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(en) Interview with an Anarchist Dominatrix, organise mag, AF, UK

From dr.woooo@nomasters.org
Date Thu, 19 Dec 2002 06:47:40 -0500 (EST)


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Interview with an anarchist dominatrix 

For two years Mistress Venus was a professional
dominatrix in central London. She?s also an anarchist
communist. So, we at Organise! thought we?d take the
opportunity to ask her a few questions about this. 

Organise!: There?s a popularly-held belief, also prevalent
among the left and some anarchists, that anyone
(particularly female) who works in the sex industry, is in
some way a victim and has been forced into that situation.
How realistic is this view? 

Mistress Venus: I think it?s very important to make
distinctions between workers in different areas of ?the sex
industry?. The role played by a girl working the streets is
very different from the role (as that?s exactly what it is)
played by a professional dominatrix. Speaking from
personal experience, my decision to work as a dominatrix
was purely my own choice and was something I wanted to
do. It was an extension of having spent years going to fetish
clubs and performing as a fetish model. I knew the scene,
the roles played and exactly what was involved. I had no
illusions about it and I was in no way coerced into it.I kept
my day job (working in a shop), worked when I wanted to
and unlike many, had no monetary pressures I was forced
into supporting.

I must admit that the approach I took was a very practical
one: I only ever worked with at least one other dominatrix,
who worked as my ?maid?. And sometimes a male
colleague stayed within the building and helped set up the
?sessions?. Sessions were pre-arranged, with the ?client?
and myself both discussing our own limits and
expectations, though obviously not all sex workers are
afforded this level of co-ordination and support! There?s a
very different attitude from the ?client? towards a
dominatrix, compared to that towards a girl on the streets,
I think. To my ?clients?, I was the embodiment of their
desires. They worshipped everything about me, and I had
the power to control whether they were allowed to even look
at me. And, if they displeased me, they cleaned my
bathroom out with a toothbrush! 

There was never any sex involved in the ?sessions?. The
sexual energy from the client is derived from the playing
and reversal of power roles, from a form of humiliation and
degradation absent from their ?normal? daily lives. That?s
not to say, however, that I didn?t, at times, feel used, or stop
and question just exactly what I was doing. In fact, at
times, it served to reinforce ideas I?d previously held about
the exploitation of women by men, particularly, in the case
of a dominatrix, sometimes very rich and powerful men! 

Ultimately, I stopped though. I chose to give it up. I wasn?t
interested in, or enraptured by, the money it brought in (and
these guys would pay up to £120 an hour, £30 extra to be
pissed on!). It was something I chose to enter, and chose to
leave; a choice many ?sex workers? don?t always have! 

O: You say your ?clients? worshipped you when you were in
your dominatrix role, and you also talk about having power
and control over them. How does that role fit in with you
being an anarchist? 

MV: During a domination session both parties are
consenting adults who choose to perform their particular
role whether it be the role of the master, the all-powerful
oppressor, or that of the weak, oppressed slave and choose
their own limits. The session is an escape from reality; a
performance where the clients enter the realm of their
imagination, and briefly live out fetishes that are scorned in
this society. 

The roles we play mirror the power-based capitalistic
society we live in today, a society of greed, oppression and
subversion, a society of force, silence and pain. This is in no
way representative of the lifestyle I choose to live in as an
anarchist, a society based on equality, respect and
self-government. Domination is a game, the adult?s version
of what children call ?playing?. It?s not real and, for me
personally, it does not reflect elements of my personality. I
enjoy the sessions as a performer, as an experimenter and
as an exhibitionist... It?s the attention I crave. The thrill of
power and control is a novelty in a game, not something
that I desire to be present in my ?real life?. I think it is very
important, in a society based on freedom, that people
should be able to express themselves and their fetishes and
fantasies freely and in a safe environment (providing all
parties are consenting), whether those fetishes involve being
whipped as a naughty school-kid or dressing up as a nurse! 

O: Earlier, you mentioned that your work sometimes
reinforced issues around the exploitation of women by men.
Did you feel you were more exploited than you might have
been in other kinds of work? 

MV: During a domination session, the traditional,
stereotypical gender roles are usually reversed. During the
sessions the female dominatrix becomes the power holder,
taking control over the male. This is a mirroring of the
patriarchal society we inhabit today; where males
traditionally have the ?best? jobs, the higher wages, the
positions of power in society and the home; and where the
male is seen as the allauthoritative figure in control. 

Throughout the world, history is told through the eyes of the
male, and women are repressed through, for amount of
interest in fetishes such as body adornment and
modification (tattoos, piercings, scarification etc). And
when it dawns on me that I am making a living by
someone ultimately controlling what I am doing with my
body, the element of how much choice I have over my body
and life has to be questioned. There is a feeling of having
been exploited, felt by nearly everyone who has to work
hard in this society, which is based on inequality and
division. I?ve felt it whether I was working in a shop or in
an office, or as a cleaner, which were my previous
professions, but the feeling of having your own body
exploited is a much more raw one, a much more personal
one, that does leave you feeling ?naked?. 

There is a big difference when money becomes involved. I
spent years going to fetish clubs, where all the ?games? and
activities are done by choice with willing participants,
everyone enjoying the role they played. But when the
exchange of money becomes involved, the element of choice
is gone and the realms of ?body fascism? open up. If people
are going to pay for services, they expect you to look a
certain way!

Hence the feelings of exploitation creep into the normally
pleasurable areas of your life.

O: We?ve seen the positive initiative of the setting up of the
International Union of Sex Workers in this country. But,
more recently, however, at least in London, they?ve
affiliated to the GMB. Now, obviously, the AF would see this
move towards mainstream trade unionism as retrogressive.
But as someone who?s worked in a job generally identified
as being part of the sex industry, what do you think is the
potential for better selforganisation among sex workers? 

MV: I think there?s huge scope for potential, just as there is
between workers within any industry. What it needs,
however, is for various obstacles to be overcome both by
ourselves and by society, and for barriers to be broken
down, for example the barriers created by the example,
religion, violence, exploitation and inequality. The role of
the dominatrix temporarily reclaims some of this power
and hands it back to the woman; one might almost say it is
the man who becomes the exploited. However, I do consider
the ?sex industry? as being one of the very vehicles used by
men and society to exploit women, an arena where women
use their bodies as an object for sale. And being a
dominatrix is still making a living using the ?being? and
body as an object, regardless of who wields the so-called
?power? for the duration of the session (or who holds the
whip!). 

Often, yes, I was left feeling as though I had been exploited,
possibly more so than if I had a more ?conventionally
acceptable? or ?normal? job. Regardless of the fact that I
enjoyed the role play and enjoyed the escapism, the costume
and grandeur of the part, I still felt as though my body had
been used by another person as something they had control
over, simply by the fact that they were paying for the
session, paying for me to dress up in a certain way and
behave in a certain way at a certain time (even though we
could say the same about a number of roles we play in our
life!). 

I believe the body is the last aspect of our lives we have any
control over. This explains the large and growing
?separatist? attitudes so prevalent between workers, both
within the same branch of work or within different
branches. Once this is achieved, and we all begin to realise
that our strength and support will stem from our working
together, then we will be stepping closer to selfgovernment
and organisation, as opposed to resorting to being
represented by a body so influenced by, and affiliated to, the
Labour Party! By improving communication between the
various workers and branches, and achieving the
de-stigmatisation of the industry by society, we can begin to
co-operate with one another to create a united body
offering, for example, advice and information, and giving
emotional and practical support for people, both already
within the industry, and entering it. 

We need to abolish all forms of control that are so common
within the sex industry, and abolish the different levels of
power; we need to work as one so that we are all informed,
safe, supported and united, as opposed to working alone
through force or need, in sometimes dangerous conditions.
Sex work, in one form or another, will always be around, it
always has been, and it?s certainly not in any danger of
disappearing - whether we live in a capitalist society or
even in a moneyless anarchist society. Sex work takes a
myriad of different forms and is entered, used and left for a
myriad of different reasons. It?s just that in one of these
societies workers within it will continue to be exploited,
misrepresented and scorned by that very society itself, and
in the other one we will have the power, ability and
motivation to both be ourselves and govern ourselves!


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