Slave or Sub part 2

Well I do not think I have ever had as many comments on a post as on my post about the precise meaning of the terms, Slave and Sub! And it was no surprise that views were varied and also totally conflicting. There were some very wise and well thought through comments for which I am grateful. Many commenters agreed the issue was confusing. Now given after honesty, good communication is the most important thing in a relationship, and given in a BDSM relationship, communication is even more important than in a vanilla one – what a problem we have if we do not even agree on what the words mean that we bandy about. (And as a writer who loves precise word meanings, this is a nightmare!)

All that follows is in the context of the BDSM world. I have formed a view on Sub and Slave with which some of you will agree and some not.

I reject the proposition that there is a spectrum with slave at one end and sub at the other. I think ‘Slave’ indicates a person in the context of a relationship. So someone cannot be a slave if they are not in a relationship. They could be a wannabe-slave but not a slave. Being a slave indicates a RELATIONSHIP where there are no safe-words or limits and the slave has given up all rights and influence over what happens.

I am working on the basis that ‘Sub’ is short for ‘Submissive’. I propose that ‘Submissive’ describes an attribute of a person, not a relationship context. Someone who is not in a relationship can be a submissive. So a ‘sub’ is someone who gets some fulfilment from being dominated. And there is a spectrum of submissiveness. At one end are those who I have always referred to as ‘true submissives’ and what I have meant by that is ‘true submissives’ need to be dominated to be truly content in life. Almost all of them find this out about themselves before puberty. In their perfect fantasy world they would be in a slave relationship. And many, like bitch-boy, are. Some however are content that they are simply the passive partner during sex and would be petrified at the thought of becoming a slave. So I have a problem with the term, ‘My sub’, when it infers some sort of ownership. For accuracy it surely needs to be ‘my sub husband’, or ‘my sub boyfriend’, or ‘my sub fuck-buddy’. It is an attribute of the person, not a descriptor of the relationship.

There is a spectrum for Submissiveness and there is also a spectrum for Slavery. I have mentioned before that the most influential element of where on this spectrum a slave might be, comes from whether the Mistress enjoys the vanilla company of their slave. I enjoy the vanilla company of bitch-boy enormously. He is very, very intelligent and wise and witty and an expert on food and wine and science and nature and such like. A good number of times each week, I will inform him that I will be using him for his vanilla company – and we will go out for an expensive meal, or watch a great film or TV program, or we are travelling to a new and interesting country as tourists. However there are Mistresses, (I know from experience) who always prefer to be using and abusing their slave than experiencing their vanilla company. These slaves have a tougher time than bitch-boy. (You may find that hard to believe!) They are further up the slave spectrum than bitch-boy.

A slave will normally be a submissive, like bitch-boy, but not always. For example, a frequent scenario one reads about and I have no doubt happens, is as follows: A high earning husband has an affair and is caught by the wife. The wife does not want to lose her expensive lifestyle. Through blackmail, she turns her husband into a slave (usually cuckolded) and despises him. He is right up the far end of the slave spectrum – she does not enjoy his vanilla company!

So a slave may or may not be a sub. A sub may or may not be in a relationship as a slave. This leaves a ridiculous problem considering how long the BDSM world has existed. (at least since the Marquis de Sade – 1740 to 1814). There is NO all encompassing word for someone who is in a relationship with a dominant that encompasses both slaves and subs. My acquiescer?? My submitter?? My yielder?? My forfeiter?? None of these work. What a ridiculous state of affairs we are in!

And it is no good arguing that this is why we must use the term ‘sub’, or why we must use the term ‘slave’ because whichever camp you are in, 50% of the BDSM community will misunderstand you when you do use your favoured term!

So to continue onto a rant now I have momentum, we come to ‘Safe, Sane and Consensual’. So commonly used as the strict rules by which we must all comply in the BDSM world. Well, ‘Safe’ and ‘Sane’ I think just about works. BUT CONSENSUAL!!!   As I have written many times, true submissives are only at peace and content when things are happening to them they truly do not want to happen to them. It is only then they feel truly dominated. So they must NOT CONSENT to what is happening in order to be at peace. We then are moved to the phrases – ‘Non-consensual consent’, or, ‘Consenting to not consent’. We are forced to use phrases which are oxymorons! We have no single word for the partner of a dominant AND no single word for ‘Non-consensual consent’. And these two conditions are probably the most fundamental in the BDSM world and we have no word for either!

Finally I will rant about the term, ‘Power Exchange’. I truly do not know what this means. I have not exchanged anything with bitch-boy. I have all the power, he has none. No exchange has taken place. What is ‘Power Exchange’ supposed to mean?????

We are a community which needs excellent communication and yet we have a paucity of useful accurate terms. Hmmmmmmm.

Rant over, for now.

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11 Responses to Slave or Sub part 2

  1. sissyjamieanne says:

    Mistress Scarlet…You are a true “word-smith”, Ma’am! A very interesting and fun to read entry. The terms and semantics of the BDSM world are indeed debatable, and as You’ve pointed out the differences between “sub” and “slave”…I like Your definition and differentiation of the terms!


    sissy jamieanne

  2. kennywblog says:

    Reblogged this on kennywblog and commented:
    this may explain the subtly but importance between a slave and a sub

  3. sara elise says:

    Ms Scarlet- i just want to stop by to again thank You for your wonderful Tumblr posts. Wow!🙂 sara

  4. Sweep says:

    This is a great post, and it’s predecessor.

    Just playing devil’s advocate for a moment, despite its faults “my sub” is a useful short hand for “my submissive husband” or “my submissive girlfriend” or whatever. It also hits a nice middle ground – not too scary for vanilla types, not too wet and euphemistic for kinksters. It neatly sidesteps the consent questions that “slave” can raise. It’s vague, but perhaps that’s deliberate. Maybe, in a community as diverse as the BDSM one, labelling is good to avoid? The lack of definition promoting more communication and questioning, I mean?

    None of which helps with your desire for accuracy! Sorry. Certainly it is good to have defined terms for when those discussions do take place.

  5. BigG1971 says:

    I totally agree. Ambiguity leads to miscommunication and hurt feelings, especially for sensitive submissives. I’ve often just classified myself as a submissive, then I learned I’m really am apha-submissive, but actually I’m an alph-slave. ??? I’m a large, powerfully built, former college football (American) football player who is in control of much in the vanilla world who craves control to be TAKEN, not given, via the use of chastity, sissy training, bondage, etc. I’ve never been the doormat submissive who willingly throws myself at the feet of a Domme, rather one who respects women immensely and respond positively when they exert such control or influence through training or erotic blackmail that I’m forced into compliance absolutely, reaching that much desired “sub space” which is greatly aided by chastity training. Whew! Having said that, do I now have the right description of myself or am I still way off the mark? Very confusing to be me these days. Thank you for reading this and your ever educational and articulate expression of thought.

    • I think you might be overcomplicating it. Whether someone is assertive while vanilla or weak while vanilla is not really important is it? What is important is that when NOT vanilla, someone needs all control taken from them and cruel heartless power exerted over them.

      • scherzo says:

        I think as one-sided as it seems to most people, that defines the power exchange, Ms. Scarlet. The slave’s power is exchanged for your cruel ownership of him to both of your lasting fulfillment.

  6. gary says:

    I agree with almost everything you mentioned, but respectfully differ in consensual non-consent. The “consensual” and “non-consent” refers to different times/issues and therefore is not an oxymoron. The consent comes from the slave agreeing and willingly entering or continuing a relationship that will not take j to account his consent after he enters it. Therefore the consent refers to the relationship, while the non consent refers to the happenings in the relationship.

    • I like your interpretation. Thank you, it makes sense. To everyone who has not received this explanation though, it remains, on the face of it, an oxymoron so remains unhelpful as a label for the uninitiated perhaps.

  7. westfalen says:

    Great discussion and particularly love your point MsScarlet about the UN-importance of how or what the male sub does and is like in his vanilla world, as that is not germane to his status and doings, be they as they may as sub or slave…….as this is a tension that many male subs, most always the alpha-types seem to experience inner conflict around, and thankfully which you point out so insightfully is besides the whole point and experience of male sub/slavery!

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