In some BDSM relationships where there is not a 24/7 Total Power Exchange (TPE) there is a symbolic gesture that signifies when the roles of both Dom and sub are in play. Much like actors on a stage getting into character by putting on clothing specific for that role, putting a collar on a submissive helps both the Dominant and the submissive know when they are in the D/s roles, just as taking the collar off signifies the end of the role playing.
I am Master Jason’s submissive all day, every day. I know this, I accept this, I even asked for this. Even when I am in a scene with someone else, another Dominant, I am still owned by Master Jason. To help me remember who owns me at all times I keep something of Master Jason’s on my person. Sometimes this is as simple as wearing my wedding bands (which I rarely take off) or as complex as wearing his collar. It just depends on the situation, the scene and what other clothes I may or may not be wearing.
This past weekend I had the chance to play with another Dominant (the details of that will be told in another blog post). I am not in a TPE with this Dominant though and we had things to discuss before we stepping into the roles of Top and bottom. In fact, the difference between M/s, D/s and T/b was something that we wanted to go over before we began any kind of power exchange.
Please understand that T/b (Top/bottom), D/s (Dominant/submissive) and M/s (Master/slave) can be and usually are interchanged depending on the couple, the relationship they have and what titles they are comfortable using with each other. I have met many wonderful submissives who consider themselves to be slaves but do not like to be called “slave”. Just as I have met many strong Dominants that I would consider to be “Masters” in BDSM but prefer the term “Dominant” simply because it doesn’t sound as pompous to them.
That being said, this may help others understand why there are so many different titles, and how Top may be different from Master, submissive different from bottom and so on and so forth. I don’t know where this example started, or who originally wrote it, but when it was repeated to me, I realized how much this example may help others understand some of the key differences in certain power play dynamics.
A Top, Dom, and Master are lounging by a pool. Swimming in the pool are a bottom, sub, and slave.
The Top says to the bottom, “Go get me a can of coke.” The bottom stops what she’s doing and looks at the Top, replying, “Where are your manners?” The Top says, “…please…” The bottom, satisfied, gets out of the pool and walks past the Top to get to the cooler, earning a smack on the ass as she passes, which she takes gratefully. She opens the cooler, removes two cans of soda, hands one to the Top and opens the other for herself, returning to the pool.
The Dom says to the sub, “Go get me a can of coke.” The sub immediately gets out of the pool, saying, “Yes, Sir.” and hurries to the cooler. She knows that by ‘coke’ he means any cola flavored beverage, so she selects a bottled cola, and closes the cooler. She feels that the cola is not quite cold enough for her Dom’s tastes, which she knows and anticipates well by now, so she goes inside to retrieve a glass and some ice and then pours the coke into the glass with the ice. Noting that it is near noon, she also makes a sandwich for her Dom and then comes out presenting them both for him, for his desires are paramount and she does what she can to anticipate and fulfill them.
The Master says to the slave, “Go get me a can of coke.” The slave immediately stops what she is doing, nods to her Master, and goes to the cooler. She searches the cooler and sees bottles of cola and cans of other beverages, but is unable to find any cans of Coke within. She spies one sitting nearby, outside of the cooler and then immediately and wordlessly returns with the can to her Master, kneeling and presenting it to him. She has no judgment on whether or not he intends to drink the coke, throw it into the pool for her to fetch, or shove it into one of her orifices, she only hears the instruction and obeys as closely as she is able.
On my blog I have often referred to myself in past blog posts as a slave and my husband Jason as my Master. But using the example above I would have to say that my relationship with Master Jason is more of a mix between T/b and D/s than it is M/s.
I still interchange the words “slave” and “submissive” and of course “bottom” from time to time, but I don’t really feel like I could actually be his slave any longer. Mostly it comes down to this: if he tried to shove a can of coke near one of my orifices, I’d probably kick his ass (or at least put up a damn good fight.) And I know Master Jason well enough to know that if I were to bring him a warm can of whatever the hell he asked for, it would be considered a snarky and bratty move. When he asks me for a drink, he expects it a certain way. For example, if he said “Bring me some coffee” I would not go to the kitchen, grab a bag of coffee beans and bring it to him. I would know that by “coffee” he means a latte. And if I’m unsure of what exactly he means by this, I ask.
MOST of the couples you meet along your journey through BDSM will have picked and chosen what aspects to each role they like and put those to use. This is why we (as a community) say that every BDSM relationship is as different as the people involved in it. It can get very, very confusing (as my vanilla friend Tory likes to point out before asking questions about my relationship with Master Jason.) It gets even more confusing when people like me use the title “Master” to refer to their Dominant and then the title “bottom” and “submissive” to refer to themselves.
When I first started out in BDSM I did not fully understand how many roles, names for those roles and ways to present those roles there were. In fact, if you read through my archived blog posts, I’m sure you can find a few instances (or more) where I’ve made newbie mistakes in understanding certain aspects to BDSM. But that’s part of the point of this blog: it’s my journey into BDSM and if I wasn’t growing and learning… well it would be a very dull journey indeed. When you’re starting out, you don’t need to know all the different roles, names, etc. You just need to know the general concept, but as time passes you learn just how big the world of BDSM can be and how vastly different one D/s dynamic can be from another.
I explained it to my friend Tori this way:
Picture BDSM as a university. At the University of BDSM you can major in lots of things. There are many different classes and many different career choices that you can make. There are so many different subjects (kinds of kinks and fetishes) and majors (types of BDSM relationships, names for “families” — leather, poly, furry, etc) that it is new, exciting and extremely overwhelming at times. You feel as though you can study for years and years and years and still have only scratched the surface.
You have new students who are attending and have a slight idea of what exactly BDSM is, but most of the information they’re learning, they’re seeing for the first time ever. (Like freshmen at college, they change majors often because they didn’t realize just how much stuff there is to know about BDSM. They may have come to the school with the intent of being leaders in general and then realized that they would like to specialize in BDSM toy making, or latex, or anal play, etc…)
You have older students who have been attending the University of BDSM for a year or more and are still learning. No longer are they beginners, but they’re still considered to be novices. You have teachers who may specialize in certain areas, but would never pretend to know everything that the University of BDSM has to offer or can teach.
You also have research assistants, teaching assistants and Professors. The research assistants know quite a bit about a few particular subjects under the wide umbrella of BDSM, but haven’t really felt the need (or desire) to teach what they know to others. They enjoy researching, not teaching.
The teaching assistants are eager to help others learn, and understand a subject well enough to feel they can teach it, but they’ve never actually taught it before. They know more than the students who are hearing some of the information for the first time, but they have not yet taught a class on it. They assist the main teacher because it gives them a chance to learn how to teach the information they already know.
The teachers have been teaching for years. The information is not new to them, though they find they still learn things from their students, but for the most part they know what they’re talking about when it comes to their particular subject (or subjects) at the University of BDSM.
The Professors have been doing this for decades. Some of them are set in their ways and refuse to use some of the new terms, ways of doing things or concepts. They accept some of the new stuff, but prefer the old ways, and the rest of the new stuff they reject wholeheartedly. They are well respected by most of the school, but challenged from time to time by others. They consider themselves to be more knowledgeable than most, but find themselves challenged from time to time just the same. The best Professors are still willing to admit when they are wrong and the ones that should probably just retire from teaching claim to never be wrong.
When I look at where I am now, I would consider myself to be a “teacher’s assistant”. I’ve done the research, I understand the concept for most of the subject and I want to help others learn it too. I do not have a lot of experience under my belt yet, but I am working on that. I assist, I lecture, I teach, but I am still wide-eyed and bushy tailed when it comes to much of the BDSM world.
Master Jason would be a research assistant, believe it or not. He doesn’t have any real desire to teach the craft of BDSM, any of it, to anyone else. He enjoys learning about it, he loves to research it, but the actually giving a lecture or class on it is not something he would ever pursue. He will happily pass on his thoughts and things he’s learned from his research to me, he can even hold his own when discussing certain topics with friends, but he would get annoyed and possibly even a little bored with teaching it to a full class.
One of the things I look for when I am seeking other play partners is someone that is not as “new” at this as I am. I look for the Teachers and sometimes even enjoy challenging the Professors and picking their brains. I am still learning, but simultaneously teaching what I’ve learned thus far to most of you by blogging it out.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to play with someone who has been in the lifestyle a lot longer than I have, has done a lot more than I have and is experienced enough that I would consider him to be a “teacher”. (He’s still too young and not quite stubborn enough for me to consider him as a “Professor” though he may challenge me on that.)
These were the things Sir Christian and I discussed before I knelt before him and he put a collar around my neck to signified our play time as ‘Top and bottom’ had begun. (We decided that for the time being, and especially because we’re still getting to know each other, the Top/bottom dynamic fits where we are currently, best. I like it because it allows me to be fully me: sassy, pushy and yet submissive. He likes it because he isn’t pressured to give me a laundry list of rules that he can’t always enforce — since we’re only in a power exchange for the brief times we’re together — nor does he feel pressured to come up with that list of rules for a submissive he’s still learning about.) Later, when the collar came back off, I knew that we were once again equals and that I no longer needed to call him Sir, or obey his word. I could choose to, of course, but it was no longer required for me to do so.
To help keep the confusion down as I tell the story of what happened last weekend, I will refer to each Dominant by their full titles instead of just “Master” and “Sir”. Master Jason and Sir Christian are their full titles. I am married to, collared by and fully owned by Master Jason. Anyone else I ever play with will have Master Jason’s permission to play with me first. All rules given to me by Master Jason trump any other rules another Dom can give me. For example: one of Master Jason’s rules is “no smoking”, therefore I could not nor would I obey an order to smoke from another Dom, and if they even tried to give me that order knowing it’s against my rules with Master Jason, the relationship between that Dom and I would instantly be over.
Silly side note: when I first started talking to Sir Christian I could not help but roll my eyes at his name. I giggled and said “I’m sorry. You have the unfortunate coincidence of sharing the same name as the wanna-be-pussy of a dom in 50 Shades of Crap” (my title for the 50 Shades series). He made a face, told me that he knew that and it was a constant frustration for him to have to now clarify that he is NOT the kind of idiot that Christian Grey is. Of course, from that point on I still chuckle and/or roll my eyes at any and all similarities between Christian Grey and Sir Christian.
I have been talking to Sir Christian for a while now (again, with Master Jason’s permission) and the three of us felt that enough information, emails and time had passed that we were comfortable with a meet-up. Originally it was just going to be a platonic “nice to actually meet you in person” meet… but it evolved quickly into a “let’s meet in person, see if the chemistry we have online applies to us offline as well, and then possibly have some kinky fun together” kind of meeting. I have exchanged hundreds of emails with him. We have discussed our limits (hard and soft) and the rules that Master Jason has given me. He has read much of my blog to help him better understand the dynamic between Master Jason and I. He had even reached out and emailed Master Jason personally so that they could discuss where the boundaries are when it comes to how my submission to Sir Christian would work. Sir Christian is quite the gentleman and extremely honorable, just as Master Jason is. Sir Christian would not ever ask me to do something that goes against something Master Jason has instructed me to do (or instructed me not to do).
The day of my first meeting with Sir Christian, I jokingly told Master Jason that it was a bit like sharing custody of me. “The Joint custody of the submissive Autumn” is how I phrased it. He gave me a wicked grin and said “You do realize that if you disobey one of us, both of us will know about it, do you not?” I froze for a moment and thought over that statement. He’s right… if I fail to do my chores and tasks with Master Jason and am therefore unable to go out and play with Sir Christian, I will most likely suffer consequences from both of them. “Oh damn, this is like being a child with two parents!” I teasingly complained. My only answer was another look from Master Jason. A very satisfied, extremely sadistic smile that worked its way slowly across his features and then reached his eyes as he said in a low and seductive voice “Exactly. I’m glad you understand what you’re getting yourself into.” Somehow that made it even more exciting for me and my bratty side thought of delicious ways I could push both their buttons and tease them equally. Like a child who knows better, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I reached for a cookie I was told I can’t have. I chose not to say this, but I didn’t have to. Master Jason reads me as easily as code in a computer program. Little facial expressions and mannerisms hint at what’s going through my mind. Blushing I decided to drop the topic and let him get back to emailing Sir Christian about my evening with him and what was to be in store for “little autumn” that night. The sexual details of our first encounter deserve their own blog post, they were that fantastic and I want to make sure I give them the time they deserve when I write it out for you all to read. It isn’t something that should be crammed into the ending portion of this or any other blog post. It is a fantastic story that deserves an equally fantastic telling.
It was surreal because I almost felt like one of my own fans; new to this and seeking information. I laughed at myself, the author of a BDSM blog dedicated to helping others find their own path in BDSM, because of how nervous I was. I thought this kind of thing would be easy and thrilling and it was definitely thrilling but, it was hard for me too. In fact, it was hard in ways I didn’t really expect it to be. You see, even though I blog about my submission to Master Jason and even though he and I have definite rules set out for our relationship, they are not the same rules that I may have with someone else. My experience in BDSM with Master Jason is the ONLY experience I’ve had thus far. Anything he and I have done is everything that I have ever done. And here I was, in a hotel room, with someone far more advanced in the practice of BDSM than I was. Someone who was willing to show me more and teach me what he’s learned in his own adventures through BDSM. Someone who could actually help me remember what it was like when I first started this blog, nearly five years ago, and remind me of how much there is to learn at the University of BDSM.
I am certain that Sir Christian and I will play again in the very near future and I am grateful for the reminder of what it is like to be so new to something that everything is a little scary. I count myself among the fortunate for being able to learn so much from so many people. I am grateful to the authors, their books and blogs and even the events and instructional videos out there to help people understand BDSM, but to be able to remember what it was like when I was brand new at this… that’s a lesson that is easily forgotten and I am even more grateful to have the chance to re-learn. And I can only hope that I am able to help others learn as easily as I feel I’ve been taught.