Submissive Or Slave?

I had an interesting yet frustrating conversation with someone who questioned why I call myself submissive and not a slave.

For those of you that don’t know, there always seems to be a big argument in the BDSM community over who should call themselves submissive and who should call themselves a slave. Frankly I stopped giving a shit what people call themselves long ago.

The conversation went something like this:

Dominant guy: God… you should use the slave title. You are obviously looking for a service oriented position to where the Dominant in return gives you structure and stability. The only worry that you SHOULD have is serving your Master.

Me: Most Dommes seem to want a submissive in the bedroom but a vanilla guy outside of it.

Dominant guy: Stay away from the submissive title. It scares Masters like me away. Haha

Thankfully I’m not interested in a dominant guy so it really doesn’t matter if it scares away masters (lowercase on purpose) like him. It’s funny how that works though, dominant guys seem to be more interested in D/s than dominant women. I’ve been to a number of D/s oriented events, the last one I went to had maybe 50 gay couples, 50 Dominant male/submissive female couples, a few lesbian couples and two dominant women/male submissive couples.

Many dominant women have expressed to me their desires for a “submissive sometimes in the bedroom but my equal outside of it”. That’s the reason I shy away from calling myself a slave. It scares women off. Not only that, since I’ve pretty much given up on finding anything other than casual play, more and more women seem comfortable with someone who just submits to them in the bedroom. I’m all for that. Sure there’s a part of me that craves D/s, but the part of me that is dying to try out new things in the realm of BDSM overrides the part of me that needs D/s.

I’d rather be a submissive with a chance of getting fucked and toyed with than a slave who’s got no chance in hell.

I’m even cautious about mentioning my interests in D/s when someone asks me what I’m into since that’s enough to scare some off. I should maybe only qualify it by saying “look, someday, if I met someone who wanted to own me outside the bedroom, then great. But right now I’m only looking for casual play”.

Here’s another example from someone after she discovered D/s was something I enjoy:

“Yikes, are you someone that lives the lifestyle 24/7? Im not really down with that. I love sex with down right perversion, but Im not looking to own anyone…thats too heavy for me.”

It took me a while to convince her that I was perfectly happy just having sex with perversion but my interests in D/s may have cost me a one night stand with someone who enjoys things I’m dying to try.

So maybe I am a slave if that’s someone who enjoys D/s outside the bedroom. If that scares you away then I’m submissive. If that scares you away then I’m just kinky. If that scares you away then I’m just jerking off at home.


really? you want to be slave in regular life as well? be bossed around: get me my coat, do the dishes, scratch my nose, etc?
truly unique. but you would only obey to someone you like correct?

i’ve never known anyone who likes being bossed around. i hope i meet someone like that one day.

i love the extreme personalities, who doesn’t? that’s why we are facinated by the characters in books and film.

god truly did make each one of his different and special like a snowflake.


To me, “submissive” is a more generic word than slave. I’d save the word slave for someone who is in a relationship in which that is their role.

And then I know there are ways you’re supposed to distinguish slaves from submissives in relationships, but to hell with that. Jos and I use “slave” for him because it makes us (him especially) hot. It hits his buttons bigtime. So I don’t care that we’re not doing a total power exchange thing.

It’s probably best to go in as a submissive, bottom, or kinky bastard, and let the right person make you her slave.

To me, a slave isn’t necessarily the same as someone who is submissive 24/7…I think of a slave as a submissive who does whatever he/she is told or faces consequences. And I think of a slave as someone who isn’t afraid to talk back at the risk of more pain.

On the other hand, I think of someone who relates to the general title “submissive” as someone who readily enjoys, even needs, to make his/her partner happy (in whatever parameters – bedroom only or 24/7). A submissive does things without being told to do them, asks permission, and follows rules.

Ex., a slave would say “is that all you got” or otherwise talk back while being whipped and a sub would say sorry or I love you or please.

But that’s just how my mind thinks of the two. That’s one of the things I hate about the BDSM world…titles are SO loaded. Personally, I hope you stick to whatever title feels most comfortable to you, no matter what the reasons. You will find someone someday who will embrace your needs and want to own you. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is why I think titles are stupid. I use “submissive” as an adjective and “slave” as a noun because I speak English, not freakin’ kinkese. End of story.

Sorry, evidently something mean crawled up my butt and made it out the other end.

BTW, Axe, this:

So maybe I am a slave if thatโ€™s someone who enjoys D/s outside the bedroom. If that scares you away then Iโ€™m submissive. If that scares you away then Iโ€™m just kinky. If that scares you away then Iโ€™m just jerking off at home.

is ingeniously hilarious.

“really? you want to be slave in regular life as well? be bossed around: get me my coat, do the dishes, scratch my nose, etc?”

Thats NOT what lifestyle D/s is about.

As a 24/7, full on lifestyle Mistress I can safely say it is not about just bossing someone around. It is about real power exchange. But I also find that fantasy is often times much better than the reality of it, and when subs realize this they are OUT!

I always hear submissive men complain about how they can never find women for D/s or kink. Well, I dated ONLY submissive men in NYC for two years. What I found is that most had a concept of the way they wanted to submit and they only really wanted to do THAT and then refer to that as lifestyle servitude.

Um, no.

Lifestyle D/s is not about just sex nor is it about just bossing someone around. THere is respect between both partners. I immensely respect my slave. I make choices for him that I know are going to be beneficial for him and I look out for him and vice versa. And I don’t order him to do my dishes…I politely tell him they need to be done so to do them.

Much different than fantasy.

I will actually be teaching a class about D/s dating and how submissive men can snag a Dominant woman on NOvember 14th for DSF. Any man who is interested in getting a Domme should attend and LISTEN…


I agree, titles like that are essentially meaningless since most people define them their own way and the specifics vary greatly.

I used to call myself “switch” until I realized that people would then somehow assume that I might be interesting in submitting to them, which I’m not. The only time I want to be “overpowered” is some certain bedroom scenarios and even then I want to have full control, so it really doesn’t qualify as “switching” in common community definitions.

I can see why “slave” may discourage some women if they don’t fully understand what you mean by it or how it applies to your kink in daily life. It’s more complicated than a title, so I would stay away from them as much as possible until you’ve had a chance to talk about details first.

But then I have to stay I don’t understand why somebody would say (as you suggest in your first paragraph) “well, I’d love to play with you, but now that you call yourself a submissive and not a slave, it’s off the table (paraphrasing). Or the opposite, as you suggest later.

I don’t get why people are so hung up on titles either. They don’t matter much once you get in a relationship – or casual play – and just see what happens and what works and what doesn’t.

As someone in a committed, vibrant and loving D/s relationship I can tell you I think you have it right at the top–dong give a shit about what people want to call themselves.

You and I both know that in the scene there are a ton of role players on both sides of the whip.

The reality is, finding and nurturing any relationship is hard work-adding D/s into that equation adds a burden to both people.

Be yourself. Be the person you are-and the right connection will happen. I can tell you from experience, it may come at the moment you least expect it.

I’d stay away from titles too, except maybe mention you have submissive tendencies. I mean, when I met Boy Toy, vanilla girl that I was, if he had told me right off that he wanted to be my slave or to be owned by me, I think I might have run the other way and missed this amazing relationship I now have. To say such things just sounds a little much. Like you mention in your post, the girl saying it’s too heavy for her… Hell, I still say it’s too heavy for me, yet if I stop to think about it, I guess you could call us 24/7. And trust me, it’s not weird, or fucked up, or heavy. When you’re living it, in my case anyway, it just seems natural, normal. like this is my relationship and it’s not any stranger than anyone else’s relationship. So, I’d avoid saying things that sound heavy and might scare girls off, and who knows, one of them might just turn out to LOVE having a slave boy. ๐Ÿ˜€

i agree with maymay, fucking hilarious last paragraph.

i also try to stay away from titles, as afore mentioned, they are so extremely loaded.

but i definitely don’t want anyone to take on the role as my ‘slave’ right off the bat. just like i wouldn’t call someone my ‘boyfriend’ after one date.

i think it is funny the i had to hit a button titled ‘submit’ to publish that comment.

OK, too late in night here to really read all of that and the responses. Particularly as I am slightly drunk but very elated at having figured two extremely nice young men out, and spend the evening teasing them. Yeah, I am a sadist.

Anyway: Who cares of what you call yourself before you have found somebody to experiment with? you may be a slave, you may be a submissive, or you may just be a bottom. It’s not important as long as you and your potential partner feel good about what you have together. Really. Titles are nothing, having a lovely young man leaning blushing into your shoulder, confessing that he loves you and you can tell him what you want and he will obey is everything. Or not really, in your case, but you get the drift, hmm?


I always wonder if there is a third type. If we define submissive in as in sexually dominated and slave as in normal life dominated then there is the slave that does not have sex, …

My partner has never been interested in kinky sex beyond some very very light limits. But she has always been keen on controlling me in real life.

My submissive emotions both in and out of sexual life have always required me to accept this and try as hard as I could to obey her needs.

Saying this, I have no fixed rules in day to day life and my partner is not a lazy mistress asking me to do the cooking but she may make the decision that something is my job at any time and she would not accept any disagreement. She would also not accept anything that might mean she looses oversight/control ie. she will check up on anything I did, look after finances, ….

In sexual life I am clearly submissive but this does not lead to kinky play. It is my deepest affection and adoration of her that means I will fulfill her wishes. I never challenge that me giving orgasm does not mean she has to and even though she tends to ask for rather submissive actions on my part, I have in some situations to be on top for vanilla/light bondage sex. This is something I do not enjoy at all but entertain because it is her demand which I would always follow.

So what does that make me? Sub, Slave or Switch?

My opinion is titles are for people who don’t have enough energy to discover a person beyond a predetermined concept.
In person (online is a bit different), I just identify myself with my name, and leave it up to whoever approached me to figure the rest out.
I think it is a lost artform to actually engage people in an effort to LEARN about them, people tend to want signs/titles so they can just make assumptions.
Honestly, I prefer not to ask what title a person assigns themselves, because I will know from learning about them what side (or if they’re on both sides) of the whip they are on and to what degree.
In my opinion, it is MY assessment of them that matters, not theirs of themselves, as I have met many people who call themselves one thing only to assess they were way off the mark.

What you say here makes a lot of sense and sadly it all comes back to the way we’re all raised in this chauvinist world. I lived with a submissive man once. At the time I was unaware that we were in a D/s relationship, it was unwitting on both our parts, but it was very clear that I was the leader, although he certainly had input and I felt an obligation to make sure he was taken care of. We were not kinky and there was no BDSM, but the domination/submission came naturally to both of us. The relationship didn’t work out for a host of reasons but I did enjoy the D/s dynamic we had.

I have always been turned off by Alpha Male, even in high school. I tend to get along with men who have the potential to see me as their equal and are willing to treat me as such, or even better, as if I’m stronger and they need me to lead. Otherwise, there will be fights. When I read this kind of post from blogs like you and Yes! I’m a submissive man it puts so much into perspective for me about how things have been all along, but have been denied to me my whole life. Being a pro domme has certainly opened my eyes a little, but like you, I think D/s goes way beyond kinky sex.

I think this might be my first comment here, so, hello Axe. ๐Ÿ™‚
I don’t think the situation you described is about the terms “submissive” and “slave”.   I think this is more about failing to recognise assumptions, then failing to ask for clarification, and the misunderstandings which inevitably result from that.   I think this could happen with any term.   You described later on your post how the same thing happened to you again, but this time with the term “24/7”
The strongest thought I got from your post was – if a potential partner of whatever kind is so easily scared off by one word without even checking with you what you meant, then that isn’t the kind of partner I personally would want.
I feel so annoyed when people tell me what to do (or not do) like that dominant guy did to you, especially when the reason they give implies that they can read minds.   My experience is that people cannot read minds.   I know I can’t.   If somebody checks with me prior to making any assumptions about any terms I use which they aren’t sure of, then I consider that to be a good sign.
If they don’t ask, and feel scared off, then I suspect that’s yet another disaster successfully averted.   I just don’t think it’s fair to expect people seeking partners to behave like a scared mouse – fearful of the remote possibility that some squeamish potential partner might have a seizure over the use of a term.   And if they don’t ask at the beginning, why would I expect them to change later on?   That road seems rife with tangled conflict.
My personal approach is that if they’re scared off, then, good.   It just isn’t my job to run after them to clarify if they can’t even be bothered to ask.   I’m happy to clarify if they do ask.   My experience is that reading minds is an exercise in futility, as I think you concluded.
Thank you for reading my rantlet.   It’s one of my favourites.   ๐Ÿ™‚
Best regards,

Lubyanka.   ๐Ÿ™‚

I know I’m commenting long after this post was written, but I just have to say that your writing is brilliant!

I just might have to go through your archive, and see what you’re offering.

The one time I did have a profile on (I deleted it pretty quickly, because I realised I am perfectly happy in my monogamous relationship), the emails from ‘slaves’ did scare me a little – it sounded too strong, and especially since it gives off the 24/7 vibe. Of course, with the right person I hope that his submissive nature is reflected in every aspect of our lives – but I do not want him chained up in my house.

Anyway, I love your work!

Unowned “slaves” annoy me to some extent. Slave denotes a title, a role, a position. If they are not possessed by a Dominant(s), then they are possessed and utterly devoted to themselves, their desires, and their search. They are a slave unto themselves, and that’s not attractive to a Dominant such as myself. What’s worse is when they claim they are my slave (even upon first meeting or first email). You and I have talked much of late about this topic.

IF and only WHEN *I* decide that I want to own you, can you call yourself my slave. Slave is an exalted position to me. It is a symbol of a true commitment between Master and slave. While roles and duties vary, the bond and in my case- promise from slave to serve and Master to protect and cherish is not something I take lightly. Collars are not candy, and a stable should be filled with slaves the Master/Mistress would trust with her life to do whatever is best for her. It is up to the Dominant to see that their stable is not so large as to not be able to give the appropriate attention to the care of each slave.

Until you are owned, either in part or utterly, you are a submissive, a pet, a toy, a bitch, an anything but (slave).
A slave is a slave always. He is a friend, a warrior, a knight, a servant, a pet, a beloved. The dynamic always exists, in or out of the bedroom (of course there is a time and place for everything). I don’t necessarily believe that my slaves are beneath me. I don’t have a standard way to interact with them in public, but most do walk tall at my side through these busy city streets. They are proud, and humble. Capable and inexperienced. Multifaceted in every way. Complex as I am.

The first slave I collared was a gay Master with his own slaves. When we met neither of us could deny my desire, nay my need to own him, and his overwhelming desire to serve me. He fell perfectly into the role of slave, practically born to it as far as we were concerned, but until he wore my collar he could not call himself such.

So in my not so humble opinion- calling yourself a slave when you are unowned is very unattractive. It makes me wonder what exactly are you a slave to? Because it isn’t me.

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Semantics « beyond the hillsOctober 21, 2008 at 9:43 pm

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