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Fem Dom Fetish  Written by: Mistress Tracy, 07/10/2006

What is a Fem Dom?

In my earliest musings, I always felt domination was simply a natural part of my being. It wasn't until I got older that I became conscious about being a dominant female and in the same breath self-conscious of my sexual leanings. It isn't exactly typical or feminine to be a dominant female sexual partner, especially in high school; after all, we are taught throughout our childhood and puberty that anything deviating from the subscribed gender roles of Barbie or G.I. Joe is going against the grain of nature.

When I first encountered BDSM, I asked myself, what is a dominant female? There were no historical role models that I could relate to, and more often than not, men and culture regarded those women who exhibited sexual power as whores or bitches. Still now, asking what a femdom is, even to those who consider themselves as such, elicits very little historical knowledge, psychological depth, or agreed understanding that is autonomous from male philosophy, psychology, sexuality and other theorem.

In regards to dominance and submission, there is plenty of research on de Sade and Masoch - sadism and masochism - but like most things sexual, research is more commonly applied to the male gender and desires rather than to the female. Even if we generalize that women have traditionally had a common sense of community or family by which they define themselves, there has never been consensus on the term feminism, let alone on the definition of femdom or her desires.

However, the earliest recorded example of at least a female equal is from the Bible, Genesis 1:27, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." It may seem an odd place to begin a discussion of female dominance, yet it is this very reference that has led to myths in almost every Judeo-Christian religion and cultures about the creation of an equal to Adam and before the existence or perhaps even the submission of Eve. Nevertheless, the mythological Lilith, also known as Lilin, Liltu, the Night Owl, or Screech Owl in the King James Bible, can be found in Middle Eastern, Babylonian, Arab, Greek, English, German, Oriental and Native American legends. There are many different tales about this mysterious and often considered demonic woman, however it is often speculated that she was Adam's siamese twin and in the most appropriate version of this myth (for there are many), it is told, "Adam tried to make Lilith lie beneath him during sexual intercourse. Lilith would not meet this demand of male dominance. She cursed Adam and hurried to her home by the Red Sea."[1]

Defined as a woman in opposition to male dominance or a female asserting her dominance over man, Lilith would seem the most basic concept of what it is to be a femdom. Certainly, this myth aspires to give us an example that gender roles, while prescribed in culture, are not necessarily natural models of behaviour, even according to some translations of this chapter of the bible. Female sexuality is diverse, fluid and complex, and where one woman may have come to discover her dominance through her experiences with men, others may have always known intuitively about their dominant leaning. However, Western culture does not like a dominant woman and attempts at every turn to force her to submit to her place as wife, witch or whore.

"Looking back on my life now, I can say that I have always had a dominant personality. I was always a leader not a follower among my peers. I was a tomboy growing up, and learned to play with the boys," states professional Dominatrix, Mistress Gemini in an interview on Fem Supreme.

This is not an uncommon experience of the femdom, and yet it is also not the only one. Many other women go their whole lives in submissive and vanilla relationships until one day they determine - either through their own personal growth, or perhaps through an experience that triggers them to realize their own sexual empowerment - their leanings as a dominant female. However, a dominant female is not necessarily a femdom, and other than to recount various and unique 'herstories', it is difficult to pinpoint what makes some women submissive in bed and dominating in the boardroom, others dominating in the bedroom, and still others a lifestyle femdom or Dominatrix.

In an online article, Mistress Elise Sutton writes that "Female Domination did not originate from dominant women or feminists. It was men who coined the phrase Female Domination to categorize their sexual and social desires to submit themselves to the female gender."[2] It's hard to dispute this statement, particularly since sexual desire has traditionally been bound to male fantasy and discourse. Women, in fact, have had little access to their own desire or sexuality throughout Western history, let alone access to power.

To further her argument, sadism and masochism were not identified as sexual practices until Richard von Krafft-Ebbing named them in his book, Psychopathia Sexualis (1886). Similarly, both definitions are based either on one man's (de Sade) fantasy of sexual power and control or violence over women, or on another man's (Sacher-Masoch) desire to be dominated by women. It would indeed seem that female domination originates from the submissive or masochistic appetites of men.

Bondage, humiliation, spanking, whipping, fetishism, role-play, feminization, CBT and golden showers, among other things, are all a part of what a male submissive wants and, as Mistress Elise states, needs. While she goes on to define female domination as the "male longing for loving female authority," I think there is a fallacy in this. Frankly, it hardly seems dominating to define femdom within a parameter of male want, since it easily situates her as a woman who continues to succumb to male desire and fetish, and one could easily interpret that she is doing nothing more than women have done since the submission of Eve - servicing the male orgasm.

On many, but not all femdom porn sites, scenes rest on the Dom's ultimate submission to the penis. By this I mean her ability to either give the submissive an orgasm or, believe it or not, succumb to the power of the phallus through having a cock in her mouth or pussy. It is this kind of conventional pornography that hold women back from realizing their true dominant potential and it plays into the definition of a femdom as nothing but a two-dimensional object of male desire.

While Mistress Elise has some very valid arguments regarding what male submissives do or should want, one can't help but wonder where she would locate her own pleasure, desire, and power as a dominant.

Another Dominatrix, Lady English, suggests that orgasm is never the goal of the femdom, and that it basically lowers the female dominant to nothing more than a whore. "Where the female dominant retains sexual gratification to substantiate her prominences as a supreme being, the prostitute sells sexual gratification which reduces her femininity and her humanity to the substance of a commodity. Those who truly believe that the female is to be cherished, adored and worshiped would never consider to bargain for her most intimate possession.”

She hits on a few elements of taking pleasure in being a femdom in her What Is Female Dominance. She suggests first that the Mistress must be unattainable to the male; second, that the essence of true female domination is a celebration of femininity; and she also suggests that the transference of power from the submissive to the Dominant is part of the femdom pleasure.[3]

This seems a very reasonable definition and explanation, except that the transference of power suggests that the female does not have it within herself in the first place and that only through men's adoration of the female as supreme does he willing hand over power (which is symbolically his) to her.

In all definitions of female dominance that I have come across, I find a bothersome paradox in which the femdom so readily defines her domination through the male submissive. Alternately, male dominance is rarely, if ever, defined by the desires, wants or needs of the female sub, so why is it that women always choose male discourse and desire as crux to assert anything, let alone a definition of female supremacy or dominance?

While both the Dommes I have quoted seem in slight opposition with regards to their philosophy of female domination, I would suggest that there is one commonality between them and with most other femdoms, and that's in the implied or explicit connection of the dominant female with nature, as well as the commemoration of her own femaleness. It's from here that I feel that we can and should begin to understand and define the femdom without resorting to the use of submissive male desire as a starting point.

The Enlightenment thinker, Charles Montesquieu, once asked, "Does natural law submit women to men?" While Camille Paglia does not specifically theorize about the modern femdom in her book Sexual Personae, she does equate femaleness with nature, and I would say that she answers no to that question. Celebrating the mother as "the overwhelming force," Paglia suggests quite the contrary in articulating that the biologic reality of women is a source of power in itself. "The North American Indian myth of the toothed vagina (vagina dentate) is a gruesomely direct transcription of female power and male fear." [4]

Natural law, it would seem in this context, submits men to women and in this way a femdom need only define herself by realizing and taking the power already born of her own basic anatomy. Until the dominant female rejoices in her own body and femaleness, or as Lady English suggests, celebrates femininity, until the femdom discovers and unites upon a communal base from which to define her power, she will not only never understand her own desire, but ultimately she will continually be imprisoned to definition by the sexual appetites of men, and not her own. Certainly it's an issue deserving of much more space than available in this article, but with all of this in mind, I would like to go back to the initial question that I had asked myself as an inexperienced girl in the world of BDSM: what is a female dominant? I believe a true femdom is a woman who is born of and knows her nature, and is not made from the fantasies of men.

[1] Hefner, Alan G., Lilith. Encyclopedia Mythica, 25, July, 2004.

[2] Sutton, Mistress Elise. What Is Female Domination? 1, January, 2004. Bitchy Toons, 03, May 2006.

[3] English, Lady. What Is Female Domination? 1999, Leather and Roses. 12, May 2006.

[4] Paglia, Camille, Sexual Personae. First Vintage Books, New York, 1991.

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