The Mistress Manual, “the good girl’s guide to female dominance,” is a pretty iconic book when it comes to BDSM guides but it is not a general dominance/topping book and it will be most useful to a specific sort of demographic. If you’re curious if you fall into that demographic, ask yourself these questions:
- Are my femininity and domination closely connected?
- Have I already found or created a willing male submissive?
- Does my idea of domination center around the house?
- Am I looking for help developing my dominance style and, if so, do classic dominance archetypes (nursemaid, governess, queen, amazon, goddess) appeal to me?
If you answer to any of these questions is “No,” I would direct you in another direction. Perhaps the New Topping Book; although, I have not read it myself. If all your answers are “No,” I would not encourage you to open The Mistress Manual with a 10 foot pole because, while the advice given by Mistress Lorelei will probably work quite well for those whose styles of domination mesh with her views, the scope is limited enough that it will be extremely frustrating if not entirely futile for anyone else. Here’s why.
The keyword is female.
Mistress Lorelei, whom the reader learns is a professional writer from a blurb at the end of the book but whose expertise on the subject is never fully established, seems to see female dominance and male submission as a complimentary pair, sort of yin and yang-y. And I can dig that. It many ways, it makes sense and, thus, it’s pretty much the running theme of this guide.
In some ways, however, it doesn’t make quite so much sense. Although there is advice in The Mistress Manual which can be used by any creative person or couple, the unique dynamics of a lesbian power exchange relationship may not benefit quite as well from Lorelei’s words. I would also argue that she focused on the idea of “female dominance” a bit too much but I’ve never been much of a feminist. I don’t need to roar because I’m a woman and while being female can certainly add unique aspects to power, power itself is not hinged on my gender.
In fact, there are several reviews on Amazon which voice my critiques much more eloquently than I ever could:
Most of this book is tainted with this woman’s petty revenge fantasies. She can’t seem to seperate [sic] the idea of a well balanced BDSM relationship, founded on ideas such as trust and respect, from her indignacy [sic] at her perceived “second class citizen” status because she is a woman.
The Mistress Manual could have done much more to help craft or find a submissive.
While chapter 3 talks about finding or creating a submissive, it was sorely lacking. The information to determine if one’s partner is open to female dominance is based on many assumptions. For example, Lorelei suggests that positive reactions to nipple pinching, being told to perform oral sex or to woman-on-top sex are indicative of domination fantasies and they can be, in the right situation. On the other hand, those things are all pretty vanilla these days and I wouldn’t think someone is into BDSM simply for liking those things.
If your partner does happen to have fantasies of female domination that takes little to encourage, you probably won’t find this as problematic as I did. Furthermore, if you live in an area where it’s easy to find an already submissive partner, you’re set. Just don’t rely on The Mistress Manual to be much help if either of those speed bumps apply to you.
Mistress Lorelei describes her brand of dominance as “Domestic Discipline.” While I’m no expert, she defines this term (and others) uniquely. I have only ever seen Domestic Discipline defined as a relationship between husband and wife where the husband is dominant. Female dominance does not fit that definition at all. Somehow, Lorelei has found a group of people who have altered the traditional definition and this can be misleading. It’s like she decided to say, for the purposes of her book, that “empty means full.”
Semantics aside, my domination tastes center around general BDSM not domesticity or discipline, exclusively. In the beginning of the book, Lorelei is quit to state the differences between her idea of domestic discipline and the BDSM/leather scene which did put me off for the rest of the book. However, if the idea of of domestic roles or discipline-dependent S&M is this thing, you will probably enjoy this book much more than I did.
She’s a stickler for archetypes.
Admittedly, I do not put much stock into the “archetypal” female dominance roles which she lists as nursemaid, governess, goddess, queen and amazon. Relying on established fantasies can certainly help the creative juices flow for planning a scene and help to develop a style of dominance if someone is not sure how to proceed but I find my tastes to be a bit more eclectic than these roles sometimes allow for. It goes without saying that all these fantasies closely tie femininity into dominance as well which makes them either a great fit or.. a sore fit. I do find the references to these roles throughout the book to be distracting.
If you still find yourself interested, he is a brief rundown of the Mistress Manual:
Separated into thee parts – Becoming a Mistress, the Mistress in Action and The Five Archetypal Fantasies – this book is well suited for absolute beginners or perhaps women who have struggled to get their BDSM fantasies off the ground but it does not offer the mental or emotional assistance that some people require. Furthermore, the chapters waver in depth, with Lorelei including much information about spanking inplements but never quite explaining how to bring out submission in a reluctant partner.
The chapters in the first section explain the appeal of female domination, how to get over hang ups about the idea, finding or creating a submissive male and balancing fantasy and reality. The chapters in the next section discuss establishing authority, planning a first scene, the art of discipline and “bondage, humiliation and other forms of control.” The Mistress Manual wraps up with a chapter each on what Lorelei calls the 5 Archetypal Fantasies of female domination – Nursemaid, Governess, Queen, Amazon and Goddess – with an introductory chapter about fulfilling fantasies of both the dominant and her male submissive.
There are some strengths to this book. An entire chapter is dedicated to “The Reluctant Mistress” to aid newbies who are uncomfortable with the idea of female domination. It outlines reasons that women shy away from domination such as guilt, repression or unwillingness. Additionally, Mistress Lorelei helpfully describes how language, props, costumes and acting can all aid in this endeavor. Some of these things I hadn’t given enough thought and I could see why this could be detrimental to my play. Plus, Mistress Lorelei knows her impact play props and even talks about sting versus thud as well as offering concrete information about methods of spanking. Furthermore, there is a list of ways to aid in “Combining Power and Pleasure” with tips on how language, position and other things can affect the perception of power. Lastly, the author does advise discussing thoroughly what all parties want out of domination (and the archetypes might help in determining and discussing this).
Yet I would be aware of the fact that The Mistress Manual is dated, like SM101. The author suggests finding potential partners in the meeting places of yesteryear (ads and clubs). I did not find the suggest first scene to be appealing. Rather, it was bland and didn’t flow in a way that I find to be natural or satisfying. This may only be personal preference, however.
Ultimately, The Mistress Manual is not the book for me and the points which I found helpful are few enough that I may remember them without ever needing to open it again. I would certainly steer someone toward other books (like SM101 or The New Topping Book) over The Mistress Manual. The pretentious and overly wordy style Lorelei used also detracted from my enjoyment. By the end, I was skimming the book if only because I could not longer force myself to read it word for word. In short, The Mistress Manual is a good book if you are like Mistress Lorelei but not as good if you are like me.