Sunday, October 28, 2012

BDSM Collars: Definitions

The BDSM collar is a symbol of being owned. Collars are often described as the BDSM analogue of a wedding ring.  Certainly, a collar can indicate a strong level of commitment and care, but it doesn't have to. Just like the concept of slavery, ownership means different things to different people.

At its most basic level, ownership is a mental thing, like loyalty and love. That means there's nothing wrong with a sub wearing a collar. Conversely,  I’ve known slaves who don't wear collars at all. Instead she might wear a vanilla-appearing necklace, or be tattooed or pierced.

Sometimes an owner will hold a formal collaring ceremony, with friends and family as witnesses. More often it's private. And once in awhile a collaring is completely virtual. These collaring rituals can be romantic, crude or beyond gross, just like the people involved. Sometimes Master and slave will just spontaneously go off collar shopping.

A catty term that's used frequently by BDSM practitioners is the “Velcro collar”. A Velcro collar snaps off and on quickly. It's a contemptuous phrase describing a collar for folks who don't take the whole relationship thing seriously, and hop from one interaction to the another. A Velcro collar is quite different from a "play collar", which is a fun toy for Master/slave roleplay.

Another sort of collar is the "collar of consideration". This jewelry marks out ownership territory without any ownership commitment. The collar is supposed to scare off other suitors. It has nothing in common with an engagement ring. It's not a promise. It's a plan B, while the potential Master looks for a better slave. I don't respect people who resort to (or consent to) such nonsense.

An acquaintance of mine was looking to be owned, and was speaking to a potential Master in another city. He wanted to temporarily mark her as his, just in case she turned out to be good enough.  He ordered her to wear a "collar of consideration" before she went to a BDSM event. And he even demanded that she get her own! She made her collar out of twine and ribbon. She was mighty proud of it. But I thought the guy was rotten and lazy. Needless to say, that relationship didn't progress very far.

A Master who wants the status of a collared slave but doesn't care enough about the symbolism to actually supply a collar, is telling the world loud and clear how well he'll treat her when she's well and truly owned.

The collar pictured above is available online from the Chain Gang.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Good Toy, Bad Toy

EL James is teaming up with the erotic website Lovehoney to launch a collection of 50 Shades-inspired sex toys.  I think it's amusing. I also believe it's a good thing. Whatever encourages couples to experiment with some kinky loving is fine by me.

However, there's been some blogger criticism of this sex toy collection, along the lines of "That's not a real BDSM toy."

My take on BDSM (and, by extension, toys) is that the interaction should be fun for both parties. There's no "lifestyle directive" that prohibits certain toys because they are too soft and fluffy. So what if the 50 Shades paddle is padded? It is likely to make a nice smacking sound. In fact, some folks think the best BDSM scenes involve mindfucks. Sounds are legitimate tools for the mindfuck. And maybe an expensive, light-hearted bag'o'toys will be the gateway to bigger and better things. Or not. It doesn't matter, as long as everybody is enjoying themselves.

My husband (recall, he's a converted vanilla) once bought us a blue suede flogger. I was charmed. The thing is cute and pretty. It doesn't really work well for our purposes, but I'm grateful that he bought it. It's the kind of small step that should be encouraged in a vanilla conversion.