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Can I be your slave? AKA the various types of bottoms in BDSM

TLDR: No, and also, you probably aren’t actually a slave.

(Before you get too excited about the title, this is not a blog post about derrieres.)

Here’s the set of recent tweets that inspired this post:

And here’s the long-winded explanation. Are you ready? Ok, here we go!

As a professional Dominatrix with a not-that-small following, I get asked this question every. Single. Day. I’ve decided to embark on this blog post largely so that I can direct fawning would-be/could-be subbies to an answer that I do not need to repeatedly type over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again…you get the idea.

I think most people have an idea of what a slave is within BDSM, correct? We imagine a naked bitch on his knees, crawling around on the floor on leash and collar while being led around by a delightfully dominant women in patent leather thigh high boots and a corset, perhaps being whipped or perhaps cleaning her boots with some humiliating tongue service. Maybe he only drinks water out of a dog bowl, or maybe he’s all tied up in bondage while the Mistress has her way with his body. The variations are endless, but ultimately the basic premise is this: a submissive man enacts kinky fantasy ideals with the hot Domme who is way out of his league.

Sounds great, right? What a wonderful idea for a slave! You get to do all these perverse, nasty, kinky things with a Woman you might not otherwise be sexually affiliated with, enacting out all your deepest, darkest, dirtiest secrets!

However, while the Domme may be calling you a slave in the scene, this does not necessarily mean you are a slave.

Confused already? Let’s back up a minute and go over the various designations of bottoms with BDSM.

First off, I am defining bottom as someone on the receiving end of the fetish activity, be it bondage (rope bottom), spanking (spankee), Dominance/submission (submissive or slave), sadomasochism (masochist), feeding (feedee), humiliation (bitch – I’m joking, I don’t actually know the official name of one who gets humiliated) and the list goes on and on. Not all bottoms are slaves, but all slaves are bottoms. More on that in a bit. Bottom would then be the wide umbrella category for those recipients of the activity or object, whereas the direct opposite would be a top – the facilitator of said activity or object. Rope top for bondage, spanko for spanking, Dom(me) for Dominance/submission, sadist for sadomasochism, feeder for feeding, humiliatrix for humiliation, etc.

As you are beginning to see, there are innumerable types of bottoms within BDSM and also probably more growing every day! (If you can think of it as a fetish, it probably already exists…) However, it’s crucially important to understand that there is a difference between all these categorizations. Just because I am a Dominatrix and Mistress does NOT mean that every person I play with is a slave. In fact, far from it – I would argue that the vast majority of my clients are not slave-material.

“But he likes to get beat/tied-up/fucked! Surely he must be a slave.” Not necessarily so. Perhaps he purely enjoys the adrenaline rush of pain but micro-manages the top to beat him precisely how he wants to to be beaten. Is that Dominance and submission? (This is a masochist.) Maybe he loves the sensation of being fully suspended in shibari but doesn’t really care who ties him up. (This is a rope bottom.) Or what if he just really enjoys seeing the image of women in strap-on and loves being taken from behind but doesn’t really like being told what to do? (This is a fetishist, and also a slut, ha!) Are any of these scenarios actually D/s? Just because they contain a fetish activity does not mean that there is an actual power exchange in the intent. In actuality, the bottom is the one directing the action in order to fulfill a specific fetish.

Do you see yourself in any of these? Do you find yourself trying to top from the bottom in order to fulfill a very specific fantasy of yours? Do you not care about who is doing said activity as long as they are hot and you have an ass/nylons/cock/feet/(your specific fetish here) in your face? Then the likelihood is extremely high that you are not actually a submissive nor slave.

But what if you find yourself wanting to obey under very specific situations? For example, you find yourself absolutely weak at the knees when you see a fit woman in workout gear and will do practically anything she says. As another example, you put on a sensory deprivation hood and immediately fall under subspace, pliable and willing to do whatever it takes to please the one controlling your vision. And yet another example, you automatically obey anyone who takes on a stern-yet-nurturing Mommy-type role with you. And as a final example, during sex, you always let the woman take control.

In all these situations of obeisance under specific criteria, I would then define you as a submissive (perhaps with fetishistic/masochistic/whatever leanings). You are willing to submit to the right person at the right time with the correct environmental or social impetus, an impetus that is defined purely by your personal preferences. For the first example, the impetus is workout gear. For the second example, the impetus is sensory deprivation/bondage. For the third example, the impetus is a Mommy. For the fourth example, the impetus is sex (and your dumb boner).

Are you starting to get a feel for where I’m headed? No? Ok.

Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty of how I personally define the difference between a submissive and slave. A true slave exists a little further down on the spectrum of submission. A true slave does not need any impetus outside of the pure joy of serving a Mistress. Sure, you may be submissive, but if your submission comes with conditions – conditions that are not conducive towards me or whichever Mistress from which you are requesting attention – then is that truly a Total Power Exchange (TPE)? A mistress cannot be expected to live out her entire life under your conditions just to have your submission. You cannot expect to see her dressed up in fetish gear and enacting your specific fantasy 24/7 just so you can feel all lightheaded and woozy in desire – because once she’s no longer a figment of your fantasy, would you serve her? Would you be willing to do “whatever she wants” when she’s in her sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt sitting on the couch watching cartoons? Would you be willing to do “whatever she wants” when what she’s asking for does not align with your idea of a sexy fun time, like scrubbing the bathroom tile with a toothbrush? And would you be willing to do “whatever she wants” even if you know you have to actually work hard and dedicate actual time (like – gasp! – a job!) to do it?

If your answer to all those previous questions is yes, then congratulations! You are a slave. You are submissive under your Mistress’ personal specifications, even if they don’t give you a boner. You understand that the Mistress has a life of her own that does not exist within your specific fantasies, and you still adore and obey her nonetheless. You are happy to submit to her even when the going gets rough because you know your happiness is truly your Mistress’ happiness. You are far and few, and I enjoy you quite a bit.

A caveat: a person can be submissive to one Mistress and slave to another. D/s is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Everybody’s personal interactions are unique and different throughout time and space. Maybe you’ve found a Mistress (Let’s call her Miss A) whose personal fetishes – the things she is naturally predisposed to in her private life – are truly your personal fetishes and you are a match made in BDSM heaven. Say it’s foot worship – you’ve always needed foot worship to feel submissive, and Miss A genuinely gets off on a good foot rub. In which case, you might be the ideal slave for her! After all, she always has your impetus at hand (or foot 😉 ), and to her, she’s not catering to you at all but rather fulfilling her own fantasies. Both party’s desires are perfectly compatible and conducive towards a blossoming power dynamic. But say you approach another Mistress (Miss B) and tell her that you served Miss A. Miss B takes you on, but it turns out she absolutely hates foot worship and finds you a reprehensible slave because you insist on worshiping her feet each time. Turns out that you have always been on the more submissive side, but with the right relationship with Miss A, you were a slave. Go figure!

Now I’m not telling you to go out and be a slave for every Mistress. Far from it. Attraction and respect are important, and if you were a slave for every woman you met on the street, I would probably call you a pushover with poor standards 😂😂😂 An inherent attraction and connection to your Mistress is important because it develops rapport and trust – and only through that can true growth happen. (And you do want true growth, right? Did you expect to be the same person you were at the end of a D/s relationship?) It’s perfectly alright to not be a slave for everyone, and I won’t think any of less of you for it. Different strokes for different folks, after all.

Additionally, despite being a true slave, you are also allowed to have boundaries (…depending on who your top is). I mean, we do live in reality, and for most, 24/7 slavery is a pipe dream because at some point we’ve all got vanilla obligations. Only when your “boundaries” are actually defining factors for how the scene runs (IE: asking your Mistress to be in leather at all times is not a boundary but a preference) do you stop falling under the category of a slave. Make sense?

Another caveat: these designations are not hard and fast because we are all (for the most part) multi-faceted people. A slave can also be a fetishist , a power bottom can have submissive leanings, etc. You get the idea.

In fact, if by the end of this, you realize that you are not a slave, that is totally fine as well! BDSM should be inclusionary and we all have different niches that we fill – there will always be someone whose needs may align well with yours, be they slave, submissive, power bottom, fetishist, masochist, whatever. I personally hold no ill will to anybody who doesn’t identify as a slave, because sometimes I don’t feel like being purely a Dominant (I know, gasp gasp – but don’t get it twisted, I am always a top). Everybody goes to fetish providers for various reasons, neither being particularly better than the other, but it is helpful to know where you stand within the wide spectrum of BDSM designations so that you may better inform the Dominatrix with whom you’d like to play.

So what did we learn today?

Not all submissives are slaves. All slaves are submissives. All slaves and submissives are bottoms. Slaves are those who will submit to their Dominant in full (or as full as reality lets them), regardless of whether it gets their personal rocks off or not. Submissives are those that have criteria towards what makes them feel submissive to their dominant.

Got it. Good. Now that you’ve got that all settled up, you’ll be fully prepared to answer your designation should anyone ask this of you! (And if you are applying for a session with me, it’s right there in the form, so shame on you if you are still lost after reading this…)


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xoxo Never yours,
An Li