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Parent categories: female domination - dominatrix

Films: Maîtresse (1973)

Maitresse (1973) - Barbet Schroeder [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


A mistress is the long term sexual partner and companion of a man, where they have not married each other. There are a variety of reasons why they may not have married; often one of the couple, traditionally the man, is married to someone else. The relationship is generally stable, and at least semi-permanent; however, the couple do not live openly together. The term should not be confused with common law wife.

Historically a man "kept" a mistress. As the term implies, he was responsible for her debts and provided for her in much the same way as he did his wife. In more recent and emancipated times, it is more likely that the mistress has a job of her own, and is less, if at all, financially dependent on the man. It is not uncommon for a man to have acknowledged children by his mistress. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistress_%28lover%29 [Jun 2006]

The Mistress in literature

In both John Cleland's Fanny Hill and Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, as well as in countless novels of feminine peril, the distinction between a "kept woman" and a prostitute is all-important. Apologists for the practice of mistresses referred to the ancient near east's habit of keeping a concubine and would frequently quote verses from the Old Testament to show that mistress-keeping was an ancient practice that was, if not acceptable, at least understandable. John Dryden, in Annus Mirabilis, even attempted to suggest that the king's keeping of mistresses and making of bastards was a result of his abundance of generosity and spirit. In its more sinister form, the theme of being "kept" is never far from the surface in novels about women as victims in the 18th century in England, whether in the novels of Eliza Haywood or Samuel Richardson (whose heroines in Pamela and Clarissa are both put in a position of being threatened with sexual degradation and being reduced to the status of a kept object).

With the Romantics of the early 19th century, the subject of keeping becomes problematized, in that a non-marital sexual union can occasionally be celebrated as a woman's free choice and a noble alternative. Maryann Evans (better known as George Eliot) defiantly lived "in sin" with a married man, partially as a sign of her independence of middle class morality, but her independence required that she not be "kept." Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1848) presents impassioned arguments on both sides of this question, as Rochester, unable to be free of his insane wife, tries to persuade Jane to live with him, which she resists. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistress_%28lover%29 [Jun 2006]

Shifting meaning of the term mistress

[Middle English maistresse, from Old French, feminine of maistre, master, from Latin magister. See master.]
Usage Note: English has no shortage of terms for women whose behavior is viewed as licentious, but it is difficult to come up with a list of comparable terms used of men. One researcher, Julia Penelope, stopped counting after she reached 220 such labels for women, both current and historical, but managed to locate only 20 names for promiscuous men. Murial R. Schultz found more than 500 slang terms for prostitute but could find just 65 for the male terms whoremonger and pimp. A further imbalance appears in the connotations of many of these terms. While the terms applying only to women, like tramp and slut, are almost always strongly negative, corresponding terms used for men, such as stud and Casanova, often carry positive associations. ·Curiously, many of the negative terms used for women derive from words that once had neutral or even positive associations. For instance, the word mistress, now mainly used to refer to a woman who is involved in an extramarital sexual relationship, originally served simply as a neutral counterpart to mister or master. The term madam, while still a respectful form of address, has had sexual connotations since the early 1700s and has been used to refer to the owner of a brothel since the early 1900s.
--The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

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