Woman wearing a collar with attached chain
|B&D, B/D, or BD||Bondage and discipline|
|D&s, D/s, or Ds||Dominance and submission|
|S&M, S/M, or SM||Sadism and masochism|
|Top/Dominant||partner who performs or controls the activity|
|Bottom/Submissive||partner who receives or is controlled|
|Switch||switches between roles|
The term slave is often used to indicate a strongly asymmetrical status within BDSM relationships.
Graphical illustration (Euler diagram) of practitioners in fetish and BDSM
|Top/Bottom||Top - Bottom (Switch)|
|Dom/Submissive||Dom - Sub|
|Master/Slave||Master - Slave|
The word "slave" is gender-independent: slaves can be male or female. In English, if a slave's gender must be indicated, use a phrase like "female slave" or "male slave", or the common compound terms slave-girl or slave-boy. Some male slaves are 'sissified' - i.e., they prefer to be treated in a traditionally feminine manner.
The slave has usually given the right for their owner to exercise authority over them in some sense, within a relationship that may extend to a full time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Connotatively it refers to a person who has surrendered their personal property and freedoms and become the property or chattel of their owner or Master. Strictly speaking, to be a slave, one must be owned but many people searching for an owner will call themselves "slave" as an indication of the position they are hoping to eventually have.
Casual usage and variation
Some people in a relationship enjoy the psychological impact of calling their partner slave or having their partner call them slave. Such usage is not by itself an indication that they are a slave any more than calling a partner 'bitch' indicates that they are a female dog.
Many matchmaking web sites[wipi] will encourage the usage of the term 'slave' for someone who is currently single and looking for a partner. Strictly speaking, this is an indication that the person has the orientation of a slave and is interested in being enslaved, or in acting the role of slave and is not an indication that they are currently owned.
The term slave is widely used, as it has a certain self-affirming weight. The difference between submissive and slave is the degree of submission. There is considerable debate over the exact definition of slave.
Types of slave
The four basic types are money slave, pain slave, sex slave and service slave. Most slaves overlap among two or even more of these basic types.
- Financial slaves
- are there to mostly make money for, or give money to, their owner. The majority of these are males serving females. In some ways, this type is most purely slave because they lose the ability to be self-sufficient; interestingly, this is also a common feature of a far more mild form of power exchange, that of Head of Household.
- Pain slaves
- are there for their owner to see how much pain[wipi], humiliation, and whatever else they can do to their slave. This type is often a sub or masochist with a title.
- Sexual slaves
- have a slavery whose main emphasis is on sex or sensuality. They might not do much else with their owner besides sex as far as being a slave goes.
- Service slaves
- do things for their owners and are general purpose slaves. They take on the owner's goals and desires and transform them into reality as best they can. The service[wipi] slave does the most different things and, as part of their service, can cover all the other areas.
Some people draw up "slave contracts" that define the relationship, but these usually have no legal weight and are not intended to be used in court.
After signing a slave contract, many people celebrate the commitment with a "collaring ceremony", which can be simple or elaborate and friends are usually invited. The slave then wears a "collar", which symbolizes their status. The collar may be an actual piece of neckwear, or may be a bracelet or other piece of jewelry that symbolizes their slavery. Some collars are not removed until the relationship is disolved, although some slaves have a "formal" and a "subdued" collar for work and vanilla situations.