Recently I've been teaching classes on some of the different psychologies of people within the BDSM scene and who report to Dominatrices and lifestyle Dominants; submissives, slaves, masochists and fetishists. I feel that this is one of the areas least understood, and which in Dominatrix training is remiss in being taught.
Today I want to write a bit about "slaves".
UNDERSTANDING THE DESIRE TO BE A SLAVE
ANNE'S QUALIFICATION AND CLARIFICATION OF "CONSENSUAL VOLUNTARY SLAVERY"
Firstly let me qualify the term "slave". I am of course speaking of consensual voluntary BDSM slavery in which the aspiring, desiring and self-identifying slave has sought out a slave position with a BDSM Master, Mistress or Dom, because they want to be a slave and to serve. (And not in other words been coerced, trafficked, involuntary or anything else of that nature.)
As David Schachter put it in the Introduction of his co-written book on Master/slave relationships: "this is a consensual relationship, and either can quit at any time. The Master has to make sure the slave is happier serving than not. Therein lays the drama and the difference between Master/slave and other relationships." (David Schachter "Introduction" in Ask the Man Who Owns Him: The real lives of gay Masters and slaves Perfectbound Press, New York, 2009, p.13)
Some slaves live in what's known as a "24/7 live-in relationship", which is an abbreviation for a 24 hours a day / 7 days a week relationship, living with their Mistress / Master / owner in their house.
While others live separately, and are only able to engage in their relationship part-time or sporadically due to other life or work commitments. For example some "slaves" seek training and service under a Dominatrix or lifestyle Mistress, which is fitted in within the rest of their life.
The "ideal" for a slave is typically to want to be in a 24/7 live-in full-time relationship, even if that seems a distant dream or fantasy for many.
Some will attempt to seek out a would-be owner / Mistress / Master / Dom(me), and negotiate a relationship, and even move locations geographically and change work places or quit their work in order to try and make it work. It would be folly though to do so without having really got to know and understand fully each other's needs and motivations, and the practicalities of how such an arrangement might work in the real world. It also takes a skilled Mistress / Master / owner / Dom(me) to manage well such a relationship due to the responsibility and skills required to make it work.
There are also practicalities (such as how are they going to be able to afford to live) which can get in the way of such desires, and other challenges which I will go in to within Part 2.
For this reason, many will practise such a dynamic on a much smaller or short-term scale, such as a day's slavery, weekend or week's slavery. In doing so, they learn more about their needs, capabilities, and about themselves and the Mistress / slave relationship dynamic.
Meanwhile, I want to talk about what's in it for both parties?
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE (consensual voluntary) SLAVE?
Everyone and every relationship is different, however some of the common themes which come up when slaves are asked about what's in it for them.
- Fulfils a need to serve and obey.
- Some (but by no means all) see it as a "calling".
- They may perceive being a slave as their identity and role, and holding deep / life meaning.
- Structure to their day and life, and a sense of purpose.
- Sense of security and belonging.
- Feeling of being cared for / protected.
- Love (may be qualified as love in a spiritual sense rather than romantic sense).
- Enjoy to be developed / trained / given direction and purpose / guidance by Mistress (Master / owner / Dom(me)).
- Excitement / play, and in some relationships this may be sexual use.
- Happiness and / or a sense of fulfilment.
From the other side, it's of course a huge responsibility for the owner / Mistress / Master / Dom(me) to take on, and many underestimate just how much is involved in keeping a slave happy, their needs fulfilled, and setting up their duties and structure in order for a M/s relationship to work.
So on the other side...
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE MISTRESS (OWNER / MASTER / DOM(ME))?
Again every individual and relationship is different, however some of the things that Mistresses (owners / Masters / Dom(mes) say they get out of the relationship with their slave is:
- Helps them in some way in life, for example service and support, cooking done, house cleaned, etc, with their slave as servant / caretaker / cleaner, etc.
- In some cases, a slave for BDSM activities / or sexual use of slave (but in some or many M/s relationships, the Mistress or Master does not have sex with their slave, nor do they necessarily have to engage in BDSM activities)
- Receiving slave's love and full devotion.
- Challenge and development of self-mastery and mastery of another person to understand them and to be able to operate and manage such a relationship. (Some see it as a sense of vocation to be a Master / owner, just as some slaves see their slave-calling as a vocation.)
- Entertainment / amusement
- A sense of achievement / accomplishment in being a successful Mistress / Master / slave owner over a prolonged period, working through issues and problem-solving as things in life come up for both parties.
- Happiness and / or a sense of fulfilment
Just how the Mistress / Master / owner / Dom(me) and slave make this type of relationship work is the topic I will explore for the next post. (Clue: A lot of communication, honesty and openness about their needs, clarity and structure around slave's duties, ability to potentially have to make some compromises to their fantasy for reality and make adjustments as needed to make it work in real life, values such as respect and understanding the other's needs, and more.)
Best, Anne O Nomis
Author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'
Host of Villa Domme