What does a COLLAR mean to you

topic posted Tue, August 9, 2005 - 1:09 AM by  slave anwyl
Masters and slave what does a collar mean to you ?

do you think they are given out like candy ?

do you think O/our lifestyle is being diluted down ?

are you considered to be on the extreme end of M/s if so why ?

with respect
slave bethany
  • Guy
    offline 0
    wow, this post may have been stillborn, but here's my 2c anyways, maybe someone else will be inspired. I just had to choose this post because I will be collaring my slave soon and i am so excited!

    I am a newbie, very fresh. I have been experimenting with my girlfriend for about 7 months now, at first we just wanted to try something new. However, after our first night of bondage play, we found ourselves immediately set in our roles, with me as master. Bondage play makes up about half of our sexual activity, although it has started to creep into other areas of our lives. She is a brat-sub, and i encourage it, because i enjoy the punishment. Humiliation and praise are a major part of our play. We do not participate in the community in anyway (this post is a first!)

    We are going to be having a private collaring ceremony (just us) next month. It is mostly an exchange of vows to cement our relationship, and make very explicit the relationship we share.

    My slave gives me control over her:
    body, mind, heart, soul, privacy, decision-making.

    She will exist to please and serve me.

    In return i give my:
    heart, soul, care, understanding, punishment & reward,

    I will be responsible for fulfilling all her needs and training her to serve me. Only I may cut her collar and free her from this relationship, it may well be lifelong.

    Of course the actual cermony will be much more ellaborate with ritual & repetition to give power to the ideas.

    This will be 24/7, but we will try to avoid our lifestyle interfering with our relationships with friends and family. Thus in public we are still pretty much equals, although she will have a symbolic lace-choker for secret play in public and already knows to obey when i change the intonation of my voice, regardless of setting or circumstance.

    This is all very personal, as I'm sure the symbolism of a collar is for everyone.
  • Good question, and one we had as our topic last month at the M/s discussion group in SJ (second Sat's each month 4pm) and it was really interesting.
    The general consensus was that there are too many "collars" bandied about on line, and most folks tend to gravitate to collars as permanent or training/protection. Collaring is, to me, supposed to be something equivelent to a wedding ring- only more permanent.
    i tend to lean to property/slavery however, and so once collared, will probably never be so again, unless Master removes it releases me.
    God forbid.

    There are lots of ideas about this and other issues, but most of the people i talk with will NOT post on lists anymore- too many flames.

    • I think there is somewhat of a semantic problem here. A collar can certainly have a part in a D/s relationship as a symbol of the temporary transfer of power and submission for the duration of a scene.

      In matters of Master/slave realtionships (at least mine) a collar has a much more profound and long-term meaning. For us it is a symbol that reminds us both how we have bound our lives together as Master and slave.
      • Unsu...
        As a slave in an M/s relationship, i would have to agree with the collar being more like a wedding ring. For me, i only wear my wedding rings when i go out of the house because they get in the way of chores at home, and my work as a massage therapist. On the other hand, my collar is stainless steal, and locked on, only Master can take it off. Because of its material, i can wear it anywhere (accept in an MRI) you can even get your dental X-rays with one on! lol. Allright, a bit side point is that for us, the collar holds more meaning, partly because it never comes off, no matter where we are, it is on.

        • Unsu...
          A collar surely can be interpeted to mean many things by even by many more people. Are all of these defination all realative, and/or distinct to the person who puts the same around the neck of a female, or to the wearer thereof? Perhaps there are many distinctive definations we can come up with depending on the person, or the situation or should I say interpetation.

          I am sure those who are bdsm consider the collar as some sort of reprensentation of a contract (some would say social contract). In these contentions, the collar comes on, then off, then on, then off, then on, then off, then on, then off, then . . . . What truly does a collar mean with so many variations of velcro on's/off's. Not so submssive, nor of a slave in any context of the definations of those words. Is it fun? Sure. However, the Master/slave relationship is not always fun.

          The collar in a Master/slave relationship (the slave; true submissives and the true subservants) denotes to what a person really is not so much are we going to have fun tonight. The collar designates ownership, in a unilateral way. The subservant, the submissive, or slave is owned. A collar can also designate who owns a particular female or who the Master is of that female in particular. The collar as it sits around the neck of a female, reminds her of her servitude, of what she is, and especially who owns her; not to mention inflames not only her heart but her entire being. This is distinctive between a ring in marriage which binds the parties in earnest in the actual social contract (yes a social contract; as if a collar would do that) not the fallacy of a collar to have fun in (that of "velcro"). Lastly, a collar represents the ability of the Man to actually in earnest to put the female to her knees, and if need be by restraint; by a leash, tether, or otherwise.

          Is it required to have a collar to actually have and/or own? No. However, as many have been conditioned by society at large, though not everyone, they must have some material item which represents the inner portions of self.

          In the end, submission, actual submission, has little to do with BDSM or a Collar (you do have to get it around the girl's neck now dont ya? ...does she really give it per se or was it taken? hmm...)

      • This is a profoundly beautiful comment.

        As a novice discovering the dizzying and terrifying depths of my own submissiveness, I wonder about the ramifications of being a devoted slave. These are sincere enquires--not meant in a sarcastic spirit. ...

        Is such a collar like a wedding ring? If one collars a slave, can a slave hope to be shared with on the level of a spouse? Would a slave potentially be named in a will, or on a life insurance policy? What is the depth of that bond--the depth of that commitment?

        These questions aren't meant as callous considerations. Rather they spring from an awakened sense of the deep levels of love and devotion I feel as a slave in training. I suppose also they come up in the face of what the gay community faces as the U.S. votes down their ability to have equal rights and protections under the law.

        Are there common understandings in the community of master/mistress and slaves, or are slaves--even cherished ones--regarded as property? Does commitment and responsibility extend beyond the realm of passion and power exchange?
        • You raise a good question, saeth.

          I think the most common understanding is that every relationship is different. My collar means more to me than a wedding ring. It comes with a contract that defines to some extent the relationship between my slave and I. As such, my collar has power in our relationship. In the legal world it has no power whatsoever.

          I want my slave to be taken care of if something happens to me--and I want to be able to take care of her if something happens to her. If we could create a Domestic Partnership, we would for legal reasons. Since we are not a same sex couple, that avenue is unavailable to us. In our case, the collar is a symbol of a long lasting commitment and bond and we plan to get married soon to give that commitment legal status.

          I am reminded of the story of Master Guardian and slave sugar, International Master/slave Titleholders. slave sugar was carjacked and hospitalized. Master Guardian had no legal rights and no say in her health care. her family would not allow him to visit her in the hospital. That's an extreme example, but things do happen in the course of living. I think it behooves us to think about how we protect ourselves and our property in the event of disaster.
  • A collar is a symbol.

    As such, it "means" whatever we understand it to mean. We, as humans, are wired for understanding symbolic meaning. Consider the way we understand things like flags, uniforms, gestures, insignia, etc. A collar, as used within the context of a Master/slave relationship is precisely this type of symbolic communication device. We imbue it with meaning of our own creation.

    Very early in the creation of our Master/slave relationship, we "celebrated" the reality of that unique connection with a commemoration that included a ritual cutting of His initials into my left shoulder blade. Over the next few weeks, we very carefully nurtured the formation of keloid scars from that cutting, and those permanent marks symbolize His ownership of me in a way that is intensely personal, intimate, and unique to the two of us. Obviously, the scars are a continual and never removed reminder of my status.

    I do have a more "traditional" collar which was His gift to me, and which I wear in some settings. I suspect that it has more meaning to me than it does to Him. In fact, He gave it to me because I expressed to Him that I felt the lack of it, especially when we were in "public" play settings. He very seldom pays any attention at all to the how's, why's, or when's of that particular piece. It does not lock, although I suppose, if He chose to make it so, it could (or minimally could be treated as if it did). The reality is that it is not something that generally matters to Him. It is not a symbol that has great significance to Him in most contexts. Most often, I wear it to center and soothe myself -- to help me remember who I am. I am no less owned without it on than I am with it.

    We live our lifestyle choice FOR us. It is not done as others would do it, or as it might be defined in some "how to" book somewhere. We surely do not match any fictionalized or fantasized image of how a Master/slave couple "ought" to behave with or toward each other. We merge our internal, private M/s life with our external, public "vanilla life as seamlessly as we can, so as not to jeopardize our livelihoods and relatedness with those who would not understand of accept the "kinky" parts of our personnas. This is our reality.

    • Unsu...
      "A collar is a symbol."


      ...and the everything is relevant agrument isnt always something that is workable.

      • ..."the everything is relevant agrument isnt always something that is workable. "

        With respect, everything IS relative. Your situation will be different than mine in specific and significant ways. What you negotiate for yourself with your partner will only apply to you. I cannot and will not prescribe from my experience for anyone else. I can describe my experience and how that works and what it means to me in my life. If you or anyone else finds that valuable or interesting or in some way a jumping off point for conversation, then let's talk...

        • Unsu...
          "With respect, everything IS relative."

          Take away the fiction of government....
          Take away the myths and fallacies of society...
          Take away 911 to make a cop come... (no not that way...)
          Take away the perception of security...


          No not everything is relative....Now do we participate in these _perceptions_ on a daily basis? Sure. But that does not take away from the actual fact without them you cannot have as you state.

          In New Orleans we saw a glimmer of that for a good 72 hours....

  • Ok, i have written this 3 times and then panicked at the eventual shit storm and thrown it out.
    i think that MOST of the comments here are spot on. i completely understand the need to put these kinds of questions out here-- they not only clarify the words for the people involved in the discussion, but they help us all take the internalized feelings and find words for them, put them in order, and place them out for communication to all.

    Let me start at a strange point:
    If i were to take an Amish outfit and drive a truck through downtown Lancaster Penn., i would be taking someone else's very meaningful symbol filled with respect and treating it disrespectfully to them. Whatever *i* felt it to mean would be unimportant in the larger venue of the situation. i KNOW what those clothes mean to those people, and i know they have limits and labels and deep traditions that are sacred to them.

    Those that print the star of David on their toilet paper should not suddenly feel surprised that, just because they thought that was funny or cute, that their jewish friends were horrified and quietly left the building. There is a meaning behind those religious symbols and deep respect from the practitioners and believers. They feel their beliefs dismissed and trampled on when their own unique symbols are suddenly grasped by others for their own uses that are different than the ones originally intended.

    While we live in a time where it is "acceptable" for many to say that "anything goes" and they should not be judged by what they do, we also have to remember that when anyone takes a heavily weighted icon, tradition, or symbol from one group and discards the meaning, they are making several statements.

    They are, of course, more than free to do so.
    We live in a free country and anyone can do anything they want to, call any item anything they want to (although i have a feeling that calling Auswitz a vacation resort would be in the kind of poor taste that would create a riot in a heavily jewish neigborhood), and still demand the respect that people deserve as human beings.

    That said, there is a reason the Old Guard backed out of the light, the heavy M/s players have left the building, and many great parties have private invite lists. There is a reason shit storms start off of a single post and people posture and take positions and defend truths.

    Part of M/s is a heavy tradition of service, respect, and well defined roles and symbols that people seem *drawn* to with the kind of passion few other areas of BDSM/alt lifestyles have to offer. It is one of the few things where there are titles and honors and actual judges that have set up guidelines and expectations of what they feel are iconic roles for individuals to aspire to. That is not WHY we do this, but it is an outward representation of a specific group and that groups values. Straying past the boundaries that have been traditionally held by that group tends to mean that the straying one never respected those boundaries nor cared particularly to BE part of that group- in which case, why do they want the name?

    i feel, personally, that the idea of "it means whatever i want it to mean" has a certain place- up to a point. But i also feel that collars denote ownership and control, permanence and absolute authority, linking Master to slave in a length of material stronger than steel and more long lasting than any wedding ring or promise.

    i dislike the proliferation of "training collars" and "temporary collars" and "service collars" and "play collars" and such. Yes, we ourselves use the "house collar" for those serving under Master's name at parties. But it is not something that rings powerfully to me and it dilutes the ultimate meaning.

    Seeing people with their toy collars and their "personal" collars that they bought for themselves, with a collar that matches every pair of shoes, makes me feel disresepcted, and the tenants and beliefs that i hold dear seem sullied.

    i feel that even the idea that we need to chat about what a collar means is kinda sad.... they have clear, specific, real meanings- meanings that have been overlooked, twisted, played with, turned around, co-opted, borrowed, ignored, and a host of other things all in the name of "individual identity", "unique-ness" and "there is no one true way'.

    i doubt that there are any people that would don sheets to attend an African American Church service in Georgia- yet that same thing, in the name of "do your own thing" happens every day within the M/s world with terminology, symbols, and labels.

    i am overly sensitive sometimes, because i waited so long and worked so hard to be worthy and to be of service and bring respect to the House and Master i serve.
    Yes, there are variations on the themes (If you are Amish, you can make that quilt in several hundred patterns-- but there are very few approved colors. Or, as the Pope says, if you are of the faith, you don't get to pick and choose the sacraments you will or won't follow), and there is the other issue of "Mastery and independence of will and choice" that also needs to be addressed. That does not mean that there are not limits and expectations and history and tradition within the M/s dynamics.

    i would hate to see "Master" become a diluted label for actors that play and do not care about honor, or "slave" come to mean do-me queen. But that is already happening- more than 50% of the people sporting those titles have moved past the boundaries and traditions that created those titles. Apparently, they do not want the structure, discipline, or patience, just the name and the collar and the "allure" of it all.

    Some are flat out poseurs.

    That makes it hard for those who seek this very difficult path to even see it. It makes it embarassing to have people assume that the actions of the players are "accepted and normal" and be thought of in the same ilk.
    YES- there are HUGE variations within the labels. But there is a line. There is a limit and an edge that many refuse to see, and need to argue over it's legitimacy in their needs to "do their own thing" and smear everyone that disagrees as "one true way-isim" rather than having traditions and limits and actual meanings to things that are immutable.

    i don't want this to be sounding pompus or arrogant or severe - it is something VERY hard to express in print well, even in the best of circumstances, and the printed word solidifies and becomes something others enjoy taking apart piece by piece like a lego toy.

    The collar, and what it means, is something that needs to be discussed with the real words and phrases ringing off lips.

    i don't think anyone who really considers the question and fears making poor choices and desires to live up to the traditions that collars and property represent within alternative sexuality can NOT be considered M/s. Part of M/s and the collar that was spawned is the path of inflection and retrospection.

    So... flame away now (even for spelling errors... i can't get the darned thing to fix some of them!).
    But thank you for the time and the chance to clarify the thoughts... now i have a starting place to work from for myself about M/s and the collar and the world around me.

    in service, Strong Eagle's shadow
    • As far as spelling errors, you might want to re-read what you wrote and make sure it looks right, in addition to relying on a machine that isn't aware of context. It looked good to me, though.
      I'm not here to flame you, but I am a little confused. Are you saying that collars should only symbolize an exclusive, permanent, long-term, 24/7 M/s relationship, and that anything less would be insulting to people in such relationships? You spoke often about "traditional boundaries" and "history" pertaining to this which have been "ignored", but what are you refering to ? Are these views that have been agreed upon within a community of players in a specific party scene, or something? Has it been written in a book somewhere? I'll admit I'm new to playing publicly, but I've been researching and learning about SM in general for years, and I don't remember coming across anything that specifically defines what a collar means, for everybody. The only "history" I know about Masters and slaves is about Africans being forced to pick cotton and Jews being forced to build pyramids (and countless other ancient economies relying on slavery). Am I missing something? Am I an ignorant newbie? A "poser"?
      When we (my boyfriend and I) play, putting on the collar means going into a role. In that role, the person in the collar basically must obey the person without the collar without hesitation. Limits are known and respected, and safewords are agreed upon beforehand. It's not 24/7, but it certainly is a Master and slave situation. It has a lot of meaning for us. It can be very very intense at the time, and we treasure the memories long afterwards.
      I don't really think any slight you feel from people not living up to your particular definition can compare to making light of the holocaust or insulting someone's faith deliberately. Everyone knows that there are limits to free speech, but I doubt that even half the people who use collars in an aparently incorrect way even know they are doing it, and I certainly don't think they are trying to give meaning to them for anyone's benefit but their own.
      With respect, rebecca
    • Shadow, I've taken some time to think about my reply to this post of yours. I think that it has several points that require further clarification or discussion before I can feel entirely comfortable to let the matter lay there.

      First off, how is the "Old Guard" (for lack of a better term to describe it) served by having "backed out of the light" voluntarily? You point out that the newer players might not be giving the Old Guard's traditions the proper level of respect, but if they simply pulled up their tentstakes and left the Scene then how are the newer players (and i count myself among the number of "newer players") supposed to learn those traditions to give them the respect they deserve? Are we expected to separate the facts from the hype and BS through instinct? Via osmosis? The Old Guard has "left the building," so is it any wonder that that building has become an echo chamber for charlatins and poseurs after the real Old Guard abandoned it?

      Second, I can't help but feel slightly denigrated by your attitude about collars. Although I am not part of an Old Guard leather family or tradition, I do not take my collar, or what it represents, any more lightly than perhaps you regard your own. To me, this little length of chain padlocked around my neck is the central focus of my existence. It symbolizes a promise to serve my Master forever. I'd rather have my head cut off than have this collar removed.

      You know me personally, do you think that this collar has a velcro catch hidden somewhere on it just because my Master isn't a member of an existing Leather Family or connected to the Old Guard somehow? Do you feel that my collar is a co-opted symbol that my Master and I have not earned? Am I a poseur to you? Somehow I doubt that you think of me as a poseur, though I freely admit that I am a total newbie. ;)
      • Unsu...
        With all due respect to the Old Guarders out there

        it is very difficult to learn the "old ways"--I realize that it part of their allure, but it gets frustrating to get bashed for asking and bashed for not knowing and bashed for trying to learn and bashed for making it up as we younguns make shit up for ourselves in the spirit of individuality and bashed for not following the established order...
        • Unsu...
          Y'know, whether it's Guy Baldwin, or Robert Davolt, or Joseph Bean, or Jack Rinella, or even Larry Townsend, the people who actually get saddled with being Old Guard do not engage in bashing newcomers for not following an established order. They seem to get it that what made it exciting and hot was the transgressiveness of it all, and they're not into creating some scene-wide orthodoxy. Maybe they''re just the ones who didn't elect to retreat into the woodwork, but by default theirs is the legacy that eventually prevails.

          The old ways are out there. They're generally kept private, but with that said there are a lot of resources available to the public. Anything by Gayle Rubin is pretty reputable. There's the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago. If you want to get a sense of how little of the modern scene is really all that "new" I recommend a close read of Larry Townsend's "Leatherman's handbook." I can float a few other resources as well, but that ought to be a good start.

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