This article takes an interdisciplinary perspective to examine the treatment of professional dominatrices (doms) and male submissives (subs) in law and film. I argue that while the cinematic and legal discourses are formally distinct, they are functionally similar in the ways they discipline this sexual arrangement. The legal analysis deconstructs the case of R. v. Bedford, which effectively criminalized some forms of professional dominant services, in relation to recent popular films that represent female doms and the men in their lives. This deconstructive project demonstrates that both legal and cinematic fields view female dominance as a moment of "gender trouble" that needs to be contained, and, if possible, rectified, by masculine authority. I posit that this comparative analysis offers a microcosmic perspective on how the gender prescription of male dominance and female submissiveness is sustained and imposed in law and film, representing a moment of converging sexual ideology in these disparate discourses. I conclude with a suggestion that such efforts of gender regulation ultimately and unwittingly betray a desire for the sexual Other, while opening up spaces for counter-hegemonic identifications and subjectivities.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3138/cjwl.21.1.143
Journal Canadian Journal of Women and the Law
Citation
Khan, U. (2009). Putting a dominatrix in her place: The representation and regulation of female dom/male sub sexuality. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 21(1), 143–175. doi:10.3138/cjwl.21.1.143