Saturday, November 06, 2010

A link to my latest Stranger column: an interview with Sex At Dawn author Christopher Ryan, about life after one's book is published.

And, a little word-rant of mine, first written in 2004, polished up a bit and presented for your amusement.
BDSM Word-of-the-Day: Domme. Noun. Pronunciation: 'däm
Domme is a made-up word, the faux-Frenchified and feminized offspring of the abbreviation, "dom", which of course means "dominant". Both dom and domme are used as nouns: "he's a dom," or "she's a domme". But be aware that both words are pronounced exactly the same way: they rhyme with the name "Tom". "Domme" is absolutely not pronounced "dom-may" or "dom-mey".

Even aside from some people's cringe-inducing tendency to mispronounce this word, it isn't one of my favorite terms - it just seems clunky and affected. When I came out into the scene, people used the words "top" and "bottom" as flexible generic terms to indicate someone's dominant or submissive role or behavior, and I still use those terms a lot, even though they've fallen out of vogue. I was taught to use "Master" and "Mistress" mostly as terms of specific address, and only occasionally as descriptive terms.

Another thing: a "sub" is either an underwater boat or a sandwich. I realized this word has drifted into mainstream culture, and I'll cut non-BDSM folks some slack about using it, though I may wince slightly. But for someone involved in the scene, using the word "sub" to refer to a person is extremely gauche. I really feel that there is no punishment too strong for people who say or write "subbie" as a pseudo-cutesy way of saying "submissive".

Also undesirable is saying "subbing" to refer to either a status or an activity. "Chris is subbing to Pat." Don't say that. You could say, "Chris is Pat's submissive." Or, "Chris is submissive to Pat." Or if you are speaking of a scene rather than a ongoing relationship, you could say something like, "Chris is submitting to Pat tonight at the party."

One last word rant: Dom-i-nant, when used in this context, is a noun. If you are a person who likes to be in control, you're a d-o-m-i-n-a-n-t. When you are playing with your partner, you dom-i-nate them. That's a verb. As you can see, they're spelled differently, and that's because they're two different words. If I see one more personal ad or profile saying, "I'm a dominate Master," I'm going to give someone an enema with a pureed Webster's dictionary.

Language is a beautiful thing. Words are very important. So don't fuck with them or the Mistress will kick your ass.

Original version published Tuesday, May 25, 2004

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