PETTICOATED.COM - MY TRIBUTE
By Lesley (and Penelope)



I first came across Petticoat Discipline Monthly, as it then was, when trawling the web towards the end of the year 2000. "Trawling the web" sounds so commonplace now but at that time, particularly for my generation, it was the height of adventure – really pushing the boundaries of our limited technological abilities. I can't remember how I came across it, presumably experimenting with a search for Petticoat Discipline on a search engine, but I remember the warm glow of satisfaction I felt at finding such a treasure.

That was the start of a 20 year journey during which I have been pleased to contribute countless letters and pictures of my life with my dear husband/maid Penelope and made many online friends with ladies of a similar view of life and our place within it to myself. I am fairly sure that as the, I believe, "senior contributor" in terms of length of time and number of contributions, I have a fairly unique perspective of the history of the site and I decided that the 20 year anniversary should not pass without some tribute to the founder, Susan McDonald, and her successor "Auntie Helga". I have therefore undertaken the "labour of love" of writing a history of petticoated.com and this series of articles is my tribute and token of gratitude to their efforts.

PRE-HISTORY

Twenty years! Amazing really. What was life like for the Petticoat Discipline enthusiast prior to that time? The only source of letters and stories really was, of course, hard copy paper magazines. The most popular and widely circulated for some time were those published by SRA publications, titled Search, Relate and Accord. These were published monthly, Relate was a letters journal which, from time to time, featured the occasional petticoating letters. Search and Accord were quite random in content, with again the odd story or article mentioning Petticoat Discipline. Another publication, Janus, was largely a spanking journal but on occasion the spanking was coupled with some petticoating.

For many years one of the best sources of petticoating letters, stories and art was a magazine called "Madame", specialising in female domination generally. The front of the monthly publication listed various types of domination that could be found within including "Enforced Transvestism" but this was by no means its sole subject matter and some editions contained nothing of interest to me at all. The same company published two specialist transvestite magazines, "Tranz" and "World of Transvestism" but these were aimed at the (presumably non-enforced) crossdressing community and contained only the occasional petticoat discipline letter or article. At this point it is perhaps useful to explain what I see as the crucial differences between Petticoat Discipline and crossdressing as this will be an important differentiation as this series progresses.

Readers of PDQ will be familiar with my letters over many years detailing my petticoating regime with my husband, Penelope. This I feel is true Petticoat Discipline. The important word here is discipline. The Oxford Dictionary definitions of discipline include "The training of people to obey rules or a code of behaviour" or "Controlled behaviour resulting from such training". The verb, to discipline, is "to formally punish someone for an offence". I don't think that any of those definitions remotely relates to sissies happily crossdressing for their own enjoyment and pleasure. Please don't misunderstand me, I am the very last person to criticise anyone for their lifestyle choices and if their innocent fun provides them happiness and satisfaction then I am all for it, BUT, in no way, can this be considered anything to do with Petticoat Discipline.

The recipient of Petticoat Discipline will not find it a comfortable or enjoyable experience. The macho male being trained and controlled by the wearing of exquisitely feminine attire, and subject to the humiliation of being thus exposed to his wife's friends and relatives, is a million miles away from the happily crossdressed sissies of whom we read. A man who, unwillingly, is dressed as a woman and forced to be subservient to his wife, female relatives or work colleagues is a genuine recipient of Petticoat Discipline in the true sense. Just ask my dear Penelope!

My nascent researches on the web were thus aimed very much at Petticoat Discipline as defined above – what would I find? Enter Susan MacDonald and petticoated.com

SUSAN MacDONALD – AN ENIGMA

Trying to find out anything about the revered founder of Petticoated.com is not a very rewarding experience! From her opening essay in Issue 1 it is clear that Susan had been a long-time enthusiast of Petticoat Discipline literature. She references many historical magazines and writes with obvious knowledge and authority on the subject. During the first year of publication of PDM Susan's advice column offered regular solutions to readers problems. One would deduce that she was an experienced practitioner but – in the Christmas 2000 special issue she somewhat startlingly writes that she has never, in fact, actually administered Petticoat Discipline herself!

That, in itself, was a major surprise to me. Miss MacDonald's very sound replies to letters and advice to enquirers seemed to me to be based upon considerable experience. However that startling revelation clearly indicated otherwise. Therefore one is lead to the conclusion that her knowledge and understanding had been derived from extensive reading and research. Nothing wrong with that of course. Experts in many academic fields necessarily acquire their knowledge and expertise from studying and interpreting historical works in their field. In the same way as the fact that a criminologist has (in most cases!) not been a practising criminal but can be regarded as an expert on crime, there is no reason why a lady who has never carried out a petticoating cannot be seen as a "professor" of Petticoat Discipline.

Another aspect of the Susan MacDonald enigma is perhaps even stranger. Throughout the early years of Petticoat Discipline Monthly she refers regularly to the petticoated.com offices in England, complete with staff, typing pool, office juniors etc. Miss MacDonald's successor, Auntie Helga, assures me that no such "office" ever existed and, more surprisingly, to the best of her knowledge Susan MacDonald was never resident in the UK!

So why the British "office"? The creation of a fantasy team of support staff beavering away to produce the monthly issue is a clever and amusing literary device, but why in the UK? Clearly, from the numerous articles and references to British places and customs Susan was very much an Anglophile and appears to have been particularly fond of Scotland, her surname being very much, of course, of Scottish origin. So was this a way of retaining anonymity? If so, was "Susan MacDonald" a nom de plume, or (unlikely) perhaps even a cover name for a group of collaborators in the project? All conjecture of course, but whatever the back story, on the 18th January 2000 the momentous first issue of Petticoat Discipline Monthly appeared online. Who would have thought that 20 years later it would still be leader in its field?

2000 – A MILLENIUM WELCOME FOR PDM

Well, what a millennium gift for petticoating enthusiasts, a website devoted entirely to our favourite topic! It was, as will be seen, almost a year before your correspondant discovered it's existence but, from January 2000, Petticoat Discipline Monthly was very much out there.

How on earth does such a venture get started? Well, issue 1 contained a nice piece from Susan MacDonald on a brief history of petticoating literature as well as an editorial requesting letters from readers describing their experiences and also asking that collectors send copies of any letters sent to the paper magazines mentioned above. This was obviously a good way to start to build up correspondence and early issues contained a roughly equal split between original and copied material as a corps of regular contributors gradually built up.

The January issue, as well as the two articles by Miss MacDonald referred to above, contained seven, quite short, letters, four originals and three copied from earlier magazines. I'm not sure how the originals were acquired. Presumably from friends and acquaintances of the editor who had been pre-notified of the launching of the site.

Another aspect of the site that was launched at this time was an invitation from Susan to anyone seeking petticoat discipline advice to write to her. The first "Nanny Susan's Advice Column" appeared in February, where she dealt with two queries. The February issue, similar to January, contained this time eight letters, again roughly equally split between originals and reprints.

By March and April one or two regular contributors were starting to appear, both "Caroline" and "Emma" describing how their recaltitrant husbands were subjected to schoolgirl dress and in the case of Emma's husband to a dose of "punitive ironing", very nicely described in the March issue. As I carried out my research I was surprised at how many of the letters referred to the practice of "babying" the male being punished – something that changed as time progressed.

By May and June "Emma" was emerging as the first regular contributor of original letters, now under her full name of Emma Pascalle. June featured two letters from Emma and an excellent essay from her petticoated husband, "Georgina" describing a punishment weekend at the pleasure of his wife and her sister Mary. PDM was now beginning to take on a format which certainly appealed to the likes of your author.

Throughout the following three the pattern remained similar, with the number of original letters gradually increasing, though, and it would have been disappointing for me, the majority continued to be concerning "Babying" and mother/son petticoating. In the August issue Susan provided figures showing the growing popularity of the site. From 2000 "hits" for the January issue in the following six months the figure had grown steadily to over 26000 as awareness of the site grew. August was labelled a "Corset Special" and featured a number of historic letters reprinted from magazines contributed by the distinguished PD author Peter Farrer, who, one assumes, must have been a friend or regular correspondant of Susan MacDonald.

Interestingly, considering the information about Susan's background mentioned above, at about this time Susan referred to "leaving her beloved Scotland" and relocating to Louth in Lincolnshire, about which she seemed to have a fair amount of local knowledge.

Another regular feature which grew during the year was "General Comments from Readers", Susan having invited readers to contribute short pieces commenting on the previous month's letters, no doubt to encourage interactive participation from the readership.

November brought the first hint of what was, very sadly, to become a developing issue, health problems causing Susan to produce a much-reduced issue, again featuring a number of reprinted letters contributed by Peter Farrer, which was, it appears, published late. There is also the first mention of the mythical "typing pool" in that issue.

The end of the first year of PDM saw the publication of the first "Christmas Special", and special it certainly was. A number of superb letters and articles, backed by some interesting artwork and some very well written essays. This was the first issue I saw, and which inspired me to contribute to petticoated.com.

The Christmas Special brought about a triumphant end to a first year for the publication – which was about to acquire a novice contributor who would still be there twenty years later!


Return to Index