Monday, January 12, 2009

The Topic For Today is: Slaves/Subs

Well it's Monday Morning, January 12, 2009. I thought it might be fun to discuss the similarities and differences of being a Slave and being a Submissive.
I KNOW that anything I write is subject to interpretation and to OPINIONS and to History of the lifestyle. There are "Old Timers" who see it one way, and there are "New timers" that see it other ways. Nobody needs to blow any ones head off for having their own thoughts and own way of doing something. One man's ceiling is another man's floor. So with out further delay, her we go!!!!

A-Bit- O- History

I love history. History actually forms the present and is based on experiences and practice. So....
Once upon a time, there was an entity called "The Leather Community". This community was made up mostly of sexually free, open minded people who wished to live in the way that felt comfortable for them. In the past this was a VERY BOLD position and statement. We owe "The Leather Community" much. Most likely we would not be here today, hadn't they did what they did. This community was made up of mostly Gay Males, and found in Gay establishments. Clad in Leather and loyal to their needs, wants and desires. Key word.. THEIR.
This is not to say that it was not a struggle, for it was. Again we owe that community thanks, and our respect! The bdsm movement grew out of their lifestyle. BDSM was an outgrowth of the sexual freedom movement and the Leather community.

Old Guard Rules

Words to describe the rules: Tough, Inflexible, Scary, Sexual, Demanding.
Editors note: Long ago there were was no "safe sex" many members of the Leather community were caught with their pants down for AIDS and other ST D's.
In other words, back then, THE RULES WERE THE RULES!
What was and is still kinda sweet was the formality and protocol of that lifestyle movement. Today's BDSM movement is loosely based on the protocol and discipline of the "Old Guard" movement.

Slaves in the 'Old Guard Movement

Slaves were slaves. Nothing more than a piece of furniture, a toy, a thing, a sexual reciprocal who was to obey. There was no provision for inability to perform. You simply did what you were told, or pay the consequences. If your Master told you to do oral sex on a friend of his, you did it with grace and style. Always polite, always dutiful, always on task. If someone wished to have anal sex with you and your Master commanded you to do that, you did it and you were happy about it. No attitude, no opinion, you did what you were told. Slaves were conditioned to obey. There was very little psychological thinking. Most everything was based on pleasure of the Master. If you disobeyed you were punished and hurt to the point that you were conditioned not to fail again. I do not judge those things. I am only reporting what is known of those days.

Today's slaves.

How many people today can match what was done in the "Old Guard" times? I do not believe that many people can or even try and attempt to live up to those expectations. Slaves of today are based for the most part in the Vanilla World and are slaves when time and situation dictates. Not to say that they do not know their purpose or their place 24/7 but today's world is different than long ago. Today in a two party family were both people work to maintain a household it is very hard to be a slave in total. There are children to feed and most slaves today are reality based. I do not know of to many Kemp Slaves, who do nothing but serve their owners. Those situations are few and far between. In some of those situations the " Old Guard" philosophy and practices are alive and well. On the whole, however, there has been a switch away from iron clad rules and practices. HERE IT IS! HERE IS WERE THE DEBATE BEGINS. If a slave can make choices, if a slave can say no, if a slave can at times debate and bargain with his or her Master or Mistress, Are they a slave? Are they a submissive?

Submissives

Submissives have the latitude to make decissions, have discussions, and to have safe words. Slaves do not, (according to the Old Guard) . Submissives need no permission to do anything they wish to do. They run their own lives and episodically surrender to their husbands or wives, Mistresses or Masters.

So whats the Rub.

The rub is that according to some, if you are not TOTALLY under the control 24/7 of your Master or Mistress, have no say, have no purpose but to do your duty for them, live for them and obey them 24/7 you are not a slave. You are defined as a submissive. A submissive then is defined as a player and nothing more. If you serve without the proper protocol, you are not a slave or a submissive but just a player with no purpose.

So cut off my head!

With all due respect to everyone in the lifestyle I will stick my neck out. I know it might get whapped off but I am willing to state what I believe and what I believe in.
As a mental health care provider and a slave in the present bdsm lifestyle I have my own thoughts on these issues. Slavery is a marvelous and wonderful freedom. Not many of us will ever have the opportunity to share in that TOTAL EXPERIENCE. Most of us will be called submissive by the all mighty "Authority" of the Lifestyle.
We may not know who they are and what they look like, but they are there just the same. I have been called a submissive, because I seek sane, consensual play, and when I am sick, I expect down time. When I work, I need to work at full capacity. I also do not need to EVER ! EVER! EVER! put my health in jeopardy by the will of a Master or Mistress. If this makes me a submissive, so be it.

An Enlightened View

I know who I am and what I am. My Mistress and my Heart will define for me who and what I am. Relationships of any kind need flexibility, open mindedness, balance, love, affection, and service to one another. Nothing in the BDSM lifestyle is written in stone. We all can create, label, and share our dreams and thoughts without changing who we are. For myself, within my being is a slaves heart. I am nothing more or less than a slave. My purpose is to serve and to make my Mistress happy. I respect the Dom's. Dome' Mistresses and Masters. I yield to them out of my respect for them. I do not have to be owned by them to respect them. I serve them as I would severe my own Mistress. I will kneel to them, address them with a formal protocol, for my Slaves Heart demands that of me. I demand that from myself also. Mine is a blend that works for me, works for them, and there we meet on a common ground. I also have learned when to back off and when to offer an opinion. I ask for permission to speak and to speak freely, I kneel when I serve them food or drink. I speak when spoken to. I look down unless invited to gaze on their face or look into their eyes. It is up to every ones own wants needs and desires to choose whats right for them and for their Masters or Mistresses.

Missing something?

We all are missing something in the lifestyle. We miss community, we miss love and loving and understanding each other. We are quick to judge, long on softening our ideas and positions. We are sometimes in Crisis Management and we isolate ourselves in our own small groups without extending warmth and welcome to the new comer. Sounds to me like the Vanilla world. We are not supposed to be the Vanilla World. We are the BDSM Community! We are supposed to OPEN and WILLING and LOVING! Let us all think about these things as the debate continues.

A MW. Production 2009c. written for 411bdsm.com
If you are experiencing Mental Health Issues, contact a Mental health care professional in person.
We encourage comments and questions. If you have your own personal issues please contact Mark @ four11bdsm@yahoo.com

2 comments:

DR Webster said...

There are problems inherent in labels. They include the reality that different people have different understandings of the meanings of these terms and the promotion of different meanings for them adding to the confusion. Another major one is the reality that people are unique individuals who tend not to fit well into pigeonholes, even those that carry well generalized definitions.

To judge by what I've read in the past and learned from contact with people who actually "were there, way back when," the factual historical information in the article is a good summary of the beginnings of the modern American BDSM community.

I've encountered those who insist that the "old way" is the only "right" way. Of course, each of those people has at least a slightly different version of what constitutes the "old way" that is the "right" way. They are set in their various similar but slightly different ways, but those ways are not quite what has been represented here.

I can't agree with them regarding their insistence upon a specific way of doing things because I believe that the only "right" way to make BDSM part of your life is the way that works for those involved. Having said that...

In the article, you say "slaves were slaves. Nothing more than a piece of furniture, a toy, a thing, a sexual reciprocal who was to obey." Agreed. That much is true. It is also true that slaves of the old guard, as is the case with slaves of today, were/are often sexual playthings that are shared at their owner's will.

The idea that there was no room for recognizing the physical limitations or medical condition of slaves, that all "old guard slaves" were the victims of callous disregard for their well being, is an extreme misrepresentation, again based upon my own historical reading and contact with a very small number of the "old guard."

In fact, in the "old guard or "old leather" tradition, which is carried on to this day in many "leather" communities, the only path to recognition as an owner, as a master (or mistress in the large het leather community of today), was and is through serving as a slave. You did and do not pick your role, you start at the bottom and only if you have it within you, you rise past that level.

Inaccurate information/conclusions aside, if the definition of a word does not fit you or accurately describe what you wish to convey, the English language is rich with alternatives, even the specialized subset of it that is specific to the BDSM subculture. Attempting to redefine a word in order to justify applying it to yourself is, in my opinion, wrong.

When we talk about "today's slaves," let's be clear that there are distinctions between "submissives," "submissives with slave tendencies" and "slaves." There are also a number of other categories and subcategories, but let's keep things basic. To me, the kind of person being described as "today's slave" in the article is somewhere in the range of submissive to submissive with slave tendencies, depending upon the paragraph.

In today's BDSM subculture, as in days gone by, when defining "slave" a good starting point is consensual non-consent. In simple terms, this is the voluntary surrender of "the right of refusal" and yes, it is an ongoing, continuous act on the part of someone who does it. It can be and often is enforced, as is understood and expected in the concept but it is still a continuous act of surrender, until and unless it does become so ingrained in someone that they have little capability of doing otherwise. Having the personal acquaintance of those for whom that reality has come to pass, I can assure you that it does happen.

I have two definitions of the term "slave" to offer, that clearly define a different sort of slavery than "today's slave." The first is of my own composition and the second remembered from a well worded profile on the Collarme website. They are two different ways of expressing what it means to live by consensual non-consent at any time, past or present.

"A slave is one who accepts their owner's hard limits as their own and gives up all right to refuse their owner."

"A slave is one who chooses to live as the property of another and is completely subservient to that person's will."

To address your primary argument against today's slave "matching what was done in the "Old Guard" times," which refers to working outside of the home, the owner of a wide range of living property (listed in order of theoretical value), whether it's the cat/dog keeping rodents away from their buildings, a hunting animal that aids in hunting game for the table, a draft animal that works hauling something(s), a race horse or a slave, employs that property to their benefit, to their profit. A slave may find employment in a workplace in the vanilla world and interact with others, contributing to the household income without being less of a slave for doing so.

In historical times, "real slaves" were sent to work, to manage businesses, even to guard with deadly force their owners and were not less slaves for doing so. Why should it be different today? If there's a need to reinforce the slave relationship during the work day, it's not that hard to do, but it's often not necessary. (btw, when you say "Kemp slaves" do you mean "kept slaves?" If so, they're not all that uncommon today.)

By the definitions I posted, a slave cannot say no. I agree with you there and generally with your description of submissives. By my definition you are a submissive, by your own account with slave tendencies. As long as you retain the "right to refuse," you have not made the final step into slavery. It's not unusual these days to find "slavish subs" calling themselves slaves. To make that final step does involve extreme trust and that is not easily achieved.

Realistically though, what sane and prudent owner would not ensure the well being of valuable property, especially if that property contributes to the household income? While there were undoubtedly instances of those with no regard for the well being of a slave in "the old days," and while it undoubtedly occurs today, by my own standards and those of others in the community of my acquaintance, those who act with callous disregard for the well being of a slave are considered abusers, not members of our community. It is for this reason that consensual non-consent is a viable basis for many relationships.

As you might guess, I've been involved in the discussion of sub vs. slave a number of times before. It's always a worthwhile topic when it's in a forum related to BDSM because it is important to understand what these things mean, particularly for any who are new to this lifestyle. It's one to which I'm happy to contribute despite the limitations inherent in labels.

With all due respect to your Mistress, to you, to the life you have made together, to your contribution to the community through the website and to the concept outlined above that the only "right" way is the way that works for those involved...

Be well & take care.

Shane Hawkins said...

I know I'm not gonna revive a blog that's seemingly been deceased for 6 years now, but I'd like to add two things. a question (rhetorical), and a suggestion(more of an opinion).

First, the question. Does a slave have the right to make requests of their master? maybe requests to not perform certain actions which they find uncomfortable, or requests to try actions which they may be interested in? Or would such a freedom disqualify someone from being identified as a slave?

And second, my suggestion. It is my opinion (as an aspiring, but unfortunately worthless, stray and untrained sub)that slavery is, quite obviously, about control. it is also my opinion that all, or at least most human beings, and likely other animals as well, have the ability to act as a slave and a master. The idea of self mastery (or self discipline) comes to mind when imagining a balance between these two aspects in one person (said person being a master of themselves, and a slave to that master).

to be a master is to enforce your will. to be a slave is to enact that will. a master must be inherently superior to a slave in order to command respect and obedience. But the problem is, that blunt, aggressive force (physical punishment) is hardly the height of human accomplishment. In this day and age, a superior master (superior to me, in any case), would need to be capable of enforcing their will subtly, without the need to break my consent. to use a superior understanding of psychology, manipulation, and behavioral conditioning to train me to obey their will, as if it were my own.

It's a bit like training a dog. if you only ever punish the dog, the dog is likely to bite you or run away, if they have the means to do so. you may have power over them, but they are still capable of disobeying your will, and are not enslaved.

Through the use of reward based training, however, a master can likely attain complete obedience from a slave without the need to resort to brutish tactics of physical torture, though I'm not knocking torture if that's what you're into.

In essence, a true slave will not even want to disobey, not because they are afraid, but because they have been trained to enjoy the experience as much as, if not more than, their master.

Again, just my opinion as an inexperienced naive.