11/11/2008

Collars




One of the things that separates "true" BDSMers from those who practice it as a hobby (like me) is the collar.


I've been fascinated in my research by BDSM collars and the meaning they hold for many in the BDSM community. Unlike porn stars and goth teenagers, these are people who don't wear a collar to be trendy: the wearing of a collar is an extremely emotional, sacred event even exceeding vows of marriage.


For the many subs, both male and female, who wear collars, it is an incredibly special link that reminds them of their Master or Mistress as they wear it. Some wear it only on special occasions and during sex; others wear it all day. A collar is not to be given to just any sex partner, but indicates a true, deep level of commitment that the pair wants to show to the world (or at least, other BDSMers who know what it means). Collars come in varying levels, from the Training Collar to a official Slave Collar, which implies commitment at or past marriage.


Often, slaves have to earn the right to wear their collars. They must wait months or years for the Master to determine they are worthy of an outward symbol of his/her ownership. Once the Master gifts them with the collar, many women report crying with emotion and gratitude (I didn't read any men saying they cried, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen).


But just earning a collar isn't enough--the subs have to work to keep it! The collar, like the slave, is owned by the Master; the Dom/me can take it away at any time if the servant fails to please. One Collared woman on fetlife.com explained it far better than I ever could:
"They are two very separate and distinct expressions. My wedding rings are mine,
and always will be, while the collar is not mine. The rings are an expression of
[His] love for me. The collar is an expression of my consistent service to [Him],
and as such, it has nothing to do with love, and it doesn't promise that I'll
always wear it... I can lose the privilege if I fail to uphold the standards of
service that are expected of me). So each of those items mean two very different
things to us."

While collars are the most common type of BDSM ownership, there are several other means of marking subs used. Some, for example, proudly wear a tattoo, branding, or piercing to show their ownership. Still others wear rings, bracelets, or chokers fashioned to look like necklaces and chokers to avoid negative attention in public. Some subs are officially enrolled with a Slave Registration Number (SLRN) that comes with an official certificate and can even be tattooed onto the body. A "locked collar" or locked jewelry is considered to be a step even higher than a regular collar and is often the final step in Power Exchange between partners; in contrast, so-called "velcro collars" are looked down on in the BDSM community as being used by amateurs as a fashion statement or bedroom play toy.




Once a collar (or branding, or piece of jewelry) is earned, many Masters place rules that go with it. For example, in 24/7 relationships it is fairly common to hear that the sub is never allowed to take the collar off, or may only do so with the Master's permission. Others must capitalize all words referring to the Master or Mistress but never to themselves. One woman reported having the collar taken away as punishment for not performing to the Dom's standards, and said she cried all night and moped for days til her Dom re-collared her.





Many subs and doms practice an official Collaring Ceremony. Even for those who don't, being Collared is considered a high honor, and many report receiving smiles, winks, and congratulations from other community members who realize the significance of the collar. Once someone is officially Collared with a Slave Collar, they have been promoted (or demoted, if you prefer) from a Sub to a Slave; for many, this is a coveted position that means they are completely wanted and loved, and owned body, mind, and soul by their Dom/me.

My questions/concerns with these ideas are, how do they relate to Christian monogamy? Several of these Collared people were married, although some were dating, some single, and some searching/longing to be Collared by the right Master or Mistress. A few were in polyamorous relationships, a few identified themselves as pagans, but none of the comments I read were Christian, Islamic, or any other mainstream religion, or at least not openly so.

Are they literal when they say they are Owned by someone? Several of the people used the phrase "I am owned by Him" or "I know that He owns me body, heart, mind, and soul." It is fine to say this metaphorically, but I wonder if some of them mean it. Where does that leave room in their minds and souls for God? No matter how wonderful a Master is, he is still human and will sometimes fail and disappoint them; it seems dangerous to hope one person will fulfill you completely, no matter your religion.

Also, so many of these women called these men my Master or my Sir. They put on their files, "Contact Him with any questions about what I am allowed to do." They completely give away their will! I understand that may be necessary for a 24/7 relationship, but I wonder how any woman would react if a man with that much power asked her to do something against her religious (or moral) beliefs.

Finally, it made me a little uncomfortable to see so many of them capitalizing all words that referenced their Master: I love Him, I am owned by Him, I love being 100% His, He puts the collar on me when we reach O/our house. (The Our of "our" is for the Master, and the "o" of "our" is referring to the slave---that's quite a distinction to make!) If these people are doing it because it makes sex play more fun or intense, or because they enjoy giving power to him outside of the bedroom, I have no problem with it. But as a Christian, I only capitalize possessive pronouns when they refer to God Himself, and I know many Christians don't even do that anymore. I don't think I personally would ever be comfortable elevating a Dom to the level of a deity in my life, whether in word or deed... but that's just me.

Sorry for the rant. :)


Links for More Information
For more information on where to find and order collars and other BDSM products, click the links below (we cannot vouch for the quality of external sites):
Slave Collars by Dom Wolf
Slave Bondage/Collars Products
Chaotic Creations Bondage Collars
Chain Mail Slave Collars
BDSM, Fetish, and GLBT Jewelry

Click here to read an article of the state of collars in BDSM today.

The one on the model may be ugly, but here is how to make your own simple collar.

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