BDSM how it could/should be – The language barrier.

In my life, like virtually all BDSM folk, I spend most of my time in the vanilla world, and only some in the BDSM one. Flickering back and forth between being Amanda, to being Lady Harper with relative ease. However over the years I’ve come to realise that one of the barriers which stand in the way of the vanilla world truly understanding the nature of our relationships, is language.

I’m not speaking here of the in-house terminology we use to describe specific acts, flogging, caning, clamping, cupping etc. There are plenty of vanilla world subcultures who have their own languages, just listen to the average rock climber speak about their sporting life some day. Rather I am referring to the words we use in affection between each other, in what are for us nothing more than loving day-to-day relationships.

Just think about it. We speak with affection, respect, and often enough both love and awe about our slaves. However the vanilla world associates that word most readily with humanities history of forced enslavement. With human beings bought, sold, and worked to death. The same word. A vastly different meaning, and leading to a profound miscommunication. After all how to explain that our slaves are our most treasured companions, lovers, and possessions? How to explain that they choose to be ours, and that, despite what the title may imply in a historical context, they retain amongst other things the right to walk away. How to explain any of that when the same word has two such radically different meanings for the two cultures?

But  I believe these miscommunications occur most frequently when we dominants use our own personal pet names for our submissive equals. While the vanilla world has all sorts of acceptable terms of endearment which transfer freely between the communities like sweetheart, hunny, and darling, vanilla people often tend to be very unaccepting of the other words we often use. Words which are perfectly normal expressions of love in our life, but which come with an extra-large heap of baggage in the vanilla world. For example, when I witness a loving dominant call their slave “My little whore.”, what I coming from the same lifestyle hear is, “my loving partner.” A vanilla person with little, or no BDSM knowledge however is far more likely to hear in this nothing more than verbal abuse. A term of loving endearment in one world, a potentially grave insult in the other.

In my own life I have had a slavegirl who I often called “My pretty little slut.” In the vanilla world I would have likely been looked at with disgust for calling her this. But to me I was telling her I loved her, I respected her, I adored her, and was thanking her for choosing to be mine. I was telling her that to me she was beautiful. I was referring to her ability to make herself seem small whenever she felt the need to, this despite being well over six feet tall. I was thanking her for the knots she would, willingly, and enthusiastically put herself into to please me. And yet, to the world I spend most of my time walking through, I was being verbally abusive to a woman I loved deeply.

Miscommunication, tarnishes our way of living in love to the rest of the world around us. Paints those of us who live proudly as dominants as heartless, unloving, abusive, or all too often at best cold. Paints those of us who are submissive as doormats, damaged, abused, broken, or takes the literal vanilla world meaning of slut, or whore, and then simply applies it directly.

It’s easy to see why this happens. When you come right down to it words quite simply are powerful tools. The right word in the right ear at the right moment, and the world is saved. Disaster is averted.

But the thing is, words don’t belong to just one group. They don’t belong only to the majority. They belong to everyone, and they do evolve with time. They can be taken from one group who use a word for hatred, and turned by the takers into an expression of purest love.

This of course does not exist only between the BDSM/vanilla worlds. Anyone who lives what is perceived to be an “alternative” lifestyle will often run into this. Some poly people, myself included, speak proudly of being in love with multiple partners, slutty if you will. It’s just a word. It fits pretty well in the discussion. It can be said with pride, but when said with the wrong inflection it can be a damning commentary on another human beings chosen way to live their life. The same can be true of those who work in the adult entertainment industries, those who write some of the more, shall we say interesting commercially successful erotica. Are you seeing a pattern?

Those who exist in a vanilla world often do not understand those who simply can’t share that life. Those who in another age would have probably been considered of loose sexual character. Sometimes this lack of understanding has its source in fear, sometimes it comes from pure unreasoned bigotry. But in most cases I believe it’s down to the lack of a truly shared language.

Most, if not all of the alternative communities share a common trait, they’re seen by the outside world purely in a sexual context. Not for the loving environments that they can be, and often are. After all surely the world is a better place, that there are people in it who melt when their lover cups their chin, and before kissing them speak softly into their ear the words, “I love my little whore.”

Now if only we could get the word out to the vanilla world that sometimes their most unpleasant terms, can be turned into the sweetest most romantic words that can ever be uttered. That like the beauty in a piece of music, the words of love are ultimately interpreted by the heart of the listener.

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2 Comments to “BDSM how it could/should be – The language barrier.”

  1. I feel more loved when Daddy calls me HIS little whore… or his dirty little slut, than when he says, ‘I love you.’

    • That’s precisely what I’m speaking of. They’re words which while being a verbal spectrum apart mean the same thing. But for those of us who live a D/s dynamic or dynamics the traditionally more unacceptable ones often are the one which soften our hearts the most. I just wish there was a way for the (just as valid, and in its own way just as wonderful) Vanilla part of our world to realise that all that really seperates us is the perception of the words we use.

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