Jane Johnson is everything you would expect from a typical college student. She works part-time while being a full-time student at a University. She hangs out with friends, studies for finals and visits her family during the holidays. But when night falls, she sheds her perceived normal life in exchange for a commonly misunderstood and taboo profession. Jane is a dominatrix.
“The number one misconception about being a dominatrix is that we ride dick and beat the shit out of people,” said Johnson, whose name we changed to protect her identity. “That's absolutely not the case. I rarely had any sexual contact with my clients, and I would never hurt them without their expressed permission.”
Bondage, Discipline/Dominance, Submission/Sadomasochism (BDSM) is a variety of erotic practices or roleplaying that involves a submissive (sub) and a dominant (dom). The dom takes psychological control over the sub, who takes pleasure in acts such as cross-dressing, body modification, animal roleplaying, rubber fetishes and others. Sometimes the female-specific terms "mistress," "domme" or "dominatrix" are used to describe a dominant woman, instead of the gender-neutral term "dom."
The BDSM community was introduced to mainstream audiences thanks to the popular Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. The story follows a young woman, Anastasia Steele, who’s in love with a billionaire, Christian Grey. Grey is obsessed with so-called BDSM and Steele does not want to be his sub. Throughout the story, she consents to violent sex for fear of losing him or not being able to speak her mind. Members of the BDSM community express disapproval over Fifty Shades of Grey, which paints a seriously inaccurate and dangerous picture of the industry.
“Those books are nothing but abuse and sometimes straight up rape,” expressed Johnson. “An actual dom-sub relationship should always be consensual. No dom goes to a new client's place and just immediately strings them up and flogs them. It takes time, patience and trust. The amount of trust in a dom-sub relationship is so immense, it’s sometimes more intense than any personal romantic relationship.”
Another misconception is that the sub caters to the dom, which is not true (Ahem, Fifty Shades of Grey). The dom caters to the sub’s needs. Prior to every interaction, both parties discuss the sub’s fantasy and the dom is hired to fulfill that fantasy, for example, walking the sub down the street dressed like a dog, or making the sub beg for the dom's affection and approval.
“When I meet with a new sub, my first concern is always safety. I figure out if the sub was going to be a safe person to be around, or if they would push limits that I wasn't comfortable with. After assessing their mental/emotional state and whether or not I felt comfortable with them, I was mostly interested in what their needs were. It's important for a dom to know what the sub likes and dislikes, what they need, and what their boundaries are.”
For Johnson, a typical day for her includes going to school, running errands and then getting ready for her evening on the job, which would be as follows:
When I get ready, I dress according to the client and if they had any outfit or accessories request. Sometimes we would have dinner or a drink, and discuss their day, what they were frustrated with, and what they would like for our session. I never share my personal information with my clients, even the ones I saw for years, for both for safety reasons and also because you have to keep up the illusion that you aren't a normal person. You are a powerful woman who is only out at night, and can make anyone bend to her will and probably spends her free time fighting crime or something. I'd complete my session and then I would go home, study, and go to bed. I wish I could say it was more cinematic, that I made men bow to me at train stops or wildly whipped people in parking lots, but we really are just normal people. It was just like going to a shift at a ‘normal’ job.
And just like any other person who works in the sex industry, all they want is respect.
“There is a misconception that dominatrices are dirty or bad, and must be either criminals or exceptionally deviant. We’re making a living just like everyone else. Respect your strippers, respect your doms, respect that lady on the street corner. All sex workers deserve respect. After all, we're the ones that keep your secrets.”
Next week, read part two of the series where Johnson reveals her most poignant, and some funny, experiences while being a professional dominatrix.