Purveyor of Pleasure

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Semantics Sunday: Domina

Semantics Sunday is the day for me to write my own definition of a word, how I feel about a word, and how it relates to me personally and my own identities. This could be anything sexual, gender, bdsm, and poly/relationship oriented, or anything else I feel like throwing in. This is simply my definition and understanding of the word, and not meant to be the only definition that is or could be. If you have an alternate definition, if you agree with my interpretation, or if you have something to add which I left out or which needs correcting, feel free to let me know in the comments!

For my first Semantics Sunday I figured I should use a word that is near and dear to my heart. Since I have already given my lengthy definition of cuntpet I decided I should focus on the other of my identities: Domina.

I recently created a new channel on irc.bondage.com, where I am quite frequently, called #Fiery_Dominas. This is the first channel with Domina in the channel name, which is part of the reason why I started it, however it has inspired comments such as “What is dominas? Dommes plural?” which is relatively ridiculous considering for one thing, Dommes is Domme plural, and for another thing Domina is a fantastic and real Latin word, unlike Domme, which is a slang term.

Now, on one hand, I feel there is nothing wrong with slang terms, and think that they should be used and incorporated, and Domme basically incorporates Dom and Femme (as in french for female, not queer femme), which is not horrible in general, and is rather logical. However, now that I have discovered and embraced Domina, Domme sounds silly to me, it is nowhere near as linguistically luscious or regal-sounding as Domina is, and it doesn’t inspire the same awe. I also feel that Domina is a much more feminine term than Domme, which is partly why I’m so partial to it as well.

Basically, Domina comes from the Latin root dom- found in other such words as dominate, domify, domicile, and domestic, as well as domin- such as dominant and dominus. From various sources I find that “dom-” actually relates to a household or realm, and the actual Latin translation of Domina or Dominus (the male counterpart), is “Lady or Lord of the house/realm.” This makes sense, considering dom- relating also to words such as domicile and domestic. The prefix domin- alone (supposedly) indicates regal status, such as Lady/Lord, or Mistress/Master, which is why Domina is the feminine and Dominus is the masculine (the suffix -a being feminine, and the suffix -us being masculine).

This brings us to the question, if we use Dom and not Dominus, why should we use Domina and not Domme? Well, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever use Domme, I’m just saying that I don’t want to use Domme, and furthermore, we could use Dominus as well, should a male dominant desire to be called that. I’m not going to condemn others for using the term Domme, but I do not identify with the term and will not be using it for myself or for others unless specifically requested.

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6 Comments

  1. I like it. Granted, I studied three years of Latin, so I’m biased.

    Words are important, and words can be loaded. ‘Domina’ sounds quite classy and quite feminine, but powerful. Besides, it sounds quite sexy when said properly. ;)

    As for ‘Domme’: I tend to simply type ‘Dom’ for both males and females. I don’t know why I have this stubborn habit, but there it is. It may be that while I myself gender-identify as female (and am biologically female), I’m not your typical feminine female…

    My usage of the term may change as I meet more people who identify as dominants and I hear which term they prefer and why. It’s all a process. ;)

  2. @PantheraPardus: You totally are the queen of blog comments! Do I have the Latin stuff right? I’d assume so, since you didn’t correct me.

    I like the idea of typing just ‘Dom’ for all genders, I think it makes much more sense in some ways. Hmm. I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference, and may depend if one was using it as a title rather than a label? Hmm, something to ponder anyway.

  3. I’m very with you! I much prefer “Domina” to “Domme,” for many reasons. One being that it’s hard to mispronounce “Domina,” whereas pronunciations go all across the board with “Domme.” Plus, “Domina” is verbally more clear, since there is the discinction between the female “Domina” and the male “Dominus.” Given that the correct pronunciation of “Domme” is the same as the pronunciation for “Dom,” it’s verbally ambiguous.

    I posted a suggestion on the FetLife Town Hall not too long ago, before it got split into Suggestions and Tech Support, asking that the title “Domme” be replaced with “Domina” or just plain “Dom,” or at the very lease supplemented with those two choices. I don’t know why it matters so much to me, as I don’t classify as Dominant so I don’t have to see the term “Domme” on my page, so I guess it’s just the thought behind the whole thing.

    As for men using the term “Dominus…” well, the mere word sends tiny little chills down my spine, so yes, I think I could very much warm up to calling a man “Dominus.” :)

  4. @Amber: Hehe, when I read the post to Master he said that he would start calling himself a Dominus and wear Roman battle armor. Kind of amusing. But I think Dominus and Domina both have a much more regal and superior air to them than Dom and Domme.

    I also agree that the verbal distinction is much nicer as well, instead of both of them sounding like Dom, having that distinction is nice. I remember reading your suggestion about it, and I couldn’t agree more (I thought I responded? Maybe not…) I just don’t think that Domme should be as commonly used as it is!

  5. dominadoll

    I’ve been using the name Domina for several years as my scene name for fetish events and the various d/s societies in which I belong. I chose the name after taking a workshop with Midori about “claiming your female dominance” and doing an archetype worksheet. I definitely prefer it over the term Domme, but maybe I’m biased.

  6. @dominadoll: Definitely biased (as am I), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! I think it’s fantastic that you use it, especially since I see it so infrequently, and I remember thinking that the first time you commented (did I mention that in my responding comment? Hmm, I’ll have to go check, maybe not).

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