slaves… servants

For some reason, I have never been able to resonate with the word slave. It seemed that the more I understood my calling, came to accept it, that the less likelihood that it was slavery. I didn’t feel forced to be here, didn’t feel devalued, didn’t feel oppressed. I called it slavery for lack of a better term. Others have also called it that. Is a nun enslaved? No. What of the monk, or the Dalai Lama? No. I would submit, it is the compulsive gambler that is enslaved. The person in fear, is enslaved. So what is it that I seek to become, on this path?

Sir discussed one night, concepts of a romantic slavery vs. a classical slavery. There is a site that discusses external inslavement vs. internal enslavement — I believe those thoughts have a place here as well. I have thought long on this one, pondering the possibilities of existence, of being.

I began to form the possible thought, that there is a huge miscommunication going on in BDSM. That there are those asking for “slave”, that don’t want one. That there are those attempting to be “slave”, that are actually seeking something else. Perhaps, that missing category, or clarification, is “Servant”.

The dictionary says (I know, somehow sucks as a resource since it wasn’t written with our lifestyle in mind):

slave Slave, n. 1. A person who is held in bondage to another; one who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who is held as a chattel; one who has no freedom of action, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another. 2. One who has lost the power of resistance; one who surrenders himself to any power whatever; as, a slave to passion, to lust, to strong drink, to ambition. 3. A drudge; one who labors like a slave.

I think this definition, denotes a negativity, and lack of understanding of the ideal of M/s “slavery”. I think from this definition, comes the biting term “doormat” and the fear — of losing oneself. 1. We are not held in bondage to another. We hold ourselves in bondage to our fears, so if anything we are slaves to fear. We choose to submit. It says “one is who is wholly subject to the will of another”, again, I don’t believe that we are wholly subject to the will of the Master. We admit that there are things that a Master could say or do, that would be beyond our capacity. We admit, that we lose the ability to obey. A “slave” would not be permitted the luxury — to lose the ability to obey. “one who has no freedom of action…”. I believe that mastery of our free will, is a huge goal. It is not that we seek not to have it, but that we seek to be in responsible ownership of it — and only then, can we subjugate that will to another.

2. “One who has lost the power of resistance”. That is such a small part of the ideals we express. With the goals that we speak of, not only must resistance be lost, but acceptance must be gained. A slave, by this definition, need only cease resisting. I believe, this is the explanation people think of when they say “doormat”, a being with no spirit, that has simply ceased resisting.

3. ” a drudge, one who labors like a slave”. This definition, leaves no room for joyful service, because it allows no room for personal choice and accountability. To be slave, is to be enslaved — by another. To think that from the beginning, removes the possibility for accountability. A ‘slave’ is only charged with doing their task, not resisting, and moving on to the next task. Is that what it is that we do?

I think the terminology of “slave” does a great disservice to those who attempt to be “slave” with an idea of excellence. I hear people say “slave has no limits”, “slave has no opinions”, “slave has no expectations”. Then slave is not human. And we are definitely human, so we begin to excuse it, or feel “failure” — because “slave has no opinion, except this one I realllly need to share”, “slave has no limits, except that one that I just crashed into”, “slave has no expectations, except for this one I keep refusing to validate and it keeps rearing its head”. We fight and run into the same lessons over and over, because we attempt to enter some headspace that is intrinsic to false imprisonment and oppression — enslavement. External enslavement at that. The more we can “give up” the more slave we are. I have no limits, no needs, no wants, no expectations, no hopes, no dreams, no pleasures, and apparently, no pulse. 🙂 We think about how bad we are, for having these human cha! racteristics. We ponder how we have “failed” in our slavery — when by the very virtue of the definition, we are destined for failure. slavery, by that definition, isn’t about the best development of the being — it is about forceful restraint of the being.

However, when reviewing the dictionary for the term “servant”, a different perspective arises.

servant Serv’ant, n. 1. One who serves, or does services, voluntarily or on compulsion; a person who is employed by another for menial offices, or for other labor, and is subject to his command; a person who labors or exerts himself for the benefit of another, his master or employer; a subordinate helper. 2. One in a state of subjection (The state of being subject, or under the power, control, and government of another; a state of obedience or submissiveness) or bondage.

Well, aha! Obedience, submission, purpose, voluntary nature. This doesn’t express some abject automaton. This addresses functionality, state of being and purpose. Of course, say “servant” in the average group, and you’ll hear a litany of gripes about menial tasks and labors. That is ok. I’m here to move mountains and vacuum cleaners. Service, and the opportunity to serve, surrounds me — but that is not because I was in some right place at some right time –its simply because of that additional factor not mentioned under slave, the “power of acceptance”. I am willing to accept that something much bigger than I am, has distinct purposes in mind for me — and that I fit into some much larger picture.

I think this definition, is a more spiritual base on which to build. I think that this definition allows us to walk away from the rhetorical chat room romanticism of how ‘slaves’ should be, and actually LOOK at what a slave CAN be. Functional service. Valued companion. Spiritual being. Centered. Calm. Useful.

Sometimes, the Master that asks for “slave”, appears to want and need and have the capacity to manage, a servant. Sometimes, the one that wants a slave, is in NEED of the first definition — just a lack of resistance. The Master, that wants a servant, will be confused by the slave. The Master that wants a slave, will be infuriated by the servant.

Likewise, the “slave” seeking a Master, may indeed be slave as suits the definition, and seeks not to be Mastered, but to cease resisting and just let someone else handle everything. And sometimes, the ‘slave’ seeking — is a servant, and she recognizes that there is something much deeper, than just giving up resistance. She recognizes that desire for acceptance, and service, and accountability — and looks for one that knows what they are asking for as well. Not one that would turn her into a slave — but one that would recognize the value, and shortage, of servants.

Perhaps it is in serving fear that we are slaves, and in serving others, that the category of “servant” is recognized.

bootpig has been in service for more than 7 years in a Master/slave relationship. She believes that slavery as a service is a calling akin to the religious devoted pursuing a life as a monk or nun, and its responsibilities ripple far beyond the individual relationship of Master/slave and into a greater realm of constant mindfulness of service.She is currently the Health Education Chair for Arizona Power Exchange, an instructor of service-oriented classes and workshops, and also the author and instructor of a series entitled, “The Art of Invisible Availability”, which addresses the headspaces and skills involved in service-oriented submission. She is a member of the Phoenix boys of Leather, and a practicing bootblack, with plans to compete at IMBB in 2003.You can visit her website HERE

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