Thursday, 12 June 2014

slave or submissive?

On  previous post here Ana wrote an interesting comment about terminology.
"Pygar - as a long time lurker, I look forward to your next post. One thing I'd like to ask is are there Doms/Subs who don't like the Master/Slave title/role? For me, there is something very demeaning about the slave title or role, not criticizing those who thrive in it, but I can't imagine it for me. My exposure comes mostly from stories and porn, both of which are notoriously inaccurate. Still I wonder are there people out there who see a D/S relationship as more than just a Master/Slave? Perhaps it is just titles, but slave to me implies leaving everything behind, including my intellect and desires. Being completely out of control. Whereas Submissive means I give my control to my Dom - freely and happily, not as a slut (again, apologies to those who like the term, I don't) but as a highly intelligent, educated, skilled woman who wants to give her Dom the greatest gift she can. Perhaps it is all just terminology? Ana "

I think of my relationships as Dom/sub rather than Master/slave. I have written about slavery before here.  I also found a draft post that I never finished which described how I felt almost captivated and possessed by the beauty and submission of someone I was very close to at the time. Then I found another draft post about ownership. I tend to promote self-ownership rather than the kind of ownership by another that can lead to damage or harm.

The slave/sub debate may, as Ana suggests, just be terminology, However language is important and using different words can represent real differences in attitude, commitment and behaviour.

I think that Ana's descriptions of the differences between slave and sub are very perceptive and to my mind pretty accurate. It would be interesting to know the views of others - particularly perhaps those who would describe themselves as 'slave' rather than 'sub'.


Sue said...

I identified as "slave" at one point. It was a label that I embraced proudly, although not without some difficulty. I often struggled with the losses that were entailed in that chosen path. I was, over time, increasingly unable to be honest about who I was or what I wanted or needed. Too, my efforts to be what I thought my dominant partner wanted me to be, caused him harm. I did things for him that he should have done for himself, and in doing that, I created a level of unbalance that was harmful for us both. We almost did not survive the damage that was created by my choice to enter into and remain in that "slave" role.
I can't speak for others. For me, however, it was the wrong choice. A decision that hurt me and hurt him.
Ana is wise to know who and what she is. I hope others will heed her words.

oatmeal girl said...

Guess what? There is no Federal Commission of BDSM standards and Terminology with an officially sanctified bulletin of definitions and requirements. As I have long said, a BDSM relationship is still, in the end, a relationship. What you do, who you do it, what you call each other, has to work for the people involved.

Porn and stories and blogs are great for helping you explore one's thoughts and desires. But when it comes down to it, a relationship (of any sort) can be very different from fiction - or from other people's realities as presented to the public.

The sadist and I interact in a variety of ways, all of which represent parts of who we each are and who we are together. We identify each of these with a name. "Slave" means something very particular to him - and it is only his definition that matters. It is something I both struggle with and aspire to. It most definitely does NOT mean leaving behind my intellect, given that he has often said that what he treasures most about me is my "beautiful brain."

FYI, I keep the following quote displayed on my blog, which pretty much sums up my attitude about the topic.
~ ~ ~

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

oatmeal girl said...

One correction and one addendum

The correction: it's raining and I'm feeling lazy so I didn't proofread. Bad girl. Anyway, I'm sure I left a bunch of typos, and I do need to correct one bit of confusion that created. The last sentence in the first paragraph should read: "What you do, HOW you do it, what you call each other, has to work for the people involved."

As for the addendum, this refers to the very important point contained in Sue's comment. Good communication is absolutely essential - in any relationship, but perhaps even more so in a BDSM relationship, where we - on both sides of the power exchange - make ourselves particularly vulnerable. If what the dom wants, if what the dom calls you, if what the dom says those words and actions mean, if any of these really don't work for you, then you need to discuss it. You may decide that this is a challenge you need to work through. You may decide that what the dom wants to make of you would be too destructive, or just no fun, and then act accordingly. Doms are not gods. They're not all-seeing or all-knowing. They can screw up, too. Or just be screwy. Again, this is real world stuff. And it's good - for all of us - to keep in mind that real world is rarely the same as stories.

Unknown said...

I'm honored that you felt my comments worthy to pontificate on. I realize that some may be hurt by my concerns on terminology, but as one who is on the outside of the D/S world looking in (eagerly), I am sensitive to names and titles. I'd agree with oatmeal girl that whatever works works!

The challenge is that I chose love over sexual compatibility. Not saying that people can't have both, but in my case, it wasn't an option. My DH has no idea of my proclivities, but there are many things, like my preference for pain & self-harm, that he is unaware of. He doesn't understand how one could crave pain or crave submission, and so I just let it be and struggle with my own issues.


Storm said...

I must admit, that part of me finds the implication of a slave somehow living without intellect, to be rather insulting.
Being a slave doesn't make one less intelligent, educated,or skilled. Nor does it mean that one's own desires no longer exist--how and if they come into fruition changes.

I don't think that slavery is about abandoning ones intellect, but perhaps, at times, coming to a place where we can set it aside for the experience of something primal and raw, where we can really surrender without self impeding us.

I would also like to note that M/s is very much a relationship. It doesn't have to be "just" M/s I may be a slave, but we've been together for a very long time, we have kids and a life together. I may also be a slut, lol, but I'm his slut, and I exist as such quite happily.

And yes, being a slave is very much about not being in control. Yet, in an M/s context a slave makes that choice of her own free will.

Pygar said...

What a fascinating discussion. Thank you all very much. There is so much here that I hardly know where to start - so perhaps I won't! Though it has got my mind thinking like mad and trying to resolve some of the issues.

Perhaps it does just come down to terminology and how one chooses to use words. As Oatmeal Girl says there are no sanctified definitions and one can use words to mean what one wants. If any one wishes to describe themselves as a slave then of course that is fine. Though the word has meant very different things to different commenters.

Clearly in D/s the word "slave" is not truly used in the way it would be in other contexts. However to be different from "submissive" surely it must mean something much stronger. Perhaps it is that the trust in the Master is strong enough to give up everything to him. A submissive gives up control to her Dom so what else then is it that the slave gives up? If it is everything then might this include having ones own opinions or making decisions? Where is the line drawn?

lil talks of being a slave as coming to a place where one "can really surrender without self impeding us." A notion of "self" - personal identity - being put to one side I find very interesting.

For Oatmeal Girl it is something very personal between her and her Master.

Perhaps that is all that can be said - that it is something very personal to those who wished to be identified as "slave".

Though that inquisitive, analytical part of my brain still searches for what it is!

Sorry I have not been able to respond fully to all that has been written but the above are the thoughts I am struggling with as a result of reading the discussion.

Just a few additional points. I would like to agree strongly with Oatmeal Girls remarks about the importance of communication.

I would like to add some sympathy for Sue in how it did not work for her and hope she is moving on positively.

Again as Oatmeal Girl says there is a big difference between real life and fantasy. To use fiction or fantasy as a blueprint for real life can lead to disaster.

A preview for Ana - I hope to be discussing self harm again in next weeks post.

Thank you again to you all.

P xx

Lea said...

I feel much the same way, in that I cannot handle the 'slave' title. While I don't think slaves are unintelligent, I do think that there is a generalized context of a slave only existing for their Master, not thinking for themselves.

That's not always the case.

My knee-jerk rejection of the Master/slave terminology (for Sir and myself)... has more do to with the idea of ownership. I enjoy being called HIS, and such, but I don't think I could call him Master. My submission comes from a desire and need, and I wish to give it to him. I think much is the same for the M/s relationship, but in my head, its different somehow.

Pygar said...

Thank you Lea for adding to the discussion. Yes - the concept of "ownership" is one I was struggling with in a couple of earlier posts that never got published!

It is the case that we each find our own ways - and I suppose decide on the terminology we are comfortable with. For instance my woman regards herself as "mine" but would not describe herself as a slave. Also there are those who may be happy to use the word "Master" yet would not describe themselves as a slave.

So perhaps I am not going to find an essential difference between "submission" and "slavery". It may be just how people feel best describes themselves and their relationships and enhances that relationship.

Good luck

P xx

julie said...

For me, it is the idea that I can be owned by another and that it is something he chooses to do, is what appeals. I have no problem in thinking of myself as slave, or as submissive, I am happy to be either. But like lil, I really do desire to set myself aside as it were and give myself into His control. I am learning about this still and who knows if it is the right place for me. At the moment, though, it feels like it is.

Pygar said...

Thank you Joolz. Yes it is interesting isn't it - that "ownership" concept. Perhaps there are those who would describe themselves as submissive as well as those who describe themselves as "slaves" who like to think of themselves as being owned. Maybe those who describe themselves as slaves like to emphasise that concept of ownership.

Interesting too your putting "yourself" aside to give him control. However I think putting your "self" aside is stronger in almost giving up any sense of personal identity and becoming an object to be used.

I'm pleased you find yourself in a good place.

P xx

Unknown said...

isn't it funny, its the 'sub' title I can't handle, it scares me silly!

I'm very content as a slave, so happy to discover the M/s dynamic and owned property type concept, it perfectly described what we already had, really.

Pygar said...

How interesting mc kitten that you are scared by the "sub" title but revel in being a "slave"!

Thanks for commenting and good luck.

P xx