seems to be an ongoing debate within the world of D/s, particularly
the online world of D/s, about the difference between a submissive
and a slave. This particular topic comes up time and time
again in the chat room I frequent, and so far… it has eluded
often plays a major role in these discussions -- often moving
the focus from the thoughts… to the wrangling over word usage
and pigeon-holing. Recently, I found myself speaking with
a dominant that I trust and respect, about this very topic,
and found that the discussion began to capture some of my
own ideas, and I thought to share them here with you.
know the common definitions as pertains to BDSM~D/s:
A person owned by another -- without rights, without choices,
without the ability to drive their own lives and directions.
A person whose very existence is at the whim and desire of
another. Property. Cherished and loved, but still… given over
to another to make all decisions for this person. The slave
makes one choice, and one choice only. To become a slave.
After that, they accept, without question, every decision
the dominant makes. The only “out” is if the slave leaves
the relationship. There is no negotiation after the initial
guidelines have been set up, and the slave must accept everything
the dominant decrees. Including being “traded” or accepting
new people into their lives.
One who gives over their own personal power and control to
another voluntarily. One who accepts the guidance of a dominant
and gives the right of their own decisions/directions/growth
to another in most aspects of their relationship. An exchange
of power occurs, with both the submissive and the dominant
giving equally of their time and emotions. A choice, or gift,
that can be withdrawn at any time by either the dominant or
the submissive. A submissive has many rights. Including: the
right to be respected; the right to negotiate; the right to
have levels of control over aspects mutually agreed upon in
everyday life; the right to say no; the right to feel equal
as a person.
to me, during this discussion, that there are many crossovers
in these two seemingly different types of submission. The
term slave has caused more hackles to rise than many other
terms that are bandied about in the world of D/s. Definitions
seem to change and move, depending on who is speaking, and
their own ideas. Often, those who consider themselves slave,
or those who consider the one who serves themselves to BE
slave, equate “slavery” with a deeper level of submission.
Conversely, those who are submissive (and by default, those
who have submissives in service to them), often feel that
being a submissive requires a deeper sense of submission than
that of a “slave.”
of “Gor” and “Gorean” activities has muddied the waters even
more. In Gor, a slave is literally property, with no rights.
He/she is owned and is (hopefully) treated as a prized possession.
The Gorean slave serves any dominant or “free person” whether
they want to or not, whether they like the person or not --
if it is the whim or desire of their master or mistress, and
in the case of an un-owned slave, any free person. As close
to true slavery as is possible in the modern world.
of slave and submissive is what causes the problems with definition.
Most equate the term “slave” to the Gorean idea of slave,
and forget about the very real life choice of consensual slave.
And a new term came to mind: submissive slave.
I am a
submissive slave. The dynamics of my own relationship give
me so much freedom -- the freedom to do as I like in most
cases. I maintain the rights of the submissive as detailed
above, but with one major difference. I am owned. I have given
him ownership over me, and he has accepted that ownership.
Wow. Stop and think about that for a moment.
I am a
very strong woman -- emotionally and intellectually. Yet,
I am finding that I am not whole unless I give away the control
I hold in my private life to my Master. Reaching deeper within
myself to the core of who… I am.
in a way, because I thought I had a pretty good idea of what
real submission was. I looked to all the “activities” that
I had engaged in, and thought of those things as proof of
my submission. Recently, something happened with my Master
that pretty much blew all of that right out of the water.
I was being “disciplined” for failure to realize that by not
communicating with him, I was showing him that I wasn’t thinking
of him, and only considering my own needs. I didn’t realize
that. I truly didn’t. I did not complete an assignment, and
the reasons I did not were valid... yet, rather than telling
him of those reasons and explaining why I was unable to complete
his instructions, I simply waited for him to ask. Thereby
giving the impression that I didn’t care that the assignment
was not completed. Which was far and away opposite of what
I truly felt, but didn’t realize… just how it appeared.
his rather unique way of disciplining me (He doesn’t tell
me what I’ve done wrong, rather, responds in a way guaranteed
to cause me to think and feel -- struggling with the concepts
until they are clear, and THEN helping me to understand even
more clearly), I, for the first time, truly -- mind and soul
-- surrendered to him. I gave up everything. I cannot describe
what happened to me other than saying it was an epiphany.
I had submitted to him many times before, but it was always
a bit of a struggle. This time, it simply came. All control
was given to him, and he took that control… and then gave
it back to me in a way I cannot describe.
I began to put the pieces together, and began to understand
more fully this concept of submissive slavery. I knew that
I was slave to him. There was never any doubt of that in my
heart or mind, but I wasn’t able to actualize the concept
beyond the feeling of what that meant to me.
emotional surrender. That is, I think, the crux of the submissive
slave. It’s not about the activities, rather, it is all about
the emotions. Surrendering, not submitting. Giving up that
tightly held kernel of emotional control, and allowing someone
else -- one’s dominant -- to take that gift onto themselves,
and then… give it back. Stronger and deeper than ever before.
the question of dependence. Does it mean now that the submissive
is dependent upon his/her master/mistress? To the degree that
there is interdependence within most relationships, yes. But
in this context, it is not necessarily dependence as a form
of clinging -- an unhealthy aspect -- but surrender. A good
dominant will take that surrender... as a gift... and then
give it back as strength -- allowing the submissive slave
to become stronger in who she is... and who she serves. The
entire time... using that surrender to move deeper... and
open doors that have been locked tight... with steel walls
protecting a bruised soul.
can become unhealthy when it becomes a manic grip borne of
fear and insecurity on either part. If a person (submissive
or dominant) feels that they have to hold on, in order not
to lose what they have, then something is missing -- most
likely real trust. In a submissive, it might be categorized
as clinging… in a dominant, it could be viewed as manipulation.
I have rambled, once again, away from the initial thoughts…
returning to them~
said all that, let’s go back to the difference between submissive
and slave, hmm? Honestly, I think (and this is my own definition)
that a submissive can be a slave under the right set of circumstances,
to the right dominant for him/her. Not all want to be slave,
nor should anyone expect this of themselves or of another.
I believe it is a naturally occurring movement from submissive
to slave under certain circumstances that only occurs when
all the pieces come together in certain ways.
holds a mindset of total obedience and control, and submits
within those guidelines to a dominant, and in the case of
Gorean slaves, submits to any dominant (the Gorean philosophy
gives the impression that slaves are simply chattel, not much
different than any expensive livestock). A submissive only
submits to those she/he chooses to submit to -- on any level,
and only under agreed upon activities/time. A submissive slave
may not wish to give up control over every aspect of their
lives, wishing to maintain some sense of identity and independence,
but goes deeper inside to that place of total surrender.
not to say that any of these “types” are better, or a “higher
form of submission” than the others, only that there are different
ways to look at the common labels. I usually don’t like using
labels, but there are times when they are useful to give a
general idea of a concept or idea, and help clarify one’s
own ideas and thoughts.
the end of this rather rambling article, it all boils down
to this: A slave is one who feels, inside, that they are slave
to their "One" no matter the activities and permutations
that brings that revelation about. That is all that really
needs to be said.