
You are now - paused - in masochist potential. (By all means correlating with Reik "suspense factor" cited in Deleuze "Coldness and Cruelty" p.75, and Deleuze discussion of frozen quality and suspense on p.34.)
And to add in religion, and you are now transported to the sky.
(Call that sub-space if you wish - call that what you like. Described by different people in different cultures and different eras, describing the same thing.)
This is why the stories retold by masochists involve elemental force of ravissement effect in a childhood (often) experience:
A disciplinarian school punishment caning. A domestic discipline punishment by a parental or other figure. A sexual assault. A schoolyard physical / verbal / psychological bullying. A sister and her friends stomping / trampling. A caught in utter humiliation. A cuckolding. A medical operation experience. Teasing and denigration of having a small penis. And so on.
A further point.... The submissive is moved in this experience to bow down to authority and contemplate the wondrous power and submit to the sublime powerful figure-of-force, in generalised terms.
The masochist - remember though - is the anvil. Saying bring it on, do your worst, and bounces back energy force, action-and-reaction. (Consider fight-flight-freeze + deflect
In a a variety of individual dynamic relations which vary by person and inter-personal dynamic - whether bratting, smart arse, sassing, (mock) resisting, swearing, provoking, encouraging more of the elemental force:
"Whip me, I beg of you, it's a joy to me!"... "hurt me in earnest", "if you love me be cruel to me".
(Leopold von Sacher Masoch 'Venus in Furs' (1870) and in my edition Masochism 2013 New York, Zone Books p.186)
And as I looked to find the former passage, beside it on the adjoining page unexpectedly as I didn't recall it, p.187 of Venus in Furs
"her cruelty fills me with rapture".
x Anne O Nomis
Date of essay / blog post: Tuesday 10th August 2021
Acknowledgments to the CARAS group and the academic claimed "invention of masochism" by Masoch & Kraft-Ebing, and open hostility to my work in the 7 am Sunday my time class and ignoring all the pre-Masoch era artifacts, writings, ephemera & artwork. This is my perhaps masochist anvil return serve of energy force. Wink.
To summarise: The term "masochism" merely put a term to a thing which long-existed and been a specialization of the Dominatrix craft profession. And in my view the framing of "masochist" as defined overly-focused on pain rather than weight / elemental force and rebounding energy proposed in the anvil and fight-fight-freeze options the technical "deflect" of taking energy coming at them and bouncing it back. And masochist discussion also often misses the significance of the "ravissement" state.
To answer the qustion of the "bratty submissive", I want to share with you some of my initial data is in from my surveys on submissives, slaves, masochists, bottoms.
And this will come as a surprise to few - the "brats" or "bratty submissives" turn on the data to be very much masochists, or as I intend to rename them - thews.
What is a thew? It's a very old term I've taken from Middle English thewen (þēowan, þȳwan ) and want to bring back into popular use - and thewen means:
to press, impress, force, press on, urge on, drive, press with a weapon, thrust, pierce, stab, threaten, rebuke, subjugate, crush, push, oppress, check.
A "thew" was a slave, servant, bondsman - approximately translated - in a term derived from "thewen" and proposng they were pressed / impressed / forced / pierced / rebuked / subjugated / crushed / oppressed into it.
And that in my argument is what the BDSM thew seeks - they seek the thewing. (They seek the pressing, the impressing, the forcing, the urging on, the pressing with weapon, the thrusting, the piercing, stabbing, rebuking, crushing, pushing, oppressing and so forth - often in specific preferred form. Whether that be facestting, or asphyxiation, or needle play, or impact play / punishment, or trampling, or "forced" penetration or pegging or rough play, overpowering by wrestling down, strong-arming, and so on.)
Hence being bratty is but one technique to potentially try and get a reaction and draw some of the thewing from the Dom.
Common reasons that brats reported for being bratty was to:
- test the reaction from the Dom
- push the Dom's buttons
- to make the Dominant work to earn the brat's respect and prove they can manage them
- get a rise from the Dom
- get the Dom angry / frustrated and get retaliation
- add fuel to the fire
- to give the Dom a reason to punish
- feel good to act out in an unrestrained and uninhibited way
- to speed things up (getting a spanking / speed up the session)
- to make the session or punishment tougher
- challenge the Dominant to make the Dominant muscle them / strong-arm them / force them (in a consensual non-consent dynamic)
Such as for example getting a reaction of the Dom who says "Right now I'm really going to give it to you!"
Yes! This is exactly what the brat wanted. This is the specific dynamic the bratty sub (masochist / thew) seeks, is to be put in their place and receive punishment / funishment / be beaten down and subjugated by the Dominant and driven into a state of submission (or rather surrender).
However they also often want it - the thewing - done in a particular way or even highly idealised way that exists in their fantasy. Such as they want to be Dominated with finesse, with great competence and understanding. The idealised expectations or fantasy hopes make it arguably even harder for them to find satisfaction oftentimes.
Why brattiness may not always be such a good idea for their dynamic with their Dom?
Depending on the Dominant and the dynamic, being bratty risks in some cases the behaviour not being well-received or appreciated by the Dominant. Everyone's different of course, and some Doms enjoy brattiness as a playful dynamic and for others don't like the behaviour and have coined the "PITA brat".
Just what is a PITA brat you may be asking? It's short for Pain-In-The-Arse Brat.
This is where to some Dominants, the bratty behaviour is potentially perceived by some Dominants negatively as:
- Pain in the arse behaviour (hence the "PITA brat" phrase)
- Annoying behaviour
- Childish / immature behaviour (without the Dom having consented to or wanted a "little" dynamic)
- Attention-seeking behaviour
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Manipulative behaviour
- A form of topping from the bottom
- Disrespectful to the Dom
- Damages the relationship (for those Doms who don't take fondly to bratty behaviour)
- Not submissive behaviour (by perception of some Doms)
- Not being a "true submissive" (by perception of some Doms)
- Undermining of the D/s dynamic
And to a degree I have sympathy for the perspective of undermining the D/s dynamic because bratty behaviour is arguably turning it into a Dominant/masochist dynamic (or Sadist/masochist dynamic); and not strictly what I would think of as a Dominant/submissive dynamic.
We're now in the realm of brat-taming, or "thewing" strong-arming them into submission or surrender - which is of course exactly what the brat wanted and sought, but may not be what the Dominant enjoys in terms of the dynamic. Or for some - particularly those inexperienced or unconfident - may throw them off their game as they don't know how to deal with that or don't understand the behaviour and take it as disrespectful behaviour.
Some Doms like brats / bratty behaviour
Yes! Some Doms do like brats and bratty behaviour. Some take it as playful and enjoy it in that light. Some enjoy the rise in their sadistic streak. Some Doms enjoy the rise in sexual arousal that provocative bratty behaviour stimulates in them - particularly noted by some male Doms / Daddy identities in relation to female brats.
Some enjoy the Big / little dynamic that can be activated by bratty behaviour. Oftentimes those who are also parents are very familiar with the dynamic of bratty behaviour.
Some love being given an easy excuse narratively to punish, such as in corporal punishment roleplay scenarios. To force their brat over the knee and spanked. To be given the go-ahead to increase the planned Domination intensity. And the list goes on.
Differences between brats and subs?
MASOCHIST & BRAT DATA ROWS
Here's a small screenshot of a section of my masochist data, with 20 masochists at the top, and then 5 self-identified "brats" below the horizontal grey bar.
At the top is the set-up of the columns:
Doing whatever it is that my Dom wants to do | Completing duties set | Serving my Dominant | Being trained | Being shaped | Feeling owned | Authentic real control given over - not only kinky time control
The options to pick from for answers were Crucially important, Very important, Moderately important, Slightly important, or Not important.
I've colour coded them manually for easy reference.
SUB DATA ROWS
Now here's a small section of my 26 submissives' data for the same columns.
Say what! Ooooh! Do you see the difference? We're now swimming in more of an overall blue appearing tapestry mosaic.
The subs tended to rate "Doing whatever it is that my Dom wants to do" as Crucially important (coloured dark blue) or Very important (mid blue).
The masochists and brats tended to rate "Doing whatever it is that my Dom wants to do" as Moderately important (coloured yellow), Slightly important (coloured orange), or Not important (coloured red)!
There is much much more data and at this stage I am just illustrating but one small section to show how these differences are appearing from my survey data.
The data is significantly larger, more complex and individual and I can say much, much more about my findings, and from my experience of 12 years. And there are exceptions to the general rule which I don't have time to go into here in this blog. Some subs are a little bit bratty playful, but overall quite "well-behaved", etc.
Every individual is ultimately an individual, and there's no one quality in of itself that I can nail down a masochist from a sub, but the overall pattern colour tapestry mosaic is different.
(Also - not all masochists are bratty, by the way. It's but one approach or tool in the toolkit to get the "thewing" I describe above that they seek. Some develop a relationship with someone sympatico who understands them for example, and goes straight to work thewing them, and they don't need to be bratty to amp up the intensity or provoke to get the dynamic and play they seek.)
Lastly I want to leave you with some answers to another survey question on brats.
Some individual answers on whether they used provocative behaviour such as being bratty, cheeky, deliberately naughty to provoke reaction / play / punishment / funishment.
Here are a small selection of answers and perceptions of those who filled out my survey on the topic, who include subs, slaves, masochists and brats. (I'll let you guess which each person might self-identify as; wink).
Answered VERY MUCH THE CASE: "I explore how the dominate is reacts and find ways to please her but also push her buttons at time. I enjoy the sadistic dominatrix more and I can tell you that they are easy to make the sessions even tougher at times . To me not being a brat would mean a boring session. I have to be able to please the dominatrix but also push boy tries to seek a reaction."
Answered MODERATELY: "Being defiant in a subtle way. My favorite provocation is to insinuate, with words, gesture or attitude, that the Domme doesn't have and is not capable of have power over me. It's about timing and subtlelty, never being offensive or disrespectful."
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "I do it more as a flirtation. Do X… “No” get that little reaction of a look or a what did you just say… it’s nothing more than a quick reaction to get a small rise and not a constant on going push."
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "For me, I tend to avoid it until things are well established. Communication is often so fraught anymore that communicating in the shades of gray where "brat" and sarcasm operate adds complications. Once other things are more "solid" such come into play more."
Answered VERY MUCH THE CASE: "As the Top/Bottom relationship grows and time together expands I'm of the belief such antics/behavior have a greater effect."
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "I don't really think it is a part of submission / being a good sub :P "
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "I am stoical and serve. Therefore I am not bratty during more intense femdom."
Answered NOT AT ALL: I don't do it because I fear showing disrespect to my Female Master, whom I feel compelled to submit to at all times. I would only misbehave if it was something I thought She wanted me to do.
Answered NOT AT ALL: "It doesn't feel natural to me. I want to be the best submissive and playing-up to provoke a response is the antithesis of that."
Answered VERY MUCH THE CASE: "the simplest case is merely to give the Top a reason ( cause and effect) to do as desired. Such as investing them into a greater intensity in their response. There is nothing more primal than anger or frustration to motivate a harsh retaliatory reaction. Such stimuli are -belittling their skills ( aw you hit like a girl.. oh i forgot you ARE a girl) -feeding their insecurities -sarcasms and /or giving inaccurate replies ( mostly a way to keep them unbalanced so out of frustration there creates a bit of extra fueling of the fire (like cooking with gasoline- in needs of a spark of excitement or rush) "
Answered NOT AT ALL: "My Domme sees being a brat as incredibly disrespectful."
Answered MODERATELY: "Poking my tongue out Standing when asked to kneel Ignoring an instruction Seeing what reaction I get."
Answered VERY MUCH THE CASE: "Sometimes you need to move things in the direction you wish them to get to, that can be through guidance or perhaps if you know you will be spanked for a specific reason - you do that specific thing to draw the spanking you wish for. - It is a funny pattern because you seek punishment and discipline, and learn that certain behavior can accomplish that so you seek that. I don't often share, but if my "Dominant Partner" were to use punishment/discipline as a reward and ignore me/not play as a punishment - I would behave and never be bratty, or deliberate!"
Answered VERY MUCH THE CASE: "I will talk back, argue, not carry out the task, not respond correctly."
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "it seems passive aggressive and annoying"
Answered NOT AT ALL: ""Brattting" is manipulative behavior - and just not good manners."
Answered NOT AT ALL: "This would be considered manipulative and disrespectful. i would be punished. Usually by having all interactions stop. A real punishment. - If this is the kink that both parties agree to. Awesome have fun and be ready for a good thrashing, depending on how bratty you are. my relationship is different than this. i would be quickly dismissed."
Answered MODERATELY: "To speed things up sometimes. - I try do to as told. But if time is brief then I may be extra naughty/sarcastic or “today I wanted to this” kind of stuff to try and speed a session along or point it in a certain direction."
Answered MODERATELY: "I prefer confessions of naughtiness, rather than actually doing anything. - Recurring themes: 1) Thinking about something sexy (like what the woman is wearing under her skirt); or, looking at her bottom. "Please, Miss, I was looking at your bottom while I was following you upstairs to get spanked." Or, getting caught doing this "Were you looking at my bottom, boy, while I was bending over to fetch my cane?" 2) Confessing to being naughty on purpose in order to be punished, because I enjoy it. "Please, Miss, I was naughty because I've always fantasised about being punished by you - and I enjoy it when you do punish me."
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "Just before a scene, I might occasionally stand my own ground, be more pedantic, or less open. "
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "I feel it is disrespectful and it annoys the mistress. So I avoid this."
Answered ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY: "This is highly dependent on the personality of the domme I’m playing with. Some are very playful in their nature. Those that are might find me joking/provoking a little because I sense they’d enjoy it. I mostly don’t do this on a serious level because it strikes me as a passive-aggressive trait. I hate passive-aggressive."
NOT AT ALL: "I very rarely be bratty I find it goes against my want to serve and provide for the dom."
And this Twitter comment: "I've never really understood bratting, except as a mutual game which (if played properly) allows the bottom some degree of influence over the actions (punishments etc.) meted out by the top ... ... too often it 'gets silly', and the balance of control/submission is lost."
So there we go - very mixed reports on brattiness and people's views on it in a BDSM context. And hopefully you have a better understanding now of why brats act up as they do.
And my own view on brats and brattiness?
Sometimes someone is deliberately bratty and I'm in the mood for playing that game and it can enliven my energy and is good for my students also to enjoy watching for their amusement and the interaction and dynamic. I can chuckle along with light hearted spirit or try and stay deadly serious and play the game of punishment / funishment with a mock stern expression. And gives me opportunity often for stronger or higher intensity play, if I'm in the mood for it, and knowing the masochist brat thew is seeking that.
Other times it can be plain annoying and poorly timed, and come across as childish and inappropriate, and ultimately insensitive and inconsiderate of everyone else in the room. (eg super noisy, interrupting, bumping into people, me-me-me, give me attention, etc)
And still other times, I don't play along but actually evidence I know exactly what they're up to and am not going to play into their game, and the real punishment is no play and ignoring them entirely. (Ooooh - ouch Anne! Yep that's right.) So that if they want to engage me they need to change their approach and behaviour.
And as a teacher of Dominatrices, I am of the opinion that bratty behaviour is often not a good idea with newbie Mistresses as it can really throw them off their game and confidence as they're just getting started. And received potentially as disrespectful, as that think you don't take them seriously or their Dominance seriously, and undermining them, etc. So perhaps consider whether it may be strategically better to help raise their confidence in Dominance with positive reinforcement encouragement and delighting in play with them first - just my five cents.
The sub-title to the masochist / brat's game is:
Do your worst! Thew me! (Preferably the way the masochist / brat had in mind / in fetish fantasy).
Brat-taming and Domination classes
For those interested, I am teaching a later this year on the topic of "brat taming" and masochist management as a Domination class. (With options of both Online streamed class, and "in person" class taught in Melbourne Australia.)
You can join my Mistressery Muse and news letter to stay updated, by clicking here. (In which I try to get around to letting people know of my classes, talks and new book news, and don't send it out too often - just to manage your expectations. I'm more focused on my work than on marketing myself.)
I am also teaching another 8 week Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts certificate course again in September, for which I keep getting requests, and the information and dates for this is via Passionfruit shop here.
Over and out for now.
x Anne O Nomis
(Any queries you can email me at: email@example.com )
DomCon was founded 17 years ago, and is the major conference for Dominants in the USA. Due to Coronavirus, this year's DomCon NOLA event was moved online.
Anne O Nomis featured and headlined as one of the International presenters for DomCon. Her talk received one of the highest number of attendees of all talks, and received rave reviews and feedback from all who attended.
Journalist Gram Ponante wrote up DomCon NOLA for AVN, and picked out Anne's presentation for paragraphs of the write-up - and all of the images featured for the article, commending the quality of Anne O Nomis's work:
DomCon’s closing day featured a TED talk-level presentation by the Australian domme and scholar Anne O Nomis, whose ““From Ancient Goddess Rituals to Female Flagellants & The Bizarre Underground: The History of the Dominatrix” drew on research that took “Nomis” to little-visited museum collections and forbidden tomes in search of the sacred and ritualized ancient origins of what would only much later be called the dominatrix.
Her 2012 book The History & Arts of the Dominatrix collects art and documentation from Egypt, Sparta, and Pompeii before it gets to the 1960s, when the term “dominatrix” became de rigeur. Before that, words like “governess, whipstress, flagellant, bizarre lady,” or “strict madam” were common.
Reference: Ponante, Gram "Virtual DomCon NOLA Dominates the Weekend" 4th November 2020: https://avn.com/business/articles/video/virtual-domcon-nola-dominates-the-weekend-890460.html
Anne sender her thanks to DomCon founder Mistress Cyan, and to Simone Justice in USA, for selecting her as one of this year's International presenters, with her talk scheduled to be the final presentation to end DomCon NOLA (on Sunday 1st November at 4.45 pm New Orleans time) and for organizing the event.
Mistress Cyan expressed she'd love to have Anne O Nomis back again for future DomCon events as an International presenter, which Anne would welcome as an opportunity to share knowledge on her brand new work and research in progress at the major USA conference for Dominants and the industry.
Website for DomCon: https://domcon.com/
Back in 2009 when I was undertaking my apprenticeship at the Dominas Realm dungeon (now closed), the senior Mistresses had a particular expression they used to describe a particular type of client.
The Do-Me sub.
"And what pray tell is a Do-Me sub?", you may ask.
The Do Me sub
A "Do Me sub" is someone who says they're a sub, before proceeding to tell you exactly what you are to do to them.
"I want to be dominated, and for you to take control of me Mistress. I want to be your toy. You will be wearing leather clothes, red or black which allow me to see your skin, for example, a small bra, a short leather skirt and very high heels. I sent photos ahead of how you'll be dressed - did you receive them?
I will present myself in front of you, kneeling down. Then you'll tie up my hands strongly. I am now your prisoner, your slave. Then you will walk around me, caress me or strike my ass. Put a tie around my cock, exciting me as well as being severe. At the same time, you'll give me instructions on how I have to talk to you, always using "Mistress" at the end of my sentences, and no talk if I'm not invited to.
Then you'll continue with total bondage of my body. I like to feel the rope on my body. You'll act slowly, taking your time, and of course I must not move otherwise I am punished. Then you'll play with me, alternating between being erotic, exciting or severe. You'll then test my resistance, pinching on my nipples, or having me stay in the cage, dripping candle wax on me, fixing me to the St Andrew's Cross with mask over my eyes, and whipping me. Within my limits - no watersports.
Then you'll offer me your breasts to kiss very gently. You can also show me your breasts and then take them away just when I am about to kiss them. You'll play with me, caressing one second, and stopping for no reason.
When you consider I have behaved the proper way and obeyed well enough, you'll give me my final reward, making love or exciting me with your hand. You can also ask me for a massage, soft and sensual. Any misplaced gesture is punished unless you agree to it. After that - you liberate me."
The above is adapted from an actual real life email from someone who identifies as a "sub".
A sub who scribes and prescribes the entire session he wants in great detail. And in violation of most professional Mistress's boundaries in respect of the sexual content. And which ironically is prefaced with: "I want to be dominated. I want you to take control of me".
However everything which follows after this first sentence, contradicts it's meaning.
He doesn't want to be genuinely dominated with Mistress taking control. He has his fetish and fantasy in his mind's imagination, and he wants the Mistress to play out and enact this fantasy of Domination.
He's scripted the entire session from start-to-finish according to his own wants. And where's the room here for what Mistress wants? Where's the empowering of the Mistress to dominate him really? Where's the opportunity for her to control him to Her actual wishes?
One of the female graduates of my Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts certificate class recently tweeted me in on this amusing meme:
There's the so-called "sub", wide eyed with his frenetic plans and ideas and visual examples of the session he wants, and the activities he wants.
And often what follows this is a sub disappointed or frustrated that things haven't lived up to his hopes and expectations, and a baffled Mistress who doesn't understand how he could have such high expectations or say he wants to be dominated but then seemingly doesn't actually want to submit but only to submit in the ways he wants. And seemingly a fantasy (masochistic) submission rather than a genuine power exchange.
This operation is seen very well in the film 'Duke of Burgandy' (2014), written and directed by Peter Strickland, in which the so-called submissive it turns out deeper into the film has told her Mistress what to say and do to dominate her - to a great degree. (For those interested in watching the film, the trailer is here and option to purchase in top right hand corner - I have no vested interest or back-kick and am sharing only for knowledge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta6AuPVZM7A )
There is also a very amusing short little animated film here, entitled "SUBMISSIVE MALES WATCH THIS":
It's only 1 minute, 46 seconds long, and gets the amusing point across well by showing the "Do Me sub" in their most extreme form. (Most aren't quite as bad as this, lol)
A "Do-Me sub", or a "master masochist"?
As I explain to my students, this is not a true submissive at all. This is as the Mistresses of the Dominas Realm would call a "Do-Me sub", and in most cases is actually a masochist rather than a submissive.
The popular definition of masochist - as someone who enjoys pain, is due to vast oversimplification and shortening to meet dictionary-style descriptor, and it's not correct.
In fact, someone who enjoys pain is in my definition a "pain slut" or to use the psychology term - an "algophiliac".
A masochist is not someone who necessarily enjoy pain for pain's sake, but rather takes their pleasure from drawing invested punishment (and potentially bullying-style humiliation) from their Mistress, and "bumping" her to get their fetish and fantasy. The masochist enjoys the pain the Mistress is inflicting because it fulfils his fantasy and also her investment in administering it shows that she cares enough about him to be bothered to hurt him.
A masochist also inevitably has a particular fetish - such as for leather, or stiletto shoes, or fur - as was the case of Leopold von Sacher Masoch (the author of 'Venus in Furs' and after whom the term "masochism" was named after), or some other "thing".
Leopold von Sacher Masoch (author of 'Venus in Furs' novella, and in real life he sought to be whipped and beaten down by a cruel women wearing furs.)
If we look to Leopold von Sacher Masoch, as the original masochist, he wanted to be a so-called slave to Mistress, and have her dominate him, wear furs, whip him and beat him down. But the contract he had drawn up reveals she was not to enter his office, leave him alone in specified hours, wear furs frequently, and... and... and the list goes on.
Indeed his letterhead featured a commissioned illustration of his exact fetish fantasy - featuring a woman wearing regal furs and wielding a severe whip.
A psychology with a cadence towards submission and ego regulation
Leopold von Sacher Masoch, and masochists more generally, have a very specific psychology that goes beyond enjoying pain per se. Rather what they seek is a play in which they are beaten down by the Dominant figure - through punishment and/or humiliation, who is wearing or wielding their fetish and to the image and details they have in mind. The masochist often wants to be at her feet, in awe of her, with her elevated above him. For her to tease and torment him, alternating attention on him, and then ignoring him in turn. He wants for her to be cold and cruel, beating him down with whip or with insults (or even in some but not all cases degradation) - until he "submits" and is in a trance-like state of yielding - or "sub space". This is the reason that many masochists (mis-)identify as submissives - is that they do want to submit, to be strong-armed by the Mistress into submission, through a particular sequence which has a kind of cadence to it. And once they are there in that "submissive" state - they do truly enjoy that state, like an infant or small child whose mother whose power and strength has brought them under control.
There is ego regulation going on, from the masochist revelling in (narcissistic) success in machinated - plotting - to draw the attention of the Mistress. To her toying and playing with him as a cat - or rather tiger - would its prey, pouncing with ipower over them and weight upon them, making them little. Bringing their ego into regulation, squishing the air out of their over-inflated balloon. And in the aftermath reassured by the feeling of being invested in, cared about, and thus worthy, clever and loved.
Professional Dominatrices are of course expert in such offerings and services. With a wardrobe typically filled with popular fetish attire requests, of leather gloves, skirts, hoisery, catsuits, corsetry, latex attire, stiletto talon heels and thigh high boots, and other items often to cater to very specific but less common client requests - such as for fur, or silk scarves, items with supersensuality and powerful animal association.
A masochist emailed me just the other day to emphasize an element from a class on fetish - the animal aspect of many fetishes.
Animal aspect of fetishes
I recall Sacher-Masoch had "dreamt of human tigresses" in a letter to the sculptor Rodin, his fur fetish elaborated by some degree by this phrase. Furs are literally the skin pelt of particular animals. The catsuit also evokes this concept of animal skin. Silk fetishists frequently wish to be cocooned in silk. Others want to be woven into a web of ropes bondage, in which the Mistress is by extension the Weaver-spider who has entrapped her prey. One of the FemDom clubs was called Mantis, named after the Preying Mantis who uses its mate to feast upon after copulation. While various birds of prey have powerful talons which they use to grip onto flesh.
Indeed it is no coincidence that the powerful Goddesses across ancient Mesopotamia, Anatolia and across and into India - were linked to and symbolised in proximity to lions, tigers and birds of prey.
An algorithm of desire of the "Do-Me sub" or "masochist"
After eleven years of theoretical and practical study of BDSM, I feel that I really know the pattern of the script they want and its rhythm, or rather algorithm. If I was working on the mathematical equation, it would go something like:
Sexy powerful clothing with fetish effect is worn or wielded
+ lowering (of man / person)
+ Invocation of awe
+ they have invested attention of Dom
+ Bringing under control (by bondage or other)
+ Overpowering / strong-arming
+ the 4 Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Ignoring attention of for periods
+ Specific fetish worn or wielded
+ Beating down (eg whipping, bullying) with "hits" of pain
+ more of 4Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Proximity privilege (such as body worship)
+ Begging / bargaining / plea for release
+ Delayed gratification
--> Ending, reward, release & liberation (could end with denial, with caning, with sexual release or ruined orgasm, worship, or numerous other ways)
Phew! That's a lot of energy expended there - did you feel it reading that? Or perhaps if you're a masochist reading this you're just thinking "hot" and you've been taken off into a state of fantasy?
There are individual nuances to the above of course. A CP fetishist will have specific School teacher roleplay and paddling / caning potentially. A latex fetishist will have you and them wearing latex tied in with this session, perhaps strapped down to a medical chair and the tease and torment may be using medical equipment, speculums, clamps, electrics, etc. And numerous other variation. Those with strong algophilia (enjoyment of pain and endorphins from it) will potentially want a stronger emphasis on heavy pain infliction, etc. Many masochists are into forced face-sitting and / or weight upon them pressing down on them, or being sat on their chest or body, or trampling literally walking over them. Some enjoy heavier bullying focus with verbal humiliation and face-slapping, or degradation play such as pissing, etc. To each their own form, but there is nonetheless a pattern and rhythm, and a way this rhythmic cadence makes them feel.
So how does a masochist differ from a submissive then?
The difference of a submissive is that they enjoy pleasing their Mistress, and genuinely care whether she is happy or displeased. I call a submissive a "sub placeur", with placeur meaning "pleasing".
My father - a submissive - used to say "for you I kill ze bull", meaning "for you - anything", like a matador he would slay the bull for me. Much like a chivalrous knight who would slay a dragon for the Lady, a submissive stands at the ready to serve - and please - his Mistress.
Edmund Leighton "The Accolade" (1901)
If you ask a submissive what he's into or what he wants, the answer is often "I want to do what you want to do Mistress". And although this can be frustrating to a Mistress, he is answering in integrity with his identity. They defer frequently to the Mistress.
By contrast, a masochist doesn't relate particularly at all really to the chivalrous knight. To a masochist this kind of thinking is weak and sappy. A masochist is in it for what he wants, to be Dominated to his fantasy, and is self-orientated or self-centred actually in this regard, and he thinks cynically that's true of all people.
A masochist also only wants to "submit" when he's in the mood, at times that suit. Otherwise he's liable to get very grumpy, complain or refuse when the opportunity's there but he's not in the mood. And he needs the algorithm that I elaborated above: the overpowering, the entrapment, strong-arming, the wants you in the sexy powerful attire. And it's really all about them (the masochist).
Now I should additionally qualify this by explaining a submissive does also often enjoy many of the same things, but the difference is that for him that's a bonus to get that "play", and there's a sense of caring about the woman and pleasing her that is the foundation of a submissive's inclinations.
So how does a masochist differ from a slave then?
A true slave, or "nomis slave" or "titilus slave" as I'll likely call them in my forthcoming book, wants to be owned - their ideal would be 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), and given clear duties, role, place, security.
In stark contrast to Leopold von Sacher Masoch's what I would call "mock slavery" (eg I'll be your slave, during these hours, but you can never enter into my office, and you shall wear my fetish, and whip me, and fulfil my fantasy as scripted and as I manipulate and bribe you to do, etc), a real slave feels that they are a slave as their true identity and wants to be owned and to find an owner who can fulfil their needs.
I recently posted a blog post of some writing by the late (deceased) slave david stein, that explains well what a slave needs. (Direction, discipline and service, explains slave david stein.)
Image: slave david stein
I think in many eras, slaves may well have joined an abbey as a monk to get the kind of sense of place, purpose, duties that they feel most fulfilled by. And indeed the book "The Rule of Saint Benedict" written in around the year 516, for monks living with the authority of an abbot - reads very much like a slave-training manual.
Whereas such a life would not suit a masochist at all; he only wants the play of being a slave when he's in the mood for it, and it involves the ingredients that capture his fantasy of Domination.
So although a masochist may call himself a "submissive" or "slave", and these terms get thrown about readily and mixed up frequently in the BDSM scene, due to misunderstandings also of the term's meanings, and he is not in fact either of these things. And they often don't identify with masochist as they think it means someone who enjoys pain, whereas many masochists don't enjoy pain per se, but rather being beaten down by the Dominant (with pain hits).
And it's one of the reasons I plan to rename the psychology typologies in my new book forthcoming, to get greater clarity of the way people self-identify.
Psychology typologies by Anne O Nomis
submissive --> sub placeur (meaning pleasing submissive) someone who takes their pleasure from pleasing their Mistress and submitting to their Mistress
slave --> nomis slave (meaning name slave)* or titilus slave (title slave)* someone who takes their pleasure from being owned, having duties, discipline, a place, security.
masochist --> supersensual machinator (meaning supersensual + artful plotter)** someone who takes their pleasure from drawing invested punishment and humiliation from their Mistress, and bumping her to get their fetish and fantasy of being strong-armed into submission.
fetishist --> someone who takes pleasure from play with their fetish
kinkster-hedonist --> someone who takes their pleasure from explorative play with kinks and hedonism (and may not be submissive or Dominant but happy to play in either role or switching)
* I am undecided of which of the two slave terms to go with, whether nomis slave (name slave) or titulus slave (title slave), and wish to see which uptakes better with slaves themselves. I don't have ego invested in the "nomis" - it means name rather than referring to my psuedonym Anne O Nomis. The word "anonymous" itself being "without" + "name".
** The term supersensual was the term that Leopold von Sacher Masoch used himself in his book 'Venus in Furs' when its character Severin is describing his own inclination. In German this is rendered as übersinnlich (supersensual), with associations to supernatural, the awe of the magical sorcery-like sensual fetishistic effect.
Are all masochists "Do Me subs"? Do they all scribe and prescribe how you should Dominate them?
No, not all masochists are "Do-Me subs" in scribing and prescribing what they want - but a lot to be fair - do do this.
Some - newbies in particular - don't yet know themselves well enough what they want exactly other than to be "Dominated". As they begin experimenting and some things "work" on them and others "don't", they begin to start bumping towards that which does have the magical sorcery effect upon them, and they can't help but manipulating or scribing this then, to try and get better what they want.
Some masochists have learnt how to be subtle in their manipulations, "gifting" her the fetish they want her to wear, suggesting in nudging ways. Some masochists who are seeing professional Dominatrices or very experienced lifestyle Mistresses feel confident and trusting enough in her knowledge and understandings that they can to a greater degree leave it down to her, because she's doing the algorithm largely anyway which is getting the desired effect. Or by giving her a certain amount of information that is enough to indicate the direction they want to go, and reminding her of their fetish preferences.
However it's true that many masochists do indeed present as "Do Me subs" with tactics of dictating what they want in order to get that magical effect and submission they yearn for.
And as Mistress may have previously had or seen a genuine submissive - who was happy to please Her and much more pliable around the content of the session play - she may get very confused then trying to understand this "do-me sub" or sub who is actually a masochist using the wrong hat to title himself.
The masochist may feel they need to explain to a Mistress clearly that they're not much into doing things like cleaning for her, or doing things for her that are not on their fantasy erotic fetishistic wavelength.
Here's another email from a masochist masquerading as a submissive.
My name is _____ (deleted for privacy),
I am a submissive 34 years old and I would like to meet you for a switch session, as far as I am concerned you can inflict the following punishments on me:
insults, slaps, shoe licking, whip, swift bondage, torture of the nipples and parts, kicks and knees in the parts, pissing, wax, dildo or strap-on.
What are the procedures for meeting you?
Do you see the scribing and prescribing of exactly the activities he wants? Do you see the ingredients I refer to in my algorithm, and indeed in another email was what the Mistress should wear. (For quick referral, a reminder that the algorithm was:
Sexy powerful clothing with fetish effect is worn or wielded
+ lowering (of man / person)
+ Invocation of awe
+ they (the masochist) has the invested attention of Dom
+ Bringing under control (by bondage or other)
+ Overpowering / strong-arming
+ the 4 Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Ignoring attention of for periods
+ Beating down (eg whipping, bullying) with "hits" of pain
+ more of 4Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Proximity privilege (such as body worship)
+ Begging / bargaining / plea for release
+ Delayed gratification
--> Ending, reward, release & liberation (could end with denial, with caning, with sexual release or ruined orgasm, worship, or numerous other ways)
This email evidences another very good exemplar of the "Do-Me sub" that the Mistresses of my dungeon of internship would have referred to, and who in my framework of thinking - is a masochist (supersensual machinator) and not a sub.
Masochists often are quite capable of switching, and often do so in order to direct the content and activities exactly as they want. Indeed many masochists switch to playing Dominant role, which might seem odd to many seeing they want purportedly to submit, but it evidences exactly why a masochist isn't a submissive. They want that algorithm above. They "bump" the Mistress in the direction of what they want. They scribe, prescribe, direct, unless by chance she's already doing what they're into. (Such as you may get with an experienced pro-Domme who's so used to the activities and rhythm that she autopilots to it.)
And often frustrated by things not quite going as they want, some masochists opt to switch in order to get the exact content they want, to gain pleasure in both the Directing of the scene as well as vicariously in what the person subbing for them will be feeling.
It's for this reason that the term "sado-masochist" is often used as a further identification to explain the switching from masochist-sub-bottom into the alternative role of directing-sadist-top.
The problem for heterosexual male masochists - here's what women want.
I feel empathy for masochists (supersensual machinators) because they're often misunderstood, or end up frustrated or confused, or sad or let down, or find it hard to find a life partner who can fulfil their needs. And not all, because I know some who are happy and indeed a few such couples come to Villa Domme each year.
However part of the reason that they find it hard often to find what they want, to be dominated as per their hopes or fantasy, with the activities and rhythm they need to get to that delicious place they want to go, is that it's not perfectly aligned or even well-aligned with the activities that most lifestyle female Dominants want.
As a reminder, and I've written a post on this, here are the favourite activities of 43 lifestyle Female Dominants, averaged from the ratings they gave out of 10 for each activity. This is from Elise Sutton's book 'Searching for Wanda', but graph my own creation to visualize the data more clearly in this form:
At the very far end of this graph are many of the activities that masochists want - the more sadistic activities, cock and ball torture, humiliation play (including verbal bullying), corporal punishment and bondage.
Up the top rated activities end of the graph are things which please the woman. Domestic servitude - having the man do the washing, ironing, vacuuming. On body worship the masochist may well be into, orgasm control too. But then her controlling finances and having final authority? The masochist likes to be in control, and I don't know of any example where he's gone along with this, although I'm not saying there are none - it would be very rare for a true masochist to agree to that.
It's the perpetual conundrum for masochists, they say want to submit and give up power, but they don't actually want to give up power and give over actual real power to the woman.
They more want mock power play, once a week or a few times a week, when they're in the mood for it - most typically.
But it's very confusing for the woman because you often say you're a submissive, and say you want to be her slave and plaything, and yet when she goes to take power - orders you to do household chore - you say "no, not like that, I mean sexy stuff, like be cruel to me and can you put on that outfit and then whip me. But now harder. Then ignore me, and like taunt me..." etc.
So what's the answer to this conundrum? Communication. Compromise. Put energy into your Mistress one way or another, because you are zapping a lot of energy out of her, and ultimately that's not sustainable.
If you're seeing a professional Dominatrix, why not just be honest and tell her you're more of a masochist in the sense of wanting (insert algorithm) and be appreciative of her service, knowledge and craft abilities to facilitate that, and pay her appropriately and well? They need the equipment, the attire, the knowledge to execute this. It's a specialist occupation because it's quite complex doing that.
For a lifestyle Mistress, she's not being paid and she's unlikely to fully understand your psychology. So you're going to need to explain with clarity. Be patient that she will take time to "get it". Positively reinforce and compliment when she's doing things your really like. Don't complain and be negative as this will just lower her self-esteem and make her feel unconfident and incompetent and lower morale, and have her potentially want to give up. And a relationship is two ways, not only about getting your fantasy sexual needs met. Treasure her, invest in her, support her, respect her, and importantly - consider her needs and wants, and not only your own.
I suggest don't be a "Do Me" sub.
Allow space for the Mistress's wants too, come at it as a pre-scene negotiation rather than a pre-scene dictation. Find your mutual areas of cross-over and wider willingness. Be honest and frank if possible, rather than manipulative.
Realise and recognize that your needs extract a lot of energy to meet, so ensure you're putting energy back in somehow - whether financially, or domestic labour, or other genuine giving of energy into and towards your Mistress that is not all about yourself. Why would you want to do this? Because bottom line if you don't you'll drain her of energy, of enthusiasm, lower her self-esteem and confidence over time, and you won't find her sexy or powerful or able to dominate you any more if that occurs.
The higher she is, the more you'll worship and respect her.
And because on some level, you believe in the cause of Female Dominance and in the power of women, because a very real manifestation of that captured your imagination and eroticism in the first place. Am I right?
Over and out.
x Anne O Nomis
PS If you want to talk to me more about this topic, I do offer private Zoom consults and now have an online booking system in place in order that you can book, and I also teach classes which cover such topics which are FemDom orientated and open to people of all genders and sexualities.
I also host 'Villa Domme' held in Europe each June, where Doms and subs / slaves / masochists fly in from around the world to attend and live the lifestyle with classes, activities, dinners and drinks for 7-10 days. www.villadomme.com (Note for 2021 we're in a castle rather than a villa, so technically Castle Domme.)
The following is an article written by slave david stein, who sadly passed away in 2017. (The lowercase form of his name is intentional and not be corrected, in the same line as the poet e e cummings, as david stein self-identified in lowercase in keeping with his identity as a slave.)
I wrote an obituary on david stein on 13 October 2017. Although I didn't know him personally in "real life", we were members of the same online groups and posted on each other's threads and freely shared information and ideas with each other. Over the years since his death, many of the work he'd posted online has had the links no longer work as presumably his own website domain and the "bearboy" domain weren't renewed. Many other BDSM and kink website resource domains have meanwhile become inactive, with broken links, error messages and redirection to domain sellers. I fear that some important information is at risk of being lost from the community.
So I wish to repost david's article here, titled "What a Slave Needs: personal view by slave david stein" (written in 1997), and I believe it would be with david's blessing from my interactions with him and our mutual sharing of views, ideas and writing. At the time of writing this, the article is also available presently at Ambrosio's BDSM site at evilmonk.org, (which is an excellent resource and I hope stays around a long time) at: https://www.evilmonk.org/a/slvneed.cfm and in case that ever goes down - will also be preserved here for posterity for the BDSM community.
Like david stein, I shared a view on the distinguishing of the "slave" - who wants to be owned, to have duties, clarity, purpose and place to and with their owner Master / Mistress, - as distinguished (in my view) from the "submissive" who takes pleasure from pleasing their Dominant and submitting.
For david stein, the "needs" of a slave were direction, discipline and service, as he explains and elaborates in this historic 1997 article.
What a Slave Needs: personal view by slave david stein
Some late-night thoughts i felt were worth sharing:
slaves, and those who seek to be slaves, are constantly advised not to be self-centered and not to focus on our needs and desires but rather those of others. And this can be good advice when a would-be slave is so focused on fantasies of what a Master will look like, act like, and do to the slave that he loses sight of what he will do for the Master or bring to the relationship. As i've said before - and no doubt will say again, here or elsewhere - being a full-time sex toy / captive / whipping boy almost never actually happens, and if that's what slavery means to you, 99% of the real-life Masters out there will be terribly disappointing.
But aside from that lesson, there's another, more subtle lesson about slave "selfishness" that's only now becoming clear to me, which is that someone who's looking to become a slave, or remain a slave, needs to be ruthlessly *selfish* about getting his or her slave needs met. By this i don't mean the basic needs of life for food, shelter, clothing, employment, social contacts, and a degree of affection. We all need that, whether we're slaves or Tops or boys or vanilla. Rather, i mean the things that feed and strengthen a slave's slavery: things like direction, discipline, and service. About these there can be no compromise, because when they are lacking in a slave's life, slavery itself cannot long be sustained.
The popular conception is that slaves are people who are forced to obey a Master's orders, and many slaves also fantasize being forced. Being obedient is held to be the opposite of freedom, and the negative connotations of "slavery" largely consist in this lack of freedom.
This no doubt was true of many or most coerced slaves in history. It is not true of consensual slaves today. Those who become slaves today in the U.S., Europe, and the rest of the developed world do so not because they are being forced to obey, but because they positively *need* to obey. Obedience is the voluntary slave's lifeblood. To obey is not our cross but our joy! We only ask to be given the opportunity.
And that's where direction comes in. Any idiot can tell someone else what to do! Lots of people are bossy or domineering or pushy. That's not what can satisfy a slave's need to obey, not in the long run, because people who are merely bossy tend not to be very consistent or intelligent about what they tell others to do; they operate on whim. The more perfectly you obey someone like that, the more likely you are to get into trouble, because today's order may contradict yesterday's or undermine tomorrow's. You can drive a dog or a child insane with contradictory orders; is a slave any less sensitive?
Ideally, what slaves need - whether they're aware of *wanting* it or not! - is clear direction, firm goals, consistent rules, unambiguous orders. And it takes a Master with great presence of mind, intelligence, self-control, and self-understanding to provide that kind of environment.
The most common slave fantasy is probably of being punished, but i think the erotic charge of this is really a metaphor for discipline, which is not the same as punishment. Discipline is controlled behavior; punishment is simply a means, and not often a very good one, of achieving discipline. Just as slaves need to obey, we need to follow rules and to push ourselves to live up to some ideal. i think every (voluntary) slave *wants* to be "the perfect slave" in some sense, and we need - as much as we need air and water --someone to hold out that ideal before us and challenge us to live up to it, even knowing that we'll never actually achieve it.
If it were easy to be a slave, if anyone could do it, what would be the point? If there were no sacrifice involved, if it required nothing "above and beyond" ordinary life as a bottom-oriented leatherman or leatherdyke, why bother?
slavery is a demanding, challenging vocation, or calling, and its challenges cannot end once the slave enters into service with a Master. The Master must provide a continual challenge as well as an environment in which the slave's discipline and dedication are continually honed. To this end, many Masters institute various rituals and protocols for their slaves to follow. These are misunderstood, i think, if they are examined too literally, and especially if the point is taken to be the inculcation of a worshipful attitude toward the Master's person. The point is to enable the slave to develop a worshipful attitude, period. Giving the slave a framework by which to live a disciplined life of respect and dedication is the point, not feeding the Master's ego.
Nonetheless, at the very prosaic level of "enforcement of rules," a Master who does not notice or care about infractions is one who is shirking His duty toward His slave. It is not necessary to punish, but it is necessary to take notice of the lapse and deal with it in *some* definite way. slaves need to feel the Master's eye on them continually, until it is internalized. If He cannot or will not provide discipline, He has no business owning a slave, just as a parent who will not provide it for a child is unfit for that role.
While there are no end of fantasies about obedience and discipline, most slaves only fantasize about *sexual* "service" - but that is typically the lesser part of a full-time slave's service. Indeed, the difference between a slave and a bottom may turn on the willingness, even eagerness, to serve in nonsexual ways. (As i once read in a personal ad, "I don't clean my own apartment - why should I clean yours?" If you have to ask, you'll never understand.)
Difficulties arise when Masters, or slaves, confuse service with being used. The difference is subtle but critical. Perhaps it is the difference between "being used" and "being useful." Being used has a very negative connotation for most people, and i suspect that in cases where it has a strong erotic charge, it refers more to the categories of direction and discipline than service. That is, what is exciting about "being used" is being obedient and controlled, transcending your own ego and its selfish pleasures to be an instrument of someone else's will. That doesn't *have* to be a humiliating, demeaning, or degrading experience - it can be an exhilarating and liberating one.
Being useful, in contrast, is something that most people do find pleasurable and rewarding -- slaves more than others. It is the sense of "right employment," of expending your life energies in a good and satisfying way. The joy of service is the feeling of having "made a difference" in some part of the world, however small.
When Masters think of a slave's service purely in terms of having him at Their beck and call to fulfill any whim or transient desire, They trivialize the slave's slavery and undermine his ability to continue that way of life. On the contrary: a case could be made that the main reason Masters even exist is to provide slaves with an opportunity to serve to the best of their abilities! Whether you accept that view or not, a Master who neglects or wastes a slave's talents is worse than a fool; it is a form of abuse as serious as physical harm or neglect.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for a Master is to determine how a given slave can best serve Him, and to reconsider the matter again and again as the slave grows, learns, and develops. This is not to say that any particular service should be beneath any particular slave - we can all benefit from taking a turn at menial chores. Nonetheless, a slave needs to feel, overall, that he is fulfilling his potential for service, or he will not remain content in his slavery for long.
In conclusion, the lesson i'm trying to convey is that slaves need to look out for ourselves in terms of making sure that our needs for direction, discipline, and service get fulfilled. No matter how sexy a potential Master may be, no matter how many of your fetishes He matches and BDSM buttons He pushes, if there's no clear evidence that He'll provide for your basic needs *as a slave*, look elsewhere. By the same token, a potential Master who's not your wet dream but can offer an environment of clear direction, firm discipline, and opportunities for challenging and satisfying service deserves at least a second look.
Hope this is helpful to someone!
As the author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' book, and as a well-known BDSM and Dominatrix educator, I have been receiving emails for years and years around whether I would offer online Dominatrix Mistress training in the Seven Realm Arts™ certificate course. And I have exciting news for you all - that the answer is now "yes".
Online Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ certificate course (for International and domestic students)
The online Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ certificate course is something that International students had been emailing and asking of Anne for years. Many of her students were flying in for her Melbourne course from all around Australia - from Adelaide, Sydney, Gold Coast, Perth and other regions, as well as flying in from overseas from Thailand, New Zealand and Canada to Australia - just to take her weekend course. Such was Anne's reputation and word-of-mouth from students who had graduated to their friends and the shift in their knowledge and confidence.
Anne's former reluctance to offering an online course was out of concern for her privacy of being on camera, and on protecting herself and her intellectual property reserved for those who were true seekers of the knowledge and who would be respectful around privacy. Then there was also the cost of filming an online course with a videographer, and the significant workload of putting together all the resources and knowledge into a course that would work online, to the high quality that Anne would want for herself and for her students.
However in March 2020, due to Coronavirus pandemic and with a course imminently approaching, Anne began rapidly working around-the-clock to have a professional videographer film her giving her workshops, editing the rich content, and pairing this with other resources and adding live group videoconferencing for live Q&As. The feedback has been resoundingly positive, with 5 star reviews in anonymous feedback forms, and Anne feels she is succeeding in her aim of delivering a really high quality course through online mode and is thrilled with the success of her students.
NEW DATES for the Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ certificate course
Group course - Begins 20th February 2021
To enrol: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/events-workshops-consultation/products/beginning-20th-february-2021-group-international-online-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course
Fully-supported Individual course - begins whenever you wish to begin
To enrol: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/events-workshops-consultation/products/individual-fully-supported-online-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course
WEEKLY ZOOM LIVE Q&AS - TWO STREAM OPTIONS FOR GROUP COURSE
For the group class, you receive the filmed class and weekly resources in time to begin on Saturday February 20th to watch anytime over the weekend or Monday at your leisure, and then attend the live Zoom Q&As with Anne O Nomis on Tuesday each week. The Zoom calls are offered on two different streams, to accommodate people in different time zones and countries around the world:
Stream 1 weekly live Zoom Q&As with Anne O Nomis option - on Tuesday 23rd February 2021 at 10 am on Melbourne Australia time & weekly at this time. To convert to your local time enter your city into the blue bar here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?iso=20210222T230000&p1=152
Stream 2 weekly live Zoom Q&As with Anne O Nomis option - on Tuesday 23rd February 2021 at 4 pm on Melbourne Australia time & weekly at this time. To convert to your local time enter your city into the blue bar here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?iso=20210223T050000&p1=152
COST FOR 8 WEEK GROUP COURSE
The course is run through Passionfruit Sensuality Shop in Melbourne, Australia, where I've run the in-person course for 5 years with positive reviews, and is priced in Australian dollars. Now the exchange rate fluctuates daily of course, but to give you an approximate idea at the price of the 8 week course, at the time of writing this:
AUD $ UK pound Euro USD $
$1080 approx 600 pounds 665 Euro US $790
But please check the latest exchange rate at: https://www.xe.com as the rate fluctuates daily.
COST OF INDIVIDUAL FULLY-SUPPORTED COURSE*
*with individual 1-on-1 Zooms with Anne O Nomis herself weekly so you get her all to yourself on your weekly Zoom call for 8 weeks, & get to start the course on whenever date you wish. The time of the Zoom will be negotiated with Anne O Nomis to work in with her schedule and your own requirements to find a mutually-agreeable time slot.
AUD $ UK pound Euro USD $
$1980 approx 1,100 pounds 1220 Euro US $1450
But please check the latest exchange rate at: https://www.xe.com as the rate fluctuates daily.
Introductory & Framework for Play
Covering Inanna's people, philosophy of large heart and open mind, ascertaining interests, methods of questionnaires, questions, sex map, interest cross-over, medical conditions affecting play, mitigating risks, SSC vs RACK, what to do when things go wrong.
Realm Art I - The Art of the Sublime & Powerful Woman
Covering archetypes, role models of female sexual power, stepping into power, body language and energetics of power, title command, claiming your rightful throne and position above them, etc.
Realm Art II - The Art of lowering the man (or person) to submission
Covering different psychologies of men who enjoy to submit or BDSM activities - including submissives, slaves, masochists, fetishists, kinksters, etc. What makes them tick and from where they take their pleasure. And on how to physical lower and status lower a male (or person) in relation to you in the power dynamic play, combined with proximity privilege.
Realm Art III - The Art of bondage, entrapment & enclosure
Covering different forms of bondage, why men find it paradoxically free-ing to be put into bondage and thus escape their everyday role, and covering bondage equipment and basic bondage wrist ties, decorative slave body harnesses, and cock-and-ball ties.
Realm Art IV - The Art of training, discipline and punishment
Covering discipline, forms of corporal punishment and how to safely use impact equipment, warm-up spanking, use of paddles, straps and strops, canes, etc.
Realm Art V - The Art of in-body and out-of-bodily
Covering the use of blindfolds, gags, sensory deprivation techniques, use of plugs and pegging, electrics and Violet wand ray, urethral sounds, etc.
Realm Art VI - The Art of cross-dressing, transformation & subversion
Covering the use of cross-dressing from use of panties and stockings for eroticism and sensuality, through to those who desire androgyny as a creative soup escape from fixed gender roles such as rock stars often do, through to more comprehensive cross-dressing and gender transformation.
Realm Art VII - The Art of fetish & fantasy
Covering the process of fetish formation in pre-adolescence most typically by an experience which combines fear, arousal and taboo, and was found thrilling and chilling with awe involved, and wired a fetish for life. A discussion of most common fetishes - leather, latex, PVC, stiletto boots or heels, and feet, as well as more rare fetishes, and how to play with fetish and weave it into fantasy.
In case of Anne being sick for any week, there is always a standby date allocated as part of the contingency planning.
The course comprises:
* Filmed and professionally edited workshop presentations streaming to students at the same time weekly (at the 2 hourly class time window; each video around 1 hour, 40 mins in length, followed by live videoconference time)
* Live Group videoconference with Anne immediately after watching the class, with live Q&As from students
* Resources, readings and diagrams each week for the 8 weeks of the course
* Extended optional readings for those seeking to "deep dive" into a particular topic.
* Homework issued each week to undertake relevant exercises and practice as directed by Anne.
* Live Zoom Q&As with Anne O Nomis herself each week for 8 weeks.
* Graduation with Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ course certificate signed by Anne O Nomis.
* (NB: Certificate is for those who have demonstrated their mastery / "Mistressery" of the topics. Anne reserves of course the right to not issue a certificate to anyone not completing their work and not applying themselves to the course and acquiring the knowledge and undertaking their homework.)
8 x 3 hours comprising video classes, reading, exercises, Live Zoom Q&As with Anne O Nomis and homework.
And for any questions or queries, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
x Anne O Nomis
A whipstress with wings (or priestess-initiator) from the Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii, prior to c79 AD (eruption of Mt Vesuvius burying Pompeii in ash)
I've been giving some thought lately to "comfortable Dominatrix fetish attire".
It's a conundrum facing many Mistresses who conduct long sessions of 3+ hours. The attire so strongly associated with the fetish Dominatrix include thigh high stiletto boots with 6 inch talon spike heels, which it may come as a shock to slaves to hear - but are not all that comfortable to walk around in.
Not only are thigh high stiletto boots not all that comfortable to wear (shocker) but they're also potentially putting Mistresses in some danger, as they are usually in sole responsibility of a slave in bondage or suspension, and should the Mistress slip or mis-step and fall over, worst-case she's at risk of knocking herself unconscious on hard flooring while her slave is otherwise incapacitated. A more common occurrence is of course the Mistress slipping and injuring herself, and having to tend to her own medical care and potentially call off the session. And for those who think this is unlikely, I can tell you having interviewed so many Dominatrices for my book ('The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'), almost all could recount having slipped over in their stiletto boots or shoes in a dungeon accident, and I've been personally present when a Mistress slipped and fell down stairs in the dungeon, with me accompanying her to the A&E department of the nearby hospital. While falls can happen to anyone, wearing thigh high stiletto boots certainly increases the likelihood. (Not to mention the possibility of a drop of silicone lube on the bottom of a boot or dungeon floor.)
Thigh high stiletto leather boots - they look amazing, but ask any Mistress how they feel to wear them for a 3+ hour session!
One very senior London Mistress (with more than three decades in the business) said to me in an interview years back, that if she could give one piece of advice to young Mistresses it would be to not wear stiletto heels constantly. She says she has permanent issues with her hips and knees, has had multiple surgeries as a result of throwing out her posture from constantly wearing corsets and "6 inch "killer heels".
Sure this comment is anecdotal, but it's a theme I've heard repeated by many senior Mistresses.
Another one is how impractical the full latex catsuit is for long sessions, particularly in Summer, as latex doesn't allow the skin to breathe, so you essentially end up "sweating like a dog" and becoming very dehydrated in session. By the time the Mistress takes off her catsuit at the end of the session, there's an accumulation of sweat caught in the catsuit which streams like a river out the bottom as she removes it.
Similarly the tightlace fully boned corsets laced up until the Mistress is what's called "a bout de souffle" (without breath / breathless) are also not ideal for long sessions, and impede to some degree her physical movements in session.
Wearing a corset for a very extended period of time is associated with lower back pain and risk of muscle atrophy, including pectoral muscles, which in turn cause a greater reliance on the corset. The internal organs have to physically move, and this has been found on MRI scans to affect the large intestine in particular and the transverse colon, with the stomach and liver above the waistline. And as the Victorians were aware, tight-laced corsets made it more difficult to eat and could cause indigestion and constipation. The lower lobes of the lungs are potentially put under higher strain due to constriction of tight lacing. The blood pressure is increased by 6-15%.
Historical tight-lace corset in the Edwardian era
German Dominatrix Cora Korsett, circa 1970s who practised waist-training with corsets and here also wears a posture collar around her neck.
While the tight-lace corset achieves undeniable visual effect well-suited to fetishists, the practicalities of conducting sessions can make tight lace corset-wearing less than ideal for Domination arts - with its activities requiring a high degree of focus and attention to the job, dexterity and movement.
As Goddess Alexandra Snow (On Twitter: @DominaSnow ) noted, "Professional domination is the only profession for which the "expected" wardrobe is unsuitable for the work."
I have known a few Dominatrices whose discipline and dedication, paired with fitness and endurance - would see them don fetish outfits and stiletto boots for long periods (Mistress Tokyo from Sydney would be one of those), but I think they are exceptions rather than the rule. Most Mistresses struggle and speak of that struggle amongst their peers.
There are some "tricks" and work-arounds they often share, such as blindfolding or hooding their slave, and getting the slave strapped down on a bondage bench, before sneakily removing their stiletto heels or boots. They then put them back on very quietly at some point towards the end of the session, before they remove his blindfold or hood, so that the slave is (hopefully) none the wiser and has only seen them immaculately kitted out in the full fetish look.
Many say they get kitted up in the most fetishistic but impractical gear for their photo shoots, but don't actually wear the items sessioning in, because they're so damn uncomfortable and not functional for the activities they need to do in session.
It's a real skill and challenge therefore to find the holy grail of Domination gear - that looks fabulous and fetish but is also comfortable (relatively speaking) for hours of sessioning.
On 20 February 2020, I put the question out to Twitter....
And synthesising the feedback on Twitter and in private messages, here's some ideas I can share with all of you, dear readers.
Comfortable Dominatrix Attire Suggestions
1) A Leather Boiler Suit
This was the suggestion of @TheLadyNess, who herself wears a leather boiler suit for comfort. It has something of the catsuit look about it, but it relaxed fit. It has its origins in the Coveralls worn by mechanics, bricklayers, and tank crews to protect their standard clothing. Similar to this design is the "Siren Suit" worn by Winston Churchill in the War era, to throw over clothing in an air raid to be able to stay comfortable, warm and modest. And as soon as it's made in leather and elevated, it becomes a thing of fetish and beauty. So to the idea of a Dominatrix leather Siren Suit? This should become a "thing".
Lady Ness in her Leather Boiler Suit (courtesy of @TheLadyNess )
2) A PVC kimono or a PVC dress
Mistress Fatale (On Twitter: @Mistress_Fatale ) wears a PVC kimono from TealeCoco (unfortunately now sold out), which she notes is essentially loungewear, referring to its comfort. It's shiny, it's fetish. It's also waterproof - as Mistress Fatale notes, with implications as you can imagine in terms of practicality. It also has that air of Orientalism and geisha artistry, deriving its design loosely from the Japanese kimono.
A PVC dress also came up in the recommendations, with Madame Caramel (On Twitter: @LadyCaramelXXX ) commenting in response - that her favourite comfortable outfit for a long session was a PVC dress with a front zip preferably. I speculate that the reason for a zip is in consideration to the ease of getting it on, and the zip also achieving a fetish function of that long line down its centre from crotch to bust line.
PVC kimono by TealeCoco recommended by @Mistress_Fatale
3) A stretch Spandex or PVC bodysuit
In contrast to the restriction and heat of leather catsuit and corset, or the sweatiness of a latex catsuit, if you change the garment fabrication to a stretchy spandex or PVC - and all of a sudden you have a comfortable but still very body-fitting and sexy piece of Dominatrix attire!
This was the preference of @Amikoland, who says "Depends on the kind of session, but I'm generally pretty happy in something like a bodysuit and heels that have a platform." The idea of a bodysuit was seconded by Siren Vandoll (Twitter: @thesensiren ) who commented - "Bodysuits are the best!"
A submissive who goes by the Twitter handle of @subdued_by_Her notes that a: "One-piece catsuit, opaque, but highlighting a woman's curves, spandex (or cotton/spandex) catsuit is the sexiest outfit imaginable, imo [in my opinion]. Also allows for freedom of motion and action." And he posted to the following image to me, of "Modesty Blaise".
4) A latex / rubber apron
Just as the latex fetishists reading might be despairing.... (with one Mistress noting she only ever wears latex for photo shoots but not for sessions), Dominatrix Mistrix Sade (On Twitter: @mistrixsade) offers hope to latex lovers everywhere when she describes her favoured outfit to wear for long sessions as:
"Rubber apron, fishnets, boots."
Love this as an idea. The rubber / latex apron has long been a "thing" within modern gay S/M culture, with a workman / butcher vibe going on.
Or depending on the length and style one chose, the apron could evoke the strict nurse.
And the best thing about latex aprons? They're easy to get on, comfortable to wear, and the skin gets to breathe, but the fetishist still gets their latex fix.
A latex "Playroom apron" by Libidex - great for Dommes too!
5) Vintage lingerie / girdle with suspender stockings
Good old lingerie, given a fetish twist - came up high in the answers.
Mistress Electra Amore (Twitter: @MzElectraAmore) said that her favourite outfit (in the context of sessioning for hours) was: "Vintage style girdle or modern Fetish style bra & knickers with a waist clincher + heels & stockings."
The vintage girdles she refers to can be found in the odd second-hand clothing or opportunity shop, as well as on Etsy and Ebay. They often come in peach and skin colours, and were popular in the era around the 1940s in particular.
Example of a c1940s era peach coloured girdle with lace up and suspender belt.
There are also contemporary lingerie stores such as What Katie Did in the United Kingdom who do vintage lingerie, and Kiss Me Deadly who do Femme Fatale style of lingerie.
The "Maitresse suspender belt" by What Katie Did is particularly popular amongst UK Mistresses. The word "Maitresse" also of course being French for "Mistress".
Maitresse suspender belt by What Katie Did
And the rest...
There were so many fabulous comfortable attire ideas that I haven't been able to cover them all in this list of 5.
But to wrap up this blog post, the others included:
- "Goddess robe and barefoot." (courtesy of Ophelia Margeaux. On Twitter: @MargauxOphelia )
- "Naked, or black skinny jeans and a cotton blouse." (courtesy of Mlle. Gateaux. On Twitter: @HerRoyalCakines )
- "Usually my black leather skirt + black leather bra + black shiny high heels pumps + black sheer stockings." (courtesy of Euryale. On Twitter: @Ms_Euryale )
- "It's got to be a set of thigh high boots with fishnet stockings and suspenders and a sexy bra, the rest I don't care about..." (courtesy of Gemma Jameson. On Twitter: @JamesonGemma )
- "Or nothing at all." (courtesy of Kitty du Jour. On Twitter: @KittyduJour )
- "The classic LBD, some sort of legwear (stockings, pantyhose fishnets - whatever strikes my fancy) and heels." (courtesy of Mistress Noel Knight. On Twitter: @msnoelknight )
- "Sexy short black cocktail dress that shows skin, but not too much. Pref with some sequins or embellishment, but yet hand-washable, and doesn't look cheap. Pair with leather gloves and boots or heels he finds most alluring. Thigh-highs go a long way." (courtesy of Miss Margo Adler. On Twitter: @PiecesofMargo )
- "Black leggings and a sheer black blouse with a black lacy bralette under, no shoes. Or a nice, comfortable black cocktail dress, again, no shoes. Body stockings are sexy and comfortable too." (courtesy of Lucille Lockley. On Twitter: @LucilleLockley )
- "Bodystocking." (courtesy of Mistress Evilyne. On Twitter: @MsEvilyne )
- "Strapless body, corset, thigh high boots". (courtesy of Mistress Bliss. On Twitter: @MistressBliss )
- "I generally just wear jeans, t-shirt, boots and lingerie, and maybe lose some of the outer layers depending on the scene. I'm all about comfort." (Sir Claire Black. On Twitter: @SirClaireBlack )
- "Pants. N NOT FRIGGEN HEELS." (Miss Honey Anal verkehr. On Twitter: @misshoneyanal )
So there you have it folks. Some gold nuggets of advice on fetish Dominatrix attire from those with experience around the topic.
And hopefully any subs and slaves reading this might consider to be a little more empathetic of their Mistress and what she goes through in terms of the discomfort in wearing traditional fetish attire. And perhaps, in consideration, let Her know that you're happy for Her to dress for Her comfort.
x Anne O Nomis
In Australia, I've found to my shock and horror (I mock), that submissives over here don't tend to understand the afternoon tea ritual which is so commonly practised by lifestyle Mistresses - and to a degree professional Dominatrices.
Suffice to say that I've found it necessary to write an entire blog post on afternoon tea so that the submissives reading will hopefully "get it".
A brief history of afternoon tea
In England, "afternoon tea" is part-meal and part-ritual.
When the Portugese Princess Catherine of Breganza married King Charles II, she is credited with bringing with her the tradition of tea drinking to Britain. And although earlier references to tea can be found, it's likely that her arrival and enjoyment of tea helped ensure its popularity.
However "afternoon tea" as a ritual meal was reportedly started in 1840, when Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, was visiting Belvoir Castle, she would get hungry in the afternoon; in the long gap between lunch and dinner at 7 or 8 pm. She requested that a tray of bread and butter and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. She began inviting friends to join her, and the Duchess of Bedford's afternoon tea became a ritual event.
Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, United Kingdom (Wikicommons)
If Belvoir castle looks familiar to you, that may be because it was used as a stand-in for Windsor Castle in the Netflix series 'The Crown'. In addition to being a location used in the 'Da Vinci Code', for 'The Young Victoria', and other films and TV programmes.
And just who was Anna Russell? She was a close friend of Queen Victoria, and Lady of the Bed Chamber between 1837 and 1841. She was also sister-in-law to the prime minister John Russell, being married herself to Francis Russell, the 7th Duke of Bedford.
In any case, the ritual of afternoon tea meal she enjoyed took off as an idea and a meal amongst the middle and upper classes.
Bread and butter evolved into dainty club sandwiches - it was reportedly the Earl of Sandwich who had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread. Scones served with clotted cream and preserves were common, alongside little cakes and pastries served on fine china. And of course it goes without saying - tea - from exotic climes of India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and China.
The afternoon tea tradition continued on through the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Francis Cadell 'Afternoon' (1913)
Richard Miller 'Afternoon Tea' Wikicommons image.
The special appeal of afternoon tea
The fanfare surrounding afternoon tea may seem rather strange to those from outside of England observing it. To quote the American author Alice Walker: "tea to the English is really a picnic indoors".
I've often heard it being referred to as convivial - meaning "friendly, lively, enjoyable". The word convivial is from the Latin convivialis, from convivium ‘a feast’, from con- ‘with’ + vivere ‘live’.
A friendly, social, lively feast is a good description of English afternoon tea. And it was (and is) a privileged affair. Established by royalty and aristocracy, who could spare the time in the afternoon to take this afternoon tea / meal, and with teas grown in far-away places and transported over vast distance.
Part of its appeal was tasting exotic flavours and variants from the romanticised Orient, and taking a fantasy voyage there as one sips the tea. Teas were traditionally held to have medicinal properties, and regardless of one's beliefs, there's certainly something comforting and soothing in drinking a well brewed cup of tea from dainty cups with delicious finger food. Even more so when enjoyed with friends in good company.
The food offerings are designed to pleasantly see to all desires for both savoury and sweet. Most commonly these are served on a multi-tiered cake stand, adding to the visual display and sense of pleasantry.
A traditional English afternoon tea with scones, clotted cream and jam, along with savoury offerings and sweet treats, served on a 3 tier cake stand.
How the afternoon (or 'high') tea became a #FemDom thing
I'm not sure myself even as a historian on the Dominatrix as to how long the tradition of afternoon tea for lifestyle Mistresses and Dominatrices goes back, but I imagine as far back as the tradition itself. As the Dominatrix embodies the Empress, Queen, Lady, and so forth in her play and role, it's only fitting that she receives good service, teas and treats from her submissives and servants.
The pleasure and leisure of the afternoon tea offerings also helps to put women into a state of "owning the want". Whereby they specify their desires and preferences, direct the service, to have the afternoon tea served and tea poured, and to adjudicate the performance of their submissive or slave or maid attendants. (There is plenty of opportunity for chastisement for the tea being too weak, too strong, the wrong amount of milk poured, or sugar put in, not following instructions, and so forth.)
The psychology of submissives is to want to please their Mistress, and the psychology of slaves is to be owned and have duties, so it makes complete sense then that both find suitable role in attending the Mistresses for afternoon tea. It provides a sense of occasion and event, for training, for playing out roles and the power dynamic of D/s. It also provides opportunity for "high protocol" if so desired. (I'll write a separate article in the future on "high protocol" in D/s Domination/submission dynamics in the future, in case there's people reading who are wondering what that is.)
The special event nature of the afternoon tea enables opportunity for dressing up in more elegant attire if one so wanted to do so. Tea dresses for Mistresses (or subversive or latex takes on the formal wear idea), or even period costume. Submissives in maid's outfits or servant's attire. I even know of a submissive turned into 'Miss Brown the scullery maid' complete with appropriate brown uniform for the job. Certainly cross-dressing and sissy maids work well for the afternoon tea ritual. And spankings and mild public humiliation tend to go hand-in-hand with the various misdemeanours committed by the attending submissives / servants / maids and butlers.
Part of Domination has also always been in subversion; taking social norms and rituals and playing with them in a carnivalesque kind of way. So a ritual established essentially by women, based on their desires and wants, and so up for the possibility of delightful subversion - was always going to fly in FemDom.
To see examples of the London FemDom High Tea Ball run by Madame Caramel, there's a weblink here: https://www.femdomball.com/femdom-high-tea-2019/
What do I need for a FemDom afternoon (or 'high') tea?
* Ideally an English-style tea set, with teapot, teacups and saucers, sugar bowl and milk jug. Traditionally these were bone china, and these days you can pick up second-hand sets on ebay auctions, or buy brand new tea sets from major department stores or specialist shops, depending on preference, style and budget. You can go traditional English rose or floral designs, Art deco designs, vintage 50s / 60s and 70s, or modern contemporary. Some famous brands are Royal Doulton, Paragon, Portmeirion, Royal Albert, Wedgwood, etc. You can even get subversive 'Naughty tea cups with Slut, Cunt or Cock inscribed. (see below)
Example of ebay listing for Royal Doulton 'Lady Carlyle' tea set
Naughty tea cup - available in 'Slut', 'Cock' or 'Cunt' from Passionfruit Sensuality Shop. Click here.
* A selection of teas, ideally loose-leaf. Traditionally this was a black tea which was a little less strong than English breakfast tea, however these days most places don't tend to follow such rigid rules, and English breakfast is commonly taken for afternoon tea. However multiple selections of teas are great to enable options and a taste of the world, from Earl Grey (black tea blended with bergamot oil), to smokey Lapsang Souchong (from China), to herbal teas such as Chamomile, to name but a few.
* Champagne. A relatively modern addition to the traditional afternoon tea, but decadence added of course!
* A three tier cake stand wouldn't go amiss either for setting the tone. The display adds to the mood and ritual feel of the afternoon tea. These come in a variety of styles from metal frames onto which you put the plates, to those with graduated plate sizes integrated with smallest sweets plate on top.
Examples of 3 tier cake stands.
* Finger sandwiches. Common fillings are cucumber, or egg (boiled egg mashed with mayonaise and dijon mustard), or salmon and dill, or crab, or chicken, etc. The crusts are cut off, and the sandwiches cut into finger size. And other savoury canapes commonly served also.
Finger sandwiches from Wikicommons.
* Scones served with clotted cream and jam. These can be raisin scones or plain scones, or lemon scones. Ideally baked freshly that day.
Scones from Wikicommons.
* Sweet treats such as little cakes and pastries.
Image from Wikicommons.
* And just to increase the indulgence one more step, some people serve up even more petits fours and chocolates at the very end. (Just in case anyone had any room left in their belly).
Note: I haven't gone into the differentiation between "afternoon tea" and "high tea", because I think people can get a bit snobby and wanky about it. Technically "high tea" was for workers who had to wait until after work to have their tea, by which time they needed more than cakes and wanted hearty substantial food after a day of hard labour, and so it was more of a meal and it was served at a high (usually normal dining) table. Confusingly, people might easily mix this up and think of high tea as the one that was the elevated and posh tea meal, when in fact the reverse was true. Afternoon tea was the posher tea for those with leisure time to have it at around 3.30 or 4 pm, while high tea was the working class meal with tea and served later after they finished work at around 6 pm and served at (high / normal) dining tables.
In New Zealand and Australia, the expression "afternoon tea" is used to refer to the short break for 15 mins in the afternoon at work around 3 pm for a quick cup of tea or coffee, also known as "afternoon smoko break". And so as a result, Australians and New Zealanders used the term "high tea" is used to describe the more formal affair that the English would call "afternoon tea". (Yes just to confuse you further.)
I personally don't worry too much what anyone wants to call it, or how they adapt it. After all, we're living in 2020, and it's a living tradition, so do it in any style you want. And you can call it formal afternoon tea, English afternoon tea, high tea, FemDom high tea, or whatever you wish.
It's your prerogative right as a FemDom to hold it at whatever time you like. You know the tradition, so you can make it, break it or subvert it - to suit your desires, preferences and D/s dynamic. And have fun and enjoy Your self.
x Anne O Nomis
I just finished teaching a Weekend Intensive format of the Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ class in Melbourne, which had sold out months in advance, and most of the students had flown in from all over Australia to take it. (Including two flying in Internationally - from Bangkok and New Zealand).
To try and ensure I keep my classes as wonderful as possible, I send out anonymous feedback survey for my students to fill in.
All but one student rated the course 5 out of 5 stars.
"The practical experience was great. Anne’s experience makes her a very credible teacher - also her approach- learn from mistakes, empathy etc made it a safe space for all."
"Anne is a wonderful educator. I was super nervous prior to attending the course but i felt comfortable straight away. Thank you."
"This course was incredibly informative and inspiring. Anne was an amazing teacher. I loved learning about the psychology & history behind BDSM. The hands-on experience using various implements was great, as getting real-life feedback is vital."
Thank you to my students - it was a pleasure to teach you all, and I appreciate the time you all took to fill in the detailed survey forms. Much appreciated.
NEW DOMINATRIX 'SEVEN REALM ARTS'™ CLASSES FOR 2020 JUST ANNOUNCED
With a long waitlist of people wanting to take the course, and pressure on to come up with some new course dates, I have met with Passionfruit Shop after the Summer holidays to set down new dates for 2020.
There will be two courses running in the first half of 2020.
OPTION 1: Weekly Thursday evening classes, beginning Thursday 26th March from 7 - 9 pm and every Thursday for eight weeks. To view and book this course: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/events-workshops-consultation/products/dominatrix-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course
OPTION 2: Weekend Intensive (Fly-in option), on Friday May 8th from 6 - 9 pm, Saturday May 9th from 10 am - 6 pm, and Sunday May 10th from 10 am - 6 pm. To view and book this course: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/events-workshops-consultation/products/beginning-may-8th-2020-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course-intensive
I've been teaching the course for nearly 5 years now, and it's such a pleasure to watch everyone develop as they acquire the knowledge, psychology understanding, framework for ascertaining interests, practical skills and confidence to apply them.
And due to popular request, I am also intending to run an Advanced class with practicum, and lower teacher-student ratio for more one-on-one support, in August 2020 in Gold Coast. (In planning and not yet officially announced).
I will also be giving a bunch of talks, 2 hour workshops and other events at Passionfruit Sensuality Shop in Melbourne. This year I am "in residence" this year in my Education Salon / office writing new books and beavering away.
For more information refer to Passionfruit's website: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/skills
x Anne O Nomis
Recently I've been teaching classes on some of the different psychologies of people within the BDSM scene and who report to Dominatrices and lifestyle Dominants; submissives, slaves, masochists and fetishists. I feel that this is one of the areas least understood, and which in Dominatrix training is remiss in being taught.
Today I want to write a bit about "slaves".
UNDERSTANDING THE DESIRE TO BE A SLAVE
ANNE'S QUALIFICATION AND CLARIFICATION OF "CONSENSUAL VOLUNTARY SLAVERY"
Firstly let me qualify the term "slave". I am of course speaking of consensual voluntary BDSM slavery in which the aspiring, desiring and self-identifying slave has sought out a slave position with a BDSM Master, Mistress or Dom, because they want to be a slave and to serve. (And not in other words been coerced, trafficked, involuntary or anything else of that nature.)
As David Schachter put it in the Introduction of his co-written book on Master/slave relationships: "this is a consensual relationship, and either can quit at any time. The Master has to make sure the slave is happier serving than not. Therein lays the drama and the difference between Master/slave and other relationships." (David Schachter "Introduction" in Ask the Man Who Owns Him: The real lives of gay Masters and slaves Perfectbound Press, New York, 2009, p.13)
Some slaves live in what's known as a "24/7 live-in relationship", which is an abbreviation for a 24 hours a day / 7 days a week relationship, living with their Mistress / Master / owner in their house.
While others live separately, and are only able to engage in their relationship part-time or sporadically due to other life or work commitments. For example some "slaves" seek training and service under a Dominatrix or lifestyle Mistress, which is fitted in within the rest of their life.
The "ideal" for a slave is typically to want to be in a 24/7 live-in full-time relationship, even if that seems a distant dream or fantasy for many.
Some will attempt to seek out a would-be owner / Mistress / Master / Dom(me), and negotiate a relationship, and even move locations geographically and change work places or quit their work in order to try and make it work. It would be folly though to do so without having really got to know and understand fully each other's needs and motivations, and the practicalities of how such an arrangement might work in the real world. It also takes a skilled Mistress / Master / owner / Dom(me) to manage well such a relationship due to the responsibility and skills required to make it work.
There are also practicalities (such as how are they going to be able to afford to live) which can get in the way of such desires, and other challenges which I will go in to within Part 2.
For this reason, many will practise such a dynamic on a much smaller or short-term scale, such as a day's slavery, weekend or week's slavery. In doing so, they learn more about their needs, capabilities, and about themselves and the Mistress / slave relationship dynamic.
Meanwhile, I want to talk about what's in it for both parties?
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE (consensual voluntary) SLAVE?
Everyone and every relationship is different, however some of the common themes which come up when slaves are asked about what's in it for them.
- Fulfils a need to serve and obey.
- Some (but by no means all) see it as a "calling".
- They may perceive being a slave as their identity and role, and holding deep / life meaning.
- Structure to their day and life, and a sense of purpose.
- Sense of security and belonging.
- Feeling of being cared for / protected.
- Love (may be qualified as love in a spiritual sense rather than romantic sense).
- Enjoy to be developed / trained / given direction and purpose / guidance by Mistress (Master / owner / Dom(me)).
- Excitement / play, and in some relationships this may be sexual use.
- Happiness and / or a sense of fulfilment.
From the other side, it's of course a huge responsibility for the owner / Mistress / Master / Dom(me) to take on, and many underestimate just how much is involved in keeping a slave happy, their needs fulfilled, and setting up their duties and structure in order for a M/s relationship to work.
So on the other side...
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE MISTRESS (OWNER / MASTER / DOM(ME))?
Again every individual and relationship is different, however some of the things that Mistresses (owners / Masters / Dom(mes) say they get out of the relationship with their slave is:
- Helps them in some way in life, for example service and support, cooking done, house cleaned, etc, with their slave as servant / caretaker / cleaner, etc.
- In some cases, a slave for BDSM activities / or sexual use of slave (but in some or many M/s relationships, the Mistress or Master does not have sex with their slave, nor do they necessarily have to engage in BDSM activities)
- Receiving slave's love and full devotion.
- Challenge and development of self-mastery and mastery of another person to understand them and to be able to operate and manage such a relationship. (Some see it as a sense of vocation to be a Master / owner, just as some slaves see their slave-calling as a vocation.)
- Entertainment / amusement
- A sense of achievement / accomplishment in being a successful Mistress / Master / slave owner over a prolonged period, working through issues and problem-solving as things in life come up for both parties.
- Happiness and / or a sense of fulfilment
Just how the Mistress / Master / owner / Dom(me) and slave make this type of relationship work is the topic I will explore for the next post. (Clue: A lot of communication, honesty and openness about their needs, clarity and structure around slave's duties, ability to potentially have to make some compromises to their fantasy for reality and make adjustments as needed to make it work in real life, values such as respect and understanding the other's needs, and more.)
Best, Anne O Nomis
Author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'
Host of Villa Domme
Titian’s painting ‘Venus with a Mirror’ which was inspiration for Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novella 'Venus in Furs'.
This is part 2 of a two series blog I wrote for Passionfruit Sensuality Shop. You can read Part 1 Female Domination: What Women Want by clicking here
PART 2: Leatherfolk and bringing discipline and clarity into Dom/sub relationships
In the 20th Century USA, returned servicemen and gay BDSM-loving men were amongst those who became part of a sub-culture known as "leathermen", or rather "leatherfolk" to take the more gender-diverse term. (As indeed it came to include a number of queer / feminist identifying participants, as well as heterosexual participants and diversified further over time.) One of the ways they signified their belonging to the sub-culture was in wearing leather - such as motorcycle leathers, as well as chaps and leather strap harnesses, and of course leather boots.
The writings of these leathermen / leatherfolk are very interesting for those who are interested in maintaining discipline and protocol within a Dominant / submissive relationship. The fact that there were so many returned servicemen amongst the 'Old Guard' which meant that their background influenced the high discipline, training and protocol tradition that a number of them extolled and practised. While for others amongst them, BDSM was about getting pleasure and getting off, with less formality and more clubbing. It is often said that there emerged something of a generational and cultural divide, between the Old Guard and the younger generation.
Knowing what you want.
Formal and disciplined, or informal and playful?
Role / activity?
For those pursuing FemDom relationships, these considerations remain relevant.
Are you wanting your own FemDom relationship to be quite formal, strict, clear roles, with discipline and respect? Or are you wanting a FemDom relationship which is less formal, with more joking around and skipping casually into play, and only being in "role" for playtime and events and that be the basis of what you train your partner for, and after orgasm the play is over and roles dropped? (Or by all means a different nuanced understanding which fits neither of these.)
Another interesting thing which came out of the gay S/M scene predominantly, was the use of hankie colours worn to indicate what an individual was in to. If only the world could be so clear about their desires!
It developed into a long list, but to abbreviate some of the key colour hankies and identities:
Black worn in left pocket = S/M topman
Black worn in right pocket = S/M bottom or Masochist
Red worn in left pocket = S/M fistfucker topman
Red worn in right pocket = S/M fistfucker bottom
Dark blue worn in left pocket = Wants to fuck another guy
Dark blue worn in right pocket = Wants to be fucked
Light blue worn in left pocket = Wants to have cock sucked
Light blue worn in right pocket = Wants to suck cock
Yellow worn in left pocket = Wants to give piss
Yellow worn in right pocket = Wants to take piss
Green worn in left pocket = Hustler / wants money
Green worn in right pocket = Wants to hire a hustler
Orange worn in left pocket = Top, into anything
Orange worn in right pocket = Bottom, into anything
Gray worn in left pocket = Bondage Top (does the tying / bondage on someone)
Gray worn in right pocket = Bondage Bottom (wants to be tied up / receive bondage)
(Reference: Larry Townsend 'The Leatherman's Handbook' Updated Second Edition, 1989, p.27, abbreviated further and selectively by me for this blog)
For my 'Art of FemDom relationship training' course, I've included a number of texts from the key figures of the leatherman / leatherfolk scene, as I think they're very useful for thinking about BDSM play dynamics, about discipline and about pleasure, and pursuing and expressing one's own desires.
Tragically, many of the influential writers - such as Geoff Mains, died during what became known as the HIV and AIDS epidemic, which swept through the gay community. It's lovely though that their legacy lives on in their writings, their role and contribution to BDSM, and the changes to society in respect of LGBTQ rights and more awareness and inclusiveness.
Training your dragon (slave): slave positions, protocol, training and reinforcement
One of the other major areas of FemDom relationships is that of slave training. This area owes much to an area known as "classical conditioning", which came out of experiments and writing such as the famous Pavlov's dogs. (Ring a bell, feed dogs a morsel of meat, and the dogs will over time begin to salivate in advance in anticipation of the food coming.)
Knowledge of classical conditioning and behaviour modification is very helpful to training slaves. It is a common discipline of dog training books to include discipline, rewards and punishment, amongst training strategies for reinforcement of behaviour, alongside the use of tools such as collars. However one of the best (in my view) authors on the use of animal training reinforcement and "shaping", is Karen Pryor, who was a former head dolphin trainer at Sea Life Park.
She advocates an approach which is responsive to the individual psychology of the animal you're working with, and their individual behavioral responses - including those which are idiosyncratic and unexpected. I utterly agree, and indeed the best Mistresses are those who don't have a one-size-fits-all approach and get irritated by any aberrant response of a "slave", but rather those who maintain psychological curiosity and interest to get to know their submissive / slave, their quirks, and things that work on them.
Essentially, one can use lessons from dog and dolphin training psychology and practices, to train one's submissive or slave. I've synthesised these practices into three areas: slave training (to reinforce desired behaviour) , slave shaping (teach old dogs new tricks, as it were, wink), and how to un-train annoying behaviour (yes you can thank me later).
Within the class, I also seek to provide ideas and inspiration as to what you might want to train your submissive to do. What's going to please you? (A glass of your favourite wine presented to you on arrival home after work? A bath run to the perfect temperature with bath salts? A foot massage done perfectly the way you like? Oral sex performed the way you like?) What's important to you? (Respect shown in particular ways? Giving you your space at specified times when you need? Devotion and consideration towards you displayed in thoughtful ways? Or something else?) And what does your submissive / slave long for, want and need? (To know their place? To know how to please you? To get their fetish "fix" every now and again? To get respite from being in charge, or counter-balance to their work responsibilities and role?)
Managing masochists and the fantasy of a Venus in Furs.
One of the most common confusions I see as a Dominatrix and BDSM educator and consultant, is a woman who has a partner who presents as a submissive but is actually a masochist.
What's the difference? Well people often mistakenly think that a masochist is someone who's into pain, and that's partly true but it's not the whole truth. Some of the differences in my view between a true "submissive" and a "masochist" is the following (with some sweeping generalization for lack of space to go into it in too much complexity or depth in a short blog post).
A submissive - wants to please you, and gets gratification from knowing they've pleased you. Is typically very grateful to their Dominant. They may be anxious to know whether they've disappointed you in any way, or if you're displeased with them, following play. They are generally happy to go along with most of what you want, to make you happy. They want to learn how they can please you.
A masochist - will want specific activities that they are into, and will often try and prescribe and script the play they want. They will often send you or leave out particular material as guides or hints to what they want done to them. They will have particular fetishes and fantasies they want fulfilled. They can be grumpy and complaining and negative if they don't get their way, or you disappoint their desires of what they envisaged. In their fantasy, the woman is above them and just out of reach, and is cold towards them and punishes them cruelly and her investment in punishing them shows that she is invested enough to bother spending time and energy on them. However she must seem above them and a bit out-of-reach, and too much proximity and familiarity will result in them devaluing her and getting bored.
In short, a masochist can leave the female dominant (or aspiring female dominant / partner) feeling really unconfident about herself and her abilities, and down that she can't seem to give him what he's wanting.
I would estimate that around 85% of all the consults that are booked privately with me, turn out to be women who are trying very hard to try and dominate their (self-identifying) "submissive" partner - who is not in fact a submissive but a masochist.
The term masochist comes from an author named Leopold von Sacher-Masoch who wrote the novella 'Venus in Furs', based on his fantasy desires for a beautiful cold woman to punish him cruelly, wearing furs (which was his fetish), and to demand he sign a contract to be her slave, and later cuckold him - sleeping with another man. The psychology is that of an inverted narcissist who wants his ego squished down, through cold punishment and humiliation, but is feeding off the attention that she cares enough to bother doing so. After dominating, he will inevitably complain or have some negativity that you didn't do something "right", ie the way he wants.
Sacher-Masoch was in real life a masochist, and tried to get exactly this fantasy from his mistress or wife, throughout his life.
Above: Vintage photograph of Masoch with Fanny Pistor
It is the woman who too often ends up tortured by the masochist, feeling like a failure at dominating him. So if you're reading this - and in this situation - know that it's the masochist, and not you(!).
So how does one deal with this? It seems an impossible situation - no?
It need not be. There are a range of strategies I recommend and discuss in my class, but among these and as "Cliff notes" summary, include:
a) Expectation management - setting expectations low, not promising play and then them getting annoyed if you can't execute on it due to a commitment clash, tiredness, illness or any other reason.
b) Filling up your own cup / energetic tank - as dealing with a masochist can be quite tiring, and psychologically intense, it's very important to take time to look after yourself, and time out doing what you want with your friends and pursuing your own interests separately, take off on holiday sometimes without them (and ironically will see them hold you in higher esteem for being a bit out-of reach and periodically ignoring them, which will have them fantasizing what you might be up to without them). You will need other people, friends in your life, you will help fill needs that your masochist living so much in their fantasy - won't be able to meet.
c) Batting off their greedy / needy fantasy desires, which will come constantly at you if you let them, and warning them of consequences (warn them that you're upping their punishment for the next weekend or event for them being so grumpy, as doing so will keep you elevated and on top of the horse / dragon and in control, and don't let them top from the bottom.)
d) Wearing and wielding their fetish periodically but unpredictably - as it suits you - will keep them ga-ga. Whatever your masochist has a fetish for - be it leather, or boots, or whatever, - if you periodically and unpredictably wear them at your own whim, it will have them go into ga-ga land. And you can grant them some gratification, or deny them to torment them if they've been badly behaved. However don't get into a predictable pattern that will result in expectation that you're going to wear the thing so that it becomes onerous on you, or boring and predictable for them.
It can basically feel like you are in a psychological chess game, if you're with a masochist. The benefits? A masochist will tend to be very loyal to their Mistress if she is meeting their masochistic desires (and is on the horse above them), and if you can manage a masochist - you can manage anything in life.
And if you have a submissive, rather than a masochist, who just wants to please you? Ah well then you're going to have a much easier time. As they're all about pleasing you.
For learning actual BDSM activities, my Dominatrix 'Seven Realm Arts' class is best for that, which I've been running successfully for four years now. (My goodness how time flies.) I have received so much positive feedback from those who have done the course, and their close friends observing them, that their confidence has increased, their knowledge and way they walk and hold themselves, which is lovely to hear.
I hope my new course on the Art of FemDom Relationship Training will help fulfil that gap though, for those that are wrestling with a personal relationship in which they are seeking to dominate a submissive / slave / masochist or other identity (sissy / puppy-dog or numerous other identities, etc).
Happy dominating and training your partner(s) to your pleasure, and practising Mistressery over all areas of your life.
x Anne O Nomis
There was something of a Dominatrix Twitter storm a few days ago, when Mistress Evilyne (@MsEvilyne also of London Dominatrix School) asked what educational books newbie Dommes should read.
'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' came top amongst her book picks, and those of many others.
It's so nice that my years of hard work putting this volume together has been so appreciated and well-received by Dominatrices around the world.
'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' is also picked out for an entire blog post on the website of London Dominatrix School. (I believe this blog post was written by Governess Elizabeth.)
A much beloved possession of Mine, Anne O Nomis' The History & Arts of the Dominatrix is the first book of its kind: it is the first book to cover the history of the art of Female domination.
Thoroughly compiled over the course of four years, Nomis travelled the world, encountered ancient texts, myths and legends, painstakingly trawled through centuries of clandestine advertising in papers and private letters between confidants, researched famous Dominatrices of years passed and interviewed renowned Dominatrices of the present era. This historical perspective sees her tracing Female domination from the practices of and rituals to the Goddesses of Mesopotamia, to the Governesses of the seventeenth century English flagellation schools, to the famous and controversial Dominatrics of the early-mid twentieth century and their interactions with law enforcement to the Dominatrices of the current period sessioning with their submissives in domestic settings and dungeons.
The illustrations are breath-taking and, through this wealth of information and artistry, Nomis crafts a spectacular text that takes a nuanced and informative look at power, beauty, gender, sexuality, sensuality, intimacy, D/s and the variations inherent in Female domination. Her pattern of practices of Dominatrices, which she coins the 'Seven Realm Arts', are certainly worth reading and considering, particularly for those considering female Domination as a profession.
The History & Arts of the Dominatrix is one of those books that, once you start reading it, you will not be able to put it down. It gives you a sense of the history and lineage you enter into once you take your first lesson and become involved in Female domination. A must for every (aspiring) Dominatrix's book shelf.
Thank you Mistresses for that recommendation. I feel very honoured.
Anne O Nomis
I will be giving a one-off talk at the Freud Museum on Wednesday 5th June 2019.
The talk will be a rare "double bill" on both Dominatrix History, and on Ancient Goddess Sex Rituals.
I had previously posted a survey on Twitter to gauge what topic I should give my Frued Museum talk on. However voting ended up being very even between them, see-sawing throughout the 24 hours of the survey, and ending up at 46% to 54%. Hence my taking the decision to speak on BOTH topics.
I am a real fan of the Freud Museum, which features Freud's psychoanalytic couch and his antiquities collection, which is so aligned to my own work and research on sexuality, theory and ancient art and Goddesses.
Freud's psychoanalytic couch, at the Freud Museum London.
Cabinet featuring ancient Goddess figurines & sphinx, Freud Museum London.
I am looking forward very much to catching up with friends and followers during my brief visit. I fly out the following day to Florence in readiness for teaching Villa Domme in Tuscany. (https://www.villadomme.com
Tickets to my London talk are strictly limited due to capacity, so get in quick if you are wanting to attend! Tickets here
I recently wrote a blog post for Passionfruit Shop, on the topic of Female Domination. (With my upcoming new course on 'The Art of FemDom Relationship Training' beginning on 1st April 2019 - which is totally sold-out, so sorry for those of you who missed out.)
Female Domination (Part 1 of 2): What Women Want
Our resident Dominatrix, Anne O Nomis, is the author of the first book in the world on the Dominatrix's history and arts. In her book, she developed a framework of the "Seven Realm Arts" to break-down what it is that a Dominatrix does in her secretive dungeon lair. It has gone on to become highly influential around the world, and used by training institutes such as the world’s oldest BDSM training chateau, La Domaine Esemar located out of New York. ‘The History & Arts of the Dominatrix’ is recommended as curriculum text, and is a prized possession at London Mistress School.
Anne O Nomis has been teaching her Seven Realm Arts course for four years now at Passionfruit, and we've watched enrolees go through a journey while taking her course of growing in their confidence and the way they stride through their world, alongside the knowledge they gain.
In a blog post divided into 2 parts, we've asked Anne to talk about her brand new course 'The Art of FemDom Relationship Training' and reflect on her four years of teaching the 'Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts' course.Whilst the current FemDom course is sold out, we've managed to squeeze in one more Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts class beginning next week on Thursday April 4th from 7 - 9 pm.
The next 'The Art of FemDom Relationship Training’ course won't run again until 31st October 2019 as Anne is on a 4 month research project from July.
PART 1: Coming to the topic of lifestyle and sexual Domination
For the past year, I've been working on research for a part of Domination that I hadn't previously turned my focus to, and that is to lifestyle FemDom (Female Domination). That is women who are dominating as part of their actual lifestyle and sex life.
Part of that started with trying to track down a decent manual or guide for aspiring lifestyle Mistresses. That might be someone who feels that they are dominant by nature and wanting some guidance on how to channel that and integrate it successfully within their relationship(s). Or in some circumstances, it's that their partner has shared with them that they identify as being submissive. Or rather their partner might want to be their servant, or their slave. Sometimes that may be mixed with particular "kinks", fetishes or fantasies; for example, they enjoying wearing women's hoisery and lingerie and being feminised, or perhaps they have a particular fetish for a powerful dominant woman wearing leather or latex, or high heel boots.
In either case, the woman is seeking some guidance and ideas; and has questions like:
"How do I manage Domination and submission within my relationship with my partner? Do we stay normal and some how click into playtime, or do I try and somehow integrate dominating him as a fulltime thing around-the-clock"?
"How do I work out what I want from the relationship? What should I do to dominate my partner and to keep things fresh and interesting? I need ideas!"
"I'm wanting to train my partner who is submissive, but I'm unsure how to do this."
"My husband has just sprung on me that he's into being dominated and he has particular kinks for being put in bondage and kept in chastity, and punished. This has come as a bit of a surprise to me, but I regard myself as an open-minded person and I want to fulfil his desires, and he says he was attracted to my natural dominance, but I feel like I don't know what I'm doing."
These are by the way literally requests and emails I've had. So I've tried to proffer advice as I could.
The limitations of existing books and manuals
Initially I'd sought a good manual to be able to recommend people, but I haven't found any one book that "does the job" as it were. There are various books that are potentially useful - that for example introduce the basics of lifestyle domination aimed at women who've been sprung by their partner or husband saying he's submissive. They are often titled to I think alleviate women's perceived concern or nervousness about being harsh, cruel or uncaring, with titles or sub-titles which incorporated reference to "nervous beginners" or "FemDom for nice girls", "for nice girls", "caring Mistress", which speaks to all the cultural baggage we grow up with as women, having to be pleasing and appeasing, kind, polite; and to the way in which the word "bossy" tends to be directed culturally at assertive girls or women but not commonly used for men in our society. Amongst these guides those written by Janet Hardy or under her various aliases - which I regard as good just for those looking for something to get them started.
I also tracked down some notorious underground Mistress training manuals, that were rather extreme. Dating from the turn of the 21st Century, some of their content seemed implausible to my trained eye, or encouraging frankly illegal and unethical strategies.
One really useful writer on Female Domination is Elise Sutton, whose self-published books are amongst those that have ended up recommended on the reading list for my new course. She advocates male submissives as being in search of "loving female authority", which is I think an idea and ideal that many can wrap their head around. One could say her views are a little idealized or romanticized, but nonetheless they will be helpful to many who align with the idea of "loving female authority".
And in one of Elise Sutton's books, Searching for Wanda (the last of her trilogy, this third book specifically on the topic of masochists), she included results of a survey she ran with 43 of her FemDom acquaintances filling it out. So not strictly scientific, but nonetheless the results were interesting and completely in line with what I've experienced in the lifestyle scene.
Sutton's findings were reported across just 3 pages of her 250 page book, but I felt they deserved more attention, and I've turned them into a bar graph for easy referral, dear readers. Actually I lie. Truth be told I had my slave do me a bar graph and then corrected his errors, and counted these for cane strokes he'll receive. (Wink)
So what women want when they get their own way?
Turns out - help with housework, being pampered, getting oral (cunnilingus)....
There were 21 activities that Sutton had her 43 female Dominant acquaintances rank, described by her terms used in her book, which were turned into a percentage. They are biased to heterosexual relationships, and there were 31 lifestyle FemDoms, 3 active pro-Dommes, 5 retired pro-Dommes, and 4 phone counselling FemDom/BDSM Dommes who filled in the survey.
See if you're surprised by this:
Domestic servitude (man doing household chores) - 92
Personal servitude (man giving women massages, pedicures, manicures, baths) - 89
Body worship (male orally servicing the woman sexually) - 87
Orgasm control (male masturbation forbidden, male must gain woman's permission before receiving an orgasm) - 79
Control finances (woman makes financial decisions) - 76
Final authority (woman has final say in most if not all areas of relationship) - 75
CF/nm activities (Clothed female / naked male) - 73
Spankings (light to firm discipline upon male buttocks with bare hand, hairbrush or paddle) - 73
Cuckolding (woman has right to have other lovers, male must remain monogamous) - 59
Strap-on play (penetrating male anally with strap-on dildo) - 52
Fetish outfits (woman wears leather outfits, boots, etc) - 51
Forced feminization and/or sissification (feminizing male, dressing up male in feminine attire, having male do chores while dressed as maid, etc) - 48
Light sadism (woman likes to inflict slight pain on male - scratching, biting, pinching, clothes pins, clamps, etc - 45
Male chastity and long term denial - requires male to wear chastity device, his orgasms are restricted and rare - 43
Water sports (golden showers, enemas) - 42
Bondage (use of restraints, hoods, gags, etc) - 40
Corporal punishment (harsh discipline of male via whip or cane) - 38
Humiliation play (woman likes to humiliate the male, verbally, publicly, objectification, other) - 31
C/B torture (inflict pain on male genitals) - 28
Hard sadism (woman gains sexual pleasure in seeing a man suffer- inflict pain, hear male scream, leave welts, marks, bruises, etc) - 25
Extreme play (psychological abuse, blood sports, scat, other extreme activities) - 16
(Source: Elise Sutton 'Searching for Wanda' (2010), Lulu Books, pp.171-173)
Were you surprised by any of this, dear reader?
Elise Sutton noted in her book that professional Mistresses were more likely to enjoy the activities at the end of the list: corporal punishment, humiliation play, CB torture, hard sadism and extreme play. (Sutton, p.173)
While married women were primarily interested in having their husbands serve them domestically, personally and sexually. (Sutton, p.173)
Which is why I knew I wanted my new course on The Art of FemDom to focus on relationship training with these particular areas in mind. That is, how to train and manage your partner doing domestic chores, personal servitude, and how to ask and get what you want sexually, and be the figure of authority within the consensual relationship.
However I also wanted my FemDom guidance to be extended to queer communities and not only traditional heterosexual relationships. And 20th Century BDSM history was rich on this, I knew from my past historical research. As indeed in the USA in particular, there was a fascinating history of "leatherfolk", which developed as a form of identity with their own values and protocols, which included a large contingent of gay men, returned servicemen from the war with military discipline, as well as queer / feminist practitioners and a wider more inclusive BDSM community.
(To be continued in Part 2: Leatherfolk, Protocol, and Training derived from dogs and dolphins and how it's useful to slave training, Masochists and the fantasy of a Venus in Furs)
The United Kingdom's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have just made a landmark announcement that they will no longer prosecute material made by consenting adults in legal acts under British Obscenity Law. This, dear readers, is big news, particularly for those who read / watch or make BDSM films or books.
By way of background, the Obscene Publications Act (1959) in the UK was designed to protect the public from material that could quote "deprave and corrupt" their minds. Prosecutors tried to prosecute the publishers of D.H Lawrence's famous book Lady Chatterley's Lover for "obscenity" in R v Penguin Books in 1960. And failed. It was a win for literature, and a win for the expression of sexuality, desire and humanity. The trial outcome was seen as heralding a new wave of sexual morality, and indeed by the mid-1980s Lady Chatterley's Lover was even on the school syllabus.
Lady Chatterley's Lover, First edition hardback, and popular paperback edition.
And that tradition had continued into the modern era, in which Crown Prosecution Service prosecutions of audio-visual material on obscenity charges were mostly failing.
A landmark case in 2012 was the trial of male escort Michael Peacock for DVDs promoted under the title "Sleazy Michael", in which he depicted male fisting, water sports (urination) and BDSM activities, in I might add - a consensual sexual context.
The general adult public - represented by juries - recognize increasingly that people's sexual interests and proclivities are their own to enjoy, provided that its between consensual adults and no-one is seriously injured or dies. And in the case of R v Michael Peacock, the jury found him not guilty of obscenity.
What's interesting to me also about that particular case of R v Michael Peacock, is the length that the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) went to in order to prosecute Michael. He sold his material by advertising it on Craigslist, and it was acquired by the CPS by sending and undercover police officer around to his home in Finsbury Park London to purchase some of the DVDs in what was essentially a "sting operation". And to put this in some perspective, the sexual and BDSM acts that are depicted are not illegal or criminal in UK law. So in other words you had undercover police officers going to great lengths to seek out DVDs on gay BDSM sexual acts, in order to prosecute "Sleazy Michael" for activities which were consensual and legal and between consenting adults. While the buyers of the Sleazy Michael DVDs are adults who want to see this material and have sought it out because - presumably - "they're into it". So quite where the harm is, I don't quite see. Nor did the jury, who found him not guilty of obscenity.
Male escort "Sleazy Michael" Peacock, celebrating his win with a fisting-fist raised, following his win in R v Michael Peacock (2012).
The case is quite representational of the stupid lengths that the CPS "obscenity hunters" were going to to try and seek out "obscene" material and spend much public money prosecuting independent makers of pornography for acts which were in of themselves perfectly legal.
That has all changed now, finally, with today's announcement from the CPS in the UK. Following public consultation, the CPS has announced:
“It is not for the CPS to decide what is considered good taste or objectionable. We do not propose to bring charges based on material that depicts consensual and legal activity between adults, where no serious harm is caused and the likely audience is over the age of 18. (See Guardian article 31 Jan 2019)
The CPS will, however, continue to robustly apply the law to anything which crosses the line into criminal conduct and serious harm.”
And with that announcement, makers of consensual BDSM material around the UK will let out a sigh with collective relief.
Common sense - and consensuality - has won.
I have had over recent years repeatedly turned down requests to offer Skype tuition / consults. Why? Well I wasn't sure I could deliver my energy over the realm of the internet call in the same way I did in classes and talks, and I was busy and my home life and other commitments were not ideally conducive to Skype calls. And meanwhile my classes were going so brilliantly, and I was fulfilled, that I didn't feel the need or desire to offer Skype consults.
So what changed?
Well my curiosity was piqued by a few recent inquiries from very interesting people / potential students, that I felt very tempted or even compelled to want to offer Skype lessons.
Over the Christmas holiday period away, I pondered on it, and decided I would offer Skype consults in 2019. That I would dedicate myself wholly to writing as an author, and teaching, which I'm in a privileged position to be able to do, thanks to the success of my classes and demand for my teaching, alongside book sales and royalties.
So this year is all about my fulfilling myself through my true calling, of passing on knowledge through my books and teaching on the history and arts of the Dominatrix, and continuing my research on ancient Goddess cults - with several overseas research trips tagged onto the end of my teaching Villa Domme in Tuscany.
Within days of my decision to offer Skype consulting, and before I'd even broadcasted that decision, I received an intriguing query from a very interesting woman in the UK, seeking to find her power and to dominate her partner. Her timing could not have been more fortuitous, and she became my first Skype student and I look forward to helping her greatly in her journey.
Our call was scheduled for what ended up being one of the hottest days ever in Melbourne history where I live, with a heatwave and temperatures that day reaching 44 degrees Celcius and power outages around the city. Nonetheless the power was restored and our call was able to go ahead, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I was able to help her as I'd hoped; her journey successfully begun in my view by exercises to tap into her authentic dominant self, interests and style - rather than a cliche image of a Dominatrix that she'd found off-putting and no connection to.
I won't post any more on her journey, other than the generic information mentioned, as I protect each person's confidence and privacy. But her journey will be interesting, and I feel privileged to be able to share my knowledge and act as a kind of torch-bearer to illuminate a path for her.
I look forward to connecting with and helping others too. Whether that's aspiring Mistresses, practising pro-Dommes and subs wanting to be their best.
I feel I have this wide-ranging erotic wisdom from the Dominatrix realm, an open-minded and empathetic understanding of different psychologies, and a depth of knowledge informed by archaeology and history from my research. And it's lovely that I can use all this knowledge sitting around in my brain to aid, assist and empower my students.
For those of you reading this who are interested in private tuition, I've put together a page on my website here: https://historyofthedominatrix.com/pages/private-tuition with pricing.
There is also a live calendar in "Beta testing" currently, which is tracking my availability and enabling people to live-book a time slot, which should (fingers crossed) show the times on their local timezone. It is here: https://historyofthedominatrix.com/apps/book-an-appointment/appointments/new
I begin teaching a new Seven Realm Arts class next week in Melbourne, which was fully booked out weeks in advance; and further classes scheduled for later this year. And when I'm not teaching by private lesson or class, I will be finishing my new book and seeing to its release into the world.
It's lovely to feel so calm, confident, peaceful and "on (life's) purpose", following my true calling in doing this work. Thank you to all my students who've been so supportive of my work and classes, and sent all their friends on recommendation, which has enabled me to dedicate myself wholly to it.
I wish you all a happy and abundant 2019.
x Anne O Nomis
The "vulva petition" - asking the House of Representatives to review its Guidelines under Australian Classification laws is finally through the Petitions Committee - is now up online.
I am hoping it will attract 1000 signatures within the timeframe - which ends on 17th October 2018.
Update: The petition exceeded 1000 signatures, and was presented to the House of Representatives. The relevant ministers have three months to address and reply to the petition.
Thank you so much everyone who signed the petition, tweeted and shared with their friends. I'm so appreciative of all your support for this important cause.
Top image photo credits: Photographer Lucky from Hustle & Bunk. Parliament House Wikicommons image by Con Tassios.
I was recently interviewed by Passionfruit Shop, where as an historian and author - I give talks and teach on sex history, and most particularly on the Dominatrix's history and arts.
Interview with Anne O Nomis - Our Resident Educator of Dominatrix Arts
1. Has your experience of the Dominatrix given you confidence in other areas of your life?
Absolutely - yes. Dominatrices are often among the first to challenge male authority and ridiculous and prejudiced laws and views around sexuality. Mistress Absolute in the UK has taken on porn laws around face-sitting, with her protest outside parliament face-sitting her partner in tweeds, drinking English tea and singing Monty Python's "Sit on My Face". I found her protest absolutely inspiring.
Other Dominatrices around the world have such as Terri-Jean Bedford in Canada have successfully challenged sex work laws.
"I want to become more activist this next year and join forces to defend the sacred vulva and labia, and take on the ridiculous Australian laws which are causing magazine editors to have to airbrush the external labia of their models in order to comply with classification and censorship laws in Australia." Anne O Nomis
This is leading to a documented rise in labioplasty procedures, and the rise in women feeling insecure about the appearance of their vulva and labias because magazines do not display prominent labia due to Classification law. I'm sure many other women feel outraged also, but perhaps don't feel they can publicly campaign.
As an archaeologist, historian, BDSM and sexuality educator, and as mother to my young daughter, I can't stand for these laws anymore and I plan to take them on. I plan to launch a 'Sacred vulvas' campaign against the laws banning visible female air-brushing on September 1st this year.
For publications, the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications in their 'Unrestricted' section has that: In practice
“Realistic depictions may contain discreet genital detail but there should be no genital emphasis.”
Genitals which are "indiscreet" are restricted under law. That is, vulvas which appear conspicuous, discernible, clear, flagrant, striking, eye-catching, glaring, apparent, visible, noisy, loud, prominent - to take the various words which are antonyms - the opposite - of "discreet".
In practice, the Classification Board is applying this law to visible prominent protruding labia, so that all soft-porn has labia airbrushed in order to pass cenorship.
Vulvas were sacred in much of the ancient world. The earliest so-called Venus figurine in the world, the Venus of Hohlefels, has prominent breasts and an explicit indiscreet vulva.
Ancient Goddess literature on the Goddess Inanna of Mesopotamia, cited in my book 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', reads: "her vulva was remarkable. She praised herself full of delight at her vulva."
While artwork and figurines of the naked Goddess across Mesopotamia, Levant and Cyprus featured prominent vulva and darkened pubic hair triangle emphasized.
Women and girls should have body confidence around their vulva, not be shamed by its "indiscreetness", by its explicit visible features of labia. They should not feel they need to minimise their vulva, its protruding lips, its pronounced features out of a warped view of what they think is normal from only seeing airbrushed images. Their vulvas in all their visual visible features are sacred and should be viewed as beautiful and with confidence.
Venus from Hohlefels, carved from mammoth ivory, c 35,000 - 40,000 BCE. Wikicommons image, by Thilo Parg.
Aphrodite figurines with pronounced pubic triangle from island of Cyprus. Photograph by Anne O Nomis.
I am also putting together a new book on ancient sex Goddesses in archaeology, their literature which emphasizes the vulva and the active sexual desire of the Goddess. There are beautiful ancient songs as texts with explicit erotic content about the Goddess, which are not in the easily accessible public domain, due to their subject matter. So I am busy putting together the ancient art work, rituals and songs - which were played to the lyre, for my new work which will be titled 'Flight of the Goddess'. I think the bravery of writing that book with explicit sex songs has also been emboldened by my work on the Dominatrix. I intend to teach the ancient sex rituals and sex songs also. I'm currently learning the ancient lyre harp instrument to sing the sex songs.
2) You give talks on the history of the Dominatrix and teach on the secretive Dominatrix arts here at Passionfruit. What changes do you see in your students?
I think my students have their views around sexuality expanded through the course, and become more open-minded, and conscious of the wide range of activities that form different areas of exploration of human sexuality. The course challenges ideas of the narrow definition of normative sexuality. Students learn about sexual power-play games and dynamics, the appeal of bondage, the huge variety of fetishes, subversion of binary gender roles, transformation and ecstasy.
Students often tell me they've gained much greater confidence as a by-product of being on my course, and sometimes that causes dramatic life changes as a result of feeling more empowered.
3) Historically, Dominatrixes have been a closed society. What led you to reveal the Art through your book and teachings?
The Dominatrix was a taboo of a taboo (of a taboo), as I wrote in my book. Because women under the major patriarchal religions were meant to be submissive and obedient to their husbands. As such, the Dominatrix as a figure challenges and overturns that underlying societal structure. She was also a figure of the underground sex world, of repressed sexualities, non-conforming sexualities.
When I was researching and writing my book, 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', very little had ever been published on the topic of the Dominatrix. I wanted to gather her story, her history, and tell it for the first time, gathering together all the rare primary source material and images from museums and galleries and libraries around the world. It was a hard project, but that's what I accomplished.
The arts of the Dominatrix have been secretive because the activities themselves were stigmatised by society, and people carried a lot of shame around their desires. Their desire to submit to a powerful woman. Their desire to be put into bondage. Or their desire to cross-dress. And so on.
The arts are also quite complicated to explain. I've had a lot of Dominatrices tell me that they're grateful for my book, because they find it hard themselves to explain what they do to others. They're pleased to have a book with their sacred history and arts recorded, and in academic libraries, and available to pass to someone to explain what they do.
I feel like it's been an important part of female erotic wisdom, practiced by these women who are playing this complex role which is kind of part-psychologist, part-actress, part-healer, part-sex worker, and so on. I feel a calling to uncover this important history which has been buried within underground texts and museum vaults, and share that story of the women themselves, and something of the sacred erotic wisdom they carry and practice.
4) What makes a good Dominatrix?
Hmmm... I think someone who manifests sexual power and confidence, is open-minded, in command, is intuitive in reading a person's mind and desires, has the ability and knowledge to play with those desires, and has deep empathy and understanding, and is merciful. The latter often surprises people when I say it. But of course, the Dominatrix grants mercy. From the ancient world rituals to the modern-day, the submissive makes their plea for mercy which is granted by the Goddess and by the Dominatrix. And I can't tell you how higher a percentage of Dominatrices are vegetarian due to their concern for animal cruelty, but it's very high and famously complicates catering at any Dominatrix event.
Link to original blog post: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/blogs/news/interview-with-anne-o-nomis-our-resident-dominatrix
I have been featured in Archer Magazine's History Issue, with an article 'Mistress of the Underground' on writing my book on the Dominatrix across time.
Archer Magazine focuses on Sex, Gender and Identity, and it has been a pleasure working with the team including Adolfo Aranjuez (Editor-in-chief, Archer).
For more information or to purchase Archer Magazine, go to: https://archermagazine.bigcartel.com
I have just arrived back this week from teaching a week at Villa Domme in Tuscany. The course was The Mysteries of Female Domination™ diploma course.
Attendees came from the Netherlands, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden and Australia, and we had an absolute blast. While I teach a number of courses in Australia, this was the first-time I've ever run an intensive week-long course and in such a spectacular location.
One of the ways this course differed from others I've taught, as well as the length, is that I aimed holistically to get transmit the essence of Female Domination from ancient sources, ritual, history, lifestyle D/s, the professional craft, and to attune the different psychologies of subjects who present to the Female Dominant. To encourage open conversations about interests and blocks to stepping into Dominance. I also had opportunity to share my new research on the ancient Goddess sex ritual for the second time ever, and developed further on when I first presented on it.
You'll see some of the attendees posted on Twitter during the course:
The course submissives were playfully (and sometimes more sternly) bossed around and punished, and used for practice. I ate my breakfast to the spectacular view of two Mistresses in fetish attire brandishing a single tail whip in front of the rose bushes. On the final day, all kinds of activities took place also outdoors, in this very unique setting, the nature of which I'm unable to go into - but trust me it was quite something.
Many on the course made life-long friendships, and have expressed a desire to come back again next year. The women, in case you're interested, came from diverse backgrounds and included one of New York's top Dominatrices, women involved in advanced sexuality education and practices, lifestyle Mistresses, and those keen to step into their dominance.
I have received emails from many of those who came, Mistresses and subs, reporting positive feedback and ways in which it's affected them.
All-in-all it was a delicious experience, and I must admit I am suffering Domme-drop from returning home after such an amazing time at Villa Domme in Tuscany.
Thank you to all those who were a part of the trip and made it so magical.
x Anne O Nomis
PS Yes I plan to run a course again next year in June 2019.
It will be limited to 16 people, as I feel that's the right amount for me to manage well and teach at such an event.
Last year in 2017, I wrote about the passing of slave david stein (spelt in lowercase, as he liked to be known), who co-developed the ethical framework acronym of SSC or Safe Sane Consensual, in 1983 in New York.
David was the last living member of the three member New York Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) committee; Martin Berkenwald, Bob Gillespie and david stein - who published a committee report with the phrasing of Safe, Sane, Consensual. The members would have little idea at how influential those words would be come. As Stein would later reflect:
"Tens of thousands — maybe hundreds of thousands — of kinky men and women all over North America and around the world, many of whom have no idea what “GMSMA” stands for, know “Safe Sane Consensual” (SSC)."
Given the significance of the SSC (Safe Sane Consensual) code to BDSM, and the later challenge of RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink), I thought I would devote a blog post to discussing these.
I'm writing more on this in my new book (Mistressery) in progress, but the need for this material seems required in the very "NOW", so I'm putting some of the resources online straight away.
I hope this may prove helpful...
Anne O Nomis
Author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'
SSC (Safe, Sane & Consensual)
Challenging pathology and abuse;
A Framework of Fireworks !
Safe, Sane and Consensual grew out of small gay S/M groups involved in education and activism, in 1980s Chicago and New York.
Gay S/M clubs experienced a small number of predatory so-called "Dominants", who might prey on the younger and/or new-to-the-scene attendees and push them into activities without the individual's full awareness of or agreeement to the activity or risks; without in other words informed consent. There were also people who had good ethics and concern for others, but their level of technical know-how in activities such as bondage and whipping may not match their level enthusiasm. At the same time, S/M play would often throw up emotionally complex responses which were aided by good communication and discussion.
The S/M community met these concerns with education, advocacy and discussion of ethics. Their members were also concerned with the image of gay S/M to the wider public, and the perception of S/M as being as psycho-pathological destructive or neurotically self-abusive behaviour.
In today's arguably more kink-friendly world, we may also forget that the term S/M had its roots in the German psychiatrist Richard von Kraft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis" in 1890. For much of 20th Century history, people who were into BDSM and kink activities were at risk of being viewed as pathological, psychologically damaged or as sexually deviant.
Above: Psychopathia Sexualis by Kraft-Ebing with portrait of author.
The legacy of psychiatric pathology tradition prevented S/M being seen for its erotic lifestyle potential - as activities and interaction towards pleasure, experimentation, excitement, fun and fulfilment between consenting adults.
The response of the gay S/M groups was to seek to build a community which would help advocate for education, communication between people, consent, and safe and sane play.
For the historical record, and because my blog seems to get found by a lot of scholars and journalists, I'm reproducing the original 1983 GMSMA newsletter wording as a historical resource:
"GMSMA is a not-for-profit organization of gay males in the New York City area who are seriously interested in safe, sane, and consensual S/M. Our purpose is to help create a more supportive S/M community for gay males, whether they desire a total lifestyle or an occasional adventure, whether they are just coming out into S/M or are long experienced.
Our regular meetings and other activities attempt to build a sense of community by exploring common feelings and concerns. We aim to raise awareness about issues of safety and responsibility, to recover elements of our tradition, and to disseminate the best available medical and technical information about S/M practices. We seek to establish a recognized political presence in the wider gay community in order to combat the prevailing stereotypes and misconceptions about S/M while working with others for the common goals of gay liberation."
Source: Emphasis my own. August 1983 report of that Gay Male S/M Activists committee; reproduced in david stein Safe, Sane and Consensual: The Making of a Shibboleth
Above: Gay Male S/M Activisits publication and logo on T-shirt
The original wording of the New York Gay S/M Committee newsletter is telling of the spirit in which the Safe, Sane, Consensual code came about.
The committee's chosen wording is very likely influenced by the familiar American exhortation around Independence Day fireworks; “Have a safe and sane Fourth of July.” Indeed david stein acknowledged this relationship in his own writing on how Safe, Sane and Consensual came about:
"Every year while i was growing up, i heard that phrase ("Have a safe and sane Fourth of July") on TV, or saw it in the newspapers and on billboards, and it stuck."
Left: Vintage Pin 'A Safe and Sane Fourth"; Right: Seal of State of California State Fire Marshall for Fireworks with "Safe and Sane" at its top.
Over in Chicago, the infamous Hellfire Club produced its statement of purpose for their club using "safe and sane" in 1980, predating New York's GMSMA committee newsletter.
The unsigned essay by Tony DeBlase for Chicago Hellfire Club’s Inferno 10 (1981) run book sets out Hellfire Club's stated purpose:
“. . . to provide education and opportunities for participation in S&M sex among consenting adult men and to foster communication among such individuals. Responsible S&M has become more popular and less feared in the gay community and Chicago Hellfire Club continues to serve its community — striving always to educate and promote safe and sane enjoyment of men by men." [Emphasis my own]
Above: Chicago's Hellfire Club in 1970s with John Preston in centre, and Tony DeBlase on right. Source: Leather Archives & Museum
From a historical point of view, did the New York Gay S/M activitists in fact emulate / copy / borrow or appropriate Chicago Hell Fire Club's wording of "safe and sane", to which the third term "consensual" was added? Or were the two groups independently borrowing from the 4th of July fireworks slogan?
Although slave david stein narrates a version in which they both happened to come to the same wording independently, I believe they (the GMSMA committee members) may have borrowed or taken up Hellfire Club's wording - whether it having been sewn into their subconscious from reading the Chicago material or interacting with its members mentioning "safe and sane", or whether more consciously referring to Hellfire's statement when developing their own.
Certainly david stein attended Hellfire Club, and wrote about his experience there. He posed as a model for bondage there. He viewed any and all writings and reports from the SM scene with a keen interest in ideals of S/M relationships.
In his own writing he acknowledges this possibility:
"Inferno 10 was the first i attended, and it made a big impression on me, so Tony’s [Tony deBlase's] words may have suggested the application of “safe and sane” to S/M, and even the association with “consensual.” But the GMSMA statement of purpose was the first place all three terms were jointly applied to S/M."
Like a lot of inventions, the origin is not as clear-cut and traceable to one individual as one might like. Both the Chicago and New York Gay SM scene in the early 1980s can claim a role in the use of the terms, and they evoked in people's minds the association with 4th of July phrase around fireworks.
Fireworks - exciting, special, exhilarating, fun, bright and colourful, powerful, explosive, magnificent but also potentially dangerous if not supervised with some caution - was an apt metaphor for S/M.
It made the motivations of S/M players more immediately understandable also: people who sought excitement, exhilaration and enjoyment in their sexual interactions.
As stein recounted,
As a kid, what i took “Have a safe and sane Fourth” to mean was, “Have a good time, but don’t be stupid and burn the house down or blow your hand off.” More than two decades later, that seemed to fit S/M just fine. What we meant by “safe and sane S/M” in 1983 was, “Have a good time, but keep your head and understand what you’re doing so you don’t end up dead or in the hospital — or send someone else there.”
How SSC came into popular usage
The Safe, Sane and Consensual slogan was solidified into BDSM history when it was used as the slogan for marches on Washington by the Lesbian and Gay Rights and the S/M-Leather-Fetish Contingent in March 1987 and March 1993.
The pre-march planning sessions had debated various options, as well as weighing up the pros and cons of Safe, Sane and Consensual, before deciding on it as the most effective slogan. Once agreed upon, it went out on the top of all newsletters and press releases, and gradually onto T-shirts and stickers. For the 1993 march, the effect was magnified. Safe, Sane and Consensual was emblazoned onto the S/M-Leather-Fetish Contingent's 20 foot banner, which hung the day previous across the grand entrance of the government building on Constitution Avenue, that hosted our huge S/M-Leather- Fetish Conference.
"Thousands of men and women from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries saw those three words, identified with them, and took them back to their local communities." (david stein)
Above: Example of a modern day "safe sane consensual" T-shirt.
Safe Sane Consensual came to define the S/M community as its code, its ethos. With benefit of hindsight, we can now see how significant this 1980s gay S/M movement was - and is - the to the BDSM scene today.
It was these activists and educators who were helping form ethical codes for BDSM players, to look after their members. They were writing and marching against prejudice and ignorance of towards their community and practices. Their legacy to the SM-leather-kink communities was considerable.
RACK - Risk-Aware Consensual Kink
A Framework of Risk Acknowledgment
Close to the turn of the millennium, a critique of Safe, Sane and Consensual was simmering amongst BDSM writers such as Laura Antoniou, Joseph W. Bean and Phil Julian. Whilst amongst community web messaging and forum boards, alternatives were being debated.
One of the challengers was Gary Switch, who would later develop the term RACK as Risk-Aware Consensual Kink - which would become the chief alternative slogan of the BDSM community.
Gary Switch requests his account to be reproduced in the whole:
Above: Avatar of GarySwitch
During a discussion of SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) on the TES-Friends list on 11/25/99, I proposed RACK (Risk-Aware, Consensual Kink) as an alternative. Here's my motivation:
Nothing's perfectly safe. Crossing the street isn't perfectly safe. Remember that it's technically called "safer sex," not "safe sex." If we want to limit BDSM to what's safe, we can't do anything more extreme than flogging somebody with a wet noodle. Mountain climbers don't call their sport safe, for the simple reason that it isn't; risk is an essential part of the thrill. They handle it by identifying and minimizing the risk through study, training, technique, and practice. I believe that this approach will work better for us leatherfolk than claiming that what we do is safe. We want to foster the notion that we develop expertise, that to do what we do properly takes skill developed through a similar process of education, training, and practice.
Negotiation cannot be valid without foreknowledge of the possible risks involved in the activity being negotiated. "Risk-aware" means that both parties to a negotiation have studied the proposed activities, are informed about the risks involved, and agree how they intend to handle them. Hence "risk-aware" instead of "safe."
The "sane" part of SSC is very subjective. Who's making the call? Person A might think fisting is insane; persons B and C might enjoy it very much. "Sane" always reminds me of Pat Paulsen's campaign slogan from the old Smothers Brothers show: "Vote for Paulsen; he's not insane!" If you go around constantly reassuring folks that you're not crazy, they'll start to wonder.
I've heard "sane" interpreted as: "able to distinguish fantasy from reality" and "not intoxicated," which are both perfectly valid, though the latter is similar to the above -- you don't go around constantly reassuring folks that you're not drunk, either.
"Consensual" is the crux, implying negotiation which implies being able to distinguish fantasy from reality, as well as dealing responsibly with risk factors. If you don't know the risk factors, if you don't know what will happen in reality, then you don't know what you're consenting to. Meaningful negotiation must always take place on the common ground of consensus reality.
The "kink" part went in to make a snappy acronym and because SSC doesn't tell you what you should be SSC about. Safe, Sane, and Consensual trout fishing? Alluding to the rack, an archetypal torture instrument, has been criticized, but to me it signifies our transformation of atrocity into ecstasy, and admits that though we may enjoy some dark fantasies, we realize them harmlessly.
RACK is admittedly more confrontational than SSC. It's defiant, the same way the GLBT community uses "queer." RACK allows us the freedom to have non-PC fantasies. Don't a lot of us enjoy non- consensual fantasies, either from the top side or the bottom side? We enjoy them in our literature; we may very well enjoy them while we play. But we act them out responsibly and consensually.
(Reference source: Gary Switch, Contributing Editor, Prometheus magazine, GarySwitch@aol.com )
Gary's account is both articulate and understandable. It promotes quite a realist attitude towards BDSM with its inherent risks, and suggests that participants focus on identifying the risks in order that they can be discussed and play their role in consent and in risk management.
For many who enjoy more extreme forms of play, referred to as "Edgeplay", with higher elements of risk of harm, RACK provided them with a framework which emboldened their right and defence - to indulge in their preferred play.
Edgeplay is a kind of subjective term for anything that has significant risks and is regarded as more extreme activities in BDSM circles; from breathplay, to fireplay, to knives and cutting, to barebacking, and so on.
In practice, and in fetish clubs, I would often hear conversations that go something like this:
"Stop nannying us" - the Edgeplayers would say to the players admonishing them about dangerous play.
"Nothing's safe. We get that our kinks can be risky or dangerous, but so is life. It's our choice. This is how we get off. We're aware of the risks. We're educated. We know what we're doing. It's our life."
If SSC Safe, Sane and Consensual had a flavour of idealistic ethical romance about it, RACK Risk-Aware Consensual Kink was about realism of risk, individual responsibility and the right to choose to take risk for our kicks or kinks.
Both these acronyms of SSC and RACK are the most common batted around within the BDSM community and by individual players. As such, I hope this blog post will provide food for thought and a place of resources to access and refer to the original work. I've listed the most accessible and recent articles below.
Bibliography / Resources
* Richard von Kraft-Ebing (1890) Neue Forschungen auf dem Gebiet der Psychopathia sexualis ; translated in English as New Research in the Area of Psychopathology of Sex.
* david stein (2002) “Safe Sane Consensual”: The Making of a Shibboleth by slave david stein under the Guardianship of Master Steve of Butchmann’s. Published in 20th Anniversary issue, September/October 2002, of VASM Scene, the newsletter of Vancouver Activists in S/M of Vancouver, British Columbia. Viewable at: http://boybear.us/ssc.pdf
NB: An early draft was also presented at Leather Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C, in April 2000: www.leatherleadership.org. Other versions published in The Sandmutopia Guardian and later reworked for the Spring 2001 issue of NewsLink, the GMSMA newsletter.
* Gary Switch (c 2009) Rack Essay and Interview posted by author as Fetlife post: https://fetlife.com/users/53355/posts/25734 (Viewable only by Fetlife members)