Articles on S/M by Diane Vera Following are the two articles I'm best known for in the S/M

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Articles on S/M by Diane Vera Following are the two articles I'm best known for in the S/M scene, "Nine Degrees of Submission" and a "Temporary Consensual 'Slave Contract'". They have appeared in numerous S/M publications and were anthologized in THE LESBIAN S/M SAFETY MANUAL by Pat Califia (1988). After the two articles, this file also includes a brief bibliography on S/M which I posted in MUNDANE in February 1991 C.E. * * * * * NINE DEGREES OF SUBMISSION by Diane Vera Copyright 1984, 1988 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved. Within the S/M subculture, different people use the words "submissive" and "slave" to mean many different things. When submissives say "I want to be your slave", sometimes they mean only that they want to be tied up and whipped. Many professional dominants routinely refer to their (usually not very genuinely submissive) clients as "slaves". At the other extreme, there are people who want to be full-time personal servants, and who truly want to exist solely for their "owner's" use, pleasure, and convenience. And there are many shades in between these two extremes. To help sort out the confusion caused by differing uses of the words "submissive" and "slave", I have made the following list of nine degrees of submission, arranged in order from least submissive to most submissive. (Since I'm a bisexual dominant woman, I will refer to dominants as "she" and submissives as "she/he", but the following categorization can also be applied to S/M people of other gender-role orientations.) 1. The Outright Non-submissive Masochist or Kinky Sensualist: Not into servitude, humiliation, or giving up control; just pain and/or spiced up sensuality, on the masochist's own terms, and for the masochist's DIRECT pleasure (i.e. being turned on solely or mainly by one's own bodily sensations, rather than being turned on by being "used" to gratify one's partner's sadism). 2. Pseudo-Submissive Non-Slave: Not into even PLAYING "slave", but into other "submissive" role-playing, e.g. schoolteacher scenes, infantilism, "forced" transvestism. Usually into humiliation, but NOT into servitude, even in play. Dictates the scene to a large degree. 3. Pseudo-Submissive PLAY Slave: Likes to play at being a slave; likes to FEEL subservient; may in some cases like to FEEL that one is being "used" to gratify one's partner's sadism; and may even really serve the dominant in some ways, but only on the "slave's" own terms. Dictates the scene to a large degree; often fetishistic (e.g. foot worshippers). 4. True Submissive Non-Slave: Really gives up control (though only temporarily, and within agreed-upon limits), but gets his/her main satisfaction from aspects of submission OTHER THAN serving or being used by the dominant. Usually turned on by suspense, vulnerability, and/or giving up responsibility. Doesn't dictate the scene except in very general terms, but still seeks mainly his/her own DIRECT pleasure (rather than getting one's pleasure mainly from pleasing the dominant). 5. True Submissive PLAY Slave: Really gives up control (though only temporarily; only during brief "scenes" and within limits) and gets her/his main satisfaction from serving and being used by the dominant -- but only for FUN purposes, usually erotic. (May or may not be into pain, but if so, is turned on by pain INDIRECTLY, i.e. enjoys being the object of one's partner's sadism, on which the submissive places very few requirements or restrictions.) 6. Uncommitted Short-Term but More-Than-Play Semi-Slave: Really gives up control (though usually within limits); wants to serve and be used by the dominant; wants to provide PRACTICAL/NONEROTIC as well as fun/erotic services; but only when the "slave" is in the mood. May even act as a full-time slave for say, several days at a time, but is free to quit at any time (or at the end of the agreed-upon several days). May or may not have a long-term relationship with one's Mistress, but either way, the "slave" has the final say over WHEN she/he will serve. 7. Part-Time Consensual-But-REAL Slave: Has an ongoing commitment to an owner/slave relationship and regards oneself as the Mistress's "property" at all times. Wants to obey and please her in all aspects of life -- practical/nonerotic as well as fun/erotic. Devotes most of one's time to other commitments (e.g. job), but the Mistress has first pick of the slave's free time. 8. Full-Time Live-In Consensual Slave: Within no more than a few broad limits/requirements, the slave regards herself/himself as existing solely for the Mistress's use, pleasure, and well-being. The slave in return expects to be treated as a prized possession. Not much different from the situation of a traditional housewife, except that within the S/M world, the slave's position is more likely to be fully consensual, especially if the slave is male (since men certainly aren't socially pressured into this kind of lifestyle). Within the S/M world, a full-time "slave" arrangement is entered into with an explicit awareness of the magnitude of power that is being given up, and hence is usually entered into much more carefully, with more awareness of the possible dangers, and with much clearer and more specific agreements than usually precede the traditional marriage. 9. Consensual Total Slave with No Limits: A common fantasy ideal which probably doesn't exist in real life (except in authoritarian religious cults and other situations where the "consent" is induced by brainwashing and/or social or economic pressures, and hence isn't fully consensual). A few S/M purists will insist that you aren't really a slave unless you're willing to do absolutely ANYTHING for your Mistress, with no limits at all. I've met a few people who claimed to be no-limits slaves, but in all cases I had reason to doubt the claim. The above list isn't intended as a rigid classification. Most submissives don't fall neatly into one of my categories; there are still further shades in between. (For example, a live-in slave with an outside paying job would be category 7 1/2.) Also, the same submissive may attain different degrees of submission with different dominants. My list is intended simply to show the wide range of different possible meanings of the words "submissive" and "slave". In the S/M subculture, the majority of "submissives" seek scenes in categories 1 through 3, whereas most dominants I know (including myself) seek slaves in categories 6 and 7. If you're a "submissive" in categories 1 through 3, you are probably best off seeking a relationship NOT with a dominant, but rather with a fellow "submissive", or with a switchable (a person into both roles). She and you can take turns acting out each other's "submissive" or masochistic fantasies. When a submissive says to a dominant, "I want to be your slave", it's often hard to tell exactly what is meant. Lots of people FANTASIZE a much greater degree of submission than they are able or willing to attain in real life, and lots of "slaves", especially inexperienced ones, over-estimate their own desire for real-life servitude. A dominant must CAREFULLY find out how far the "slave" REALLY wants to go. CAVEAT EMPTOR. Revised May 1988 * * * * * TEMPORARY CONSENSUAL "SLAVE CONTRACT" by Diane Vera copyright 1984, 1987 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved. Of my own free will, as of _______(date), I ___________(name), hereby grant you,____________(name), full ownership and use of my body and mind from now until __________(date). I will obey you at all times and will wholeheartedly seek your pleasure and well-being above all other considerations. I renounce all rights to my own pleasure, comfort, or gratification, except insofar as you desire or permit them. I will strive diligently to re-mold my body, my habits, and my attitudes in accordance with your desires. I will seek always to learn how to please you better, and will gracefully accept criticism. I renounce all rights to privacy or concealment from you. I will answer truthfully and completely, to the best of my knowledge, any and all questions you may ask me. I understand and agree that any failure by me to comply fully with your desires shall be regarded as sufficient cause for possibly severe punishment. Within the limits of physical safety and my ability to earn a livelihood, I otherwise unconditionally accept as your perogative anything you may choose to do with me, whether as punishment, for your amusement, or for whatever purpose, no matter how painful or humiliating to myself. __________________________(name) ______________________(date) _____________________(place) * * * * * When I decide to accept someone as my slave, he or she copies and signs the above "contract." The exact wording is open to negotiation -- the slave is, after all, writing a statement, "Of my own free will ..." Usually, slave, the first "contract" would be for maybe three months. After the first three months, we might then have a "contract" for a longer period of time, perhaps six months to a year. Of course, any prospective slave in his/her right mind will want to get to know me before signing even the three month "contract". "Slave contracts" aren't legally enforcable. However, anyone who signs one without intent to keep it will get a very bad reputation very fast within the tiny but growing female-dominant lifestyle subculture. I don't believe it is a good idea to sign a "slave contract" for more than a year at a time, and I definitely don't believe in lifelong "slave contracts". People do change. Among the people I've known, the longest-lasting female-dominant S/M relationships typically go through an intense, total (or nearly total) Mistress/slave phase for maybe a couple of years, after which they settle back into less rigorously defined relationship in which the dominant woman is still the leader, and the submissive is still eager to do her bidding. I doubt that anyone can totally surrender his/her autonomy forever, though doing so temporarily can be an exciting and emotionally rewarding experience for some people. And for however long they do remain totally subservient, such people are NOT to be despised as weak, subhuman, or worthless. On the contrary,a good slave is very valuable to have around. And such a total gift of self requires a kind of strength and courage. Revised August 1987 * * * * * S/M BIBLIOGRAPHY The following was posted in a message in MUNDANE on February 17, 1991 C.E.: Here's a list of 10 books I recommend on S/M. The first 4 books are by S/M insiders and can be obtained most easily at gay bookstores such as A Different Light in Greenwich Village: 1) COMING TO POWER by Samois (Boston: Alyson Publications, 1982). An anthology of writings by S/M lesbians, including theory, how-to, and political essays. Samois was the first well-known above-ground organization for S/M lesbians, founded in San Francisco (where else?) in 1978. 2) THE LEATHERMAN'S HANDBOOK by Larry Townsend (many editions, starting in 1972; I have the 1983 edition published in New York by Modernismo). The classic how-to book for gay men. Alas, no similar book exists for hetero S/M people, probably because the hetero S/M scene isn't as well organized as the lesbian/gay scene, even though hetero S/M people are more numerous than their lesbian/gay counterparts. But there's a lot that heterosexuals can learn from the lesbian and gay books. 3) URBAN ABORIGINALS by Geoff Mains (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1984). Focusses on the gay male S/M scene; presents the view that gay leathermen have discovered a spiritual path having much in common with some aspects of shamanism. Having attended a couple of open meetings of Gay Male S/M Activists, I can believe it, judging by the serene and vibrant (albeit somewhat aloof) expressions on their faces. (Most GMSMA meetings are for gay men only, but they hold occasional open meetings open to other S/M people too.) Insofar as S/M does have a spiritual aspect, it appears to me that gay men are way ahead of either lesbians or heterosexuals, though lesbians and heterosexuals do also experience the kinds of ecstasy Geoff Mains describes. (I dislike the title URBAN ABORIGINALS. It's an insult to the intelligence of actual aboriginal peoples to imply that the re- discovery of just one aspect of aboriginal culture qualifies an urbanite as "aboriginal".) Note: this book assumes the reader is already familiar with the basics of gay male S/M custom as described in THE LEATHERMAN'S HANDBOOK. 4) THE LESBIAN S/M SAFETY MANUAL by Pat Califia (Boston: Alyson Publications, 1988). An anthology of mostly how-to plus some discussion of S/M relationships. Includes 3 articles by me. The next 3 books are by psychologists and psychiatrists. However, bear in mind that S/M is a topic that has never really been studied scientifically. The psychiatric establishment knows as little about S/M today as they did about homosexuality back in the 1950's. And for all their claims to objectivity, psychiatrists certainly aren't immune to unfounded prejudice. At the present time, the only REAL "experts" on S/M are the more experienced people in the scene. The following 3 books should NOT be taken as authoritative, though they are among the more insightful and interesting "establishment" books. 5) THE FANTASY GAME by Peter Dally. (Briarcliff Manor, NY: Stein and Day, 1975). Probably out of print. Fascinating discussion of the non-obvious ways that people's S/M fantasies interrelate with their personalities, though even Dally makes some absurd overgeneralizations. 6) MASOCHISM: A JUNGIAN VIEW by Lyn Cowan (Dallas: Spring Publications, 1982). I haven't yet read the whole thing, and I disagree with some of what I've read so far (such as the author's view that masochism is "feminine"), but a number of people in the S/M scene do regard this book as very insightful. 7) A SEXUAL PROFILE OF MEN IN POWER by Sam Janus, Barbara Bess, and Carol Saltus (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977). Out of print. Based on a study of the more elite classes of prostitutes, the authors conclude that many - perhaps even the majority - of American politicians and other power brokers are sexual masochists. The authors don't exactly have a positive attitude toward S/M, but the book provides clear refutation of the idea that sexual masochism is connected with self-destructiveness or social incompetence. The next 3 books present studies by anthropologists, who have to be reasonably open-minded in order to do their job. Unlike psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, their job ISN'T to help people "adjust" (conform) to prevailing norms. Insofar as a "scientific" establishment study of S/M can be said to exist, the following 3 books are it. 8) S&M: STUDIES IN SADOMASOCHISM edited by Thomas Weinberg and G.W. Levi Kamel (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1983). An anthology of mostly anthropological articles on the S/M subculture (including the lesbian, gay male, AND heterosexual S/M scenes). Some of the articles are a bit out of date, particularly regarding the lesbian S/M scene, which grew enormously during the early 1980's. Nevertheless, the book is very informative. 9) DOMINANT WOMEN, SUBMISSIVE MEN by Gini Graham Scott (New York: Praeger, 1983). The paperback edition has a different title: EROTIC POWER (Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1983), the book you mentioned in your message. An anthropologist's exploration of the female-dominant hetero S/M scene in San Francisco. 10) PATTERNS OF SEXUAL BEHAVIOR by Clellan S. Ford and Frank A. Beach (NY: Harper and Row/Perennial Library, 1970; originally published in 1951). Probably still in print. A classic cross-cultural and cross- species comparison of sexual behavior. Not primarily about S/M, but in Chapter III, "Types of Sexual Stimulation", there is a very interesting sub-section on "Painful Stimulation", which - on the basis of cross-cultural evidence - refutes some of the more common psychoanalytic notions about S/M. So that's the bibliography. As for your other question - "What psychological basis do you see for your attraction to these practices?" -- I can't give you a definite answer. Do YOU fully understand the "psychological basis" of your own sexual tastes, whatever they may be?


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