Just go to any BDSM party and bring up the topic, slave vs. submissive (or bottom), and you will start the gazillionth debate on this topic. Join any Internet BDSM posting group and doubtless you will have your e-mail box chock full of mail whenever this topic is brought up. Since there are no hard and fast definitions of submissive and slave, much of what has been written falls into the “opinion” category. And in order to keep confusion to a minimum, I will use submissive as equivalent to “bottom.” (Could this be yet another article?!)
So why am I adding yet another opinion to the piles of verbiage that have already been compiled on this topic? I attempt, in Kink Weekly, to simplify much of what has heretofore been presented in an overly complicated way. And I think there is room for a more succinct view in the “slave vs. submissive” debate.
I think we can safely say that slave is not a higher version of submissive. There is no food chain or hierarchy here, no matter what you might have read. But they are not equivalent. So, then, what is the difference? I believe it is the mindset. And the most concise explanation I have found that illustrates the differences in mindset between the two is contained in the following two lines:
“Submissives need to be told what to do.
Slaves need to do what they are told “
These sixteen words can never replace the volumes already written on this subject; the topic is far too complex for such a simple resolution. But it does have a lot to recommend it from a philosophical standpoint. Let’s take a look at these two lines and see what revelations it holds within it.
The first line, “submissives need to be told what to do” implies that submissives need direction from the Dom/Domme. This fits right into our concept of “training”; the submissive is molded by the Dominant to please the Dominant. They might even need a lot of training – reward and punishment — simply to learn to obey. This is because the sub’s prime directive is not necessarily to obey; it is to please. If they can do that without obeying that is fine with most submissives. Remember, ‘bratty subs’ are still subs, after all!
The second line, “slaves need to do what they are told,” shows that the slave needs to obey – he/she is simply wired that way. That is their prime directive. There is no implication that they need to be molded in any way. They simply have an overwhelming need to obey. A “bratty slave” seems somewhat of an oxymoron and our two-line definition supports this view.
Many say the mindset for a sub and a slave are quite different. And this definition implies this view. But any time you try to distill the wisdom of many down to a couple of lines, you run the risk of oversimplifying. And I am taking that risk here. Still, I think that these two lines do illustrate the mental differences between submissive and slave in a uniquely perceptive way.
In the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which I am sure some of you have seen, the sub vs. slave debate is illustrated quite clearly. While Christian wanted a “slave” – he even offered Anastasia a “slave contract” – she was at most a submissive and likely not ready to be a “slave.”
The moral of this story is that a Dom/Domme should have a feel for whether a candidate is submissive or slave material. Because if he/she doesn’t, even a helicopter and a billion dollars won’t make someone into something they are not.
Next week we will be giving you BDSM play techniques for “Wax Play.” Enough theory (although you should know some), it is time for PLAY!!!
Do you agree with my definition of submissives versus slaves? Let me know what you think in the comments section.
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.