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Submissive v. Slave and 24/7 M/s

November 23rd, 2003

It’s getting to the point that I should probably stop reading other people’s opinions and essays. I mostly sit and gape at the screen and wonder where the hell they got their information or who the hell trained them. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not 100% flawless in my knowledge on the subject of BDSM. I’m sort of learning as Master and I go (this is my first M/s relationship, remember?). But man. Some of these people amaze me.

Let’s start with the idea that there is no such thing as a 24/7 M/s relationship. Well, if that’s the case, I don’t want to cook dinner anymore. That’ll be my “time out”. I’ll still do the dishes and be the slave when we’re sleeping, but I think I’ll opt out of dinner.

Okay, Master?


A 24/7 Master/slave relationship doesn’t constitute a 24/7 scene. As absolutely breathtaking as it would be to sit on cloud nine all day everyday, it’s just not possible. Even if Master was independently wealthy and we didn’t have any kids, one of us would eventually have to break scene at some point for one reason or another. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. But in day to day life, we never have to break roles. He always has control and I always do his bidding.

The last essay I read on the impossibility of a 24/7 M/s relationship got some of it right. To have a 24/7 M/s relationship all players must have the mindset and ability to be committed to their role 24 hours a day 7 days a week. When they’re together, when they’re apart, when they’re sleeping, when they’re awake, in the middle of a crisis, in the middle of a celebration. The parties involved are always in their roles. 

This doesn’t mean they’re always dressed in leather and lace or that they always wear a dog collar or they always carry a whip. It doesn’t mean that the slave always walks three steps behind her owner and calls him Master in public and serves him on her knees in a restaurant. If it did, I would be even more lacking in my service than I already am!

What it does mean is that the slave always puts her owner first and does her very best to please him. Everything she does, from the mundane to the irregular, is with regard to what he would want or what he would find acceptable. She would even go so far as to ask him what he would like her to do when the opportunity is there, or when she’s unsure.  He has total and complete control 24 hours a day 7 days a week. No matter what.

The owner takes care to make sure that she knows her place, that she doesn’t step out of line, that she’s properly maintained and well used. This doesn’t mean drop everything in the middle of the mall and beat your slave severely because she stepped on someone’s toes. If she needs to be corrected for something she has done in a public place, the best thing is to softly tell her what she did wrong and that she will be punished for it when you get home. Then when you return home, remind her what she did (believe it or not we do forget exact altercations from time to time) and punish her. She’s his property and responsibility 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Domination and submission shouldn’t stop in this relationship just because they walk out the front door of their home. Them being apart doesn’t mean he no longer owns her and she’s no longer a slave. On the contrary. She should be more aware of her station outside of the home, and he should be able to trust that she will behave according to his standards while they are apart. Perfect love and perfect trust should be in effect here as well.

So this, naturally, starts the sub vs. slave debate and then I notice that this person also has an article defining a “real submissive” vs. a “bottom.” I’ll start by saying that there is a big difference between a bottom, a sub and a slave. People often use the words interchangeably, when really, they are largely different. Let’s start with Webster’s definitions:

inclined or willing to submit to orders or wishes of others or showing such inclination

A person who is held in bondage to another; one who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who is held as a chattel; one who has no freedom of action, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another.

A sub has the option to put limits on their submission. Many are only submissive some of the time, have a safe word to stop whatever is going on in the event that they can’t handle it, and aren’t interested in being under the command of someone 24/7. They set limits and are firm in them. And most are quick to remind their dominant that they aren’t a slave if they feel the need arises.

A slave, on the other hand, submits completely to the will of her owner. She is property. The only rights a slave has are those which her owner allows, usually agreed upon before a collar is decided on, and for the most part she has no limits aside from the ones that are discussed before hand. More often than not, a slave does not have a safe word, though personally, I feel that a safe word is a good beginning in any D/s relationship. This is why it is imperative that a person is wholly honest in negotiating any D/s relationship. No reason for bravado here. Misconstrued bravado can cause serious damage, both mentally and emotionally as well as physically. 

As far as a bottom goes, a bottom is basically a person that likes to be dominated sexually or in a scene, as far as I can tell. Some use this term to specifically describe the position someone has in a scene as opposed to the person themselves. They’re not always submissive by nature and most times put on their street clothes, walk out of the dungeon, get in their car, live a “normal” life and fantasize until the next play party.

Are they lying when they say they’re submissive? No. Most categorize themselves as submissive because they give up control in the bedroom or in a scene, and a lot of people don’t feel the need to submit to anyone 24/7. 

Are they wrong, then? No. I don’t feel that they are. For those short, sweet moments they are very submissive and let go of all control, except when they feel the need to call their safe word. 

So then why the differentiation?

Personally, I feel all three fall under the main category of “submissive” (unless, of course, one is a switch). “Bottom”, “sub”, and “slave” are, more or less, subcategories describing the person’s level of submission as opposed to whether or not they submit.

I catch myself saying “Some submissive/slave she is” often, and when I think about it, I realize that is an unfair judgment. Just because a person doesn’t totally submit to his or her dominant’s will, and basically does whatever he or she wants for the most part, doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t submissive by nature. It only means that his or her submission is different.

Unfortunately, I will always feel that you cannot call yourself a slave and order your “owner” around. Or any other dominants, for that matter. Nor can you say, “he owns me completely, but I will never do this or that,” unless these limits are things that the two of you have agreed upon in the beginning. It irritates me to hear people claiming that they are a slave, and then proceed to talk about how they’re going to tell their master what they’re doing, and when, whether he likes it or not. But it irritates me just as much to hear someone say “Well, she”s not submissive because she only likes to listen occasionally.”

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  1. rick2400
    September 3rd, 2010 at 22:12 | #1

    A submissive is a person who “submits” to her Master, Dom, etc. of her own free will. A submissive have “limits” which are negotiated. A slave is owned property. A slave may or may not be submissive. Her submission may be compelled. She has no limits other than those imposed by the master. That is one of the great issues in creating a 24/7 Master/slave condition since for it to work, the slave must initially choose a Master she trusts implicitly in that He will not harm her to a point of no return. I know there are legions of totally iresponsible people out there that still consider this a “game” and perhaps play-act at Master/slave. I imagine that the number of true Ms couples (or polys) is infinitessimally small compared to the general population.

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