A few photographs still exist of the women who ran their domination businesses in London, New York, The Hague and Hamburg's Herbertstraße, predominantly in sepia and black-and-white photographs, and scans from magazine articles, copied and re-copied.
Amongst these were Miss Doreen of London who was acquainted with John Sutcliffe of Atom Age fame, whose clients reportedly included Britain's top politicians and businessmen.
1674–1702), and in accounts of forbidden books which record the flogging schools and the activities practised.
The term "mistress" or "dominant mistress" is sometimes also used.
"Female dominance", "female domination" or "femdom" refer to BDSM relationships and BDSM scenes in which the dominant partner is female.
Male professional dominants also exist, catering predominantly to the gay male market.
Women who engage in female domination typically promote and title themselves under the terms "dominatrix", "mistress", "lady", "madame", "herrin" or "goddess".
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.
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.
The role of a dominatrix may not even involve physical pain toward the submissive; her domination can be verbal, involving humiliating tasks, or servitude.