In general, I’m frustrated by and opposed to needlessly gendered terms. They’re so unnecessary. I think it’s ridiculous to change a title just because the gender of the person changes. Take for example the words “actor” and “actress.” They mean exactly the same thing, except one is feminine and one is masculine. I tend to call myself an actor, because I am a person who acts. My job isn’t any different than that of an actor of any other gender, so I don’t see the need to differentiate.
Yet I understand and share the frustration with gender neutral words that originally referred to men and now refer to all genders, actor included. I see how this can encourage and reinforce the idea of the male default, that male is normal and typical and other genders are strange and unusual. If we lump everyone together under originally male terms, it can feel like we’re losing the differences between genders and saying “just be more normal and masculine already.” It does bug me to know that “actress” will never become a gender neutral term, but “actor” can be used as gender neutral. I am exhausted by this idea of gender neutrality that really means women should be more masculine and fall under male terms.
Coming from both of those places, of preferring gender neutral terms whenever possible, but also of being annoyed by the masculinity of the supposedly gender neutral, I call myself a domme. When it comes to acting, I feel like it’s the same basic job no matter who’s doing it. I don’t feel that way about domination. In our world and our culture, the idea of a dominant woman is still subversive, still contrary, still makes people uncomfortable. A dominant man is just filling the expected social role, but a dominant woman challenges those social roles. These are such different ideas in a world where the social expectations for men and women are so different that yes, I think we need different words for them.
I call myself a domme because my identity as a dominant is so affected by and wrapped up in my identity as a woman. I clearly have some conflicting feelings about words and gender, but this is the position I’ve settled on. If someone is going to refer to me as a dominant, I want everyone in the conversation to know that I am a woman. I don’t want people to assume that I’m a man because I’m taking on a dominant role. My dominance is wrapped up in and tangled with my woman-ness, and I don’t feel like I can separate the two. My kink role is always interacting with my social role, and my expected gender role. I wish that we lived in a society where all terms could be gender neutral, and where I didn’t have to choose between typing out the word “dominant” and gendering myself. I wish I lived in a world where the idea of a dominant woman was neither strange nor upsetting. Tragically, I live in this world, and this is the way that I’m going to try to navigate through it.
Do you use gendered or ungendered kink terms and honorifics? How did you come to those decisions?