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The practice of bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism (BDSM) sometimes is associated with giving and receiving pain. It remains unresolved how BDSM practitioners perceive the pain of other people. This study investigated whether and how the BDSM experience affects human empathy. Experiment 1 measured trait empathy and subjective empathic responses in BDSM practitioners and control respondents. The results revealed lower trait empathy scores and subjective pain intensity ratings in the female submissive group (Subs) compared to controls. Experiment 2 measured participants' neural responses to others' suffering by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) from female Subs and controls while viewing painful and neutral expressions. We found that the differential amplitudes between painful and neutral expressions in the frontal N1 (92-112ms), frontal P2 (132-172ms) and central late LPP (700-1000ms) were reduced in the submissive group versus the control group. These findings suggest that being in the submissive role during BDSM practice weakens female individuals' empathic responses to others' suffering at both the behavioral and neural levels.
Dominatrix is the feminine form of the Latin dominator, a ruler or lord, and was originally used in a non-sexual sense. Its use in English dates back to at least 1561. Its earliest recorded use in the prevalent modern sense, as a female dominant in sadomasochism, dates to 1961. It was initially coined to describe a woman who provides punishment-for-pay as one of the case studies within Bruce Roger's pulp paperback The Bizarre Lovemakers. The term was taken up shortly after by the Myron Kosloff title Dominatrix (with art by Eric Stanton) in 1968, and entered more popular mainstream knowledge following the 1976 film Dominatrix Without Mercy.
The term domme is likely a coined pseudo-French feminine inflection of the slang dom (short for dominant). The use of domme, dominatrix, dom, or dominant by any woman in a dominant role is chosen mostly by personal preference and the conventions of the local BDSM scene. The term mistress or dominant mistress is sometimes also used. Female dominance (also known as female domination or femdom) is a BDSM activity in which the dominant partner is female. However, while the term mistress is often used in the media, members of the BDSM community often avoid it, as it can be confused with mistress in the sense of a woman who has an illicit relationship with a married man, a term which has the negative implication of cheating on a partner. Since there is a large overlap between the BDSM and polyamory communities, where ethical conduct is a prime concern, any such relationship is a source of disapproval.
Although the term dominatrix was not used, the classic example in literature of the female dominant-male submissive relationship is portrayed in the 1870 novella Venus in Furs by Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The term masochism was later derived from the author's name by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in the latter's 1886 forensic study Psychopathia Sexualis.
The history of the dominatrix is argued to date back to rituals of the Goddess Inanna (or Ishtar as she was known in Akkadian), in ancient Mesopotamia. Ancient cuneiform texts consisting of "Hymns to Inanna" have been cited as examples of the archetype of powerful, sexual female displaying dominating behaviors and forcing gods and men into submission to her. The pseudonymous archaeologist and BDSM historian Anne O. Nomis notes that Inanna's rituals included cross-dressing of cult personnel, and rituals "imbued with pain and ecstasy, bringing about initiation and journeys of altered consciousness; punishment, moaning, ecstasy, lament and song, participants exhausting themselves with weeping and grief."
Within the 18th century, female "Birch Disciplinarians" advertised their services in a book masked as a collection of lectures or theatrical plays, entitled "Fashionable Lectures" (c. 1761). This included the names of 57 women, some actresses and courtesans, who catered to birch discipline fantasies, keeping a room with rods and cat o' nine tails, and charging their clients a Guinea for a "lecture".
The 19th century is characterised by what Nomis characterises as the "Golden Age of the Governess". No fewer than twenty establishments were documented as having existed by the 1840s, supported entirely by flagellation practices and known as "Houses of Discipline" distinct from brothels. Amongst the well-known "dominatrix governesses" were Mrs Chalmers, Mrs Noyeau, the late Mrs Jones of Hertford Street and London Street, the late Mrs Theresa Berkley, Bessy Burgess of York Square and Mrs Pyree of Burton Crescent. The most famous of these Governess "female flagellants" was Theresa Berkley, who operated her establishment on Charlotte Street in the central London district of Marylebone. She is recorded to have used implements such as whips, canes and birches, to chastise and punish her male clients, as well as the Berkley Horse, a specially designed flogging machine, and a pulley suspension system for lifting them off the floor. Such historical use of corporal punishment and suspension, in a setting of domination roleplay, connects very closely to the practices of modern-day professional dominatrices.
The term dominatrix is mostly used to describe a female professional dominant (or "pro-domme") who is paid to engage in BDSM play with a submissive. Professional dominatrices are not prostitutes, despite the sensual and erotic interactions they have. An appointment or roleplay is referred to as a "session", and is often conducted in a dedicated professional play space which has been set up with specialist equipment, known as a "dungeon". Sessions may also be conducted remotely by letter or telephone, or in the contemporary era of technological connectivity by email, online chat or platforms such as OnlyFans. Most, but not all, clients of female professional dominants are men. Male professional dominants also exist, catering predominantly to the gay male market.
Women who engage in female domination typically promote and title themselves under the terms "dominatrix", "mistress", "lady", "madame", "herrin" (from German) or "goddess". In a study of German dominatrices, Andrew Wilson said that the trend for dominatrices choosing names aimed at creating and maintaining an atmosphere in which class, femininity and mystery are key elements of their self-constructed identity.
A 1985 study suggested that about 30 percent of participants in BDSM subculture were female. A 1994 report indicated that around a quarter of the women who took part in BDSM subculture did so professionally. In a 1995 study of Internet discussion group messages, the preference for the dominant-initiator role was expressed by 11% of messages by heterosexual women, compared to 71% of messages by heterosexual men.
Professional dominatrices can be seen advertising their services online and in print publications which carry erotic services advertising, such as contact magazines and fetish magazines that specialise in female domination. The precise number of women actively offering professional domination services is unknown. Most professional dominatrices practice in large metropolitan cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and London, with as many as 200 women working as dominatrices in Los Angeles.
The dominatrix is a symbolic female archetype. In popular culture, the conception of the dominatrix is generally associated with specialized clothing and props used to signify her role as a strong, dominant, sexualised woman. This role is linked to but distinct from images of sexual fetish. During the twentieth century, dominatrix imagery was developed by the work of a number of artists including the costume designer and photographer Charles Guyette, the publisher and film director Irving Klaw, and the illustrators Eric Stanton and Gene Bilbrew who drew for the fetish magazine Exotique.
One of the garments associated with the dominatrix is the catsuit. The black leather female catsuit entered dominant fetish culture in the 1950s with the AtomAge magazine and its connections to fetish fashion designer John Sutcliffe. Its appearance in mainstream culture began when catsuits were worn by strong female protagonists in popular 1960s TV programs like The Avengers and by comic super-heroines such as Catwoman. The catsuit represented the independence of a woman capable of "kick-ass" moves and action, giving complete freedom of movement. At the same time, the one-piece catsuit accentuated and exaggerated the sexualized female form, providing visual access to a woman's body, while simultaneously obstructing physical penetrative access. "You can look but you can't touch" is the message, which plays upon the BDSM practice known as "tease and denial".
Practicing professional dominatrices may draw their attire from the conventional imagery associated with the role, or adapt it to create their own individual style. There is a potential conflict between meeting conventional expectations and a desire for dominant independent self-expression. Some contemporary dominatrices draw upon an eclectic range of strong female archetypes, including the goddess, the female superheroine, the femme fatale, the priestess, the empress, the queen, the governess and the KGB secret agent. 041b061a72