It's sometimes suggested, not only by our critics but also by avid Taken in Hand fanatics, that what we're about is a return to the pre-feminist past. And it's true that lots of us are attracted by misty fantasies about the 1950s, when men wore suits, not soccer shirts, and women wore stockings, not ski pants. In fact, a 'fifties fetish isn't even confined to us here: I once dated a woman I met her on a BDSM site who, explaining what kind of relationship she was after, told me she wanted to be “a 'fifties wife”. It's no surprise, of course—there are books from that period about how a housewife should behave for instance, that make us feel as though we'd be very at home back then. But, as an unapologetically pro-feminist dominant man, it seems to me that we're mistaken if we really believe any of this has anything to do with the real 1950s.
I think it's tremendous fun to brace and button up in an old suit, and I love my date to wear a vintage frock. But I for one am sceptical about how great life would have been for me fifty years ago. Being unable to communicate with other men like me or with the women who like us, I doubt I'd have become conscious of my sexuality—I'd have known about my desires, yes, but almost certainly wouldn't have got beyond the stage of knowing something needed to be repressed. And how would I have met my wife? I might have got lucky and ended up with a lovely, submissive woman, but I don't think sexual or emotional fulfilment would have been likely, really. Sure, I'd have been the breadwinner and got a good deal on housework, but for me, like for many dominant men, there is a dark side to sexuality, and I have needs that many 'fifties wives—in an age that was unfriendly to homosexuality and no doubt to other unusual sexual practices—would have been simply horrified by!
When we talk about the 1950s, then, we're playing with ideas about the past, but self-consciously, as a kind of retro fetish—a fetish that's very much of our time, a time when we can be self-conscious as dominant men and submissive women, and can actually look for partners who know they need us.
If you really want to see how unlike the 1950s our world is, though, have a look through the posts here—how many of them are by women? I'd guess at least two thirds. Taken in Hand is largely about women understanding and accepting their own sexualities, and actively seeking satisfaction in their relationships. They're discussing women's feelings and needs, and in a sense are demanding and requiring men to live up to fulfilling those needs. Now, firstly that means that female sexuality is recognised and celebrated in a way that's only really been possible since the late 1960s; and secondly, that Taken in Hand is simply one more example—in fact, to my knowledge the clearest example—of women getting together and announcing to the world that they're dissatisfied with the ordinary sexual and emotional lives most women experience, and are looking for ways to get men to shape up and give them what they need. How pre-feminist is that? Not at all, in fact. This is the age in which women are standing up and shouting for what they want from men, and Taken in Hand is absolutely in the vanguard of that movement.
So there's nothing ironic about us knowing each other via the loveliest dot.com there is. No, no: this is the only suitably contemporary medium for such an exciting start-up enterprise. The Taken in Hand ideal is no nostalgic one. Our ideas aren't located anywhere near the 1950s: they're very 21st century indeed.