There is no greater debate in the BDSM community than when it comes to definitions. Since BDSM is a personal journey, how we define things is molded by our experiences. We are influenced by the people we are with. Through both good and bad encounters, we are constantly growing, changing, and evolving.
Today, class, we are going to discuss an age-old argument.
What is the fundamental difference between a submissive and a slave?
I do not have the answer. But I would like to have a debate with you and share the debates I’ve had with Master.
If you have ever googled the definition of a submissive, you will understand why I refuse to repeat that definition. Instead, I’m going to put down my thoughts on what each of these roles are.
*A submissive is an individual who willingly allows another to take responsibility and control of aspects of their life in an effort to grow as a person.
*A slave is an individual who has willingly given themself and their decisions over to another with minimal to no reservation.
The best description I have heard, and how I apply it to my dynamic, is “a submissive gives over their body and their mind. A slave gives over their body, mind and soul.” The author implied that being a slave was a deeply spiritual experience unparalleled to anything else.
While I agree with their thought process, this is where people diverge on defining the difference. Words like true and real frame expectations into these little boxes and allow us to separate each other. If you do X, then you aren’t a real Dom. If you can’t do X, you must not be a true sub. In reality, the depth of the dynamic, to me, is built within the confines of the mind. The rest is just the show.
Regardless of title, both require trust and communication.
A submissive is seen as a strong, independent individual who kneels out of love and respect for a Dominant. A slave is seen as someone who has gotten in too deep and has no recourse to leave. A submissive can negotiate and set limits while slaves are expected to be doormats. While many view a slave as the ultimate submissive partner (the dream of many 50 shaders and the expected goal of all who kneel), we view them through a harsh lens.
When the life of a slave is imagined, it often involves a 24/7, live-in situation. These are individuals who have no opinions, no decision making, are chained to the bed by the ankle, never allowed to leave the house, and are at the whim of a Master/Mistress. Outside of the community, they are viewed a sex slaves who are trapped and abused.
Above all, the identifying factor of slave implies that an individual cannot have limits or a safeword.
I think that is bullshit.
I had a long debate with Master over this. See, as you all know, I alternate between calling him Mister and Master. One is family friendly; one is kink friendly. I see him as the Master of all things in my life.
I have willingly given him control of my physical being—through correction and health decisions. I have willingly given him control over my emotional being—through communication, sharing of burdens, and the influence of my mental health. Lastly, I have willingly given him control over my soul—I bare it before him each time I kneel and each time I lay before him, so lost in subspace I don’t know my own name.
I trust him with my life and my mind.
That’s a lot of fucking responsibility to lay upon someone.
We talked about our dynamic thoroughly in the beginning and continue to do so. He does not desire a slave. He says that he does not have the time nor attention that is required of one.
Because, how he was taught, slaves are seen and not heard. They are to do absolutely nothing, short of breathing, without the go ahead of their Master/Mistress.
Master hates the term slave when it references me. It upsets him. So, out of respect for him, I identify myself as his submissive. This does not change the dynamic we have. All it really changes is how people imagine us to be.
By Master’s definition, I am not like that.
I do speak my mind when I feel it is important enough. I do take financial responsibility of a portion of our house. I do work outside the home and do so in a managerial position. I am an Alpha outside of our home. Because of this, I do not fit with what the “traditional” definition of a slave.
However, I view it differently.
I speak my mind to keep my Master healthy and happy. I offer ideas that may ease his daily burden. I speak to calm him when life gets frustrating. I think of the worst types of jokes in an effort to make him laugh. I ground him so he remembers to take care of himself the way he takes care of me.
I work as a service to the household. I do what is needed to provide for our family and keep us safe and comfortable. I take part of the financial responsibility, so it does not lay squarely on his shoulders.
My rules do not cease simply because I am outside of the house. The blanket consent I have with him, does not change when the scenes end. His decisions are still final, even when I disagree with the outcome.
I have a safeword to use when needed. We use the color system. Green for good, yellow for check-in, and red for stop. I have never had to use red. We both trust each other enough, that if I have to utter red, something seriously went wrong. We use the safe words for unexpected situations. Was I hit accidentally in a place? Yellow. Do I need to readjust due to pain or numbness? Yellow. Do I need a check-in because the gag is aggravating my asthma? Yellow.
I have yet to come to a situation that requires me to have him stop. Every situation I’ve given examples of are parts of play that could unintentionally injure or break me. If you break your toys, you can’t play anymore. So, we make sure no one is broken.
In the long run, our relationship is what we want it to be, regardless of the labels pressed upon us. Yet, I’d love to see the definition of slave to broaden and develop, just as the community has. I do not need to stay at home to have a deep, spiritual connection with Master. I do not need to be meek and unfailingly obedient to be a good girl. And I sure as fuck do not need to be anything less than what I am to kneel before him and call him Master.
I have all the rights granted to everyone.
I just choose to gift them to someone else.
My name is Joji. I am 29 years old currently and I have been in and around the kink community about 15 years.I am a collared submissive to Magick42. I am also a Daddy to a wonderful babygirl, and have been for more than three years now and I find it very fulfilling. I am being mentored in and being taught electroplay. I am a masochist at heart and thoroughly love impact play, especially caning. I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on and am a die hard Harry Potter and Doctor Who fan. I am also the secretary for a group in Idaho called Moscow S.P.A.R.K.E (Simply Providing Another Route to Kink Education). It is our mission to teach safe practices to those new to the community and give them a safe haven to ask questions and learn without judgement. We accept all kinks and all we ask in return is respect between all our members.
This topic was heavily debated at MAST
We didn’t reach a conclusion lol
I would have loved to have sat in in that debate. My views are considered a little radical where I am at.
What if a slave consents to consensual-non-consent. Do they still have autonomy?
For me, my autonomy is my ability to take initiative with my actions while keeping my service at the forefront of my daily life. Consensual Non-consent would fall under how much negotiation you and your partner agree upon. I have consented to CNC because I have given Master blanket consent from the beginning. But, that decision has no bearing on my autonomy in service.