In the world of kink, certain fetishes are theoretically so identical, they may as well be inseparable. Upon my naïve entrance into kink, I thought BDSM and Masters & Slaves were inextricably linked. But I soon learned our connections to kink are more nuanced and individualized than what appears on the surface. To many, BDSM and Masters & Slaves are inseparable—unless, of course, one is willing to redefine Masters & Slaves.
It's a tale as old as time. A generation settles on the reality of how something should be. The next generation comes of age and adds, subtracts, or changes the status quo and the previous generation either adapts or rejects. With each passing generation, society's perception of human life shifts. So, the struggle to maintain the status quo, embrace the new guard, or compromise and find a balance commences. The world of kink is no exception.
Old-fashioned, dare I say conservative, masters or doms, do not necessarily see a discrepancy between those terms: master and dom. When I say old-fashioned, I don't necessarily mean old. Those on the active side of things, no matter the age, can and do interpret being a dom as being a master, therefore, his sub is his slave. But that's not entirely the truth. All masters are doms; all slaves are subs. However, many argue that not all doms are masters, and not all subs are slaves. I suspect this does and doesn't come as a surprise…
It has to do with connotation. Master connotes total control, total dom, total slave. Some masters expect a carte blanche or a blank check when his slave submits. Generally, as long as what "Master" wants is within RACK (risk-awareness consensual kink), masters have total control over their slaves. But there's the word, "total." Some masters and slaves put the word total in their descriptions to connote the kind of master and slave they are. Total implies carte blanche without limits: total control, total submission. Some masters and slaves have limits, so therefore they wouldn't consider themselves, total, no? This begs the question: what does total really mean and if one isn't total, what does a master and a slave mean outside of that context?
Total can imply the dynamic exists outside of play. Some masters, even doms, expect their slaves/subs to continue the dynamic outside the bedroom. The best example of this, I believe, is chastity. What better way to remind both parties involved then the constant presence of the key and the cage? Can total also imply within play only? I guess so. If one isn't total, would old-fashioned masters and slaves consider one as such? Or would they nudge one into the dom/sub category?
Usually, I err on the liberal side and welcome change and new ingredients to an established recipe. And if one is a sub who has specific limits and does not want that dynamic to exist outside of the bedroom, then one is only a sub, not a slave. Am I correct? Or, again, can slaves have limits?
Now, to the masters and slaves reading this, which kind of master or slave are you? When I first joined Recon, I contemplated adding Masters & Slaves as an interest; I wouldn't mind adding Masters & Slaves as an interest to my profile, but from there, explaining what kind of slave I am would eventually turn off some masters. My theoretical identity as a slave is certainly stricter than other's. Aforementioned, as a slave, I am a slave only during play. And with me does not come a carte blanche. I have my specific turn-offs/limits. The idea of being a slave is erotic and arousing to me. I want to be dominated like a slave in the bedroom. But does that satisfy a master? I'd argue no. I have been told by masters that I am not a slave. I am just a sub. Slaves are only totally powerless. So, I've embraced the sub role.
I have engaged with doms who want control over me, requesting pics at random times of the day, ordering me to do monotonous things randomly, either provided that I am free to do them, or commanding that I should drop everything and prioritize my dom's wishes over my real-life commitments. In my turn-offs/limits section of my profile, I list "BDSM outside of the bedroom." What I'm looking for, apparently is a dom, not a master. I am truly surprised when I get a message from a master and their first message is something like, "Hey slut, text me at said number and I'll give you your first instructions. You know you want it." My first thought is: what the fuck. Did this person not read my profile? Or did the person disregard what I said. Masters & Slaves isn't listed there. To all masters and doms out there, for the sake of not wasting time, read a passive person's profile; don't assume just because one is passive one is a total slave.
I know there are plenty of doms who aren't masters or who don't have to be masters. But I'd like to break the perception that all subs are slaves in the traditional sense. Those on the active side shouldn't assume that those on the passive side perceive "control" the same way. I'm not saying most active men do; I'm saying some do. I have engaged with many doms treating me like a slave or attempting to treat me like one and a clash of culture arises. Conflict ruins the mood. When I pushback at a dom trying to handle me in a "slave" manner, there's sometimes a lot of confusion and offense is taken. This is why it's vital to define that kind of active and the kind of passive person one is.
When I chat with doms and/or masters, I take time to try and explain the kind of sub/passive guy I am. First and foremost, like I said, I have my limits. I don't play with a carte blanche. From there, I explain that I am a brat sub, which sometimes brings with it tension. Some doms/masters expect submission immediately. I like to be seduced. I like to be willed into submission. I like my submissiveness to be earned. Thankfully, many enjoy the challenge and like to test themselves to see how quickly they can get me to submit. Others chastise me for even calling me a sub to begin with. "You're not a sub, you're just a guy who likes to be seduced and catered to like a little bitch." I've gotten that, several times, in different shapes and forms. For, it's the dom/master who must be catered to; that's the sub or slave's job, in their view. I understand that. I consent to that. I enjoy serving my dom. But I need to know that he is worth my servitude. For many, that is too much to ask. I am bending the rules too much. I am redefining too much. For others, I am creating my only little niche which is not unalike how other subs or slaves like to be dominated.
The broader question is, now, is there controversy in this? Is there general consensus? In the world of kink, how susceptible are we to change? Can we welcome change like this, or would it endanger the set rules and established traditions and create too much confusion and tension? To all doms and subs, masters and slaves, actives and passives, tops and bottoms – what are your thoughts? Can we redefine masters & slaves or should we leave the old-fashioned definition alone?
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