My ears always prick up when people are talking about fetish or bdsm, because that’s my world and it’s where I earn my living. I am generally struck by how much fantasy is injected into the retelling though. No civilian speaks about bdsm the way another does, because their words are almost always informed by their sexual desires.
Behind The Whip is the first book I have ever read that is honest in that respect. The profiles of the Mistresses featured are just about them, not any projected desires. They are presented to us only as who they are pretending to be.
The book begins with an amazing introduction that reads almost as a sexy history lesson, reminding us how interwoven this world is with the world it exists directly outside of (or beneath, depending on your views).
The stories begin with a woman in London, naturally, but feature women from all over the world. Some very interesting points are made throughout that feel like common knowledge but may not be. Specifically:
- Corporal Punishment is huge in England. I have yet to have a client with a British accent who didn’t want some form of corporal punishment. It is also mentioned that Americans generally go for Bondage of some sort, and that rope Bondage is very popular in Japan.
- If you aren’t genuinely into it the client can tell, and because this is a mostly mental exercise the mind state of your client needs to be just right, otherwise things can go haywire. I found this sentiment echoed by almost every Mistress featured, and I imagine it to be true for a lot of sex work.
- This work is like an odd sort of therapy for people ( I also feel this way about sex work in general, that it’s an opportunity to release tension and decompress that someone may not have had if they’d not come to you).
- A lot of the women mention that it’s something they’ve always had in them, something that I definitely understood. Even if it’s not Domination, I do feel that people come to this work on purpose, because it’s difficult to just drift into a strip club and get a job, or set up an ad on Eros or whatever. It’s not something that happens without you deciding you want to be a part of this world, and I don’t think most people come to it without having that thing in them, the thing that makes you ready to live a life on the margins.
- Domination is something one grows into, where escorting or stripping seem to be things one grows out of, as they are more transitory forms of sex work. With Domination, you only get better as you get older, because you’re learning new things, tightening up your skill set, etc. A lot of the women featured were older women, in their 40s and 50s even, which is so inspiring.
- All of the women speak about their work as something they genuinely enjoy, something that is informed by their lives and brings them real pleasure. I think this is the story for most of us who work in this industry, that there is something about our work we genuinely enjoy, even if there are parts that are bullshit.
All in all, I have to say this book is a must for people in or out of the fetish world, but especially for those of us who are currently working in it. I always get a thrill when I see women doing what I do and doing it well, so hopefully you guys will too.