Opinions & Features May 14, 2021 at 03:01 pm

Remembering the dominatrix who made their subs read Black feminist theory as part of pleasure

Nii Ntreh May 14, 2021 at 03:01 pm

May 14, 2021 at 03:01 pm | Opinions & Features

Mistress Velvet was known as a dominatrix who taught her subs Black feminist theory.

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

They were followed by more than 11 thousand people on the social media platform many of whom commiserated with her family and fans. Their connection to Ghana is not clear although they had an emoticon of the country’s flag in their 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.” They viewed their work beyond the physical performance and exertions but also as 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 their sessions, a part where the men who submitted themselves to them read Black feminist theory. This was novel. They had started off as a sex worker purely for the purpose of sustenance and to pay the bills but here they were, 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 they were in an academic setting since they held a master’s degree herself. That too was part of their eccentricities because we do not hear of many sex workers who are that educated.

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

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect Mistress Velvet’s preferred pronouns. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.

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