The first thing you need to know if you are thinking about getting this book is that the author feels that it represents a guide to domestic discipline style dominance rather then leather dominance. This may be a bit of a confusing line to draw for many folks, but she does break down some of the differences as she sees them within the text. If you are into spanking, forced feminization, Victorian or 50's style clothes, and roleplaying it is a pretty safe bet the text will be pertinent to your style of play regardless of where you'd draw the line between leather and domestic discipline yourself.
The author also expresses several times in the text that the book should really only be read by Female dominants rather than the people that play with them, it is her opinion that it may spoil a bottom's experience if they read the book. I'm not sure I personally agree with that, but I felt those were some important things to understand right off the top. Maybe in domestic discipline situations it would ruin the mystique, and so if you are serious about such a play arrangement you should probably take her advice. Maybe you should consider reading this book and giving your submissive a subscription to WHAP instead.
Almost the entire text presumes a heterosexual play relationship between a female dominant and a male sub that is sexual in nature, so if you have another dynamic in your own relationship you'll have to either adjust the text to your situation or find another book more suitable for you. Since the author is very up front about wanting to focus that intensely on that narrow demographic I personally felt it was a very skillful text for a under served minority in kink rather than any sort of oversight on the author's part.
I found the book to be fascinating at the same time it was off putting. I'm someone that doesn't do well with female supremacy and terms like "salute the female shrine" (cunnilingus) tend to set my teeth on edge a bit. I realize that is a personal issue, however, and if such things really fascinate you this is the best book I've seen on them.
There are three main parts to this book.
The first part focuses on "Becoming a Mistress". The author basically talks women through some of the early questions a lot of us have when we start to explore our dominant side. One particularly interesting section is "The Guilty Dominatrix" in which she lists a lot of common worries experienced by beginners and answers them. She also shares her philosophy on finding a submissive male or retraining a current partner to be submissive.
Since my own philosophy differed so much from the author I admit I read the first section of this classic while cursing under my breath. The important thing I had to remind myself of was that this was a situation where I was being given a privileged look into one particular Domestic Discipline style dominant female and rather than sit around arguing philosophy I should take advantage of the unique opportunity to try to understand where she was coming from. When I let go of the internal argument the book became really an interesting jewel in my library. Her philosophical advice may not be appropriate for my relationship, but I'm sure it is certainly more than applicable to many other people. If you pick up this book and nearly pop a vein in your temple reading the first part I'd advise taking a short break and coming back with an objective observers attitude in order to get a sense of how other people are doing things or skip to part two until you have an interest in learning domestic discipline philosophy. If you hated everything you read in the first part, the second part will still more than pay for the book.
"Part Two: The Mistress In Action" was my favorite section and it sets this book head and shoulder's above the information given in most texts and online resources in regards to female dominance. The author skillfully dissects every nuance of dominance involving establishing your authority and scening with a partner in this section and gives enough information that I think many women would be well prepared for their first scene after reading this book. I certainly wish I would have read it years ago because I think it would have taught me a lot about timing and mood that I had to learn in the school of hard knocks. She has tons of tips that I'd love to share with you but it would be unfair to do so. Suffice it to say that if you practice any form of female dominance you're going to find something in this section that is worth ten times what you paid for the book. If you're new this will give you a good primer. If you are an old hat at dominance this is a great refresher course that forces you to think about things that you've perhaps fallen into a rut about. I really can't say enough good things about this section. If you are a spanking enthusiast this is an essential text, you will simply not find a better explanation of spanking technique anywhere. It isn't a great text to learn how to use more advanced tools like floggers, but it isn't meant to be. It focuses much more on tools like the human hand, hairbrush, spoon, paddle, strap, birch, or cane than things more leather oriented. This is great because it is very hard to get a thorough description of technique with many of these items. The only other text that would do it at least equal justice would be The Compleat Spanker by Lady Green.
Part three brings us back to philosophy again and examines what the author considers to be the "Five Archetypal Fantasies" of those in domestic discipline. These archetypes break down into Nursemaid, Governess, Queen, Amazon, and Goddess. For each of these archetypes she explains the elements involved in that particular fantasy, the skills a person will need to fulfill the role, the unique pleasures inherent in the role, the needs of the submissive seeking out the fantasy, how to put on a scene, and how to add some variation to the archetype.
Being a female ageplayer the Nursemaid section made me pop a vein in my temple again, but I have to admit that while this section was way off for me personally it does seem to be very in line with the needs and experiences of many Adult Baby and sissy ageplayers I've met and even played with over the years. If your ageplay fantasies revolve around a situation where a partner needs to feel "thoroughly embarrassed and punished" than this is definitely your resource. If you come from another school of thought you might find this text highly offensive, especially if you are a regressive adult kid who needs nurturing and a safe environment. Being more of a leather ageplayer myself, I didn't find it highly offensive just highly inaccurate for me personally. I would have appreciated it if this section had been a bit more clear about the fact that there are many different styles of ageplayers and a person better be sure they know what type they are dealing with before they make a call on what sort of play is appropriate and what the motivation of the bottom is. I also felt that since this particular style of play tends to be an emotional powder keg if approached thoughtlessly that perhaps some more emphasis on emotional safety issues would have been appropriate.
Aside from these sections the book offers a glossary of very basic domestic discipline and sexual terms and a list of "Ten Rules For a Successful Mistress". I found the rules she listed to be pretty darn good, but the glossary was a bit offensive. I think I was lacking the appropriate sense of humor and should have attempted to grasp it. I just couldn't keep down my lunch well when I faced definitions such as disobedience being described as "Typical male behavior, to be curbed and punished by a wise Female hand." I also flinch at words like cock being defined as "A male's unruliest member. To be teased, tormented, and tamed." I realize she is trying to represent the "Female Dominant" attitude but since I'm not playing with her it just sort of struck me wrong. Perhaps since I've spent so much time working with men to establish my dominance while at the same time trying to design lessons that helped them to love and accept themselves more so that they were handing themselves to me in joy rather than in defeat or humiliation the premise behind the humor just hits me like nails scraping on a chalkboard. This may just be a case of the whole philosophy behind these definitions not being my kink and so I had a negative reaction. Perhaps after growing up a bit I will have a more mature reaction to the glossary. Rationally, I can clearly see that if a consensual arrangement takes joy in this sort of thing it is not my job to feel one way or another about it. Still, since it was instructing and defining things I felt myself rubbed a bit raw at times. I would have liked the book more if there were more reality checks for female dominants included. Frequently I felt that this book would be a great tool to encourage certain women to write reality checks that would bounce, but that is my opinion.
Another criticism of this classic is that there weren't any resources given. I would enjoy a resource section that would guide a person to manufacturers, books, magazines, organizations, or personals for people with an interest in domestic discipline. I think that when it was originally published there wasn't much to offer, but in this second edition they really should have made the effort.
What type of person would probably benefit from this book?
This is simply the classic volume in domestic discipline education for female dominants. If you have any inclination towards that playstyle you will love this book. It is exactly the thing you've been looking for. If you have a subscription to WHAP, you'll enjoy the slant here.
If you are a spanking enthusiast buy this book whether domestic discipline is your thing or not. You'll love the descriptions of technique and find the text extremely erotic.
What type of a person should probably look elsewhere?
If you are more of a leather dominant this book may seem pretty foreign to you. If you tend to be very egalitarian in your feelings about gender this book might get on your last nerve. If you are looking for a lot of safety and technique information you'll be disappointed. If you are looking for outside resources, you'll come up fairly empty.
In summary, I don't want people to think I mean to bust this book's chops too much. It is a great and highly original text that has deserved the title "classic" in the domestic discipline genre. That said, this is a very specialized text so unless this stuff really rings your bell you may find it irritating unless you step back and learn to take from the wealth of information here and leave what doesn't apply.
Spankos, don't miss this one!
This review is Copyright © 1999 Vamp Ire.
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