BronxWench

Slave versus Submissive

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One of the things that drives me crazy is seeing a Master/slave relationship portrayed as Dominant/submissive. The two relationships are NOT interchangeable, at all.

I'm going to post a link to a site that has probably one of the best explanations of the two terms, and I urge anyone who wants to write a real D/s relationship to read this.

A Slave is Not a Submissive

The author uses rather silly gender neutral pronouns, granted, but the definitions are superb.

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I agree. Excellent explanation regardless of pronouns!

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This is a great article, and, while I don't have a quibble with it, I'd also like to point out that the terminology depends on the couple - and if they want to call it M/s, it's not my job to say that their label has it all wrong.

My own definition is that a submissive has "no" and a slave doesn't, however, that definition is different for everyone - and it's also very difficult, as a writer, to express the deep connection of an M/s relationship and to prove the lack of "no" without a serious conflict that may simply not exist in the story being told.

(Gracious, those pronouns were silly.)

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It is difficult to convey these relationships as a writer, but that's precisely why we need to be very aware of the sometimes subtle differences.

The definition that a submissive has a "no" and a slave doesn't is an excellent quite summation. There's also the issue of trust. A submissive needs to have absolute trust in their dominant. There can be no quibbling with that. If you can't trust your dominant, if there's any sort of coercion or pressure to perform an act that the submissive is not comfortable performing, then the "no" has been violated. The contract is broken, and the dominant has failed to maintain trust.

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All of the responsibility rests with the Dom.

It is hard to write a responsible story with a good Dom, keeping in mind the controls the D would want in place and the boundaries that the /s wants to push or experience. It isn't the relationship most outsiders think it is. The D is the responsible party and the /s has all the power. That makes a D/s completely different from a M/s IMHO.

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A submissive must have trust in her (i'm going to go with that pronoun - YMMV) and can thus cry foul if it's broken on any level from not enough aftercare to the wrong grain of rice she kneels on in punishment. That may or may not end the relationship, but it will, hopefully, lead to a discussion and a meeting of minds.

A slave, however, doesn't have that right. If she gets upset, she has the only "No" of her relationship - to leave it. She has to trust, completely and totally before she gets into the relationship. In a story, the only way to express that is to be Mr. Exposition and somehow make the reader trust you, or to write a conflict wherein the slave is forced to choose to stay and suck it up or to walk away forever.

pittwitch, much of the responsibility lies with the Dom/Top, but a submissive holds care in her own hands, ultimately. A slave has none of that. She is, essentially, helpless in his hands until she decides to leave, hence the before-relationship trust. Writing that is brutal - being in the middle of doing so right now. Writing D/s is tough, writing M/s is close to impossible to do without tears and hair pulling, even if one shares the personality one of the characters.

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Given the right person, I might very well have chosen to explore submission. I would, however, make a miserable slave. I can't offer the obedience required of a slave, It's just not part of my make-up.

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Oh, I said that, once upon a time - and grew into understanding my needs as they changed and expended into, for me, more than submission. Again, it's a YMMV. Each person has her own needs - for some, it's a totality, for others, it's not so much. There's no right answer, no great status to one or the other. Writing your own story, on your personality or a piece of paper is all there is - and it's a darned nifty thing to see where it can go.

A lot of people seem to think that slaves lack personality or are the proverbial submissive doormats - those people don't understand that it takes a great deal of strength to yield and being giving, obedient, and flexible doesn't mean a slave can't have a spark and kick to her personality.

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I'm actually not denigrating anyone who chooses to follow the path of being a slave. However, at 56, I'm pretty sure that I know my limits, and it's not something I could offer. I do understand the strength of personality it requires, however, and I do know people who are exactly that, full of personality and spark.

Having said that, I still believe that for many of our younger writers, there is a blurring of the roles, and an unwillingness to do the research. Hence this thread. :)

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Actually, I don't see where we are in disagreement. We agree that the two types of relationships, M/s and D/s, are very different dynamics, highly personalized in each and every relationship, defined by the people who enter into the agreement and what exactly they want from the experience.

Well, I could be picky I guess and use "he" as the pronoun, but then we might fall into the realm of TMI.

I do believe that the stronger of the two is the sub. To yield -- wow -- just imagining it is -- evocative; to submit completely -- a hundred times over. Either to give or receive that level of trust is fascinating.

BW - I have to side with you about some writers. However, I am sure there are other more experienced persons who would offer the exact same criticism of my own writing. Yes, i'm thinking of a certain mentor-type whose standards I have always tried to meet.

Edited by pittwitch

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Amazing, thanks for the link. :D I actually thought (being a newbie writer to this stuff mind you) they were one in the same in context to they both had a choice to say no, and not taken as a "yes", or dealbreaker. I could have misread something here, but this did help a bit to learn more on the subject, and for my fan fic I am working on this does indeed help.

Yet I still am tending to think the main of my fan fic (main s) will still fall under the latter category, but as I said.. thanks for sharing the link, I shall bookmark and revisit it at times, :D

Now time to do more research on the subject. Have fun all.

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I'm glad it was useful! I think when a writer takes the time to research and get it right, the story is so much more powerful, so cheers for you for putting in the extra effort! :D

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I used the D/s and M/s tags in my fic, and wrestled a lot with whether or not to do so. I initially didn’t include them because I worried that it was false advertising or might piss someone off because these definitions are very distinct. I finally did settle on including both tags because the relationship between the characters was undefined but heading in that direction – there was no connection between them (practically) at the beginning of the fic, and at least one of them had no design to be in a D/s or M/s relationship but could move into that role over time with the influence of the other.

Although it isn’t a proper D/s or M/s, my intention was to show the possible beginnings of one if the characters’ encounter was not so brief. I hope that came across. Although, from reading this article, perhaps I should have only tagged one (M/s).

The consensual nature of a D/s or M/s relationship is emphatic to ward of misunderstandings – but, to me, it neglects a truth that boundaries can be messy and are often discovered through trial and error. I get the impression that some would object to a non-consensual D/s or M/s-like portrayal due to the touchiness of the subject in wider society.  What should such a relationship be labeled, then?

Or maybe I’m thinking too hard about it. ><

 

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Boundaries can be very messy, I agree, but given the level of trust required between a Dominant and a submissive, I don’t think there’s any room for non-consensual acts. Even while exploring limits, there has to be a clear understanding between them both of what their anticipated limits are. A submissive has to be willing to end a scene if things get uncomfortable, and needs to trust absolutely that the Dominant will respond instantly to a safeword. Equally important, that Dominant needs to trust that the submissive will use their safeword without hesitation if things get out of hand in a scene. It’s the cruelest betrayal for either party to engage in or permit non-consensual acts.

I won’t speak to a Master/slave relationship, because I’m not as familiar with the boundaries. I do think that relationship might be more prone to non-consensual acts while the limits are being explored. It may be part of the contract between them that the slave can’t say no, but that blurs line, too, doesn’t it? 

I don’t think we can ever think too hard about these things, though. Our characters deserve our best effort. :)

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