Domination and differences 

Miss Ann case takes new turns

Paul F. P. Pogue
Miss Ann case takes new turns Paul F. P. Pogue Zoning inspector Thomas Weber takes measurements in one of the upstairs rooms of Melissa Donaghy's house. It’s Tuesday morning, and Melissa Donaghy, also known as Miss Ann, is not happy. “The City of Indianapolis is invading my home!” she says several times, more irate each time. The two city zoning inspectors pay little attention as they go through the house room by room, taking measurements and asking questions to determine which areas were used for Donaghy’s business. The inspection is the latest step in Donaghy’s ongoing zoning controversy with Indianapolis. The city maintains that her home business, in the residential neighborhood of Meridian-Kessler, is a sex-based dominatrix operation; Donaghy maintains that while her work discusses matters of dominance and submission, it is primarily an educational/artistic endeavor protected as an allowable home business in Marion County. After several phases of discovery, the next phase of the case opens next Wednesday, when depositions begin. One of the main deponents will be the undercover police officer who investigated Donaghy’s services in September 2005. It may all prove to be moot; the inspectors informed Donaghy and her attorney, Mark Small, that a home business is limited to either a third of the total livable space or 600 square feet. Though they had not yet determined which areas of the house constituted business use, it certainly seems possible their measurements will top that limit. “I think they’re reaching,” Small said. “They’re doing anything they can to come up with a citation.” Small said he and Donaghy would be commissioning their own inspection and bringing the numbers into court. City inspectors aren’t the only controversy in play; the case has revealed divides within the BDSM community about the best way to deal with such issues. In particular, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a nationwide legal support group, said that Donaghy is picking the wrong fight; that while the NCSF supports the legal establishment of domination businesses in proper zones, residential neighborhoods are the wrong place for it. “Donaghy is denying the obvious by stating that her work is not sexually oriented,” said Susan Wright, national spokesperson for the NCSF. “This does not accord with NCSF’s media strategy, which is designed to further tolerance for alternative sexuality. Donaghy’s statements to the media are also creating a climate in Indianapolis that is adverse to BDSM and is not representative of the local BDSM community … If this were something that she was doing because she enjoyed it, NCSF would fight to the death for the right for her to do it in her home. But there’s money exchanged, and now you’re subject to consumer laws, which are very different than those that apply to a private citizen in their own home.” Donaghy, who said she has been a supporter of NCSF in the past, said that it came down to strong differences of interpretation. “She’s of the opinion that professional dominatrices, when they have zoning disputes, should just bow down and do what the city says,” Donaghy said. “Their position is that I’m not appropriately or correctly representing what BDSM is, and I contend that as a dominant I can create and make my world whatever I want it to be, including nonsexual with my submissives. So while BDSM may very well be a sexual expression for many people, in the way I conduct it in my business, it is not.”

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Paul F. P. Pogue

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