Interview with Anne O Nomis - by Passionfruit

Interview with Anne O Nomis - by Passionfruit

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.

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