Sexuality and Culture

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 76–95 | Cite as

Spare the rod: The figure of the dominatrix in the literary canon

  • Jeremy Hugh Baron
Articles
  • 117 Downloads

Abstract

The commonly cited maxim, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is often traced incorrectly back to the biblical book of Proverbs when its point of origin lies instead first in Langland’s Piers Plowman and then, in the highly satirical and sexualized text of Samuel Butler’s Hudibras. Thus, from a religious origin, it has metamorphosed into a woman-man relationship. Indeed to follow the evolution of this phrase is to uncover the extent to which the disciplining impulses of religious rhetoric are eroticized in one Western European literary theme, that of feminine dominance, from the tenth century when the word Dominatrix appeared in the writings of Hroswitha of Gandersheim. The period leading up to the 1650s, when Butler turned the phrase into one line of a heroic iambic couplet in the middle of a stanza on an amorous jaileress, was also a time when medical research on human and animal anatomy and physiology had unravelled the pathways of libido-lifting buttock-beating. Far from demonizing woman the literary image of the whip-wielding mistress did not degrade the female sex but instead apotheosized the dominatrix as a major erotic image of the twentieth century.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen, V.M. (1983). The femme fatale. Troy, NY: Whitston, 15–37.Google Scholar
  2. André le chapelaine. (1964). The art of courtly love. (J.J. Parry, Trans.). New York: F. Ungar.Google Scholar
  3. Anonymous. (c. 1659). A proper new Ballad on the Old Parliament. In Collection of loyal songs, vol ii.Google Scholar
  4. Anonymous. (1679–81). The citty painter. In: Poems. British Library, Addl MSS 34, 362, 4R-15V (ff4V-5R).Google Scholar
  5. Baron, J.H. (2002). Query—Running at sheep. Notes & Queries 247, 501.Google Scholar
  6. Bartholin, T., Meibomius, J.H., & Meibom, H. (1966, 1670). De flagrorum usu medicum ad Henricum Meibomium epistola. Frankfurt: D Paulli. [A letter on the medical use of rods to Henry Meibomius.], pp. 9–28 (p. 21).Google Scholar
  7. Behn, A. (1759). The history of Oronooko: or, the royal slave. A novel. Doncaster: C. Gideon.Google Scholar
  8. Blackstone, W. (1859). Commentaries on the laws of England, 1723–80. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott, book 1; 44.3, 44.4.Google Scholar
  9. Bombach, C. (2003). Leonardo da Vinci master draftsman: Aristotle and Phyllis. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, #15, pp. 312–314.Google Scholar
  10. Bremmer, J. (1989). From Sappho to de Sade: Moments in the history of sexuality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Browning, A. (Ed.). (1991) Memoirs of Sir John Reresby. London: Royal Historical Society, XL, 25.Google Scholar
  12. Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: with discursive limits on sex. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Butler, S. (1819). Hudibras, with Dr Grey’s annotations. London: Charles & Henry Baldwyn, ii, 885–886.Google Scholar
  14. Butler, S. (1821). Illustrations of Hudibras. London: C & H Baldwyn.Google Scholar
  15. Butler, S. (1967)a. Butler, Samuel 1612–1680. Hudibras. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  16. Butler, S. (1967b). Hudibras, part III, canto 1; 269–278.Google Scholar
  17. Butler, S. (1973). Wilders, J., & de Quehen, H. (Eds.). Butler, Samuel, Hudibras, Parts I & II. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  18. Byrne, M.S.C. (1981). The Lisle Letters. Chicago: University Press, 2. 499, #399.Google Scholar
  19. Castiglione, B. (1967). The book of the courtier. (G. Bull. Trans.). Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  20. Cervantes, M. (1986). Don Quixote. (T. Smollett, Trans.). 1755. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.Google Scholar
  21. Cleland, J. (1974). Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a woman of pleasure (1748). London: Mayflower, 172–178.Google Scholar
  22. Cockayne, G.E. (1910–59). The complete peerage, Vol IX. London: St Catherine’s Press.Google Scholar
  23. Cross, T.P, & Nitze, WA. (1970). Lancelot and Guinevere: a study on the origins of a courtly love. New York: Phaeton Press.Google Scholar
  24. Davis, N. (1975). Society and culture in early modern France. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Dick, O.L. (1957). Aubrey’s brief lives. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 45–47.Google Scholar
  26. Diogenes Laertius. (1853). The lives and opinions of eminent philosophers. (C. Yonge, Trans.). London: H.G. Bohn.Google Scholar
  27. Dixon, A. (2002). Women who ruled: Queens, goddesses, amazons in Renaissance and Baroque art. London: Merrell.Google Scholar
  28. Faxon, A.C. (1988). Fatal woman/ Femme fatale. In H.E. Roberts, (Ed.) Encyclopedia of comparative iconography: themes depicted in works of art. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, Vol. 1, 315–320.Google Scholar
  29. Foucault, M. (1976). The history of sexuality. An introduction. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  30. Foucault, M. (1986). The uses of pleasure. London: Viking.Google Scholar
  31. Foucault, M. (1990) The care of the self. London: Penguin, 1990.Google Scholar
  32. Garrard, M.D. (1989). Artemisia Gentileschi. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 141–179.Google Scholar
  33. Gibson, I. (1978). The English vice. London: Duckworth, 50–51.Google Scholar
  34. Glover, A.S.B. (Ed.). Rousseau, J.-J., (1938). The Confessions (1782). 2 vol. London: Nonesuch Press, 1938:I:16.Google Scholar
  35. Gollancz, I. (1889). Otway T.. Venice preserved, or a plot discovered: a tragedy. London: Dent, III, 1.Google Scholar
  36. Góngora y Argote, L. de. (1988). Fábula de polifemo y Galatea. (M. Hanak, Trans.). New York: P. Lang.Google Scholar
  37. Gutting G. (1994). The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. Cambridge: University PressGoogle Scholar
  38. Haight, A.L. (Ed.). (1965). Hroswitha of Gandersheim; her life, times and works, and a comprehensive bibliography. New York: Hroswitha Club, plate 2 op p. 42; p. 21.Google Scholar
  39. Herrick, R. (1951a). (F. Moorman, (Ed.). The poetical works of Robert Herrick. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Herrick, R. (1951b). An Hymne to Love. p.289, 1.5, 4.3.Google Scholar
  41. Herrick, R. (1951c). The Dream, p. 16.Google Scholar
  42. Herrick, R. (1951d). To Love, p.17.Google Scholar
  43. Hunt, L. (1993). The invention of pornography: obscenity and the origins of modernity, New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  44. Joyce, J. (1960). Ulysses. London: Bodley Head, 592–594.Google Scholar
  45. Judges 5:26Google Scholar
  46. Loomis, R. (1949). Arthurian tradition & Chrétien de Troyes. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Loomis, R. (1956). Wales and the Arthurian legend. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
  48. Lyly, J. (1916). Eupheus: the anatomy of wit. M. Croll & H. Clemens, (Eds.). London: G Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Maclean, I. (1977). Woman triumphant: Feminism in French Literature, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Maclean, I. (1979). The renaissance notion of woman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Maroni, G. (1967). L’Adone. (H.M. Priest, Trans.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Meibom, J.H. (1718). On the use of the rods in venereal affairs and in the office of the loins and reins. ([G. Sewell], Trans.). London: E Curll.Google Scholar
  53. Meibomius, J.H. (1643) De flagrorum usu in re veneria & lumborum renumque officio ... 4th ed. Leyden: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  54. Meurdrac, M. (1656). La chimie charitable et facile, en faveur des dames. Paris.Google Scholar
  55. Milton, J. (1982) A brief history of Moscovia ... (London: M Flesher, 1682). Velley M, ed. Complete prose works of John Milton, 8 vols. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 8: 454–538 (493).Google Scholar
  56. Mirandola, G.P. (1946–52). Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinaricem ... (1502). (E. Garin, Ed. & Trans.). Florence: Vallecchi.Google Scholar
  57. Montalvo, G.R. de (1974–5). Amadis of Gaul. (E. Place & H. Behm, Trans.), Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  58. Montemajor, J. de. Diana. London: D Farmer and George Anderson, 1738.Google Scholar
  59. Moxey, K. (1989). Peasant warriors, and wives: Popular imagery in the Reformation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  60. Nicolson, M.H., ed. (1966). Shadwell T, The virtuoso. London: Edward Arnold, III. 2. 60–73.Google Scholar
  61. Norrington, A. (Ed.). (1968). The poems of Arthur Hugh Clough. London: Oxford University Press, 60–61.Google Scholar
  62. Peakman, J. (2003). Mighty lewd books. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  63. Petronius (1933). Satyricon. London: Fortune Press, 204, 211.Google Scholar
  64. Pizan, C de. (1998). The book of the city of Ladies. (E.J. Richards, Trans. from Le livre de la cité des dames, 1405). New York: Persea Books.Google Scholar
  65. Proverbs (Authoriszd Version, 1611). 1.13; 13.1; 13.24; 19.18; 22.15; 23.13–14; 26.3; 29.15.Google Scholar
  66. Rorimer, J.J. & Freeman, M.B. (1960). The nine heroes tapestry at the Cloisters. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 6.Google Scholar
  67. Rose, A. (1975). Register of erotic books ... New York: J Brussels.Google Scholar
  68. Sedgwick, E.K. (1994). Tendencies. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  69. Sewell, G. (1718). Preface to Meibom, pp. A3–A4.Google Scholar
  70. Smith, H.L. (1982). Reason’s disciples: Seventeenth-century English feminists. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  71. Steele, R. (1711). Objections to whipping boys. The Spectator, No. 158 (30 October).Google Scholar
  72. T.E. (1632). The Lawes resolutions of womens rights; or, The Lawes provision for woemen. A methodicall collection of such statutes and customes, with the cases, opinions, arguments and points of learning in the law, as doe properly concerne women, etc. London: John More.Google Scholar
  73. T.I. (1863). Inscription, June 1863 In Bartholin et al. (1669), p. 145 of British Library copy.Google Scholar
  74. Thomas of Briton. (1923). The romance of Tristram and Ysolt. (R. Loomis, Trans.). New York: EP Dutton.Google Scholar
  75. Thompson, R. (1979a). Unfit for modest ears; a study of pornography, obscene and bawdy works written or published in the second half of the seventeenth century. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  76. Thompson, R. (1979b). p. 42. Unfit for modest ears; a study of pornography, obscene and bawdy works written or published in the second half of the seventeenth century. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  77. Troyes Chrétien de. (1987). Arthurian romances (D.Owen, Trans.), London: Dent.Google Scholar
  78. Troyes, C. de. Lancelot: the knight of the cart. (B. Raffel, Trans.). New Haven, CT: Yale, University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  79. Turner, J. (2003). Scholing sex. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Tyrer, F. (1968–72) The great diurnal of Little-Crosby, Lancashire. Record Society of Lancashire & Cheshire, I: 144.Google Scholar
  81. Urfé, H de. (1995). Astré (S. Rendall, Trans.). Binghampton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies.Google Scholar
  82. Waller, A. (Ed.). (1908). Characters and passages from the note-books of Samuel Butler. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 149.Google Scholar
  83. Walter, C. (1660–61). The compleat history of independency. Part 2, Anarchia anglicana. London: R Royston, 57.Google Scholar
  84. Weeks, J. (1991). Against nature: essays on history, sexuality and identity. London: Rivers Oram Press.Google Scholar
  85. Wilson, F.P. (1979). The Oxford dictionary of English proverbs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 759.Google Scholar
  86. Woodall, M. (1953). The lady with the whip. The Saturday Book, 246–248.Google Scholar
  87. Zatzikhoven, U. von. (1951). Lanzelet. (K. Webster, Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Hugh Baron
    • 1
  1. 1.Gastroenterology DivisionMount Sinai School of MedicineNew York

Personalised recommendations