“slave”.. such an evocative word and under the right circumstances, music to my ears. However not everyone who bottoms is or wants to be a slave and nor do they have to be. It’s ok to be a slave. It’s ok to be a submissive. It’s ok to be a fetishist. It’s ok to be a switch and it’s ok to be a kinky hedonist.
Sometimes I think we do ourselves a disservice with our online communications. In general our online interactions skew very heavily towards humiliation and the more intense end of D/s interactions. In part this is due to those particular interests and dynamics being well suited to the online environment. In addition to this, many of the ways we interact as kinksters online is influenced by past and current platforms where there are many (and often they’re not transparent bout this) roleplay accounts, people pretending to have a far more elaborate and involved kink life than they actually do. Ego also plays a part here. Lots of kinksters feel the need to perform the role of the biggest wolf in the room or conversely the most helpless and pliable little lamb. Frankly I can think of better (and wetter) ways to conduct a pissing contest.
The downside of all this can be that exploring kinksters try to shoehorn themselves into roles that simply do not suit them, as they think it’s the only way or the “right” way to play. This can lead to a lot of frustration and difficulty when negotiating real time interactions.
The reality is that every single kinky relationship or pairing is different. Nonetheless it’s useful to have a framework of understanding within which to communicate our roles and needs.
In a kink context both submissives and slaves exhibit varying degrees of a need to give up control to a Dominant. In most cases they derive great satisfaction and fulfilment from pleasing their respected and adored superior. All slaves are submissive but not all submissives are slaves.
According to dictionary.com
1. a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bondservant.
2. a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person: a slave to a drug.
When I asked for input on twitter on what the term “slave” means to my followers I received the following answer from @Kinkeepanda “The term slave, to me, refers to someone who derives honour, satisfaction & joy from another’s happiness/contentment. I regard it as a demonstration of a deep level of unconditional love & commitment, Where one strives & takes pride in meeting the needs of their owner. “
@newie_77 ‘s answer was simply “Human Property”.
You can see some of the other replies here.
As a professional I see many individuals who I consider to have what I call a “slave heart” who fully, joyfully and willingly give themselves to me within the boundaries of our particular interaction, generally because that’s what their life circumstances allow. This is one of the reasons I so happily find myself doing so many sessions where I have almost complete creative freedom.
Dictionary.com’s definition for submissive is for the word used as an adjective, nonetheless the provided definition is useful.
1. (one) inclined or ready to submit or yield to the authority of another; unresistingly or humbly obedient.
2. marked by or indicating submission or an instance of yielding to the authority of another.
To be concise I see the primary difference between submissives and slaves as the degree of control being given up. Of course we all see things differently and have limits and sticking points in different places. What is one person’s extreme slavery could be considered submission by another.
The most elegant and complete definition for Fetishist was found in the Oxford Dictionary online.
1. a person whose sexual desire or gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, activity, part of the body, etc.
“there are plenty of foot fetishists online”
2. a person who has an excessive and irrational devotion or commitment to a particular thing.
“a clothes fetishist”
Of course as kinksters, we do tend to use the term fetishist a little more casually, often to simply mean something that the individual is into rather than something that’s necessary for their arousal.
It’s also important to note that there are degrees of fetishism and that of course, fetishism can be combined with submission.
From a dominant perspective being the conduit for someone’s fetishistic devotion can be gratifying and of course there is the sharing of a passion for the fetishistic item or body part. After all, Dommes have fetishes as well!
Last but certainly not least we have our greedy kink Hedonists, eager to sample the pleasures of the dungeon.
1. a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification.
2. Also, hedonistic. of, relating to, or characteristic of a hedonist or hedonism.
Most Dommes (myself included) have hedonistic characteristics themselves and are able to very much enjoy the company of respectful hedonists. Especially if they’re self actualised about their actual desires and motivations.
In conclusion, while you’re exploring your kinks and desires it’s worth spending time contemplating what you want from your kink explorations, what motivates you and where you want to go. There’s more to kink than just Dominants and slaves.
When you’re thinking about labels it’s always important to remember that the map is not the territory, it’s simply shorthand to help you and others understand. Not only that, your needs and desires may change over time. Be flexible and recognise that a label that once fit may not be useful to you ongoing.
Being self actualised will help you communicate effectively and lead to better play experiences. It’s generally more fun to play with a fetishist or hedonist who has clearly and respectfully communicated their desires than someone who thinks they have to play the role of the grovelling slave and then gratuitously tops from the bottom…and it’s not hard to guess which one of these people tends to come away from their play more fulfilled.
People’s needs, desires, motivations and situations vary. Better suited to your needs does not necessarily mean intrinsically better, especially when it comes to labels!
In my practice I’m open to seeing kinksters of all the above identifications provided they’re polite, respectful, communicative and genuine.