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Remembering The Dominatrix Who Made Her Subs Read Black Feminist Theory As Part Of Pleasure

Posted by Abeiku Ebo on

Remembering The Dominatrix Who Made Her Subs Read Black Feminist Theory As Part Of Pleasure

On March 18 of this year, the popular Chicago-based dominatrix Mistress Velvet took to her Twitter account to announce that she was “getting a divorce and going through mourning” for which reason she was suspending virtual and in-person work for the time being. The next tweet from her account, however, was the announcement of Mistress Velvet’s death.

She was followed by more than 11 thousand people on the social media platform many of whom commiserated with her family and fans. Her connection to Ghana is not clear although she has an emoticon of the country’s flag in her Twitter name.

To say Velvet was eccentric is, to say the least, boring. In a world dominated by male egos and achievements, dominatrices have to be eccentric to survive. In Velvet’s own words in an interview earlier this year with the Huffington Post, a dominatrix must provide an avenue for men to go to as a “safe space to explore the parts of them that may not be seen as masculine, or they might have a lot of shame around.” She viewed her work beyond the physical performance and exertions but also a manifestation of a mental state that should not be overlooked.

Masculine performativity – the fact of acting and responding to the world as males are usually raised to do – constrains our imaginations, according to Velvet. Men are not expected to show “softness” and even if they did, they are not expected to continually retain that feature. It is as though material achievement is the only ought and nothing should stand in a man’s way in pursuance of this. When this happens women become the objects of male oppression as men try in any way possible to show themselves powerful and with little to no emotional weakness.

 

As a result of this, Velvet introduced into her sessions, a part where the men who submitted themselves to her read Black feminist theory. This was novel. She had started off as a sex worker purely for the purpose of sustenance and to pay the bills but here she was, teaching mostly straight white men about the Combahee River Collective and such.

“Just allowing them to be submissive doesn’t allow for the more drastic shift in the framework and thinking that I want. So I have to bring in my girls, like Audre Lorde and Patricia Hill Collins, and make these men actually read about black feminism,” Velvet said.

Among the books the subs read were Sisters Outside by Audre Lourde, The Black Body in Ecstasy by Jennifer Nash and The Color of Kink by Ariane Cruz. It is imaginable to see Velvet treating these texts as if she was in an academic setting since she held a master’s degree herself. That too was part of her eccentricities because we do not hear of many sex workers who are that educated.

Velvet described herself as a Black Liberation practitioner, a pro-sex work activist and a communist. Her activism was recognized by various sex work rights advocates as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community. She was 33.


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