Indeed there is. There always has been in my mind. Currently, my Dragon is having a bit of difficulty with someone who doesn't understand that there IS a difference between being in a Dom/Sub relationship and being in a Master/Slave relationship.
Note: Even though they may not know about this particular journal, I present the following article I discovered in my own quest to define the difference between the two. I will put up something about the difference between a Dominant and a Mistress, as they too are two separate, distinct things. And being in a Mistress/Slave relationship does NOT mean that the Mistress is a sadist, nor does it mean that the slave is a masochist. In the following piece, for ease of reading, I have colorized/bolded the words "slave" and "submissive" separately, so as not to cause any confusion.
Many ask if slaves truly exist. In the way a dictionary and history define slavery, no they do not exist in most modern countries. (Though there is some contention that slavery rings do still exist in secret).
Most people in civilized countries generally agree that the legal ownership of another human being is immoral and thus make it illegal. However, in the world of BDSM, one will find that some of the people involved call themselves by many different terms; one of these is the term "slave". Of course, this often raises the question of how is a slave different from a submissive.
This question often is met with outright hostility, disbelief in the existence of slaves and the thought that the words slave and submissive (as nouns) are interchangeable terms within the context of BDSM. Many will not agree with any of those thoughts, and I am one of them. I have spent a great deal of time talking withslaves in the honest attempt to better understand them, their lifestyle choices, and judge for myself whether or not this is a healthy variation to the BDSM lifestyle.
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To the question of whether or not slaves exist inside of BDSM I say that yes they do. They may not be the largest group, but there are quite a few. Do slaves differ from submissives? Again, my answer is yes they do. Slaves tend to differ from submissives by the way they think, act, submit and their expectations.
A slave tends to think more along the lines of black and white. They have very little room for leeway or shades of gray in their lifestyle choices. They do not seem to expect much leeway in the reaction of their dominant either. By this I mean, if a slave is feeling ill and thus doesn't complete all their usual daily tasks, they will expect the dominant to react with the usual punishment.
A submissive may be more inclined to expect leniency from the dominant because they were ill. A slave thinks in terms of being owned, not in terms of submitting. To them, being in a collared relationship means they are owned, and often this translates into the statement that they do not have the "right" "choice" or "option" to walk out if the relationship goes bad. This does not mean a slave will accept an abusive relationship, though their tolerance limits for what is abusive and what is not seem to be higher than those of a submissive.
This belief in ownership stems from a strong commitment on both an emotional and mental level to the dominant. There is a level of acceptance of the dominant's behavior that can be more intense and widespread than many submissives would allow. For example, a dominant wants to bring in a third to the relationship.
A submissive may demand certain criteria be met before they allow ( yes, allow) such to occur, whereas a slave may say "It is not up to me, if this is what Master wants, so be it" and quietly accept this new change. To some this kind of thought process is considered wrong or somehow brought out by abuse, but this is not necessarily true.
A slave thrives on the absolute fact, that they literally have no control over the relationship or what will occur within it, whereas a submissive often retains some level of control in the relationship. The thought process focuses solely on what would make the master/mistress happiest and how the slave can be most pleasing to them. Subs tend to think of themselves and their own pleasure in addition to that of their dominant.
Slaves work very hard to put themselves second in all the things and theirowners first. To them, this is what comes with being a slave and submitting completely. Slaves put forth a lot of effort in achieving an inner peace with their chosen position. With this peace comes acceptance of themselves, and a quiet sense of contentment. They view pride, arrogance and other such emotions as negative and unbecoming in a slave.
A slave's behavior is different from a submissive as well. If you listen to slaves talk about their behavior (or watch them), they often speak of being quietly accepting, in control of themselves at all times, formal, and other such things. There seems to be more focus on how the slave behaves at any given moment, with less leeway. In many slave relationships, the slave is required to use an honorific at all times, and couldn't conceive of calling their master/mistress by any other name.
Most slaves find yelling, tantrums, fits, or any other out of control behavior on the part of a slave to be reprehensible and deserving of severe punishment. Slaves put a lot of emphasis on their behavior and how they react to their dominant. They hold themselves to a high level of self-control.
They require of themselves to have a pleasing demeanor as much as possible.
They see no room for bratting behavior, any form of topping from the bottom, or any other form of manipulating the dominant. They see bratting as topping from the bottom, whining, cajoling or making requests after the initial denial as manipulative behavior that focuses on the slave's needs/desires instead of the dominant's and thus not proper.
They look down on any behavior that is perceived as designed to force the dominant to meet a need of the slave, rather than the slave focusing on the dom's needs. A slave will strive for perfection within themselves in completing all the tasks their master/mistress gives to them, while still keeping an eye out for things that they were not specifically told to do, but think would please their owner if they did them.
A slave is required to be very self sufficient and capable because they often have a lot of responsibility placed on them. Slaves often feel that a slave should not need to be micro managed by their dominant because this is not pleasing, unless of course the dominant likes to micro manage.
A slave will behave with the utmost of respect in a formal situation, and with as much respect as any situation warrants. (For example, quiet time at home may not require as strict a protocol as a formal party would). None of this emphasis on behavior means that a slave can't or does not crack jokes, goof off, or engage in verbal banter.
Many slaves do indeed do these things. They do so however, with a great attention to the dominant's reaction and are careful not to be hurtful or overly sarcastic. Unless of course the dominant does not like this kind of behavior, then a slave will do their best to curtail it. (Which can be quite difficult, and in my opinion unhealthy, for someone who has a very playful sense of humor as an inherent part of their personality).
So please do not take this article to say that slaves are not playful, have no sense of humor or anything like that because it just is not true. Slaves have the same array of personalities that everyone else does, and they enjoy them just like anyone else does.
Slaves just tend to be a lot more aware of the dominant's limits to such activities than some submissives are. They also do not use their playful senses of humor (if they have one) to brat a dominant into playing with them, unless the dominant likes this kind of role play scene. Basically they tailor their behaviors to what the dominant prefers and is most comfortable with.
A slave's expectations from the dominant and the relationship are often very different from those of a submissive. A slave does not expect to have their desires met beyond their basic life supporting necessities. When their dominant does do something for them, they see it as a gift, not a necessity. Slaves tend to view things that many submissives expect in a relationship, as a luxury not a necessity.
This does not mean that a slave will accept being abused or treated like they are worthless for extended periods of time, it just means they do not expect all the trappings that others expect from their relationships (such as cuddling on demand, talking whenever the slave wants to talk, sleeping in a bed etc). Slaves expect their relationship to be difficult at times and their submission to not be easy all the time.
They expect to be asked or ordered to do things they may not necessarily enjoy because the focus is not on their enjoyment or pleasure, but on that of their dominant. They expect to be treated as a slave and not pampered or cajoled to. They expect to be pushed to their current limits and have those limits pushed to expand. They expect to meet their dominants needs at all times and to not have their dominant accept any manipulation or disobedience.
They expect to be used to the full extent of their current abilities and even trained (or taught through schooling etc.) to broaden their abilities to meet their dominant's needs. They do not expect to be consulted on every decision, asked their opinion all the time, or similar things.
This does not mean they expect to be ignored or treated as if they do not matter, they just do not expect this as a normal part of the relationship, though most say their thoughts opinions, feelings and such are demanded by their dominant and the dominant will often take them into consideration while making decisions.
A slave submits differently from a submissive as well. Slaves will set no limits on their dominant's activities. A submissive will often have hard limits that their dominant can not cross at all, and soft limits that can be pushed with prior negotiation. A slave has neither. They will not say that the dominant can't do a certain type of play or use a specific implement.
They may tell the dominant that they do not like certain activities or implements at the beginning of the relationship (preferably before a collar) but they do not ban the dominant from using/doing those things. They expect to be asked to do things they may not particularly like and they consider it as part of submission because to them, submission is not about pleasing the slave, but about pleasing the dominant.
Most slaves will say that because of this it is imperative that the slave chose to submit to a dominant whose likes/dislikes are a close match of their own and thus they will not be asked or ordered to do something they are totally opposed to.
But even then, the slave will expect that these limits may change over time and accept it should it occur. A slave does not believe they can just leave the relationship. Some believe once they are collared it is for life and will not request release even if they feel their lives are in danger or they are being mentally/emotionally harmed.
However, many relationships with slaves have guidelines in place for release of the slave should the slave truly desire such. Some slaves believe a slave can't possibly be abused since the dominant has no limits on what they can do to them, and if the dominant chooses to act in an abusive manner then that is their choice. This does not however seem to be the majority belief, but it also does exist.
Many of these differences overlap, and are applicable to submissives as well. However, as a whole they exist for most slaves that I have come into contact with. A slave is not better than a submissive in my opinion, merely different. Some of these characteristics can exist in a submissive, or even all of them. The base-separating factor between the two seems to be in the area of limits within submission. A slave sets none, a submissive does. Which word one uses to describe themselves remains a matter of personal choice, and my intent with this article is not to say otherwise.
Instead my intent is to help others understand slaves a bit better and not look at them as mindless robots or doormats, because those two terms just do not fit the vast majority of lifestyle slaves. Whether or not being A slave is a healthy lifestyle choice is a matter of personal preference. I believe it can be a very healthy choice, others do not agree.
Like any relationship where the balance of power rests with one person over the other, abuse can occur. I do not however see any reason to say it is more widespread among slaves over submissives, or in bdsm at all.
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