Terms of address are a feature of D/s used to define and emphasise the power exchange, providing obvious and verbalised signifier of the dynamic. For some people, they are used all the time, for others only at certain points. In the latter case they create starting moments when an activity or situation becomes a scene rather than being the day to day. In a similar way they can be used to remind someone of their status - whether on top or bottom - which in turn denotes respect and recognition for the connection they share. They are magic words, lifting us up a little, bringing smiles to faces and the flush of anticipation.
And like all magic words, the key is to use the right one, which is the quandary I'm currently in. What title to use as a dominant? I accept that this is as fraught with pitfalls and indicators of identity, style and drive as deciding on a band name, although at least here the scope is narrower than the entire lexicon. At the moment, I'm place-holding with "Ms insert last name here" which was a natural follow-on from Ten's tendency to call me "Miss..." anyway. I'm not a big fan of "Miss" and it smacks a little of small children waving their hands in the air and asking to go to the bathroom. "Ms" is at least a more grown-up title, and will do for now. In the meantime, the alternatives.
I've always been a bit ambivalent to Mistress (and Master for that matter), not least because of the recent tendency of myself and others - Hedwig in particular - to pronounce it with a Gollum-like spitting tone when describing sleazy unwanted boot licks desperate to "serve". I like it because it is traditional and has an old-fashioned ring to it, someone once called me Mistress Doll which had a pleasing bawdy-house feel to it and that might be enough to swing it for me, except I don't always sit around with a giant wig, rouge, corsets and red stockings, so I might just save it for high-days and holidays. Mistress has a feminine allure to it which isn't entirely to my tastes, whilst I don't want a masculine title, neither do I want to be so overt in terms of gender and Mistress is extremely gendered, especially with it's connotations of being the "other woman", another thing I'm not particularly keen to be. Finally, Mistress is sometimes used as a synonym for (high class) prostitute and certainly as an alternative to Pro-domme and that doesn't express my identity properly.
I need a name that works for me, whatever I'm wearing and wherever I am, not just for when I'm feeling frothy or femme. Sometimes I want to work my curves, my femininity and other times I am a more androgynous hardbody. I don't cross-dress, however, so whilst "Sir" has an appeal, because it would be a neat reversal having uttered it so many times and I do like the military and ennobling sound of it, it isn't me. I am not a man and do not want to dominate "like a man" - I don't want to dominate "like a woman" either, again, not entirely sure what that might mean and if it involves Shania Twain in any respect except as punishment I am certain I don't want to do it. I want to dominate like me. In true dominant style, therefore, I want my own road and a bag to put it in - to be special and unique.
But the fact is, there just aren't that many dominant titles to go around, male or female, and sadly the vast majority are split into those binaries. Perhaps it is my prejudices showing, but the feminine counterparts don't seem to be operating on an equal footing. Take Master and Mistress for example - the former is never anything but in charge, but the latter can be slur and a deeply sexualised one which is also disempowering - a kept woman is also a Mistress. There is no real match for the severity and simplicity of Sir as discussed above. Ma'am certainly has the military respect within it, and the formality, but it makes me feel very unsexy and either a thousand years old or the Queen. You could try Lady, and I know a number of women who like being called "my Lady" and it certainly sits well with them, but for me is too soft, too genteel for the sort of things I want to be doing and again, there is a confusion of ownership and investment of power within the social currency surrounding that term - I am not anyone's lady (I'm probably not exactly a ladylike, anyway) any more than I am their dear, their darling or their love.
I had a brief and excitable foray into more exotic terms, coming out with Maitresse - instantly rejected because it's too french and sounds like mattress. Then there was the more punchy Domina, which gave me thrills of Polly Walker as Atia in Rome, no bad thing, but decided that rather like Mistress Doll it was probably a bit too much to wear all the time. Similarly Castellana might be a wonderful term for the beautiful uber-femme in Micheal Manning's artwork, but it's not something that sits well with me when I'm drinking builders' tea and my manky converse trainers are up and resting on a puppy boy or running through a field ready to rugby tackle my hapless quarry.
Back to the drawing board.
5 weeks ago