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The term was taken up shortly after by the Myron Kosloff title Dominatrix (with art by Eric Stanton) in 1968, and entered more popular mainstream knowledge following the 1976 film Dominatrix Without Mercy.
Although the term "dominatrix" was not used, the classic example in literature of the female dominant-male submissive relationship is portrayed in the 1870 novella Venus in Furs by Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
In this scene, the strict dominatrix has stripped the submissive and is caning her buttocks for not playing the violin properly. The history of the dominatrix is argued to date back to rituals of the Goddess Inanna (or Ishtar as she was known in Akkadian), in ancient Mesopotamia.
Ancient cuneiform texts consisting of "Hymns to Inanna" have been cited as examples of the archetype of powerful, sexual female displaying dominating behaviors and forcing Gods and men into submission to her. Nomis notes that Inanna's rituals included cross-dressing of cult personnel, and rituals "imbued with pain and ecstasy, bringing about initiation and journeys of altered consciousness; punishment, moaning, ecstasy, lament and song, participants exhausting themselves with weeping and grief." The profession features in erotic prints of the era, such as the British Museum mezzotint "The Cully Flaug'd" (c.
Dominatrix is the feminine form of the Latin dominator, a ruler or lord, and was originally used in a non-sexual sense. Its earliest recorded use in the prevalent modern sense, as a female dominant in S&M, dates to 1967.
The term masochism was later derived from the author's name by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in the latter's 1886 forensic study Psychopathia Sexualis.
A scene where both dominant and submissive are female, 1930.
The "bizarre style" (as it came to be called) of leather catsuits, claws, tail whips, and latex rubber only came about in the 20th Century, initially within commercial fetish photography, and taken up by dominatrices.
Within the mid-20th Century, dominatrices operated in a very discreet and underground manner, which has made them difficult to trace within the historical record.
A study of German dominatrices by Andrew Wilson has said the trend for dominatrices choosing names aimed at creating and maintaining an atmosphere in which class, femininity and mystery are key elements of their self-constructed identity.