Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Perceptions, in the Eye of the Beholder

I was interviewed this morning by a graduate student of sociology who is doing her dissertation on pro dommes' relationships with their clients. I find that conversations like these, where I am asked to lay out the hows and whys of this peculiar career choice, can help elucidate my own journey to myself.

One thing that came up for me was the frustration I have felt at times from being misunderstood by those who have sought me out for sessions. In my mind, submitting to a femme domme presents a unique opportunity to interact with a woman who sees beyond conventional male-female dynamics in erotic and power exchange. You would think that, wouldn't you? Yet too often, I encountered men who assumed the opposite - that my professional status meant that I was there to serve rather than be served, with the rest of it simply a form of acting on my part.

I even detected a whiff of pity from more than a few, who seemed to think I was caught up in a form of "white slavery" (or I guess in my case, it would be creamy yellow slavery!). There was one who used to irk me by saying at the end of the session, a note of surprise in his voice, "You really seem to enjoy this."

"Wow," I thought, "this guy totally doesn't get it," ushering him out the door before the mystique could be tarnished for me further. I should have let him go at that point. I later came to regret keeping him on, as he went behind my back and wrote a review without my permission. Alas, I do not give second chances for such a betrayal.

The pity manifests particularly within the Asian fetishists. Funny, being only half Asian and growing up in Los Angeles, I was as likely to be mistaken for Latina or some other ethnicity than pinpointed as a Eurasian while living down there. My racial ambiguity proved to be a long-standing puzzle, as classmates who knew me for years would finally bust out with the "What are you anyway?" question on the verge of our graduation.

So I was fairly surprised, when first making my entrance into the field as a self-proclaimed Eurasian dominatrix, that I was never questioned on this. In fact, it felt like all some saw was the Asian in me. I think labels are an amazing thing like that. Prep someone by telling them beforehand that this person fits in this category, and that is what they see.

But I digress. The pity I sensed emanating from Asian fetishists seems to have roots in the Madame Butterfly myth: the noble but fallen woman who martyrs herself at the hands of unsavory men. A delicate flower who sacrifices her graces to satisfy the unseemly appetites of rapacious scoundrels. Ah, the melodrama!

This craft has always been about taking charge of my life, having the courage to manifest my passions and turn my fantasies into reality. That there are those who think it is about forcing myself into uncomfortable situations, for who knows what reason... Money, attention, some masochistic complex?

I shake my head at this, and can only speculate on how this seems to be a projection of unacknowledged issues on their part. I have a college degree, worked vanilla jobs successfully, am not stuck in the sex work ghetto, nor paralyzed by psychological demons.

These awkward interactions do highlight an ongoing challenge for me. Though I support myself in attempting to understand the underpinnings of these alternate beliefs which posit my experience more as passive object than volitional actor, I struggle with not allowing the empathy I gain to cause me to take on these values.

Like taking reviews too seriously. In my opinion, their very nature clashes with a true femme domme perspective. The teacher's pet inside me still strives to get an A. Colleagues advise me to just look away. Yet I can't. Perhaps it's like a car accident that I can't turn away from. I like to think it's more like biting into the fruit of knowledge. Yes, I am now cast out of Eden. But I know.

Knowing how men think about attractiveness without the niceties they use when speaking directly to women has been hard, no bones about it. I guess I'm a believer in trial by fire, because in the end I am grateful for being exposed to this truth. We, as women and girls, are told from the time we are very little how pretty we are, how wonderful it is be pretty, and how dangerous it is to be un-pretty. It becomes an invisible achilles heel, a point of weakness, only temporarily bolstered by external validation.

Why not just blow it out of the water? See it for what is, in all its subjectivity and relative unimportance, rather than run around with silly delusions and insecurities. How much more productive would the world be if the female half of the population wasn't so trained to obsess over this?

Granted, taking care of one's appearance is a task I endorse for both men and women -- and there are times when I look around and can't stand the latest anti-beauty aesthetics of fashion. It's about balance and proportion, as in everything.


I'll be offline for a couple of weeks on spring break.

~Kinky thoughts and bittersweet dreams~

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Musings on the Erotic Professional

Today I was supposed to participate in a round-table discussion with other local dominatrices that is set to be aired on Current TV. I decided against it.

I wrestled with this decision, as I saw it as an opportunity to contribute to an intelligent discussion of femme domination. Though in the end, I figured if I've gone this far without showing my face, why do it now?

Although I am not ashamed of what I do, I believe in using as much leverage as possible in life. I am not one to paint myself into a corner. I like to keep my options open.

I do applaud my peers who boldly reveal their visages on their websites. For those willing to take the risk, It is a great example of how dominas are truly different from others within the erotic realm.

Speaking of, look at the big commotion we are currently having over the governor of New York's indiscretions. When I was abroad during the Monica Lewinsky affair, foreigners I encountered were dumbfounded by America's seeming inability to accept the reality of typical, adult male sexual behavior. No doubt, many would view this latest scandal in the same light.

I do have mixed feelings of how session dominas are lumped in with other women engaged in eroticism for fun and profit. Not until I took down my Eros ad did I realize how relieved and happy I felt, not to be on that site anymore with its escorts and masseuses. As if being a Mistress is just an extra spicy appetizer on a plate full of female delights.

Surrounding myself with women who have been drawn to this craft, I have made friends with many who come from a very different background and approach than myself. A fair number of ladies fall into domination after trying out stripping, sensual massage, escorting or the like. More power to them for having the flexibility and strength to engage in these activities. I've learned to reserve judgment, for we are all so different. Yet I know deep down I'm uniquely authentic in this role, having never entertained men in these conventional ways. My friends who have say as much.

I came to session domination as an amateur - a swinger who occasionally attended fetish balls giddily dressed up in a burgeoning collection of vinyl uniforms, corsets and slick feline-inspired attire. I was blissfully immune for the longest time to the more blatantly commodifying aspects of the vocation. The more my eyes opened to to it, the less thrilled I was to put myself out there. Like many women who employ eroticism for gain, I was like a horse with blinders, unconsciously shielding myself from the distasteful side of the work.

In her memoir, Jenna Jameson talks about the fantasy of stripping and the reality of the hard work and ego-battering involved. I have had similar bubble-bursting shifts, from the first time I heard of anonymous online reviews with their cold-blooded ratings of attractiveness and "service" to the time a good friend confessed that she was a high-end escort and made ten times as much as me.

Hookers. What a trip to find that some of my dearest friends are prostitutes. How naive I was back in the day, when I would argue with the head mistress of The Gates over whether or not professional domination is sex work. I jumped in without knowing that the men usually touched themselves - or even that they stripped naked - in session. I just had a vague notion of wearing my cool fetish outfits and acting like catwoman. Well, at least I got that right!

This is how far I've come. When one of my first boyfriends mentioned he had visited prostitutes before we met, I was blown away. In my academically-nourished version of feminism, exploitive, sexist men who oppressed and objectified women did these things. Not nice guys I dated. I actually had to take time off from the relationship to decide whether or not I wanted to continue to be with him.

That was before I realized that almost all men will pay for sexual services at some point during their lifetime. I believe it's the nature of the sexual dynamic that exists between men and women - that men have to pay, that women never have to, and often can get paid. Perhaps the taboo applied to sex work is an attempt to cover up this power imbalance, shaming the women for having the power and charging for it.

So I'm pretty open-minded now. But I will admit that as some of my friends have moved into more explicit sex work, it has compelled me to move farther away from any association with it. Part of me is proud of their accomplishments, that they are some of the highest-rated and most expensive courtesans out there. They are beautiful, sophisticated and highly sexual creatures, unabashed in their financial ambitions and their ability to get what they want out of men.

The other part of me struggles with their decision to focus their creative and clever minds solely on the task of being an amusing companion, eye-candy and plaything on the arm of a wealthy man. These are ladies from good families with parents who are scientists, doctors, serious professionals. It makes me wonder if I could ever be proud of a daughter who is a prostitute.

You may think me a hypocrite for such a statement, especially as a Mistress who is paid tribute. Here's how I see it. I half-jokingly like to say that a pro domme is a lot more like a nun than like any other kind of sex worker. Maybe it's just that I'm not the romantic type, but I've come to believe that prostitutes have more in common with trophy wives and fiancees with the big rocks on their fingers than they do with me. I've always cringed at the so-called submissive who acted like we were on a vanilla date. OK, so we are all on Eros. To me, the extent of the likeness stops there. The difference, beyond the obvious of who assumes the dominant role, is DENIAL.

Indeed, since closing my stable to newcomers, I have become the ultimate tease and denial Mistress! For almost six years, I extended the invitation to apply for servitude. Those who have been around, have had their chance. As for novices, they are better suited elsewhere, my patience for the inexperienced having waned over time. Writing to me now to request entry, telling me that you have been an avid reader of my blog, merely reinforces my opinion that an opportunity was wasted, and not by me. Announcing in advance my impending closure would have been too easy, and only necessary if my primary motive were to milk this for all it's worth financially.

Mistress honestly believes in teaching real lessons in this world, an endeavor made easier now that this has shifted to diversion for me. When I was ready to slow down, it had to change right there and then. Not giving notice may seem "unprofessional" - one reason I no longer define myself under that rubric. When it comes to a craft as intimate as this, the pressure to act "professionally" has always rubbed me the wrong way. To expect someone to act as if the responsibilities involved are as straight-forward and impersonal as the duties of, say, an accountant or dentist is slightly ridiculous. What we do is intensely personal, as tied-in as it is to our moods and passions, as well as our physical bodies.

It does make me laugh that I have to spell this out: my closure is not an ingenious marketing ploy, despite the wave of inquiries I have received ever since! Though I regret any missed opportunities to be served by worthy true believers, surely there are others out there to worship in my place. I am content with my circle. Kinky thoughts and blessings to all. . .

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl & Beowulf

I saw "The Other Boleyn Girl" last night, which is loosely based on the life of Mary Boleyn, sister to Anne Boleyn. Anne is the more famous of the two, having been the short-lived second wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Elizabeth I before she was beheaded. Historically overlooked, Mary in fact also had a relationship with King Henry. She was his mistress (in the more common meaning of the word) before her sister's relationship with him started.

The film portrayed Mary as the younger and more virtuous sister, whereas Anne was scheming and downright nasty. My curiousity was peaked - I wanted to know how accurate it was historically. I did a bit of research to find out the real story (yes I used wiki. If you have a problem with that, do your own research and get back to me!).

True to the film, it appears Mary was considered the more attractive of the two while Anne was the more ambitious. Mary apparently did give herself freely to Henry, whereas Anne held him at bay until he agreed to divorce his wife and marry her. But what I found most fascinating, and in the end disappointing, was an important aspect of Mary's character which was not just brushed over but twisted to its exact opposite.

For Mary was not the feckless virginal younger sister depicted in the film. Rather, she was the older, more sexually experienced sister. Before she ever became the lover of Henry, she had already had a taste of royalty as the mistress of French King Francis I, who later described her as "a great whore, the most infamous of all."

After their affair ended, she embarked on several others in the French court, the scandal of which eventually led to her dismissal. In my mind, the only reason to omit this would be to satisfy a rather limited view of acceptable feminine behavior for a sympathic female protaganist, being that it is Mary we are supposed to be rooting for in this film.

Both the film and historical interpretation agree that Mary avoided the pursuit of politics, the entanglements of which proved so deadly for her younger sister. And historians also seem to agree that her final marriage to a commoner was likely a union born out of true love, as it made no logical sense in terms of familial upward mobility and caused her to be disowned and outcast.

Perhaps she proved the wisest of them all, to figure out what really mattered in this life: love, pleasure and simplicity. Though she faded into obscurity, she alone lived out the remainder of her days in peace, while her only brother and sister were executed for treason. It's just too bad that the film did not have the guts to show her in all her glory, as a wise and sexually adventurous woman. It would have only been hotter!


On another movie note, I never got around to commenting on Beowulf after it came out, so let me do so now. This movie impressed and surprised me with its femme power elements, I ended up seeing it twice (once in IMAX 3D which was so-so, once regular 3D which was much better). When I saw comic book writer extraordinaire Neil Gaiman on the credits as co-screenwriter, I understood why this had surpassed my expectations and transcended the genre conventions of a typical macho action adventure.

To understand what I found so intriguing about Beowulf, allow me to indulge in a tangent...

I had an English professor for undergrad who liked to have us watch television shows like I Love Lucy and movies like Ordinary People, then reinterpret them from alternative points of view. Basically turning the perspective upside or sideways, so that the antagonists could be seen in a sympathetic light or the peripheral characters came to the forefront. In Europe, I also studied the "histoire des mentalités" or history of world views, which utilized anthropological tools such as statistics and church records in an attempt to understand the marginalized, the covered up and the previously unspoken for.

OK, now back to the movie. Watching Beowulf unfold, the beginning of the story arc proceeded uneventfully and I anticipated an entertaining if unchallenging re-telling of the old Nordic tale. Then the film did something very clever. It shifted. It basically told another version of the warrior's epic poem from a point of view which included the women, and which acknowledged the failings of being human (or in this case, being a man).

I am an unabashed Angelina Jolie fan, and thought she was perfect casting for the ultimate seducer of men. I felt sorry for these hapless men, as they bent to her will and had their lives ruined for it!


Ah yes, the fantasy of woman as temptress, as the downfall of man. It is a fun one to play with. Sadly, in the case of Anne Boleyn, her inability to provide Henry with a male heir led him to feel he had been bewitched and betrayed. Her seduction of the king - though historically huge, leading as it did to the end of England's ties to the Catholic Church and the establishment of Protestantism as the state religion - was no match for the violent machinations of medieval men. No wonder her daughter stayed the Virgin Queen!