Interview with Journalist/Author Lindsay Goldwert

I had the pleasure of interviewing razor-sharp minded, playfully charming, and wordsmith extraordinaire Lindsay Goldwert. Ms. Goldwert is a long-time finance and career writer, podcaster, & journalist who has written for publications including Fast Company, Slate, The Atlantic and many more. Her next big footprint to leave behind is a book she is writing for Simon & Schuster to be titled Bow Down: Lessons from Dominatrixes On How to Get Everything You Want. To my humbled surprise, Ms. Goldwert contacted me to request an in-person interview as part of her research. I shan't dive into what we discussed during our sunny afternoon at my New York apartment over the weekend but let's just say I was quite grateful to have met this incredibly intelligent and warm-hearted individual. 

Without skipping a beat, I simply had to 'interview her back' so she can also tell me her story, her reasons for writing this book, and how she perceives the world of kink as a woman and a writer. And writers, as we know, sometimes look at the world from the other side of a glass wall, taking notes and observing the quirks of what we often pass off as 'normal'.

And so, without further ado...

1) Will you please tell me more about your latest research for your book on female domination and empowerment for women? 

My book is called Bow Down: Lessons from Dominatrixes On How to Get Everything You Want. It's a guide for women who are looking to gain confidence, speak with authority, and communicate their hearts and minds both in and out of the bedroom. I've been interviewing amazing Dommes and kink-friendly sex therapists and really overwhelmed by the amazing insights and ways that the ethos of kink really does translate to everyday life. 

2) What is your perception of the Dominatrix/Femdom figure? Why do you think SHE exists in our cultural psyche? 

My perception from popular culture was that of a woman who was tall, white, and sadistic. And if a woman is a sex worker, she must be "troubled" in some way. In film, the dominatrix can also be used for comic effect, the ultimate visualization of a man being emasculated. With the exception of the Margaret Cho-produced web series "Mistress Mercy" I've actually never seen the dominatrixes I've been meeting and speaking with represented on film or television--diverse, intellectual, silly, empathetic, feminist, progressive, and capable of many feelings in and outside of their work. Perhaps because the idea of the dominant woman is seen as something for men to fear because it seems unnatural. Therefore she must be an unfeeling monster, disturbed in some way, or to be seen as a cartoon because the ideal of female dominance is too real for our culture. 

3) What do you believe are the origins of the Dominatrix archetype? 

I'm doing some research into the history of the dominatrix in lore, art and literature but I'm still learning so much. It's interesting, there's so much out there about the dominatrix archetype available when it comes to men's desire (comic books, early 20th century underground fetish art and fashions) but I've had to dig a bit to discover the origins of it outside of the lens of male desire. 

4) Based on your research, what have you learned from Femdoms that can be applied to the empowerment of women in general?

So much! The tenets of consent, negotiation, and communication are so essential to every day life. How can we ask for what we want if we don't have the confidence to to ask for it, to be specific about our areas of comfort and discomfort, and be honestly forthcoming about our desires and needs? Femdoms are confident that they deserve what's best for them. This may include their relationships but also their surroundings and their mental health. Femdommes aren't superwomen (although many have superpowers of persuasion, strength, and empathy). They have to deal with more than the average woman since they're in a marginalized industry with many roadblocks. But the women I've met aren't afraid to fight for themselves. They change and grow and have an emotional intelligence and honesty with themselves that women can learn a lot from when it comes to their own growth and empowerment.

5) How would you describe kink to someone who has never had any contact/experience in this world? 

Kink is about consensual, imaginative play, and the life of the mind. It's not all about whips and chains (although that can be part of it). Kink can set you free from society's expectations of sex, gender roles, and the constraints of normative sex. Kink allows for a power exchange and extreme trust in a partner. It can reveal our deepest inner selves and allow for explorations in sensations and our deepest selves. Kink allows us to reveal our secret selves. 

6) As a woman yourself, do you think there are powers--social/sexual/political--that you wield which are specifically granted to you by virtue of being female, if any? 

This is an interesting question since I've always been pulled in two different directions. I've been told that pretty women can gain more from men and society and yet I've always wanted to be treated like "one of the guys" and that it's wrong to use one's femininity to get what one wants. At the same time, I've always know that my empathy and female intuition has served me extremely well over the years. It has made me a better friend and partner and helped me avoid situations where people haven't had my best interests at heart. It has also kept me from staying in dangerous situations because I didn't "want to seem rude" or it felt "awkward." I do think people like to talk to me because I project intimacy and warmth. But I've struggled with balancing my femininity with female power. 

7) Do you think the very words "female empowerment" implies "excessive male power"? Or do you believe those words have nothing to do with men? Why do you suppose the words "female empowerment" exist in our feminine narrative? Do you think the very term itself suggest a default state of female powerlessness?

I do think that "female empowerment" suggests a default state of female powerlessness. And I think that it's needed. The problem with "female empowerment" is that it has become so watered down that it can mean anything. It has become merchandised and monetized in products and corporate initiatives. Now it is more about self-actualization in the Gwyneth Paltrow Goop sense than empowerment in the grander sense. Women know they "should feel empowered to ask for what they want" but it's often in the micro, not the macro. It's still tied to men, absolutely. We want to feel empowered to ask for as much money as a man, for example. Women are marginalized, we are paid less, we do more than our share as mothers. we are emotional laborers and caretakers. We may feel powerless in our day to day lives, in our work and in our relationships. It's such a general term that it could be too nebulous to mean anything. What can actually empower you to make real change? For example, an affirmation of a woman's right to choose is empowerment. Equal pay for equal work is empowerment. But again, those are both in the context of men. Faith in oneself and a raising up of all women without worrying about what men think would be true empowerment. There is excessive male power in the world. Women deserve more. They're asking for more but it depends where you live. Asking for more can be a life or death situation in many parts of the world and that's because of male power.

8) Were there any bits from my "Mind of the Mistress" that you believe can be applied to women as a whole? If not, are there any topics that you would suggest I can write such that it is more universally relevant to women--within the frame of female domination?

I really liked "Interview with a Conscious Submissive Male." I love interviews with people and hearing their stories about how they became (or always were) the person they are today. I believe that people can see themselves in the stories of others. Real stories give people real inspiration to be the people they want to be because they see someone who is living their own truth. That's very powerful. 

Thank you Ms. Goldwert.