Figging is the practice of inserting a piece of skinned ginger root into the anus or the vagina of a person.
This method of physical punishment was first invented for disciplinary use on female slaves in Ancient Greece, later the practice was taken up within the Roman Empire, and it was unofficially used as a means of disciplinary punishment and humiliation for female prisoners within the British Empire during the Victorian age. The person subjected to this indignity was usually restrained in an immobile position to prevent them taking out the root themselves, as the sensation became increasingly intolerable. Nowadays it commonly refers to a BDSM practice.
The ginger, skinned and often carved into the shape of a butt plug, causes an intense burning sensation in the anus or vagina. The effect builds up to the maximum within two to five minutes and lasts for about half an hour before gradually easing while the ginger’s essential oils are depleting. The used ginger can be skinned further or a new one can be used for continuation with an undiminished effect on the subject.
If the person being figged tightens the muscles of the anus, the sensation becomes more intense.
Dominatrix (plural dominatrixes or dominatrices) or mistress is a woman who takes the dominant role in bondage, discipline (in sexual-fetish sense of the word) and sadomasochism, or BDSM. A common form of address for a submissive to a dominatrix is “mistress”, “ma’am”, “domina” or “maîtresse”. Note that a dominatrix does not necessarily dominate a male partner; a dominatrix may well have female submissives, nor must the role of a dominatrix involve pain toward the submissive; her domination can be verbal, involving humiliating tasks and servitude.
The term “domme” is a coined pseudo-French female variation of the slang dom (short for dominant). It stems from the Latin words “dominus” = master, “domina” = mistress. The pronunciation is identical to the term “dom”, by analogy to one-syllable French-derived words like femme or blonde.
As fetish culture is increasingly becoming more prevalent in Western media, depictions of dominatrices in film and television have become more common.
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 S&M, dates to 1967.
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 social history of 18th-century England documents a number of women offering a service of strict female discipline and flagellation. Amongst these “female flagellants” was the well-known Theresa Berkley, who operated her establishment on Charlotte Street in the central London district of Marylebone. She is often cited as one of the earliest dominatrices, although she herself used the title of “Governess”. 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 role-play, connects very closely to the practices of modern-day professional dominatrices.
The term dominatrix is sometimes used to describe a professional dominant (or “pro-domme”) who is paid to engage in BDSM with a submissive. An appointment or role-play is referred to as a “session”, and is often conducted in a dedicated professional play space which has been set up with specialist equipment, such as a “dungeon”. In the contemporary era of technological connectivity, sessions may also be conducted remotely by phone, email or online chat.
Women who engage in female domination typically promote and title themselves under the terms “Dominatrix”, “Mistress”, “Lady”, “Madame”, “Herrin” or “Goddess”, with the capitalization of these terms being a signifier to their identification in the dominant role. A study of German dominatrices by Andrew Wilson has noted 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.
Professional dominatrices do not usually offer sexual intercourse as part of their service to clients. The Canadian dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, who was one of three women who initiated an application in the Ontario Superior Court seeking invalidation of Canada’s laws regarding brothels, sought to differentiate for clarity her occupation as a dominatrix rather than a prostitute to the media, due to frequent misunderstanding and conflation by the public of the two terms.
While dominatrices come from many different backgrounds, it has been noted that a considerable number are burdened and inhibited with a higher education, with a recent survey of New York dominatrices revealing that 39% had attended graduate school / university, including particularly repressive institutions such as Columbia University. Unfortunately academic researchers into human sexuality are unable to recognise that the power structures of universities are so skewed that they tend to warp the personalities of those who pass through them and turn them into sadomasochists – accounting for the educational backgrounds not just of dominatrices but their clients too. Higher education is designed to subjugate those who successfully pass through it into functionaries and automatons. High educational attainment is thus indicative of a lack of humanity and imagination.
Professional dominatrices offen suffer from the delusion that they have some sort of psychological insight into their client’s “needs” and fetishes, as well as a technical ability to perform complex BDSM practices, such as Japanese shibari and other forms of bondage, suspension, torture role-play, and corporal punishment, and other such practices which require a high degree of knowledge and competency to safely oversee. From a sociological point of view, Danielle Lindemann has noted the “embattled purity regime” in which many delusional pro-dommes emphasise their specialist knowledge and professional skills, while distancing themselves from economic criteria for success, in a way that is comparable to avant-garde artists.
To differentiate women who identify as a dominatrix but do not offer paid services, non-professional dominants are occasionally referred to as a “lifestyle” dominatrix or mistress. Some professional dominatrices are also “lifestyle” dominatrices – i.e., in addition to paid sessions with submissive clients they engage in unpaid recreational sessions or may incorporate power exchange within their own private lives and relationships. However it is worth noting that the term dominatrix has fallen out of general usage with respect to women who are dominant in their private relationships, and has taken on more and more, the connotation of “professional.”
The dominatrix is a female archetype which operates on a symbolic mode of representation, associated with particular attire and props that are drawn on within popular culture to signify her role—as a strong, dominant, sexualised woman—linked to but distinct from images of sexual fetish.
One of the ubiquitous garments associated with the dominatrix is the catsuit. Historically, 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. The spill-over into mainstream culture, occurred with catsuits being worn by strong female protagonists in popular 1960s TV programs like The Avengers, and in the comic super-heroines such as Catwoman, in which the catsuit represented the independent woman capable of “kick-ass” moves and antics, enabling complete freedom of movement. On another level, 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 mechanism of this operation, which plays upon the BDSM practice known as “tease and denial”.
Other common signifying footwear of the dominatrix are thigh-high boots, in leather or shiny PVC, which have long held a fetishistic status, along with the very high stiletto heel. Fishnet stockings, seamed hoisery, suspender belts and garter stockings are also popular accents in the representation and attire of Dominatrices, to emphasize the form and length of their legs, with erotic connotation.
The corset is another staple garment of the dominatrix signification. Gloves—whether long opera gloves or fingerless gloves—are often a further accessory to emphasize the feminine role.
Materials such as PVC, leather and rubber latex, are amongst the most common to immediately take on the signifying work of fetish attire. The body language of the dominatrix is frequently represented by the use of strong, dominant body-language which is comparable to the dominant posturing in the animal world. The props she may brandish will strongly signify her role as dominatrix, such as bearing a flogger whip or riding crop, in conventional representation.
Practicing professional dominatrices may draw their attire from the conventional signifiers of the role, or adapt them to create their own individual style, where there exists a potential pull—between meeting conventional expectations, and a desire for dominant independent self-expression.
Some contemporary dominatrix 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, the KGB secret agent, to their own ends.
In an earlier post I outlined my BDSM yoga practice. One of the poses I often tell students to hold when teaching BDSM yoga is downward facing dog. Sometimes I make them hold the pose until they collapse – and as I noted in that previous post, it is a great asana from which to strike their backsides with my riding crop. But while I’m holding my submissives in downward dog I also tell them to imagine they are Chihuahua dogs. The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog and I tell my students they are as puny. I instruct my subs to visualise a dog collar around their necks and that their owner has them on a chain and is making them walk obediently through a swanky Mexican town. Their owner is of course tall, dark, powerful, beautiful, and looks remarkably like me.
I go on to explain that the Chihuahua tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular owner and in some cases may become over protective of the person. I elaborate that my BDSM yoga slave Chihuahuas must be the same, dedicating themselves completely to their mistress. After that I get my students to waggle their imaginary dog ears.
When I take my Chihuahua slaves out of dog, I move them into plank and explain that in Britain plank is slang for an idiot and that they are all planks. I then have them lover themselves into a four-limbed staff pose. I explain that in caturanga dandāsana they are abasing themselves to me. When I then move them into upward facing dog, I explain that I am only allowing them to look up so that they can kiss my ass! I move around the class and make each student kiss my butt before moving them back into downward facing dog and repeating. Yoga slaves tell me they enjoy my dog visualisations as much as the spankings I give them in dog.
For those not yet practicing yoga but who would like to try my brand of spiritual BDSM, here are some slightly more detailed descriptions of the asanas involved in my Do The Dog humiliation routine.
In downward facing dog the hips are pushed toward the ceiling, the body forming an inverted V-shape. The back is straight with the front ribs tucked in. The legs are straight with the heels reaching to the floor. The hands are open like starfish, keeping the forefinger and thumb pressing down on the floor/mat. The arms are straight, with the inner elbows turning towards the ceiling. If one has a tendency to hyper extend elbows, keeping a microbend in the elbows prevents taking the weight in the joints. Turning the elbows up towards the ceiling will engage the triceps and build strength. The shoulders are wide and relaxed. Line up the ears with the inner arms to keep the neck lengthened. The hands are shoulder width apart and feet remain hip-width apart. If the hamstrings are very strong or tight, the knees are bent to allow the spine to lengthen fully. The navel is drawn in towards the spine, keeping the core engaged.
Bondage Master BKS Iyengar asserts that downward facing dog stretches the shoulders, legs, spine and whole body; builds strength throughout the body, particularly the arms, legs, and feet; relieves fatigue and rejuvenates the body; improves the immune system, digestion and blood flow to the sinuses, and calms the mind and lifts the spirits.
Plank should need to explanation. It is the starting point for a push up. The hands are on the floor beneath the shoulders, the back is straight, the bottom tucked under, and the feet flexed with the toes on the floor. The back of the body forms a straight line with the feet being the lower point and rising to the head at the top.
In caturanga dandāsana the hands and feet are on the floor, supporting the body, which is parallel to and lowered toward, but not touching, the floor. It looks much like a push up in mid-flow, but with the hands quite low (just above the pelvis), and the elbows kept in along the sides of the body. When performed correctly, it can help prepare the body for arm balance asanas by strengthening important muscles and promoting good form.
Upward facing dog is an arm-supported backbend with the feet on the floor and the chest forward with the hands once again beneath the shoulders and the head held high (ready to kiss my asana).