Saturday, 6 February 2010



What do Slaves and Submissives want from a Master, or Mistress? Once again I’m looking to the past to help me find an answer. In GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Charles Dickens gives writers of Erotica a template for a Mistress, in the character of Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham is clever and cruel. She knows all about psychological manipulation; she’s an adept.

And how we love our Slave and Submissive stories. Reading them, writing them. I’ll never forget when I first came to Erotica and read a Slave story, by Patrick Califia. I felt like I had come home. The girl in the story finally realises her dream. She is neither weird, nor insane. She’s simply different and that’s okay. It’s okay to be submissive. It’s okay to be different.

Away from fantasy land, I would rather die than submit to someone who has physical control over me. I am not turned on by cruel treatment; by someone’s desire to dominate me. But psychological control -- well, that’s something else. Like many people, I’ve succumbed to the terror, and unhappiness of mind games, without even realising it.

Pip is a child, caught up in Miss Havisham’s cruel game of psychological manipulation. Through Miss Havisham’s bizarre and obsessive behaviour, Pip is manipulated into loving Estella.

BREAK HIS HEART. Miss Havisham, Estella and Pip.

Miss Havisham, is a prototype of a Mistress. Miss Havisham, is what she is. Despite her sad story, she could have behaved differently. She devotes her life into seeking revenge on the male sex and she is training the beautiful Estella, to continue her work, by becoming a Mistress herself.

At the end of the novel, Miss Havisham tells Pip;

"Believe this: when she first came to me, I meant to save her from misery like my own. At first I meant no more. But as she grew, and promised to be very beautiful, I gradually did worse, and with my praises, and with my jewels, and with my teachings, and with this figure of myself always before her a warning to back and point my lessons, I stole her heart away and put ice in its place...

Dickens provides Miss Havisham with a back story.

As an adult, Miss Havisham fell in love with a man named Compeyson, who was only out to swindle her of her riches. Her cousin Matthew Pocket warned her to be careful, but she was too much in love to listen. At twenty minutes to nine on their wedding day, while she was dressing, Miss Havisham received a letter from Compeyson and realizing that he had defrauded her and she had been left at the altar, she falls into a sort of pathological grief, that defines her as a character and drives the plot of the novel.

So, once again, I’m looking to the great writers of the past, whether it’s the Greek story tellers, or the Victorians, to help me to understand where writers of the 21st century, find their inspiration. Whether we write about subs or doms, heroes or villains. Whether we write just for fun, for ourselves, or in hope of riches and fame, we owe a debt to those folk whispering forbidden stories in the firelight; or, like the Victorians, scribbling their little stories by candlelight, and ruining their eyesight in chilly rooms. We should thank them all.


  1. Hi Pauline,

    I read this yesterday but wanted to think about it before responded. Throughout your post, I got the impression that the players in this scenario were all damaged. That those how live the D/s lifestyle, in your opinion, are in some way damaged.

    I can't speak for anyone but myself. But, in my mind, it's nothing like that at all. The person who gets a thrill from having someone else control him/her is simply enjoying an aspect of themselves not everyone has. A spanking can be the most sensuous act between two people who enjoy it. The feeling/shock of being spanked at the instant of orgasm is amazing. Having someone offer up their bodies for you to play with is such a rush.

    I don't know if all the old masters had to portray D/s as people who had been hurt of abused. I do know, there's an enormous difference between D/s and abuse.


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  3. No, no, it wasn’t meant to be a judgement on a lifestyle, Jude -- who am I to judge anybody? It’s intended to be the beginning of an exploration of Dickens’ novel. What I’m hoping for, in writing these pieces, on Art and Literature, is that people will realise what a huge debt we owe to the old writers and painters, in building on these themes. Hopefully too, the essays will turn folk back to look at the paintings and read the books. Victorian literature can sometimes be heavy going, as can looking at Art, but it’s worth the effort.

    The players in the scenario I used are all damaged -- terribly damaged. That’s because of their circumstances, deception, misdirection, illusion, hopeless ambition and not least of all, because of the way women were viewed at that time. As property, as fit only for the marriage market. Dickens’ knew that, and used his characters to illustrate the point. His genius is that he saw how it was done and could convey it in his writing. He saw how women were manipulated into believing the lie.

    Is this the remark that bothers you Jude?

    “Away from fantasy land, I would rather die than submit to someone who has physical control over me. I am not turned on by cruel treatment; by someone’s desire to dominate me. But psychological control -- well, that’s something else. Like many people, I’ve succumbed to the terror, and unhappiness of mind games, without even realising it.”

    I certainly don’t think that those who live a D/s lifestyle are damaged. In fact I’m envious of people who can give of themselves so utterly and completely.

    I wish it could be me…


  4. Pauline,

    In my head I know what you're doing here. But, I can't get passed the abuse issues many of the older works concerning D/s contained. To me, that's not D/s at all.



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  6. You’re making me think really hard Jude! Definitely not a bad thing. Here we go!

    The opening line of LP Hartley’s THE GO-BETWEEN, says; “the past is another country, they do things differently there.” Perhaps that’s how we should look at this -- in that context. I think that actually enjoying sex, certainly for ordinary people, is a relatively recent luxury.

    I remember my mum telling me how my grandmother wept, when she found out that she was pregnant again. She already had 7 children. How my grandfather would come home from work, and say to her; “where’s that piece of meat then?” I don’t need to explain what he meant.

    People like my grandparents, would look at us, as if we were speaking a foreign language, if we talked about dominants and submissives. As indeed we would have been. I am talking about over 100 years ago. We wouldn’t have had a word to explain it; not in the context we mean, anyway. It was only in Victorian times, that words were invented to describe, “homosexual” and “heterosexual”. Before that, the concept didn't exist. There were no words to talk about it. The tools simply weren't there.

    I’m not saying that the old masters and writers were painting and writing abuse, and criticising D/s. They just wouldn’t have understood it in terms of a fantasy, a story, a narrative; yet the lifestyle is something that many folk, in the late 20th and 21st centuries, want and need in a relationship.

    But even if my grandparents wouldn’t have understood what the hell we were talking about, the Greek myths free us from judgement. They tell us stories so that we can talk about what’s going on in our psyche. Okay, we may respond to the myths in a way that can bewilder us, even torment us.

    It’s as if we have a collective unconscious, that speaks to us, when we read those stories. Why do I like reading stories about bestiality? Pasiphae’s story tells me it’s okay to read that stuff and to explore it safely and sanely through fantasy.

    Persephone fell in love with, and married, her abductor. Fantasize about that. Incest; Oedipus fucked his mother. So we can tell ourselves a story about that.

    The list goes on. The gods grant us sanctity. They’re not judging us, for talking about D/s, writing about D/s, fantasizing about D/s. We can explore a D/s lifestyle.

    The gods don’t see D/s as abuse; neither should we.