MEMBER OPINION: Are You Really A slave? Or Just A sub!
21 February 2022
I read an earlier article by Recon member NikeShoxJock, who recently did broach the crucial topic of terminology regarding the use of the words 'sub' and 'slave' in profiles, and the difference between them. He also mentioned the regular turning up of the term 'total slave', by which some apparently want to distinguish themselves from 'average' slaves. All slaves are subs, but not every sub is a slave, and not all slaves are equal, to summarize.
The fact that there indeed does exist a difference between sub and slave, is also suggested by the famous test on bdsmtest.org, of which their own scores are published in a lot of Recon-profiles as a kind of personal BDSM-DNA. This test score gives percentages for the measure of various dispositions (e.g., 'masochist', 'pet', 'exhibitionist') to characterize the respondent, and is regularly used instead of fully written text. For some, twenty numbers apparently can tell more about the essence of their BDSM-nature than several hundred words.
Two of those dispositions are 'sub' and 'slave'. Consequently, different answers would result in another percentage for one of both, which regrettably isn't told; one would have to try out all questions, to check it out. I personally got for both categories a 100%-score - so 100% sub AND 100% slave. But the test, for some unknown reason, listed 'slave' first.
However, at the end of the test, you're offered a definition of both. Submissives, we are told, "like to follow. Some like to give the control away to their partner, some like to have it taken forcibly from them, some are submissive only in the bedroom, others are submissive throughout their daily life as well". Slaves, on the other hand, "completely hand over the control and responsibilities over their life to their Master. They go a step further than submissives in the sense that their power exchange is present 24/7 and in all aspects of their life (except for negotiated exceptions such as during office jobs)".
Nevertheless, I think one can distinguish more clearly. Moreover, the concept of 'a total slave' isn't mentioned at all.
After having wandered around in the BDSM-world for some thirty years, I would suggest an even stricter criteria to define the main differences between the three, of which I think quite a lot (a majority?) of the involved guys might subscribe to. Those three, however, are not strictly defined, their borders are fluent, and a lot of BDSM guys will develop gradually from one into another, without being able to tell in what exact state of mind the crossing-border was passed.
In my opinion the main difference between sub and slave is the following:
A sub might exchange his Dominants (Doms) freely, for temporary (sexual) service himself. During that often rather short period, he hands over control to his play-partner; and by that, although this experience as such might be very intense, the word 'play' here is accurate, as a lasting relationship beyond the moment of encounters is lacking. Of course, this doesn't exclude regular encounters between the same partners as such, but it in a way will always start from Point Zero, with handing over control with the explicit agreement of the sub for just a limited time.
A slave, on the other hand, has lost this freedom. From the moment a sub is looking to lose it, his mindset has become that of a slave; once he succeeds in finding a Master - not just a Dom, but a real Slavemaster - he has become an owned slave. After becoming a slave, his slavebody has become the exclusive (sexual) property of his Owner. This doesn't mean beforehand, that the Master indeed is allowed to do everything. There might exist many limits, agreed on at the start, and often the rights and duties of both will be determined in a so-called 'slave-contract'. It might be of just a sexual nature but might partially include non-sexual obligations as well.
Being a slave means that the relation to his Master, for him is exclusive - a Master on the other hand can possess several slaves - and obligatory: he can't change his sexual partners at will anymore, without his Master's consent. Being a slave means, in contrast to being a sub, that the slave - within the pre-set limits - has lost the right to renegotiate with his Master at the start of every new encounter with Him. The do's and don'ts of the slave are completely up to the Master. Whereas, a sub may set new limits at the start of every encounter, the limits of the slave are, once owned, in principle set. His own lust and desire at the very moment itself have become irrelevant.
This doesn't necessarily mean, that the Master has His slaves always at His disposal; a slave very well can - and mostly will - have his own social and professional life outside the Master's circle. But it means that, as soon as he enters the home of his Master (or some BDSM setting in His accompany), it is the Master who decides all, without the need to discuss the exact character of this 'all' with the slave first. And a slave then, without contradiction, must follow the orders of the Master immediately and serve Him according to His wishes, because a slave just has to obey.
In contrast to a sub, whose subjection ends at the end of the 'play', the slave (because of this long-lasting ownership) might be marked as such, and often is. For that, the obligation to wear a locked slave-collar 24/7 - mostly of leather, but sometimes of steel - enjoys a growing popularity during the last decades; a slave-tag with the (sur)name of the Owner might even be attached to the front. It is a constant reminder to the slave of his unfree status and makes this unfree status visible to others too (although the slave of course may hide his collar in normal life underneath a shirt).
As most slavery within the BDSM world will, in the first stages, be of the sexual nature, the Master will often claim the right to control the whole sex life of the slave - not allowing sexual intercourse (or even ejaculating) without His consent. As most Masters and slaves aren't physically together 24/7, it has become a more common practice for Masters to make Their slaves wear some form of 24/7 chastity-device to prevent the slave from having unallowed orgasms and have almost complete control over their sexual lives. These can range from simple locked cock-cages to very sophisticated real traditional chastity belts. Within the last decades, such chastity-devices have become very common, not only for practical reasons, but also as a reminder (like the collar) to the slave - and to a potential seducer - that the wearer irreversibly has lost his sexual freedom.
Finally: the 'total slave'.
Again, the borders are fluent. While being just a 'slave' will mostly be limited to the claim of the Master for regular service (most often sexual) - the slave in the meantime still having his own life – being a 'total slave' goes much further. Total slavery is therefore not just a relationship. Total slavery is a lifestyle. It means, you are a slave - always and everywhere - and it often automatically involves living together. TPE is the crucial keyword in this case. One can regularly encounter this term in profile texts: Total Power Exchange. Again, there might be set (physical) limits, regulated by a slave-contract at the start. But within those (mostly rather few) limits the Slavemaster decides everything, also regarding the professional and personal duties of the slave outside his Master's home.
In contrast with a 'normal' Master-slave-relation, which often might be only known to a few insiders, total slavery by nature will be lived out rather in the open, including the whole daily behaviors of the slave, at least to a certain extent also in the presence of outsiders. Slave collars in that case will mostly be worn openly too. And the Master, based on of his TPE-rights, might even mark His slave more permanently, with the aid of a tattoo-machine or a branding iron.
Although becoming 'a total slave' may strike deep rooted fantasies of many subs (as it does with mine), the far-reaching consequences and the difficulty to create the desired setting means that realistically, only a very few will strive for it and indeed succeed. Most subs, on the contrary, will ultimately prefer to keep all decisions still in their own hands, and restrict themselves to being just a 'sub'. Whereas, for a slave, finding the 'fitting' Master with the 'right' ideas is much more crucial than for a sub merely finding a hot Dom for a horny one night stand.
As the latter, however, after many years, might become a kind of humdrum search for more intense experiences, some subs would (as I myself at the moment would) look for a more lasting relationship with only one Master within a fixed framework, and thus indeed want to become a 'slave'.
So, which are you? Are you really a 'slave'? Or are you just a 'sub'?
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