I believe in a collective unconscious. Why? Because of the otherwise inexplicable frequency with which people make the exact same remarks to me. It's mainly nonkinky people, and not clients—this is in social situations. I swear, it's like some sort of genetic programming. I say "Hello, I'm Mistress Matisse," and within five minutes they will very often utter one—or more—of the following banal and even slightly annoying remarks.

"You don't look like a dominatrix." Yes, I do, actually. The World Dominatrix Summit Meeting of '98 changed the union rules, you see. We're now permitted to have wardrobes, hairstyles, and facial expressions that do not evoke Catwoman and Cruella De Vil at goth night.

"It would take a really strong person to dominate me." The implication being, "And you are not demonstrating that strength." I can never tell—and I do not care to inquire—if people mean someone who can bench-press triple digits, or someone who behaves like John Malkovich in drag. Physical strength is nothing. I have lots of toys that require little effort and yet can make great big men howl like jackals. And if I'm not acting like your fantasy dominatrix, it's probably because... I'm not interested in acting like your fantasy dominatrix.

"Tell me what you'd do to me to make me submit to you." I'd make you call a phone sex line and ask them this question.

"My lover is too nice/loves me too much to do that kind of thing to me." The odd part is that while the words themselves are rather condescending, people always say this in a noticeably wistful tone of voice. However, I don't love you, I'm not especially nice, and I still don't want to do "that kind of thing" to you, so you need to reexamine your hypothesis.

"The submissive really controls everything anyway." This disparaging comment is always trotted out by people who, upon questioning, turn out to have never done any BDSM.

"People tell me I should be a dominatrix." Every woman who has some knee-high black boots and the occasional bitchy moment has been told this by some hopeful man. It's a flirtatious line, not an insight into your true calling. So, best of luck, but don't quit your day job.

"Don't you ever want to just make love?" Yes. Not with you, though.

"Hey, do you know Mistress Whoever in Faraway City?" This is the least silly question of the bunch, as I am acquainted with other pro-dommes. But that Summit Meeting thing? That was a joke. There are at least 5,000 other pro-dommes in the U.S. alone, and I know, oh, about 11 of them.

"I could make you cry if I did (random painful thing) to you." The implication being: Big Dominatrices Don't Cry. But I have the same type of pain receptors in my brain as everyone else, so yeah, I'm sure you could. What you couldn't do is make me not press charges.

"You must meet some really weird people." Why yes... yes, I do.