Updated: FEBRUARY 17, 2021
A slave is a submissive person who gives up their power to a dominant individual, known as a master or mistress, in a BDSM total power exchange relationship. This is by far the most loaded and triggering term in the common BDSM vernacular. Before throwing the word around, educating yourself so you have an understanding of historical and present trauma around slavery, from the trans-Atlantic slave trade to human trafficking, would be wise.
A slave becomes viewed as their Dominant’s property, both by the Dominant and the wider BDSM community. Any property they once owned, from cars to clothes, usually becomes their dominant’s property. Where it differs from slavery, as it is referred to in a wider context, is that the sub has willingly abdicated their freedom, which is a key difference, the importance of which can not be overstated.
Slaves are responsible for meeting all their dominant partner’s needs and wants. They attend to their sexual needs, prepare their meals, keep their houses clean, and provide emotional support and company.
Slaves are often totally subservient to their dominant partners. They must ask permission before they do anything and be available for whatever the Dominant requests. They must complete daily chores and work hard for their Dominant’s approval. Slaves are often subject to punishment if they deviate from their duties. They may also receive rewards for good work, such as completing all their chores for the day or maintaining good behavior for an extended period.
As with all relationships, relationships between slaves and their dominants vary. Some relationships allow for more negotiating than others, for example. Some slaves enter into slave contracts. These contracts clearly state what the expectations of both parties are, to clarify the terms of their relationship. These contracts aren't usually legally binding. However, the BDSM community frowns on slaves, masters, or mistresses who break these contracts without good reason. Many slaves also wear a collar their Dominant gives them which clearly shows they are their dominant’s property.
A slave is sometimes called a 24/7 slave. This title emphasizes the fact that for more people, being a slave is a total lifestyle choice. It also differentiates slaves from other submissives, who may be subservient for scenes, but have more control in their lives.
Remember the difference between the term slave, in a BDSM context, and the more common use of the word slave. In BDSM, slaves give their full consent before entering into their total power exchange relationship. This makes them different from enslaved and trafficked people.