Submission Vs Slave
The difference between a submissive and a slave is not always clear cut even in the minds of those involved in the bdsm lifestyle. It’s been the subject of debate and controversy within the lifestyle as long as I’ve been involved in BDSM and slave training. In general, a submissive maintains a certain distance from her Mistress/Master and retains some freedoms and a slave gives her all as well as her freedoms to her Mistress/Master. I am sure the submissive vs. slave debate will be endless. It seems to always pop up in lifestyle discussion groups and forums.
This discussion is about what elements make a submissive or a slave. They may not necessarily agree with what a person calls themselves. Often one finds individuals that call themselves a slave, when a submissive would be a better title and sometimes one sees a person described as a submissive that is more akin to a slave. I am not sure that the term Total Power Exchange (TPE) can be applied to a consensual slave. In normal cases, it seems impossible to have a TPE in a real world non forced slavery relationship and it is unusual in forced slavery cases. TPE seems to involve fantasy more than reality. In a true TPE relationship, it would mean that any order a Dominant could think of would have to be obeyed by the slave without question. For example, A Master could say, “I hate my neighbor, go get a gun and shoot him”.
Like it or not in the real world there are restrictions on TPE. Very often the following restrictions, what some would call ethical boundaries, are a reality of a Mistress/Master and slave relationship and are often documented in the slave contract.
(In my world) The slave does not have to obey commands that:
A) Conflict with any existing laws and may lead to fines, arrest, or prosecution of the slave.
B) May cause extreme damage to slave’s life, such as losing her job, causing family stress, etc.
C) May cause permanent bodily harm to the slave.
D) May cause psychological trauma to the slave, such as a rape scene for a slave that has been raped in the past.
In my opinion, these self-imposed restrictions placed on the authority of a Mistress/Master do not weaken the Mistress/Master and slave relationship, but reflect the reality of modern life. This is not a new concept in slave ownership because in the past many societies that endorsed slavery had restrictions on how a slave could be treated by the owner. One can look in the Bible to see examples of these restrictions. In the 1850’s a famous case in Polk County, TN involved the prosecution of a Master that mistreated his slaves. So the concept of TPE is not necessarily realistic in the modern concept of consensual slavery or in forced slavery.
Today, slavery within the lifestyle has NO relationship to the forced slavery of the past. Any slave can, if she chooses, execute her free will and leave the relationship, this is a reality. Yes, the objective is to train the slave to where she emotionally needs her Mistress/Master and is attached to Her/him and her slavery to a point where leaving her Mistress/Master is unthinkable, but many Mistress/Master and slave relationships end. Many end at the slave’s request instead of the Mistress's or Master’s request. So, any discussion of slave vs. submissive must be within the framework of the above restrictions imposed by modern life.
A submissive obeys and serves by choosing to do so each time and retains her will. A slave initially makes a choice to obey her Mistress/Master at all times and then submits to the will of her Mistress/Master at all times.
A submissive accepts submission, while a slave accepts obedience:
In my opinion, a submissive retains freedom of choice and a slave gives her freedom of choice to her Mistress/Master. A submissive makes a choice to give her submission in a limited fashion, for a defined period of time and under certain conditions. A submissive can have a long-term relationship with a Mistress/Master, but still retains certain controls. However, many are satisfied with casual role-play without any long-term goals. Training may or may not be involved between a Dominant and a submissive.
A submissive often has a list of conditions, rules, and limits that a Dominant is required to agree to before entering a session or relationship. These conditions, rules and limits usually define time, place and activity. It is not unusual for a submissive to start the relationship with rules and limits and release some or all of them as trust, respect and love for her Mistress/Master grows. In fact, it’s a good practice when starting any new relationship. One should enter the relationship by giving only the amount of power that one feels safe in giving. The decision to become a slave should be postponed until both the Dominant and submissive know each other and trust each other.
A submissive can and often does role-play during an agreed to period of time with a Mistress/Master. During this period the Mistress/Master may have total control, then once the period is over, control returns to the submissive. The Mistress/Master only borrows control of the submissive and to the extent the submissive wishes and she controls her submission.
One definition of a slave vs. a submissive is based upon the focus of the submissive. If the focus is on self then you are a submissive, if the focus is on your Mistress/Master, then you are a slave. I am not sure that this is a complete definition for each one; however it is one dividing line between the two.
Being a submissive does not always involve:
1) A long-term commitment.
2) Devotion to a Mistress/Master.
3) Constant Obedience.
4) Focus on the needs and desires of a Mistress/Master.
Again, there is no need to rush into slavery. One should start out as a submissive and get to know and trust her Mistress/Master first. Slavery is not for all submissives. If a submissive is unable or unwilling to accept slavery, for whatever reason, that is no great crime. Each person has to determine their needs and focus within the lifestyle.
Slavery calls for a higher level of commitment and of serving, obeying and pleasing than submission. Slavery is the complete commitment of a slave’s body, mind, soul, and spirit. she submits to the will of her Mistress/Master. Her/His choices become her choices. Obedience is a major focus in her life.
A slave has made a “choice decision.” The “choice decision” she makes is to give her choices to her Mistress/Master. Consent and obedience are always assumed to be part of slavery. Communication, mutual understanding and trust grow to the point to where it is no longer play but part of her life. A slave is owned all the time by her Mistress/Master regardless of time, place or activity. she is owned by her Mistress/Master when she is out of his presence. Trust in her Mistress/Master and surrender to Her/Him is the starting point to slavery.
Slaves enter into this relationship of their own free will. This is slavery by choice, not forced slavery. she decides to give her freedoms to her Mistress/Master. she becomes a slave because she needs, desires and wants to serve, obey and please her Mistress/Master at all times and in all ways, not because she is forced into slavery. Of course, there will be times when a slave will be forced to do some things, but it will not be something that goes against who she is as a person. Mistresses or Masters often push limits and expand obedience in order to help a slave grow and increase her service to Her/Him. Slaves become accustom to obedience and find joy and peace in it. A successful Mistress/Master and slave relationship always involves happiness.
Being a slave means you are willing to be molded to fit your Mistress/Master’s needs and to serve Her/Him. A slave is re-socialized and re-educated by her Mistress/Master to serve, obey and please Her/Him. her attention is on Her/His happiness.
A Mistress/Master is responsible for the needs and happiness of a slave. she gives Her/Him authority over her needs and happiness. However, a slave is responsible to communicate those needs and feelings. The limits of the Mistress/Master become the limits of the slave. This does not happen overnight, it is a process of growing into slavery.
A slave does NOT give up thinking and reasoning and become mindless. This is the biggest misconception of slavery. It is a false charge that has been leveled at slaves mostly by cyber-subs and part time players as self-justification for their lack of total commitment. If a cyber-sub can make a slave look mindless then she can justify why she is better than a totally committed slave and supplies a reason why she calls herself a submissive. she reasons that “Naturally a good Mistress/Master would not want a mindless slave; they surely would want a thinking cyber-sub instead.” It’s a late addition to lifestyle thinking and only stated by some submissives. Generally, well informed submissives that feel secure in the lifestyle don’t try to blast slaves. It’s usually “wannabes.”
O/one never hears a knowledgeable Mistress/Master refer to a slave as mindless, because She/He knows better. She/He also knows that she is more straightforward and much more useful than any cyber-sub.
Often a slave is given great responsibilities within the relationship. They are given a general framework of limits and direction and expected to act within them using their own resources and abilities. A slave is often asked to express her thoughts on issues or problems, but realizes that the final decision is always her Mistress/Master’s. The decision made by her Mistress/Master becomes absolute for her.
Most slaves use their skills and talents within the Mistress/Master and slave relationship to advance it and the well-being of T/their lifestyle. Most Mistresses and Masters encourage this. Often Mistresses and Masters feel more at ease in using a slave to manage a project than they would a submissive. Throughout history slaves have been given responsibilities that require thought, planning and decision making, there is no reason to discontinue this practice in modern times where there is consensual slavery instead of forced slavery. Consensual slavery involves devotion, caring and obedience; why not take advantage of these traits in a slave as well as her knowledge and skills.
As stated above, the word “doormat” is often used by wannabes and cyber-subs to describe slaves. My definition of “doormat” would be that of a person that is used by another person for their own benefit without regard for that person’s feelings, growth, or well-being. A Mistress/Master assumes responsibility for Her/His slave’s body and well-being and is always concerned about the development and mental well-being of Her/His slave. she is Her/His property and She/He has no reason to destroy Her/His property. In fact, She/He has a great interest in her development. Percentage wise, which is more likely to be used as a “doormat”, a slave or a submissive that has a casual meeting with a Dominant?
One often hears “A slave has NO voice in the relationship.” This is another misconception of slavery. Often, a Mistress/Master with common sense will seek the opinion of a slave before making a decision in many areas. It’s impossible to find a slave that does not have more knowledge in some areas than does her Mistress/Master. In areas where she has experience, knowledge and training, it would be foolish for Her/Him not to seek her advice before reaching a decision. In addition, it’s often better to bounce your ideas off someone else before reaching a final decision. A good slave will welcome the chance to aid her Mistress/Master by offering an intelligent opinion. A slave has input into many of the decision making processes that are required in life, but the Mistress/Master makes the final decision.
Slavery is NOT an escape from life. Past, present and future problems don’t magically disappear into the night never to be seen again. For example, past credit card debts don’t disappear, but a Mistress/Master may plan repayment and place Her/His slave on a budget. Slavery is a completion of a slave’s natural feelings and needs, not an escape.
A slave enjoys submission and, over time, that submission becomes deep enough to elicit feelings of being owned or fully controlled by her Mistress/Master. Not all submissives become slaves, but all slaves are submissive.
Slavery always requires a long-term commitment by the slave to her Mistress/Master and she is owned at all times. Slavery always requires obedience. A friend in response to reading a draft of this article stated in an email to me that she didn’t know how many people start out as slaves, but in her opinion it is a process of “becoming a slave.” One starts as a submissive and over time grows into slavery. I fully agree with this statement.
There appears to be no right or wrong way, one can be a slave or submissive. It depends on the needs and desires of the individuals involved. Some Mistress/Masters don’t want a slave and some don’t want a submissive. In addition, depending on the personality of the person, some submissives will never be a slave and some slaves would never be happy as a submissive. It is a choice that one must make in their own life.